Monday, 31 July 2017

At long Last!

A big push last Tuesday to see if we could find the elusive cable fault effecting the pair for the Box to Box circuit between Winchcombe and Gotherington. We speak as if it is just one fault but since it doesn't test the same from each end, it is probably several different ones.

With Mike holding the Fort with his trusty 1960's SA9083 tester at the cable head in Winchcombe, Kevern and Paul set off to firstly check out  a possible just before the Tunnel.  They then moved on the Far Stanley and found some crimps that could be improved.  There is no truth in the rumour that Paul met Dr Livingstone whilst exploring the undergrowth!.  Mike then moved to the other end at Gotherington. A quick test and, why should we be surprised, it worked!!

So after two years of reports of gradual stages, we now have a full set of similar Concentrators throughout the system. And a fully operational Box to Box system as well (not that our Strowger kit ever lets us down!)
Hopefully this standardisation  will make life easier for the Signalmen as well as being more attractive within the Signal Boxes themselves

Heres a few pics of the finished installations, sorry there's no pic of Cheltenham. I'm sure there's one somewhere

As the waitress says " Enjoy"


Wednesday, 26 July 2017

The Four Nearly Finished

Tuesday 25th July

Six of us at Broadway today to progress the fittings on 3 signals and to deliver the final piece of the locking tray that we have now acquired. Locking activity is for another day

To be fitted here

The Route Indicator signal was our first destination to remove the shuttering round the concrete slab that has been constructed to mount a ground signal. We were impressed with the track that has now been laid and clipped as far as this signal - things are moving  a-pace, points next


This signal is now essentially complete except for its lamp casings and the frosted glass diffuser.
Quite a bit of paint chipping has occurred during its transfer from Winchcombe and assembly so I spent a while touching up the , mainly black, paintwork.


Then over to signal 39. Quite a lot to do here. Firstly to cast a concrete block to secure the base of the ladder.  Jim P is puddling the concrete that has been mixed by Keith L in a wheelbarrow

Then the mounting of the ground signal on its elevated mount - this will provide good visibility for the drivers. The disc is going to be approx 5 ft above ground level (perhaps not a good idea to call this a ground signal!)
Before fitting :

And a couple of shots after assembly . Note that the front disc still has to be fitted, we will leave this off until a future date. Also you  may have noticed that we did not realise, because we were using the bracket to mount the ground signal,  the length of the black portion on the post was insufficient - this has been rectified and everything is now black up to the upper clamp! With hindsight, the length of the larger diameter of the post could have been a little longer to give us a bit more leeway for juggling all these fittings - but it all functions and looks good:

Then off we went to our pride and joy - the wooden post - now firmly secured in its concrete boot. The ladder has been fixed at the top with its rather unusual configuration :

  And at the bottom with a some concrete

We had time at the end of the day to put some undercoat on areas of the paintwork  that had been damaged during its rise from obscurity  and it will get a final coat of white gloss next time. 

Round the route indicator signal and number 39, nature is rapidly encroaching so John P felt in an attacking mood and had a go at clearing some of the growth 

The track in the foreground will probably be sitting on sleepers by the time you read this!!


Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Getting There

Tuesday 18th July

Just three of us off to Broadway today to progress the fitting of some of the remaining parts to the Signals Numbers 38 and 39 at the north ends of the platforms were first. The penultimate part to fit to number 38 (platform 1 side) was the angle crank which is clamped to the post at the bottom. The down rod which connects the balance weight arm to the spectacle plate at the top still has to be completed (we have the length measurement for it - fine adjustment will be taken up by a screwed adjuster on its lower end)

Then over to number 39 ( these numbers refer to the number of the lever in the signal box - number one starting nearest the door). Now this signal is another kettle of fish and we needed several attempts to fit everything on at the bottom end. Apart from the balance weight arm and the angle crank there is a large bracket on which a ground signal will be mounted:

Once clamped into its preferred position we had a fouling problem with the angle crank - a small corner of the bracket will have to be removed by angle grinder next time - otherwise it all just fits. We measured the length required for this signal's down rod which we will configure back at base.

Meanwhile up above Malcolm is drilling a hole to fix the detector

After lunch we headed southwards to the wooden post south of platform 1 to fit its spectacle plate, ladder, finial and down rod.  The down rod fitted beautifully and was adjusted to show a nice horizontal arm. Here's John P viewed from above making the final tweak

And a view from a distance

A bit more work needed to finish this signal off yet. A trial fitting of the lamp case behind the spectacle plate reveals that we need to make a spacer to bring the lamp lens to align with the centre of the coloured spectacles.

And finally a view of number 38 with the scaffolding removed - bit of a weird angle but I assure you the arm is horizontal!


Friday, 14 July 2017

Lets Concentrate now!

