Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Stretching and Bonding

Tuesday 14th May

A team of eight of us at Broadway today to continue with rail bonding and the fitting of two brand new fpl Stretchers to the headshunt and siding points.
But first the team photo at the signal box with 4270 running past in platform 2:

Neil C, Keith L and Carl S headed back towards Childswickham Bridge with the drilling machine to continue with the bonding:

Here they are arriving at the pointwork with the slightly more challenging layout to fit the drilling machine in the correct position relative to the fishplates. Bonding was completed up to Evesham Road Bridge by end of day.

Now for the Stretchers.
What are Stretchers I hear you cry.  I hope this description will explain. They are steel strips which are bolted between the point blades to maintain the correct gauge through the points. There are three of these through the siding points on which we are working plus the fpl stretcher.

Two brand new fpl ones have been purchased and don't they look good! Not gold plated however (probably cadmium) :

They have two preliminary slots which are in the approx positions required to line up with the fpl locking bar. They have to be bolted in position on the point blades and line up with the fpl bar to mark the correct position for the slots to be widened out to.
This involves a lot of trial and error with shims to ensure that the point blades seat properly - One side of the stretcher has to be insulated with plastic shims for track circuiting purposes.

This closeup shows the stretcher in position with the two pre-cut slots in mid-position:

Then it's unbolt and return to the signal box to open out the slots with a combination of angle grinder, hacksaw and file.

Then back up the tracks to re-fit the stretcher. Up to this point we have been barring over the points with a crowbar having disconnected the point rodding. To ensure that the locking works correctly everything is re-connected. To do this we have left George B back in the signal box to pull the levers and use our mobiles to communicate.
Some fine trim is needed by filing to ensure that the fpl locking bar passes freely through the slot with minimum clearance. The depth of the slot also turned out to be too shallow and fouled the bar. Jim P here with a file - this took several attempts to get it just right. We ran out of time here - slot 2 will have to wait until next week.

The finished slot is on the right with points in normal position.

We ticked another box earlier by fitting metal straps to each end of the four sleepers which separate the fpl and its crank. This is to ensure that there is no relative movement of the fpl and its crank  to upset its alignment and operation.
John P busy drilling the holes for coach screws :

And the fitted strap secured to all four sleepers

We have been concerned about the condition of the signal box steps so have decided to sort them out. The ravages of water has taken its toll on the woodwork and its paint so the metal tread plates have been removed and George B has cleaned up all the steps ready for a re-paint (while he was waiting for our lever-pulling communications!)



  1. Blimey Curly! We thought you were going to talk about team building and excercises before starting work!
    Now it starts to make sense!
    So very informative blog again, many thanks for for the reports its shows a hidden side to our railway.
    Paul & Marion

  2. Thanks again for the update. Always interesting and good, clear, self explanitary photos to accompany.
    Regards, Paul.

  3. As a matter of interest, has the current Network Rail nonsense of making everyone working on or near the line wear hard hats, regardless of the job in hand, spread to the GWSR yet? Plus, do the Working at Heights Regulations require a harness to be worn when climbing signals for maintenance? I'm all for safety, but common sense seems to have gone out of the window lately!

    1. Common sense prevails. We were asked to wear hard hats while Broadway was a building site. High viz and totectors are our normal ppe and a good knowledge of trackside safety.