Monday, 27 March 2017

An important train

Eight volunteers today, but not your blogger, who was ferrying ballast for Broadway north. Annoyingly, he also had a camera battery failure, so a big thanks for Jim H and Paul for today's Hayles photographs.

Here we go then.

First thing, a committee met to muse about the shelter foundations. This can best be viewed from track level. A ring of bricks, you say? How many? Really? Well, I wouldn't start from there if I was you.

Up inside the shelter, Jim and Tim were hard at work cutting the lower edge to size (all the moth eaten bits were cut off) and working out how to reinforce the legs.

Here's the lovely straight edge that they cut.

The foreground is the old doors, which were put in at Usk, but which were not original. They now make a useful working surface.

It was decided that a bit more work was needed at Toddington, to give the corner posts some proper feet to stand on, a slight change of design from last week's ideas (keep up at the back there, no falling asleep!)

Jim and Tim (we like the name of this team) then moved on to the handrails. These need joining together, and last week's attempt at screwed on sleeves failed because we ended up with different sizes.
In order to stick with the heritage idea of sleeves to hold the pipes together, we had a rethink, and came up with this version:

The sleeves are held on with grub screws, which looks the same, and it's not the welds that were first proposed.

We were warned about a 'stock movement' and to our joy (the majority of the Hayles gang being from the PWay department) it was our mess coach and a tools van that were being brought up from Winchcombe to Toddington. Here they come!

Here it is: the PWay mess van, a Mk1 brake, converted to a kitchen and 'dining room' in which we have enjoyed many a sausage and chips, but unfortunately far from the extension 'coal face'.
It is being moved nearer, to be parked in the 'Parlour Road' at Toddington. That's the short siding by the building, formerly the cattle dock. More extension materials are also being moved up from Winchcombe to the 'coal face'. One day we would like to take the coach up to the extension whenever we work there.

Lunch was a bacon buttie, but this time with egg. It ran down your fingers, which accounts for the concentrations on the faces of these volunteers. A photograph? No time mate, it's dribbling down on my trousers....

After lunch, the shelter base!

The idea, explained last week, was to build a ring of bricks, on which the corrugated iron shelter would sit.

Here it is then, that didn't take very long. We have our ring of bricks and the shelter will sit on top of it. The corrugated iron sheets were cut a little longer, and these should project over the bricks, and make the bottom water proof from the rain. We are now ready to lift the shelter on it, once the shelter itself is ready (not yet though).

The other job today was to lay some edging to the rear of the platform. The other four volunteers started fitting the boarding at the back edge of the platform on the Winchcombe end, but very quickly realised that the infill was already much too high. The fixing stakes had to be put as it was below ground level to ensure they would be level with the platform edge. A considerable amount of fill had to be shifted before the first boards could be fitted. This got better as we worked towards the platform centre where the fill top was much lower. This group also set to work removing the weeds from the slope and regrading, removing any large stones. We must get ready for the grass seeds here.

By the end of the day the rear edging was about 60% done. Notice also the neat slope at the back. The seed for it is expected next week. A bonfire was lit to reduce the now large volume of weeds, many of which were of triffid proportions when dug out.

The last handrail post at the top was also concreted in, while we had the mixer out.

Here Paul is cuting the pipe to length to fit the last post, which was later concreted in.

When the container has been removed, we intend to place a bench at the top, so that walkers can sit down and enjoy the view of the trains.

We are aiming for a summer opening date (the actual date is being worked on, so stay in touch).

Then it's on to the next project for the Heritage Group. What will it be? Pencils are being sharpened as we write. It should be a good one, we have shown that we can do it. Especially if we have your support.

Following the making up of this post, your blogger's camera has recovered, so we should be able to show some more extension work at Broadway tomorrow evening.

Monday, 20 March 2017

The base gets bigger

The weather forecast for today was rather dire, with double raindrops on the icons all day, with a bit of sunshine supposed to be emerging at dusk. Well, we won't be there anymore then, will we !

It was a modest number of volunteers that turned up - only seven of us. Four 'rain wimps' were absent - we know your names! It did rather lead to an 'embarras de richesse' in doughnuts, and there were 4 left over at the end of the day, with no one willing to eat or take them, as we were all full up with cheeseburger.

Still clutching his mug of tea, Paul watches the arrival of a dumpy bag of ballast.

We sat and discussed the low numbers of volunteers today, and of course Nicola Sturgeon, a popular topic when Paul is there.

A toot sent us out to see what there was, and it was BPS with a back-up load of ballast, needed to complete the concrete base for the shelter.

