Monday, 29 June 2015

No digging and dumping today - due to unforeseen circumstances, we were short on both digger and dumper drivers. Well, we are volunteers, so we can't always be on site.

So what fun could we have? (remember this holiday camp advertisement?)

As we have almost finished the 'building' part of the platform, it's time to relocate some of the supporting materials. Pete D came down with the B&S van, and with the help of Brian and Paul, loaded up the scaffolding planks and surplus rebar, which were then taken to Broadway, where they will be more useful.

Surplus drainage pipes were carried down to the secure storage area under the road bridge.

The blue lorry was used to take away surplus pallets, which can be made useful at Toddington for lighting up the locos.
The class 73 made an appearance, and was used to take a wagon of track materials out of the Hunting Butts tunnel area.

A start was then made to apply mastic to the edging slabs. This used a great deal of polysulphide, so consideration is now being given to using a filler below the mastic, to save costs.

Finally, the last of the steps on the southern end was cast. Here you can see Brian and John O on the job, which was completed. That's another one we can tick off. No more walking 200 meters with 90Kg of mortar in a  barrow then.

In the meantime, another of the team of 5 volunteers today pegged out the platform in preparation for excavating the back edgings. That'll be another digger and dumper job for next time.

Back to complete the back filling next Monday, if all goes well. Another 30 tons should see that job through.

Monday, 22 June 2015

Dust.  Dust.  Dust !

What a windy and dusty day today. I just got out of the shower, and there was dirt in my ears! How did it get in there?

A much more encouraging 8 volunteers turned up today, allowing 3 to work the mini digger and dumpers, and a generous 5 to spread the infill. Above is the gap that met us first thing in the morning.

Anyone for lots of dust?
A generous load of demolition rubble soon arrived, and we were off.

Initially, the sole 'muck spreader' was the unfortunate John S, who in this picture is standing well clear of the load that is about to descend upon him.

Luckily he was soon joined by Pete, Brian, John O and Bob, and between the five of them the job was not too harsh, and there seemed to be a lot of jollity around. A spare shovel was carried, just in case !

Then they were three. Stick it right there, mate!

The day was particularly windy, and the rubble delivered today, particularly dusty.

This combination resulted in choking brown clouds, and the mini digger and dumper had to be repositioned from time to time to achieve the optimum upwind environment for the machinery operators. Nonetheless, that darned dust got everywhere.

Not a good day for spraying you might think, but luckily these guys had a nozzle that delivered fairly large droplets. After fiddling quite a bit to get their 'golf cart' on the rails (was it narrow gauge, perhaps?) they vanished up the rather green headshunt to do a useful day's work.

Now they are five!
It's a strange thing with the 'muck spreaders', but when the loaded dumper turns the corner to start the journey down the platform, they are all standing in a group and gassing.
Approach a little closer and get your camera out, and this happens. Aren't they busy !

They also complain if there is any interruption in the flow of dumpers. This may not necessarily be the fault of the dumper drivers - here they are queueing up, while Robert from the Pway gang interrogates JC about the finer points of mini digger driving. There are lots of finer points....

During a pause in the delivery of hardcore, JC takes Big Bertha out for a spin, to roll the bit we've already done. Got to climb up on top of it first though, the bit we infilled today was quite deep, and progress therefore proportionately slower. We made a little ramp for him at the end. Do these things have traction control?

Unable to work while JC rumbles along, the 'muck spreaders' head for the cabin for a sneaky cup of tea.

Then, more dust. Tony has long worked out which way the wind blows, and stands well behind at the back.

It was Tony who brought the last load today, the final one of 80 dumps made. Due to the greater depth to be infilled, we didn't after all make it quite to the end, and another load and a bit will be needed next Monday.

Here is the view from the platform 2 starter. The 3/4 mile post is as far as we got today.

If you look at the lads closely, you will see that we work with military precision - shovels presented !

After work, a final wander down to the southern end, to show you the fourth step that was cast today.

Now a little look forward.

After completing the infill, the next jobs will be :

- planting another 4 lamp posts (we really need 5 though...)
- laying the ducting and connecting them up.
- removing the overburden to complete the full width of the northern half of the platform.
- Digging out the approach to the level crossing from the northern end of the platform

Friday, 19 June 2015

Monday, 15th June.

Yours truly is back from Italy. Fat tummy, check, wine withdrawal symptoms, check.

A vigorous rumbling noise met me as I got out of the car. This was our new, meatier roller at work, which, JC informs me, delivers the equivalent compaction of 150 tons per square foot when set on vibrate. Impressive.
Ready to go were the mini digger, and two 1ton dumpers. 80 tons of infill were on order, but not yet in sight. Nor were any other volunteers.... after last week's big slabbing bash, many people returned to their normal lives, and several were on holiday. Soon however Rod arrived, a very welcome sight, and we had the absolute minimum crew for doing the job.

