Great progress is being made here by the Wednesday and Saturday gangs, and at the time of writing we are ahead of schedule. However.... this supposes the weather is kind throughout, which will be history by Thursday. Snow is forecast. We shall see, but so far, so very good.
The initial briefing from Dave in the mess coach first thing was followed by a second one from Clive...
This piece of kit is important to us as we need to clear the rails of ballast dropped there by Dogfish from Laverton bridge, to Peasebrook Farm (currently) and later all the way to Broadway. The rail needs to be put on rollers for the CWR stretching process, and we did not relish the idea of cleaning a mile or more of track by hand.
The ballast regulator is an older model, like this one, seen here on the K&ESR's Bodiam extension in 1999. It can plough the excess ballast (in front, on the photograph) and clean with rotating brushes (behind).
The brushes are currently life expired and as part of the deal we have offered to refit the new ones. The regulator will arrive next week.
All the kit was manhandled once again, this time into the bucket of the JCB, and, near the tunnel mouth, it was manhandled some more and dumped in the cess. This all before work started!
Here is the JCB reversing up the track to the tunnel mouth, where the job will start today.
Our starting position was a cleared trackbed up to panel 6, and a fine row of new sleepers just waiting for the bullhead rail to be placed back into their chairs.
The sun was tricky for us, low and strong and blinding if trying to communicate with the JCB driver.
Here you can see the sleepers that awaited us, with some of the life expired examples piled up on the cutting side.
A special Pan Puller bar exists, and indeed we had two examples of them. After some experimentation, a hybrid system of Pan Puller and whacks with a keying hammer resulted in acceptable progress down the line.
After lunch, enthusiasm for hard labour was somewhat subdued, and some spent a few moments recovering by supervising proceedings, holding up some bars and reflecting on the nature of next week's potential menu.
Behind them Steve had ventured into the tunnel to recover another pair of rails.
These are numbered, so that we know exactly which ones go back where.
Dave held the Masterplan, and Peter's expression suggests that he may have been holding it upside down.
Was the running line on the up or the downside again?
The reason for this is that on demolition the ballast in the tunnel was removed, thus forcing the new track nearer the middle unless a lot of money was spent on replacing the ballast (not available when this track was laid, many years ago.)
Inside the tunnel, Steve collects another pair of rails.
All in all, we laid 6 panels today. This is quite a pleasing result (6 out of 17) but the hardest bit is yet to come. This is the repositionning of the turnout, in a curve. And before that, there are 6 panels to take out and replace.
It's dark now, so time to go home and light the fire! Another very satisfactory day.
On a different tack, viewers may already know the Flickr site which shows, inter alia, trackbed walks along the old Honeybourne line where track has not (yet) been relaid:
Yesterday the last of these walks was added: Broadway to Willersey: