Thursday, 25 February 2016

On the final straight at Winchcombe

The fine weather allowed good further progress to be made with the platform 1 extension.

As can be seen in the picture, the major part of the work has been completed, with a new platform wall, corbelling and infill. In the picture Pat can be seen pointing the upper part of the brickwork, while in the background members of the PWay are tidying up after a ballast drop, in readiness for the visit by the tamper.

Shortly afterwards a 'train' arrived, in the form of the PWay 'Landie' reversing back into Winchcombe. The Landie had been out to the tunnel mouth to do a couple of spot sleeper renewals there.

An overview of the platform extension works shows that the last slabs have been laid, right down to the slope and levelling out at the end. This levelling out allows the S&T wire run to continue unimpeded under the slabs.

An elevated view of the platform extension. Pat is working where the old platform ended, you can just make out the former slope behind him. The rest is new, care of B&S. Looks like it's always been there too - excellent work.

This shot shows the return at the end, the rail post and the S&T wires passing underneath. Very neat.

The sleepers and ballast are also new at this point.

At the back of the extension a new block wall is being built. It will hold back the flowerbed, and give the tarmac an edge to which it can be laid. Some backing up behind the blocks is still needed here, the next job on the list.

A contractor also came on Wednesday to size up the tarmac job and provide a quote.

In the picture a straight edge has been cut to give the new tarmac a nice clean break from the existing.

Meanwhile, a member of the Broadway gang is contemplating the arrival of the first service train. Is that a GWR lamp post though?

A last overview of the nearly completed platform extension, looking south. A bit more infill in a final layer prior to tarmac is still required, as well as an extra lamp post.

Once the platform 1 extension is finished, the gang will move on to the next job - concreting the new crossing at the north end of the station.

Sunday, 21 February 2016

More slabs

At Winchcombe the corbelling on the platform 1 extension was completed in traditional wet winter weather. This allowed the continuation of slab laying, as well as further back filling.

The mini dumper was in action again, with Pete filling it from the spent ballast pile by the car park. It then brought the back fill along the platform to the southernmost point, where a gang of two in heavy duty wet weather gear spread it out along the slope.

The art of spreading is to rake it out carefully from the half tipped bucket, so that not too much goes into one spot, from which you then have to shovel it elsewhere. Good coordination is required between driver and raker.

A step further back shows that 4 more slabs have also been laid down the slope. This should be completed next time with another 4. Further back filling will then achieve the required levels. A back wall of concrete blocks will be built on a concrete foundation. This will also serve as an edge when the tarmac is brought in.

At the bottom of the slope a rail post has been planted.

Ballasting is going on between the platforms.

Here the class 73 carefully rumbles down the newly reinstated platform 2 tracks with a short train of 2 Dogfish.

In this shot the Dogfish are being propelled back north, with a side door drop taking place.
The PWay gang is standing ready to perfect the drop by hand, ready for the next visit by the tamper.

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Getting ready at Hayles Abbey

John Kemp, the official  Hayles Abbey halt photographer, popped down to the site on Tuesday to check on progress since the concrete was poured into the foundation trench.

A neat repair has been made of the fence where it was removed to allow the dumper to reach up to the mixer lorry.

The concrete itself has set and is now ready for the first blocks.

All the building materials now need to be brought on site, together with a water bowser, cement mixer and storage container. This is expected to take a couple of weeks yet.

When the JCB returned to the site, various other improvements were made. One of these is the extension of the path past the site of the old corrugated iron shelter, right down to the footings.

This enables us to barrow the materials, bit by bit, down to where they are needed on the day.

This is now the entrance of the site. The fence has been removed, and the pathway levelled. An area has been readied for the site container and initial block delivery.
The contractor also brought in two loads of scalpings, which were used to repair the farm track, and a remainder was put in a pile so that it can later be used to give a surface coating to the angled path leading to the area of the shelter hut.

Further reports as they come in !

Monday, 15 February 2016

The slabs go on at Winchcombe

The B&S gang were hard at work both Wednesday and Saturday last. Slab laying has now commenced along the level top edge, and 8 slabs were laid on Wednesday.

