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