Eighteen joints remained to be welded on the Broadway extension, all on the fish plated section by the goods shed. Here we are welding one joint in two, to save on wear and tear but still have the flexibilty of fishplates, albeit with 120ft lengths.
In the picture above the vans are strung out along the length of track where the welds were due to go.
A problem issue was the fact that the rails had crept along since we laid them, only a few weeks earlier. We were most careful to apply the correct spacing between the rails laid, but it wasn't there any more today, despite all the Pandrols that we put in. Those temperature changes are very powerful.
The first job then was to move the rails along a bit using wedges.
On the bridge over the Childswickham Road you can see an example of the incorrect spacing.
It's closed right up in the foreground. The one in the background is +/- OK.
This one in fact is going to be a weld as it's right on top of the bridge. We don't want too much hammer blow up here.
Pandrols have been removed on several stretches like here to facilitate the rearrangement, but now they all have to be put back again. That is a lot slower, we noticed, sadly.
The welding process demands its own spacings (much wider) so they always cut a slice off to get a space big enough to receive the flow of metal from above.
We admired the neatness with which these experienced people cut off that slice, using a torch with little wheels on.
The welding now seems to be done with single use crucibles, and it suffices to pop one on and start the intense chemical reaction inside with a taper from above.
Best stand a bit further back then.....
The reaction quickly zooms up to 3000 degrees Centigrade and the metal runs down into the gap, spilling over into two cups left and right. That's what's burning fiercely here.
Elsewhere today the GWSR PWay gang took up the track on Gotherington Skew bridge, which is due some regular repair and maintenance with its deck exposed. Trains have stopped running now.
Here they are taking some track components to the recycling skip, as the track will be relaid over the bridge after the works with more modern materials.
In the picture you can also see that the ballast drop a couple of weeks ago has been levelled off by Stevie in the mini digger. More ballast will be dropped shortly.
The last job after welding is to get the grinder out to smooth off the excess metal on top, and to make it undetectable by the passing wheel.
This is what it looks like when it's finished. very neat, and smooth.
The two adjacent Pandrols were not fitted so as to allow the crew the chance to position the two rail ends exactly in line. All these welds still need to have the pads, plastics and Pandrols put back on. A job for next week.
At the end of the day we were happy that all the welds had been completed, despite the initial misgivings about the expansion and contraction of the metal moving the gaps about. All is now well; there's just more clipping up to do (not to mention the 3/4 clips to be put in near Peasebrook on the last CWR stretch). So plenty of work still on our plate.
Before going home, we popped in to Broadway station for a chat and a picture, which we will share with you here.