Thursday, 19 January 2017

Action on Two Fronts

Tuesday 17th Jan

Working on two fronts today. John P, Carl S and Keith under the guidance of Neil C continued with re-cabling at Winchcombe. The objective here is to instal an armoured mains cable from the station up to where the mains operated point motor will be installed for the re-positioned pointwork. The point motor that we took out was operated from the lower voltage line side battery pack. Managed to get a shot of the gang before the rest of us went off to Broadway to collect the balance of concrete trunking required to set the cable in (a total of approx 70 lengths required)

We needed 40 troughs from Broadway - here we are moving them for the 4th time!

A good load for the pickup

We took the opportunity to carry on with a bit more of the mechanical locking jigsaw under the Signal Box. Neil C has constructed a pair of substantial "benches" that we can stand on to make access to the upper part of the frame easier: 

We have now identified all the positions for the brass locks, subject to bit of checking.  The combinations of what locks what has  been established by Malcolm W and is quite a complicated system to arrange the locking bars connecting the locks without running out of channels. Will give a better close-up shot of the set-up once the locking bars are fitted.

Paul, Len and me behind the camera trying to get our heads round "normal and reverse" locking. Top edge taper on the lock for locking the lever in its normal position and bottom edge taper on the lock for locking the lever in its reverse position. Hope I've got that right! There's gong to be a lot of cutting and filing of slots for the locks in the vertical tappet blades - to be continued.........

We have now brought the two brackets that will support the block shelf from the roof of the Box. The brackets we think have come from Norton Fitzwarren and have now had some extensions welded on and have been painted black:

And the finishing touch to the lights in the signal box - looking good with their shades fitted :


Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Cables Galore

Tuesday 10th Jan

Before work can start on the foundations for the new Visitor Centre at Winchcombe now that the wooden structure has been dismantled, S&T have to remove and re-route various cables which have been lying in troughing round both sides of the site. So where do we start? Good job we've got the  electrician with us who knows what's what!

We started just station side of the signal box and worked our way up behind platform 1 by removing all the concrete troughing covers and then attacked the platform and grassy sward:



Some cables have been removed completely and will be re-configured . It's amazing just how much mud and muck gets into this troughing - in places the cables are completely buried . We had to remove all the covers up to the station building to lift the cables because they could not be pulled through. The feeds to two of the lamp posts on the platform have been removed prior to re-positioning:


35 troughs and covers were dug out and will now be used for the re-cabling of the re-positioned pointwork motors and signalling up towards Greet Tunnel (about 70 more will be required so we shall bring some back from the ones currently stored on platform 2 at Broadway). Here's the pile taking shape with Keith L keeping fit in Winchcombe yard

One length of 30 pair cable was removed , approx 50 yards long, and dragged down the yard for cutting up by the skip. It took 3 of us to pull it. Malcolm led the procession with 2 more of us behind the camera.  It was decided to scrap this because there was significant damage to the armoured  cover.


And finally back in the "Workshop" an update on the progress of the wooden signal arm for Broadway, only a bit of white gloss to go now:

The frosted glass panel in the background is part  of the Route Indicator Signal destined for Broadway. It sits in front of the lamp case to diffuse the light. 


PS While all this was going on Malcolm W and Richard C went off to Cheltenham RC to fit a new signal arm and undercoat the ladder of Starter Signal 22  -  will need another visit to complete. No picture I'm afraid.

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Preparations at Winchcombe

Tuesday 3rd Jan

Urgent preparations today to remove all the point operating equipment at the north end of Winchcombe station ready for PWay to attack sleeper renewal up to Greet Tunnel and the re-siting of the pointwork starting tomorrow (Wednesday).

Seven of us in attendance today ready to wield the spanners to attack the usually well seized bolts. However, we were extremely lucky with this. Most of the bolts holding the equipment  to the sleepers are fitted from underneath with the nuts on top, so if the bolt turns there is no option but to clear away  a whole load of ballast from underneath the sleeper to fit a spanner. This luckily happened only once!

Here's some of the action

These points are operated by an electric unit which is a bit of a beast to handle - it took four of us to manhandle it with the aid of planks onto the rail mounted  trolley

The connections to the electrical detection unit and the point motor were "chopped" and the cables removed

We had quite a load of parts to take back to base for cleaning and re-conditioning

And finally here's a shot of the brand new signal arm in preparation which will adorn the wooden signal post at Broadway. This is best quality teak!


Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Locks and Brackets

Tuesday 20th Dec

Another visit to Broadway signal box today to do further work on the locking frame.
It was decided to add four further support brackets give additional rigidity to ensure that the locking trays cannot move This should do the trick:

Then it was time to make a start with the positioning of the locks. The tappet blades have many and various notches from their previous life at Aller Jn Box (like this one for example)

It is quite a jigsaw to position them so that some existing ports can be used . We are trying to avoid cutting  new ones where possible because of the tedious work involved.  Locks must be precisely positioned to ensure that a locked lever cannot start to be pulled because of slack in the mechanism. 
Malcolm W has produced a locking scheme which we have been making a start with trying out today.
Here are some of the brass locks in position:

There are some more locking combinations to finish yet which may mean some  re-positioning but hopefully it will all fit in. Once all the ports have been established, the locks will be attached to locking bars, the new material for which is now here:

Quite a jigsaw before it's all done.

