Friday, today, saw the completion of the spent ballast removal excercise. We think about 400 tons of it were shuttled south to the new access road, now part constructed (more spent ballast needed).
We follow Steve down to the small area that is left for turning round. It's getting cramped round here, with all that rail laid.
Smoke is pouring out of the mould where the combustion process has just completed.
|Picture by Andy S, with thanks|
The supplementary weld required is this one. As you can see, the molten metal did not completely fill the joint. This is because some of our rails are worn ('GWR - 12/1936') and the moulds do not always fit perfectly (a sealant is applied to the gaps, but still).
Here some of the molten metal has run out of the bottom or sides, leaving an insufficiency at the top. This can be rectified though.
In order to close the gap by arc welding, the two rail ends are first heated with a gas burner, with this interesting hood.
The gap was then expertly filled with weld - you'll have to take our word for it, because we can't photograph that. Even a brief accidental exposure to the flash can leave damge to face an eyes for days.
The rough weld, thermic or arc, is then polished perfectly smooth and flat by this mobile grinder.
And this is the result - perfection! When the wheels pass over this, they cannot tell the difference between solid rail and former joint.
No more dropped joints, no more crippled ends, broken loco springs etc.
|You want what? Suspension on this? Nah....|
This picture of the front of the 9T dumper shows how rigid everything is. There are no springs or shock absorbers, even a horse drawn buggy was more modern than this. The wheels just bolt straight on to the drive shaft under the frame.
|Caution - wide load.|
We shall ignore the request to obtain a token.
We can report with some pride that both dumper and JCB passed this very narrow spot more than 100 times, and we didn't hit the boards once.
Negotiating the drain covers repeatedly was less successful, alas.
While the dumper is very wide and squat, the JCB has a much narrower wheelbase and eventually the inevitable happened, one of the concrete covers did fall in the pit. Sorry, Andy P!
Feeling a bit guilty about this, we returned to the scene of the crime and hoiked it out again with a chain. It is now more or less back where it belongs, phew. It's all because that track is starting to change sides from up to down, and room is very limited here.
Now wouldn't that be a nice little project to recreate? (It's under all those sleepers, with a tree growing out of it)
Here's how far we are with that new access track at Gretton.
It started at the level of the railway above left, and is now about half way down the slope to the field at the bottom, Working Lane being beyond that field.
We think we know of another source of spent ballast on the railway, so could continue if time permits.
A contractor was working on the embankment slope with a flail, temporarily stopped to let us closer. Nice driver too, the next time we came with a full load, he had bladed it flat for us. That's very friendly.
Better weather tomorrow though, when the full gang will be out and all efforts directed at getting the turnout back together, and perhaps even the last of the plain rail in. Watch this spot !