February traditionally sees the first big work weekend of the year up at Whitrope. The 25th/ 26th, while a bit damp, were nowhere near as bad as last year (when we had a blizzard on the Saturday morning). The task in hand was the construction of the first three panels of concrete sleepered track south of the Golden Bridge. The rails laid out in December were lifted onto the sleepers using nothing more than jacks, blocks of wood, pinch- bars and good old muscle power! The sleepers were then spaced so as to be the correct distance apart before the rails were clipped- up. These were the G44 sleepers donated to us from Carlisle back in 2010, and they use a fastening known as a “Fastclip”. After a few niggles, the gang got the hang of the special tool which is used to install the clips, and by Sunday lunchtime the general consensus was that the Fastclip is a huge improvement over the Pandrol clips we used on the north side of the bridge.
At the north end of the platform, Joe and Peter have been carrying out some drainage improvements, with the result that the soft spot just beyond the new steps has dried out no end. Joe is now installing a new catchpit in the cess which will connect up with the cross- drain installed way back in 2008. Some concrete catchpit rings were delivered to site to assist with this.
On the station front, we’ve just taken delivery of 36 concrete coper slabs, with the intention of getting the front platform face completed by the summer.
Thanks as always to the volunteers who manned our stand at the SECC on Friday, Saturday and Sunday (a few individuals did one day at the show and one day at Whitrope). Special mention must go to Matt, who managed all three days at the show, as well as Ian Crooks who sorted the stand out and looked after the “mobilisation and demobilisation”.
The show is traditionally a good earner for us at an otherwise quiet time of the year. It also gets the word out about the tremendous progress the project is making, as well as drumming up new members and potential volunteers.