Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Locks and Brackets

Tuesday 20th Dec

Another visit to Broadway signal box today to do further work on the locking frame.
It was decided to add four further support brackets give additional rigidity to ensure that the locking trays cannot move This should do the trick:

Then it was time to make a start with the positioning of the locks. The tappet blades have many and various notches from their previous life at Aller Jn Box (like this one for example)

It is quite a jigsaw to position them so that some existing ports can be used . We are trying to avoid cutting  new ones where possible because of the tedious work involved.  Locks must be precisely positioned to ensure that a locked lever cannot start to be pulled because of slack in the mechanism. 
Malcolm W has produced a locking scheme which we have been making a start with trying out today.
Here are some of the brass locks in position:

There are some more locking combinations to finish yet which may mean some  re-positioning but hopefully it will all fit in. Once all the ports have been established, the locks will be attached to locking bars, the new material for which is now here:

Quite a jigsaw before it's all done.

Just managed to get a shot of the finished Block Shelf which was brought over last week and is now lying on the floor behind the levers. The two brackets to hang this from the rafters are currently being  modified at Winchcombe. Another job for the new year to hang this.


Wednesday, 7 December 2016

The Post with the Most

Tuesday 6th Dec

Most of today was spent continuing the re-furbishment of the wooden signal post which we are going to instal at Broadway. The main problem was a significant amount of rot on the bottom end. This has now been cut out and a piece of good timber screwed in. To bring it back to full strength we are fitting a steel "boot". This consists of 4 pieces 60" long , tapering from 10"wide at the base down to 9". These are temporarily screwed on. Here's the first one in position:

Next stage will be to remove the plates and finish paint the woodwork. Plates will be screwed on again and tack welded. Hopefully the boot can then be slid off the small end and have all the seams welded up. Failing this it will have to be welded in position and suffer a bit of scorched timber!
Here's the "boot" with all four plates fitted:

Three quarters of the steel will eventually be below the surface. Plenty of painting and waterproofing to follow. This is turning out to be quite a lump!

Some of the fittings had been bolted on last Wednesday by Carl and Keith but still needed a bit of checking and adjustment to ensure that the Spec Plate was aligned correctly. The counter weight fittings will be mounted on the top of the boot ( some tappings will be necessary). It's all beginning to look rather fine:

Note that the finial has a black base. We have had a discussion about this because a comment on a previous blog noted that black finial bases were probably  a GWR practice. We can only conclude that there may have been some regional variations. All our GWSR finial bases I believe are white - anyway here's a black one for Worcestershire!

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Re-connecting No.1

Tuesday 29th Nov

Today's urgent task was to replace the track bonding wires and the wires and posts that operate the home signal No.1 at Didbrook all of which were removed prior to the lifting of the track for sleeper replacement last week.
Stage 1 was to clear ballast  (of which there is plenty prior to tamping) from between two pairs of sleeper ends each side of the fishplates to enable the mounting of the drilling machine. This makes life easy to drill a pair of holes on each side for two bonding wires. Luckily every other rail joint here is welded so we only had to bond 5 joints on each side. Here's Neil C in full flow with the motorised twin drill:

A pair of bonding wires was then threaded through behind the inner fishplate and chairs, chopped to length and bent through the holes. The wires have clearance and are secured for good electrical contact by hammering in tapered pins round  them. John P and Richard C followed on behind the drill:

Here's a view of the wires in place - hopefully bent sufficiently away from the ravages of the fotthcoming tamping.

We then turned our attention to fitting the two pulley wheels which take the signal wire under the track from the Cotswold side to the Malvern side where the signal is situated. This meant clearing the ballast between two sleeper ends and underneath 4 sleeper ends to give acces for bolting- a bit awkward for spannering up but a nice neat solution with the pulleys secured to the sleeper ends on steel plates:

This left the signal wire posts and pulleys to be installed. These are hammered into the ballast which usually gives them sufficient rigidity as there is very little lateral force on them an we have ensured that the runs are (almost) perfectly straight!  Here's one in position with the signal wire threaded through. The longer ones of these where we go through shallow ballast into softer earth are made from short lengths of point rodding:

There were several joints of the wires to be made. Malcolm W is skilled in this "art" which I would describe as a method of metal wire plaiting! I should have taken a close-up of one. It certainly ensures that a joint is secure. He was complaining of holes in his fingers at the end. Signal wire is very unforgiving stuff even with the assistance of pliers. The last joint has to be made while keeping tension on the run. Luckily we got it right and only a small amount of adjustment was needed on the Toddington signal box  adjuster to get the "pull" operating correctly. 

Bring on the tamper !


