First, the specialist tools of the trade.
Bars on the left, and yes, brooms on the right. That's right, household brooms. The Saturday gang brought 4 new brooms ( a new broom sweeps clean, after all) and today we bought two more, thus increasing our sweeping capacity by 50%. No expense is spared, and hang the budget, we have a job to do.
The answer is that the ballast regulator swept the track very well, but stones remain in the web of the rail, and when we lift the rail for stressing, we cannot allow any stones to fall back underneath it. So the area round the clips has to be squeaky clean of any ballast.
Because of the race trains this week, many of our volunteers are helping on this essential service, and it left a much reduced team on the Wednesday gang today - we were only 9. Here is the sweeping team, setting off from the first stressing point at Laverton bridge and brushing southwards. It feels a bit like curling, with busy sweepers left and right. The gang of six successfully reached the anchor point half a kilometer away in the distance.
The northern anchor point is a bit short of the start of the curve here. Robert is nearly there, isn't he?
That's because the picture was taken with a zoom lens...
Here is the same picture on a wide angle, and he's still got miles to go!
In fact we had 30 panels to unclip going north, and today we managed 19 of them, so 11 to go. A shorter section was unclipped on the southern side, as the team had to do the brushing first.
|Someone else going full tilt for Broadway.|
Back at Laverton, we were faced with a plentiful supply of these. They are the rollers that have to be inserted under the rail, so that it can move along when it is stressed. They go in on every 8th sleeper.
A start was made in placing the rollers on the northern section. There were two 2 man teams.
One man places a lifter on top of the rail, a jaw with a lever on it that, when pushed down, lifts the rail just enough to push the roller underneath. You then let go again, and the rail comes back down and sits on the roller.
Here Peter works the lifter (a fiendish contraption which tries to cut off your fingers when you lift it into the Landie) while Lee pushes a roller under.
Do not insert a finger to check that it is in the right place!
And then we get those things sent to try us. You'd think that after placing thousands of these clips, volunteers must know which way round they go. But not this way round.
Another example of Murphy's law - if it can go in the wrong way round, eventually someone will do it.
At the end of the afternoon, we had all gained a lot of colour in the splendid sunshine today. There was even talk of shorts next time. We felt we had made great strides forward in the preparation for the clipping, but there is at least another day's work here, or even two. One more week to go!
At Broadway, we can report that the excavation of the horse dock headshunt was successfully completed on Friday.
The ballast levels here have now been determined, and we are ready to start bringing the ballast in.
Before we start track laying here however, we will complete the section from Peasebrook Farm to Childswickham Road bridge first. This will resume as soon as we have finished stressing the section already completed.