Heavy rain all day. We plodded on regardless.
Neal under the footsteps roof was only half out of the rain, and kept having to dash to an uncovered area to access his tools to cut and fine tune, before going back up to the steps to trial fit each piece of timber.
Yours truly was safely under the station roof, and largely completed primering the timbers along the top of the purlins.
John was cutting metal in a container, also in the dry.
A temporary set of uprights will be clamped to the newel posts at the bottom, and three more corrugated iron sheets laid on top. That's the plan anyway.
For the temporary uprights we're using some scrap lengths of angle we had left over. John cut and welded the two odd lengths we have, so that by lunch time they were the same length.
Neal then came along and drilled a series of holes in them for the clamps. No holes will be drilled in the newel posts.
Here Neal is drilling holes into the strips that will form the clamps round the newel posts to hold the uprights in place.
This is a look into the signal box. The big halo is caused by condensation inside the door.
Saturday in the Dixton cutting
We sprang into action extra early, leaving 15 doughnuts untouched on the messroom table. The Santa specials today were about to start, and we received a report of a broken rail in the Dixton cutting. Now, that is a very unusual occurrence, possibly a first in our 38 years.
A team of 3 set off with the PWay equivalent of a first aid box, being a set of blind fishplates with clamps. These were applied to the break and that made the track safe for the time being.
Shortly afterwards the light engine for the second train followed. That was 7820 Dinmore Manor today.
While the 'first responders' were out attending to the break, the rest of us dealt with the bogie flat filled with scrap that CRC had sent up. We need the flat empty, so that we can load up new sleepers for our 2020 winter works south of the tunnel.
The sharp eyed among you will have spotted something that would interest the loco dept. here.... Can you see what it is yet?
The 'first responders' then returned from Dixton, and confirmed that the Santa specials could continue, phew! Our happy customers never knew.
We were also lucky (or have a very effective drainage gang) that the very heavy rain yesterday did apparently not damage the railway anywhere.
After a quick tea and some of the doughnuts, we assembled the kit to deal with the broken rail with a better repair, that is to say, with a length of replacement rail.
Here is the break. It's an interesting phenomenon, and as we said, new to us. The blind fishplate clamp can be seen on the left.
The replacement length was dropped off the white Landie and the end was cut off by Bert Ferrule in order to have a clean surface. What was left was then measured for length, and the running rail marked at the same distance.
The water was running normally, so no worries here.
After cutting the rail the end was drilled. The other end already had the right holes in it.
Tony is on hand with the washing up liquid to lubricate the cutting head.
Here's the gang waiting for the special to pass, and it was wonderful to hear P&O's 3 cylinder beat as the train accelerated towards 3 arch bridge.
They are likely to have been caused by a tamper, but in a life prior to that on the GWSR. Neither of the two adjacent rails was affected. When we laid this track it was in the 1990s, and we still used second hand rails, so the nicks were made during a life on BR. It's amazing though how small a defect can cause an entire rail to fail eventually.
We prepared the replacement length of rail, so that we were ready to jump into action the moment the bobby gave us the line block.
Here too a little steam needed to be applied, leading to an atmospheric winter picture. Although there is a lovely plume of steam, the train passed us very cautiously.
Soon after, the bobby gave us permission and here Bert Ferrule is cutting of the affected length of rail, ready for the replacement to be slotted in.
The broken rail is removed, in two parts, one large, one small.
Just minutes later the replacement was in, and the gang is seen here fitting the two pairs of fishplates.
The last thing to do was tighten the fishing bolts with the impact wrench, and we were ready to go.
Time taken from permission from the bobby, and our confirmation that the track was back in order, was - 20 minutes!
During our winter working period, we will be replacing the entire 60ft length of rail in which the break occurred. This will ensure that the other nicks we observed will not get the chance to turn into similar fractures.
That's it for today, but if enough hands sign up, we will be back in a week's time. We're ready to work, if the support is there.
We wish our readers a merry Christmas, and thank you all for your interest, and support for the railway we love.