Wednesday, June 26, 2013

NCN 6 Diversion at Birstall - 3

Cracking on . . .
Canal & River Trust here in force at Birstall today - 4 vans & 3 barges at foot of White Horse Lane.

Quay edge has been built up as a good-looking stone wall, inside the sheet piling, which is cut off almost at average water-level.

Hope is, AIUI, that quay will be opened temporarily, with temporary surface, for the Watermead C2 festivities on Tuesday July 2nd,  Tarmac will be laid later.

Quay path duly re-opened temporarily 29 June.  Surface at work point is not good - just hoggin with sudden ramps down from the old tarmac.  CARE NEEDED!    (updated 30 June)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Milepost Reincarnation - 3

A tale to be told in several instalments, not yet complete - 3

Trial Assembly
Trial assembly
Well, that went OK in the end!  (Camera fails to tell full story, as usual:  took 5 trial lifts to work out a rigging arrangement, which allowed lifting the column to vertical with the arms fitted.  But we got there, and it all looks OK.)

Preparation: changing the body language
Only two things needed now till painting could start.  the phone number sculpted on Dudgeon mileposts,
'Hello, Martech here . . . '
under the Sustrans logo, is out of date.

And the Time Trail competition, which was never well-subscribed anyway, ended in 2001, so the words cast into the body around the central disc socket have to go, before we re-use it for the NCN number disc.

After this angle-grinder work, though, very little to do.  Heavy de-rusting was done over a year ago, but Richard Himan has stored the Milepost body in such nice clean, dry conditions in the interim, that there was almost nothing more to work on before painting could start.

Kit is shown here:  the sponges (Wilkinson's best . . . usual disclaimer!) are for applying highlighting paint to text, etc., the paint being poured into the plastic lids on the left, to give a thin layer.  

There seems to be much less light xylene component in Hammerite than in earlier years.  Not only is the paint not so pungent, but it dries more slowly.  So a coat of highlighting paint must partly leach into the still-soft paint underneath, if applied within a few hours.  This should help longevity of the overall paint job. 

At this point came a snag, or to be accurate two at once, which slowed things down a bit.  Firstly, the primer applied by the foundry to the arms doesn't like Hammerite.  It takes 2 or more coats of Hammerite to make the last trace of light grey primer invisible, especially where the rough, sand-cast finish is prominent.  
'Copper'???  Metallurgists' nightmare . . . 
The other problem was with the Hammerite colour 'Copper'.  As you can see from the photo, it was very much nearer 'Brass' or even 'Old Gold' in reality.  This forced a change to a - luckily - minor aspect of the paint scheme, as the intended Gold highlighting of text in the finial and centre block of the arms had to be abandoned in favour of white.
Moral:  don't believe colour charts or names.

Base coat to the body base . . .
Anyway, finished now with base coating, and well into the highlighting at the time of writing.  More details in next article, and, with a fair wind, something about preparations for the concrete base.
. . . and to the upper body.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Milepost Reincarnation - 2

A tale to be told in several instalments, not yet complete - 2

(and to be distilled into a Hints & Tips note for VolCo-ord) when we're finished)
Few more materials needed.  First, the required shades of smooth Hammerite.  Thanks to British Cycling:  my membership allowed a discount on the paints at Halfords  :-)   Then the route number digits 4 and 8:  B&Q for those, with Diamond Club discount on a Wednesday.  (Yes, and used bus pass to get there!  Skinflint city this . . . )  Now got all the bits for the job.

Central route number disc
The hole in the middle of the Milepost body where the disc is bolted is extremely useful for attaching the crane hook.  Saves messing with slings, and any worry about lifting the body safely.

Route number disc components
So the route number disc was fabricated separately from any other job, and it can only be fitted to the body at the very last minute, when the installer comes to collect the body, as I need the crane to move it to the door, and the hole is needed for the lifting fitment.

