Friday, 24 June 2016

Referendum special - and a few blocks

Today we had a team of  6, and we enjoyed a great day of hot sunshine, until clouds moved in and we escaped a first serious rain shower at three o'clock. It was the first day of proper block laying, after an initial tower built at one end to get our bearings.
Once again, it was a non-running day, with the head of operations advising just a single movement, for a driver experience course. It went by at a fair old lick, just as we were enjoying a first cup of tea, hence no photograph. The rest of the day was ours, as it were, so we set out our track gauges. The one in the foreground ensures the correct distance from the track, while the blue one in second place allows you to ensure the height of each row is correct. Paul and Dave measure the height, while Jim keeps a careful eye on the goings on.

Still working at the northern end, the gang is laying a first (of two) rows along the front. The gauge is just behind, which allows you to gently tap the block into just the right place.

Once we had a row of blocks in place, Neal came along with a genny and an SDS drill to drill a hole in each block for a rebar. They are calculated to be a tight fit, and the rebar is then hammered in.

As you can see, we were soon up to a third row. Once we had a line between two towers, putting a row of blocks on suddenly went a lot faster. There was a lot of trial and error to start with, and more concise instructions are needed to the muck maker as to the sloppiness (or not) of the mixture required. Now we know for next time.

The result of the referendum was discussed in a lively, and dare I say it, a pithy manner. Views were shared...

... and heard with some incredulity. Then it turns out it was all a wind up, and we fell for it hook line and sinker. You what?

Finally, Jim produced a radio and the further developments of the morning were heard as we stirred the mortar. No smart phones here!

As the hourly news were read out, we stopped to listen with great interest. It was a pretty momentous day really, and a good demonstration of democracy.

Finally, a distraction - what's this then?

It's another Hercules on a low level fly by. This one is about to cross over the Cotswolds edge, while we were standing at Hayles down in the valley. Low indeed.

While this was going on, Doug did a very nice job of pointing, filling all the spaces between the blocks with extra mortar. Isn't he meticulous? The extra blocks at the rear are for the second row, which was also started. The yellow line indicates the start of the slope on the end of the platform.

Neal took a line along the slope, and marked out with a felt tip where we would need to change from three blocks to two.

At the end of the day - marked by an ominous cloud arriving, which did indeed convert to a heavy shower - we had laid 48 blocks and took the hint to pack up. Not before we had a final cup of tea inside the container, now with added watertightness thanks to a large blue tarp over the top. No wonder it was free.

48 blocks is exactly 10% of the first shipment of blocks, so we felt pretty good about that. Next time, we will be working round one of the drainage catch pits in the cess, which will be an interesting diversion.

This 'end of the day' shot shows pretty much how far we got. Jim and Paul are clearly engaged in one of their pleasant dialogues, while Doug minds his own business.

At the end of the day, and unexpected historical snippet surfaced. Only three B&W pictures of the halt in operation are known to us, and we may have found a fourth. It is said to show a loco trapped in the snowed up cutting during the great freeze of 1963. The owner has promised to dig it out for us, so fingers crossed, we may be able to show it in 14 days or so.

The next session will be either and/or Monday and Friday next week. Stay in touch if you want to help.

1 comment:

  1. A wonderful start. Really got going didn't you? The undergrowth seems to be encroaching rather doesn't it? Can't wait for the next report. BTW, we hardly had a drop of rain down here in Cornwall!