Friday 18 November 2016

On the road with the tamper

While the original 07 Mk5 tamper is awaiting a quote for the repair of its gearbox, the replacement 07 Mk2 tamper swung into action today and made a start on tamping the entire Broadway extension, i.e. the whole stretch from Toddington to the railhead. We need to have the extension tamped to the highest quality, in order not to have to go back to it any time soon, so to do it properly, tamping starts at Toddington north.

Today's job was a stretch of track which basically covered the through line of the former Laverton loop, starting a few dozen yards south of it.

The tamper was pushed out to the site by the class 73, which then backed off to allow the crew to set themselves up.

This involves getting out the trolleys and support bars behind it, with a pair of steel wires which run from the farthest trolley, through the machine and all the way to the forward cab. This arrangement allows the machine to measure where it is going and what it should do.

It's an older arrangement, no longer required by the newer Mk5, but it worked fine, as we could see afterwards.

Here is the pair of trolleys, bars and wires fully rolled out.

Progress was pleasingly rapid, once all was set up.

Here is Bob (the B in the 'B&R', the 'R' being just visible in the far cab) at work in the course of operating the machine. The process in this model is to a great extent a manual one, and it is the operator that moves the machine forward between each sleeper. It has one advantage in that you can easily identify any obstacles, such as cables crossing the track, or extra large gaps between rail ends, which can swallow the small diameter wheels of the trolleys - it has happened.

After a while a short site inspection took place, in particular to inspect the shape of the insulated block joint (yellow marks), and to see if it posed a problem for the tines. It didn't.
The slightly irregular path of the rails can be made out; this is what we came to fix. The location is the through road of the former loop at Laverton.

This shot from the forward cab shows the slight irregularities  being addressed today, and more substantial wobbles and dips in the distance, where the new track has been laid and provided with extra ballast to allow the tamping corrections.

In particular the area north of Laverton bridge shows a larger than normal dip, coming off the raised level of the bridge and its thicker deck. Manual jacking here to raise the track to a level that the tamper can handle easily proved fruitless, and a jacker / packer has been hired in for next week to do this.

The tamper then arrived at Laverton bridge, here doing the last few yards, being observed by Neil, who had come to move the machine to a second site at Toddington.

Once again the crew got out in order to inspect a potential problem; here the pulling point for the future stressing of the CWR. Again everything went fine. The larger gap here (deliberate) has been temporarily bridged with a short piece of rail and clamped fishplates, so no problem for the little trolley wheels with us.

Shortly afterwards the tamper passed over the pulling point, and did a few more yards up to the top of the bridge.

This was the end of the first job today.

Here is the tamper stopped just before the pulling point, with Laverton Bridge in the foreground.

The class 73 is poised in the background, ready to haul the tamper back to Toddington for the second session today.

The tamper has paused on Laverton bridge, at the end of its run along the loop.

On the way back to Toddington, we passed this kit of parts for an engine that could be very useful on our line, being modern and not too hungry for coal.

Anyone see what it is yet?

After being taken back to Toddington, the tamper was readied for the second session, which starts at the beginning of the Broadway extension, just north of the stock siding. Bob and Rick roll out the trolleys again.

The second session also went very well, and we did more than expected.The tamper worked its way all the way up to the signal that can just be glimpsed in the distance, just short of Stanway viaduct.  This will be the starting point for Monday.

A quick glimpse into the shed at Toddington showed that work on the authentic canopy for Broadway continues.

More fascia boards are under construction, and a large pallet full of rivets has been delivered. They come in two sizes. The smaller ones are for the fascia boards, and the larger ones for the trusses.

A riveter has also been borrowed, seen here on arrival in the back of the Transit. It's enormous! It looks as if it could happily handle cold riveting, but in fact we are going to do it hot, the traditional way.


  1. 76077, did a lot of work on it in 1990/91
    Dave Scott

  2. Interesting subject is the tamper. A long time ago since I worked with the relaying trains in the Midlands and the tamper did the finale. Great pictures and a pleasant change of subject (not that I don't appreciate the general blogs of course). But truly interesting. Regards, Paul.

  3. Theirs definitely steam coming out of 76077 in that photo.....

  4. Agreed, really interesting, but please Jo, any chance of one picture of where the railhead is now? Or has it not moved this week?
    Thanks again for some great updates!

    1. No further progress on the railhead since the last report on it.
      We need to get more sleepers up, but bear in mind we are almost at Peasebrook Farm and that's where we said we'd stop for the winter.
      There'll be progress on ballasting the next bit, and tamping / stressing the previous bit to report.

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  6. Mr A,Locke,from Evesham.20 November 2016 at 14:44

    I,notice that there are still bits of pointwork,from the loop,at Laverton,lying at the trackside.Will these be moved to Broadway,in due course?.

    1. Yes, they are too heavy / angular to drag.

  7. Astonishing amount of demolition BR did on the line. It must have cost a fortune which they wouldn't have recovered in materials?Great Kudos to the lads and lassies who are putting it back together again.
    I'm across the water in Ireland where we had a mini - Beeching by CIE on our lines. However no recovery of anything, they just stopped running trains and left the lines to rot. Jim R

    1. In the UK demolition often follows closure quite rapidly. On the Continent (and perhaps in Ireland) - lines were often left with a 'wait and see' attitude.
      I'll have a look if I have any demolition photographs.

  8. Off topic but..One of our long lines in North Mayo was closed in the '70's. CIE walked away. It's all still there under 40+ years of undergrowth. Track, signals, signs. The boxes are still complete with full lever frames, block instruments and track diagrams. Kind of nuclear apocalypse thing? Jim R