Firstly, my apologies if you have had difficulties getting on to Weekend Rails this week. As I write this, people are telling me that they are getting server error messages. Now I “check” WR (and Andrew Briddon Locos) every day, a legacy of the trouble that has been caused by past hacking attempts (as a matter of interest, there have been over 500 spurious attempts to “log-in” to my side of WR this month) but I do so by means of the monitoring package which has been unaffected, so remained unaware. Hopefully it will not take long to fix.
This week seems to have been directed very much at “the shed”. On the one hand I have not quite kept up with an average of grouting one column per day – the weather has not been kind and some of our foundations, being 300mm below surrounding ground level, do not drain readily after rain. But anyway, on Tuesday I headed over to the planned cladding supplier to go through the specification and requirements for the roof.
So, what of the shed floor? Well, the e-mail arrived on Monday complete with a re-statement of the reasons why, but not really answering the questions I'd raised – a sort of “We are the experts, don't question our motives”. But their response might have been more effective if they'd remembered to attach the drawing itself. I got that on Tuesday, and despite having sent them a CAD drawing showing (a) the stools that we'd made after they'd insisted on lowering the foundations to 300mm below ground level and (b) exactly where the internal concrete panels had been located, they insisted that these points had no relevance to their drawings. Insofar as the purpose of the floor slab is to weigh down the foundations and ensure that our overhead crane, tearing up and down the building all day and twice as fast on Sundays, doesn't cause the whole caboodle to shake or waltz down to the river that may be true, but it is a bit galling to have them insist that their sectional drawings are “correct” when they cannot be true to what has actually been built.
At 08.30 Monday morning an e-mail polarised in my Inbox containing Revision C of the plans for the shed floor. My revised spec to the Structural engineers, which had included a large amount of “as built” information on CAD, had limited that area where the Mattersons are to be used effectively down to one quarter of the building. Thus while this retained the “nuclear shelter” concrete thickness, the remainder of the floor could be reduced to “normal” standards.
Right, make yourself a cup of tea, or pour a beer, because this might take some time. And for once, when sometimes I feel guilty that there is only one, or even none, in the way of photographs, this week there is lots to report and lots of pictures to show it with.
I headed back down to Rowsley on Monday afternoon and even as I got there, Chris the haulier was there with several lengths of nice long I beam which will make the final stanchions for the shed ends. We unloaded the pieces alongside the shed and off he went. When Andrew got home from work, he headed on down and we dragged the welder half out of the large workshop doors by which means the cables just reached the beams, and he could weld on the base plates. This was an entertaining practice, trying to line the plates up and get them somewhere about square (we fall back on the plus or minus 10mm tolerance of structural steel!) and in the near dark.
I suppose this must go down as one of the most unusual Christmases I can recall. Steph having gone up to our daughter's the previous Friday, had then transferred to her sister's in Barnard Castle and I was supposed to join them on Christmas Eve, but in the event wasn't feeling well so left departing Briddon Towers until first thing Christmas morning. The roads were quite quiet, indeed, in the 130 miles I counted 13 goods vehicles actually on the road (including two AA recovery trucks and 3 milk tankers) and reached Barnard Castle at 10.30. Knowing that my brother in law is a keen walker, I had brought my work boots which served me well as by early afternoon we were out tramping, crossing the Tees and gaining the trackbed of the former Stainmore line at its junction with the branch to Middleton-on-Tees, and following the main line for half a mile or so before turning back.
There are times when the wide range of people now reading this blog comes home to me. Like when one day this week, Andrew popped down to Darley to recover something from the container, and as he left and was locking the gate, was engaged in conversation by a man walking his dog. After revealing that he (the dog-walker) is a lapsed Peak Rail member and asking after the site clearance taking place (sidings, it seems he helped lay) he suddenly declared “oh, you must be Andrew Briddon” - and that he regularly reads this blog.
Having had not one but two minor migraine's this week, it would appear that I am feeling a little stressed. I have had 3 on-site meetings, two with potential contractors and one with the CDM co-ordinator (and if you don't read this blog every week, I suggest you drop back and read last week's or you won't be able to keep up).
The phone line between the Briddon Country Pile and the Structural Engineers got warm at the beginning of the week. Far from picking up an old drawing, as I had thought, the burying of the foundation pads below ground level in fact had a very important and insurmountable reason - the damp-proof membrane.