Monday, 27 April 2015

There's an 'end of term' feeling in the air now, as we approach the end of the platform build. We're working on the last two sections now, which are almost complete as you can see on this opening overview from the top of the starter signal.
Both Bob and JC are on corbelling; one on the 190m section, adn the other on the 200m section, or slope. You can see all the 'soldiers' standing in line and holding the newly laid corbels down.

We're now down to the last bricks needing to be laid, so we don't want to oversupply and the word was to bring extra blues down by barrow one load at a time, and supply wherever needed. This was mostly for John S, who was busy at the back filling in the last two sections.

We're still using the materials like nobody's business, so Fairview had to pop down again - almost weekly really - and bring a fresh supply of sand, aggregate for concrete, and a whoppin' 29 bags of cement. 3 of us carried them into the container, and your blogger is now poorly with a painful back, which is getting lots of tea and sympathy at home (from Mrs. blogger, she adds). Still, every cloud has a silver lining, and in this case it's that I am released from helping to move the billiard table in our local club tonight! Phew.

So we set off to work, and here is a shot of John S at the end of the 190m section, setting out the first brick in the final row of stretchers on the rear. JC is pointing up the corbels he has just placed on the slope, while Keith and John O have a brief respite with no mortar to mix or push along.

Two of us then set off to the other end of the platform, 200m away, to touch up the two posts we planted last week with primer (a few areas being covered by sticky tape  last week) and, yes at last, top them out with the replica cast iron finials that we had specially made at a foundry in Cleckheaton. Broadway station played a part in them, as they are based on an original buried on site and discovered there while digging for bricks. So these finials have a genuine heritage.

Leaving the primer patches to dry, we returned to the other end (also 200m away...)
...and decided to have a cup of tea, while the brick layers were still beavering away. That felt good ! Note the short sleeves and shorts, it was hot in the sun today.

Last week we saw the sandbags going this way, and this week it was that. Here they are again! Unconfirmed reports suggest that the wartime event was successful, and should help start the season off with a financial boost. Great!
Having finished his row of corbelling (only one row per day, remember) JC has joined John S with infilling at the back. We of course are sitting outside the cabin, and watching :-)

This van is massively overloaded, surely? A huge pile of sandbags is on its way back to Winchcombe.

Finally, it was officially lunchtime, and here is the full gang sitting outside the cabin, corbelling completed for the day. Just two more rows to go on the slope, and that's it. Yes, Hello, we can see you too, OK already, calm down.
After lunch, the sloppy mix was made up for the top of the 190m section, while yours truly and Brian fitted another two lengths of drain pipe behind the wall, boxed it in, and filled the box with pea gravel.

Then, another 200m back to the other end to paint the two posts in dark stone.
This is what they looked like at the end of the day. Quite convincing, would you not agree? They need a final top coat, then the actual board can go on. It should fit perfectly, thanks to the identically sized former we used to set out the posts. Should...

The last activity of the day was spreading out the sloppy mix over the top of the completed 190m section.
Keith spooned it on with a shovel, while JC, Bob and John S spread it out nice and smooth. Once they have finished standing behind this part of the wall, the final length of drain pipe will go in here.

Having finished the penultimate section, time to sign it off 'officially' on our list back in the cabin.

This is always a proud moment for Bob, and well deserved too. Hope your knees hold out to the end, Bob!

We won't be working next Monday (bank holiday) but Tuesday was being considered as an alternative, last I heard.

Monday, 20 April 2015

Coming to the end of the wall now - make the mix, in the barrow, and hup - you are there. Just a short trot now. Three brick layers today; John S switching to Broadway to give the fascia boards another coat before the painter comes on Wednesday to do the top coat. JC was back from Ireland, so much progress was made, and we are nearly at the end now.
Here is our opening shot, with Bob corbelling, Tony backing up, and JC cutting bricks to size for the slope on the last section.

Bob has been sneaking back to CRC mid weeks and did quite a lot on his own, which allowed Tony to apply the sloppy mix along the 180m section today. The corbelling here is already done.

Here are our two mortar mixers and barrow pushers John O and Keith. Keith has got a barrow of sloppy with him, and was spooning it on to the wall in the foreground quite liberally, so that Tony could work it into the gaps and finish it off nice and smooth.
Behind them is the 190m section, where Bob has already corbelled his way out of sight, a row of 'soldiers' bearing witness to his efforts.
A little chat between jobs is what makes CRC2 such a pleasant place to be in good company.

JC spent about an hour cutting bricks in half diagonally. The result is a fine slope, and a huge pile of pink dust. You can also see that there are almost no bricks remaining in the ready stacks behind the wall, they have almost all been laid.
JC having laid the visible stretchers along the front of the slope, the remainder was filled in - with concrete! Isn't that a bit of a cheat there? Keith made up a special concrete mix for this. It means washing the mixer out again afterwards. John O is always very meticulous about his mixes and washing the tools. A couple of times though there have been complaints about foreign objects in the mix - mostly pebbles, lastly a stone the size of half a brick. Today a brickie's trowel was discovered in the mixer drum! It almost went on its way in a barrow, what would Tony have said on finding that in his pile?

