Thursday, 18 March 2010

More trackwork and Gallopers are coming along well

Toby on the 2ft gauge
Ever the glutton for punishment, I put myself into the frame for another day of trackwork before the maintenance season ends and Bressingham opens its doors to the public again on 27th March. The other motive was to get a behind the scenes glimpse at The Gallopers as they are reassembled following their overhaul and inspection.


Today's trackwork focused on laying ballast and levelling the 2ft Nursery Line just past the point where it crosses the Waveney Valley Line for the second time at Diamond Crossing. Earlier this year around 100 metres of track was totally removed to allow the trackbed to be levelled out. Thanks to the track team working hard in all weathers, the sleepers and rails were now all back in place, and a recent delivery of ballast meant that this section could be finished off.

A full load of ballast ready for laying
Today's team, including myself, numbered seven and with two or three people unloading ballast and distributing it around the sleepers, another couple tamping it down around the sleepers and me on the wagon shovelling like crazy we made fairly short work of unloading approximately three tons of limestone chippings.

The wagon shunted by Toby on the 2ft gauge is quite a bit longer than the one on the 15" Waveney Valley Line, and requires a lot of shovelling to move the ballast from the front to the back where it can be unloaded. In fact when trying to get the last of the ballast out, it needs to be moved to the centre first, and then to the rear - so you end up moving it twice - backbreaking! I was soon sweating profusely as I attempted to keep up with two or three people unloading it at the same time.

Ensuring the track is level
This was to be the theme for the day - load up the wagon, drive down to Diamond Crossing, unload and repeat. I quickly lost count of the number of trips we made, but reckon on six to seven. For the last few Chris only loaded the rear two thirds of the wagon to make it a bit easier to unload. By 16:00 we had completed the entire section and a test run confirmed that everything was in order. Back at the Portakabin a large slice of summer fruit pie awaited us courtesy of Christine the Duty Manager who assiduously ensures that the trackwork team are fed and watered amongst other things. Thanks Christine.

Sunday's team will be laying the ballast on the section near the glasshouse and that will complete the track maintenance. Until November that is, when work will start on some of the other sections requiring attention. Maintaining the track is an ongoing task at Bressingham, and with over five miles spread across three gauges there will always be something that needs attention.

The Gallopers

During lunch time I had a chat with John (whom I met on my Induction Day) who was helping to reassemble The Gallopers, and I took the opportunity to get some photographs of the work in progress. Having seen the newly painted platforms on my last visit I cannot wait to see it finished. It will look stunning for the start of this season, but I cannot help wonder how long it will be before the thousands of visitors take their toll once again. Still for something built when Queen Victoria was on the throne it's not doing too badly!

The Gallopers minus the mounts and platform

Later in the day I managed to climb up onto the work platform to get a look into the inner workings and to see exactly how the cranks I had polished on my induction day back in November fitted in.

Tie rods holding everything together
Canopy framework and cranks

Bevel gears drive the cranks
Drive shaft (centre) and main gear

It is interesting to see everything in this intermediate state, as once the platform and mounts go back on much of it is hidden from view. With the help of the Bressingham webcam I hope to be able to post a time-lapse video of the assembly once it's completed. You can subscribe to this blog to be notified when I post new entries.

Seymour enjoying a break on The Gallopers

One thing that will be different on The Gallopers this season is its engine driver. After many, many years Seymour is retiring. With each visit I made last year it became apparent that part of the attraction of The Gallopers itself was Seymour. He is such a character, and I am sure that I will not be alone in missing him. Hopefully he will pop in from time to time if only to say hello and have a cup of tea.
I wish you a very happy retirement Seymour, and thank you for making my visits more interesting and enjoyable.


  1. This is fascinating to watch, too far away for me to be able to visit so I am loving seeing it through your lens. As always, brilliant pictures - great shots of the rods & cranks.

  2. great to see work being dopne thereb with there small budjet


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