As I mentioned in the last Newsletter, we have lost our sponsor, so until we find another it is necessary to print it out on my printer at home.
Our thanks go to Steve McCabe who kindly offered to pay for this edition! I am trying a new format and slightly reducing the font size which will save paper, ink and as a result will save our hard come-by money!
Visitors to Kidderminster will no doubt have noticed two dark blue Portacabin-style classrooms which have suddenly appeared at the end of the car park. No, they are nothing to do with the Friends, but are for a young persons training scheme being run on the railway. Local young people are taking part in a course to learn the skills of permanent way maintenance on our railway, a site off the main line where they can work 'hands on' without the safety hazard of a railway in continual use. The S.V.R gets the benefit of their free labour and they get a useful and valuable skill to add to their C.V with the prospect of a permanent job at the end of it.
When I was a lad it was easy to get a proper five year apprenticeship (partly funded by the government) and at the end I walked away with an indenture certificate which helped set me up for a lifetime in Engineering. But the opportunity of getting such comprehensive training today is almost gone.
In all jobs and professions there is no substitute for skill and experience, a lesson that managers and the government have yet to fully appreciate. We should not be de-skilling the job. Doing so destroys the very thing that made Britain great - and a world leader in almost every technology.
So I am very pleased to see this training scheme in operation.
Another benefit of the arrival of the Portacabins was the clearance of some of the rubbish that had accumulated in the car park. The piles of earth have gone, so has some of the scrap metal, and now that the signalling work on the main line connection is complete Nigel Hanson and his team have replaced the carriage wheel storage tracks and moved the spare wheels back. Incidentally, I hope Nigel was not offended at my inclusion of his wheels in the list of 'rubbish' in my last editorial. I know they were there temporarily and his department should win the 'best kept' tidiness award on our railway! Incidentally, some of the apprentices have been busy clearing the car park to provide extra parking during busy periods such as Santa trains. Remember that every space earns £3 at least once a day for the railway and this goes straight onto the 'bottom line' of profits. So over the Christmas period alone, their work has probably earned the railway about £100. I scrounged some paint from the station fund and they laid out old concrete sleepers to mark out the parking rows, and painted the sleepers white so that they show up properly. A good job done well.
If the S.V.R wishes to earn more easy money, there is still plenty more car park to clear!
Mick Yarker. February 2013
Ex-Bridgnorth Bus Garage
The re-erection of the bus garage has been the Friends number one priority since the last Newsletter, and progress has been satisfactory despite the continued wet weather, and more recently, cold, wet days and early sunsets.
We had already erected the frame of the building. This consists of steel R.S.J uprights with steel angle horizontals at ground level and window sill height. These have the side sheets bolted to them. On top of the uprights is a heavy wooden frame of 8" x 4" section timber which holds the tops of the uprights in position and to which is screwed the top of the side sheets, the curved roof sheets and the gutters.
Much of the original building has survived for re-use. The uprights were all rotten at the bottom and one had been lost. Fortunately this rolled steel section is still available, so we replaced the missing upright, and by sacrificing one of the original uprights which was badly corroded in places, used its good parts to repair the rotten bottom sections of the remainder.
The horizontal steel angle sections along the bottom of the building were rotten beyond use, and some of the sill level lengths had gone missing. As this rolled steel section was no longer available we decided to replace it all with the nearest metric equivalent and use the good original material to replace parts of the doors which had rusted beyond use.
The timber top frame was all still available except for the piece over the doors which had been cut out at Bridgnorth many years ago to allow the Weardale bus to get inside. We bought a new piece of timber to replace this, but in the end decided to use it as a side piece, cutting down an original side piece to fit the front because it had been damaged at its ends. It is absolutely amazing that the timber hadn't rotted after so many years of open storage on the ground.
The cladding, being nearly 108 years old, was too rusty and tatty to re-use, so all new material was purchased.
