Monday, 24 October 2016

More woodwork, and an excursion

The days are getting noticeably shorter now. Cars have their lights on when we drive to Hayles, and at the end of the day the lights go on again. Or are we working long days?

We had a good attendance today, with good progress, although some bribery boosted the size of the gang, just about at lunch time! Amazing. More of that in a moment.

First things first, we need more water. The drawings for tea, mortar and concrete have almost emptied our 1000L container. Tim here rolls out a huge extension pipe to a friendly neighbour's house.

Yours truly was on concrete again, here with Dave on the shovel. Check out the expression, it looks as if he's firing P&O!

Dave was tireless, and personally shovelled out most of two dumpy bags of ballast today. Brilliant.

Minnie the mixer was being temperamental once again, although we did notice that she did it only when we mixed mortar, with the mixer facing west.

When we turned the mixer round to the Cotswolds side to mix ballast, she behaved impeccably. Odd that.

She also stopped twice when somebody walked past, quite on her own. Was she upset by a sideways glance? Spooky....

Then it was Dave's turn on the hernia run. First you haul like mad on the handles of the barrow as you try to control the 100Kg load down the hill, and when you finally make it to the bottom with your dignity still intact, you immediately have a big heaving struggle to get back up to the top of the platform infill. Dave made it this far, but then stalled. Your photographer had to jump in and help push.

On the next run, Dave gave it a bit more welly near the bottom of the descent, but then missed the little plank at the lowest point, whereupon the barrow came to an abrupt stop, shedding a good part of its sloppy load over the front.

Having struggled with the barrow to the top of the infill, the next hernia - heave is to get the load upright, so that it flows out at the front.

This time John is there to help steady, and point for it to go this way and that. Then we use the official poking stick to get the  mix right down into the voids in the blocks.

At the end of the day, this little team had filled all the remaining voids in the platform, so it is now one solid concrete mass. It's not going anywhere now.

Round about this time your blogger had to shoot off and spend £3000 in 3 minutes. Yes, that's the cost of a 6 Dogfish ballast train, and we dropped it at Little Buckland. It only took an hour, then back to Hayles.

At the mention of the scheduled bacon butties due at Hayles today, the 3 man ballasting team, flexible as they were, took a quick decision to have their lunch with us. This boosted our numbers, and they were not allowed to melt away afterwards, but were roped in for concrete and wood fixing duties. It's only fair.

This is what we're talking about. A mug of tea, bacon butty with brown sauce, and a slice of black pudding. Who could resist? A chef's special, brought to you by Monsieur Paul.

It's not exactly Bake Off, but we do have a three man tasting panel. They were very critical, if we may believe their expressions. Tough lot to please, must try harder, Paul. With truffles next week then. Or more ketchup.

With the concreting going on at the southern end of the platform, the others were not sitting on their backsides, but had split into a further two teams.

This one here, led by Jim G, was an interesting one, as it was the start of the corbelling brickwork. After a bit of trial and error, it went really well.

The other team continued with the job of mounting the creosoted planks in front of the block wall.

Now that we've done this a couple of times, we're getting into a practiced routine and quite efficient.

Here we've set out the planks in stacks, and they get drilled through at each end. Jim H, off picture, is applying creosote most diligently, so that the planks are all ready. They're still moist here.

Once equipped with holes, a plank is taken to the wall and wriggled into its place.

We start at the top where the wood meets the underside of the corbelling bricks, and work downwards with the next three planks.

Neal then comes along and, reaching through the holes, drills into the concrete blocks behind.

The next plank down is fitted so that it buts up against the top one.
After holding on to it for ages while the holes are drilled and the bolts inserted, the team found a rather better method for keeping the plank pressed upwards - this clever lever effect, which just requires someone to rest their foot on it.

Peter taps in the bolt, before screwing it in tightly.

Finally, for some planks Neal cuts in a circular opening for the weep holes to be able to discharge any water (although we think that this is unlikely in practice, as we also have a drain in the bottom)

Here's an overview of the activity, taken in the afternoon. Dave and John on the right are filling concrete into the last of the voids at the southern end, while the other two teams are corbelling and fitting planks at the northern end. They've already used up half a pallet of bricks, seen in the centre.

Jim H very kindly spent half an hour repairing the lovely display he had made (and which interested all of the locals we see walking by) as the display had been scraped by a passing tractor. Well, we are in the countryside here, you know. It's what you get.

Here you see the corbelling team at work. They laid two of three rows on two of the sections, and another row on two more. It's an impressive start, but there's more to come in the next few weeks. Hope the weather permits it, corbelling is rather sensitive to the right kind of weather.

Here's the end of the day shot. The woodwork is making great strides forward. It's almost reached the inspection hatch at the far end. This will simply be planked over. If you need to access the pit, you will need to unscrew the planks, a simple job.

There were no passing trains to record today. The class 73 was out ballasting at Little Buckland; more of that tomorrow on the Extension Blog.


  1. Looking very good. You've done so well that there must be three more halts to create at Laverton, Greet and Willersey? The woodwork looks very believable, and I can imagine the halt with the corrugated waiting shelter on it and maybe a 48XX, (pre war 14XX), or even a 64XX and an auto trailer or possibly a GWR railcar pulling up?? I have a good imagination.
    What price the first ticket from Broadway to Hayles Abbey halt?? It would surely be a collectors item for the future!
    Roll on that day eh? Regards, Paul.

    1. I would love a halt at Willersey. It's just short hop from Broadway, and a lovely village to visit. It has a duckpond, two pubs and is very photogenic. It would make a great railcar shuttle destination from Broadway.

      How to actually build the halt is another kettle of fish. It was made completely of sleepers, being on top of an embankment, instead of in a cutting as Hayles Abbey Halt. Lovely Pagoda on top though.

    2. Yes. Thanks for the answer, Jo. I actually have a photo saved to the computer of Willersey showing the construction very well. Havn't been able to find a photo of Greet though. Regards, Paul.

  2. Will you be planting some Corsican pines on the banks around the halt ? :)

    1. No, it didn't have those - see the colour picture posted earlier.
      We will try to reproduce as exactly as possible what there was.

  3. All this needs is the tin hut and a couple of loose benches to sit on, then in the summer to be able to sit and watch the trains go by with a cool beer in your hand, ah happy thoughts of times to come. Well done the builders this is going to be a great stop, far from the maddening crowd in the summer, now if I could park my caravan behind the Halt for the summer what bliss would entail?!

    1. They do have a corrugated hut? - Waiting shelter for that very purpose, see the very first blog in the Building Services blog. Regards, Paul.