With the extra ballast unloaded, concrete mixing could begin, and just in time Dave P arrived with the Telehandler from Winchcombe with a load of hardcore. This was delivered just to the right spot, thanks to the telescopic boom with which it is fitted.

Minnie the Mixer was reported to be struggling to start, and this was because she was not used to the new team of Dave P and Paul who were 'using' her today. They also cheated, by using two shovels at once to feed her, which made her cough.

Julian then galloped the load of freshly mixed concrete down the ramp, missed the little plank set out to allow the wheelbarrow to run over the ring, hit the end, came to an abrupt stop, and did an elegant sort of stagger to save the load. Unfortunately for our viewers he refused to do a re-run for the video option on your blogger's camera. You'll have to be satisfied with this photograph of the load going in normally. All the exciting stuff happens off-camera, doesn't it.

'Upstairs' as it were Neal was a welcome arrival, taking a couple of hours' break from fabricating the heritage Broadway canopy. He came with one of his many specialist tools (he has virtually everything you could imagine you might ever need, picked up for next to nothing at car boot sales and Ebay) and here he is turning a thread on to the end of one of the pipes that make up the handrails. We want these to look the same as the originals, which were held together by threaded sleeves.

We'd like to be able to say that he did this succesfully, but life is a bumpy ride and it turned out that our lengths of galvanised pipe are of a different diameter to the originals (one of which we found in the undergrowth) but worse still, different to the sleeves we had bought. He cut off the end with the wrong sized thread, and went back to the drawing board (in this case, the loco shed).
We await the results next week with great interest !

It then started to rain rather horribly. So badly, that you couldn't see the Cotswolds just half a mile away. So the forecast was right...

No matter, as two of us had chosen the right job for the day, that is, the repair of the underside of the shelter. This underside is not only moth-eaten, but the corner posts are all of different lengths, and yet the building is meant to stand on them. The first thing to do - in the pouring rain, but we didn't mind this inside - was to measure the actual lengths of the uprights, and mark a constant line on the sheeting, above which we are going to keep it, cutting off the moth-eaten bit underneath.

This shot shows you the jagged underside of the sheets, and also how the grey corner post is visibly shorter than the pink intermediate one on the left. The donor of the shelter swears on a stack of bibles that it wasn't him who cut the corner posts so randomly. We do know that he obtained it out of the goods yard at Usk, and it seems likely that it was at a different location prior to that, which is when perhaps the legs were cut to remove it from its first location. Anyhow, our plan is to get a regular length all round, and then to fit the underside of the shelter with a ring of angle iron sections, on which it will then rest when lowered on to the new base. This will have a single row of bricks laid on it, and the bottom of the shelter will rest on the bricks, with the sheets slightly longer, so that rain does not seep in underneath.

Meanwhile, concrete pouring ground to a halt, due to the heavy rain.

We knew this, because we suddenly had visitors with their hands in their pockets!

Tim eventually discouraged them from hanging around by starting to cut off the lower edge of the corrugated iron sheets, during which conversation was impossible.

Tim did one side of this, and we must admit, it looked very neat afterwards. We will do the rest next week, as Tim ran out of cutting disks.

Underneath, you can just make out a length of original handrail, buried in the bushes.

We also took off the old wooden door frame, which was not original. The shelter now looks much better from the outside.

Inside we will have a bench, and a notice board. This still needs making by someone, to fill the space in the upper photograph at the rear.

Meanwhile, the gang had given up and retreated to the container, to watch Paul make lunch. It was beefburgers with melted cheese on top, with second helpings for all.

It was rather atmospheric inside, with the sizzeling beefburgers, steaming mugs of tea and rain beating down outside.

In the afternoon, the rain moved off and the sun started to come out. Great ! This led two of us to investigate the end of the ivy laden fence by the roadside, where we suspected an original GWR bridge rail fence post. Would it still be there?

With a considerable amount of determination we managed to wrest the invasive ivy away from the  mound at the end, and yes indeed, there was a GWR post underneath.

The old posts was still there, in good condition, but completely covered by the octopus like ivy, which covered every square inch of it in a thick tangle of roots.

The post was linked to another at the top of the slope leading down to the shelter. Somewhere along this line there must have been a gate, and we will reproduce this. The roadside was post and rail, which linked the post to the corner of the bridge. All currently covered by ivy and brambles.

Our picture for the end of the day shows the site looking very neat, and the whole of the base of the shelter now finished, except for a row of blues we still need to lay. The shelter will stand on them, and so doing lift itself off the ground, so that the rain cannot sit underneath it.

