Wednesday 29 November 2023

An old banger.

Friday on steels.

A bitterly cold start last Friday, with drizzle, driven in by an icy blast from the north.


Although we are under cover there are no sides to the construction, so any rain does come in, at least on one side, depending on the wind.

On Saturday it was the north-west, so we worked on what was dry in the south east corner.

Later in the morning the sun came out, and we could spread our activity to other areas.


Yours Truly put on primer after turning the angles round, while Neal had a belt sander to try and improve on the shotblasting results.

As you can see there are still rusty areas, and patches of millscale.

Next week will see a delivery from Barnwoods of the curved sections of the ridge purlins.


After sanding away for quite a while, Neal came to show us his hand. This had been blasted by the sanding detritus, and was quite black.

The picture doesn't do it justice...



The steam yard was quiet, but our attempt to get a portrait of 5526 was somewhat frustrated by the new safety steps that have sprung up in between the locos.

This is the best then that we could do. At least you get a glimpse of 2807 as well.

As you may know, 5526 is with us in exchange for lending out Dinmore Manor.

Picture by Robin Springett, with thanks.
Dinmore now looks like this! It seems from the strange contraption half way along the boiler that you can actually ring that bell from the cab. Now there's something we have missed out on.



Just outside Toddington yard we came across this flail, which was hacking into the brambles that separate us from the narrow gauge railway.

You can see that expenditure continues, despite the lack of income at this time of the year.

Saturday at an AGM.

Saturday was the annual general meeting of Toddington Standard shareholders. We thought we'd support them, and make a donation towards the boiler appeal that has just been launched.

Photo: Toddington Standard Ltd.

Above is the current state of play, as witnessed by Ian. As you can see it's looking really good, this is a project that is moving along very nicely. On display at the meeting were new bright yellow Timken roller bearing axle box covers, and a brass casting of the indicator wheel from the reverser box, which has now been fully sponsored. Other sponsor items remain though, check out their website below.

The boiler on 9th february 2017 in the North carriage siding.

What we have to pay for next is the overhaul of the boiler. Above is a picture of how it was when it was stored at the end of the north carriage siding at Toddington. The boiler is in generally good condition, but there is work to be done on damage incurred while waiting for rescue at Barry. The work will shortly go out to tender, and as an estimate we think the work will come in at £150.000, although it is not unusual to find more problems once the boiler has been opened up.

We have a little money in the bank, but that is being used to buy components, as for example the three tender wheelsets recently bought from the Bluebell. What we would like to constitute is a fighting fund for the estimated £150.000, so that we can go ahead with the work when the successful tender comes in. It is not economical to stop work half way, while the group tries to raise the rest of the fund that is still needed.

Our engineering director Andy gave us a slide show to outline the work that will be required. It mostly revolves around the consequences of wet ash and rain pooling in the lower regions of the boiler barrel.

If you want to help us, above is the link to their support page. If the £150.000 appeal is successful the aim is to have the loco running - on the GWSR of course - by 2026. That's in just 2 1/2 years time, if we can raise the cash for the boiler repair.

Why not see if you can spare something?

Tuesday on steels.

Two arrivals came on Tuesday:

This is the boiler for 3850, freshly overhauled, and...

...the shaped angles for the P2 ridge purlins. There are three ridge purlins, each with two back to back angles, so 6 units in total. We moved them under cover straight away, and Neal started cleaning them, ready for a coat of primer.

For Yours Truly it was a day of painting undercoat, here on the 40 or so angles that will make up the trusses. We are very keen to get everything at least in undercoat, in order to pre-empt any rust formation.

As you can see considerable progress has been made.

John spent the day on the steel for the fascia boards. This has been the trickiest to clean and paint. With a combination of scouring, chemical treatment and shotblasting we have got the steel clean, but a coat of primer itself does not prevent the formation of rust, so we have had to re-clean some of it, then primer anew, before putting on the undercoat that will finally protect the steel from the weather.

As you can see John too made good progress. We worked until the sun went down, and the moon came out too!

Wednesday with the Usketeers.

