We are very pleased to welcome Graham Hughes to our little team of volunteers. As a further bonus he has a number of useful talents, such as being able to weld and carry out other engineering and DIY tasks. He will be a great asset to our team. New volunteers are always welcome – but hard to find.
Behind the scenes several projects have been on–going, some of which are for elsewhere on the S.V.R and some of which are improvements to 'the Friends' workshop facilities. Steve has written an article in this Newsletter detailing his work making the electrics in the woodworking shop (the container) suitable for its new purpose, while Bob has built a new woodworking bench suitable for his needs in the shop and Graham has constructed some excellent steel racking.
Thanks go to Syd who has provided a Scroll Saw and to Steve who has provided a number of woodworking power tools to equip the shop. In the past we tended to steer clear of woodworking projects because of a lack of suitable equipment and a proper place to work.
At Bewdley our recently completed hinges for the wooden gates across the drive are now in use as the gates have been fitted. The gates were made and fitted by a local company and made independently to our hinges. Fortunately everything fitted together as intended and the result looks very good. The deadline for completion was the Pacific Power event where it was deemed necessary to control crowds visiting to see the Flying Scotsman, but hopefully the gates will give continued additional physical and psychological security to this vulnerable site as well – they certainly show the site is private.
The speartop fencing project and brackets for the platform signs for the Bridgnorth Restaurant Building have taken up some time but as they are a big money–saver, as well as ensuring against a 'quick–fix' inappropriate solution we were happy to oblige. Much of Bridgnorth site is not 'heritage' but in view of the importance of the listed station building, the area surrounding it needs to be sensitively treated.
I cannot donate a large sum to the project in the forthcoming share issue but via 'the Friends' I feel we have been able to do 'our bit' for Bridgnorth and the S.V.R.
On the subject of speartop fencing, thanks go to the foreign students who have been on the railway for a short stay mainly helping with preparations for the coming of Flying Scotsman, but have also painted several speartop panels on the bay platform. These panels were repaired and erected by 'the Friends' during 2009 and 2010, and now need another coat of paint with some urgency.
The Network Rail policy of 'doing no maintenance until it falls down' is a disasterous mistake that we do not wish to copy. A quick coat of paint prevents rust and rot from setting in and avoids making extensive repairs at a later date. ( I am amazed that for example, for the want of a timely spray with weedkiller, Buddleia trees are allowed to grow and flourish on the sides of viaducts and buildings on the main line, destroying the brickwork! What ever happened to 'a stitch in time' ? )
Stone to Wood
The 'Friends' have always taken on woodworking projects with Bob as the chief creator of sawdust and shavings. But with the acquisition of more woodworking machines, and the need for a dedicated woodwork bench rather than a general work table, it became obvious that without more space things could get dangerous with Bob wielding his sharp tools in a confined space. So when the Stone Mason's Cabin became vacant Mick was able to negotiate for 'the Friends' to use it, a useful much needed space for which we are most grateful. When taking over any building that has had a previous use there is bound to be changes that have to be made in order to make it suitable for its new user. It became clear that the first job would be the wiring in the cabin. (Incidentally cabin is just the posh name for a shipping container).
Conventionally all electric boxes are secured before connecting up, so imagine my surprise when removing the internal distribution panel and the external box fell off! I corrected this by drilling four holes through the cabin wall to correspond with the four corners of the external box. Countersunk screw heads were used on the inside so as to present a flush finish, while the nuts on the outside held the box securely in place. The four–core armoured cable could then be secured without any fear of the whole lot falling on the floor. As the regulations no longer allow us to use the armour sheath to provide the earth, an earth rod was required. There was evidence that an earlier attempt had been made to insert a rod but it had been abandoned at one foot down when it struck a solid object. Mick set up an ingenious system of Mole grips, levers and pivots to extract the stuck rod. I drilled through the obstruction and managed to persuade the earth rod down to four feet into the ground.
The cabin wiring project is not heritage and of little interest to some, but it's still got to be done so we can utilise it as a workshop and relieve some of the pressure on the overcrowded storage shed. We certainly don't want to neglect any of the very important woodworking restoration projects due to lack of workshop space.
Just a little reminder that all wiring must comply with IEE Wiring Regulations BS 7671 amendment 3, tested and signed off by a registered electrician. For safety reasons this is most important. Which brings me back to that all important earth rod. Having made sure that it was secure in the ground I was able to fit a box and conduit before connecting up to take the earth cable into the cabin. Once inside, the earth cable was enclosed in conduit as it made it's way up to a new metal–clad consumer unit that had been securely fixed to some substantial metal straps.
We chose to fit three 13Amp twin sockets evenly spaced along the back wall. The only thing that caused me concern was that anything attached to the single metal skin of the cabin had to be either glued or fixed by drilling holes through to the outside. Glueing would not be appropriate for the conduit and sockets so I devised a cunning plan. Some bolts were passed through holes in the metal wall. A wooden batten was then secured with nuts to these bolts, making sure that anything that pierced the outer skin was sealed against any ingress of rain water. A multitude of screws could then be used to fix the socket boxes and conduit to the wood without any fear of making more holes to the outside.
Some twin tube fluorescent fittings should lighten the mood but it was at this point that the memories of our cracked light fittings in the storage shed came flooding back to haunt me. Not wishing to repeat that disaster, a method of fixing that accommodates the expansion and contraction of the dissimilar materials needed to be devised
Two holes were drilled in the wall for each light. A screw was inserted from the outside with a nut fitted on the inside leaving one inch of screw protruding. Penny washers were fitted on top of the nuts. Slotted holes in the fluorescent fittings allow the units to fit with a further washer added before fitting a Nyloc nut to hold everything in place. My theory being that by using slots and by not tightening the nut too much it would allow for expansion and contraction. Time will tell.
Bob hasn't wasted any time in moving into the cabin. Graham has contributed by assembling out of scrap a useful set of shelves. Mick and Graham fabricated the metal frame for a work bench while Bob designed and made the bench his very own with some nicely shaped timber, a good solid top and a left hand wood workers vice.