Friday 7th July

Kevern and Paul  met up to reinstall the concentrator at Gotherington. Mike S went to Winchcombe We knew that the line to Winchcombe was still not usable so we had planned to "borrow" another pair just top prove it worked but  it still didn't, we hadn't foreseen that we had a broken wire inside the unit at Winchcombe!
Problem is that with each concentrator we have had to commission them in stages and as each new stage comes on stream new faults can appear, including a faulty Krone strip at Toddington!.
By definition this is all done between signal boxes that are a few miles apart, it all takes time. So to eliminate the dodgy cable pr, we took the new Goth Unit to Winchcombe and it still didnt work over a few metres of cable. Eventually Kevern found the problem, a broken wire  inside the Winchcombe unit so we are now confident that when the new cable is connected ( to get rid of a number old joints inside and around the Tunnel area, we should be "cooking on Gas" as they say.
In the meantime of course its the block bells backed up by the trusty dial- up Strowger PAX that will keep the signalmen in contact.

Monday 10th July

Kevern went off to  Racecourse early this morning, I attended a bit later at Goth and was able to prove that the section between Racecourse and Gotherington now works Box to Box. When Goth is switched out then we hope that the system will work  over twice the distance ie Racecourse to Winchcombe. Kevern has just one more choice relays with a lower operating current to try in that case, buts just be positive.

Perhaps I can elaborate further on the Box to Box design side. The original scheme for the SPT's was all Loop Calling, AC ringing  (ROLI like POTS). But when you need to call between boxes we had a problem since the Calling Box couldn't send a loop and anything else would have needed bi- directional transmission bridges. The answer was to make the bridge so that it would respond not only to a loop from its own SPT's but also to 50v dc from  the other box and we had to inhibit the AC ringing so that the sensitive electronic relays in the bridges were not destroyed by an inadvertent burst of 80vac.
Again it took time and was the reason why the system has been installed stage by stage but we do now seem to be getting there

No new pics this time, I'm sure you have seen enough of us peering at things!!

Mike S

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

The end of the Rodding

Tuesday 11th July

Confined to barracks today. Decided not to go to Broadway because of the wet forecast. So it was an ideal opportunity to put an end to the damned rodding. Just 3 lengths left to clean and paint

And then add to the pile stored on the concrete slabs. 138 lengths in total. We'll now see how the zinc paint stands up to the elements - it will still be a while before they are transported to Broadway.
It's a relief to have them all complete and to have some space in the MSC shed to swing a cat!

Meanwhile there was activity on a couple of additional parts required for the recently erected wooden  signal post at Broadway. The ladder and its safety hoop. Carl S and Peter B attacked this with the angle grinders with wire brushes  to remove the old paint as it was in rather a poor state - quite a fiddly job to manoeuvre round the rungs.


While Keith L savaged the hoop and cleaned up all the rusted bolts  - all of this was accomplished outside before the rain started 

These items were moved under cover and  painted with primer and will hopefully be ready to transport to Broadway with the remaining signal fittings  next week ( must get through the platform gap with the heavy stuff before access is denied)

Talking of heavy stuff, two  of the large lumps required for Broadway north are  the buffer stops which are presently on the ends of the rails in the yard at Winchcombe opposite the Carriage and Wagon works. One of them was accessible for Steve to drag out with the Telehandler together with all the undergrowth that has sprung up round it:

The second one will require a bit more ingenuity to get out  because it is up against the rake of "high class" rolling stock on this isolated siding - probably will need a length of temporary track laying to move it all up to get access. I believe the objective is to get them trucked up to Broadway tomorrow.


Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Planting a Post

Tuesday 4th July

Off to Broadway again today with only a small turnout. Three of us to start with followed by Steve with his JCB and Neil C after lunch.
We started off at the Route Indicator signal at the north end having loaded the pickup with a heap of aggregate, cement mixer, wheel barrow, cement, etc

We are going to instal a ground signal adjacent to this signal, so a concrete mounting block is required. Some shuttering had been pre-prepared and was positioned after levelling out a base

A good job we brought the mixer - this took 3 large Barrow loads of concrete to fill


And then pushed in a template holding four mounting studs. We'll remove all the woodwork next week when the concrete is well set.

While we were here we lashed up a not quite so elegant piece of shuttering to cast a block to secure the bottom of the ladder

A couple of studs attached to the bottom of the ladder will secure it in the concrete

The signal at the end of platform 2 was noticed to have a bit of a lean so we took advantage of Steve and the JCB to give it a pull. He managed to hook his bucket onto the top of the concrete boot while we tamped some ballast in at the back. It now looks perfectly upright.

So. now onto the main event of the day. The planting of the wooden signal post at the southern end of platform 2. A task made relatively easy with the aid of the JCB. First stage to dig the hole - about 4 ft deep

And then lift the post horizontally from its resting place on platform 2  to position its base adjacent to the hole. Then a bit of re-slinging to hoist it up to vertical

and manoeuvre it into the hole followed by numerous barrow loads of concrete. 

And posing for the team photo are Neil, Malcolm and Carl. 
I think we got it in the right way round and it looks pretty vertical - let's hope it doesn't move before the concrete sets!!