Just managed to get a shot of the finished Block Shelf which was brought over last week and is now lying on the floor behind the levers. The two brackets to hang this from the rafters are currently being  modified at Winchcombe. Another job for the new year to hang this.


Wednesday, 7 December 2016

The Post with the Most

Tuesday 6th Dec

Most of today was spent continuing the re-furbishment of the wooden signal post which we are going to instal at Broadway. The main problem was a significant amount of rot on the bottom end. This has now been cut out and a piece of good timber screwed in. To bring it back to full strength we are fitting a steel "boot". This consists of 4 pieces 60" long , tapering from 10"wide at the base down to 9". These are temporarily screwed on. Here's the first one in position:

Next stage will be to remove the plates and finish paint the woodwork. Plates will be screwed on again and tack welded. Hopefully the boot can then be slid off the small end and have all the seams welded up. Failing this it will have to be welded in position and suffer a bit of scorched timber!
Here's the "boot" with all four plates fitted:

Three quarters of the steel will eventually be below the surface. Plenty of painting and waterproofing to follow. This is turning out to be quite a lump!

Some of the fittings had been bolted on last Wednesday by Carl and Keith but still needed a bit of checking and adjustment to ensure that the Spec Plate was aligned correctly. The counter weight fittings will be mounted on the top of the boot ( some tappings will be necessary). It's all beginning to look rather fine:

Note that the finial has a black base. We have had a discussion about this because a comment on a previous blog noted that black finial bases were probably  a GWR practice. We can only conclude that there may have been some regional variations. All our GWSR finial bases I believe are white - anyway here's a black one for Worcestershire!

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Re-connecting No.1

Tuesday 29th Nov

Today's urgent task was to replace the track bonding wires and the wires and posts that operate the home signal No.1 at Didbrook all of which were removed prior to the lifting of the track for sleeper replacement last week.
Stage 1 was to clear ballast  (of which there is plenty prior to tamping) from between two pairs of sleeper ends each side of the fishplates to enable the mounting of the drilling machine. This makes life easy to drill a pair of holes on each side for two bonding wires. Luckily every other rail joint here is welded so we only had to bond 5 joints on each side. Here's Neil C in full flow with the motorised twin drill:

A pair of bonding wires was then threaded through behind the inner fishplate and chairs, chopped to length and bent through the holes. The wires have clearance and are secured for good electrical contact by hammering in tapered pins round  them. John P and Richard C followed on behind the drill:

Here's a view of the wires in place - hopefully bent sufficiently away from the ravages of the fotthcoming tamping.

We then turned our attention to fitting the two pulley wheels which take the signal wire under the track from the Cotswold side to the Malvern side where the signal is situated. This meant clearing the ballast between two sleeper ends and underneath 4 sleeper ends to give acces for bolting- a bit awkward for spannering up but a nice neat solution with the pulleys secured to the sleeper ends on steel plates:

This left the signal wire posts and pulleys to be installed. These are hammered into the ballast which usually gives them sufficient rigidity as there is very little lateral force on them an we have ensured that the runs are (almost) perfectly straight!  Here's one in position with the signal wire threaded through. The longer ones of these where we go through shallow ballast into softer earth are made from short lengths of point rodding:

There were several joints of the wires to be made. Malcolm W is skilled in this "art" which I would describe as a method of metal wire plaiting! I should have taken a close-up of one. It certainly ensures that a joint is secure. He was complaining of holes in his fingers at the end. Signal wire is very unforgiving stuff even with the assistance of pliers. The last joint has to be made while keeping tension on the run. Luckily we got it right and only a small amount of adjustment was needed on the Toddington signal box  adjuster to get the "pull" operating correctly. 

Bring on the tamper !


Tuesday, 8 November 2016

A Bit More Prep for Broadway

Tues 8th Nov

One of the jobs we are getting on with to enable the ticking of another box towards the kitting out of Broadway Signal box is the construction of the Block Shelf.  This is quite a large construction which consists of 3 separate sections of GWR block shelf which were originally in Dawlish Warren signal box. These have been jointed together to make an 18ft long piece with 5 ribs to stiffen a new one piece front panel. We have retained the original end radii so when it is in position it will look pretty well heritage!

Because of its size and the pending inclement weather we have 'borrowed" Building Services facilities to do this. More work to do on it yet but it's beginning to look the business. Here are John P and Carl S with the assembly at the end of the day:

We shall require the modification of the steel mounting brackets which will hang this from the box roof - number of brackets and modifications to be decided. Putting it up is going to need a bit of ingenuity and muscle!

In the meantime cleaning and refurbishing carries on. All the point operating components have been rescued from Laverton and Keith L and Mike S are labouring away to undo some pretty stubborn nuts:

and in the relative warmth of the coach "workshop" a start has been made with the cleaning and testing of the electric locks:


And finally, from last week, progress was made with the stripping and painting of the wooden signal post which we have in the yard at Winchcombe..............................................................................