First step was to clear off the Time Trail hieroglyphics.  Very satisfying job that, as I never did understand them anyway!  Now the route number digits.  There are lots of fonts available, but B&Q's range was best I found, and the digits are thick brass, so can be screwed on (as well as using the self-adhesive backing).  I'm never very good at jobs like mounting such text horizontally or regularly by eye, so I did a template in Photoshop, and fiddled around with the numbers on the screen till someone else I can blame later said they were straight, then printed it out!
Time Trail disc courtesy of Sustrans,
Birmingham Office, ready for destruction . . . 
. . . nearly done . . .
. . . and fitted with route number, using template.
The disc already had an M12 tapped boss at the rear, but needed a bush/ spacer/washer to hold it securely in the central socket of the body.  5-minute job to turn this up, after finding a chunk of brass in the scrap box.  Brass bush and aluminium disc face needed priming with etching primer, so the Hammerite can take properly.
Turning the bush . . .
. . .  and a trial fit.

As delivered from the foundry, the arms were a bit rough.  The front faces weren't bad, but the tops had irregular lumps, where the sprues and risers had been sawn off, plus a few chunks of slag and sand to flatten off.
Sawn-off sprue at end of one arm . . .

. . . fairing up.
In addition, the arms casting had to be drilled for bolting onto the body, which is tapped for 2 M12 Allen bolts.  But where to drill the holes?  The Dudgeon, being an artistic creation, has only one horizontal surface in its
Laying out the parallel to the base . . .
entire length, and that is the base.  All the rest is curves.  The arms at the mating point in the centre have a concave curve which sits on the similarly convex top of the body.  So the arms can be mounted in a range of positions and I've seen photos of some Dudgeons where one arm points by anything up to 10 degrees skywards, bit like Usain Bolt, and the other to the ground - looks a bit bizarre to my orthogonal nature!

Well, the only rationale I could devise was to deem the text cast onto the finial and central linking block of the arms as a horizontal surface, whatever that did for the attitude of the curved arms at either side.  So that central text has to be parallel to the base, 2m below.

Laying body and arms (the Milepost's I mean!) on the floor, I at last found a use for my impulse buy at Lidl 6 months ago, namely a small laser level for £8-99 - 'It'll be useful some day', I'd assuaged my conscience.  It sure was:  the level projects red 'crosshairs', and it was all of 2 minutes' work to project a
. . . and transferring it to the central
text on the arms
line parallel to the base, and mark in tape its perpendicular onto the floor, then move the level up so the horizontal 'crosshair' line was near the top of the body.  With a straight-edge placed across the text on the arms, they could be eased round till the 'crosshair' and straight-edge were parallel.  Then witness-mark the body and the arms so they can always be matched up again in that position.  

I've worked with many castings in the past and found several so hardened by over-rapid cooling that they were
Arms set in position and witness-marked.
impossible to machine at the surface, and others with viciously hard slag inclusions, which also defeated machine tools.  But this one was, thank goodness, fairly benign.  No hard skin and only 1 inclusion in the way of a drill, and that fairly small.  So holes drilled with no problem.  That all represented reasonable progress: at this rate, will be able to get on with the painting soon.  The longer you can leave Hammerite to cure, before manhandling or using the painted surfaces, the better.  The Milepost is due on site by mid-July, as things stand.

Preparation - a very short article probably, since Hammerite needs delightfully little preparation.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Milepost Reincarnation - 1

A tale to be told in several instalments, not yet complete - 1

The story goes, that a sharp-eyed Lincolnshire Sustrans supporter visited a scrapyard in Lincs 3 or 4 years ago, and was surprised to see amongst its contents two Millennium Milepost bodies.  He reported this to the Sustrans Lincoln Office, who managed to recover the items, and achieve - or restore - ownership of them via the Police!  It wasn't clear from the third-hand accounts we heard where they had been stolen from, and sold to the scrapyard.  But the Mileposts looked unused, fairly rusty, one marked NCN 64, the other anonymous, both without arms, and with no signs of onsite use.

