Wednesday, 20 December 2017

A Few More Odd Jobs

Tuesday 19th Dec

Seven of us kicked off at Winchcombe today with various tasks allocated.
Richard C, John P and Len went off to Gotherington to replace a rotted plank on the foot crossing from the signal box. Here's the before :

This wooden planked crossing is covered in chicken wire which is held down with copious numbers of staples. These had to be removed before we can insert a new plank. They prove to be a bit of a challenge to prise out. Some of them are well hammered in and require some serious attention!
Anyway, patience is rewarded and our pre-prepared plank is inserted and screwed down with the chicken wire re-stapled.

Then back to Winchcombe to install the new coach battery charging connection between the tracks at the Cheltenham end of the station. This will connect to the armoured mains cable that we put in a couple of weeks ago. Keith L on the shovel (our experienced ballast technician!)

 and Paul making sure we're in the middle and vertical:

It has a barrow load of concrete under the ballast to secure it so it should withstand a bit of  manhandling. 
The number 8 marker denotes the stopping point for an 8-coach train. 

And so to a bit more woodwork. The last remaining signal we have to install at Broadway North is a ground signal to be positioned in the 6ft between the headhunt and Siding. This will be mounted on a concrete block for which we need some shuttering and a template to position four securing studs in the concrete. 
So step forward the carpenters:

This will give us a two foot square lump of concrete  The securing lengths of screwed rod  are M20

We have earmarked the signal which is  currently in storage in the MSC shed at Winchcombe 

Meanwhile Len has been beavering away cutting up lengths of  M12 screwed rod which will be attached to the bases of the fabricated rodding stools. This will help secure them

in a concrete base in the ballast.

And finally, may I introduce the S&T entrant for the 2018 Turner Art Prize:

A compilation of hardened paint skins entitled "A Study in Black and White"
Other suggestions for a suitable title will be considered!
Should this be nominated I will airbrush out the background!

May I, on behalf of the S&T dept.,  wish all our blog readers a very Merry Christmas.


Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Odd Jobs

Tuesday 12th Dec

A bit thin on the ground today with only three of us in action at Winchcombe.
It was a question of how many uses can you find for point rodding!
As reported previously we had cut up two of our 18ft lengths into 7" lengths for mounting the signal wire rollers along the platforms at Broadway - that was enough for one platform - we now need another similar quantity. So this kept us warm with the angle grinder and file. John P in action cutting :

And clearing the outside bench ready for filing off the burrs (we don't let a bit of inclement weather get in the way - just have to hope we don't lose any of the cut - offs in the snow!)

And here's the completed pile ready for drilling. A total of 58 from the two lengths plus 3 more from a short piece found under the bench

Oh for the new workshop!

The next use for bits of rodding is for clamps to mount a warning sign to a post at the crossing at the rear of C & W at Winchcombe. This post had suffered a recent "dislodging" so the opportunity has been taken to give the sign a face-lift with fresh paint - the white gloss needed a steady hand

And here are the rodding clamps at the rear

Then off outside to the post

And finally mounted. A bit of touch - up painting required on the post.

I did manage to put a coat of silver paint on the new "shoe box" lineside  cabinet opposite the signal box. Not the best of days to be painting outside but it appears to be OK

And now for the technical bit that I would like to share with you. I did say in the last blog that I would get a picture of a point rodding compensator - so here goes (those of you with a nervous technical disposition look away now)
This first picture shows the compensator as it is set initially with its two arms at right angles to the rodding - ideally on an average temperature day

The compensator is positioned at the centre of the rodding run between the signal box and point. This means that on a hot day both lengths of the rodding will expand equally pushing the arms of the compensator inwards as shown here

The two arms of the compensator cannot move independently from each other so the point can still be operated in the normal manner. 
Conversely, on a cold day contraction of the rodding gives us the following :

This cunning system prevents  unwanted point movement with extreme changes of temperature. 
It is the same problem experienced with long runs of signal wire (see a previous blog) 

Hope it gets a bit warmer for our last working day  (next Tuesday) before  Christmas 


Wednesday, 6 December 2017

A Few More Preparations

Tuesday 5th Dec

Five of us at Broadway again today to do a bit more finishing of the preparatory work on the point rodding and pulleys.  We are now going to have to wait to make any significant progress until the track is tamped and ballasted.
We have a selection of connecting rods to connect the cranks to the rods. There is a bit of trial and error to make sure that all four of the northward facing rods are at the same height and equally spaced:

