Thursday, 24 March 2011

Getting ready for 2011 (and some trackwork)

Final touches to the Gallopers platforms
Today is about finishing off the section of the Nursery Line just past the glasshouse and starting on the minor track defects like replacing the odd bad sleeper, straightening kinks and adjusting the gauge where necessary.

Of course there's lots of other things happening and my lunch break is always spent talking to someone about something or other that is going on.

Gallopers platforms

Brian fixes the new steps
In the paintshop both platforms are now sporting bright red and yellow paintwork and Brian and John are bolting the new steps on. The paint will require a few more days to harden and then the platform sections will be forklifted into place and the Gallopers will be complete once more. The new sections should not be too hard to spot — let's hope that the epoxy treatment keeps them looking this good for much longer.


Drainage improvements
In the morning we finish off the section by the glasshouse. We need to dig out three of the old sleepers where the new rail joins to the existing rail so that we can adjust the spacing. As these sleepers are adjacent to a drainage channel we excavate deeper so that when in-filled with ballast hopefully the trackbed is less likely to retain water, thus helping the sleepers to last longer.

Last Thursday

Today, one week later

With the glasshouse track now complete (bar a couple of custom fish plates to be fitted once they've been made in the workshop) the afternoon sees us attend to some track defects identified in the last couple of days when Chris and Adam walked the entire Nursery Line track and left cryptic messages in chalk.

Replace rail?

X marks the spot?

Fix up broken rail?

Straightening rail and checking the gauge
Three sleepers are dug out, repositioned and firmly fixed with dog spikes and a kink in one of the rails is removed with the jim crow. There are still a couple of other areas that need minor attention and these will be sorted over the next fews days so that trains can run next Thursday.

Kriegslok locomotive (Peer Gynt)

Last year Peer Gynt the massive Kriegslok Class 52 locomotive that used to stand in front of the locomotive sheds was split into two (engine and tender) and both parts taken by low loader to Longcross Studios in Surrey to appear in Hugo Cabret a major new film directed by Martin Scorsese.

Lights are now working
Since returning, the Kriegslok has been given a new home in the continental shed (the large red shed on the other side of the standard gauge line from the main locomotive sheds) where it will become an attraction in its own right.

Before it could be used in the film, specialist asbestos contractors were employed to make the locomotive safe — as a result visitors will soon be allowed access to the cab via a stairway. Inside volunteer Phil is cleaning, painting and refitting parts that were removed during filming (a complete replica cab was constructed on set so that cameras and equipment were able to film action inside the "cab" — hence their removal in order to make replica models).

Phil busy working in the cab
Phil has been working on this project since November last year and has cleaned and repainted a lot of the interior and fittings. He told me that some days in the winter have been so cold that the specialist paints were like treacle when he opened the tins. They are meant to be applied above 6°C, and Phil reckons it must have been well below that!

Several surprises have turned up along the way, for instance there are instrument lamps (one visible just in front of Phil's hard hat in the adjacent image) which were black and filthy and when Phil took them into the workshop and put a wire wheel on them they came up gleaming and turned out to be aluminium — quite unusual for something built during war time. Other surprises include original spare sight glasses for the boiler water level gauges and an old German lightbulb tucked away in one of the lockers.

As I had my VR tripod head with me today I couldn't miss this opportunity, and spent about fifteen minutes taking a sequence of photographs inside the cab as is. It's not yet finished, but by getting a during shot it will be interesting comparing it against the finished article later this year.

Use SHIFT and CTRL keys to zoom in and out.
Click and drag your mouse to move around.
Click the blue rectangle at the top left to go fullscreen and use ESC to return.

This is very much an experimental feature — I hope to be able to build on the functionality provided in the future with details such as interactive labels showing what the various controls do etc.

Thanks to vtfusion for providing the VR plugin.

When complete, Peer Gynt will be renamed Victor Hugo to tie in with the locomotive name used in the film, and will sport the same name plates that were used during filming.

Hive of activity

Maureen with the polish
With the 2011 season now exactly a week away the whole site is a hive of activity. Normal engineering tasks have been sidelined as it's all hands on deck to get everything ready for opening next Thursday.

George Sholto hasn't seen much happening as efforts are concentrated on ensuring that the running locomotives and rolling stock are in complete working order. The Vulcan Foundry diesel locomotive has been shunted to its new home, ready for children to sit in and play train driver.

Underside of one of the dodgems

Vulcan Foundry diesel now in place

Down on the dodgems John has a few on their sides and is checking the workings and lubricating with spray grease, and Maureen is busy cleaning and polishing the others.

Elsewhere steps are being painted white, flowerbeds are being planted up and lots of weeding is happening.

Gallopers fencing

Work has now started on replacing the fencing around the Gallopers. John has removed the old wire fence and mown the grass in preparation for starting on the new fence tomorrow. The entrance is also being moved to the opposite side to utilise the current concrete standing, and a new section of path will join this to the path along the front of Alastair's cafĂ© — no more standing on muddy grass when it's been raining.

1 comment:

  1. I loved the blog today. Aluminium was quite common in those war years, especially with lots of aeroplanes around (many scrapped) - that's why Land Rover defenders are aluminium after all.
    Keep up the good work, the VR presentation is brilliant!


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