Using up the last of the new sleepers, with the exception of a few saved for finishing off the long siding behind the shed, our hardy volunteers set about relaying the section of track between the passing loop and the curve leading to the mine. The original sleepers used to construct the railway 20-odd years ago were ex British Rail standard gauge timber sleepers cut in half and most still retained their cast-iron chairs for holding the rails, simply turned over “out of sight and out of mind” as the old saying goes.
Working one rail-length at a time the sleepers were changed and the opportunity was taken to dig down and lower the hardcore base on the trackbed slightly to allow a decent thickness of ballast underneath the new sleepers. This improves drainage, keeps weeds down, and allows the individual sleepers to be “jacked and packed” to remove dips and hollows in the track.
During the digging stage, a large number of whole bricks were found, these being part of the hardcore that was used to build up the original trackbed for the narrow gauge line to be constructed. It was suggested on more than one occasion that the gold mine could easily be re-opened as a brick mine! Whilst the track gang was busy lining and levelling using the MK1 eyeball, Rob was using the disc-cutter to separate the chairs from the sleepers. These were reserved for future use, with the better sleepers being kept for jacking blocks and the old chairs saved for a future project.
The jim-crow was used to improve the lead-in to the curve and once the trackwork was complete it was duly tested by the Simplex and also the Eimco rocker shovel operating under its own power thanks to Nick’s portable compressor.