Thursday, 20 December 2018

Making Way for the Wires

Tuesday 18th Dec.

Only five of us at Broadway today to continue with barrow crossing work at the south end of the platforms.
Platform 1 side needs a channel  through which the signal wires pass. Some shuttering has been prepared using old scaffold boards - now ready for some concrete:

And here with the concrete poured:

The length of point rodding on the right is secured in the concrete with some studs - the point rodding on the left holds two pieces of c-channel (the rodding will be removed once the concrete is set). A steel plate will then be bolted on to cover everything up.
On the opposite side of the crossing you can see a similar arrangement but with some block work. Because the ground to the left falls away significantly we need to build a retaining wall for the infill required. Peter W starts by digging out for some footings.

And now it is time to practice our bricklaying skills to match up with the platform wall. I'm afraid rain stopped play after the first row so I guess it will now be after Christmas before this is finished.

Adjacent to this another concrete block has been prepared to mount a horizontal pulley to direct a signal wire across to the base of the bracket signal.

I had a walk up to the signal by Childswickham Bridge with Malcolm to joint up the wire for this signal with the sling. This is now all connected up to the balance weight arm. The ladder, platform and upper fittings are still required to finish off this signal.

I promised a picture of the completed mechanical detector at the south points so here it is

Showing the three detector bars (one to each blade and one to the fpl). The piece of rodding on the left attaches the body of the detector to the rail to ensure that it cannot move.
The two locking bars (at right angles  which attach to the signal wires) have been tied off in a retracted position. This is to ensure that the ground frame can still operate.
Talk about leaves on the line causing problems - the fpl and locking bars were completely covered in leaves when we arrived, so we took some time to clear them away to prevent them clogging up the mechanisms

That's all from me until the New Year - so a very Happy Christmas to all you readers!


Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Filling the Gap

Tuesday 11th Dec.

Today's efforts at Broadway spent in doing work to fill in the gaps in the barrow crossing at the south end of the platforms.
We arrived with the blue pickup loaded with a fresh heap of aggregate which needed barrowing from the station entrance gate to a pile by the wooden signal post where we will do the concrete mixing. About  20 barrow loads later with 3 of us marching up and down:

We achieved a reasonable pile which should be enough for a day's concreting:

Just as we finished this we heard the unmistakable "roar" of the diesel railcar pulling into the station (slowly) un-reeling a 20 pair cable between the rails platform 2 side (this shows our newly fabricated reel holder in action).
Neil C had just reeled out the major part of this drum between Little Buckland and the distant signal ready for burying.
Calculations worked out fine because there was just enough cable remaining to complete the two runs required between the signal box and a cabinet to be installed adjacent to the existing bracket signal.

Having the railcar trailer here was the ideal opportunity to remove the pile of cable troughs to clear space for the line-side cabinet. You can see here where the cable has been manhandled  into rough position to be buried:

And the troughs loaded up for despatch to Winchcombe.

(There's a few more hundred still need moving from up near the signal box when we have an idle moment! )

Anyway, I digress from the main event. Preparations made for a concrete pour with some scaffold board shuttering in the gap between the rubber pads in the six foot and a bit of rubble to eke out the concrete:

Here is the finished pad which was eventually levelled out after much tamping :

In the foreground of this shot you can just see part of the concrete channel we are preparing for the rodding and signal wires to pass through - this is essentially the same arrangement as that at the northern crossing - with a steel plate to be fitted over the top.

And a close-up of the pad prior to a bit of tidying up:

I sloped off to walk up to the Advanced Starter signal up nr Childswickham Bridge where some further work had been carried out last week. A scaffold tower had been erected  to facilitate the mounting of the upper fittings:

And the counter-balance weight arm and pulleys have been fitted:

And finally, the railcar off back to Winchcombe with George B keeping us all clear of the tracks!


Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Pulley Work

Tuesday 4th Nov.