At 08.30 Elliotts arrived with the first load of 20 tons, and a very bouncy driver, who gave us the thumbs up all round. We are ready to go. A quick calculation will give you that with two 1 ton dumpers, each driver has to do 40 trips into, and back out in reverse from, the channel behind the platform wall. And a very patient JC has to load the whole lot with the mini digger and a small bucket.

Here is the first pile, and one twentieth of it has just been loaded into Rod's dumper.

The timing was brilliant. The second dumper was fully loaded, just as the first reversed back out from behind the platform. So we managed to keep up a pretty uninterupted stream of dumps.

Then came the second load. Another 20 tons, and at a rate of one load per meter of platform, we at this point have done about 20 meters. This to achieve a 9 inch layer.
JC checks that the load goes in the right place, while Rod affords himself a well earned rest from looking over his shoulder, and being beeped at loudly.

This is what the job looks like as you drive along the back of the wall.

The roller is parked beyond the job, but can't be used yet, as the surface is just a row of humps. If only there was someone to spread out the infill....

And there they are, God bless them, Pete and Mike from B&S arrived in the nick of time and got to work with the shovels.

It's quite tough, this. Not only are we all pensioners, but it's hot. A rest from time to time is certainly in order.

After a while, Mike had to go on to another job, leaving Pete on his own. And those dumpers kept on coming...

You did brilliantly Pete, thank you, and we couldn't have done it without you. Hero of the day.

Note sure what was being said here, but my guess is:

JC: And once we have finished the job, we are going to do platform one !

Bob: *@*$* !!!!!

Just before lunch, and with Pete due to leave shortly, all  four of us attacked the remaining piles and levelled the new layer of infill right up to the bottom of the slope. The way was then clear for Big Bertha to compact the full stretch that we had just done.

Here is JC on the big roller, levelling the 9 inch layer we had just laid. One final layer is still required to complete the CRC2 infilling.

This final picture shows what we did in the afternoon - running over the freshly compacted layer, we started the next and final one with the remains of the 4th lorry load of infill delivered. We managed another 10 - 15 meters with what was left, so that a final dump of 60 tons should see this job completed, hopefully this coming Monday.

That's a pretty straight platform edge, by the way. Didn't they do well with the slabs?

Tired, dusty and sunburnt, we headed home. Avoiding two sets of temporary traffic lights round Bishop's Cleeve, yours truly went home via Winchcombe, forgetting the other roadworks there.

D'oh !

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Slabbing at CRC2, Part 2.

The third day of slabbing at CRC, Wednesday 11th June, started with just 22 slabs to go.

This fish eye view from Mike Best illustrates the work perfectly. Most of the slabs have already been laid, and the platform extends way away into the distance, almost to infinity!

Just a few more yards to go on the right, then we go down the slope.

Having reached the end of the level section, a new start is made at the bottom, building up to the break point, where the last slab is cut to size. Clive, Bob, Brian and JC are on the job, while Gary waits with the next slab.

We then move on back to the break point, where the last section of slab is cut to size to fit.

Paul is applying a nice layer of mortar, while Brian is looking pretty pleased with himself, having been given one level for the straight bit, and one for the slope....

Also on the Wednesday was the last bit of pea gravelling.

You can see that when this is finished, there is still quite a bit of infilling left to do.

Up to now, we had always filed in the pea gravel using two barrows on the trolley, and a big yellow bucket to scoop it over the platform wall.

Now, with the road-railer available, and all the pea gravel shovelled into dumpy bags a few weeks ago, a new method was devised. It involves the use of a Stanley knife...

Very clever, guys, but I call that cheating a bit!

Testing the clearance - part II. Take one 100t diesel locomotive, run it the full length of the platform... the driver is checking the clearance carefully, but there was nothing to report. We passed with flying colours.

Just for comparison, here is the 'before' picture, taken in 1995 when I was on holiday in the UK as an expat. The RH wall had a pretty obvious lean on it, and I wondered how they were going to cure that. Little did I know...

After the slabbing, the availability of the road-railer was used to pick up all the original York stone slabs that were piled up on site some years ago.
Here the pile by the former CRC2 waiting room is moved on to the trolley.
A standard slab of 3ft or 4ft length is very heavy indeed, but these are of varying lengths and some are as much as 6ft long, so the road-railer was crucial in getting them shifted and the site made tidy.

 Along came another service train, this time hauled by 2807. The road-railer scurried into the head shunt, and GWR's 75 ton heavy freight loco tried the new coping slabs for size.