 So that there is the minimum of misalignment of the rods running over the rollers. We have temporarily put two 4 wheel sets of  rollers in the ballast to achieve this:

The distance from the signal box to the blade of the Siding Point is 696 feet. So with a roller support set every 9 ft (77sets) this is going to be quite a pull.
We measured this distance accurately because we need to establish the exact mid point of the rodding run so that a compensator mechanism can be installed to negate the effects of expansion/contraction of such a long length of steel. Here is John P with the tape (I am on the other end). We have marked 50ft intervals on the sides of the rails.

I haven't got a picture of one of these compensators - quite a clever mechanical device. I will dig one out for next week.

A couple of other "woodworking" jobs were going on in the background.  To minimise the amount of final ballast shovelling between the sleepers where the signal wires will cross under the tracks we have cut some boards to cover the central gap.

And then to mark out and cut the final 5 slots for the signal wires. Carl S in action with the saw 

And then with the board back in position. Not quite small rodent proof, but will stop the birds from nesting in the lever frame up above. (we had a blackbird in there last year) 

Just a final note on the locking frame. The links holding the upper and lower tappet blades have now been fully adjusted and tightened. The copper washers allow just enough compression to get the split pin holes to align with the bolts fully tightened.

Testing of locking still to be carried out. Best done when there is nobody working underneath the box to avoid casualties! 


Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Telephones at Tunnel South again

Started off working with Neil looking for another intermittent fault, this time on the Toddington to Winchcombe Block Bell circuit. Out came the cable tester, we couldn't really see a major fault on the display but whatever was not happy it was probably hiding at 470metres, that puts it  somewhere around Chicken Curve- we decide to leave it until the next time it raised its ugly head, when it rains.

Next job was to change the faulty phone we found last week at W2 Tunnel South, and here we were really fortunate -the DMU was available and they happily dropped us off right where we needed to be.
They then went back to school chidren duties at Winchcombe until we rang them.
Even better luck Tony, the Driver is also a Signalman and he happily popped up into Winchcombe Box and so we were able to have  a proper test call before we left the site.
Oooh it was a lovely loud ring on that reconditioned phone! ( the old one had a seized bell striker)

You Rang Sir!

We had done the job and just had a couple of minutes to wait for our lovely warm transport, Mikes' on his phone because the Garage had just rung to say his car was mended- even Tony wasn't that quick!  

Thanks to everyone on the DMU, made the job much easier for us.

Afternoon was over to Todd to check out and prepare a cable pair for the new SPT at Platform 2

Mike S

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Telephones, Telephones

Whilst a lot of the workers are up at Broadway having fun with things mechanical. There were still four others around Winchcombe getting on with clearing away the old cabling- thats Carl and Keith. Paul and I had decided that an inspection, particularly of the lesser used Signal Post Phones would be a good plan before the intensive Santa Season. Particularly the two at Gotherington where the Concentrator System may well be the only effective communication in the event of a problem  either with the line or the train, even Vodaf... don't work everywhere on our line!

The result was that we had to change a phone at G20  whoever would put a poor old Sweeney phone (706L) in an unheated cabinet and then leave it there for ten years!,

 It did work when last tested in April Now I suspect the damp has got at the old carbon Transmitter Insert- there's little point in changing them as the carbon granules are all over 30 years old. So we change the whole phone with an electret type, when we pulled it out we found a mouse had tried to have dinner on the handset cord so it was a failure waiting to happen. Then it was over to Winchcombe to look at W3/5 Tunnel North and the W36, the Outer home which were all OK
Much later in the day, Paul got a lift in the rail-car "Malcolms Buggy" driven by Neil whilst they were pulling out old cable and so he was able to check out  the phone at Tunnel South (W2), all working but no incoming ring. Hopefully we can get back to that next week and Santa will complete all his trips without a problem

Since the last report, the 5th and final Concentrator, for Broadway, continues in new build in Kevern's workshop. I gather it is close to Final Test but presently we have a problem with the bench power supply, anyone got a spare 50v one laying around?

