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THU 18 JAN

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Sunday 18 March

Track Gang Close The Gap!

The February Civil Engineering Working Weekend saw 11 members of the department, led by Rail Infrastructure Foreman Pete Corby, continue with the essential work needed to prepare the Isle of Wight Steam Railway’s Permanent Way for the start of the 2017 operating season.
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The Working Weekend team take a well earned tea break.
The task this month was to ‘run’ the rails on the bank from Rowlands Lane towards Havenstreet Station in order to re-establish the correct ¼ inch gap between rails at each joint.

The gap allows the rails to expand and contract according to temperature conditions. If the gap is too tight there is a risk of rails buckling in the heat of a summer day.  The force exerted on the rails by trains braking for the station stop at Havenstreet causes the rails to gradually creep along in their chairs, eventually closing up the expansion gap and creating the requirement for action to restore them to their correct positions.
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In the distance a bar is being used to ease the rail into the correct position, in the foreground a spacer bar measures the gap.
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The movement of successive rails opened up a gap of 4 1/2 inches. By the end of the weekend the correct spacing had been achieved across the whole of the affected stretch of track.
Civil Engineering Working Weekends take place on the first weekend of every month.  A variety of jobs are tackled throughout the year, including trackwork, maintaining lineside fencing and clearing undergrowth from the lineside. New volunteers are always welcome in the team, details of how to join us can be obtained from the railway’s Volunteer Coordinator.

Regular updates can be seen on the Civil Engineering News pages.
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A substantial jack frees a rail from the grip of the rail chairs.




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