We’ve been so used to good weather on our February weekends that it came as a shock to arrive at Whitrope in the middle of a blizzard on Saturday morning. Shortly afterwards, however, the SBC snow plough cleared the Newcastleton road, allowing the rest of our hardy band of volunteers to reach site.
The first task of the day (after making a brew) was to raise drainage catchpit no 4 with a further two concrete rings. The track over the top of the cross drain was then lifted and shovel packed to remove the historic dip at this point. With most of the existing ballast having disappeared under the sleepers, we then used the wheel barrows and some good old muscle power to add some extra stone off the stockpile.
Duncan and Andy L arrived and got stuck into the locomotive. Andy brought along some new batteries while Duncan fitted a sump plug on the bottom of the power unit (the plug was missing when we acquired the loco). The good news is that the cab light and windcreen wiper motors are now operational (!!) and filling the sump with new engine oil is just around the corner. Duncan has also been working on the side panels at home over the winter, stripping and painting them in his garage.
Sunday saw most of the snow having melted, although it remained cold and damp all day. We cut back some encroaching vegetation at the top of the driveway, readied some rails and sleepers in preparation for tracklaying into the bay platform and trimmed the ballast south of bridge 199. Thanks to the generosity of all those who responded to our ballast appeal, we’ve only got two sixty foot lengths to ballast between the loco and the platform, so if you can help us with one last big push, it would be greatly appreciated!
On the paperwork side, great strides have been made over the winter with all the documents which go to make up our Safety Management System. In particular, a new and enlarged rule book will shortly be issued to all our working volunteers. Our efforts have been given the once over by the railway inspectorate, and the good news is that we’re progressing in the right direction.
The next big work weekend will be on Saturday 19th/ Sunday 20th March.