Tuesday, 13 July 2021

Is This a Record?

 Tuesday 6th July. 

Sorry about the delay with this blog - too much Wimbledon, cricket, football, house decoration getting in the way - but better late than never. 

Today was going to be a bit of a challenge. Not sure if the Guinness Boook of Records has any records relating to steam railways apart from Mallard - but try this one. The ground signal (yes, another one !) by the platform 2 starter signal at Winchcombe needed changing. After the first train of the day had passed there was to be a shunt of the parked rake in platform 2 into the carriage sidings


Malcolm was in the lead carriage as guard. Then a slow reversal into the siding

Then we leapt into action (not quite formula 1 pit change performance but not bad for two  elderly volunteers. This signal is mounted on a fabricated pedestal to improve visibility for the drivers. We dismantled as much as practical to make handling easier and then attacked the four  mounting bolts. So a quick unbolt (most bolts on heritage railways are not quick)

John P in the process of dismantling

And the spare refitted and working just 1.5 hours later to perform the carriage shunt

Since taking this picture the base has been cleaned up and given a coat of black gloss.

A lot of activity going on around us with the gunpowder van being meticulously prepared by C & W for a makeover. To be filmed by a model making company I believe.


Wednesday, 30 June 2021

One of Each

 Tuesday 29th  June

Just a brief blog today - to round off the ground signal saga.

The Signal we removed from Winchcombe (South end adjacent to the bracket signal) has been fully dismantled and its post has now received its 3 coats of paint. Bit more painting to do on the other parts - we should have it finished next week ready to replace

This signal is for shunting movements into the platforms. We do not have calling-on arms on the bracket signal for shunting. 

The two ground signals we removed from the PWay and C&W sidings recently have now been fully restored and rebuilt - one Western Region and the other GWR

Another lineside cabinet is being prepared for non-lineside duties - electrical stuff in Churchward House yard I believe. This one is in quite good condition (only the best for head office!!) 

For those of you who did not get a chance to see the photograph of the inside of the lineside cabinet at Stanton Aqueduct when Neil C was investigating a track circuit fault - here it is again. Note the bird's nest lined with the insulation it has pecked off the relays! 


Wednesday, 9 June 2021

Another Swap

 Tuesday 8th June

John P and myself in today with Malcolm W today with a couple of jobs on the list and good weather in prospect.

Firstly a jaunt to Toddington to bolt down a lineside cabinet. You may remember from previous blogs that the cabinet just north of the road bridge (platform 2 side) was in a very unstable state. This has now been replaced with a reconditioned one and re-wired by Neil C. However, it still needs bolting down to the concrete blocks on which it sits. A simple task I hear you cry! But..... because the bolting uses  studs with nuts buried in the muck underneath the blocks, it needed pick, shovel and handwork to gain access to get the nuts on. John P was the ferret! 

This was the interior of the old cabinet

And here is the re-wired replacement with the new track Circuit feed equipment fitted - much tidier!

And securely bolted down.

Back at Winchcombe we embarked on another ground signal replacement. The one we removed from the PWay siding has now been re-conditioned and will replace the one we are about to remove. Here is the freshly  painted one:

The one to be removed adjacent to the rear doorway of C & W (ground signal no. 26) sits on the end of an extended sleeper and is again through-bolted with long studs with a nut on each end. So more burrowing was required to access for spannering to stop the nuts from turning. Got the four nuts off at the top eventually 

And slid the unit along the sleeper to release it from the detector blade - you can see this at the side of the sleeper here:

Then re-fitted the refurbished  one

We left all the dismantled parts on the bench for the Wednesday and Thursday gangs to clean up! A lot of coagulated grease to get off - we think that this signal had been in position for about 30 years (since the track was originally installed at Winchcombe). Luckily the 20lb weight came off this time without too much drama! 

End of day shot of P & O departing Winchcombe for Toddington:


Thursday, 20 May 2021

Ground Signal Swap

 Tuesday 18th May

You may remember from last week's blog that we had an eventful  wrestle with the turnbuckle on the detector rod at the Winchcombe PWay yard points - so this week it was decided to replace the ground signal controlling these points - it has shed most of its paint and is in a rather sorry state.

So here we go with  John P and Malcolm W - luckily most of the bolts yielded without too much drama. 

And a barrow load of bits:

We have the replacement ready to go in the barrow- here's the "before and after"

In order to fully dismantle, the balance weight has to be removed from the arm. To do this the securing bolt has to be removed, but you may have noticed in the above picture that this bolt, at some point in the past, has been sheared off. Attempts to drill it out failed

So we resorted to more serious tactics. It came off quite easily using a sledge hammer!! Luckily we have spares of these 20 pounders. 

So off to the metal skip with the bits. 

