Monday, 11 November 2013

Well, here we go!

About two weeks ago I said to Malcolm  "Today will be my last  funday before I need to plan for our winter departure to sunnier climes"  I managed another day and then another one and of course the very useful Volunteer meeting last Saturday - and just a   few hours after that! .
So you might by now understand that my leave pass has been cancelled ufn by the Gov'nor.
We gotta be ready for the Ferry to Bilbao.

Happy to report that we now have a better understanding of the innards of the pax and I have  cleared 3 separate  faults  and got Todd 35 and 36 working, but not 42 the Steamy Coach.
Sorry chaps its dis outside so I've passed my report to Neil to deal.

For now its signing off time, I will be back when the swallows return in the Spring.

Merry Christmas to all our readers

Mike S

Friday, 1 November 2013


You might have sensed the frustration from my last visit.
Bit like horse riding when you fall off you just have to get back on and learn some more. I went back again today and altered the tagging as per discussions, you may remember"Those who Know"   and it worked!
Learnt quite a bit, I wish those who did it long ago had had the drawings that we now have - they could have wired it correctly first of all.
At least one extension is back and working 35 and probably 36 as well.
Next job Tie line 10 but that might have to wait a while

Mike S

Wednesday, 30 October 2013


Reported for duty nice and early, full plan.
Today I will clear up some of the problems with the pax at Todd, or so I thought.

Now that we have these units on trolleys it is possible to get to the innards properly.
The secrets are all on  a large tagstrip in the rear which has been pushed back to the wall for a lot of years- Don't tell Mr Almon B. Strowger because he will probably cancel the warranty! ( He invented the system in 1891, ours was built around 1959 so its a new one really).

First lets just check the faults are still there, then lets just change the jumpering  to use circuits that do work and then we can sort out the faulty ones in our own time.

Simple eh what?

Interesting,  The drawing number doesn't match the number on the tagblock and the tag strapping doesn't make sense. Hmm
And there I sat. Looking at it for another couple of hours.
I have learnt that its better to look and suss out before you make any changes.
Neil, I hope you are reading this. Get well soon!

Later, I spoke to Others Who Know, thanks Ian, and was talked through the logic of it. So now I think I know. Try again. All I need now is a pass out from 'er indoors and we will stand a good chance of sorting it.

The Oily Boys

Another dept of S&T is the Oiling gang, led by Bill Tyndall. It looks like they might be about to start Blogging their exploits, and get more recruits. "Oiling to Broadway" does it roll off the tongue?

He doesn't know yet but the reporter may well be Mr Roy Steel.
Don't forget Roy, you heard it here first!

Sorry about the boringness of todays Blog, here is a picture of the cat we co-share with next door


Mike S

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

A Wet, Wet, Wet Week in Winchcombe

When the weather is wet its time to look for an indoor job.
Richard E had gone off and hidden in Winchcombe box for the day- Signalling Duty I think he said so we must let him off then.
Richard C was nowhere to be found so it was all down to the me and the Protheroughs. Oh and a Visitor from the Far East, of Dean that is.

Ist job needed both Andy and John- you can tell the difference as John (dad) has got a lot more hair than son (Andy) Placing the Winchcombe exchange (PAX) unit  onto its new mobile trolley so that we can move it around a bit and get to work in the back of it.

We were also joined for the day by Paul Seward who very kindly came up to help us and take a look at the units.
 Paul usually works on the Dean Forest Railway.
Delighted to see you Paul and glad to be able to swop things back to you.
Sorry the Payphone was so dusty!
 Paul and I worked right through lunchtime "mobilising" the 3cwt unit at Toddington unit onto its trolley. He was able to give us a lot of tips re the internal arrangements.

They were built in Liverpool in the late 1950's when diodes were copper oxide stacks and chips were things you ate for tea.
Now we can work behind them we can start to get to grips with some of the faults ( Extension 35 and 36, you are not forgotten) and we rewired the winter heater to keep it drier internally, hopefully the wildlife will spend this winter somewhere else!

Meanwhile, back at base;
the new overhead display for Broadway signal box is taking shape.
 Here we see the redoubtable MW making sure that John holds it up properly for the camera.
I gather that really it is Carl Smarts project.
 I think he will be surprised at how its been transformed from the dustgatherer that lived under Winchcombe Box into what will eventually be a centre piece of the new signal box

Mike S

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

We all seem to have been a bit split up in the last couple of weeks. I missed a week during which the new cable into the new C&W building  was installed and terminated.
Last week your scribe was  in the bowels of the two automatic exchanges: working last week with Neil to sort a problem with one of the Winchcombe to Toddington tie lines. 
These are the bits that work when you dial 19 or 59 for the other system. The exchanges are based on the standard PO type selectors (2000 type for the nerds,) but are suffering from the cramped conditions in the signal box locking rooms. Still, soon we will have the trolley frames to enable work to be done in the back of the units, where all the interconnections are. Soon perhaps, the Flag and Whistle extensions will work properly again!

Just for a change today I had to attend to the unit at Todd which was stuck in the ON mode, at least it sounded that way as the signalman was getting fed up with the noise  coming from downstairs. It didn't help when I was asked to fill up the kettle  and used half his clear lemonade! Sorry Bob! If its any solace, my lemon coffee tasted 'orrid!