We hope to be able to lift the shelter on to its base in 2 - 3 weeks time, using a large forklift borrowed from a friendly farmer. It also still needs cleaning and painting. The running in board is being made up by B&S; there will also be two Trespass notices, one of which will be an original found on site. We still need two 8ft lengths of rail for them.

Monday, 13 March 2017

The base goes in

A glorious day today, which we decided to celebrate with an extensive sit on the patio, in the sun with our tea and doughnuts.

Well, until interupted by Lucky the Dalmatian, which wasn't very long.

He has this rather intimidating stare, which makes the victims recoil and hold the doughnut higher and higher. This only servers to intensify Lucky's stare!

Then it was off down the ramp, now nice and dry, and no more boots caked in mud for us, with this warming spring weather. There was a major committee meeting about the size of the slab for the shelter. Arms and indeed voices were raised. Drawings were consulted, tape measures rolled out, heads scratched. Last week's avant-garde designer Jim H was now on holiday, so could not be questioned. Finally Paul cut to the chase and decided to start all over again. With John on the sledgehammer, the corner post was rammed in a second time for a fresh start.

The planks used for the shuttering turned out to be too long, so Tim and Dave found a useful sawbench to cut the ends off.

More and more posts were hammered in, until we had a twin wall shuttering construction in place.

The idea is to have a ring beam under the shelter. This will have a row of bricks on it inside, so that any rainwater will always stay outside. Then there will be a second pour of concrete for the middle, which is the actual floor of the building.

About mid morning, a train with a stock movement swept past. It was not a regular service train, but an interesting collection of stock. The first was a 'Buffet Restaurant Car', which was followed by what looked like a full brake, and another vehicle named 'Gillian', and finally another open carriage. A bit hard to all take in when peering through a lens. We also felt rather proud that our platform was visibly in the right place, as we were not able to detect any ominous scrapings as the train went by.

After this little 'frisson' of excitement, we extended the shuttering activity to edging of the path down the slope, which needed some fettling at the bottom where the level didn't look quite right.

Do these two boards need to be level with each other? Does it matter if they are not?

This will become a gravelled path when it's finished.

After a bit of hard shovelling, Peter and Paul take a rest on that handy rail down the path.

It really is at a perfect height for taking five, and a chat about stuff.

With the shuttering finally complete and indeed satisfactory, Tim and Dave D fill the outer ring with some reinforcing. This is needed, as it is the ring that will bear the weight of the shelter, which is no featherweight with all that thick, old fashioned corrugated iron on it.

By the way, we are going to repair the lower edge of the shelter, as it it rather moth eaten, and Tim will be making new angle iron ends for the 4 corner posts, which we discovered are all of different lengths, and so can't really do their job.

Then there was another toot, and the train with the carriages came back. What? Oh, these are different carriages. OK.... it seems that this is a positionning movement for the race trains. Two of the volunteers at Hayles also volunteer on the race specials, serving drinks. They also work on the PWay, so we are multi taskers!

After lunch, we could no longer avoid the unavoidable, so Minnie was kick started into life and we started the heavy duty travail of making concrete, and lots of it.

We had two guys on making the stuff, and two on barrows ferrying it down the slope, where two more were shovelling it into the shuttering for the ring.

This is what it looks like from above. First of all we filled the space half way, and then pulled the reinforcement matting through it. A second layer was then poured on top, so putting the reinforcement matting in the middle.

Here are Peter and Dave P busy with the second layer.

In the foreground, they have already got to the top, and levelled it off.

It's quite interesting to watch, isn't it? So thought all of the others, who gradually migrated down to observe the last load going in, and being smoothed off.
Some rubble has been found for the middle, which we will cast next time.

Finally, as we had half a barrow of mix left over at the end of the day, we decided to make good use of it on the penultimate handrail post, which got a bit of a nudge from the mini digger when Steve sorted out the site last week.

He did fess up to what he'd done, so we gave him a cup of tea and a bacon butty to show that we didn't really mind. Honesty is the best policy, after all.

These posts are not easy to get in, as they have to be not only vertical, but also at the same angle for the hole supporting the handrail as all the others.
Here Paul has the important job of holding the line, while Tim holds the level to make sure it's vertical. When we're happy, the hole is filled with concrete and we are allowed home to conclude the day.