The re-conditioned signal was put in position and secured to its sleeper with four new coach screws (the old ones were suffering some serious rust). 

The yellow and white  spectacle disc needs a re-paint before it is replaced so the signal will be out of action for a short while - job for the Wednesday or Thursday gang 

Since we have been able to come back in limited numbers on any one day we have spread ourselves over several days so there is a bit more continuity. 


Wednesday, 19 May 2021

Lets get them sorted!

 A slightly delayed blogpost but  here goes.

 Last Tuesday  three of the "Phone Blokes", Mike S, Kevern Oliver and our new man Peter Giles, got together and  sorted out Winchcome Outer Home W36, and Tunnel South W2.  Speedy recovery to Paul who has a back injury at present so trackwalks are definitely OUT. Get Well soon Paul!

The Outer home sits just north of Chicken Curve up on the embankment and the views are excellent- it did help that we could keep an eye on the approaching rainclouds but there is nowhere to hide in any case.  The reported fault was of "No Transmission", a bit odd and we couldnt reproduce it (RWT then!) but it was overdue for a rebuild and had a lovely selction of insects inside the case so it was changed for a rebuilt one.

Luckily the installation was a "standard one" so it didnt take long to change the unit.

Tunnel Sth  has been a long standing and rather odd fault in that the  the bell armature would stick at one side and then not move when the ringing current told it to. We believe it may be something odd in the magnetic circuit (remanence?) of the bell itself so after quite a bit of digging around we found a Piezo which would handle the ring volts and hopefully solve the problem.  The simplest  way to get to Tunnel Sth from Winchcombe is to walk thru the Tunnel so with the DOO's approval and the full cooperation of Keith, the signalman who put a full line block on, Kevern and Peter walked through and changed the phone. Its been quite a long time happening but now its done and we can only hope that it does not recur. 

Here is a picture  of Kevern that was taken at Tunnel sth last week  and also one that I came across whilst doing some Archive work.



Good job they werent taken at the same time!

 Thanks chaps, Keep up the good work

Mike S

Thursday, 13 May 2021

Jobs Various

 Tuesday 11th May

Two of us in today with a miscellany of small jobs to complete.

Firstly the completion of the replacement lineside cabinet for Toddington. This has now had its black, silver and white paintwork and is looking a lot smarter. John P is fitting plywood inserts to the base and inside back panel - this will provide a much more suitable surface for mounting the electrical equipment and keep unwanted rodents out. 

And with the door fitted

The lockable hatch (access for manual cranking) on the end of the  replacement point motor cover had seized up, so this has been removed and a new hinge pin fitted - now back in place and re-painted

Two of the handrails for the CRC bracket have received their dark grey undercoat

And we have given all the handrail securing threads a clean up and a coating of Copper slip to keep them rust free

A couple of track issues were then to sort out behind the C&W building at Winchcombe. The tie bar which prevents the sleepers  between the FPL and its angle crank from spreading has become unsecured at one end - so a longer coach bolt has been fitted - the original had succumbed to rust. 

Lever 17b in Winchcombe  box which operates the points into the PWay sidings is not operating smoothly so some adjustment to the rodding was necessary. This is achieved with a LH and RH threaded turnbuckle. This particular one has probably been in position since its installation and is well rusted - with brute force the nuts eventually yielded and the turnbuckle given a couple of turns to "shorten" the rodding run.

Thursday 13th

Peter W and Carl S in today. Proposed modification to the operation of the pointwork at Toddington requires additional rodding stooling. So rusted relics need some serious refurbishment! 

These are short of their wheels which currently can't be found - bit more hunting required! 


Wednesday, 5 May 2021

Foot Crossing Repair

 Tuesday 4th May

Two of us in today - John P and myself under the watchful eye of Malcolm W.

We had a fairly urgent job to make a replacement section of foot crossing - the crossing from the bottom of Toddington signal box steps  has gone rotten. This had been pre--measured so John P cut up suitable wooden planks and constructed the following

The top surface was then covered with anti-slip chicken wire held down with numerous staples.  I volunteered for the messy part  to coat it all over with a liberal dose of creosote

It was then delivered to Toddington and fitted to place.

Another kindling/coal box has been made for Toddington signal box. This is a smaller version due to the limited space with the extended lever frame

Just when you were thinking that we have lost sight of proper S & T stuff, there has been a lot of work going on to check and record the mechanical locking in all our signal boxes. Some of the original charts were not up to date or had gone missing. All these revised charts have now been completed and laminated and are to be attached to backing boards which will be hung up in their respective locking rooms. Here is the one for Broadway

The locks on each of the horizontal locking bars have been colour coded so that it is much easier to see the locking combinations

And finally, we have found sufficient flat bar to complete the fitting of the handrail to the CRC replacement bracket signal