At the time of publishing our last newsletter we had erected all the steel and timber framework and had just started putting up the new cladding. The cladding on the walls was fitted first, but much of it was a two man job so we couldn't progress except on our working days - Saturdays and Thursdays.
We had written all the necessary modern paperwork; the Method Statement and Risk Assessment, and proceeded with erection as planned.
The side sheets are in two pieces, bottom and top, and lifting and holding the top pieces in position while fixing holes were drilled proved difficult with just two people erecting the sheets, so Bob made a special hoist out of a wheelbarrow frame using the wheel hub as the pulley. By hauling the sheet into position with this pulley and tying off the rope it was easy and safe to drill holes and fix the top sheets into position. However, the roof proved to be something of a nightmare.
Unfortunately our suppliers had rolled the curved roof sheets too flat, so to match the existing curved frame of the building we supported them on a special frame so they could be sprung into shape and drilled and screwed into position. We are indebted to Friends members Mike Fulcher, Pete Smith and Syd Andrews for helping with drilling the sheets which kept Bob and myself fed with materials ready for assembly.
It took until the end of November to get the sides and roof clad, by which time the cast iron guttering arrived ready for painting and fitting.
By mid December we had both door frames on, and cut and fitted the cladding to the left hand door. Here I made an elementary mistake. I assumed that both doors were the same width! It pays never to assume anything, amply illustrated in this case by finding that after we had cut the sheets to size, the right hand door turned out to be 1.1/2" wider than the left. This meant that two cut corrugatedsheets were scrap, but we had taken the precaution of ordering excess to cope with such an eventuality, so all was not lost.
Mid December also saw the arrival of the three window frames. Two of the apprentices on the training course at Kidderminster were at a loose end due to the non-arrival of their tools, so offered to help. They are keen lads and don't like standing around doing nothing, so armed with paint and brushes they painted the window frames for us, and a very nice job they did too!
We then fitted the frames into the apertures. A piece of folded zinc-plated steel sheet ('Zintec') was tucked behind the cladding above each frame to form a rain run-off strip. The frames are fixed with screws to steel angle strip attached to the cladding at the top, and fixed with screws directly to the sill-level steel angle framework.
The glazing was cut to size by Bob, who has a knack with a glass cutter. The glass itself is second hand, rescued before being dumped in the skip at work. Three large panes and a number of smaller ones including some pieces of double glazing which had to be separated, were sufficient for the whole job, saving the Friends quite a few pounds. There is great satisfaction in re-using second hand materials when they are suitable, as finances are always tight.
The next stage was painting and fitting the cast iron guttering.
Originally the building had galvanised steel guttering formed to a half round section. Today this is unobtainable, having been superseded by PVC, which is equally cheap. However, we decided to use ogee section cast iron rather than plastic, as it is more stable and more permanent and is a traditional material. The ogee shape has the benefit of a flat, vertical back which is pre-drilled to give the option of screwing directly to the building without the use of brackets. This option is not available with plastic guttering which needs special brackets. It expands and contracts hugely at any change of temperature and unless free to move, buckles or pulls apart. Rubbish!
At the time of writing we are completing the guttering on the second side of the building to finish it externally. We have had plenty of positive comments as to its size and appearance. And we are very pleased to have brought this useful bit of Severn Valley Railway heritage back to life.
As soon as the frosty weather has passed we will be in a position to grout in the bottom of the corrugated iron all round the inside of the building and skim the floor to get a final smooth surface. At some stage we will need to touch up and apply a final coat of paint to the steelwork inside, and more particularly the wooden frame at the roof line as this is vulnerable if condensation drips onto it.
Then at last our flat bed trailer will get a home out of the weather, to be joined by the Scammell Mechanical Horse tractor unit.
Also, we have decided to install a free- standing mezzanine platform at the back to facilitate the storage of fold-up chairs for special events weekends. The railway is to purchase these chairs rather than renting, as a considerable saving will be made.