Thursday, 17 March 2011

Trackwork - Fourth session (Yes, I'm mad!)

Sleepers destined for the glasshouse
With the start of season now only two weeks away, the pressure is on to get the track finished and in serviceable condition to satisfy the Railway Inspectorate. Even though it's a narrow gauge railway, it's still subject to a swathe of legislation ensuring its safety and operation.

To this end it's vital that we get a section of track near the glasshouse replaced, and the more hands the merrier.

Gallopers platforms

Filling larger imperfections
Both platforms that were removed have now been treated with epoxy sealer and resin. Brian is filling in the larger imperfections before the primer coat goes on. New steps have been made and have already been painted in Brian's favourite shade of red. The end of the season will tell if this new treatment is successful — if so then the remaining platforms will be removed in pairs and treated. Hopefully this will allow Brian more time to concentrate on restoring the horses, ostriches and cockerels in future.


Track bed ready for ballast
Since Peat Field 2 was completed a couple of days ago, Chris has been busy lifting track and digging out the track bed just past the glasshouse (on the 2 foot Nursery Line).

The first task for today is to lay a bed of ballast for the sleepers to sit on. This is a fairly shallow bed and whilst Chris's new help Adam and I shovel, Chris rakes it out level. With this complete we work out how to bring sleepers, rails and a whacker plate down — and decide that Toby the diesel tram is probably easiest, despite having to move things out of the way and get it bump started.

Laying ballast
This set the mood for the whole day — and one frustration seemed to follow another as Chris gets a call about water pouring out of the ice cream shop by the play area. A compression fitting has failed, and water has been spraying out for a couple of hours since a supply was turned on earlier this morning. Supply isolated and emergency over we finish loading the wagon and head down the line on Toby.

Making the most of the whacker plate
Accompanied by a lot of smoke and noise, the whacker plate springs into life and then shortly dies a noisy death. Fortunately Adam did manage to get a pass over the ballast we spread earlier so all was not lost. Another thing that now needs repairing. Undeterred we unload twenty-odd sleepers and space them out. They are not yet spaced exactly as this will be done when the rail is pinned, but hopefully we are close enough so that each sleeper will only need a nudge.

Rail loaded onto wagon
After a late lunch we pull out two lengths of 35lb/yd rail from the storage area. Each is 9m long and thus weighs a tad under 350lb (156kg) — a four person lift. Phil helps us out and uses the forklift to lift them onto the wagon. He's been forklifting quite a few things around today as preparations are well under way for opening up.

Positioning rail
At the glasshouse, and with three of us and no forklift, the rails are unceremoniously unloaded by pushing them off the side of the wagon, and then hauled into place. Boy are they heavy. Whilst Chris checks out a suspect sleeper further up, Adam and I grease the fish plates, and bolt them into place. It's now getting on and we decide that it's probably not wise to start any pinning today, so we load up the tools and head back.

Boiler testing

Several of the boilers have had their inspections, and in preparation for pressure testing on Monday they are being lit for the first time in several months.

This gives me the opportunity to see Bevan in steam at long last as it's taken out for a test run up to the glasshouse and back. Whilst speaking to one of the drivers afterwards, he mentioned that the newly laid track in the two peat fields was vastly better than before and that we'd made a great job of it. Bevan literally glided across it rather than bouncing as was the case previously. Credit must go to Site Manager Chris for organising and managing the trackwork.

No.2 Bevan looking glorious in steam

Sadly Rosenkavalier has failed inspection and therefore cannot be used. This will more than likely require a new boiler as part of a major overhaul — there's always something that needs doing and ensures that the workshop is kept busy.

However, plans are afoot to bring St Christopher an Exmoor 2–6–2T in to run on the 15″ Waveney Valley Line, so there should be another new locomotive to see this year alongside George Sholto and Bevan.

George Sholto

Rolling sheet metal
Work continues apace on George Sholto. Phil has been fabricating a smokebox from sheet metal and cylindrical bar. It's clever how he has managed to create the curved shape out of what looks like 1/4″ thick steel. Then again, as the man that built Alan Bloom pretty much from scratch it comes as no surprise.

New smokebox

Clever welding

Crazy Golf

John has now completed his nine hole crazy golf course. A row of short conifers has also been felled clearing the way for a new access path to the Waveney platform. Once it's complete I will dig out some before pictures to publish — the whole area is much improved from what it was even six months ago.

Colourful spinner

Giant domino

Something for the children

I wonder what the children will call this one?
On the standard gauge track, Ray is busy cleaning up a Vulcan Foundry locomotive that will live outside the locomotive sheds where Peer Gynt previously stood. Stripped of mechanicals it's a hollow shell, but a stairway will allow access to the cab and I'm sure many children will enjoy playing train driver.

1 comment:

  1. Compared to track laying, moving logs at Bag End must seem quite relaxing by comparison! No wonder you have so much stamina and give me so much help when you visit.


Please note that comments are moderated and may not appear immediately.