They day started with minus 5.5C, and 'warmed up' to 0 degrees as we went home - you happy now?
To kick off, and get us all warmed up, we set out to lift the chaired sleepers out of the panel dismantled by the Wednesday gang.
Simple. Ah, but the ground was frozen solid, so an initial team had to crowbar every sleeper out of its bed first, so that a second team could lift it on to the trolley.
The beds where the sleepers were look like this. Frozen mud underneath. This should not be there, it should be a clean bed of ballast.
This state of affairs is one of the reasons for the relay here.
How did it come about?
This ruined the drainage here, and the area will be dug out and re-equipped with fresh ballast as part of our relay.
Even now you can hear a considerable volume of water in the depths of this catch pit, but it flows cleanly now.
Steve brought in a steady stream of new sleepers with the Telehandler, which were quickly laid in just the right spot.
Once a panel length was down on the ground, rails were laid in.
Notice the difference in weather by the tunnel mouth, compared to the previous picture? The feeble sun vanished, and a cold fog settled into the cutting.
Lifting the rail up in the previous picture frees it from the ground and the dirt, so that the Camlock can be attached.
On warm days, that is......
Today, the rail was filled with ice, which had to be broken free and hammered out with bars.
Finally, the reward for the effort is the lift of the rail into its place. We did 3 panels like this today. More was not possible, because part of the gang was also occupied at the northern end stripping out the next panel, and Steve can only do one job at a time. Yes, even Steve.
|John ponders whether his winter fuel supplement is going to last with this cold....
The second team set about dismantling track panels north, being those previously occupied by the supply train.
The new sleepers it had delivered are stacked on the left, and will go into the space in the foreground.
While Steve started to extend the level ballast bed, ready for further sleepers to be dropped, a few odd sleepers are laid on the end by hand.
Although there is some mechanisation with the JCB and Telehandler, quite often the heavy work nonetheless falls on the same old shoulders. You just can't get away from it.
After a while, Steve moved on to the area where the turnout will be situated from now on, and levelled the ballast to which it will be dragged. In the meantime, others in the background start to remove parts of the tunout, to make it lighter for transport.
On the section resleepered earlier in the day, a new rail is brought in and has its end cut off, in preparation for welding. Every other joint is a weld.
'Bert Ferrule' tries not to set his trousers alight, they seem to lead a charmed existence.
Removal of timbers from the turnout has started in the background.
The two flats are now loaded and out of the way by the platform, and immediately the first rail is tipped out of the turnout.
The turnout is split into two halves, and here Alan in the Telehandler is hooked up to the southern end and is slowly pulling it out of its seat.
As we tidy up the tools, Nigel and Hayden mark up the timbers according to the plan, for future reference, re-use or replacement.
At the end of the day, we had removed 4 panels, laid three new ones, and removed almost all of the turnout.
News on the ballast regulator is that the new brushes have arrived and a few have been trial fitted. We should be able to put the others on sometime next week.