Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Ground Frame Delivered

Tuesday 30th Jan

A good turnout today with 8 of us in action at Broadway leaving Mike  and Paul back at Winchcombe doing essential telephone stuff.

Neil C had already loaded  the ground frame, that we had assembled a couple of weeks ago, on to the pickup ready for transit to Broadway - just got to finish drinking tea and exchanging views on Channel 4's "The Biggest Little Railway in the World" before we set off!

On arrival, Team A set off north to fit the two remaining stretcher bars to the siding points:

Team B continued with the lining out and positioning of the signal wire pulleys using nylon rope to simulate the wires:

 John P then got busy with the mag drill :

On the other side of the tracks it is now getting quite crowded and needs a bit of fine adjustment to get the best positions of the pulleys so that wires clear cranks:

We nearly left Malcolm behind until we heard his plaintive cries from the tunnel!

Meanwhile Team C prepared for Steve to lift the ground frame off the pickup. Unfortunately his JCB was stabled at Stanton so we decided to have an early lunch while he went to fetch it. Eventually it was hooked up and lifted  off:

and parked it by the fence.

We also arrived with a selection of couplings on the operating table:

Unfortunately further work to instal the frame will have to wait until our next visit because we are  short of a few fixings  which we need to sort out.

Sub team D then disappeared out of sight towards Toddington with a measuring wheel to mark the positions for the signals that still need installing viz: the Advanced Starter , the Outer Home and the motor operated Distant - a good walk there and back!

On my way out I put my nose into the station building to watch the  tilers at work - some hitec tile alignment going on there using laser equipment.
Also the tiled floor of the booking hall looks amazing.  I should have taken a shot - will do next week if the Station Blog doesn't beat me to it (or is this classified info to be kept under wraps before opening day!!)


Thursday, 25 January 2018

Two more workers

No, not workers, I meant working lines! The two PAX exchange lines for Broadway Todd 43 and 53 are now commissioned after a deal of difficulty. For the strowger nerds, each FS number is associated directly with a pair of  600 type relays, L&K. Normally by strapping to adjacent tags but as they fail, it is less damaging to our ancient unit  which was build in 1965,  to cross connect  ( jumper) over to a  spare pr of relays whenever we can. Unfortunately one of the two legs going to the MDF was  incorrectly terminated on the number we had chosen to bring into use and it caused much head scratching until I used one of the new LED working lights to actually see what I was doing. Voila fault found!.

I didn't mention it before but last week Paul and I were at Toddington installing  computer cabling for faster  credit card machines rather than the old Dial-up ones that we started with. I gather that Neil has now completed the terminations.

The new concentrator, again for Broadway, is now completed and tested.
Here I really must say a big THANK YOU to Colin at Time Sync Controls in Banbury who very kindly built and donated a new Power Supply for these units.

Poor old Kevern was very frustrated when the  test PSU died on him but now, thanks to Colin, the job has been completed and will now be soak tested  before installation in the new Signal Box. This is the last unit in the complete rebuilding of all 5 units so all the Signal Boxes Concentrators look in-period and work in exactly the same way.

Mike S

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

At a Stretch

Tuesday 23rd Jan

Seven of us at Broadway today primarily to fit and adjust the stretchers which set and control the position of the point blades. Also to fit the brackets in readiness to connect up to the hand lever (head shunt points) and the ground frame (south end points).
We came armed with a miscellany of fittings:

 A few measurements taken first to set gaps and ascertain the length of stretcher required.

A good deal of tweaking is required to ensure that the gap between blade end and rail is within an acceptable range. We ended up with a  gap of 4" (plenty of room to let wheel flanges clear). And then with the blade barred over to make sure it seats well against the rail.
One fitted at last making sure that all bolts are well tightened (note the insulated right angled joint to enable the track circuiting) :

Then to fit the bracket which will connect to the springed  point lever - here is the bracket (mounted on Keith L!)

And then fitted to the stretcher bar adjacent to the point of the  blade :

The head shunt point has four stretcher bars fitted because of its greater length (a C category point I believe). The other two points have 3 stretchers. 
To finish off this "rant" on stretchers, this final shot shows the connector which will drive the 3rd stretcher on the head shunt point once the hand lever is replaced with point rodding control from the signal box ie two of the four stretchers will drive the point blades:

Two more stretcher bars are needed for the Siding Point, these need drilling to get the brackets in the correct position so will have to wait for next visit - and anyway it started to rain at this point so we called it a day. 

Malcolm, John P and Len spent time re-fitting the steel plate at the base of platform 1 opposite the signal box tunnel. Now that the track is in place it was decided to raise it on some spacers to give better clearance for the signal wires with the ballast. Pulley wheel positions have been marked out and pilot drilled - ready for the mag drill next time. Final fitting after track tamping is completed. The plate is neatly 2" clear of the sleeper ends - perfect! 

And here's a final view of the head shunt point showing the four stretchers and clipped for access from platform 1. 

We managed to get through the day without trapping any fingers! 


Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Signal Maintenance

Tuesday 16th Feb

A brief report today. Two signals at Toddington in need of a bit of TLC from us. The starter signal (no. 25) has to have its temporarily repaired down rod replaced and re-aligned so that it runs smoothly through its guide brackets up the post. This also meant moving the balance weight arm and angle crank round so that all components line up correctly to enable smooth movement. Malcolm did the scary bit up top to unbolt the down rod from the spectacle plate and then lift it clear of the brackets. It has to be lifted out vertically and you end up with several metres of wobbling  steel rod to be manoeuvred down to ground.

John P and myself stayed down below to do the dis-connecting an re-connecting:

The trouble with slackening off the clamps and moving the fittings, it is difficult not to damage the paintwork so we will have to re-visit with a wire brush and some paint.

The other signal requiring our attention is the double disc ground signal between the tracks adjacent to Toddington Signal Box. This has now been disconnected and transported back to Winchcombe for re-furbishment. It's lamp cases and discs are in a poor state, so it will get a complete dismantle, clean, paint and re-build. Some of the bolts need a deal of brute force to undo and the balance weights need sustained  blows from a sledge hammer to get them off. You could argue that the balance weights could be left in their corroded-on position but it's nice to have everything working properly!
Here's Carl S. wrestling with the bolt holding the balance weight in position - it came out eventually without shearing off!

While Keith L scrapes away close by to remove years of grime and grease from some of the fittings.


Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Ground Frame Resurrection

Tuesday 9th Jan
A good turnout today with 10 of us in action.
The main task of the day was to re-build the ground frame that will be installed temporarily to operate the points at Broadway South. This is the frame that was previously doing service at Laverton and has since been dismantled and stored in various locations at Winchcombe.
First we have to extricate the base (a heavy lump)  from the back of the yard with the aid of the telehandler at maximum reach :
 Then mount it on two concrete blocks to fix in the two levers in position. The blue/brown lever to operate the FPL and the black lever the points:

Then attach the lock which prevents the FPL lever being operated. This can only be released with the staff carried by the train crew when operating. We have a key which we can use to make sure that the system functions OK. It all works well.

Now we need to fit the  rails. The two  top rails appear to have gone missing so two new ones have been screwed on. The two couplings sitting on the walkway will attach the bottom of the levers to the rodding:

A coat of creosote finishes the job off. 

We hope to transport this assembly as it is to Broadway on a pickup and get Steve to lift it off with his JCB. While it is up in the air we will attach four concrete legs and then lower it into prepared holes in the ballast. These are two of  the concrete "legs" which will support the frame approx 15" above ground level. A step or steps will be required :

An update with the cabling required between Toddington and Broadway. 
A 20 pair armoured cable is required to carry all the necessary connections for signal lamps, repeaters, track Circuits, telephones, etc. To protect this cable Steve has been busy excavating a shallow trench between the aqueduct and Laverton to install the next length. These lengths of cable correspond to the lengths of continously welded rail each section of which will be track-circuited. The opportunity was taken earlier (last week before the trackwork south of Toddington stopped us getting through) to spool out the cable between the tracks using the diesel railcar with the cable drum mounted on a flatbed.  Life made easy here:

So today, Neil C, Carl S and Keith L were despatched to lift the cable from the four foot into the trench and instal a lineside cabinet at the end of the run. I believe Steve followed on with the JCB to perform the burial.
There will be two more lengths of cable to dig in before Broadway is reached and communication can begin. Sorry no photos of the burial and cabinet installation, but I did get a shot of it after Len had attached the legs before it was carried off from Winchcombe

And to finish off today, a piece of kit that you would not associate with phones. Mike S and Paul are in the process of installing a phone at the crossing at the south end of platform 2 at Toddington. This piece of rail we heaved out of the yard will do nicely to mount it on and will match one on the opposite side!

I believe that whoever turns up on Thursday will have the job of cleaning and painting it!

We spotted a coach passing by in Winchcombe yard this afternoon. Being delivered from the Avon Valley Railway


Wednesday, 3 January 2018

A Few More Connections

Tuesday 2nd Jan

Six of us at Broadway today firstly to do a bit more work under the signal box.
The levers for operating the
signals furthest away from the box have the adjusters on the floor of the box upstairs (to allow tightening or loosening of the signal wires with extremes of temperature - as explained in a previous blog)  . The other levers operating the shorter wire runs are connected using (what I call Turnbuckles - with one LH and one RH thread). These allow for the initial tensioning of the wires and for any small adjustment that may become necessary. Here you can see them hanging down from the "lever tails"

They are attached to the levers with shackles and will eventually have the signal wire attached with a shackle at the bottom. The wire will then pass under the pulley below and out through the tunnel. Here's a view with them all fitted

Also fitted today was the final down rod connecting lever 19 to its angle crank down below. This now gives us a full set of connections for the point rodding - four going north and three going south - although No. 19 will not be used unless an additional set of points is fitted for a future layout!
No. 19 is 3rd from the left.

The mechanical locking has now been tested and functions well but with one additional  lock being required. This will be carried out by Malcolm and George on Thursday - then it will be complete. To facilitate  the testing of the mechanical locking combinations  the electric locks were disconnected - so just those to re-connect and the covers to fit and hopefully this stage is then complete.

To increase the reliability and brightness of our signal lamps along the railway we have now fitted warm white LED's. So far Cheltenham and Gotherington have been converted - Toddington and Winchcombe to follow.