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Saturday 16 December

Track Pack - February 2015

March Working Weekend - Saturday 7th & Sunday 8th

It’s that time of year again and the fishplates along the line are due for their annual dose of inspection and lubrication.

In a slight change to previous years the plan is to start at Callaways Crossing rather than Smallbrook. As you may know the Swanpond section was the subject of the rerailing exercise in January and the associated fishplates were lubricated as the track was reassembled. This should avoid a long push with the equipment just after the job has started. The short section from Smallbrook to Bridge One can be attended to at a later date. With the best greasy boot forward, it should be possible to get beyond Rowlands Lane Bridge by the end of Saturday.

Sunday should see the usual fare of the remaining section to Wootton, with a turn around the loop on arrival. This year’s password is 'Blue Spot'.

Hope to see you all at the usual time at the P.Way Depot, 8.30am both days.

What's Been Going On?

The February Working Weekend plan for a Saturday of roving sleeper changing got off to a good start at the eastern portal of Long Arch, where a rail was soon turned out. This eased the fitting of the new sleepers where the cutting side makes it difficult to use the usual method. Tea break at 10.15 saw seven new sleepers in place, with the rail back in and the track back together at 11.30.
 
After loading tools and gang aboard LaLa, a trip was taken to the Smallbook end of Swanpond where a further five sleepers were changed before everyone stopped for lunch at ¼ to one. The easier access here meant there was no need to roll out a rail and the gang was able to work over a slightly larger area.

With lunchtime over and the trolley slowly filling with expired sleepers, the second to last journey of the day was made back to Bridge Seven on the outskirts of Havenstreet. Impeded access was a problem here too, with the walls of the bridge making it difficult to remove the sleepers. So the North side rail was removed and the six sleepers on the bridge, along with one either side of it, were replaced. It seemed wise to replace the whole run while we were at it.

Tea break at about three-thirty followed reassembling the track, then all the redundant materials were loaded aboard the trolley. These were taken to the Barn Field to be unloaded and where they are to be used to set out standing areas for assorted articles.

The customary smaller gang on Sunday spent the day on the Wootton section. A trip to Bridge Fifteen saw a mini recovery train being run, twice, to take the pair of replaced rails back to the Down Loop at Havenstreet. The remaining debris of the job was also cleared away. Progress was then made back towards Havenstreet, fettling the beds of the sleepers to ensure they were properly full prior to the forthcoming visit by the tamping machine. Due to everyone’s efforts the whole section between Bridges Fifteen and Twelve was completed by the end of the day.

Many thanks to everyone for all of their hard work over the weekend.

What Else Has Been Going On?

Most of our efforts since the last episode have revolved around the mid-Feb tamping exercise; either getting prepared for it, or being on hand to assist as the tamper progressed along the line.

Fettling and further leaf clearance fell into the first category, temporarily deconstructing some of the accommodation crossings to give the machine better access into the second.
Happily the tamping itself went almost without a hitch, the machine putting an excellent line and level along the whole line. With it covering between 2 or 300 yards an hour the job was completed within the scheduled five working days. Amazing to watch really when you consider the average rate with the BLH and jacks is 20 yards or so! As I write this the machine is already on the way through its next assignment at the Swanage Railway.
 
As a break from Tamper Tasks the railway received a visit from some Island Roads contractors on 11th February. They were escorted along the line so as to inspect and examine the three overline bridges that carry public highways. Their van full of some very impressive equipment, including a radar device for looking into walls!

With the growing season still to get properly under way the Friday Gang have occupied themselves with some lineside debris recovery, gathering the piles of assorted brash and logs up into one or two locations.

That's all for this month, we look forwards to seeing you during the coming month, there's plenty of work to be getting on with!  If you feel inspired to join the Civil Engineering gang, please make contact via our Volunteer Coordinator, we look forward to seeing you!

All the best,

Ian, Phil and Pete.

FOLLOW IW STEAM RAILWAY

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