User menu

Work in Progress: 30th November


Roadworks TriangleHi-tech tamping and low-tech grafting!

This week's report is from Nigel Thompson and Roger Bye.

The cold but sunny weather was ideal for some more "jacking and packing" of the track.

1. A small team of Roger, Alistair and Ryan with General Manager Martyn Budd took a works train down to the crossing before Killington Lane.

2. As described in our report of 16 November "jacking and packing" involves rectifying dropped track joints. Previously done manually, as this was hard and slow work, General Manager Martyn decided to use a tamping attachment on the mini-excavator to see if the work could be done quicker. As can be seen the tamping attachment has four hydraulically operated, spade ended, prongs.

3. Also on hand to provide additional technical expertise was (another!) Alistair (Hall) who works for Network Rail and was available on this occasion courtesy of his employer's Corporate Social Responsibility commitment. Here, Alistair watches as the prongs of the tamper are pushed into the ballast and then, whilst vibrating, are closed together to force ballast under the sleeper and thus raise it. The tamper is first inserted across one rail and then the other.

4. In preparation for tamping, the rails at each joint are jacked up to the correct height, as judged by sighting along the track. A track-gauge is used to set the required "cant"and also to avoid track twist - the variation in cross level over a given distance along the track. For those who may not know, consider cant to be the rail equivalent of the camber of a road.

5. In this telephoto foreshortened shot the jacks can be seen in place for three joints. Our youngest volunteer, Ryan, is seen assisting Martyn with aligning the tamping attachment to the sleeper.

6. & 7. These views show the jacks in position and the excavator working its steady way along the track. In some cases the jacks are placed at an angle, rather than vertically, and the joint is "slewed" to one side or the other to improve the horizontal alignment at the joint.

8. The final result, as this view into the setting sun shows, is not a perfectly level track, but "humps" where there were previously dropped joints. These will settle under the impact of train traffic and the track will then level out. The clever bit, and this where Alistair's expertise comes to the fore, is judging how high the "hump" has to be so that that track will settle to be level. Watch these humps!

For everyone else on today's Thursday gang the task was the very unskilled job of moving all the cut down branches and logs from the two cut down fir trees by the small entrance gate by the A39

9. The second pile of cuttings awaits removal from the top lawn.

10. Some of the larger logs were stacked by the fence ready for collection.

11. The removal of these two large and overgrown trees now reveals a better view of Woody Bay Station from the A39.

12. & 13. Everyone mucks in to help load the trailer with the cuttings.

14. The Ford 4600 tractor and 4 wheel trailer made several runs to the bonfire site taking all the cuttings.

15. Progress on Carriage No. 7. Charles Summers and David Ely of the EAST group came down to Devon last weekend to fit replacement panels inside the observation compartment. A smiling Jim Pounds and Barrie Cann check out the new panels which will now have several coats of paint. The panels Charles and David replaced were the original ones fitted the vehicle back in 1897.

16. & 17. During last weeks Working Weekend, the 'Grotettes' completed Santa's Grotto inside the marquee. It is now all ready to receive Father Christmas to meet the children and give them their presents.

18.  The first queue to visit Santa? The curious members of the Thursday Gang pose after completing their tasks today.

Words and pictures by Roger Bye 1-8 and Nigel Thompson 9-18

Corporate Supporters - Where to Stay

The Denes button Fox and Goose button Lynton Cottage Hotel button Moorlands button