The February work weekend was nearly lost due to snow, and the March event looked likely to follow suit, with a heavy fall first thing on Saturday morning followed by brief but persistent blizzards on Sunday. Fortunately we’re far enough into the year that the white stuff doesn’t settle for any length of time, allowing work on site to continue.
At the station, the coper course was completed up to the north end of the platform using the coper slabs delivered last month, then about a tonne and a half of the pink decorative chippings were spread behind. This tidies up the the look of the platform no end, and puts right a (minor) criticism made by the ORR Inspector when he visited last year. Thanks go to Baz Shell for doing the honours as brickie-in-charge, and for cheerfully putting up with a barrage of “that’s not level”, “time to go to Specsavers” etc. Thanks also to Matt Stoddon for knocking together a replacement running- in board to replace the current weather- ravaged example.
The track gang finished- off drilling and screwing down baseplates on the Stock Siding and associated headshunt (future run- round loop), allowing the Ruston and LMS wagon to carry out a couple of test runs on the former. The LMS wagon was treated to some oil in its axle boxes, no doubt the first it’s seen for a good many years! A start was made on the new points (the “Up” side end of our crossover) which will use interlaced sleepers as opposed to long timbers in order to keep the costs down. The sleepers were all laid out, the check rails placed roughly in position and the plain “belly” rails laid out on baseplates. Installing the crossing nose and the switches, together with drilling/ screwing the whole lot down, is planned for April. Last but not least, a further panel’s worth of concrete sleepers were dropped in position at the south end of the site, as we seek to extend the running line towards the limit of our current lease.
On the rolling stock front, railbus RB004 has had its troublesome starter motor replaced and is well on its way to being ready for the 2013 running season. Thanks as ever to Craig and Dave at Northumbria Rail for their continued loan of the railbus, which at the moment is the only operational passenger vehicle on our embryonic railway.