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Work in Progress: 4th January


Roadworks Triangle1st Day back!

A wintry sky and strong winds greeted the first Thursday Gang of 2018.  With the railway currently closed we are provided with the rare opportunity to look at the trackwork in the station area.

1. A general view of the station prior to work commencing.

2. First to receive attention were the points at the Barnstaple end of the station. Two of the long (and heavy!) sleepers were to be replaced with the new sleepers seen in the foreground of this picture.

3. The work was made more complicated by the point rodding also being mounted on the sleepers. Care is needed to ensure that the rodding alignment is maintained when reinstalling the sleeper. New volunteer Steve is seen fastening down the track screws under Manager Martyn's critical eye! This work is in preparation for the points relaying scheduled later in the month.

4. This work progressed in the wind and cold...

5. & 6. Nigel, back in action after recent surgery, was assessing the state of the station seating, now stored under cover for the winter. Knots in the timber had resulted in breakdown of the paint film and Nigel was searching these out and treating them as part of the continual battle against the North Devon weather.

7. In the paint shop Barrie and Jim were back in (jovial) action...

8. & 9. ...the current focus of attention being the window lights, some of which have been removed, sanded down and refinished with varnish, not Branston Pickle as the picture might imply!

10. Dave was fitting new door locks to PILTON's cab doors. The loco is almost fully operational apart from the installation of a new cooling fan, alternator and electrical regulator.

11. Outside the shed, more of the gang tackled the lifting of one of the tracks leading into the pit road.

12. & 13. Firstly, the ten years or more accumulation of ash, cinders and mud had to be cleared from the sleepers and once exposed...

14. & 15. ...the spikes and fish plates had to be removed. Another new volunteer Mel (in the right foreground) looks on while Nigel loosens fish plate bolts. With the rails released from each other and the sleepers, they were moved out of the way and the sleepers lifted. The track bed can now be cleared and leveled ready for laying new rails. (See next weeks report!)

16. This final view of the day's work echoes the sad pictures of the track lifting after the railway was closed in 1935. What a contrast in 2018, when we know that, rather than destroying the railway, new track is to be laid to continue the life of the L&B!

The continuing interest in the restoration of the L&B, both in the UK and overseas was shown yet again today when we had the pleasure of welcoming three visitors from the UK and New South Wales - all with Heritage Railway connections.

Our visitors were Mark Smith, Chairman and Director of the Heritage Railway Association and latterly Chairman of the West Somerset Railway WSR, who was accompanied by Mark Robinson of the Illawarra Light Railway Museum, New South Wales, Australia (where our loco PILTON came from) and Jennifer Edmonds, Heritage and Collections Manager, Transport Heritage New South Wales, Australia.

Roger Bye took them on a guided tour and introduced them to some of the volunteers who were on site.

Words and pictures Roger Bye

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