More concreting was the order of the day today.
Ready for action with the PWay trolley

A double pulley wheel set and a single vertical pulley wheel are required at signal B8 (advanced starter at Childswickham Bridge).
So we prepared a substantial concrete block to mount these using some of the concrete cable troughs as shuttering (we have plenty of these to play with) - they should be removable once the concrete has set. I think we got a bit carried away with the size of the excavation  but we should have enough aggregate to fill it with a few added brick ends.

But first to get the height for the concrete right for the pulleys using the nylon rope. The wire for the home signal will cross under the track through a plastic tube which will be then be buried where the up main used to pass which is now used as an access roadway. Another concrete block will be required here to turn the wire through 90 degrees.
The stakes for the signal wires will then continue over Childswickham Bridge and along the opposite side of the embankment to the Home Signal.

So, many barrow loads of concrete later (all laboriously trundled up from the mixer at the end of platform 1 on the trolley), we have a concrete block with the two templates containing the studs for mounting the pulleys.

Picture quality not too good I'm afraid - it was getting quite dark by this time and the flash doesn't seem to have done much for the image. 

Other stuff going on today was the feeding of some more signal wire through the rollers southwards - John P wrestling with a new coil - it really is awkward to deal with :

And Peter W on the end threading it through. This wire will operate the signal on the bracket behind him. There will probably be another pulley required here to get the wire in the correct alignment (another concrete block?!)

Neil C and Keith L disappeared southwards to do some cabling work - installing feed wires to the rails for track circuits.


Wednesday, 28 November 2018

A Wet Day

Tuesday 27th Nov

A little progress at Broadway today with the completion of the
installation of the signal wire stakes up to Childswickham Bridge (all now concreted in).
And here is the newly installed advanced starter signal post  adjacent to the bridge which was planted last Friday by JCB et al.

While we had the mixer going, a concrete block has been prepared to mount the casting of the detector unit for the south points:

Now that it is correctly positioned, we have taken a measurement for the length of a further bar to secure the casting to the nearside rail - this to ensure that the detector unit cannot move relative to the track (just in case the concrete block moves!!) Hopefully next week I can show you a picture of the finished set-up.

Last Friday saw the erection of three posts for the home, advanced starter and distant signals. George B captured this picture of the distant being tamped in by the JCB:

Notes about the cabling required between Toddington and Broadway:

So far a 20 pair cable has been trenched in up to Buckland where a line-side connection cabinet is required. This corresponds with the insulated breather joint of the continuously welded track, so connections for track circuiting will also be made here. The advanced party of Neil C and Keith L took the pickup with the necessary aggregate, etc to mix concrete on site. Here are the before and after:

Note the 90 deg pipe to feed the cable up into the cabinet.
This cabinet will also house the batteries and relay for energising the track circuit.
The next length of cable will terminate at the distant signal where another trackside cabinet will be required.
Altogether there will be several more of these cabinets required as the cabling progresses.


Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Feel the Heat

Tuesday 20th Oct
Six at Broadway today to continue with the installation of signal wire stakes up to Childswickham bridge
 But first, the long awaited clearance of the signal box chimney. You may remember from a previous blog that our attempts at lighting a fire ended up in filling the box with smoke. This time we came prepared with the necessary equipment to sweep the chimney. Neil extracted two large bucketfuls of twigs - presumably failed attempts at nest building by local birdlife.
A coal  fire was lit and blazed away beautifully with a good draw:

This is the place to be on a cold day!!

Heading south with the PWay trolley (borrowed from the North siding) to transport stakes and tools to the point of action and to barrow the concrete from the electric mixer at the end of platform 1. Malcolm W, Carl S and Peter W raring to go:

At the closest point to the adjacent caravan club roadway we encountered a very stubborn and hard layer of concrete - this stretches quite a way along the fence so fitting a stake here foiled the attentions of pick and crowbar - will have to wait until next week to attack with an SDS drill to make a hole for a stake:

One of the stakes bedded in with a shoulder of concrete - this proves to be an effective method of achieving a secure stake - all the stakes up this stretch nestle neatly against the cable troughing, so keeping good alignment is pretty straightforward :

Another major task started today was to sort out the positioning of the mechanical detector for the south end points. This is the casting :

Three slotted bars will pass through the square hole on the rhs. One of these is connected to the LH point blade, one to the RH point blade and one to be operated by an offset of the FPL bar in the centre (see next picture). Another bar which passes through the casting at right angles and  can only move if slots in the  3  other bars align correctly. This bar is connected to the signal wire that operates the bracket signal.
If there is a fault (point blades not seating or  fpl  malfunction) then the bracket signal arms (nos 40 & 41) cannot be operated and will remain at danger.
I hope to get a clearer photo of this when it is all set up.

