Monday, 21 November 2016

Grim weather

I guess that describes it for today. Five degrees centigrade forecast, and rain all day long. The tail end of 'Angus' swept over us today, but 6 of us hoped for a few drier gaps in the weather.

When we arrived at 08.30 rain already stood in the fields and we had to park some distance away to get some hard standing to be sure of getting home afterwards. While changing into wet weather gear at the rear of the car, the driving rain got in first and you ended up wet, inside wet weather gear. No fun.

We decided to give the weather a chance to improve, and had some cups of tea in the dark container. The tea was hot, and and the atmosphere somehow 'Christmasy'.

Doughnuts were off the menu today due to problems with the supply, but instead we had mince pies. We then checked the mousetrap left last week, and booked a success for the day - we caught the mouse that had been eating our washing up sponges! The faint of heart look away now:

The timeless design of 'The Little Nipper' proved its worth once again. You can't improve on a  winning product. This little rodent won't be getting any of our mince pies. Having stopped up all the holes in the floor we could find, we are hopeful this will also be the last one we catch.

There followed a discussion in the dark about laying the slabs. Those laid at CRC2 and Broadway were handled by external contractors with special 'scissors' type grabs, but they are not available for us, so we need an alternative. This eventually led us to abandon any ideas of work at Hayles, and move on to Winchcombe, where the slabs for Hayles are currently located. We decided to have an inspection.

We want that one out first...
Half the piles were accessible, but unfortunately the other half was hidden behind several stacks of newly arrived building materials. Problem moved on to next week, too wet to think about this today.

The second pile of slabs was indeed out in front, so we tested out the MO for moving individual slabs around, creating piles with bearers (none at the moment) and getting familiar with the weight and the bars we will use to move them around.

The Telehandler was available today, so Dave jumped in (great volunteering you might think, but it is dry and has a heater) and manoeuvered around some of the slabs under the careful direction of Julian.

Of interest to us was the condition of the underside, to see if it could be used if the top side was too badly spalled.

Dave lifted the slab up high, and we peered underneath. Looked good though, this is definitely and alternative if the top is too much below par. These slabs are all of natural stone, and some have suffered from 100 years in the weather.

A further, very heavy rainstorm caused us to break off this job - there is only so much rain that you can take, even with the right clothing - and we moved into the PWay mess coach, where Paul cooked us a modest but filling lunch of bacon baps. The cooker produced quite a bit of heat, but it collected into a hot cloud above waist level, so that when you sat down, it was cold again. Bizarre. And while we ate, our trousers steamed away in front of us.

A plan to resume slab arranging (sorting good from bad, and restacking the good) was abandoned as a further heavy downpour opened up just as we were stepping outside after lunch. At 2pm we headed for home, wet, and a little frustrated.

On the way home a glimpse of headlight was espied just north of Stanway viaduct, and yes, it was the tamper out again on its second day.

It was slowly making its way past the ballast loading area at Stanton. Fortunately it is warm and dry inside the tamper, and the operator, in the rear and facing downwards to see the tines, would hardly be aware of the driving wind and rain.

The tamper is also due out tomorrow, and it looks like it will then be able to complete the existing extension section, from Toddington to the north end of Laverton loop. The Jacker / Packer is due to arrive tomorrow, and will do some work on the section just north of Laverton bridge, where there is a dip in the newly laid track. When this is sorted, the tamper should be able to proceed on to the more recently laid part of the extension.


  1. I cannot blame anyone for not wanting to work in this inclement weather. Would have been sliding around all over the place in the mud a Hayles Abbey. Many an engineering possession I remember being cancelled in my working past. Try again next week? Regards, Paul.

  2. Aren't you able to use the road-railer used at CRC to load the slabs?

  3. Hi all

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