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Track Pack - December 2013

A Very Merry Christmas to all of our readers!

A big Christmassy welcome to everyone, as another festive edition of Trackpack rolls round, seemingly faster than last year’s did. I am convinced that as we all grow older the years go by faster and being so busy this past 12 months only makes the situation worse it seems. We have got to December on a pretty high note as we have almost completed the Griffin’s siding complex on time and pretty much on budget. 
A major achievement by us all and every bit of volunteer assistance has made the job that much easier and contributed to the money claimed from the heritage lottery fund for volunteer hours worked. I would like to say a very big thank you to you all for all your help and assistance thro 2013 on the Griffins project, before on the pointwork in the station and other usual tasks completed this year. It really has been a very busy time so as always we would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year 2014. 

January 2012 Working Weekend - Sat 4th / Sun 5th

This time last year we were about to rip the track apart on No 6 & 7 points. Thankfully we are not about to start a major project like that this coming year. We are in fact going to continue where we left off last month and carry on with the re-sleepering and installing of check-chairs round the curve from the double slip towards Griffin’s. We have a good few sleepers left to change even after our best efforts last month and with luck we may be lucky enough to find time to put in a check rail or two by the end of the weekend. As we have another bash that is located close to the headquarters we can have our breaks in the comfort of the mess room again and maybe partake of a few left over Christmas goodies whilst enjoying our beverages during breaks.

What’s been going on?

Changing Curve Chairs for Check Chairs Challenge gives Cause for Congratulations

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The December Working Weekend gang changing sleepers on the curve into Griffins Sidings in preparation for the installation of the check rail.
Another part of the Griffin’s sidings complex was started at the last bash, when track gangs started to re-sleeper and re-gauge the tight curve into Griffin’s from the double slip. A decision by the Railway management team was made to fit check rails around the curve a while ago when the proposed movements in and out of Griffin’s were discussed. 
It is standard practise to widen gauge on a very sharp curve to allow wheels more space to negotiate the tight radius, and adding a check rail ensures that wheels do not climb the outside rail as the forces try to make them do. Although not strictly required by legislation, as it is not a passenger line, it was felt that the curve needed to be checked to safeguard our ability to earn money. A slip up causing a derailment with our passenger stock on the curve could mean disaster, with no carriage stock being available for services until re-railing was completed. If the 4 wheeled coaches and bogie stock happened to be stored in the new shed at the same time, it could be a case of the cork in the neck of the bottle so to speak. 
Consequently we arranged to order 100 new check-chairs made specifically to allow for ¾ inch widened gauge and these were delivered to the railway sometime ago. We always expected this job to be one of the last major tasks to do and we embarked on the exercise last month with the hope of getting as much done as we could. I am pleased to say we did rather well, getting half of the 100 sleepers changed, track re-gauged and fitted with new check chairs during the weekend. It was always going to be slow and hard work, having to dig ballast out from around every sleeper and also a channel to get the sleeper out from the side of the line. We did have two gang working on Saturday when more volunteers were available but as there were less on Sunday we only had one gang working.  It was great to see 50 sleepers changed over the period of two days, no mean feat considering the difficulties in getting some of them out. Since the weekend we have been unable to continue on with the job due to other work commitments, so we will now save the next 50 for the forthcoming January bash and see if we can get the job done. 
Thank you all for your splendid efforts over the action packed weekend, which proved very productive. I do apologise if any of you got the dreaded cold germs from our workforce during the last weekend, I know of at least one other that has gone down with it, I myself am suffering it at its height today and it appears to be a very virulent little germ that likes all PW workers and their kin. Sorry about that, we must get the isolation hut sorted out soon, so we can put unhealthy PW boys out of harms way!
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The gang continue around the curve, in the background is 'Ajax' at the head of a Santa Special Christmas Parcels train.
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A view around the curve on Sunday, 8th December.  The 100 check chairs needed were specifically made for the job.

What else has been going on?

The last month has been generally spent again in Griffin’s with more trackwork going in, and trying to get our new PW hut connected to the railway. We have got a bit more fixing down to do on the last point which gives access to the PW workshop and the last road into the stock storage shed. We have had to do a bit of packing over the sections of track outside the sheds to get a roadway back in over the tracks. This has been done so Ollie can get the digger over to number 4 road to dig the pit in the next few days before the Christmas break.
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The connection to the PW workshop and No.5 road into the stock shed. A sharp reverse curve is required, but only PW vehicles will be allowed into the siding. The ash roadway can be seen that will allow access to No 4 road for our contractors to build the inspection pit.

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Pete Corby working inside the new workshop building preparing the ground for concrete floor. The inspection pit is in the foreground.
I had a week off in early December and whilst I was off sunning myself in the balmy climate of Leeds and Leicester the boys got out on the single lines to do inspections and some lifting and packing before the Santa Specials started. No major faults were found but minor faults are really starting to pile up and will need to be addressed as soon as we can in the New Year, I can feel a bit of BLH packing coming on soon!

Our internet connection now seems to be working fine so we can hopefully be confident in saying we are back to normal for the next couple of months. We will have another upheaval in late Feb or March when the permanent connections are put in so I will keep you posted on that one. Apologies to some of you that didn’t get your usual dollop of drivel thro the wires, I did try to make sure all addresses had been added and updated on my home computer but some errors did creep onto both machines, so my sincere apologies for the lack of info to some. It was nothing personal Robin I can assure you, we all love you really!

The Friday gang are achieving great things along our lineside as the year draws to a close, the line inspection walk I did today was a testament to the hard work they have put in during the Autumn, many of the banks are looking very tidy throughout the whole length of the line, so well done to you all, thanks for your amazing efforts and look forward to greeting you to the new workshop very soon! 

Finally we have a depleted workforce over Christmas, with all our boys having well earned breaks. Pete has a big heap of holiday to use up and will be missing from the 14th to the 1st of Jan. Both Phil and Ian will be having extended breaks at Christmas whilst I will be having a few days off between Boxing day and the working weekend. If any of you are thinking of coming down to help over Christmas/New Year please check with us to make sure someone is about. 
        
So that’s about it for 2013 then folks, hope Santa brings you what you want, the Christmas dinner is cooked to perfection, the booze doesn’t run out and you have a very peaceful and enjoyable time. We look forward to seeing you all in 2014 as I have a list as long as your arm of things to do, and you guy’s help to make it happen! 


A Very Merry Christmas & A Happy New Year to you all!

Dave, Pete, Phil and Ian.