Saturday, 4 March 2023

More Findings

Tuesday 28th Feb

A surprising find in an old rusty stillage covered in a huge blue plastic sheet while clearing Winchcombe yard ready for the new S & T workshop
This revealed a number of very rusty cam units - think that these came from Stratford on Avon in the nineties, so they have been rusting away here for quite a while!
We shall clean and oil these up for replacing some of the worn ones in our signal boxes in due course.

Here's one dismantled 

And here it is after grinding off all the rust , given a good oiling and re-assembled

The central plate with the cut-out is connected to a lever which operates the locking mechanism down in the signal box locking room. Most of the levers have one of these attached.

The levers in Winchcombe signal box getting their paintwork touched up by Malcolm W

There is still work to do  before services resume. All signal box systems to be checked , pointwork to be gauged, all locking room fittings secure, etc.


Wednesday, 22 February 2023

Signal Wire Re-route Continues

 Tuesday 21st Feb

Today at Winchcombe we continued with the groundwork needed to re-route the signal wire to the outer home signal on the approach to Greet tunnel . This to free up access down the embankment to the trackbed south of the station.

Just to remind you this needs the installation of a vertical pulley wheel at the base of the signal ,  a horizontal crank and two horizontal pulley wheels.

So, stage one was to fill the hole we had previously dug at the base of the signal with concrete to mount the vertical pulley on its steel plate

We use a length of nylon rope to set the height so that the wire will clear the ballast under the rails 

Opposite this on the other side of the track an  angle crank on a steel plate bolted to two large concrete blocks has to be let into the ballast. Luckily we have the assistance of a mini digger to excavate a rather large hole to drop this assembly in.

Again setting the height with the aid of the rope across the track.

Eventually buried and firm.

Then, continuing on this side of the track, to position a horizontal pulley mounted on two similar concrete blocks. Again a large hole using the digger was required:

Then a repeat of this for the second horizontal pulley on the opposite side of the track (this position is between the bracket signal and where the access track comes down the embankment)

(excuse my thumb!)

That concludes today's work . 

Before we disconnect the existing signal wire we need to install a series of stakes along the opposite side of the track to carry the wire -a job for next time.

Just a quick review of last week. You will probably have heard that approval has been given for the construction of a proper workshop for the S * T Dept in Winchcombe yard (exciting news!). So there has been a significant effort (courtesy of Neil C with the telehandler to clear the site and relocate/scrap many pieces of railway "memorabilia" that have found their way to storage here over the years!

We look forward to a start of the earthworks


Friday, 3 February 2023

Routine Maintenance

 Tuesday 17th Jan

Started on some of the maintenance activity today required in Winchcombe signal box. 

Access to the cams, etc operated by the levers needs a removable section of the floor to be lifted. Malcolm W in the locking room below uses a broom handle to prise it up while 3 of us upstairs lift out. 

John B then sets to with an oil can to lubricate as many parts that he can reach .

And then give the levers a few off/normal movements to get the oil into the less accessible places. 

Tuesday 24 th Jan

Off to Cheltenham today for some more signal box maintenance. 

Here's  the gang ready to go.

The catch handle pivot pins on the levers are getting stiff with continued use so they need removing and lightly greasing. Some resisting split pins to remove first!

And a general clean up with emery paper to remove rust from the mating faces and a smearing of oil 

Malcolm busied himself in the locking room to do some oiling.  Unfortunately the floor in this box is not removable to gain access to the moving lever components, so a degree of contortion is required with the oil can.

Followed by a bit of outdoor activity. 

You may remember from a previous blog that we had prepared some lengths of rodding to provide some secure posts for point clips adjacent to motor points to save the signalman having to carry one in the event of a point malfunction. Must be a good quarter of a mile from the signal box to the motor point at the Cheltenham end of the station.

So John P and myself took a trolley loaded with a wheelbarrow plus aggregate and cement on this journey to the points. Good job we brought a pick axe to loosen the frozen ground . Anyway  a hole was dug and the post knocked in and concreted.

31st Jan

Whilst doing some work on the lineside cabinet at the Cheltenham motor point Neil C brought a point clip and locked it onto the post. 