A few moments later the end slope looked like this. It almost looks as if the wall is finished, but there are probably 3 more days work on it, mostly corbelling.

After finishing off the concreting, JC set out the first corbelling row, with a few bricks at each end, between which the line is drawn.

A van then drew up, filled with sandbags. Could they borrow our trolley? Of course they could. These guys were strong, they carried two sandbags each at a time. Hmmmmmm....

Last week we planted the first running in board post, and this has now set in the concrete and was back filled.
Now that it is stable, we were able to plant the second post a bit further along, in the hole dug last week. B & S , next to making the board itself, also made a special former frame, which is the same size and shape, and allows us to put up the second post in exactly the right spot.

Can you see what it is yet?

Here a bit of dry mix has been poured into the hole, and Keith is stamping it down while JC keeps an eye on the level. Then back for 2 further barrows of mix, a bucket of water on top, and leave to set. Next week, take down the former, and put up the real name board. Simples, eh?

When both posts have set, we can fix the two cast iron finials to the top.

Then, quickly back to the brick laying job, the 'Colonel' is on patrol !

At the end of the day we finished off the 180m section, did a row of corbelling on the 190m section, and laid two rows of backing bricks behind it. Next time, we can finish off the 190m and penultimate section with a final row of corbelling and backing up.

Just before packing up, a delegation headed south to inspect the other end of the platform. Management wants a flight of steps here, how to do this?

Then the best bit (after eating mini Swiss rolls), signing off the section we have just completed:

180m is ticked off, just two bits left to do.

Underneath is a picture of CRC in BR days, with the original running in board. We have to refer to the original from time to time, you know!

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

A Wednesday update:

Bob, Keith and John O put in a special day today, to accelerate the corbelling. Here is Bob's report for the day:

The weather was hot and I had a job keeping up with the pointing before the mortar dried.  John O and Keith joined me and we managed to lay the final corbel on the 180m section so this is now ready for backing up and slurrying.  All being well we should be able to sign this off next Monday.  The 190m section is now ready for corbelling and I hope to get the first course on Saturday.  
Bob with the last brick

I enclose some photos.  You will see that Keith has been promoted to bricklayer third class as he infilled the 190m section to allow me to put the final row of headers on.  He has a happy face and seems pleased about his promotion.

What a wall...
The one  photo shows me laying the last corbel on the 180m section and shows the extent of the platform built to date.  The other photo sees the final brick going on that section.  The next pictures show John O and Keith completing the infill to the 190m section...
Brick layer, third class

Another section nicely infilled
...and the last one shows building services taking filled sandbags down to the end of Platform 1 in readiness for the Wartime in the Cotswolds weekend. 
Sandbags on the move for the war.
It was a race day today but, apart from locking us in, it did not interfere with progress.  

Back on Monday for further corbelling, and planting  the second running in board post.

Monday, 13 April 2015

With the much nicer weather, holidays are starting to make an impact. We were two brick layers down today, and only 6 people in all. John O wasn't able to come today (most unusual) and Keith took over as chief mortar maker and bottle washer.
Bob was the only one in front, and he addressed the second row of corbelling of the 180m section with vigour. Tony backed him up on the rear, so that at the end of the day a complete layer was laid here. One more to go - Bob thought he might sneak back on Wednesday and polish that one off.

Here you can see the result of Bob's corbelling drive today, a 10m long row of carefully laid bricks. Each one is fitted with its own counterweight. Only 2 more sections, 190m and 200m, remain behind him. The brick piles in the void behind the wall are now looking quite anemic. Will we have to bring down a last pallet full? Four pallets of metric blues remain, still in their wrappers.

Then, suddenly, brick laying slowed right down.... a visit by Ron, head of B & S, to chew the fat. Looks rather like two neighbours chatting over their wall.

By the way, B & S is a fascinating but relatively unknown department. They do all sorts of interesting building work around the railway. They do need a bigger gang really, so if you are at all interested in helping out there, do get in touch with them. Their HQ is in the yard at Winchcombe.

As our two, later three, brick layers did not need as much mortar as usual, yours truly and Brian set off for the other end of the now incredibly long platform. Here we started digging the holes for the posts of the platform 2 running in board. This exists, but is currently a kit of parts which will shortly be assembled at the appointed spot. We dug a 60cm deep hole at the foot of the remains of the slagstone wall. This was harder than it sounds...

Once we were through the layer of ash that used to form the top of the platform, we hit what we believe is called Mudstone, a dry compacted clay like layer which over the millions of years had almost hardened to stone. Some of the lumps we got out were as big as rocks, and we threw them out by hand. Here Brian is contemplating the hole... we both have bad backs, and are no longer quite as energetic as in our distant youth.
We did get to the bottom of this hole without further back injury (mine first started over 20 years ago on the PWay of the KESR) and over the years you learn to get to know your back, and how far you can go.
I think we have posted this sort of picture before, but here is one of the many fossils that we found in the original subsoil. It's an Ammonite, and Brian tells me the name comes from the Egyptian God whose earthly figure is a ram, with horns just like the coils that you can see. I never knew that....

