Thursday, 31 March 2011

Bressingham is open!

Getting the Gallopers ready
Today is the first proper day of the 2011 season. Although open during the February half-term week, today marks the start of the season proper with both the Garden and Nursery Lines due to run.

Unfortunately the blocking high pressure weather system we have been enjoying over the last few weeks has retreated to the continent and let the Atlantic south-westerlies back so today's weather is rather dull and damp at 7:30 and not very conducive to kicking things off with a flying start.

Reassembling the Gallopers

The second platform being brought over
The first and most important task this morning is to get the Gallopers back together again. As I arrive I have to wait to let the forklift carrying the first platform pass. Once parked, I bound over to see if I can be of assistance.

Five people are needed to safely lift each section, and another to move things out of the way. One of the problems is getting the last piece in as the gap is made smaller because the other eleven sections swing inwards, but we quickly have both sections in place and no crushed fingers!

Five people are needed to lift
Brian bolts retaining clamps in place to prevent the platforms coming apart and the other workshop chaps manhandle a cockerel and ostrich back onto their inside poles. Then it's a case of retrieving the four horses from the locomotive shed where they have been stored and completing the inner and outer rings. One of the outside horses is in a bad state, and Brian tells me once the Orton & Spooner double (to be named Albert) is back on in a few days' time, this will be the next one to be stripped down and rebuilt.

Yesterday the organ was returned from being serviced and repaired, so for the first time in about three years you will now be able to hear the trumpets again.

An important delivery

28 tons of steam coal
Whilst I am helping with the Gallopers, 28 tons of steam coal, over £5,000 worth, is tipped into the bunker. Chris tells me that there will be another two similar deliveries before the season is out. That's a lot of coal.

Checking the Garden Line

Lubricating points
As work has focused on the two foot Nursery Line in recent weeks, Chris wants to walk the Garden Line to check for any problems such as fallen branches, loose sleepers and also to check the workings of the several sets of points and lubricate them. Other than giving the odd spike a clout here and there and moving a small piece of branch out of the way, everything is in order and good to go. It's also started to brighten up a bit.

Trackwork - the final instalment

Talk about close to the wire — today's trackwork is to replace a few of the worst sleepers by the Nursery Crossing — and the train will be running from 11:00. We quickly dig out a couple of sleepers and slide replacement ones in as 11:00 approaches. Chris has already spoken with the driver and guard so they know we are on the line doing repair work.

Bevan at the Nursery Crossing

Three sleepers replaced

With the train running at half-hourly intervals we have to make a judgement on whether or not to remove a sleeper or wait until it next passes. If we get it wrong, then the driver will have to stop and wait whilst we at least get the sleeper in place. Fortunately we do not have any timing mishaps, and successfully replace five or six sleepers over a few hours. With this done I think I'll say good bye to trackwork for the rest of this year. I've done six sessions in the last two months and whilst it's been good fun I will enjoy getting on with some other tasks. No doubt I will be back for another session next year.

Naming a horse

Whilst Brian has been busy getting the Gallopers platform finished, a couple of the volunteers who help out with restoring the horses have been finishing the painting on the Orton & Spooner double horse. Now the Gallopers are back together, Brian now has time to start painting its name on — Albert. A series of processes are involved: firstly the upper half of the letters are painted, then the lower parts are painted in a contrasting colour, and any serifs and decorations added. Finally shading is painted on the upper part with a separate shade for the bottom. Here are the first two steps.

Upper part of letters being painted

Lower part painted in a contrasting colour

When I am next back, (and Albert will probably be on the Gallopers) I will get another photograph of the completed name.

Applying a clear, protective lacquer
Whilst the paint for the name is hardening, a third coat of clear lacquer is applied to the rest of the horse. Each horse has three coats to help protect it from wear and tear as well as the weather. Recently Brian has been experimenting with a UV blocking lacquer to see how much difference it makes keeping the colours vibrant for longer.

George Sholto

In the workshops some progress has been made on George Sholto and the boiler has been separated from the chassis once more. This gives me an opportunity to photograph some of the running gear that will normally be hidden away.

Normally this is all hidden

Braking mechanism

Part of the motion

Piston assembly - the slide bars can clearly be seen above and below

Gallopers fence

Fence looking great and nearly finished

Chris started erecting the new fence last Friday and has nearly completed it. Just a couple more posts and panels to put up — but as he's driving Bevan today it will have to wait!

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful insight into what it takes to get open for the new season.


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