Thursday, 28 February 2019

Its not only Golf that spoils a good walk!

No blue sky pictures to show- we were too busy checking out the Signal Post phones prior to the start of the season, but it was still a lovely day out in the sunshine.

 Three of us, Kevern Paul and I ( Mike) met at Racecourse to make an early start. Visiting each Signal Post phone in turn, checking that its in working order both for calling and responding and recording the physical state of each one along the line.
At Racecourse the phones were soon done but  the Programmable chip that generates the ringing tone had died so although everything was working- it didn't sound like it was! This is the sort of fault that can cause misunderstandings leading to bigger problems so we were glad to have found it.
Kevern was confident that he had a spare chip handy. So we left him in electronics mode

 But thats when it gets complicated. The box to box circuit goes thru Gotherington but can only be accessed there when the Box is in use- so to check it properly we had  to split up and play leapfrog. Paul went  to gotherington, switched on  and spoke to Racecourse he then left to go to the signal at the start of the loop (S20)  I also moved to Goth tested S20 with him and track walked to Signal 2 by Skew Bridge, in the meantime Kevern had moved to Goth and responded to me  before he left for Winchcombe Box. I returned to Goth  box and spoke to Paul who was by then at Winchcombe Box before he walked to the Outer Home ( Chicken Curve) I  switched Goth off so leaving him to  speak to Kevern at Racecourse.  This is the first time that we have pre season checked both the long and the short circuits between the boxes. Glad we did, we Know its working ok. We are always grateful to Brian for his permission to drive across his goods yard- what a scenic spot it is!

The one that Got away  Tunnel Sth W2

After Lunch at Winchcombe we then repeated the leapfrog game at Toddington. I walked to the Stanway Viaduct; Paul started south at the Outer Home. Eventually we met up and went for a well earned tea break in the summer sunshine. We seem to agree that both Paul and I walked nearly 3 miles each- it certainly felt like it!

 Mike S
PS We didnt actually get to Tunnel Sth  but its a nice spot and we promise to do it when the DMU can give us a lift.
The pic was not taken this week- we certainly didnt need winter coats- just Hi Viz !

Wednesday, 27 February 2019

A Bit of Burying

Tuesday 26th Feb

Eight of us at Broadway today with plenty of shovels and mattocks to do some pipe and cable burying plus the concreting of the signal wire stakes that we positioned last week.
So firstly off to Childswickham Bridge where Steve had previously dug us a channel with the JCB across to the horizontal pulley. This for the burying of a 3" dia plastic tube to protect the signal wire going across the track and adjacent access road.

Once buried  this tube should withstand the rigours of passing service vehicles in the future:

A fair bit of shovelling required to replace just a few JCB bucket loads!

At the advanced starter signal opposite, more shovel-work required to dig channels for burying the cables to feed the signal from the adjacent cabinet:

Two 20 pair cables continue on in front of the signal towards the station and the cables to service the signal are routed to the back. Good job there were plenty of us to shift the ballast and roots!
At last, most of the cables are into the cabinet. Neil C is going to have a lot of fun stripping the ends of these for connecting in!

Having got all the cables buried it was then possible to start dropping the two 20 pairs into the troughing along the side of the caravan site fence and placing the lids on:

All beginning to look quite neat now.
It has turned out that there is quite a lot of walking involved at the moment between the signal box and the two signals - we haven't got the luxury of the diesel railcar this week to taxi us and the hardware. Although we managed to reverse the blue pickup some way up towards the home signal to do the stake concreting. We had the petrol mixer on the back with the aggregate and barrowed the concrete along in stages. Some tweaking of stake alignment was required - but we have now fitted all the pulley wheels and the wire in place:

Moving on up to the Home signal there were more channels to dig to bury another set of cables and feed them into the line-side box. Plus a protective plastic tube under the track to carry track circuit feed wires

In fact there are now eight separate cables going into this line-side box - 4 for track circuits, 2 for signal lamps, 1 for the detector and a 20 pair termination - again Neil C is going to enjoy connecting this lot!

And at long last here is the Home signal in all its glory with the scaffolding removed:

It makes a good leaning post after a hard day's work.

A coat of silver paint has been applied to the two pieces of protective rail "crash barrier" at the horizontal pulley to make them more visible:

And the limited access warning signs attached to the posts at each end of the adjacent  caravan site fence:


Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Yet More Cabinets!

Tuesday 19th Feb

Off on another "jolly" to Broadway today by railcar. A bit easier getting to Broadway by rail rather than road today. Stanton skew Bridge closed for works to restrict its use by lorries now that a 3 ton weight limit has been imposed.

Here we are loaded up ready to go with the next two large line-side boxes with concreting kit:

Two of us alight at the home signal to sort out the siting of the start of the signal wire stakes towards Childswickham Bridge while two more alight at Childswickham Bridge to mark out the 15ft intervals for the stakes back to the home signal with white spray paint.
Neil C and Keith L carry on with the rail car to the North end of platform 2 to install a cabinet at signal 39 (controls entry into siding). Just in case you were wondering when the next picture of a cabinet would turn up - here it is completed:

Meanwhile back at the home signal  two stakes have been positioned to start the run at a 14ft 6" distance from the track.
This is the distance between the track and the roller attached to the side of Childswickham Bridge, so maintaining this dimension all along the run will give a nice straight pull and look good!
Jim P and Malcolm eyeing up the alignment from the signal

Keith L unloads some of the stakes - these are zinc plated  angle iron with pre- drilled holes for attaching the roller castings:

Then starts the hammering in of the stakes - I didn't count them but it's circa 25. They will need a reinforcement of concrete in due course. The side of the embankment undulates quite a bit along here so having levelled the stakes by eye from the track some of them don't penetrate too far into the "ballast" 

Neil C, Keith L and George B return to site the second cabinet by the signal at Childswickham Bridge - this should be the last of the large cabinets required. A lot of the cabinets that have been installed on the railway have suffered from rotting wood in side their bases because they sit on damp blocks - this current idea of bolting them onto large angle iron supports should hopefully eliminate this problem and help to keep nibbling rodents away fron the wiring insulation inside. George B pudding the concrete in mid pour:

And the finished job:

I should mention that the main reason for keeping the 14' gap between the stakes and the track is for vehicular access, which brings me neatly to the next picture of the horizontal pulley at Childswickham Bridge. This now has two substantial rail barriers to stop it being inadvertently run over!


Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Home Signal Finished

Tues 12th Feb

Except for the electrical wiring that is.

Six of us at Broadway today to finish the fitting out of the home signal.
The fitting of the down rod which connects to and operates the spectacle plate from the balance weight arm at the bottom occupied a significant part of our day. The top has this fitting to attach it to the spectacle plate.

And at the lower end this fitting screws on to the threaded  end of the rod and allows for some adjustment

The 19ft 6in long steel rod has  to be fed up through the scaffolding to Malcolm up top - John P trying to find the best gap - quite flexible!

Having got the rod secured at the top we found that there was insufficient thread engagement with the lower fitting attached to the balance weight arm  so the whole of the lower assembly had to be re-positioned 4"higher (all very time consuming).
There is a sequence to all this which means that the guides for the rod must be slid onto the rod before it is connected - four of these are shown here:

They clamp round the post. Two of them suit the smaller diameter of the upper half of the post and two the larger lower half. In fact in the end we decided that only three were necessary to support the rod from flexing. Here is a view of the lower one from above:

And a close up of a guide

And down at the bottom here is the balance weight arm with everything connected, including the wire down to the angle crank:

Some of the scaffolding poles get in the way a bit but you can just see the signal wire connected to the angle crank  going off to the left. This has been uncoiled down to Childswickham Bridge and is now waiting for us to put in the stakes and rollers to support it. All the cables have now been installed in the trenches and back-filled giving us access to do this.
The signal ladder has been fully fixed and a concrete block prepared with some shuttering to secure it at the bottom

All of this activity resulted in some scuffing of the paintwork, so the final job was some black and white brushwork to tidy things up. Just the electrical work to do here for the lamps and detector then it's complete. There will eventually be a telephone at this point - probably attached to the line-side cabinet.
Other work carried out today was back at Childswickham Bridge to adjust the position of the horizontal pulley  (on the two concrete blocks) directing the signal wire over the bridge towards the home signal and to fit a plastic tube under the track and across to this pulley to protect the wire. (one half of the tube is parked here for safekeeping until we bury it next time)

The troughing that we installed between the two bridges along the side of the caravan site have got completely filled with leaves from the adjacent trees - so these were cleared out ready for dropping the cables in.


Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Home Signal Takes Shape

Tuesday 5th Feb.