A cold journey to work, with 0.5 degrees showing on the car thermometer. The temperature 'climbed' to 3 degrees during the day...

The lads from the PWay changed a rail a little outside Winchcombe today, another job ticked off a long list. In the picture you can see the delicate ballet as Martin in the Telehandler carefully lifts a rail off the ELK, without touching either vehicle stabled at the end. He got there though, without any bumps or scrapes..


Thanks to a late picture by Paul we can see where that rail went.

This is the end of the Defford straight, looking at the start of Chicken Curve.

The new rail is in, supported by special lifters as the old and new rails have different degrees of wear. Or none, in the case of the new rail.


Meanwhile back at Winchcombe the contractors continued with the new S&T building (the picture was taken during a tea break here) and it looks like the footings are complete and block laying is about to commence.

A railway style building is a silent hope for many, but it looks a bit unlikely.

Over to the Usketeers then.

We had allocated ourselves 4 different tasks today.

Paul has finished shortening the gate to a more normal 10ft, and can be seen here preparing to plant the gate post.

Behind him is a pile of cut bamboo saplings, which we trimmed from by the fence, where they had entered the railway from a neighbour's property. Bamboo is an invasive plant. The new fence will go from the hole for the gate post up to the fence in the background.

Dave had a relaxing day, if we may take this picture as representative. 

Unfortunately the picture we took of him digging and completing the stone wall did not come out. Almost single handedly Dave spread out all the earth that he brought in the Telehandler last week.

That deserves a rest, doesn't it?

C&W were busy in P2 at Winchcombe today, where the yard shunter was attached to two coaches in a rake. Our best guess for this activity is testing the brakes, as we forgot to ask for more details. Too busy, see?

Paul having finished resizing the gate, we took the opportunity of this dry day to paint it with Creocote. Hope that works as well as the original Creosote, which we are no longer allowed to buy.


Our last Usketeer shot is of Dave and Paul adjusting the newly installed gate post.

Right next to it will be a concrete grandfather post, which will support the wooden upright that Dave is holding. From that the fence will go off to the left, up to the edge of the yard where the bamboo was.

The wooden materials are under cover for drying out, before we give them too a bath of Creocote. The concrete post will keep the wood away from the ground, and so prolong their life.

A bit of history.

During these cold, dark winter evenings we have been scanning in several hundred photographs taken by Paul Fuller in the early 2000s while laying track with the PWay. In due course, once all have been scanned in, these will be put on the Flickr site, available top right by the blog header. Several other people have also offered their photographs for scanning, and have been put on the site.

One photograph immediately stood out, it's this one below:

Photograph by Paul Fuller.

There were no details available with the print other than the date - 25 02 2006 - so we have asked around a bit.

This is what we found:

It's an old army lorry, a Bedford 4.9 litre straight six petrol. Possibly a Bedford RL type, which was the army version of the civilian S type built in the 1950s. It came to us via Dowty's of Ashchurch, who used it to trial automatic couplings on a sloping track. The rail wheels were welded on! There was a big concrete weight in the back. On our railway it was never used and eventually it was taken away, as evidenced by the picture next to Winchcombe signal box. It went to Titley Junction for restoration, but was judged to be beyond repair, and was finally scrapped.

Wednesday 22 November 2023

Broadway planning amendment agreed.

Friday at Toddington.

More work on the steels. In a break from the monotony of that, we had the company of the shotblaster during the morning, and the comings and goings of race trains during the day, always welcome this time of year.



The shotblaster started work on the long fascia boards, which had so much tough millscale on them.

Neal, John and Yours truly hurriedly re-arranged all the other steels so that he could carry on at a reasonable height.

A short while later he had moved on to the supply of angles, with which we will be building the trusses.

As you can see they are up on trestles, making the shotblasting a little more comfortable.

In the foreground you can see more of these angles - we have about 40 of them. They greyish patches are the millscale on them, the rest is rust.



A pleasant surprise on Friday was the discovery of 3 of the purlins set to one side, and already fully rivetted! All the bolts have been replaced by permanent rivets. That will save a lot of time later on.