Here is Pete in a 5 ton mini digger with a slab ex CRC2. Steve and Chris were nearby to give advice on tactics, such as sorting out the pile of all different slab sizes in the background. Many also have to be rotated through 180 degrees, to get the best side upwards. Tricky, without breaking them, but achieved by Pete with a 100% success ratio. Often this natural stone is spalled after years of exposure to rain and frost.

Interesting to see how the slabs are lifted, with loops across the 4 corners. At Broadway we use a scissors grab from Fairview, but they are quite scarce. As there are no rails (yet) at Broadway, the lorry with the HIAB can stand on the trackbed, but at Winchcombe and later at Hayles this is not possible. So this is a neat, workable solution.

If you look carefully, you can just about make out the join in the brickwork where the new bit of platform wall starts. A nice job there.

While Pete was busy with the slabs, Pat continued with laying the concrete corbels on the slope, in this picture being admired by Pete taking a rest from working the mini digger. The weather was kind, after an appalling previous Saturday, so wet that work was suspended for the day.
A whacker plate was taken up and down the platform to consolidate the infill.
Peter M was also on site with a loading gauge to help get the slabs in exactly the right spot.

You can see from this picture that the infill needs a bit more adding to it, and on Saturday this was achieved using ex platform 2 ballast stockpiled further up the yard. More muscle for the job came from Ken, on holiday from C&W just up the road. A change is as good as a rest!

Saturday was a little less friendly with some drizzle, but further progress was achieved, with the corbelling just about finished, and the last slab laid along the top. Following a request from S&T the end of the slope was altered very slightly, to give more room for the signal wires to run by. This also means that, as at CRC, the last slab on the slope will be level, to allow the wires to pass underneath.

With a bit of luck, slabbing should be completed this Wednesday - watch this spot to find out.

Friday, 12 February 2016

Concrete is poured

Thursday saw the footings fully dug out during a beautiful, sunny day:

... and today was the day for the big concrete pour. The  logistics of building at Hayles are not easy, and some headscratching preceded the solution adopted for the job, where the far end of the pour was about 80m from the delivery lorry. The solution was to hire in a concrete pump with a 60m range, and then to use the dumper for the last 20m.

Here you can see the truck with the pump, and the first of initially two delivery trucks with 6 cubic meters of concrete each. The path down to the former waiting room was cleared, and the pipe elements laid along it. It was quite a job, as the outside temperature was only 2.5 degrees, and the constituent parts proved very stiff and rather unwilling to fit together easily. But we got there.

Here the pipe emerges form the pump truck, and goes down the newly refreshed path towards what was +/- the centre of the platform.

The pump is a based on a  piston, which was duly set to work, and all eyes were fixed on the end of the pipe to observe 6cu m of concrete pouring out, about a wheelbarrow load with each push.

Alas, it was not to be. Although more fluid, pumpable concrete had been ordered, standard type with larger ballast in it was delivered, and it wouldn't pass down the pipe. A second lorry with the same mix had also arrived in the meantime. Now what?

After an inspection of the site to see what alternatives it offered, it was decided to cut a track up to the other side of the cutting, and to run the dumper up along the edge and to the mixer lorry, repositioned on the road on the Malvern side of the bridge.

This worked really well. Here you can see Steve in the 6 ton dumper 'drinking' liquid concrete straight from the mothership. Notice how he has tipped the bucket a bit to keep it level.

When Steve reversed back down, we all eagerly expected to see a wave of liquid concrete gush over him, but we were sadly disappointed. He handled it beautifully, running back down to the track where he poured it into the trench. Graham's brand new Hi Viz jacket remained pristine.

The first two mixer loads were dispatched in this way. After a number of calls to the plant to remind them of what exactly we had ordered, the next 4 lorries arrived with the correct mix, which the pump lorry was able to handle as planned.

In the photograph you can see how the end of the pipe was lifted into the dumper, and the full load was then run up to the far end of the trench, as per original Plan A.

Good progress is visible in this picture, where the furthest section has already been tamped level, and fresh concrete is arriving, per pump as planned, into the central piece.  Here Steve is raking it in around the catch pit, which will be incorporated into the platform wall and accessible via a hatch.