Monday, 6 March 2017

A heritage asset arrives

A special day today - we had Stevie for the whole day. He arrived with a tractor and trailer, bearing a 3T mini digger. This he used to complete the platform infill, and dig out the base for the slab that will support the GWR corrugated iron shelter that we have.

Lucky arrived precisely on time, and found that half a doughnut had already been set aside for him.

We hope he knows the difference between doughnut, and a sugary finger!

A bit of morning limbering up then - another pallet of cement is delivered, and put inside, under the kitchen table. Yes! Something wrong with that?

After a quick cuppa on arrival, Steve set to work digging out the remaining half of the waiting room site, so that we can put in some shuttering for the slab on which it will sit.

While this drew a lot of spectators, a gang of three split off to put in the edging panels, which will designate the limit of the gravel on the footpath.

We did the Malvern side, and the Cotswolds side was prepared, but still needs finishing.

The surplus soil from the waiting shelter area was then transferrd to the rear of the platform by means of an ingenious shuttle involving the Telehandler and its bucket. It was interesting to watch, although not for all.
Those handrails are just the right height, aren't they, John?

After a bit of see-sawing backards and forwards, the right spot was found for the spoil at the southern end of the platform. During the day, this little gang worked foward until it met the already higher section in the middle. The back filling is now pretty much done, but we still need to borrow a roller to compress it a bit.

Trains are running again, and we are back to anticipating eagerly what this might bring. A distant toot announced the class 73, which then trundled through with a partially filled ballast train, destination: the Winchcombe relay. A bit more on the shoulders is required there to make it perfect.

Check out the now fully back filled platform, and neatly raked slope in the foreground. The slopes will be seeded with grass, thanks to a generous donation from our neighbouring agricultural company.

Lunch today was a sad affair - no Paul, no cooked lunch ! It's at times like these that you realise how you took his hot meals for granted.

Glum faces consumed their own picnics. It just wasn't the same...

Did somebody say tea? Steve gallops back to base in the mini digger, having just completed the landscaping in time for lunch. It's a tight squeeze through all that kit there.

Then came the exciting bit: Steve had reserved the second half of the day for fetching the corrugated iron hut from the donor's garden at Toddington. Can you see it in the picture?  (next to the tree on the left)

How's that all going to work then? We were all eager to see how he was going to move it. If you were too, read on!

Dave P on the Telehandler was chartered for the lift.

The bottom of the hut is somewhat moth eaten, and lacks a ring beam, so it's not suitable for lifting. Plan B was to use a friendly brick to take out two window panes, but fortunately this was superceded by plan C, which was Tim and Neal, who put in 4 lifting lugs through the roof.

As you can see, it was a good plan, as the hut duly came off the ground, all in one piece.

Dave P reversed and then set forth forwards down the garden, guided by Steve who manoeuvered the shelter through the narrow gates.

Then turn left, and gather speed through the field to the tractor and trailer nearby. Nothing can go wrong now !

We even had time for a quick group photograph, with the help of a board director, no less.

But will it fit my trailer? A tough call, that one, and the answer was, Er - no. Too wide!

The loco dpt. was persuaded to offer up two sleepers, with which we were able to support the bits that stuck out a few inches over the loading gauge. It's a tight fit, mind. Who was at the controls for those millimetre precise liftings?

Yes, it's our Dave. Say 'Cheese', Dave. Oh, you already have...

Tightly secured - not too tightly, mind, don't bend it - the little load started off along the overflow car park field, interupted by a brief pause to see if it wobbled. It didn't, so OK to proceed.

We jumped in our Telehandlers and cars and followed what looked like a perfect Gypsy caravan slowly trotting down the road. Here it is crossing the overbridge by Toddington station.

There was some relief nonetheless when it arrived safe and sound at Hayles.

Dave reversed in first, and so doing was able to lift the shelter off the trailer parked at the entrance to the bridleway.

Four men stationed at the corners carefully guided it around the bend, easily avoiding the two neighbour's cars parked at the corner, although the owner, without panicking, did come out to eye up what we were doing. It was, as Steve would put it, 'foin'.

Here it is in situ, in a temporary resting place. We're going to leave it here for a while, so that we can make up the slab on which it will sit, and also so that we can rectify any issues with it (it must be 100 years old at least). One thing we noticed straight away is that the 4 corner posts are of different lengths, it would seem because they were cut down with an angle grinder when it was removed from its original location at Usk.

The last picture of the day shows the site after landscaping, and with the sun shining. All the slabs are down, the platform is back filled, the slopes are graded, most of the handrail is up. A small team is busy preparing the shuttering for the concrete pour for the base.

See you next week !