Saturday, 21 January 2012

Shackerstone: The Only Way is P-Way...

Hi guys. Well, this morning at 10:45am I rolled into Shackerstone in the Saxo and parked up. Danny, Beth and Mark were already on site, as was Adrian. The five of us were to make up today's Permanent Way team. P-Way is basically track and lineside maintainence; though the workload can vary massively depending on the job that needs doing. For example, P-Way can include anything from hedge trimming to track relaying. After starting up the comfortable but slightly ugly electro-diesel (Class 73), we shunted on the short works train. After loading the train with various tools and spares, we departed at just before noon. Our destination was Carlton, where a few 'drop joints' have appeared over the course of last summer. After pulling up, we shut the loco down and applied the Brakevan handbrake before starting a fire...
The fire served two purposes: a) to burn cut-down vegetation and waste, and b) to keep us warm when nearby! Beth and Mark soon took over cutting down branches and keeping the fire going. Meanwhile, myself, Adrian and Dan headed off in the opposite direction to begin our 'fishplating' task. Drop joints can be caused by many factors including; poor track support, damaged fishplates, poor rail conditions and lack of track maintainence. Last year, we had to cut the rails on the Shenton extension as the rail-end's had bent in a downward direction, thus creating a continuous drop joint, even with more packing and new fishplates. You'll never get rid of them if the rails are bent, so we cut the ends and replaced the resulting gap with 2 brand new lengths of rail. This was a severe case really. However, at Carlton, the joints aren't half as bad so we could repair the joints using new fishplates and shims. First, the old fishplates were removed and the rails cleaned and greased. We then added the new fishplates and then the re-greased bolts/nuts. Before the joint is tightened, we can check if a shim is needed. A shim fills the gap between the top of the fishplate and the underside of the rail-head. If a gap is left and the fishplate tightened in then as the trains run over it will cause the rail-head to be forced down until it hits the fishplate. This will happen everytime a wheelset passes over, thus eventually bending the rail-ends and possibly snapping the fishplate. However, if we use a shim then we can reduce this force and reduce the chance of another drop joint. In the case of these joints, a shim and new fishplates did the trick perfectly...
Tightening the fishplate after shimming...
Here we can see the railhead with the shim sticking out below, just above the fishplate. The two pads are to check the gap size between the rail-ends (also very important!)...
One joint done (awaiting inspection of course, and for the key to go back in on the left-hand chair)...
I think we managed 6 joints during our few hours work, whilst Beth & Mark continued to burn bits 'n' bobs. For only five of us working, we seemed to do pretty well. The joints we repaired looked great; it really pulled them back into shape. They will now need packing and inspection before the running season, though we still have many more left to do. I left at 4:30pm-ish, and I had a rather large Dominoes with Maisie when I got back..."Yum!"...
Thanks guys. Good evening...

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