Watch out for Santa

Mike S

A Bit of Carpentry

Tuesday 28th Nov

Five of us at Broadway today to carry on with the fitting of rodding.
Malcolm and John P crumpled themselves in the tunnel to connect the three southbound cranks. All seven are now
complete. Continuing with installing t hi e rodding up the platform will now have to wait until the ballasting and tamping is complete.

Looks quite colourful

This now leaves us with the carpentry bit. Six more slots to cut in the rabbit proof fence for the rodding - a bit of accurate marking out required followed by careful cutting (I say careful because these planks are getting a bit flimsy with all the slots)

And then put in position to see (thankfully) that it fits pretty snugly over the rods

Next step while we were in carpentry mood was to line up the positions for slots for the signal wires. With the aid of some blue nylon rope attached to the pulley wheel (for no. 2 signal position initially) and then passed out across the tracks to a pulley wheel on the opposite side this allowed us to set the best alignment parallel to the sleepers  and then to mark the woodwork for cutting:

 This was repeated for another 10 wire positions. To ensure that  these wires pass across the tracks without fouling a bit of adjustment of the sleeper positions was needed (we did refit all the clips!)
John P in charge of drilling and George cutting the slots down to the holes

And a view from the inside with the  board re-fitted


Should keep the wildlife out! 


Thursday, 23 November 2017

Linking up

Tuesday 21st Oct

Action on two fronts today. Firstly the installation of an armoured mains cable from Winchcombe Signal box to the 8 coach marker at the south end of the platforms.
This to provide a connection point between the tracks for charging coach batteries.
The concrete lids from about 170 troughs were removed first (a very good workout!).


And then feed the cable into the troughing from a cable drum on platform 2 and then replace the lids. All accomplished in 45 minutes by four of us.

 With an orange tube to feed the cable under the track to protect it from hot embers 

Then off to Broadway to continue with the linking up of the point rodding cranks in the signal box tunnel. To do this we have to cut a suitable length of rodding to fit between the crank on the steel plate (set at 45 degrees) and the angle crank connected to the lever (hope you're following this!) AND with the lever set in its mid position in the lever frame.  


This allows a 2.5" movement of the rodding in each direction from the mid position. 
Here's a view  looking down on the connections with the vertical rods coming down from the lever. The point rodding then goes off to the left through the tunnel

And here's a view looking back up the tunnel from the outside with four of the northern bound rods fitted
The pins connecting these rods are not fitted correctly yet - they will be reversed with grease nipples on top.
Just a word about the holes for bolting. Once we have cut a rod to length we have a cunning tool/jig for punching, (not drilling) the 2 bolt holes in the end. This clamps the rod to give the correct position relative to the end and then with a suitable amount of grunting and brute force a punch is wound through to produce the hole Then it is re-positioned to produce a second hole. This is through steel about 5mm thick. 
Here's Malcolm doing the grunt! 


 More grunting next time with the southbound set.


Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Loads of Drilling

Tuesday 14th Nov

We continued at Broadway today with the fitting of the  point rodding angle cranks on the steel plates exiting the signal box tunnel.
Having lined out and pilot drilled the base mounting holes for the four northbound sets of rodding last week we now set out to position the three angle cranks for the southbound rodding.
Having got the positions set we decided at this stage to unbolt the steel plates and drag them out onto the ends of the freshly placed sleepers - a four man job! This enabled the use of the magnetic drill  - hopeless trying to do this in the tunnel with a hand drill.

But first we needed to drill (by hand) two more holes into the C- channel using the pre-drilled holes in the plate as a guide. The C- channel has turned out to be pretty hard and resisted several drills (13mm) before getting through. John P struggled valiantly in the restricted space:

Plates now clear of tunnel

Having got the plate assembly out and clear for attack from above,  the magnetic drill proved its worth. Each crank base is to be secured by four 3/4”BSW bolts ( we try to keep it heritage!) so we drilled through the plate with a 25/32” drill. Bolt clearance to be kept to a minimum to prevent any possible movement during operation.  We are hoping at this stage that our lining out was accurate!

The finished pattern for the northbound cranks:

And finally, all 7 bolted up in position with the plates back in . Our lining out proved to be pretty accurate and we got all the bolts in without any drama:

All this activity took us most of the day so nothing else to report, but we did have time to admire everything that was going on around us - new fencing going up between the goods shed and Evesham Road Bridge and  window frame painting on the station building. It’s a magnificent sight now looking northwards from the signal box vantage point.