Friday, 28 April 2017

Extra, extra, read all about it.

We had an extra day today, to see if we could get a bit more speed into the repainting of the shelter. The opening day is getting closer and closer, and there are lots of coats of paint and drying days needed still. So an extra day; possibly another small gang will have a go tomorrow, depending on who can do which day of the week.

We chose Friday, as it was forecast to be dry. Ha! It drizzled all morning. Plan B then. We worked indoors, and here you can see Paul and Dave cleaning the interior of spiders' webs, and their occupants (there were many, which fell down on your head when tickled by the brush).
Dave then cleaned the interior framework with a rotating brush, so that it is now ready for a coat of primer.
While cleaning, we saw that the steelwork was provided by Lilleshall.
Still inside, we suddenly heard a furious rattling, and this turned out to be a heavy rain shower. So that's what it sounds like, from the inside of a corrugated iron hut. Loud.

While we were working indoors in the rain - see the wet platform slabs - this train came by, twice. It seems that the wagon contained wartime stuff that was being taken back to Toddington.
In the foreground, a bit of the newly sown grass is already beginning to show, but so are the weeds. A dose of selective weedkiller might help here.

When, eventually, the weather dried out a bit, Paul was able to have a go on the rear. This has never had a coat of paint on it, so the galvanised sheeting was getting a bit rusty below. The whole side was rubbed down with sandpaper.

Dave is still inside, but he's there alright, don't worry. There were just the three of us today.

After sanding down the rear side, Paul treated the rusty lower end to a dose of Kurust. This is amazing stuff, which converts the rust and can be painted over after only 3 hours. That seemed like a plan to us, so we put it on as early as we could, for a dose of primer on top the same day.

Lunch was three of us outside the cabin, with a carrot cake to share between us. It went quite a long way, as this fourth (?) member of the gang today wouldn't eat any, and in fact he seemed rather taciturn, keeping himself to himself all day.  At the end of the day he had vanished, without a word. Some people.

The day brightened up progressively, and this allowed Paul to put on said coat of primer at the back, or at least over half of it. It was quite slow work.

On top, Dave has started wire brushing the roof. This has had a single coat of something during its lifetime, but now it is rusty and mossy.

Here's where we got to at the end of the day. The roof is now part painted in Hammerite black, but we quickly ran out of the paint, and another 4 sheets need wire brushing. There is hope for another small gang tomorrow, or else it will be the main gang on Tuesday. We shall see.

Your blogger dug the post holes for the trespass signs, and one of the two holes for the running inboard, which is almost finished in the B&S shed. The holes are now as deep as an arm can reach! Two other holes remain to be dug.

In this overview you can see the rail for the trespas notice, and nearby, the post hole for it. It will take 6 - 8 people to lift the rail in, that's not something the three of us could have done today.

One last shot near the end of the day. Now it's dry at last, so Paul and Dave are both working outside.

Notice the progress with the chippings. This was the result of an extra day put in by some members of the loco dept (the Heritage Group is multi disciplinary) on Wednesday. Excellent work, chaps.

Monday, 24 April 2017

A big pile of chippings

That's what we received today! But first things first, Tea and a doughnut on the terrace.

Lucky the Dalmatian came by on his morning round. He soon worked out who was eating doughnuts.

He subjected Jim to an intense stare.

Jim can't believe the cheek of this young hound, can you believe it?

You're not having any, this doughnut is private! Rick in the background is enjoying the dialogue, and has his own mug of tea and doughnut, which seem to be quite safe from canine interest. For some reason Lucky always homes in on the same person...

Much to our delight, we had another visit from Steve today with the mini digger, to complete the works on the embankment, and help with the expected delivery of chippings. This delivery was late, then got cancelled, but later on reactivated, and finally arrived in mid afternoon.

Here we see Steve extending his embankment smoothings northwards, taking off the stubble and weeds, and giving the slope a more gradual surface, which goes all the way down to the edging. Meanwhile Rick, John and Paul rake out the stones to make the new surface ready for grass seeding.

Mid morning the class 73 trundled by light engine, heading towards Toddington. Tim makes good use of the new handrails, which Jim H has been painting. Julian finished off the little lead caps that Paul M had been making. Paul, our chief cook and teacup washer, is off sick at the moment and we hope he comes back soon in better shape than before.

As a diversion, we had two Hercules transport aircraft fly low over the Abbey, whereupoon they made a sharp turn to the left just a few hundred yards from us. Not a brilliant picture this, but look at the angle of the plane in the top of the tree! It nearly stood on one wing tip. They then headed off over Dumbleton hill at tree top height.

A shower of rain put paid to any idea of painting the corrugated iron shelter, but we did make an attempt at straightening some of the bent edges (with mixed success, have you tried straightening bent corrugated iron?).

