Bob Foster's Matisa R7 ballast regulator, newly equipped with bristles for its rotating brush, was used on the Broadway extension for the first time on Wednesday. Having been inactive for quite a while, it sprang a hydraulic line during its first day back at work, but the repair with a new hose was quick and easy, and it was soon back at work again.
The area to be treated, if time permitted, was from Stanway viaduct to the start of the former Laverton Loop.
In this picture the regulator has just set off at Stanway, with the top of the viaduct just visible in the background.
These two pictures show the track before the regulator has passed over, and after its passage.
In the first case, the sleepers are barely visible.
The speed is a slow walking pace. The box at the front, which can be raised hydraulically, contains a rotating brush and a conveyor belt, which ejects the ballast collected to the left or right as desired.
This second picture shows the track after the passage of the regulator - everything is very neat, and the fittings are visible for inspection or working on. There is now more ballast on the shoulders.
The excess ballast ejected at the front is left as a long row on the shoulder, and can be ploughed away further, as is the case here. The angle of the plough is adjustable.
All went well for about half a mile, until Bob stopped the machine due to a blocked conveyor belt at the front end.
This puzzled us for quite a while. It was clear that the amount of ballast on top of the belt was abnormally high, but this alone should not block the passage of the belt.
Not having a shovel with us (tip for next time) it took some effort to clear the belt of its load. Even without the load it would not run, and eventually we traced the issue to a stone blocked underneath it, which jammed the rotation of the drum in the picture. Another tip for next time: bring a thick bent wire with you, for retrieval of said stone.
Blockage finally cleared, the machine set off again at its steady pace.
The intention was to carry on through then to where yesterday's job started, giving a clear run all the way from the viaduct to Peasebrook Farm.
If you enjoy watching this sort of thing, you can see a video of the work here: