Monday, 17 October 2016

Woodwork today

Another fine, at moments balmy day at Hayles today. A gang of 11 made great progress again, but not before having a jolly good sit outside with a cup of tea and a doughnut in the sun.

Paul, ever solicitous of our welfare, was 'mother'.

'' TEA UP ''

Paul has a loud voice. It carries. It has to, it's a long site. We gallop towards the sound.

The tea is poured, the doughnuts are lined up. Men amble around with their hands in their pockets, waiting.

We don't linger after tea, but set to work while the going is good and the sun is out. It's a good day, perhaps the last chance, to put a better and stronger tarpaulin on the roof. The thin blue one had frayed and was leaking, and the fungi were starting to break out again in the container ceiling. Meanwhile, BPS were back to deliver 4 more bags of ballast, and 20 bags of cement. Would the driver like a cuppa and a doughnut? He would. (if your blogger has correctly interpreted 'does a bear s..t in the woods?')

On his way to loading sleepers at Gotherington, Steve brought a pallet of blues for us. Good thinking, we will need quite a few of these when we start corbelling, which is soon.

Steve carefully deposited the 400 odd bricks on the platform, and continued on his way. The cigar lighter on his JCB isn't fixed yet, so he's in the Telehandler today.

Shortly after, also headed for Gotherington, Neil passed through in the class 73 with 6 empty Dogfish and the two Warflats ready for another supply of 300 sleepers. There was a quick chinwag with Steve and Paul to coordinate the day, and then he moved on.

The new platform - will it fit? Neil eases by very carefully.

There were several teams at work today, a luxury you can afford with 11 volunteers.

Tim and Lyndon inspect the inspection hatch, and add a little mortar here and there to finish it off.

A second, quite large team started fixing the boards to the sleeper uprights in front of the platform block wall. More uprights stretch out behind Julian, busy here with a wheel brace tightening the threaded bolts that tie them to the blocks.

Thanks to the prompt delivery of the ballast, a third team set out making concrete. There is a very large number of holes, up to 5 blocks deep, in two rows, that need filling with concrete.

Here is Dave at the northern end of the platform, filling in the last of the holes along here.

The mixer was very recalcitrant today, cutting out when swivelled, or sometimes just on a whim. Five minutes with a cup of tea in hand usually cured it, but then it would do it again. Arghhh !

Along the same northern section, Tim was dealing with the slope. Blocks had to be cut at an angle to make the slope, but some places made the cut blocks too thin, so mortar and concrete were used to achieve the transition from level to slope.

Just a handful of blocks now need laying here, and that's it for block laying, with the exception of the access gap in the middle.

At 11.30 Paul vanished from the work site and we find him, here, in the container, cooking sausages. He is good to us, our Paul. A pile of baps can be seen in the foreground, ready for two sausages and ketchup in each.
Tim is first in the queue.

After lunch, our construction manager Jim G inspects Tim's work on the inspection hatch. Two men peer down a hole. Are there still newts down there? See anything, Jim?

Tim had a go at levelling the ash and ballast infill with a shovel. It's quite a job, one that you would rather see done by a JCB, but no can do today.

Tim did rather well, don't you think?

Shortly afterwards came a toot, and the class 73 paused at the fixed distant to await a sign from us. A rain cloud drifted up from Cleve Hill, on the point of overtaking the sun in the foreground here.

The newly loaded sleepers will be taken up to Little Buckland, and the Dogfish then drawn forward to Stanton for loading of a further delivery of ballast, expected on Thursday.

With the class 73 out of the way again, a couple of the guys decided to 'have a board meeting', we heard.

This was called because we had come across an issue last week when we did the first test fitting. After the first 4 boards were in, it turned out that the posts were leaning sideways. Surely not? But they were.

Further investigation revealed that the boards had been sawn in half, slightly off centre. This meant that we had two stacks of boards, some this long, and some that. There was an inch of difference.

Here the boards are being laid out to have the lengths equalised with a circular saw.

Once all were the correct length, Jim H and Julian  painted them in Creosote. This not only helps to preserve them, but also gives the right colour effect, as if they were a row of railway sleepers. Sticky work though, it gets everywhere.

This is what it looks like when its finished. Quite convincing for a sleeper built platform, don't you think? We still have to add the corbelling and platform slabs, hence the recess in the blockwork. Originally the halt didn't have these, but today it has to have the overhang, so we can't get round it.

Here's today's closing view. You can see that a good start has been made on attaching the wooden boards and sleepers. More are being cut to length in the background, and creosoted in the foreground.
With the boards now really starting to go up, we reckon that we can start some corbelling very shortly.

Next week - bacon butties !


  1. All I can think of to say is that I am very impressed. Very impressed indeed! What a transformation a few boards make. It does look, however, that the creosoting set up on the old six foot does look like you have created benches for the eating of butties on! Sorry, couldn't help giving that comment. No more archeological digs for finds then? Seriously, very well done to you all. Regards, Paul.

  2. me thinks you require a 2.1/2pt teapot , you'll have a lot of unhappy people waiting for there tea , well done alun

  3. Excellent work, as always, team. Will it really take until the end of next year to finish?

    1. We are somewhat ahead of schedule, thanks to the good weather and good volunteer support we've had.

  4. I'm still rather puzzled by the issue of the platform overhang.

    I understand that all newly-built platforms must have a certain amount of overhang (although older platforms, built without overhang, have 'grandfather rights' and need not be replaced).

    But the original platforms at Hayles Abbey Halt *did* have overhang - we can see this in old photos. The platform edge was formed of sleepers placed on top of the uprights, which were edge on to the track. This gave an overhang of 10 inches (250mm) - the standard sleeper width.

    Do present-day regulations require more than that?

    I tried to find the current regulations, but my brain glazed over before I got very far. The relevant info *might* be here, if anyone else fancies looking for it:

  5. I'm informed that present day requirements are for a 300mm overhang.
    In addition, my own view is that having sleepers for a platform edge is probably not ideal, as they get very slippery when wet.
    We will use the normal stone edging slabs, the supply coming from the former CRC2 platform.

  6. Thanks for that info. Interestingly, the timber trestle type of halt platform (as used at Gretton, Laverton and Willersey) had a 12" overhang, so presumably could be rebuilt to the original plans.

    It's a bit late to say this now, of course, but it occurs to me that the Hayles Abbey platform could have been built in the original timber wall style by cutting timbers for the uprights and edging to a 12" width, rather than the original 10".

    The extra 2" would not be noticeable, but it would have given the required overhang while retaining the original method of construction. The job might have worked out cheaper, too (it would certainly be quicker!)

    It's true that timber surfaces can become slippery, but all-timber platforms have been built on other heritage railways without problems (for example, Newtondale Halt on the NYMR, Matlock Riverside on the Peak Railway). I don't think we should be too quick to identify hazards where experience shows there's no real issue, especially if this means that in order to solve a perceived problem we move away from the ethos of a heritage railway.

    After all, the oil lamps at Hayles Abbey will be very dim - they certainly won't meet present-day platform lighting requirements. Should we therefore scrap the idea of using genuine oil lamps, and install high-intensity LED lighting in reproduction oil lamp casings instead?

    1. Thanks for your thoughts, always welcome.
      No doubt one of my colleagues will respond if they think it would be helpful. I'm just a cement mixer :-)