SVR S&T Dept.
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S & T Notes - August & September 2020

SIGNALLING NOTES - Chris. Hall

We seem to be busier than ever: on Sunday 2nd August the aim was to dig in three concrete bases. We realised that the age profile of the volunteer section of the Department now looked rather different than it did the last time we had some 'heavy gang' work to do. We therefore attempted to 'press gang' some members of the Locomotive Department to help. The attraction was a free trackside barbeque in very fine weather. This attracted Jimmy Norris, Will Pederson, Rob Smith and Evan Bradshaw. We brought a wooden mock up of the concrete (it is much easier to lift a light wooden mock up in and out of the hole to check it is the correct depth and is level than it is to have four people struggling to manoeuvre a concrete in and out). With myself, Martin Wood, James Marrion and and ? we were able to get the three concretes dug in by the end of the day. The placing of the concretes was determined by the sleeper positions and their actual distance apart was measured to allow straps to be cut to length.

Belt and braces. The new points are bolted, the FPL stretcher is padlocked in place and coach-screwed to the sleeper. The points are clipped and padlocked and scotched. It is Sunday 26th July. The route for the point rodding (orange), pin joints (cyan), cranks (blue) and concrete bases (red). The cranks will be mounted on straps attached to the concrete bases. Photo: C. K. Hall

By the end of the day on 2 August the concretes are buried. Photo: J. Smith

By the end of the day on 16 August we are able to measure the height of the rodding above rail level (3"") and its distance from the nearer rail (42"") so that the next set of concrete bases can be positioned correctly. Photo: J. Smith

After a long day on Sunday 6th September the concrete blocks have been moved 800mm further away from the rails and the cranks are now about 1½″ further from the rails. Another hour's work to fill the holes and we shall be finished. Photo: C. K. Hall

On Tuesday 4th August ¼ton of steel strip was delivered, comprising four six-metre lengths of 80mm x 16mm strip. These were delivered to our main stores, with thanks to Roland Bull for helping with the delivery. This material is used for straps and also for making up the short piece on GW insulated FPL stretchers (we have five long pices of different hands in stock). We had used the last of our 16mm strip to make adapter plates to allow a BR compensator (which is longer and narrower than a GW compensator) to be fitted in place of a failed GW compensator using the same fitting holes.

On Sunday 9th August we cut the straps to length and were pleasantly surprised to find that after we had cut a 59"" and a 65¼"" length, the remaining length of the strip was 116"", almost exactly the right length for the long strap. We visited site with a wooden mock up of the long strap and the two short straps. The wooden pseudo-strap was marked up and drilled to mark the positions of the holding down bolts and the bolts to mount the straps. The short straps were marked up to show the positions of the holding down bolts.

The long strap was drilled and taken to site (I can confirm that a 116"" x 80mm x 16mm strap weighing 33kg does fit in the boot of my car with seats down and the strap wedged into the front passenger footwell). The cranks were fitted although a little adjustment was required to the short straps and these were brought back.

On Tuesday 11th ...

On Thursday 13th I was able to borrow Bradley until 1415 while Matt was looking after two visitors - to examine the Bewdley South Down Inner Homes brackets and to carry out a safety audit of the lower locking room at Bewdley North. They both went to Highly on the 1415 ex-Kidderminster to attend a fault but Fred Cotterell was able to help from lunchtime onwards. We took two short straps, drilled with holes for the holding down bolts, to site and marked up where the crank base holes were required. Back to Kidderminster by lunchtime and Bradley was introduced to our magnetic drill to drill the remaining holes in the short straps before departing. Fred and myself took the short straps to site and fitted them. The result can be seen above.

On Thursday evening the CS&TE asked whether the mechanical locking for the ground frame had been designed - it had but only on the back of a fag packet. He asked for a proper CAD drawing and so I produced the drawn up design by Friday morning, which is now being checked.

On Sunday 16th the party was split: James and myself went to site and marked measurements from the main line points toe to the ground frame every 4 metres so that we could identify the position of everything on site from a painted mark on the nearer rail no more than 2m away. The tappets on the ground frame were measured and marked up for the ports to be cut and the ground frame was dismantled as far as possible to allow it to be painted, taken to site and bolted in position. This would allow the surrounding brickwork to be laid. Suitable mock ups were added for the rodding and lock, which would protrude through the brickwork.

The stripped down ground frame is pictured on 16th August waiting for a grey undercoat and some black gloss. Photo: J. Smith

The new ground frame shown standing on its plinth, with a brickwork surround and timber planks. Now we just need to take the ground frame to site, bolt it down and commission the brickwork. Diagram: C. K. Hall

The rest of the party went to Hampton Loade to terminate the 180 yard length of signalling cable that had been laid out on Tuesday 11th. I joined them at 1700, my task was to help at Bridgnorth with the token testing after the cables had been changed over. It is always interesting to have two identical tokens in your hands during testing and it concentrates the mind wonderfully. Once we had finished the testing, Gary was to take the class 14 to Sterns, for which a token had been left out.

On Sunday 23rd we took the 08 and a coach to deliver the ground frame to site and bolt it down on the concrete plinth cast by the contractor at the conclusion of the Falling Sands job.

The new ground frame shown standing on its plinth, in a rather rural setting. Now we just need to commission the brickwork. Photo: C. K. Hall

By the end of September, the new ground frame has now been painted in light grey undercoat. Photo: C. K. Hall

On Sunday 30th we dismantled some more rodding roller castings that had come our way and made up short legths of rodding to bolt them onto the steel roller blocks from which they had carefully been removed. James and myself paid a short visit to Foley Park to paint the ground frame in light grey undercoatd.