We were off to Broadway today with the diesel railcar trailer loaded withh the fittings for the Broadway home signal and two large line-side boxes - including aggregate, cement and water (and wheelbarrows to mix the concrete on site) .
We split into two groups. John P, Malcolm W and myself were dropped off at the Home Signal with all the fittings while Neil C, Keith L, Jim P and George B carried on up to the bracket signal at the south end of platform 2 to install the first of the two line-side cabinets.

At the site of the home signal there is much evidence of the trenching for the cables. Steve W has already used his JCB to complete a trench from the distant signal to this point

The trench is approx 15" deep so the cable should be well protected for many years to come - it is armoured and grease-filled and not easy to damage.
Steve now carries on to trench on the opposite side of the line up to Childswickham Bridge - completed by mid-afternoon.

Because trenching on the Cotswold side of the track is impractical from the home signal the main cable has to pass under the track. Feeding hundreds of yards of heavy cable under the rails is pretty impossible so we have asked PWay to break a track joint, unclip a length of rail and jack up the rails sufficiently to feed the cable through. Once this is done all the cables along his stretch can be dropped in and the trench back-filled.
So, on with the assembly of the home signal. We start at the top with the finial. Most of this is a two-man job with one holding and one bolting. The top half of the bracket which holds the pivot for the spectacle plate also holds the detector unit and is very heavy to hold in place - at least Malcolm was grunting a bit until I got the clamping bolts tightened! !

There was quite a stiff breeze blowing and we felt it on the top of the scaffolding - difficult to manipulate nuts and bolts with gloves on so the hand-chill set in, but we managed not to drop any. We had John P down below feeding us with parts using a rope and pulley attached to the scaffolding.
With the castings secure the spectacle plate and signal arm (a brand new one) were attached:

And the not-in-use cross attached.
Six feet below we repeated attaching the fittings for the "Fixed Distant" arm. Note that this is the first combination signal we have on the GWSR.

A ladder and two crow's nests were then wrestled into place:

Then we moved down to ground level to fit the balance weight assembly and angle crank:

Luckily the scaffolding plate was at exactly the right height to take the weight while it was clamped to the post with two hoops.
The remaining piece of the jigsaw is the down rod which connects the spectacle plate to the balance weight arm for operation. This has to be made to suit the distance between the two so a measurement was taken of 19' 6". This rod will probably consist of two pieces which will be welded together. Each piece with the appropriate fitting on the end. A job for back at base.

Up the track at Broadway the next line-side cabinet has been sited and concreted in position by the bracket signal (this photo courtesy of Neil C) :

Then back to the home signal for the second cabinet. This is adjacent to the signal and here is a view of the foundation being prepared from the top of the scaffolding. Note the concreting kit on the trailer:

And the positioning with the angle iron supporting legs tamped into the ground

And the finished job with the shuttered concrete base. The top of the orange pipe protruding from the concrete has a 90 degree bend which is proving a very efficient way of feeding the stiff cables from the trench up into the cabinet

And on the way back another view from the railcar  of the trenching south from the home signal.

Curly ➿

Friday, 1 February 2019

Ground Signal Re-build

Tuesday 29th Jan

Work continued today at Winchcombe with the re-painting of two line-side cabinets. The metalwork of these cabinets is in good condition - the woodwork however has not stood the ravages of time quite so well and some of the internal spars have been replaced.

Not an ideal day for painting but we managed to do this undercover in the port adjacent to the MSC shed. Peter B here with a cabinet  lid and the silver paint:

Neil C and Keith L went off to Toddington to take motive power to Broadway to take the remainder of the cable troughs off platform 2 and relay some of them northwards from the end of platform 2. Pictures of this and the re-building of the footbridge steps can be seen on the Extension Blog.

Over recent time the components of a dismantled  ground Signal have been cleaned and re-painted. Today we put it back together starting with the bottom bracket which holds the balance weight lever:

It then becomes a two man job to position the upper bracket and its clamps while at the same time getting the bar which operates the spectacle plate fed into position and ensuring that it all moves freely before  tightening the clamp bolts and before muscle fatigue sets in! Here is the finished job:

The balance weight still needs a bit of paint and will be fitted later. Not a good day for painting I'm afraid. You will have noticed that most of our activity today has been outside. There is little room left under cover to do this work.
Other jobs going on outside were the construction of two more shuttering boxes for concreting the line-side cabinets in place - John P in action with saw and hammer and drill:

And George B cleaning some more fittings for the signals:

All necessary work towards getting the Broadway signalling infrastructure completed.

I believe there are plans to do some more cable trenching northwards from the distant signal this week.