Friday, 29 August 2014

Our brick laying gang is about to return, and work on CRC2 will resume. But - now it's my turn to go on holiday! What kind of planning is that, you might rightly say, but I planned it to be outside the main holiday season, now that the kids have left. So there you go.

So what is going to happen on our incredibly long platform rebuild?

This coming Sunday, JC and Bob will set out the next 3 sections of the second half, or CRC2b as one might call it. We have another 110m to go, but the distance from the cement mixer will get less and less. We do still have a big logistical exercise again, as all the required bricks will have to be brought down from the top of the embankment, or ferried round from the behind the fence, where we dropped a new load a few weeks back.
Another time consuming issue is that the size of the job has increased (known as 'mission creep' in the military). Brought down to 'help' with the building of the platform wall, we find ourselves in sole charge, back filling, ducting, placing lamp posts, a running in board, the slabs and probably some sort of support for the cutting side slope as well. Where does the job stop?

So Monday 1st September (at last) sees the resumption of work on CRC2. Do come along.
We will start the first courses of blue bricks on the first 10m.  A lot of materials are being delivered, including sand, cement, blocks and corbelling blues, and the two remaining bends to complete the lamppost ducting.

Depending on how well we do, we may be laying the first row of blocks on Monday the 8th. They will have to be brought down form the container area, as well as supplies of reds and blues and those blocks. Many hands make light work. I am reliably informed that a fresh supply of mini Swiss rolls is in position.

Yours truly will be up a French mountainside for 14 days. I can't blog from up there, so radio silence on this blog will be maintained, alas. I will be back on Monday 15th September, and can't wait to see how you all got on.

In the meantime, here is a picture of Cheltenham race course Station taken in the early 1960s. It's only a little preview off the internet; you can get a full sized picture from the STEAM railway museum, ( who have the rights.
Interesting are the little concrete modesty screens; remains of them exist to this day, but I never realised what they were until I saw this image. Those buildings, in the style of today's booking office, were never more than a toilet and a little waiting room. What could we put in their place, and still be authentic?

Back soon !

Sunday, 10 August 2014

During the holiday season, CRC2 will also take a break, as some of our principal animators are taking their own hols.
This Monday, we shall move to Broadway signal box and, weather permitting, we shall be laying bricks along the rear. More brick laying there will follow on Wednesday.

For CRC2, there is no work planned in the weeks week commencing 11th, 18th or 25th August due to John C's commitments, Bob's family arrangements and a Bank Holiday.  JC and Bob plan to set out the next three sections on Sunday 31st August to enable brickwork to commence on 1st September.  JC has ordered bricks, blocks and cement for that day.  On the first day there will be no brickwork for others to do but Bob will need support on moving materials and mixing. We have to take stock of the bricks situation - some are already down on the platform, but perhaps not in the right place, some more are up on the embankment and need to be placed along the platform works, and a further supply has recently been parked just inside the fence in the field.

While you wait, take a look at this picture. It was taken shortly after the opening of CRC, from the road overbridge, looking towards Bishops Cleeve. We think the date is early 1920s.

Things to note:

The pine trees have just been planted.
There are two very small, narrow platform buildings, similar in style to the booking office which is still there today. The two buildings have long gone.
There is a wooden signal box, rear left.
There are two lamp posts down the LH ramp, and a fence along it.
The surface of the platform is slabs at the front, and ash at the rear.
The train in the station has the loco near the signal box, with the last (nearest) coach a clerestory.
There is a queue of people all the way down the approach ramp on the left, and along the platform. How will they all get on !

Comments are always welcome. Can you say any more about the picture?

Monday, 4 August 2014

A smaller team than usual today, just the 5 of us. And - oh no - the digger and dumper had gone off hire, just as we had scalpings to transport. Better get down to the tried and trusted method - everything by hand, and get digging!
This pile, move it !
Several barrowloads of these scalpings were wheeled down to the platform and spread out, to get a +/- level surface, ready for the final layer.

There's a bit more needed right behind you!
There were two jobs doing today. Job 1 was to level the platform surface, after the mini digger had roughly leveled it. This took pretty much all day, but we ended with a pleasing result. Now to let it settle some more. The final level will be about 4ins higher; the height of the slabs still to go.

The second job was to finish off positioning the lamp posts. Before we did this ,we had to replace one of the ducting inspection hatches, which got crushed by the mini digger last week. This took a lot of head scratching, as well as digging out:
Broken... not the ducting, me !
Luckily we had a spare inspection hatch (how is not at all clear to me, but we don't look a gift horse in the mouth) so we managed to 'plumb' this one in and seat it in a bit of weak mix for extra strength:

Putting on the KY jelly
Then a quick trip to the DIY store became necessary, because it turned out that the 50mm pipe bends that lead the string line up into each lamp post, carefully counted for the job, were not enough (?). Where were the missing two?

Finally, all the ducting was repaired and we were ready to cement in the last of the 6 GWR lamp posts. All the aggregate, bags of cement and water had to be wheelbarrowed down the platform. But the last lamp post is now in ! And are they straight, all in line?
Erm, left a bit Bernie, right a bit...
Brian volunteered to check this. They looked fine, we did a professional job. They still need a last layer of weak mix on top, but they are all in and upright, ready for the next stage.

This pretty much completes the job on CRC2A, and the next activity will be on CRC2B, the last 110m up to the signal box. To start with, we will have to do the setting out for the next 10m length, then brick laying can resume. Due to holidays, there will be a gap of 3 weeks, so brick laying looks to resume early September. Next Monday's session is therefore likely to be transferred to the signal box at Broadway.  

In other good news, B & S confirmed today that the manufacture of the new running in board was under way. Posts have also been ordered form a friendly fabricator in Malmesbury, and the finials are on order from a foundry in Leeds specialising in heritage castings. It will be fun putting this kit of parts back together.