This employee is testing a pair of Mafia type boots... don't stand in there too long, Steve!

Due to the initial delays, the pump had to leave before we had handled the last of the 6 deliveries. Once the mixer has stopped emptying concrete into the hopper on the pump lorry, there remained quite a bit of concrete left in the pipe. This is forced out with a sponge, which erupted from the end like a little cannon ball.

The solution to the problem of the pump leaving early was to resume the loading of the dumper by the bridge. Here you can see one of the last loads going in; also the end of the path top right (it is not quite fully dug out yet) ending near the depression which marked the location of the corrugated iron waiting room.

At the end of the day the concrete pour was completed. We will now wait for it to go off. Once materials have been delivered to the site, we will start laying the concrete blocks in two rows, perhaps in a week, 10 days.

This last picture shows what faces those who get off at Hayles Abbey Halt - the beautiful Cotswolds. The ruins of the abbey are 900m away down a small road on the right. The Cotswolds way runs across this photograph from right to left. Anyone for Hayles Abbey Halt?

BTW, for those interested in Broadway, here is a video of the second footbridge tower being erected:

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Work starts at Hayles Abbey

Work on the reinstatement of Hayles Abbey Halt has started with a contractor digging out the foundations.

At lunchtime today the contractor was about halfway there. The excavated spoil is being stored a little further along, for future re-use when back filling the new platform wall.

The track is already in the correct position. In the bottom of the hole you can see original clay (grey) and pea gravel, used above the existing track drain. This will stay in place.
As this is the winter season, there are no trains running.

Although first impressions were that there are no traces of the original platform, it was possible to see from track level a depression where the corrugated iron hut had once stood.

Here is a view looking towards Winchcombe.

It was interesting talking to people on site, who remember the August 1976 derailment of a coal train at Winchcombe, which provoked the closure of the line. Apparently local residents were quick to bag up the spoils that rolled down the embankment from the upturned trucks. It was ever so.

Next to the original Brunel bridge rail fence posts, a quantity of piping was found. This was used in the 1920s to make up the handrails along the original approach path.

At the end of the day, the foundation trench had been 2/3 completed. The rest will follow tomorrow. The concrete will come on Friday. Once it has gone off, the first row of blocks can be laid. The two inspection hatches for the trackside drains will be bridged within the wall, so that future inspections remain possible. They were in good condition, and water was flowing north inside quite freely.

More news on Friday.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Wall completed

The B&S team missed out a Wednesday on the platform extension as the PWay gang was working in the same space. Yesterday they returned with a vengeance and now the platform wall as such is finished! It looks as if it has always been there.

Here the slope is just being completed by Mike, Pat and Pete, and you can also see that the PWay gang has reinstated the platform 1 road, and it has already had a works train over it - the rails are shiny again.

Here is the view looking the other way. Additional corbeling blocks have been brought to site, and in the distance you can see a pile of slabs waiting to go on. Far in the background, the PWay gang has moved on to the middle of platform 2, and at the time of writing the rails are back in but still need clipping up. Good progress here too.

All the corbels along the level section are now in place, ready for the slabs, with brickwork infill in between. The corbels, in fact half concrete sleepers, have been reused from the previous slope, but laid at larger spacings along the level part. It is hoped to put up the remaining corbels, on the new slope, on Saturday.

Bruce examines the mixer - is it ready yet?
The next job at Winchcombe is to compact the infill behind the platform, so that the mini digger can run along it safely. Pete, in the mini digger as an apprentice, will be laying the slabs, under the close supervision of Chris, who is acting as instructor and examiner. Three more apprentices are being trained at Broadway for the mini digger.

This final shot was taken at the end of yesterday and shows the good progress being made at Winchcombe - both platform roads have been relaid, and the platform 1 extension is almost complete. The wall is up, and it has been back filled. In the foreground are the slabs, ex CRC2, that will be laid next.

The start of work at Hayles Abbey is expected next week, and we hope to provide a photograph of the excavations as they take place - watch this space !