After lunch came the 'moment supreme' - we walked up to the ticket office and collected one replica running in board post, LH side. This was made for us by The Iron Works and Gate Co, a friendly firm of supportive fabricators in Malmesbury. Thank you, Chris Evans!

We went to a lot of trouble to get the brackets right, and the dimensions for CRC, which are unique to the station. Yours truly naively thought that a post bearing a board for 'TODDINGTON' would have the same bracket spacings as another with a similar name, ie 'GOTHERINGTON'. Not so of course, the Toddington brackets are slightly further apart. Natch. This is how you learn.

One post is now in, and has concrete shoes. It's the red job in the picture; we gave it an extra coat of primer just to make sure that it won't rust now that it's outdoors. Once both posts are in, we will put the finials on. They are made of cast iron and were copied from an original found at Broadway. We want this board to look genuine! Next week we will put up the other post, using a special former, shaped like the final running in board, which will ensure that the posts are the correct distance apart. Once the concrete has set, we take down the former, and bolt in the name board instead - Bob's your uncle! We have done this before of course, at Broadway.

Here's our final shot of the day: 180m corbelling just visible on the right, then two rows, front and back, on the 190m section. Looks quite chunky. The brick laying still to do is mostly determined by the corbelling, which is very time consuming. There are another 7 x 10m stretches to go (one to finish the 180m section, and three each on the last two sections to the bottom of the slope).

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Spring, nay, summer is here! The day started off with 4 degrees C and we had our woollies and jackets on. The fog lifted, the sun came out, and gradually more and more layers came off, until we ended up with 17 degrees C and in shirt sleeves. What a change.

Here is our opening shot for the day. We are working on the last three sections. John O predicted brightly that it would be a quiet day because there were only 2 brick layers, but by mid-morning there were 5 of them and those on the mortar supply were running their socks off, up and down, with cries of 'Compoooooo' left right and centre. All right already, I'm coming, I'm coming !

Bob laid a row of corbelling bricks on the 180m section, with Tony on the other side keeping up with the infill.
Shortly afterwards they were joined by Pete and Pete, who are seen here on the 190m section backing up before the front is laid. John S is backing up a bit further along, and all in all this section saw the main attention for the day, finishing two rows higher. After corbelling, Bob moved on to this section and laid two rows along the front. Yours truly and Keith ran backwards and forwards with mortar made by John O, and positioning further brick supplies for our busy brick layers. They must not stop for want of supplies!

Today was a running day, and it was busy. A steamer and a DMU were out along the line. Here is a crowd coming down the ramp - can you see the train yet, dad? If you lean over a bit more, you can see it better...

Eventually 7820 trundled in with a well filled train. There were lots of children, and as they all waved to us enthusiastically, it seemed rude to ignore them, so work stopped for a moment and we waved back.

Then it was time for a brew. And a chat. It is amazing what the topics covered include. Today for example two volunteers were discussing their tinitus:

''Where did you get yours from?''
'I got mine from my 1100cc motorbike, what about you?''
''4.5 inch gun......'' !!!

Eventually the discussion turned to prostate problems, an issue which affects most of us on this job. So many of us had corrective surgery, that there was talk of holding a competition, to be called the 'Catheter Cup' ! Could be a horse race for elderly jockeys too. It does show the good humour of our little team. Soon CRC2 will be finished, and then what next?

After tea, an inspection ! JC, nominally absent but factually passing through and unable to resist a quick visit, came to say hello and comment on the brick laying. We passed, phew!

On the sand and cement supplies we practise a 'just in time' delivery system, which today was 'just too late' - we ran out of both sand and cement. While waiting for Keith to go off to the DYI store and get in a private buffer stock, 4 of us decided to do a little pea gravelling ad interim. As trains were running, we didn't much want to get the trolley out. Also, we were quite close to the source, so a different MO was devised. We filled the barrows up from the dumpy bags by the gate, and then wheeled them along the upper part of the platform, across a scaffolding board bridge, and then tipped the contents directly into the channel with the drain pipe. Worked a treat!

It was during these pea gravel runs that we (re) discovered the poor quality of our wheelbarrows. Not only are they twisted and torn (thin plating being the cause of that) but as you can see from this picture the tyres are of very poor quality, with this one not far from bursting. Several have already gone.

Instead of with a large lorry and a HIAB, we received our cement today by private car. Thank you Keith ! His effort means that next Monday we can continue mixing straight away, without having to wait for Fairview later in the morning. Lets hope that John O can scrape together a bit of sand for it.

The DMU also shuttled up and down the line, and carried a (smaller) number of passengers. It did smoke rather a lot though.

Every other turn was a steam one, so after a while we saw Dinmore Manor again, always a pleasant sight. Bob, John O and Keith pause to acknowledge the whistle, and to enjoy the spectacle of the arrival. And wave.

Here's our last picture, taken at about 3 o'clock. A row of corbelling has been completed and pointed, two rows on the 190m section achieved and backed up, and on the 200m section the slope is now pretty much complete, waiting only for some infilling between the horizontal bricks, and the final three rows of corbelling bricks.

Tomorrow: Broadway! The chimney pot is promised and should go on.