Thursday, 16 December 2021

Block Diagram Mounted

 Thursday 16th Dec

Neil C, Malcolm W, Peter W and Andy D went to Broadway Signal Box to lift the completed  illuminated Block Diagram into position. All the wiring and fitting of the LED's has been completed. 

With some well-placed spacing blocks on the block shelf and a T-shaped prop stood on the block shelf the job of manoeuvring this heavy object into position went very smoothly. 

I hope you agree that this looks good and makes a nice addition to the box. 

The diagram has been wired up internally and tested and now just requires linking to the block shelf mounted connector. 

Thanks go to Robin Walker and Kevin Simpson for their assistance in designing and drawing the diagram layout. 

Malcolm, Peter and Andy posing by the diagram! 

And a front view


(Photos courtesy of Neil C) 

Thursday, 2 December 2021


 Wednesday 1st Dec

Some re-bonding of replacement rails at Broadway Station was carried out by Neil C, Carl S and Keith L today. 

Carl and Keith inserting bonding wire adjacent to platform 2. (photo courtesy of Neil C


Wednesday, 1 December 2021

Unfinished Business

 Tuesday 30th Nov

We set off to CRC again today to complete the salvage of the spare point rodding rollers and brackets from the concrete stools heading north from the signal box. Quite a few seized nuts which wouldn't yield to spannering so we resorted to splitting them with an angle grinder. We ended up with quite a pile

We plan to use these at Toddington when the pointwork and rodding is replaced in January.

The rest of the day was spent back at Winchcombe putting the rollers, brackets, spacers and rods into sets 

And cleaning and oiling the salvaged bolts. 


Tuesday, 16 November 2021

Preparing for the Contractors

 Tuesday 16th Nov

Today was spent at Winchcombe at the embankment slip by the concrete block retaining wall. Objective to remove all the fixtures which will impede the contractors machinery during the embankment repair. 

This means that the ground signal adjacent to the bracket signal has to come out; the electric point machine has to come out and nine signal wire posts to be broken out of their concrete "boots" and removed. One signal wire to be severed because it traverses the access road down the opposite embankment.

The point motor is fixed to two adjacent sleepers with four through bolts which meant digging out the ballast underneath so that we could get a spanner on the nut

As usual quite a fight against corrosion (stainless Steel bolts next time??) but successful in the end. 
We didn't want to leave the detection rods buried in the impending ballast drop so these were extracted from under the rails

We had borrowed a PWay trolley to transport the fittings back to base. A four man lift was necessary to hoist the point machine onto the trolley - a higher lift would have proved very difficult - its quite a heavy beast. 

The points were left unclamped so that some wooden blocks can be inserted to protect the blades from the oncoming burying and compacting. 
While we were there the contractors were making good progress with making a substantial roadway down the embankment onto the track. A length of track has already been buried in ballast and compacted by rolling enabling access to an excavator

A layer of terram is being laid down first  all the way down to platform 1 starter signal and probably by the end of next week (according to the chap in charge) 650 tons of ballast will be laid - an up to 800mm thick covering. Should be quite interesting to see how this work progresses! 

Looking towards the station

You can just see the sloping access road coming down on the right. 

Back at Winchcombe station we had the luxury of the Tele handler to unload the point machine!

A couple of weeks ago we collected a number of GWR signalling parts which had been retrieved from a garden at Frome, Somerset by some of our gallant volunteers.
Suffice it to say these parts looked more like scrap having lain on the ground for many years. Here is the pickup loaded with it all 

 Ready for us to take from Toddington to Winchcombe for evaluation.

Some of it was beyond redemption and has been consigned to the scrap skip, but some has now been cleaned and painted and will serve a useful purpose 


Friday, 29 October 2021

Token Instrument

 Tuesday 26th Oct

Quite a good turnout today with six of us in action. 

Neil C and John P set off to Gotherington to re-bond a replacement rail.

While the rest of us waited to board the 10.10 from Winchcombe.

For a trip to Cheltenham Racecourse

Our objective is to reclaim some surplus rodding rollers and castings from the stools heading down to the points from the signal box. There are several stools with sets of six rollers attached but only two are in use. 

Mindful of the fact that we needed to catch the DMU back to Winchcombe to reunite us with our lunch, we had to leave several stools for another day. Unbolting turned out to be more difficult than anticipated with the growth of brambles and seized nuts. Next time we'll come armed with a battery angle grinder to cut them off! 

We will need some of these when the pointwork at Toddington is re-configured.

The token instrument in Toddington signal box is proving a bit problematic to operate so we are attempting to provide another one. We have two almost complete units which hopefully can provide us with a fully functioning one. Looks quite complicated inside!

We finished off the day with chopping up some posts to provide kindling for the signal box fires/stoves. These posts were the ones holding up the rotted Greet Tunnel sign (South end) - this has now been replaced with a posh new one - so a bit of useful recycling achieved. Axeman John P in action


Saturday, 23 October 2021

Various Stuff

 Tuesday 19th Oct

A couple of problems to sort out at CRC today - so a trip with P & O with shovel, pick and tools in buckets.

