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Permanent Way News Archive: 2002
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News Report: 31st December 2002

A further gauging trial for the dock siding occurred during the Monday shunt on the 9th December, when B4 No.96 'Normandy' shunted one of the 100 seaters the entire length of the siding. There were no clearance problems, and so shortly afterwards the siding was declared open to traffic, with only the Metropolitan set being banned. Movements out of the siding into the down yard will require the signalman's permission to pass the non-commissioned mechanical shunt signal, while in the opposite direction the existing signal will control movements from the yard to both 4 road and the dock, the driver, guard and shunter ensuring the correct route is set.

dock siding, 09/12/02
Normandy shunts a 100 seater into the dock on the 9th December (Photo © Dave Bowles).

The following Sunday saw work start in the Carriage and Wagon yard on our latest project, replacing the rails at the inspection pit. This required rails to be sourced, and these came from a short length of track to the north-east of the pit road. However, the job was made difficult by the fact that these rails were fixed into two overlapping sections, while the presence of the unrestored Stroudley 5-compartment third body on one of them complicated matters further. The latter problem was overcome by hauling the coach down to one end of the panel, which allowed access to the first, which was easily removed once all earth and vegetation had been cleared out of the way.

So far so good, but of course our luck couldn't last, and sure enough it didn't. The replacement rails Graham had found were narrower than the ones we had removed, and so the screws would not hold them down, leading to various methods being tried before settling on a technique using large washers. These had an annoying tendency to bounce off of the rail just as the screw was almost home, so after a little trial and error a method was adopted using the nut runner to tighten each screw as much as possible, before releasing it slightly by half a turn and then re-tightening by a further quarter to ensure the washer was in full contact with the rail.

Once the northernmost panel was in place, the coach could be lifted onto the new rails one end at a time enabling the southern rails to be removed. Whereas the previous panels had overlapped each other, the new panels had to join up, and so the sleepers had to be barred over. As dusk drew in and in the headlights of the loadall, the east rail of the southern panel was installed, with the west rail being prepared when an end to proceedings for the day was called.

Dock siding, 29/12/02 In the C&W works, 29/12/02
Left: Looking north at Horsted on the extremely wet morning of Sunday 29th December with the dock siding housing LSWR 320 and SECR 1050 (both actually creations of the SR, with old bodies adapted to fit onto new longer underframes). These will only reside in the dock while equipment and stores are transferred, the most important being the seats for Maunsell Droplight open third 1336. On the left the dip on 3 road that was tackled at the end of September is starting to go down again after the intensive Santa service combined with recent heavy rains. Right: Julian Plows and Tony Frost cleaning fishplate bolts in the Carriage works later the same day.

Although it had originally been intended for this work to continue on Sunday 29th December, heavy rain combined with Graham being involved with work on the hand-crane meant that we spent the day in the warmth of the Carriage works. In preparation for laying the new Ardingly siding, John Beaumont, Julian Plows, Tony Frost and myself collected a large quantity of fishplate bolts from the salt yard in order to give them a thorough clean and re-work the screw threads before they are put to use.

News Report: 10th December 2002
from Paul Norris

Sunday 8th December started in the traditional way of drinking tea and eating biscuits to formulate a plan, in the C&W mess room at 08.30 while the larger kettle (Normandy 96) prepared itself for the dayís shunting in Horsted yard. The assembled volunteers started to clean up the three wheelsets ready for their re-instatement to the Milk Tanker while another team prepared the Queen Mary (QM) Brake van in readiness for the removal of its Southern bogies for a complete and thorough service. It is hoped that the Kingscote team (working at Horsted C&W) will have this Brake van back in service by next May such that brake van rides up and down the re-laid Ardingly spur can be provided.

Shunting the crane, 08/12/02 Shunting the crane, 08/12/02
The crane is shunted into position (Tony Frost).

Once the rail mounted crane had been shunted and positioned on the parallel track to the QM, the extension feet were lowered and levelled on sleeper timbers. The Boom and Jib mechanism were manoeuvred, such that we could lift the Southern section of the QM away from its bogie. At first the Central spindle would not release, so after lunch and general cogitation, two air jacks were used either side of the frame. Success the frame and bogie separated and the wheelset was rolled out South.