Friday also saw the first of the race trains, a very welcome piece of commercial activity in this, the low season.

At lunch time we photographed the 2-6-2 visiting tank 5526 returning with the ECS from CRC, ready for a return to pick up the happy Cheltenham punters at the end of the afternoon.

Private helicopters roared overhead....

The shotblaster was done in just two hours. We were lucky with the weather, and immediately set about painting all the bare steel in primer to prevent the early onset of any rust.

We had a very pleasant visit and chat from Richard, a blog reader and, as it turned out, a supporter of the slate fireplace in the cafe at Broadway.

Neal was happy to explain where we were with the P2 building plans.

As it happens, we have just been advised that our request for an ammendment to the earlier planning application had been agreed. That's another step behind us. Some paperwork issues have also been resolved, and at the moment we are negotiating to hire in an excavator (more complicated, it turns out, than it used to be). 

Given that the planning is now agreed, we can show you the final design. We hope you like it!

A bit of background:

The P2 building formed part of the original planning application for station building, P2 building and signal box. However, the design was that of the non-railway enthusiast builder, and was not very true to the original shape. (Different roof pitch, slate roof covering, not connected to the footsteps for example). We will do better.

It has always been agreed that the building would be slightly bigger than before, because the P1 building is 50% larger due to the extra toilets. This will keep the P2 building in proportion. A constraint to the exact size is the position of the trusses. What we have done is add one extra truss, and so add 7.25m to the length.  Trusses are at 7.25m centres. From the platform you will now see the original configuration of doors and windows, but twice. That will give two rooms inside, each with its own fireplace (and two chimneys instead of one). The dividing wall will not be structural and could be moved at some point in the future to suit requirements. Initially we see the rooms in use as a waiting room, and a museum space. Currently the railway has no museum space (RATS coach excepted of course)

The roof will be of the same riveted construction as on P1, and it will form a canopy overhang at the northern end to the bottom of the staircase, but this time in perfect alignment with the building. At the other end we will recreate the shape of the former gents' toilet (omitted before) with a flat roof and modesty screen. As we have ample toilet capacity on P1, this room will become a store for station maintenance,  such as mowers and tools. Recreating an actual toilet here is not really feasible as there is no foul water drain, the original urinal simply having had a soakaway.

So that is the state of play with Broadway P2 at the moment. There is no Trust appeal for it as such, as that would compete with the ongoing appeal for the viaduct repair. However, the Trust can only support so much, so if you want to help the Broadway P2 building, a donation (with gift aid option) to the Trust will definitely help. The Trust is supporting us, but the security of the viaduct must come first.

 This is a link to the Trust's donation page, if you'd like to help.

Back at Toddington on Friday, and as the sun began to go down, our visitor 5526 set out to collect the happy punters from CRC in the late afternoon.

We waved it goodbye as it chugged off into the distance, then resumed our primering, of which there was a great deal to do.

Saturday along the Broadway extension

A good turnout of eleven, on a very damp and windy day. The afternoon was supposed to be dry, but it wasn't.


Something that struck us straight away in Winchcombe was that the work for the S&T workshop has started. The site has been fenced off and marked out. 

We had seen plans for a 3 road carriage shed up to this point, and a large building here grabs a good part of that space.

Our plan for the day was a repeat of last week - elimination of minor faults from the viaduct to Broadway. It's all concrete sleepered track, so not a great deal to go wrong except loose clips, and the occasional concrete sleeper crunched by tamper tines.

You can see the sort of stormy weather we had from the picture above. The scene is a foot crossing north of Stanton Fields. (MP7.I) The van couldn't go any further, so the tools had to be carried quite a long way.

The short straw for carrying usually goes to the newest recruit. Here it's Peter, laughing (well, he's still new, isn't he) as he carries a Duff jack for about half a mile. Probably not laughing any more when he reached the truck...

Lunch was held on Little Buckland Bridge.

This little hard boiled egg bears witness to our presence, although only insiders will know why it was there.

It's a mystery egg...

