Monday, 12 October 2015

A cold start today, with 1 degree C indicated first thing in the morning. Woolly jumper and jacket then, first time this year.
By lunch time however, the sun was so hot that we sat on the terrace in short sleeves. Lovely. Come mid afternoon, it was cold and windy again, so jacket back on. It's that time of year.

Today's job was to dig out the approaches to the platform, that strip of land between the signal box and the platform end.

We hired in 2 larger dumpers, 2 tonners. The idea was to dump the spoil among the trees at the top, but it was difficult getting up there without alarming tilts of the machinery, so JC had to sort out a path for us first.

We set out the site with spikes, and here the first bucket loads are being taken away.

Manoeuvering off the platform and up under the trees remained tricky, and one dumper driver even got stuck up there, while attempting a three point turn. Four wheel drive too!

The work quickly drew a crowd...

... but to be fair, it was work really for the two dumper drivers and JC on the mini digger, while the others helped as banksmen, or for a while, to spread out the dumpings among the trees so as to get a  level and neat-ish platform up there.

 Here is a view of a dumper going along under the trees, with two expectant faces at the end of the run, ready with shovels.
The problem eventually was that the diggings slowly turned from light ash to solid clay, and that proved impossible to spread. Hence we ended up with a level run for a few yards, terminating in a large pile of pure clay, untouched for 400m years. Need to sort that pile out next week with a machine.

An added complication was a slab of concrete that emerged right in the path of what we were digging. What we thought was the first and only bit we tried to hammer to pieces, but it was surprisingly reluctant. Bob, here in the picture, gave up after about 20 blows, closely followed by Tony after only 3! Too tough, that stuff. Then many more appeared, from what was quite a big slab underground.

As the day progressed we did quite well though, and in this picture you can see that quite a lot has been dug out already.

Bob is checking the depth with Tony - up a bit, down a bit, along a bit. Like ' Bernie the Bolt'.

It is tempting to wonder if Tony was aware that JC was about to give him a little nudge from above. Move over, Tony !

By lunch time the jackets were starting to come off, and we sat and basked in the glorious sunshine.

We even got a visitor from above, a Hercules that swooped down off Cleeve Hill, and did a tight curve over CRC, followed by a counter curve a little further on as we saw him drop down towards Gloucester. A magnificent beastie. Proud to have our boys up there.

Those slabs of concrete multiplied. We have no idea what that was, or used to be, but underneath was an unexpected cable that we nicked, requiring a phone call to Neill Carr to make sure everything was still working. It was, but it will need repair.

Last week, you might remember, we spent some time straightening up and fixing the inspection covers, so that they were perfectly level and and in line with the tarmacing-to-be.
Fast forward to today, and a number of covers were mysteriously lower down again, and at a tilt. Oh.

Another phenomenon observed was that the lamp posts had received a coat of paint, and that there were boot marks on the inspection covers. Could there be a connection?

At the end of the day we had gotten a long way towards the L/C, but there was just not quite enough time to finish the job. This view shows you just how far we got. It already looks pretty good; you can see how Race Course passengers would come off the platform and on to the L/C, before turning right. This will all be nicely lined with edging stones and tarmaced as well.

Next week, we will be on the 2 dumpers again, and will spread out more of the subsurface layer to even out the final profile of the platform surface, before the tarmac layer is in. 60 tons of chippings have been ordered for the day.

Question of the day:

What is this:

It came out of the ash layer exposed by the 45T excavator at Broadway. It's about the size of a large can of lager. It seems to be a pottery vessel, filled with graphite and an electrode, so presumably a battery. But what is its connection with the railway? There were several in the ash; this is the most complete one.
Any suggestions?

This one also came out of the same ash, which is a bit of a treasure trove.

It's about the size of a milk bottle, with a small spout. Note the inscription around the bottom:


It's probably an ink bottle, but surprisingly large. Other, smaller ink bottles also came up (in glass, SWAN brand).

What would the railway do with ink? Was it for the ribbon of the date stamping machines? Or did the ticket clerks write a lot?

Initially we thought that the items, mostly restaurant car china, were swept out of the kitchen car of the Race Specials parked at Broadway, but this ink bottle, and the 'CHELTENHAM SPA sign shown last week leads us to believe that the source might be Cheltenham Spa station itself (St James, that is) where it was thrown on the ash pile that was eventually disposed of by tipping it down the embankment at Broadway.

Knowledge or opinions/guesses about these items and their origins are welcome.


richard said...

It was probably a cell from a battery for either the box to box telephone, the Signal Post Telephone or for track circuits. In the days before the public electricity supply being common batteries were used, the S & T would change these on a regular bases

Anonymous said...

It looks like you have the remains of a Leclanché cell , invented in 1866. It is a battery giving about 1.5 volts and used in series to build up the voltage you need. It had a carbon cathode, a zinc anode and ammonium chloride as the electrolyte. Almost certainly used for an early telegraph.

The ink pot would be used to top up the small ink wells on individual desks in the office.

Good hunting - John Oates

Buccaneer said...

Be careful with raising the soil level around the trees at CRC2. It is a very effective way of killing them by 'drowning' if the increase is more than slight.
Great to see the progress you guys are achieving, despite phantom painters!

Neal Cooper said...

When we were digging for the yard tank water supply pipe behind the signal box at Toddington we came across a large number of various types of batteries. These had been dumped in the ditch behind the box over the years.

woodcockfamilykent said...

When is Platform 2 going to brought into use?

Jo said...

I don't know, but can say that it will be tarmaced in a couple of weeks.