Tuesday, 8 November 2016

A Bit More Prep for Broadway

Tues 8th Nov

One of the jobs we are getting on with to enable the ticking of another box towards the kitting out of Broadway Signal box is the construction of the Block Shelf.  This is quite a large construction which consists of 3 separate sections of GWR block shelf which were originally in Dawlish Warren signal box. These have been jointed together to make an 18ft long piece with 5 ribs to stiffen a new one piece front panel. We have retained the original end radii so when it is in position it will look pretty well heritage!

Because of its size and the pending inclement weather we have 'borrowed" Building Services facilities to do this. More work to do on it yet but it's beginning to look the business. Here are John P and Carl S with the assembly at the end of the day:

We shall require the modification of the steel mounting brackets which will hang this from the box roof - number of brackets and modifications to be decided. Putting it up is going to need a bit of ingenuity and muscle!

In the meantime cleaning and refurbishing carries on. All the point operating components have been rescued from Laverton and Keith L and Mike S are labouring away to undo some pretty stubborn nuts:

and in the relative warmth of the coach "workshop" a start has been made with the cleaning and testing of the electric locks:


And finally, from last week, progress was made with the stripping and painting of the wooden signal post which we have in the yard at Winchcombe..............................................................................


Wednesday, 26 October 2016

A clean and paint day

Tuesday 25th Oct

Just a couple of volunteers today confined to barracks at Winchcombe to do some essential cleaning and painting of fittings. As mentioned last week we have a series of electric locks to fit in Broadway box - the ones we have in stock need a bit of tlc. The covers have been wire brushed with an angle grinder and have been painted with red primer. After white undercoating they will eventually be painted "silver".

Inside our carriage "workshop" some of the back plates for the locks have been cleaned and under coated:

A miscellany of signal parts are also in various stages of restoration on another bench outside - some of these will find action at Broadway. The primed item in the foreground is a mounting bracket for a lamp case. 

The finial which was removed during the re-furbishment of signal 3 at Cheltenham has now been cleaned and here it is receiving its white gloss topcoat - red centre section to follow - another part  for Broadway signals:

Talking of signals, we have received, courtesy of John S, a 20ft long wooden signal post which we are proposing to use for the starter signal at the end of  Broadway platform 1 ( near where the original signal box used to be adjacent to Evesham Road bridge). We believe it was rescued from a garden in Cornwall. It is quite a substantial piece of oak. It has some fairly serious rot at its bottom end so we are going to cut this out and insert a new piece and then fit a steel boot round it for support. Here is a sneak preview from  under the cover:

To round off the day Neil C and Richard C went over the tracks to fit replacement lights to both ends of the Baguley-Drewry railcar. Red LEDs on the right and white LEDs on the left for bi-directional Identification. Mechanical servicing still to be carried out but still looking excellent  after its C&W makeover


Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Clearing the Deck

Tuesday 15th Oct

S & T paid a visit to Broadway today with the prime objective of removing the 38 pallets of cable troughing from the trackbed - the first stage of clearing up to prepare for ballasting. These will be temporarily stored on platform 2 each side of the signal box until they are installed for the cabling south from the signal box. Neil C drove the Telehandler from Winchcombe to achieve this task

38 trips up and down the trackbed took most of the day

But the trackbed now looks nice and tidy - here's a view looking northwards to the fence at the limit of GWSR property

And  here are the re-located pallets in their new position:


While this was going on Malcolm W was down in the locking room doing some trial fitting of an electric lock. Quite a lot of work still to do here. We need to make some couplings and pins to link the lower tappet blades to the locks. Some of the tappet blades will have to be removed for the drilling of holes to suit. I believe there will be 16 electric locks required.

Richard C and Carl S took the opportunity to record some site measurements while all this was going on. This to determine the positioning of the 3 signals (this includes the route indicator signal which is currently erected in Winchcombe  yard) which will control movements at the northern end of the station. Hopefully once this is all agreed we can dig some holes and progress with setting the signal posts. The posts will be set behind the lines of the drainage pipes and cut into the slope of the edge of the embankment - this will include a concrete base and small retaining wall.
Out of interest, from the end of the platform ramp to the perimeter fence there is a distance of 330 metres (361 yards) in which to fit the northern track layout. Here's Richard C about to pace it out with the measuring wheel:

Hope Neil got back to base with the Telehandler without causing too much traffic congestion!


Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Finishing Number 3

Tuesday 11th Oct

Five of us returned to Cheltenham Racecourse Station to complete the re-furbishnent of signal no.3 adjacent to the road bridge at the end of platform 1.  We borrowed one of the P Way trolleys to transport all the replacement signal parts and tools up from the crossing by the signal box. This was accomplished after the loco had run round with the first steam se vice of the day. No SPADs were reported!  -  here we are ready for action:

The signal post has already had its 3 coats of paint applied so the brackets for mounting the spectacle plate, detector, lamp case and signal arm were fitted at the top first. The down rod, balance weight assembly and angle crank followed at the bottom. The ladder had to wait for its top coat of gloss black (at the top), and white over the lower section. Here's Richard C putting the finishing touches to the ladder:

The temporary Ground Signal has now been removed:


And will eventually be installed at the north end of the station. Unfortunately the heights of the signal fittings were not quite identical to the original settings so the two existing cables for the detector and lamp were short by about 6 inches so we had to "untrench" them to find a bit of slack. We were lucky! All are now re-buried and tidy.

We managed to disconnect the ground signal and re-connect and test no.3 between trains so there was no disruption. Here' a view of the finished job:

Meanwhile up in Hunting Butts Cutting the headshunt points were getting some attention. Any shunting of the stored sock on the 2 tracks has meant that the points have to be barred and clipped for 
each move because the casting on the hand operated spring lever was broken. Here's the offending item:

Neil C and Jim P spent most of the morning sorting this out and it is now fully operational
with a replacement assembly which has a pretty strong ' snap' on it.


Friday, 30 September 2016

Temporary Ground Signal in Operation

Tues 27th Sept

Six of us at Cheltenham Racecourse today with two tasks in hand. Firstly to connect the temporary ground signal that we installed  last week to enable us to strip signal No 3 for a complete makeover.
Secondly to finish burying the cable by the side of platform 2 down to the signal box.
Neil C was the advance guard to get the scaffolding up round signal 3 before the arrival of the first train of the day. We arrived and loaded the P Way trolley after 4270 had run round and the way was clear to move our kit up to the bridge. Carl, Jim, Keith and John poised for action:

The objective was to disconnect the electrical wiring and signal wire from No 3 as quickly as possible  and re-connect to the ground signal to enable seamless operation for the next steam run round. All went well with only an additional short length of signal wire required to be "spliced" in:

Electrical wires from No 3 connected straight in without drama. Except that the light bulb didn't survive the journey - luckily we found a spare in the signal box so both illumination and detection are now fully functioning:

Cable burying along platform 2 now complete - everything now looking nice and tidy;

Now just needs the Tarmac!


Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Preparations for signal re-furb

Tuesday 20th Sept

Four of us on duty today so off to Cheltenham for some maintenance work.

Signal No.3 at the southern end of platform 1 at Cheltenham Racecourse Station is due for a re-paint - but before we can dismantle it there is a precaution we have to take. Because this signal controls the points in Hunting Butts we are going to instal a temporary ground signal . This (hopefully) will be visible to the engine drivers right at the end of the slope of platform 1.

We are anticipating that this work will take about 3 weeks (weather permitting) . This needs the erection of scaffolding to strip off all the fittings and the cleaning and re-painting of  the whole lot.

The ground signal is to be bolted to two concrete blocks where we have dug out a base 

A fair bit of manhandling required - at least a 2 man lift ( the signal needed 3 of us)
Here it is suitably mounted and secured with 4 bolts. We will connect the signal wires and
electrics next week.

We finished off the day by continuing to bury the new 30 pair electrical cable which runs the length of platform 2 from the bridge to the signal box. A good idea to have it out of sight and to protect it from damage and hot coals.

Still another 3 or 4 panels of track to go but that will have to wait for next week.

Paul, John P and Malcolm having a well earned rest! Digging out ballast is always a pain. The cable
is now up against the platform wall and about 3" underground.


Friday, 19 August 2016

Troughing makes you hungry!


Four of us spent a sweltering day at Broadway to try and finish off the re-stacking of the concrete cable troughs and lids. Here's a close up (including a bit of my finger!) of one of the troughs with a lid:

They are three feet long. By the end of the day there were a grand total of 38 pallets re-loaded with 25 troughs and lids on each - by my reckoning this will give us cable protection over a distance of 950 yards - more than enough for the initial phase southwards from the station.

John P taking a well earned rest surveying the results of the day's effort:

All these pallets are now ready for moving to their next storage position on platform 2 ready for use - so that the track bed at the north end of the site is now significantly cleared ready for ballasting.

And that is about all that S&T can do on the signalling front at Broadway for the time being.

A comment I must make is regarding the number of interested visitors that come up the drive on a Tuesday to see what is going on . I spoke to a couple from Crewe  who were staying at the caravan site opposite who were extremely complementary. I'm not sure if they had heard of our President Pete Waterman but I did a bit of name dropping!