Here in the picture we are barrowing out the last of the previous chippings pile. On the right is the slope before Steve got to work on it today.

Here Steve has nearely finished grading the slope. He makes such a lovely smooth job of it, finished off by John M and Rick, with Julian here spreading out the grass seed. We used so much of it that John had to go back cap in hand and ask our neighbours for some more. Mind you, it's not just our sowing, we've had a bad attack of mice in the container, and they chew straight through the polypropolene bags. The seed comes pouring out when you lift the bags up, the cheeky things.

A short while later the class 73 came back heading south, this time with the loaded Dogfish in tow. The Pway are having a major ballasting excercise on the newly stressed CWR section at Laverton, to make sure that it is boxed in securely and cannot warp.

Over lunch we had a visitor, John R, who came to tell us of the success of the wartime event held over the weekend. We did much better than last year but all the hard work left John quite drained. It's not easy organising such a big show, and we were very impressed and sympathetic.

Tim did some further work on the foundations of the shelter, and then moved on to the two rails for the trespass notices. Some further holes needed drilling, as it turned out that we could not use the holes in the 4 corners of one of them, as that corner, with its hole, was the subject of the repair and was no longer capable of load bearing.

Steve lifted both rails to their approximate positions. Now all we need to do is dig the holes for the posts, 75cm deep.

Mid afternoon the long awaited second load of chippings arrived. The lorry was expertly manoeuvered into our narrow entrance and the load discharged. A few minutes later, it was already on its way again.

With Stevie still about, we had the idea of using his wide bucket to fill two wheelbarrows at once.

During this short time, the two wheelbarrow operators can sit back and relax (for about 15 seconds, but hey). Then it's get up and heave them down the slope for tipping. This morning they also had to load them up with shovels!

Tipping the chippings on to the platform then carried on until we were near the shelter. This area is being left alone for a bit until we have finished painting it. You can now see the slope finished, with John M in the distance pulling out the last weeds and stones.

At the end of the day you can see the slope finished off and the chippings tipped as far as the shelter. In the foreground is one of the rails that will hold up the original trespass signs, which will be bolted on using shear nuts to prevent interest from unwelcome parties.

We're back next Tuesday, Monday being a bank holiday.

Last week afforded your blogger a day on the Bodmin & Wenford, with this picture of 4247 running into Bodmin Parkway. The return journey was a great pleasure, as it involves a steep grade and a veritable shower of ash particles for those who listened to the show while looking out of the window.

What great loco this is. Your blogger is a (modest) shareholder in 4253, and to hear this sister loco hacking up the hill just sharpened up the anticipation. The K&ESR is doing very well indeed with the restoration of 4253, an appalling wreck that not only spent a long time at Barry, but then an even longer time standing outdoors on a wet Welsh mountaintop.

The B&W impressed with its attention to period detail. They have selected a theme (1950s) at Bodmin General, then stuck with it, with charming attention to detail. This train, with its BR black engine and carmine and cream coaches, fitted in with that theme perfectly. Great stuff.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

The opening date for the halt

The opening date for the halt will be Monday June 5th. The exact arrangements for the day are still in the course of preparation, so keep your eyes peeled for any press releases.

What we do know is that one of our little pet dreams will come true. We will be able to replicate the famous photograph of the 14xx slowing to a stop at the halt, with water coming out of the tank. The engine in the picture, GWR 1424, was cut up in 1964, but we have been able to find a worthy replacement in GWR 1450, the owners of which were kind enough to agree to help us out. The auto coach paired with it will be W238W, which, if we are not mistaken, is the same one as in the picture.

As a taster, here is a picture taken today of Foremarke Hall passing the halt with a regular service train.

Monday, 10 April 2017

A celebration

There was a record number of volunteers at Hayles tody, thirteen! A suspicious mind would wonder why this was so, and it would be right - it was the day of our celebration lunch for the completion of the halt. No, it isn't complete, but we are getting our 'revenge' in early. Somebody said, how about a lunch, and before we knew it, it was organised and an early date set.

With so many people on site, and with lovely weather to boot, we might as well get everybody working hard.

Here are the tools laid out ready to go: Boxes of doughnuts (already open....), and Paul's kit for beating lead, which you don't see very often. Now where is Lucky the Dalmatian?

Lucky came a bit late, and was very distracted. His owner explained that on his 2 mile daily walk Lucky had met a young lady, and hadn't stopped dancing about since!

Lucky shot off down the field towards Didbrook, back again, then off in a different direction, so we had the doughnuts all to ourselves today.

Notice the GWR 'Trespass' sign below. This is the original that we found, with a corner broken off. Here it is invisibly mended, shotblasted, painted and relettered. We will bolt it to a rail post and secure it with shear nuts, so that it won't go 'walkabout'.