The key now has a suitable ID which will be retained in the signal box should it ever be needed.  (let's hope not!)


Friday, 23 December 2022

Continuing Preparations

 Tuesday 20th Dec

We continued today with the preparations for the re-routing of the signal wire to the advanced starter at Winchcombe. John P, John B and myself in attendance with Malcolm W.

We need to install a vertical pulley at the base of the signal to  route the wire across the track . Here it is pre-assemled. 

John P is drilling some holes in  a piece of plate to fit some anchoring legs (4 lengths of screwed bar with bent ends) to secure it in a concrete block.

So... off we go for a walk up to the signal to dig a hole for the concrete .  Some really sticky black clay here with a ballast topping - makes for some strenuous digging!

The base of  ladders are normally secured in concrete - this one isn't but has a couple of rungs below ground. Anyway we have extended the hole to give it added security!

The angle crank you can see at the base of the post will become redundant and will be removed.  We will make a new sling to connect directly  to the balance weight arm.

Any further preparations here will have to wait until the closed season  when we can disconnect the signal and gain access with the railcar to transport the heavy stuff - which we have already got ready as you can see  here:

These two blocks holding the horizontal pulleys will be sunk into the ground - so more digging of ballast.

Also being prepared today is the 8ft long wire sling which will connect to the balance weight arm. The thimbles on each end are securely fixed in position using aluminum sleeves which are crimped with this tool - John B on the handles and Malcolm W on the ground (Sorry picture not terribly clear)

But here is the end result

So that will be it for this year . We have several signal restoration projects for next year some of which will require the erection of scaffolding.  A new metal token exchange platform is in progress for Gotherington - there will be plenty to do. Not sure at the moment whether the plan to replace the bracket signal at Cheltenham will go ahead during the closed season - so the one we have prepared still languishes horizontally in the yard at Winchcombe.

I'll sign off now wishing you all  Merry Christmas and, hopefully , a fulfilling New Year from GWSR S&T


Thursday, 1 December 2022

Signal Wire Re-routing

 Tuesday 29th Nov

It has been decided to re-route the signal wire to the advanced starter situated near the northern portal of Greet tunnel because it currently crosses the access road down the embankment and has to be disconnected when vehicular access is required. (this access road was prepared by the contractors to enable heavy plant to be brought in for the recent repairs to the embankment here at Winchcombe)

The existing stakes supporting the pulleys and wires will be replaced with new ones on the opposite side of the track. So starting adjacent to the bracket signal John P prepares to measure the distance up to the starter. This will enable  us to determine the length of new signal wire we will need , including the additional length to cross under the track twice

At the starter signal we will need to bury the wire in a tube to allow vehicles to pass over, so to determine the heights required for the blocks for mounting horizontal  pulleys  - we check this using a piece of nylon rope passing under the track

Here are a couple of views from each side of the track looking towards the tunnel to show the position of where the wire will cross back to the signal. We will need to re-configure/reposition the cranks on the signal post to lower the connection for the wire.

This is all here for today so we return to base to find some lengths of old point rodding that can be cut to provide our new signal wire stakes.
The old stakes are in pretty poor condition so we will eventually grub them out from their concrete "boots" and scrap them.

Back at base John B re-assembles a re-conditioned crows nest - just needs the footboards cutting to finish it off. We have quite a few signals that are in need of some TLC which we have plans to attack during the closed season - so this unit should end high up on a signal post somewhere on our railway!



Thursday, 13 October 2022

Repairing the Crossing

 Tuesday 11th Oct

A visit to Gotherington signal box today to replace some rotten planks in the foot crossing. 

We were intending to catch the first Cheltenham bound train from Winchcombe but for some reason it was going to be significantly late so we got permission from Brian Nicholls to park up at Gotherington West.

There are several rotten boards in the crossing some more obvious than others until you stamp on them. 

All the boards are covered in chicken wire to prevent slipping- and this  is held down with many staples (to prevent tripping!). These are a pain to remove where they are well hammered in, but with four of us at it we son peeled it back.

Seven boards have been replaced and re-covered with wire. Should be safe for a few more years.

A bit of creosote required on a few ends that we had to trim. Left it for the Wednesday team!