Wednesday, 27 July 2016

More Finishing off

Tuesday 26th July

Four of us at Broadway today with a bit more finishing off to do.
Having now got all the lower tappet blades fitted and everything oiled up we had to make sure the locking frame covers fitted. The top row of 5 weren't a problem because we had already had those fitted at Winchcombe during the trial build.  Because of the height of the complete assembly, space didn't permit this , so now this was the next challenge.

Here's John P trying to get the screws into the tapped holes in the frame - the first one was OK. The next two required filing of the holes to get the screws in. The last one we will have to leave until next week for proper fitting  because it needs 3/8" cutting off one edge  - unfortunately we didn't have the angle grinder with us today!
Here's a view of the completed assembly

I mentioned rigidity in a previous blog - the finishing of this task was to secure the 3 supports at the bottom of the locking frame to the floor. Here is John P drilling to fit the Rawl bolts ( he loves drilling!):

And here's a close up of the support which sits in a cast slipper:

And finally we put the finishing touches to the rabbit-proof fence with some additional timber which should make a pretty effective deterrent to local wildlife which may be looking for residence.       

Then painted and assembled


Friday, 22 July 2016

Recently Refurbished

22nd July 2016

A subject I mentioned recently was the total refurbishment of Cheltenham Racecourse Signal (24/26) in Hunting Butts Cutting. At long last here is a shot of it proudly flanked by Malcolm and Ian.

All the fittings were completely stripped off and the post was de-rusted with wire brushes in angle grinders (you'll have to imagine the scaffolding!). It should have been 3 coats of paint (primer, undercoat and top coat) but rain intervened before  the top coat was fully dry giving it a rather pock-marked appearance so an additional coat of white gloss had to be applied. It looks fine now though.

Some of the fittings were unique to this signal so had to be cleaned, re-painted for further use, others were replaced from S&T stock. Altogether the fittings were numerous - good job Malcolm has a good memory for re-assembly and a head for heights!

The pile of signal fittings we have at our base in Winchcombe  Yard which require re-conditioning never seems to get any smaller!  There are still quite a few signals on the railway that need some of our TLC!


Thursday, 21 July 2016

More bits added

Tuesday 19th July

Just three of us again at Broadway today. Carl S and Keith L had gone off to Cheltenham to strim the growth beyond the signal box.
We had a bit more finishing off to do on the locking trays. Having cleaned and oiled all the slots we re-fitted the upper tappet blades.
At the moment there are 5 locking trays in the upper row and 4 trays in the lower row. Here is John P attaching the blades that fit in the lower row.

And here is the first set completed

The eventual position of these will need to be adjusted when the locking combinations are finalised, and slots for the brass locks cut/adjusted accordingly. Still a bit to do then!

Malcolm carried on with the "Rabbit-proof Fence" for the rodding tunnel. The planks are being painted silver so they match the rest of the supporting structure in the locking room.
A bit hot outside but he persevered, significant shade was difficult to find despite the fir trees:

Even a bit of shade was pretty hot - we found a bit on Platform 1a later on for tea and then had to pack up.
Note that the footbridge is looking pretty magnificent now with its almost completed roof:


Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Wildlife Security And Rigidity

Tuesday 12th July

Only three of us in action at Broadway today. Rather wet outside so we concentrated on further work in the signal box locking room. Malcolm W and John P continued fitting the brackets which support the planks to blank off the rodding tunnel. There will be many slots cut into the planks for the point rodding and signal wires to pass through eventually.

It looks pretty impregnable - and here's a rabbits eye view from the outside

Richard C finished off the cleaning of the locking tray slots and then fitted countersunk headed bolts to the beam which supports the lower trays. This is necessary to prevent the brackets joining the upper and lower tappet blades from fouling the bolt heads -

The rest of the tappet blades will be re-fitted next week.

Whilst the locking tray assembly is pretty rigid it is essential that it will not flex or sag, so three support pillars have been fitted - these have a fine adjustment screw at their base and sit in cast iron shoes which will be secured to the floor. Not much chance of movement now.

Not sure what the total weight of the whole lever frame and locking assembly is but am guessing we are talking several tons now, so good support is essential to prevent mis-alignment of the locking system.


Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Concentrating on the Concentrators!

Well, its a slight over alliteration but it'll do for a title.

Whilst all the mechanical work has got under way at Broadway we, newby Paul and I,  have been steadily working away under Toddington Box to prepare for the last in the series of Concentrator  upgrades.

Paul inspecting the workings of the old system at Todd

This particular one is taking longer to build because it is the largest capacity of all the ones we have built so far. We need 10 lines at present but will shortly need 11 so we have to build for 15 and its keeping  Kevern busy.

Internal view of the 10 line until at Winchcombe

 Presently we plan to do the change over in the Autumn or perhaps over the winter shutdown. However the old lady thats presently installed has been playing up and despite valiant efforts to make her behave she still, like any old lady, has her moments. ( I found last week, to my exasperation that taking out keys to clean them can put on more faults than you started with- something I learnt back in the 1970's whilst a final year apprentice (Y3YC) working on 40 year old automanual boards . For a young man the cord changes were the interesting bits- say no more!

Mike just checking  that the records are correct
So we have had to prove out and prepare detailed records  so that we know exactly how the old concentrator lines are connected to the cable heads.
When we do make the changeover  we hope that it works first time- at least that policy has held us in good stead so far and this will be the last of the four to be done.
Broadway should be an easy new install so we will know where everything is.
Slowly and steadily we seem to be getting it right, giving the signalmen a standard, simple concentrator system that works the same whichever Box they happen to be rostered to.
( Didn't my English teacher say that you shouldn't end a sentence with preposition?)

Oh, I nearly forgot. Whilst working at Todd yesterday P&O went past majestically.

All ready  to exchange tokens  on the run in to Toddington 
All we can say is "Well Done" to all those engineers who worked to bring her back from scrap

Mike S

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

More of the same

Tuesday 5th July

Five of us at Broadway today carrying on with cleaning, fitting and stacking, while Carl S and Keith L took off to Toddington to strim the growth accumulating round the signal wires.
Len had the unenviable task of continuing with the cleaning and oiling of the slots in the locking trays.

Meanwhile Malcolm and John P carried on with the fitting of brackets and planks which will make up the "Rabbit Proof Fence" at the inner end of the rodding tunnel. A surprisingly large gap that will require eight 12" wide by 8 ft long planks. A bit more bracketry needs to be fitted in the centre to complete the job next week.

Up the north end of the track bed Richard C and Peter B ploughed on with the re-stacking of the concrete cable troughs and lids. Most of the pallets on which they were originally stacked have collapsed or rotted, so to enable them to be easily fork-lifted we have positioned some serviceable pallets on flat ground. We managed to stack 8 pallets with 25 troughs on each, probably about half a ton per pallet.
There are still a hell of a lot more to do!

One of the other activities that has been going on over previous weeks, for which I have no pictures yet, is the re-furbishment of the double  arm signal at the Hunting Butts end of Cheltenham Racecourse . This has had all its fittings stripped off and has been re-painted. Re-conditioned fittings are now installed and it should be back in action as soon as all the signal wires are re-connected. While this has been going on, the adjacent ground signal has been controlling operations.