Tuesday on steels.

A bit of a miserable day - grey and with drizzle. Luckily there was little wind, so we were able to paint.

The shotblasting was only a partial success as the medium used proved to be too soft.  

Here Neal is having to follow up with more manual grinding, to get things properly clean.

John and Yours Truly spent most of the day (after an extended reshuffle of all the steel, once again) on giving the angles put into primer on Saturday an undercoat.

You might see two shades here - we ran out of dark stone undercoat, and decided to use a slightly darker, redder shade from a big tin that Neal got at a car boot sale (his speciality....) for about 10% of the normal price.

We are very keen to keep costs as low as possible.


This is what we've got left to do, a vast expanse of primered angles, with some not yet ready to receive any paint at all as follow up cleaning after the shotblasting still needs to be done.

You can see streaks of rust here.



Elsewhere we noted that the WARFLAT had been pushed out on to the unloading road.

This needs unloading, so that concrete sleepers can be loaded at Winchcombe for the viaduct relay. We're not using the old wooden sleepers.

When we had finished rearranging the steels in the morning, PWay manager Paul appeared and took over in the Telehandler. He neatly stacked the sleepers with the others that came out earlier, and then loaded on to the WARFLAT two long timbetrs, brand new, that has been lurking in the garden centre site (mysteriously, but we don't argue about free gifts).

A small update from the viaduct - no pictures though - is that the contractors have cleaned all the infill off now, and reached the top of the arches. It was suprising to see how shallow the spaces between them are - it's just a series of gentle undulations.

So good progress there.

Wednesday with the Usketeers.

As we are now building a fence requested by the railway, we got a small grant from the Trust to cover the cost. A purchase order was issued, so we went off to the fencing companyy to collect the order.

Things didn't quite go as planned... as a precautionary measure we called in at 8am to check they had our PO, and that we could come and collect. We could.

We turned up at 11am and cash was demanded, as the railway didn't have an account there. But you said it was OK to come and collect the stuff? Yes we did, but only if you pay!

Ah well.

We put the wood in a dry place, as it was all wet and not ready for creosoting yet.

In the meantime Walt and Chris loaded 5 concrete sleepers onto the RRV trolley.

STEVIE rolled by with its precious cargo in tow.

The destination, we ascertained, was JJ  Farms bridge, where a number of concretes need replacing. Now is a good time, as changing a concrete sleeper is a big job. Luckily there are no trains until the Santas start.

Back at the ranch we caught Paul making the second hand gate ready for the site. He did a grand job shortening it, and it is now 10ft long instead of 14ft, with a little support wheel at one end.

The next adjustment rquired was to the hinges, which annoyingly didn't fit the post that we had. So much for standardisation. It meant that one of the hinges on the gate had to be moved about 3 inches.

Dave and Yours Truly spent most of the day making the site ready for the gate and fence.

It's also the intention to move the compost bins to the PWay yard, to be out of the way of any visitors.

In the way of the moving bins are still remaining piles of earth that have been shoved up against the fence.

As we also need fill to complete the site levels, we used one problem to deal with another.

Here is Dave in the Telehandler with a bucket load.

We cleared the area where the new fence will hit the edge of the site (next to the bins), then moved round to the other side of those bags (Who put them there? Oh, we did...) and took out several more useful chunks of spoil.


That spoil was then dropped where the fence line will run. We now need to level it out to make a gentle slope, and then cover it with what remains of the topsoil under the tarp.

Then it can be seeded.

Near the end of the day we saw Paul again, this time at the hinge end of the gate.

Moving the hinge interfered with a cross member of the gate, so to keep the stability Paul screwed in an extra support.

When he's finished the whole thing then needs to be creosoted (or Creocoted, we aren't allowed to buy the real stuff).

Autumn is now clearly here, as this picture of our oak tree shows.

We learned yesterday though that the Macaw will not now be moved to the stop block, so sadly the Usk hut will continue to be obscured from P1. It is felt that the guards van should be at the end of the rake.

As we left the yard we took this updated picture of the S&T building works. The foundations are going in here.