We need to configure  a steel plate to mount the casting on. In the meantime hope you get the general picture.


Thursday, 15 November 2018

A Learning Day

Regular readers will know that we have steadily being replacing the Concentrators with a home built fully compliant model as designed by Kevern.
Unfortunately as soon as our back was turned, metaphorically speaking , two faults appeared around the Winchcombe unit whilst Paul and I were away sunning ourselves and it all fell  to Kevern to sort out the problem.
 Fortunately I was able to let him have some cable details from my own records in Sunny Spain and since then we have tried really hard to replicate the fault without success.
But it did make us realise that it was only Kevern who really understood the units and our records were , let us just say, a little less than perfect.

So it worked out that we had a training day on the new system and at last Paul and I feel more confident to sort a problem, if and when any should occur. Using Kevern's excellent notes as a guide we listened as he explained how he had managed to develop the first, 3000 type PO system , into the modern electronic version

Above is a raher cheesy pic of Paul) left ) and Kevern. .....Me, I was desperately trying to shuffle batteries as my camera had died.

Afterwards I ran a short session on cable fault location showing how it has developed from the  early days of the Detector 4 ( The Clock!) through the Exchange Test Desk with jumper party T2a's in long khaki dustcoats, to SA9083 testers. And then  to the present day of the pulse echo units and we did a practical session which proved that a part roll of jumper wire was still 47m long.

A really helpful day and thanks to Kevern for all his hard work, not only with the Concentrator units but also with supporting booklet that he had written

Now wheres that soldering iron?

Mike S

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Troughs and Stakes

Tuesday 13th Oct

Seven of us at Broadway today split into two groups - one on signal wire stakes and one on cable troughs.

Four of us continued with the laying og the concrete troughs southwards to Childswickham Bridge. The advanced party cleared the brambles, etc from the side of the fence adjacent to the caravan park site.

Then the process of lifting the bases down onto a roughly levelled ballast base. We took turns at this to prevent too much back ache - here are Keith L and Peter W taking a lead:

Luckily the gravel boarding along the bottom of the fence made it relatively easy to maintain the level and alignment.
And an end on view of the alignment up to the end of the fence

This is as far as we go for the time being. This gap between Childswickham Bridge and the fence is where the advanced starter signal is going to be situated, so to leave access for Steve to dig us a hole we will leave the rest of the troughing until the post is in and the position of any pulley blocks is determined:

Here, opposite, lying on the ground, is the post for signal no. 8 (advanced starter). I believe that plans are afoot to "plant" this post at the end of next week.

Meanwhile back towards the station work continues with the siting of the stakes for the signal wires. These are now in as far as the start of wooden fence by the caravan site - they are approx 3ft long so there is plenty of hammering to get them to the required height (bottom roller block mointing  hole 2" above rail height as measured with our trusty plank!)

Finished off with collar of concrete to keep them rigidly fixed. Here Keith L is shovelling the concrete from a barrow . This is being wheeled from the mixer at the end of platform 1 ramp - not very clever. We will have to acquire a P/Way trolley next time as we get further away to make life a bit easier 

And finally, here is a picture of the finished barrow crossing at platform 1 North. Must give the rubber a bit of a scrub next time!


Friday, 9 November 2018

Its not all Telephones you know!