Milepost types:  top L Mills; top R McColl
bottom L Dudgeon;  bottom R Rowe
Our previous Area Manager, Patrick Davies, somehow got hold of the story, and managed to scrounge these Milepost bodies from Lincoln Office. I got a call:  could I receive these items into my home-workshop, and would I agree to restore them for use in Leicestershire - particularly in a Connect2 site?  (Patrick knew I had repainted in 2007 the McColl Milepost in Watermead Park South, near Watermead Way.)   Well, I still had plenty of Hammerite left over from the 2007 job, so, OK . . .

If you don't know the 4 types of Millennium Milepost, here's the key from a Sustrans Information Note - you'll need to zoom in with your browser to read the text.

First steps
Dudgeon on
That turned out to be the start of a long process!  The two Milepost bodies, a Dudgeon and a Rowe, arrived with me in May 2011.  Not too rusty, and definitely re-usable.  First step was to remove the worst of the rust to a standard which Hammerite  can handle;  this took 8 wire brush wheels for my angle grinder and 6 sets of dust-mask filters!

Second step was to interest potential hosts in accommodating the Mileposts.  The obvious candidates, meeting Patrick's wishes, were Leicester's Watermead Park North, owned by Leicestershire County Council as additional artwork for the Watermead Connect2, and Conkers, Swadlincote for its Connect2 paths.

Rowe on
At that point, having provided the inspiration, Patrick retired from Sustrans.  Shortly after this, Leicestershire County Council agreed in principle to the siting of the Dudgeon Milepost within Watermead Park North.  This has subsequently been firmed up as a location near the King Lear Lake Car Park, along the line of NCN 48.  

By the way, 'we' in this article refers to the Leicester Sustrans Volunteer Group.  Thanks are due in this whole process particularly to Richard Himan, who has undertaken storage of the Milepost bodies, reception of the new arms from the manufacturer, and transported these weighty items around Leicester, as required.

A decision is due shortly on whether the National Forest Charitable Trust wishes to take the Rowe Milepost for Conkers.  There may be also another potential Leicestershire site in the frame.  Anyway the rest of this article and following ones will relate only to the Dudgeon for Watermead Park.

Having fixed the location for the Dudgeon, we could propose the wording (destinations and distances) to go on the new arms, and finalise the information to be given on the rest of the Milepost.  We proposed a replacement of the central, long-redundant 'Time Trail' disc with a disc showing the NCN route number '48', and this too has been approved, and a redundant 'Time Trail' disc acquired as raw material.  (So if Malcolm Shepherd is perchance missing his favourite paperweight . . .  it's being put to good use, guv!)

Painting scheme mockup
The location also had an influence on the paint job to be applied to the Milepost - leafy green parkland which would be unsuitable for garish colours.  First step, as ever, is to check which colours of smooth, 'Direct to Rust' Hammerite are available (the range does change).  Then we did a Paintshop job on the photo of another Dudgeon milepost to provide a mockup of the proposed painting scheme, and this has also been approved by the County Council.

New arms
Came the minor question of how to get the new arms cast.  Fortunately, the original manufacturer of the Millennium Mileposts, Taylor's Foundry Ltd., of Haverhill, Suffolk, is still in business, and can provide new arms.  Between our Area Manager, James Lowe, and RenĂ©e van Baar in Sustrans, Birmingham Office, the arms we'd designed were commissioned from Taylor's early this year.  They arrived with us a week ago.  So from concept to delivery of raw materials took just over 2 years!
New arms on arrival

(Actually 'arms' isn't strictly correct:  the left and right arms, central linking block and finial are a single casting, fortunately just about a 1-man lift.)

And now . .
That's us up to date to early June.  The next articles will cover handling and assembly of the Dudgeon Milepost.

Friday, June 7, 2013

NCN 6 Diversion at Birstall - 2

Diversion still in force.  Work on the towpath does not seem to have progressed very far, so I guess the diversion will apply for at least a month more.  Sheet piling is in place, but no infill.

NCN 6 and NCN 48 diversion signs are in place [including some of the natty yellow ones that you don't see very often  ;-)  ].