The larger than usual team is seen here enjoying the morning sun. More drifted in during the day, until we were 14 for lunch. There's nothing like this suntrap first thing, with the view of the Cotswolds behind.

The first job of the day was to cut off the end of the steel posts that hold up the ballast retaining wall at the bottom of the slopes. Just to make them neat and tidy, and a bit less likely to cut someone. You never know.

The Gennie was much in demand today, and we had to queue up to use it. Dave P was first.

The posts holding up the hand rail got attention today, one of the many small jobs that remain before we can declare the new halt ready for opening. Not yet! Hold on, at the back there.

Julian is giving them a coat of Creosote here. Paul is working at the far end with his lead beating kit, giving each post a little cap to stop it rotting from the top down.

Jim followed on with a little tin of white paint, and a ruler to get the bottom edge straight. The tops have to be white, we saw that on the old photographs.

We gave the platform surface a critical stare, and decided it was a bit high in places. We would like to put the Terram down today.

A small team was assembled to sort this out. The excess was taken to the northern end, and the area around the shelter, where there wasn't enough infill yet.

Here's a view from the track level. The little halt is beginning to look quite good. You can see the team levelling the platform surface, and Jim is watering the grass seed on the slope. Wooden edging is being installed around the sides, where stone chippings will meet the grass.

Get me an off-cut, will you? OK....

Paul had his circular saw with him again, and cut the tops of the posts to shape, and made more little posts to hold up the edging. Another user of the Genny.

Another team was putting edging up the path leading to the top. At the end of the morning, they had got this far. You can already imagine what this will look like with chippings, but they will probably go in last, as we use this path a lot and don't want them to get dirty.

Then there was a 'toot' and the class 73 drifted by, with a wagon in tow. Mysteriously, an hour later it drifted by in the other direction, now pushing the same wagon. Judging from the grins in the cab, it had something to do with the Wartime event. Perhaps filling up with unexploded bombs?

Then it was time for that famous celebratory lunch. We thought it would be fitting for the whole gang to eat at Hayles Fruit farm, as it was nearby and had a connection with the halt - the proprietor used to take the 'Coffeepot' to go to school!

We had a fine old time there. The proprietor is an enthusiastic supporter of our halt reopening, and it was the first time he had seen the whole gang. After the very filling meal, Tim, Paul, Steve and Dave D are seen at the railings reflecting on life on the railway. And will there be life after the Halt?

A call came to photograph the whole gang, some of which were already back in the cars and manoeuvering out of the car park. Come back ! Group photograph!

Here we are then, this is us, we built Hayles Abbey Halt. Nice to meet you, come and join us in our next endeavour.

Meanwhile, back at the farm (or in our case, back at the halt), we decided to try out a first stretch of Terram and chippings.

We need to shift that enormous pile on the left there, and order some more.

The roll of Terram that has been jamming up proceedings inside the container is taken out at last.

Outside, Paul cut it into strips, which we laid out along the southern half of the platform.

Behind, you can already see the first barrow loads of chippings being taken down the slope. How do they find the energy after that big meal?

There was some serious shovelling to do.

Luckily we completed the southern part of the platform just about the same time as they ran out of puff shovelling the stuff.

Tim was raking, Julian was one of three on barrows, and Paul laid out the Terram sheets.

Jim H is finishing off the white tops, which Paul has provided with a nice lead hat as in the foreground. Julian returns with an empty barrow. Luckily the full ones are downhill.

This picture shows well the effect of the chippings. We had a debate about the colour, but the old photographs show clearly that it was chippings and not ash, and that they were light.

At the top, Dave P is busy recovering the original fence line between two bridge rail posts, the line between them defining our property boundary.

This bundle of greenery is not a hedge, it is a totally overgrown post and wire fence, choked by bramble and ivy.

At the road end, we uncovered the original end post, with its angled bridge rail support still partly covered in ivy. On the far right of the picture is the other end of the fence line, another bridge rail post at the start of the bridle path. Between them we will install a new fence of post and rail, with a pedestrian gate somewhere in the middle. This area still needs landcaping, as it is not only completely overgrown, but it was also used as a dump. Apart from rusty bundles of wire, twisted old bits of pipe  and angle iron, we found the rocker cover of a 4 cylinder engine.

Near the end of the day, this overview from the road shows you progress with the platform surface. It all looks very smart. We still need to paint the shelter, for which the paint (light stone) has already been ordered.

Next week is Easter Monday, so we will move our working day to Tuesday. There won't be a blog post for it though, as yours truly will be off for a few day's holiday. Back the Monday after that!

It may be possible to do a blog post in between, as we need to make public the official opening date, and how we will celebrate it. So do check in from time to time.