This left us with only 2 Ĺ hours of daylight to fully install the three wheelsets and axle boxes to the Milk Tanker. Again Bruce and Miss Groom, meticulously shunted the crane around with 96 such that it was over the inspection pit parallel to the Milk Tanker. Alan and Tony had polished the axles ready for their reunion with the frame. Extreme caution was utilised with the Milk Tanker due to its delicate rarity. In spite of Robert Robertís suggestions that we start with the middle set, the North set was installed in under the hour. The middle wheelset decided to test us, after the crane realignment South. The South set were put on using the headlights from the Load-haul and hand held Torch as Dusk had passed us by. It was amazing that the A frame on wheels just rolled out after the chocks were removed as it had been in position for a long while!

Milk Tanker, 08/12/02 Milk Tanker, 08/12/02 Milk Tanker, 08/12/02
Work underway on installing the wheelsets and axle boxes to the Milk Tanker (Tony Frost).

All in all a very good day again, lots of thanks to everyone, for their hard work diligence and Safe working, a credit to all volunteers on the Bluebell. Next Sunday, replacement of the rail over the Inspection pit in Horsted C&W yard, provided enough Fishplates and bolts are sourced. Further track adjustments on the Flat rail Section to the North East of the old Paint shop in Horsted C&W yard. This work is likely to continue on Sunday Dec 22, before the start on the Ardingly track. Plenty of sleepers have arrived in the Salt Yard, which just require the flat-bottom plates removing, prior to being turned over re-drilled and Bullhead chairs attached.

News Report: 1st December 2002

The first Sunday in December saw the Kingscote gang in action again, but the weather had also heard December had arrived, and provided constant rain throughout the morning. We began by taking the recently serviced Wickham trolley southwards to renew our association with the joints on the section between Dean's crossing and New Coombe bridge, but the increasing rain and an early service train from Sheffield Park meant that we only tackled one joint before heading back to Kingscote. While Graham returned the trolley to the yard at Horsted Keynes, we began tidying up the ballast on the loop and main lines at Kingscote.

This was accomplished just after mid-day, which coincided with the end of the rain, and of course, lunchtime ! Problems over lack of access to tools at Kingscote led to a hasty change of plan, with some of the gang jumping onto 75027's train to head down to Horsted Keynes, the rest following on by car. In some glorious sunny periods, we continued on from Julian and Tony's efforts last week on spreading out the ballast in the dock siding, as well as lifting and packing the remainder of the siding. The east side was tackled first, jacking the track up with use of the site boards, before the cant stick made an appearance so the west side could be levelled. A few extra joint adjustments later and the entire siding had been straightened and levelled (combing today's effort with those of the past few weeks), but there was still plenty of ballast left to spread out.

Dock Siding, 1/12/02 Dock Siding 19/05/02 Dock Siding, 1/12/02
Left: The Dock siding this afternoon looking south, showing just how much progress has been made since the early summer (centre). Right: The view from the south end.

By the end of the day, all the ballast from the drop had been spread out and we found ourselves starting to dig holes again. Most of the south section of the siding still requires ballast, and it is possible that further attention to the joints will be needed once a few movements have been made in and out of the siding. Finally, the gauging trial last week has revealed that the Mets are the only set that will be unable to use the siding, in their current state at least, since their running boards are too close for comfort to the dock wall !

News Report: 15th November 2002
from Paul Norris

Sunday 3rd November 2002

A delayed start occurred on this day due to the Wickham trolley being inoperable, wasting over an hour of Graham and Julianís time at Horsted Keynes. The tools were loaded into Grahamís van at Horsted and the team walked from Kingscote to New Coombe bridge, checking the track for loose keys and the fishplate bolts after the Tamper's work on Ingwersons curve. A lightening strike had hit the P Way portable at Horsted, which also affected the signal box, so the first train of the day was delayed. The first job involved adjusting the soak away drains on the East Side at West Hoathly station which had overflowed by the earlier rain as well as being contaminated with diesel from a spillage in the adjoining brickyard.

The main thrust was on lifting and re-aligning the Southern approach to New Coombe bridge, which was completed by lunchtime. After lunch the excess ballast from a hopper drop the previous month, which had been disturbed by the Tamper, was levelled and re-adjusted using manual shovel packing, with the excess removed and laid on the section between the bridge and Deanís crossing. An enjoyable and rewarding day when one admires the track South from New Coombe bridge to West Hoathly, level track joints and ballast removed from sleepers. Apologies for the lack of photoís due to the inclement weather.

Sunday 10th November 2002

The main job of the morning was to lift the Queen Mary brake and Milk Tanker, such that their wheelsets could be attended to using the rail crane. Unfortunately the weather and railway politics conspired against us, so the Light engine and Alanís help were cancelled. With the assembled team, it was decided at 09.00 to start on the lifting and re-ballasting of the dock siding at Horsted.