Tuesday 6th November

By now most people will hopefully have seen the H&S Video which has been made required viewing by our Director of Safety, Chris Webb. In it he reminds everyone that all electrical tools which are used on GWSR property MUST be Pat tested and listed whether they are owned by the Railway or the property of an individual volunteer. Consequently we arranged that all of the mains powered tools which we may use in connection with telephone maintenance or installation would be brought in and tested. This particularly applies to our items such as portable power supplies, oscilloscopes and even simple things like soldering irons. Paul and I also tested the odd items often forgotten and found hiding in Locking Rooms like odd extension leads.

Meanwhile  Kevern was upstairs in Winchcombe Box contemplating mod's to the concentrator unit.
Later it was decided that the mod's could be done more easily and properly at his home workshop rather than balanced on the excellently painted shelf in Winchcombe Box. Oh wouldnt it be nice to have a clean Electrical Bench with good lighting to do this sort of fiddly jobs, Perhaps its getting nearer?.

After Lunch Paul and I went off to Toddington to look again at a Concentrator phone up by the Bridge which was worrying us and causing the signalman to get a false calling signal from time to time. This particular one is not often used but to us its still important that it works, you never know when it will be needed
 The line tested ok but the capacitor was only responding slowly to the standard ballistic test ie was leaky. Just old age I should think, I learnt long ago not to try changing components involving soldering on top of lineside cabinets. Since this is a non running week we will prepare another 706CB from stock and change it next week.

Incidentally next week is "Keverns Course". He promises to fully explain the circuit design constraints  within these concentrators. In the Mk1 and Mk2 units it was easy to be just loop Calling but as soon as we got Gotherington working to Cheltenham, we could see a design problem emerging. A lot of re-thinking around the design of the Box to Box circuits was needed .
Because they are bi -directional they are DC calling rather than the normal Loop calling of the standard SPT's and the ring current supply has to be automatically inhibited to avoid damaging the distant detection circuit. Should be an interesting session. He tells me that he will be using the newly completed box which is destined for Broadway as a training centrepiece.

Sorry its a bit wordy but hopefully some pics next week

Mike S

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Rodding Complete!

Tuesday 6th Nov.
Eight of us at Broadway today and three of our telephone engineers doing stuff at Winchcombe - so a very good turnout!
In my absence last week the second pair of  thermal compensators were bolted down and connected up.

This, with the  connection of the rodding to the fpl for the headhunt points marks the end of the Broadway rodding saga, George and Malcolm here bolting in the last piece :

It only remains to fit the slotted stretchers  which the fpl's lock - two new ones are on order for December.
So, on to signal wires. Two more stakes with pulleys need fitting between the south end of platform 1 and Evesham Road Bridge using the nylon rope to get the alignment right.

All the necessary pulleys are fitted across the bridge so it now remains to carry on with the stakes every 18ft - they are being sited adjacent to every other roller support block.

Then a continuous march firstly up to Childswickham Road Bridge for the Advanced Starter and way into the distance for the Home signal (some 720 yards from the signal box) - so a fair number of stakes required.
The Distant signal (a further 600 yards on will be motor operated) so only electrical cable required here. Which leads me neatly into some of the preparation for the cabling that we continued with today.
The cable runs from Toddington to Broadway will be buried in a trench up to Childswickham Road Bridge with connections along the way at line-side cabinets. Between the two bridges cabling will be placed in concrete troughs.
So today saw the aligning of the troughs along the fence line adjacent to the caravan club. Firstly clearing the brambles:

And then levelling off :

To get a good looking line of troughs. The lids are being left off until the cable appears:

About another 40 yards (=40 troughs) to go to C/Wickham Bridge next week if those involved this week have recovered enough from heaving these monsters about!!

A bit more finishing off has been done at the North end barrow crossing. Here is a view of the platform 2 side with the point rodding re-instated ready for its steel plate.

On the other side we have lowered the blue tube slightly and prepared the shuttering for a better thickness of concrete to cover the tube (no steel plate required here).

The concrete has been poured but I didn't get a picture - you will have to temper your disappointment until next week!


PS During my time off last week up north I ventured to the Aln Valley Railway at Alnwick and took a ride.
Here is one of their tank engines (Richboro) having a good blast up a 1:46 gradient back into Lionheart station.