Monday, 1 August 2016

Wot - no rain?

Heavy rain was forecast for today...

In anticipation, your blogger went to Hayles on Friday to photograph the site with a few interesting trains passing, while the sun shines.

So here is the class 37 giving it a bit of welly, that at the sight of 5 diesel enthusiasts waiting on top of the bridge. They were very keen. One even stood on a pair of steps, whereas he was already standing high up on the bridge. That is keen.

The next candidate along was this class 33, the driver and second man in shirt and tie. Long gone are the dirty steam days ! The number, for those that are interested, was D6575, which is based on the WSR. Very nice in BR green, it is true.

The final shot that day was of this diesel double header, with a class 24 and a class 26. They are so long, that they almost completely obscured the little platform we are building. Alas, there was no room left for carriages.
The trains looked quite well filled, so this should produce some useful shekels for the railway. It's good to see some alternative traction for a change, and a new type of customer.

Back to today, Monday, and the day of heavy rain forecast. At 9am we were certain that there would be no block laying today, but before the heavens opened upon us, we might be able to fetch a few more blocks from the stack at Winchcombe. There was also a resupply of sand and ballast due on site today.

This duly came only moments later. It was a whole lorry load, about 8 dumpy bags, all of which has to be mixed up and used at some time in the future. In terms of tons weight, we are certainly shifting it here!

The company supplying us has been very kind, and part sponsored the cost of the materials. With our agreement, they provided us with a banner to let the public know what we are doing:

We were happy to return the favour by attaching the banner to our container, and today's crew can be seen beaming underneath it.

But Hayles Abbey Halt - Railway Station ? This isn't going to be Pickering, with an overall roof. It's a modest little halt, with a corrugated iron hut.

Before the rain comes then, let's unload some more blocks. Steve drove up from Winchcombe with a load of 40, which were duly stacked on the foundations. Later, he came back with a  second load, so that makes 80 stacked.

Even more blocks then arrived, as Dave D managed to borrow the Transit and got Steve to load him up, before Steve left to repair a case of damage at Bishops Cleeve. Now we have 160 new blocks on site, that will keep us going for a bit.

But no rain yet. Could we.....?

Yes, we decided to take the risk and lay as many blocks as we could, before the rain came. Today we started connecting two of the towers built last time.

Here are Dave P and Paul manoeuvering a block along from the pile in the background.

Do you want (concrete) chips with that?
Yours truly was on 'making weep holes in the blocks' duty today. It involves chipping away carefully, without breaking the whole block, until a half round hole has been made large enough to take the pipe.

The blocks with the holes in were used immediately, a much better way than trying to drill the holes through afterwards. After considerable drilling, hammering and chiselling,  the full length of the wall as now built has its weep holes and a pipe poking through each at last. From now on, we will make the holes beforehand.

During almost the entire day, we were subjected to a periodic shrill chirping sound, like a one second 'PING' every 5 seconds or so. It sounded like ASDIC heard from inside a submarine. It was nerve racking, we had sympathy for those submariners.

Eventually, we located the cause of the annoying chirpy PINGs -

- the farmer in the field next door (and indeed also the one across the road) had a roller out with a badly fitting bar on it. At every revolution, it scraped a high point on the roller, resulting in the chirp! And he rolled and rolled all day long...

A quick 'final shot of the day' before the rain comes. You can see us working on the second half of the platform now, it's quite clear. More and more blocks are being laid, we even had lunch in the dry. What about that forecast?

Having completed their section, which involved building the forward course of the wall across the second catch pit, Dave D and Tim started taking the  topmost rings off the pit in order to prepare it for a wall of blocks around it.

Tim then started laying the blocks right round. When they have reached platform height, they will be closed off with a cover which can be opened in case of need.

As we were now working non stop down on the track, Jim volunteered to bring tea down to us, so that we did not have to leave the site, and could press on. Dave P and Paul chew the cud. What do you reckon - shall we give it another barrow load of mortar, and lay another 10?

Taken from the wing wall of the bridge, this shot shows how the first two of the towers built last week are being joined up. At the end of the day, some of the blockwork was four courses high, all laid in a single day. We laid 75 blocks in all, an excellent result, and there was no rain at all until we were in the process of tidying up the site at 16.30. Nearly two pallets worth of concrete blocks built into the new platform. All the new lengths also had their rebar holes drilled out. More stacks of blocks have been piled up on the right, and await their turn to be laid.

Tim's section was only one row deep, as he had to deal with the catch pit behind it. Standing on the ledge at the bottom of the pit, he was slowly building up a wall around himself.

Can you imagine how much of Tim will be visible in this shot, if all the blocks are built four high?

Mental note; bring a small ladder next week ! And don't be put off by a dismal weather forecast.

No work this Friday, due to August running on Fridays. Back next Monday, and thanks for looking in.


  1. Just be thankful the banner says "Railway Station" and not the dreaded "Train Station".

  2. Sorry, I also meant to say that you have made great progress with the new platform.