Friday, 1 July 2016

Getting into our stride

Another Friday, another day at Hayles. We seem to be settling down to a regular habit of two days a week, but one that will be broken when the railway starts to run on Fridays, basically in the month of August.

As last week, we had the pleasure of a Driver Experience movement today, in this case Foremarke Hall with a Mk1 in tow. This time, we managed to snap it, as it came past at a more leisurely pace. You can already imagine what it would look like alongside the new platform.

Then it was off to work laying blocks. Foremarke Hall would not return until the end of the day, after our departure from the site - we only ever see them on the way down.

You can see quite a bit of progress here, with the dark mortar in the second row indicating blocks laid a few moments ago. With the warm wind, the mortar went off quickly.

Again there were two block laying teams, Paul and Dave, and Tim with new recruit Julian, seen in the picture here. Tim and Julian had a hard time to start with, as they were laying the first row of blocks here, and to get them level and to the height required they had to lay a very thick bed, due to a dip in the concrete foundations in this area. It took ages to get the first 4 blocks down to a satisfactory height, after that things sped up a bit and at the end of the day they had laid up to the next tower visible in the picture, about 28 linear blocks away.

The other team, led by Paul, were busy at the northern end of the site, where they laid a third row on top and then started on the second row of blocks behind the first, including the tricky area round the catch pit.
In the photograph they seem to be frozen in astonishment, but the reason for their puzzlement was not recorded. It may have been that someone shouted 'Tea'.

Well, that does certainly look like the reason. With those heavy blocks to lift time and time again, you need to rest your back. And your feet.

After tea, Neal arrived with an incredibly laden wheelbarrow filled with cutting equipment. This had to be carefully manoeuvered down the steep slope, with the brakes full on. Neal then set about cutting a number of blocks to size, principally for the area around the catch pit.

In this picture you get an overview of the site now in progress, with Tim and Julian advancing the outer row of blocks in the foreground, and Paul, Dave and Jim working on the rear side row in the background. Each block is carefully spaced to follow the curvature of the rails, checked by the bar that Julian is holding, with Tim making adjustments to the block being laid. At the end of the day, they had reached the tower in the foreground, which is almost half way along the 2 coach platform.

The activities of our neighbours were quite interesting. In the adjoining field there are several strips of grass, and today they brought in two small combine harvesters, which wriggled through between our parked cars (we moved them as a result, not wishing to hinder their access). They then proceeded to 'mow' the strips of grass.
From a chat with one of the employees it seems that this is for agricultural research into grass types. Different types of grass can be used best for different purposes - for fodder, lawns, sports fields and so on. The machine cuts the grass, stores it briefly in a box in the middle where it is weighed in lots, then ejected. In this way the yield per acre can be calculated. Neat.

Back to the case in hand, and we find Paul's team have almost completed the rear side row they were working on, and have started on the box around the catch pit.

The hole in the bottom right is to allow the water, to be collected in a pipe at the rear, to percolate into the catch pit.

In order to stagger the joints, a half block was used. Some of these new blocks have a neat split in the middle, which means you can easily separate them into two equal sized smaller blocks.

Later in the day, we were treated to a fly-by by the Red Arrows! They flew down the vale, over Dumbleton Hill, unfortunately too far away to take a picture. They flew in two blocks of 6, their red planes clearly recognisable.

At the end of the day, very good progress had been made, and you can now clearly see the shape and extent of the wall.
We will be back on Monday for another session, this time, it is rumoured, with a display of Paul's culinary skills! A must see. (or perhaps 'taste')

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