A datum line was drawn on the dock wall and the team started to lift the entire line Northwards with Granite ballast. Hopefully this will be finished off in traditional Brighton ballast? Excessive use of Sight boards and cant stick resulted in three panels of track being completed, before dusk. Thanks to Mr Hailes for helping after lunch. A couple of the fish plate joints will require shims adding this Sunday when it is hoped more ballast will be delivered, especially as the third hand Load-Haul has arrived.

If you have a few hours (or more !!) free, please pop along and help us this Sunday (Nov 17) on the Southern section of the Dock siding. We will meet in the carriage works messroom at 9am. The ĎInsect mení with Malcolm and Mark have effected the repairs to the Wickham so this will be running for the next track gang from Kícote 09.00 Sun Dec 01.

Photos will follow with a full report from this Sundayís action early next week.

News Report: 9th October 2002

The past two Sunday's have seen the p-way gang tackle regular track and lineside maintenance work around Horsted Keynes and Kingscote. As September was a five Sunday month, a special gang was convened at Horsted Keynes on the 29th to tackle the substantial twist just south of the platform on 3 road outside the signalbox, but various setbacks delayed progress. It had originally been hoped to drag a hopper out of the yard to get some much needed ballast to the twist, but this proved impractical due to the train movements of the day. Instead, Birch Grove which had arrived light engine to work the 11.17 HK-SP, was borrowed to shunt the hoppers around the yard so that there was a clear path for the diesel Wickham to leave.

Birch Grove shunts the yard, 29/09/02 The twist in 3 road, 29/09/02
Left: Birch Grove shunts the yard at Horsted Keynes on Sunday 29th September 2002. Right: the twist in No.3 road before any remedial action was taken - compare this with No.2 road on the left to see the scale of the problem ! (Click on each picture for a larger version)

With the Loadall out of action, the only way to fill up the Wickham's trolley with ballast was to resort to wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow load, since about one and a half tons were required. By early afternoon however, we were ready to offload it all onto 3 road, and this was completed before a late lunch when Graham demonstrated some smart handling of the Wickham to avoid service trains and the Golden Arrow! The intensity of the train service meant that the twist couldn't be tackled until after the last train had departed, and so the afternoon was spent tackling two dipped joints on and just north of New Road bridge.

At about twenty past five, a start was made on lifting the problem section, which spanned almost two panels of track. As the night drew in, and despite the best attempts of the clay to swallow the jacks, the track was eventually straightened out to an acceptable cant, for the time being at least. Sincerest thanks to Lewis for the tea and Peter for the cakes !

Hill Place Viaduct 06/10/02 For a change... 06/10/02 Photo © Tony Frost
Left: Hill Place Viaduct after recent vegetation clearance. Right: 'Just as long as it doesn't corner too fast!' Some of the gang enjoy their bus ride to Kingscote (photo © Tony Frost). (Click on each picture for a larger version)

The following Sunday saw the usual meeting of the Kingscote gang, but with Graham absent with a recurrence of his leg problem, the original plan of action to work on the track in the tunnel had to be abandoned. Instead, we investigated the northern extension to see if any lineside clearance was required, and made our way up towards the tip. The lack of rain in the past month and the clearance of a path across the tip made this a lot easier than our previous group outing northwards. After viewing the new fencing and recent vegetation clearance around Hill Place viaduct, we continued on to East Grinstead station in order to catch the 473 bus back to Kingscote. It must be emphasised that there is absolutely no access to the Viaduct as it is a working site - we made our way around the base and along the road to the station. Similarly, access to the extension itself is not allowed so please do not explore.

After realising that our services would be put to better use nearer to Kingscote, we were soon stuck into a busy afternoon of vegetation clearance alongside the siding to the north-east of the station. This siding houses the footbridge obtained from the Wimbledon to Croydon Tramlink conversion which was to be used at West Hoathly, the steam crane, open wagons and a brake van. Nature had almost totally blocked the path along the siding, and so a concerted effort was made to re-establish a pathway for future Shunter pilots to obtain access. To end the day copious amounts of scaffolding and fittings from Project X (carriage restoration) at Kingscote were returned to the store.

My thanks to Paul Norris for his help in compiling this report.

Return to the main P-way News Page, or see the page about the dock siding, which was reinstated during the second half of the year.

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Last updated 6th January 2003 by Jon Bowers, with grateful thanks to Paul Norris, Tony Frost, Richard Salmon and Dave Bowles.
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