In the meantime, out in the daylight our pair of Richards, Etherton and Collier, have been painting away at the exterior of Toddington Signal Box. Soon the steps will glow in the winter sunshine as will the woodwork on the south end. Seriously, its an ongoing task like so much of the S & T work to keep it all working and looking right for our visitors and the paying customers.
I did catch a glance at the Protheroe's busily loading planks onto the pickup, probably to do with crows nests I should think. Unfortunately they were too quick for the camera but here are a couple of pics of  the two Richards beavering away with paintpots.


Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Another lovely Day, inc the Wildlife of Winchcombe


The fog steadily cleared to some lovely Tuesday sunshine. We started with a tidy up / clear out under the Signal Box at Winchcombe.

What did we re-discover?
Malcolm new this would come in handy, it will be the overhead board which will show the track circuit and signal positions  Broadway Signal Box. Carefully stored away.

Can see Carl S and Richard E,but where's Malcolm?

Ah there he is !

Meanwhile Keith and John Proth were  doing a bit of Undergrowth clearing and what did Keith  find?

As Richard E said " Its a good job we'ed got our toadtectors on"
 Not sure quite what happened after that as I left to go to Toddington with Roy to investigate the crackles on Extn 40 in the signal box and to replace the handset on the Barrow crossing phone as the curly cord was poorly. 
We eventually changed the phone and rewired the extension completely. 
Lets see how it goes now!
Also Roy  measured up for a small winter heater to go inside the pax unit.

When we got back to Winchcombe, Neil came down the yard with a drum of 20pr cable which he wants run through the ducting to feed the new C&W Building.  That'll be next week then.
Eventually we will all be be back on the  phone. Have also made a note to look at the Building Services extensions as well.

As a fitting end to the day I was let in to C&W to pick up the newly varnished boxes that they have tidied up for us. Very nice too, very many thanks. ( Will try for a pic later)
Now about that offer to make a steel frame to go under the pax?

Mike S

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Tuesday Sept 17th
MW away in the sunshine and has left us a long list of jobs to do. Problem is that whilst He may be away on a beach, We are in the pouring rain!

So basically we try to pick the dry jobs. Andy P and his Dad John start to reassemble the ground signal castings that have been rebuilt and are now repainted in shiny Gloss Black. I decided to see if I could get a bit further with the cable problem that lurks on the inter Box circuit between Cheltenham Raccecourse and Winchcombe signal boxes. I have long thought that it was in the section betwen Gotherington and Winchcombe but that was what we wanted to prove, ready for Neil to take further, opening up lineside cabinets etc.
As I said, it was pouring with rain and we ( John Collier and I) were looking for an indoor job. By about 2.00 we were wet through having marched up and down Gotherington Platform, its a wet walk to the Signal Box. But we did it and I can now say its a 30v battery contact on the B leg and its probably nearer to Winch than Goth, also slightly worrying the contact is not coming from a phone line, possibly something more critical so we need to keep an eye on it. Wrote up our work  report to update the fault report sheet, watch this space.

Need to try to do some work on the rear of our beloved Strowger Exchanges. Unfortunately they were placed against a wall and we need access to the rear. Especially at Toddington where the fault is the reason why some extensions will receive calls but can't get  dial tone. Thinking of some sort of platform frame  on big castors that will enable them to be rolled out and then put back when  the work is done.
 Question:  has anyone got any knocking around ? The exchange units weigh 3cwt each so it will be substantial, is this a new answer to mobile phones!!

Mike S

Friday, 6 September 2013

The Blog Begins

Our Railway consists of many happy gangs not the least, but so far blog -free, is us at S&T.

This is my first attempt at Blog writing ( sounds a bit like Bog Snorkeling!) and any view or inference is mine not necessarily that of the Dept. Just informative entertainment.

A lot of our work revolves around the mechanical signalling side , the Telegraph part heavily involves the redoubtable Neil Carr-he knows where all the cables are. We also have a smaller group, mostly me at present who, whilst I rejoice in the fine arts of restoring rusty metalwork,  prefer to use my skills to maintain the telephone side. More of which as we go on.

We are led by Mr Malcolm Walker. He is often  found behind a cloud of pipe smoke unless he happens to be leading us forward around the dusty wastes of Winchcombe yard.
Here we see a meeting in progress between MW and the Protheroe Gang, assessing which one they need for a certain job. From what I overheard the holes were different sizes. ( Whitworth of course)

The rest of us lot help out in all sorts of ways and make tea.

Richard Collier and Carl Smart. Carl is smiling as I he thinks he will be getting a new Tabard soon!

Projects recently completed include the Down Gantry signal in Winchcombe yard which was assembled from scratch and the pre assembly  of the lever frame for Broadway Signal Box. 
Apparently , the easiest way to find out if we had enough bits was to put it together. Unfortunately we will have to totally dismantle it to install it, but that's the railway philosophy , nothing beats us!

We are also preparing to replace all the Signal Box Concentrators so that they will work in exactly the same way and look in keeping with our heritage railway. In this respect I have taken advice and continue to be amazed at the help I have had from from a number of other railways including Dean Forest, Mid Hants and Bluebell to name but a few. Big thanks also to our own Carriage and Wagon who  are varnishing mahogany cases for us whilst we gather  together all the bits and pieces to build five new ones, all different. 

 As I said, its all my own personal view. Hope you enjoyed reading it, more as and when.
Mike S