Friday, 22 July 2016

The blocks are back!

The sun was out in force today, and we were reminded of the great Adrian Cronauer, with the following conversation:

What's it like, soldier, out there in the jungle?
It's hat, damned hat !

It was certainly hot, and we had no shade until the middle of the afternoon.

At 9am, Foremarke Hall rumbled by, on its way to Winchcombe for a driver experience day.

This passing released us to get down to the track, and the first thing we did was break open one of the two pallets of 40 concrete blocks, which have now been delivered. We need supplies down there to lay.

More sand and cement have also arrived, so we are 'go'.

The two pallets at Hayles are part of a consignment of 14 pallets, the other 12 being at Winchcombe, waiting for the final 2 miles to Hayles. Our first job then was not block laying, but lifting concrete blocks into barrows for wheeling down to the 'coal face' where laying would continue. There was a brief hold up while we debated where exactly they should be stacked.

Meanwhile, John had brought the hedge clippers and was put to good use freeing up the area behind the blockwork, which was being invaded by the rampant greenery. We were very grateful, the brambles, nettles and thistles make a mess of your bare arms and legs here.

Up at the top, Jim and Tim arranged for a fresh supply of water, as we have gotten through almost a cubic meter of it so far (mostly in tea, some would say, but actually it went into the mixer!). The water is offered to us by a friendly neighbour from the cottages nearby, but it needs a very long hosepipe.

This was followed by a 'professional' discussion about what to do next. In the background you can see the water container slowly filling - this took over 2 hours.

Then there was a toot from the trackbed, and to our joy, Neil arrived with a truck load of 80 blocks from Winchcombe. Now that's more like it, no more barrows now.

These were easily unloaded by a chain gang of 6 volunteers, walking in a circle and picking up a block each time they passed the truck. It took no time at all, so much so that Neil offered to get a second load of 80. Oh no !

This was also unloaded, a little more slowly this time. With the 40 brought down from topside, that makes 200 blocks moved today, and not a single one laid yet.

An extended rest was called for, luckily the stacks made a handy bench to sit on.  Some then went back topside for an additional cup of tea, whaaat? The lure of doughnuts we suppose, rest or not, we're having our share.

From the road bridge you can see where we worked today. There were 8 of us, although not all in the photograph as 2 were topside, and one stood on the bridge... getting an extension lead from the boot of the car, we should hasten to add.

The first job today was to knock through some more holes to take the weepage pipes. Jim H had come extensively equipped with SDS drill, Hilti, drill bits, chisel bits, leads and a generator, until Paul calmly walked up and knocked out the holes with his lump hammer. Oh well, we could still drill out the inner parts.

 The main job today was to lay the fourth row of blocks along the section we have started (which is in fact about half the total length of two coaches). This involved two teams, one at each end. Between them, they laid 62 blocks today, which we felt was good given the effort on the block delivery that came first.

In the distance you can see Paul on something else.

Paul in fact put up a pier for next time, which would allow us to lay a rear and fifth course of blocks. These will back up the three rows of corbelling bricks which will come in front. But first we have to fill the voids with concrete, a start on which was made last time.

It was indeed damned hat. Jim G finally cracked towards the end of the day and splashed himself with water from the bucket.

Lovely !

Others were in sun hats, wore shorts, put on sun cream. Only in the later afternoon was there a small amount of shade next to the container, when the sun had moved round a bit.

Here you can see Dave and Jim backing up the 4th row of blocks. They had a rare break as they waited for a fresh supply of mortar.

The last shot of the day shows the first half of the wall now up to 4 blocks front and back.

Still do do:
- Put a fifth row of blocks on the rear
- Complete drilling through the weep holes (and knock them into the blocks, before laying next time)
- Extend the wall southwards
- Put a drain pipe in the rear
- Fill the voids with concrete.

Quiet a few bits to go then. And during August we can only work Mondays, as Friday is a running day for the next 4 weeks. We meet again this coming Monday, but not the Friday thereafter, and that for 4 weeks.

At the end of the day, we received a visit from the circus, and a 'Human Canonball'... Careful where you aim that thing, Andy, it could be lethal in the wrong hands.

1 comment:

  1. With the heat, it must have been reminiscent of working on the Burma railroad. Where is the bridge and Alec Guinness then? A very heart felt commendation to all of you. Regards, Paul.