Hi guys. Today, in the pouring rain, a hardy few (well...a hardy LOT!) were riding down on a P-Way train from Shackerstone, bound for Market Bosworth. It was freezing cold and very wet, with the shelter of the brakevan and the warmth of its stove being very welcome indeed. Our destination was Far Coton, or Three Bridges as I like to call it. Three Bridges is of course three over-bridges which span the railway about a 1/2 mile south of Market Bosworth, in the cutting which leads towards the open fields of Shenton. Permanent Way work often takes place in the closed season, allowing gaps in the track to be left for weeks on end in order to achieve the maximum improvement to our running line. Don't be fooled by the picture at the top as, even with alot of people, P-Way can be back-breaking work and, alot of the time, you come away feeling absolutely drained.
Far Coton has been plagued with what we know as "drop joints" for a while now but, as I say, little can be done during the running season as full rectification work takes time. Drop joints occur when the weight of the train causes the joints to dip, and have the potential to break locomotive leaf springs and even fishplates if left too long. An easy fix is to jack up the track and pack underneath using fine stones, allowing the joint to become supported once again. However, prolonged running causes the rail-ends to wear, meaning that you will still get the rough ride over the joints wether it is supported or not. The solution is to:
A) Remove the fishplates
B) Cut off the worn rail-ends
C) Redrill the rail-ends for new fishplate bolts to go through
D) Continue the task until you have a large gap
E) Fill the gap with a new piece of rail
This should give you a good piece of running line, with the rails being fresh, well-supported and above all, safe. We are blessed to have some useful P-Way equipment aboard our short P-Way train and so we can cope with most obstacles, providing that we have the man-power to help too. Below, a mobile donkey-saw is used to saw off worn rail-ends to make a new, square face...Below, the train also carries a circular saw to produce a 'starting cut' ready for the donkey saw to drop into the channel...
Once a gap has been created, the rails must be 'barred up'. This job is as simple and heavy as it sounds! We have a few sets of rail-tongs which we use to drag the heavy rails up, through the chairs, a few inches at a time. A team of 8 persons is usually required to do this job effectively, especially over long distances. I certainly spent alot of time doing this today! Below, a rail has arrived at a chair but, when the old rail has been removed, the sleeper has dislodged due to ground movement and, in this situation, it has to be dug out and then put back in a square, appropriate position so that the rail may pass through the chair easily, whilst still allowing room for the key to be hammered in alongside...
Today, Carl's wife Sam was kind enough to bring a "kitchen on wheels" to Far Coton's 2nd bridge and feed the hungry (and very wet!) workers...Spot on!...The wet wagons sit below the road at Far Coton, looking away from the track divide, towards Market Bosworth...
Our locomotive: the Class 73 Electro-Diesel: collected us early today, at about 3pm. We were just so wet and cold that we were happy to get back to Shack asap. Despite the weather, the large team that had turned out in force had got alot of work done and so, really, we had done more work in less time: brill! Thanks for reading folks. (The top photograph is C = Chris Simmons). Sam.