Wednesday 27 July 2016

Back to the future

Work has resumed on the extension, and in particular on the remains of Laverton loop, and its lengthy northern headshunt. The PWay Saturday gang made a good start with removing fish plates and de-clipping the rails, while the Wednesday gang today had a session after lunch, leaving a small party to continue the relay of road No.6 outside the shed at Toddington.

Here is the northern end of the headshunt at Laverton, not yet replaced with plain rail. Just south of it there are still 3 lengths to exchange over the road bride, then the turnout, and then further northwards over the old headshunt. This is of insufficient quality and is being replaced with new rail, and new ballast underneath.

The Wednesday gang  (or part thereof) can be seen declipping the rail - which is shiny, as it has had ballast trains over it for the newly laid section further up, and more recently to place two sleeper bogie flats near Little Buckland.

The work involves prising loose the SHC clips, then tipping out the rail. Martin and Lee are having a good go at it. It's repetitive work, as you see the rail still left to do vanish into the distance. We did 5 lengths this afternoon, not bad for half a day and ice cream afterwards as a treat; it was hot again.

The faithful Landie is always present, as an unmissable base for bringing the tools, and taking away the parts we don't want to lose by leaving them lying around. In the centre we can see John trying to get a grip on one of the SHC plates. They need an almighty heave with a large crowbar.

Should your crowbar come adrift while you are giving it that almighty heave, there is always a willing volunteer to catch you from behind. Well, that was his side of the story anyway. From the smile on his face it  looks from here as if Robert has just found John's wallet.

Once all the clips have been removed, inside and out, it's all hands to the crowbars and with another almighty heave, the length of rail is tipped out. It weighs just about a ton.

Now for the other side, or is it?

One small clip is gallantly resisting efforts to tip out the rail, by hiding under the ballast.

Special surgery is required from John, who this time does not have Robert to support him from behind, but rather an unfriendly bed of nettles.

Then, success ! This rail too is tipped out into the four foot, ready for collection.

This rail is not particularly bad, just slightly non-standard, so it is being taken up for use in the layout at Broadway. Once the rail is gone, the old headshunt will be re-graded and relaid with new rail. The new rail, enough for this section up to where the newly laid extension starts, has now been ordered for delivery after the holidays.

Still left to do - 15 lengths of the former Laverton headshunt, quite a stretch. Hard to believe there's a newly laid section further on out there. We need to meet up with it, with new rail on new ballast, and all welded up. Once this is done, we can move on beyond Little Buckland, and on to Peasebrook Farm. All the extension will then be on new rail, welded up.

Here is where the newly laid section starts, 15 lengths further on. The former headshunt had no ballast under it, just roughly laid on the old trackbed.

At the joint, you can see that the rails have a slightly different profile. The new rail is on the right, and has no holes for fish plates, as it will be welded to the other new rail still to be laid to the left.

A last look back over the old headshunt, back in the direction of the former Laverton loop. The black stripe in the distance is a bogie flat parked at the former start of the loop, inside the stop board where the diesel from Toddington shuttle stops.

Small note at the end: It was striking how many bird droppings were concentrated on the rails on this stretch of the line, many more near Laverton than visible on this sample section. Some smallish bird, in large numbers, has sat here to rest on the rails. What could it be?


  1. Just wondering why the new rail looks so wobbly?



    1. If you mean the newly laid track, it has not been tamped yet.

  2. The droppings are from crows / ravens that have removed ears of wheat from the surrounding fields then bring them back to the flat wagons that were parked here until recently. Stuart and I did try to get a photograph but none were worth keeping.

  3. I would have said Starlings. Crows don't congregate together and, I've never seen a Raven in this vicinity!

    1. It's definitley crows - have a look at this picture:

  4. Tell that to the crows that congregate in my fields in large groups!