The Signal wires opposite the signal box where they disappear into the tube to pass under the foot crossing have become snagged in weeds and ballast so we have cut back and cleared the problem.

The Signal wire for signal 1 has become too tight and is at the limit of its adjuster. Malcolm has made a link to extend it in the locking room but first we must tie off the wire outside to give some slack to allow disconnection and insert the link.

 A bit awkward getting in between the wires, pulleys and levers but the link has been inserted and the adjuster now has about 6" to play with and the signal showing a good "off" 

While we were in the locking room we gave all the pulleys and angle crank pivots an oiling. 

Thursday 21st

A picture from Peter W concerning the refurbishment of a token instrument by Andy D. There are a lot of damaged tokens which have been cut up to be sure that they cannot be used. Hope to get some pictures and a bit more detail of this instrument next week


Friday, 17 September 2021

Point Gauging

Tuesday 14th Sept

Rather a wet day to be continuing with the gauging of points that we started at Toddington last week so we decided to wait until after lunch before venturing onto the line. So we busied ourselves with a bit of tidying up in the Winchcombe yard during the morning - two large barrow loads of metal into the skip. 

After lunch the weather eased to a fine drizzle so three of us set off along Winchcombe platform 1 to arrive at the pointwork south of the road bridge (adjacent to the rows of large concrete blocks retaining the slipping embankment).

Once we had a good interval between trains we set to work - keeping in contact with the signalman, Malcolm W does the gauging of the "off" and "normal" blades

While John P does the hand cranking of the point motor

The "rocking" contacts (moved by the detection bars)  - I hope you can see in the centre of the next pictures  - must not make if the gap between the blade  and rail is greater than 3mm (the size of the gauge we are using) . When contact is made this indicates in the signal box and the point lever is fully released.

No contact made - points fail

Contact made to left, detection and  points OK

We conclude that these points are in good order and get the signalman to operate from the box before we depart. 

We also check that all bolting is fully tightened, all split pins in position and secured, cables secure and not damaged, blades undamaged and seating to rail, oiling and greasing ok, etc- all recorded

We had reports of a broken bonding wire at the entrance to Greet Tunnel, so a bit more of a walk to sort it. It turned out to be a short way into the tunnel but we managed in the gloom. I think these wires suffer from corrosion from the sulphurous atmosphere where the zinc plating has been damaged by tamping.


Wednesday, 1 September 2021

In Winchcombe Locking Room

 Tuesday 31st August

Just John P and myself in with Malcolm W today.

John P took on the task of re-assembling the GWR ground signal that we recently took out at Toddington. It has had all its parts cleaned and painted and now looks pretty smart.

I continued with the painting of some of the parts of the double ground signal removed from Winchcombe last week. The main casting has now received its primer and undercoat

And one of the lamp cases cleaned and primed

The metal covers on the electric locks and contact boxes in Winchcombe signal box locking room have been removed for cleaning and painting. The numbers corresponding to their lever numbers have been carefully re-painted in black. Our task today was to refit them without dropping any of the small securing screws into the nether depths of the signal wires, pulleys and rodding!

Looks a lot tidier and makes lever identification much easier at a glance. 


Wednesday, 25 August 2021

Yet Another One

 Tuesday 25th Aug

Just two of us in today and another ground signal to remove and recondition - the double  one adjacent to the bracket signal at Winchcombe North.

Luckily this one is mounted on a steel plate secured to a concrete block with studs - so no clearing of ballast required this time.

We got most of the fittings off in situ so no heavy lifting required.

We haven't got another one of these double units so this one needs to be sorted out and replaced. It is an original GWR version. Here is the stripped casting ready to be cleaned. Unusually, the two balance weights came off easily with no drama!

So cleaning continues...........


Wednesday, 18 August 2021

Find the Signal Wire

 Tuesday 17th Aug

A good turn out today with a total of 5 of us. 

Report of signal 33 (advanced starter) at Winchcombe not returning to normal without a lot of lever jiggling. We suspect that a significant amount of vegetation growth is resisting the return of the signal wire - the balance weight at the signal is not overcoming the friction.

So off we go armed with bill hooks and clippers in the direction of Greet tunnel.

Smoke was still seen to be billowing out of the tunnel portal some 15 minutes after the train had gone towards Cheltenham - - nice breeze blowing it out. 

For most of the way between the bridge and the advanced starter the signal wire is invisible, pretty well buried in dense vegetation.

We cleared the wires but this will need some further strimming to make a job of it. Anyway we reached the signal after a good hour of clearance

This seems to have resolved the problem.

Then it was back to base for (guess what!) more Ground signal restoration.

I shall just pop back with a catch up of last Tuesday's work on dismantling the GWR signal which we had removed from Toddington. In order to get the balance weight arm out of the casting both the pivot pin and balance weight have to be removed - both were well seized and required concerted hammering before they yielded

So, today with all parts dismantled we proceeded with the continuous round of cleaning, restoring and painting. 

This lamp case getting the piece work treatment

The balance weight arm primed

The spectacle plate primed

The casting primed

And the boss inspecting the days work

Carl S found this paint brush in our store - it has an afro haircut - can't imagine what it has been used for - not much use for painting!