|This way to the jungle|
Although we consented to follow Steve, it was still a small fleet of cars that hesitantly entered this field of waist high weeds, with Steve heading the charge. He does have 4 wheel drive though, and he could dig his way out of trouble. Not so the Polos, Renaults, Audis and even a Vauxhall van that tried to follow.
Next came an enormous tangle of abandoned fencing material, which Steve scooped off the embankment slope, to give us a route to scramble up. It was like the cat had got your mother's knitting!
The gang is all dressed up but with nowhere to go. Pesky teenagers not only broke into our mess coach, but they went and stole our rope for marking out the line where the sleepers are laid. They left behind numerous plastic wrappers for orange squash and ice cream.
The rope isn't worth much, but when you can't lay without it, it is priceless.
We hunted round the site to see if we could find it abandoned somewhere, or if there was more rope available in the site safe, but no luck.
In the end, we set off with this 'wooden rope' where Leigh and Peter lay out some battens along the ground. It got us out of trouble and we were able to start laying the remaining 150 or so sleepers left on the train. Necessity is the mother of invention...
Then we are ready. Steve drags the last pair of rails on to the new stretch of sleepers, until Paul signals that they have come far enough.
The last pair goes in, we are 18.2m nearer Broadway again. In the distance you can see the Telehandler approaching with another load, while behind the camera the other half of the gang continues to lay sleepers. We need to empty the bogie flats, as arrangements have been made to fill them up again as early as this Monday.
The first rail with a tapered end is lifted into position on a further lot of concrete sleepers. The pointy end is nearst the camera, can you make it out?
Then comes the central section, mounted on four timbers and fitted with special chairs that allow the rail ends to slide to and fro with the expansion caused by the varying temperatures.
The tapered rails we use have obviously been installed before, so have an old weld at the butt end. This has to be cut off, as we cannot have two welds next to each other. This could lead to fractures.
The central section is then placed into position at the end of the CWR track section. How lucky we are to have that JCB, this is heavy stuff.
Finally the first tapered rail is carefully laid into the special chairs.
They have angled plates bolted to them, which hold the rail down, but allow it to slide back and forth. The two bullhead rails in the middle just hold the whole thing together.
Time for lunch...
Lunch was in the mess coach, now safely back at Toddington. Sadly it is clear that we can't leave it out along the line, even if half a mile from the nearest access point. Jim treated us to sausages, chips and beans, while Mrs. B tempted us with a chocolate, and a raspberry sponge cake. Oh, the choices. Of course, you could always have both...
Back in the new PWay car park at Childswickham.
Doesn't this scene remind you of the Klondyke gold diggers doggedly climbing up the frozen hillside?
Both Toddington end breather rails are now in, and here one of the Broadway ones is being wriggled into place. The distance between them, represented by a diagonal gap, is calculated from a formula in a book.
When the rails are where they should be, they are bolted down with the nut runner.
Here it's the turn of the Malvern side.
Here's the breather joint fully installed, with central section and all 4 rails cut and clipped into place.
Beyond the sleepers continue for a few more lengths, but we've run out of rail. No worries though, more is coming on June 12th, just over a week from now. And at Gotherington there is more than a complete trainload of sleepers, all ready and waiting to be loaded.