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Month: October 2013

New Passing Loop ?>

New Passing Loop

Testing the finished loop
Testing the finished loop passing loop with SImplex 21282 and Hunslet 7446

On 15th June we used Jack’s Land Rover to haul the two prefabricated Y points out of Euroclydon tunnel, where they had been rusting away propped up against one side of the tunnel. Then on 22nd June Pat drove his Land Rover up from Devon, on the way collecting a 2 axle trailer from Chris at Old Sodbury. With a Tirfor winch the points were hauled onto the trailer and moved to Lea Bailey (the pressed steel sleepers of the two sets of points had locked together and we could not separate them, so the two were loaded as one item!) When we had an excavator at Lea Bailey over the first weekend in July, we used it to separate the two sets of points. And then started thinking about how to use them. After some thought, a run-round loop seemed to be the best option as it would give use much improved flexibility in use of locos and wagons by being able to shunt them around without so much pushing by hand.

So in August we started building up the soil level either side of the track where we were going to lay the loop and also experimented with the jim crow from Clearwell to see how easy it would be to bend the rails required for the loop. It was easier than expected, although the 35lb/yd rails that we have are probably the heaviest we can do with the jim crow that we used. (The 35lb rails were from the stock that we unearthed earlier in the culvert by the mine site boundary.)

Then over the following two weeks we stocked up with sleepers from the stack in Euroclydon tunnel, and new bolts and second hand fishplates from Alan Keef. The point operating arms were straightened and point blades made operable. Concrete was cleaned off the points.

Finally on 24th August we started taking up the track where the loop was to be laid and put the first set of points in place. By the end of the day two pairs of straight rails had also been laid. By the 26th the second set of points was in place and one side of the loop had been laid (but not yet spiked to the sleepers or fish-plated). On 1st September the final rails were laid and we tested it with the push trolley. In a couple of places the gauge was slightly out, and was adjusted with a sledgehammer. Over the following two weeks, the rails were spiked to the sleepers and on the 12th Gareth, the blacksmith from Longhope, came and cut holes for the fish-plate bolts to enable fishplating to be completed. After a final check of the track, both tracks of loop were tested with both locos and some wagons a week before the open day. Since then one damaged and worn point blade has been replaced with a new one cut from a piece of 35lb rail (the points are otherwise slightly smaller rail section).

Now the loop is proving useful and is used almost every time we have the locos running.

Open Day September 2013 ?>

Open Day September 2013

Attempting to start the Hunslet
Pat Clifford attempting to start Hunslet flameproof locomotive 7446

On 18th September enlarging of the car park at Lea Bailey was completed. It looked enormous — an estimated 16 cars could comfortably be fitted in. Way too large, surely? But on Saturday 21st, it was full to overflowing, with at least 7 cars parked on the edge of the road. So the sales team on the stand at Alan Keef had obviously been very persuasive, helped no doubt by the flyer handed out to visitors to Alan Keef’s site.

What did they see at Lea Bailey? Not as much as we had hoped, as the Hunslet (HE7446) refused to start. One of the group, Pat Clifford, who stopped off for the day on his way home to Devon from a holiday in Scotland, spent all day working on it. He attracted quite an audience at times, particularly when he used the compressor to charge up the loco’s air reservoir and then the air starter to try and get the engine going. After checking over the fuel and the exhaust systems, he decided that the problem was the exhaust conditioner, which was out of water and also heavily sooted up. At least at the end of the day we knew what needed doing.

Meanwhile the Simplex was as reliable as ever, driven by Ben Elvey who was shunting wagons around. And at the end of the day the new run-round loop proved its value in enabling the loco to take wagons one or two at a time to their correct locations for the site to be secured.

While all of this activity was going on, Jen was doing a brisk trade providing refreshments, handing out leaflets, selling booklets — and bricks! Several visitors were interested in some of the old bricks lying around the site (having been brought in some years ago as hardcore). So they were told that there was no charge for the bricks, but a donation to Society funds would be appreciated.

Our volunteers seemed to spend all day talking to many interesting people, telling them what we had done, what our plans and hopes were, and answering their questions.