Well they did it! The “midweek gang” have slaved through heat, rain, midges and aching muscles to finish the lifting and packing of our running line. This was the last remaining task of any significance and its completion effectively draws the curtain down on the phase one works at Whitrope. Meanwhile the customary site tidying and strimming is underway to make the railway look its best on the big day.
A week to go!! The ORR inspector visited Whitrope yesterday (Friday) to cast his expert eye over our Safety Management System and site works. We extend our sincere thanks for his help, advice, suggestions and constructive criticism and look forward to his return visit in the Autumn. In the meantime, we have a number of actions to progress, including some tweaks to the Rule Book, a few minor issues to resolve on site, a properly documented “A Exam” to undertake on RB004 (in conjunction with Northumbria Rail) and completion of the training and competency assessment of the members who’ll be crewing the unit.
With regards next weekend, we need all the help we can get with car parking , buffet car and shop sales, heritage centre stewarding, site marshalling, visitor meet and greet, fund raising etc. We appeal to all volunteers and members to assist: we’ll start allocating jobs from 09:30 onwards on each day. If you can only manage a part day or even just a couple of hours, we still need you: every little helps as a certain supermarket keeps telling us!
We’re also planning a work day on Friday (29th) to complete the last minute stuff, starting on site around 10:00.
For all those who braved the rain then the midges over the weekend, we offer our sincere thanks: it really was an endurance test! Suffice to say the prevailing conditions meant we didn’t make as much progress as we would have liked, but we’ve still seen some satisfying progress over the two days.
The main task was lifting and packing the concrete sleepered track south of bridge 199, and we broke the back (an apt expression in the circumstances) of applying the correct cant, employing a mix of shovel and kango packing. With a fair amount of the ballast having disappeared under the sleepers as the cess rail was jacked- up, it was necessary to top-up the cribs and shoulder with fresh stone, and eight 1 tonne bags were emptied and spread by hand over the course of the two days. The “midweek gang” will complete the task over the coming fortnight…..
Railbus RB004 had its first faltering foray along the running line and into the platform, running out of fuel in the process! The Northumbria Rail boys have been busy preparing the unit for service, including internal cleaning, oil and filter changes and fitting a new water pump. The next stage is to measure the platform stepping distances given the unit’s narrower body profile compared to the Mk2f.
Elsewhere on site, Ian Crooks has been busy erecting the scaffolding in preparation for painting the eastern side of the exhibition coach, Duncan and his cohorts continue their labours on the Fowler and Joe has finished disposing of the old static caravan.
Mark 2 no. 1215 has been shifted up to the station platform for the purposes of carrying out gauging checks now that the copers have been laid. Vertical, horizontal and diagonal stepping distances were measured at 3 metre intervals, and the good news is that all are within the maximum limits set by the ORR. This is a key piece of compliance verification which effectively concludes our work on the platform for the time being.
Further deliveries of bagged aggregate have arrived from Cloburn Quarry. The top surface of the platform has been dressed with more of the attractive red granite chippings and is looking very tidy. Further bags of chippings and track ballast have been dropped off along the running line ready for our big lifting and packing weekend on the 17th/ 18th: Dave Smith has undertaken a cross- level survey down to the Golden Bridge, so we know where we’ve got twist faults to remedy and cant to apply.
Joe Taylor has been busy weedkilling the track and the results should be apparent later in the month. He’s also completed the summer planting in the raised beds on the platform, so our floral displays should be looking their best for the open weekend.
Dave Shell and the Northumbria Rail boys have also been busy on site, sorting out new windscreen wiper motors for RB004 and topping the batteries up with distilled water on RFO 1215.
Photos of Gorebridge courtesy of Geoff Ruderham and copyright CBR/ WRHA