Monday, 10 October 2016

A hungry visitor

What a wonderful, crisp, sunny morning. The sun was out, the frost alarm went in the car, and the morning mist was hanging in the hills above Stanton. As one of the volunteers mused: ''If only we could bottle this''.

We decided to watch the mist swirl about the hills, sitting with tea outside the container.

An unexpected visitor suddenly took a great interest in our doughnuts. Well, not entirely unexpected, because he showed the same intense interest only last week. Quick, save the doughnuts, put them away!

No, dog, no.
No !!!
Well, just the one then....

We started the day with concrete infilling of the front row on the southern third.
Jim H worked through two bags of ballast, while Jim G, Paul and John shoveled it in the holes and tamped it down.

Jim G brought his radio and balanced it between two of the deep holes. There, it led a charmed existence. Several times it nearly plunged to the bottom of one, neatly followed by a shovel full of concrete. We wondered if you would still hear it then, perhaps a little muffled?

A second team consisting of Tim and Lyndon made a stab at completing the block laying today.

Here you see them finishing the fifth row on the southern slope.

They then moved on to the northern slope.

Due to the fact that loading of concrete sleepers at Gotherington has had to be delayed today, the Telehandler was available for service at Hayles. Dave P leaped at the opportunity and brought it over from Winchcombe, with bucket attached. Great strides forward were made then in further back filling the new platform wall.

Readers now know that the Hayles job is done with great humour. Here is John regaling the infill crew with one of his 'high quality' anecdotes. The punchline went:

''Did you hear that Lions do it three times a day?
Hell no, and I've just joined the Rotary.....''

The exact quality of this joke is illustrated by the fact (or maybe it's the age of the volunteers here) that it took Jim over a minute to realise the meaning of the punchline. Oh dear. Back to work, you lot.

Before John had the chance to tell another, we were saved by Neil and the class 73. On Saturday, the PWay team were only able to empty one of the two sleeper trucks, and today the other was taken down the line with various spares, purpose unknown.

Moving swiftly on, a start was made today in setting out the reproduction sleeper platform wall.

Here a site meeting is in progress, with a sample sleeper upright, and a strip over the top to hold it in place.

How's this going to work then? Neal has the answer, see further down the post how we did it.

Further down the platform, Dave has moved the back filling to the southern half. It's very satisfying, this.

Julian is giving precise hand signals, so that only a minimum of shovel work is required afterwards.

Neal is the man with the shovel, ready to pounce.

Neal needs a team of three to watch, and tell him where he is doing it wrong. Isn't it always like this, three to one?

After lunch, Tim and Lyndon moved north and made a start on the remainder of the slope there. It still needs the last angled blocks placing, which Neal cut to shape for them.

At the end of the day, this job was completed, with the exception of the last 5 blocks.

It means that all the block laying is now complete, bar the hole we left in the middle to access the trackbed. We're quite chuffed about that.

After a while, the class 73 returned, light engine. It paused at the fixed distant, gave a careful toot, and then the way was clear. We waved it on.

Here's a view of the last few blocks going on at the northern end. Behind Tim, a row of sleeper uprights has been put in the approximate places, to see how it would all fit together.

Another site meeting. Jim G explains to Tim how this would work. We have a drawing, but on site things need a bit of final adjustment. Is the height right? How does it fit in with the corbelling?
The upright sleepers are held back by strips screwed to the back of the block wall, which will eventually become hidden.

Finally, 'X' marks the spot, and the first upright sleeper is screwed into place.

Above it, a line of planks has been laid out so that they can be creosoted and test fitted, to work out the spacings.

Once again the weather becomes a little more threatening. Dark clouds began to draw in, interupted by  wonderful bursts of sunlight. Here Dave puts in one of the last loads of infill. We have now used it all up, we need some more though. The new platform now has infill all along all of its length, varying from half filled to three quarters. It is right to do this now, as the fill needs quite a few months to settle and compact.

Dave likes driving the Telehandler. Like the Pinball Wizzard, he seems to work by sense of smell.Works, too, he didn't hit a thing and no punctures either. A great performance.

Well away from 'Eyes Wide Shut' Dave, Paul, Jim G and Tim have put up two upright sleepers, spaced apart enough to accommodate the planks which will simulate the horizontal sleepers that the verticals 'hold back'.

The planks are being creosoted to give the right colour, and three rows of them will be fixed to the front, one above the other. See how that would look? (the ones in the picture are not yet in their place, just laid there to get the spacing right)

Here is an overview taken near the end of the day. Dave is finishing off the infill as far as he can, while the sleeper team has laid out the vertical sleepers and has set up two of them, near the middle of the picture.

Next week, the last of the concreting. We hope. Another 4 bags of ballast are being ordered, as once again there is none left.

Finally, a question.

What is this cast iron object, found on site?

It seems to be broken off at the top, and has a T shaped groove cut into it in the middle. There is a bolt hole on the left. Something from a  signal box frame perhaps? Any ideas? Jim's radio gives an idea of the scale.


  1. Looks like the rain gods were with you today. Great progress with the halt. The faux sleepers and uprights will look wonderful when complete, and will soon weather, (model railway term), to the 'as usually seen' condition. Pats on the backs all round. Regards, Paul.

  2. Jo. Whilst looking at the S & T blog; and their endeavours at CLC refurbishing hunting Butts points lever; the metal 'find' looks like it could be part of a hand points switch lever. Maybe that is all it is, 'looks like' may be as close as I get to identifying it. Regards, Paul.

    1. Thanks for your suggestion, Paul.
      At Broadway we came across quite a bit of old S&T stuff buried in the ash.