On Sunday 6th September we split into two groups, one to examine (and hopefully replace) part of the 110V power cable between Bewdley Down Distant and Home signals. It now looks as if we will need to replace the whole cable. The other group, with assistance gratefully received from Will Petterson from Bewdley Loco, five in total, took on the rather tiresome task of moving the concretes already dug in about 800mm further away from the sleepers to leave space for the P-Way to tamp the points, which were pumping nearly 2"" under each train. The rodding cannot be any further from the rails as the ballast shoulder (between here and the ground frame) which will hold the roller blocks gives way to falling ground towards the fence.

The dgging gang has resumed work after a break for soup and cakes. Two of the three concretes had to be turned round (the holes are asymmetric). It is 1530 on 6 September but two thirds of the day's work is done. Photo: C. K. Hall

Nearly done, just need to throw some ballast around to fill the holes under the sleepers. We have acquired a new measuring tape and shovel with grateful thanks to Martin Wood. The concretes have been packed and levelled and just need bedding in. The work is made difficult by the constant need to remember to maintain social distancing. Photo: C. K. Hall

On Monday 7th some broken bonds on the pointwork outside Kidderminster box were replaced.

On Sunday 13th we made up some more cast iron rodding stools using roller castings and stools retrieved from some cast iron and concrete bases which had carried a run about ten rods wide. We have enough roller castings but more concrete bases are on order. We then split into two groups heading off to Foley Park again - this time to install a compensator pair and to bury a concrete rodding stool. The five-hole concretes (for the compensator) are 15" deep, 7½" wide and 54" long so we need to shovel quite a bit of ballast out of the way to bury them. We knew that the concretes were 39" apart when assembled. The P-Way had cunningly used sleepers that were wider at the base and thus hidden from view and placed 40" apart where we wanted to put the compensators. We moved one bed closer to the points and the sleepers here were only 38" apart and so it would fit.

We pause work at 1305 to let the 1p.m. Kidderminster pass - loco crews always see us resting on our shovels. One concrete has been put in place, just needs packing level. In the long grass is buried our secret weapon - a light wooden mock up of the concrete that we can lift in and out of the hole until we are sure it is sufficiently deep for the heavy concrete block. This is good progress considering that we only started at about midday. Photo: G. Phillips

By about 3p.m. we had bolted the plates to the concretes, packed and lifted the concretes so that they were level and bedded them in. Photo: G. Phillips

We now had a concrete rodding base to bury - this is 24" deep, 9" wide and 22" wide. More shovelling and by 4p.m. everything is level and parallel and bedded in. The short length of rodding seen in the picture will be a full eighteen foot length in the final scheme, with one more set of rollers about eight feet closer to the camera. There are thirty rodding stools to bury so we will need some willing helpers each Sunday for the forseeable future.

Sunday 13th September: the satisfaction of a job completed. The digging team, Graham Phillips, James Marrion and myself are now exhausted and are taking a break before collecting up what little remains of all the stuff that was brought to site in a Land Rover - two heavy compensators, a large and heavy concrete roller base, two large and heavy cast plates and just over ten feet of point rodding. Photo: G. Phillips

On Sunday 20th our Foley Park activities were diverted to measuring up the temporary signal so that the down rods could be welded and made up to the correct length at Bridgnorth. Welding the wrought iron end pieces to mild steel bar is not an easy task. Straps for the temporary double disc on the Stourport line were also made so that it could be positioned at a sensible location to receive signal wires. The completed signal was placed ready for rail transport to Bewdley during the week.

On Sunday 27th we were unsure whether (or when) the concrete rodding stools we had ordered might materialise and so we experimented with some redundant AWS mounting plates to see whether we could make up a 'home brew' rodding stool. Time will tell whether these will work satisfactorily but they will be useful as emergency spares as pretty much all of our rodding stools have been pressed into service for Foley Park. Will Pederson arrived at lunchtime and James, Will and myself went out to Foley Park to bury four rodding stools. With no rail transport immediately available, two full lengths of rodding were carried out to site. When we returned five prototype 'home brew' rodding stools had been made up by Aron, John and Fred.

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Sunday 27th September: a production line for 'home brew' rodding stools has produced five to the prototype design. Steel rodding stools have been refurbished and a couple of rather large concrete stools await our attention. Photo: F.Cotterell

The rodding concretes have arrived. Our next task is to dig them in ... Photo: J. Smith

Monday 28th saw the temporary signal erected, the hole having been dug the previous day by another team. This was lifted into place using the 30 ton rail mounted crane. A double disc reading to the Down Yard or to the Rock Siding was also lifted into place.

The line from Bewdley North to the Up Starting signal at Bewdley South is under possession and a temporary signal is being erected. A patch has been put onto the signal box diagrams at North and South boxes to show the temporary replacement signal. Diagram: C. K. Hall

By 16:00 on Thursday 1st October, the new signal has been erected and the old signal removed. Photo: Fred Cotterell

We are therefore aiming to erect the permanent replacement signal by about February 2021 if the wooden post that has been ordered - this time green heart or purple heart hard wood with an anticipated life of upwards of 50 years - arrives in good time.

A series of photos taken on 28 August 2005 record precise details of the original signal, which we will faithfully recreate. Photo: Jason Houlders

A reminder that this article, as well as other information on Signal Engineering, can be viewed in full colour here on the unofficial Signal Engineering web site.

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