They were fine as well.

On the final day, June 11th, the road-railer was back in action and collecting more York stone slabs from the old platform, this time from a large stack on the other side of the signal box.

Here you can see where they went. On the right you can see the fully slabbed platform, with the exception of a short piece at the bottom of the northern end.

In order to mimic the appearance of CRC1, a short flat stretch was laid at the bottom, on a new concrete base.

Once the concrete base had gone off, the final two slabs were laid here.

Brian and Tony look on.

Tony then got on with the laborious job of filling in all those little diamond shaped holes that are left when you join two new slabs together.

The special sealant will be used on the gaps between the slabs.

From the depth in which Tony is standing, you can see how much more infill is required. More of that tomorrow.

The last job on the 11th was for the road-railer to park itself and the trolley outside. This is how they did it.

On Monday 15th June, a mini digger, two dumpers and a roller stood outside this gate. What we did with them will be posted tomorrow, then we're back up to date.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Slabbing at CRC2 - Part 1

On Monday 8th June, the actual slabbing of the new platform wall started. A big day ! The 'crowning' of almost two years' worth of brick laying. We had hired in for the job a special road-railer, which was supported by a trolley on which it would pull along a supply of slabs.

To refresh our memories, and give an idea of the size of the job, here is a picture of the slabs arriving, back in March. There were two lorry loads, with 220 slabs in total. It was a big pile.
Because the old CRC2 slabs, made of York natural stone, were in many cases spalled or damaged, and because it proved impossible to acquire over 200m of second hand concrete slabs, it was decided to buy new. The old natural stone slabs will not be thrown away, but either sold, or the best ones reused elsewhere on the railway.

Here is the road-railer fully loaded and ready to set off with its 'train'. Although the trailer is fully loaded, the stacks visible in the background don't seem to have diminished at all yet. Lots of work to do then.

The road-railer then trundled down to the southern end of the platform to lay the fist slab.
One of the unanswered questions before your blogger left for his hols a fortnight ago was how do you get the mortar all the way down there? Would it also go on the trolley, or would we barrow it down?
The answer was barrowing.... brave men they were who did this. At least the platform wall surface was nice and level. Later the Pway trolley was also pressed into service, but you can't beat a 'barrer'.

Here is the first slab going on. The question on everyone's lips was - how easy is this going to be? We have laid many slabs at Broadway, but always on a wall built of all sorts of recycled imperials, with lots of different heights to juggle with, if you want a level slab. Slow and tricky that.

The tools of the trade lie roundabout - mortar, trowel, a level and .. a big rubber hammer. The road-railer, expertly operated by Gary, carefully places the first slab. There are lots of variables - height, orientation, level, alignment with the platform edge. JC keeps a careful eye over this first placing.

With the first slab successfully laid, several more went on without too much trouble - a big sigh of relief!
Bob, on his trusty rubber knee caps, has put down a thin bed of mortar, while Terry with the bar responds to JC's instructions for the fine adjustment.

Because the CRC2 wall is new and made of new, modern bricks, it has a nice smooth and level surface on top. Once the team had gotten into their rhythm, progress began to accelerate and only a thin bed of mortar was required for each slab. Here we see the gang just over the half way mark, beavering away. The speed of laying down these slabs was considerably increased thanks to the expert manipulation by Gary in the road - railer. A big thanks, Gary!

Once the pace of slabbing settled down, the team could relax a little and there was less pressure on them. Time for a cuppa then, and one of Bob's famous Mini Swiss Rolls.

While slabbing continued near the half way mark, Tony started pointing the underside with the mortar on the spot there.
The joints in between the slabs will be filled with a special sealant, and the diamond opening between the slabs on top will be filled with mortar to ensure there is no movement possible.
The replica running in board is in the distance, new replica lamp posts are also in place.

On the first day, the team laid an amazing 120 slabs out of the 220 in total. Well over half way, after only one day. We exceeded our own expectations. A good day at Broadway would see 10 or 12 laid.

On Tuesday 9th June, the team returned for a second day of slabbing. This was a service day, so the road-railer had to juggle the arrival of trains, parking up the head shunt out of the section. This slowed progress down a little bit, but with the back of the job already broken on day one, day two saw another 78 slabs laid.

Now there comes a moment of nervousness - how about the clearance? If you want a wide engine, take a GWR tank. But it got through fine, check out that cylinder on the front, no scratches, right?
Here is 5542 easing back up to the front of its train, having successfully passed the first line of slabs. More tests will follow later ! What sort of locos could we throw at this clearance business?

Photographs by Bob, Paul and Mike - thank you lads. Had to shake the cement dust off though.

Tomorrow: the final day of slabbing.