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Permanent Way Progress

2011 Concrete sleeper installation March 2011-
Most of our permanent way work is carried out on Saturdays between Christmas and Easter. On these post Christmas Saturdays it could be expected that many times the weather would be against us, but strangely, when looking back through the Permanent Way record book it seems we have been very lucky. On only a handful of occasions, have we been completely rained off during the past few years.

Fortunately, the snow melted away and we were able to commence our 2011 engineering program on time. Apart from routine maintenance of points and fishplates, we had to replace nearly 25 timber sleepers. This task, along with a concentrated effort at clearing line-side vegetation in the cutting between Wallingford Station and the bypass, took us into the second week in February. With these mundane but essential work items completed, the P. Way team turned itís attention to a task which we have been considering for several years now. That is the replacement of the ageing steel sleepers, near the bridge at Cholsey.

pway mar 2011 When the sleepers arrived at the bridge area, we faced a couple of problems unloading them. The space between the fence and the track was too narrow for the forklift to operate in, so we had to lift the sleepers off one at a time using chains attached to the JCB bucket. David Buckingham was concerned that the JCB with its digging arm fully extended would struggle with the sleeper weight, luckily, it lifted them quite easily (see photographs of the operation in this issue).

We are not changing every steel sleeper at present, just every third one, this will ensure our track safety remains of the highest order. In subsequent years, the rest of the steel sleepers will be changed in a rolling program.

Overhaul of 'Carpenter'

Carpenter in March 2011 March 2011-
As shown in the photograph, Carpenter is now looking very much tidier, following painting in black. We've also had some success with unjamming the gearbox. Forward and reverse can now be selected. Look out for Carpenter moving very soon- we hope!

December 2009-
The overhaul of Carpenter continues. News is mixed. Unfortunately, we wasted a lot of time trying to resuscitate the starter batteries. In the end, we had to give up and buy some new ones. The difference was dramatic. The engine started easily but, after a few minutes, it started "pinking" so we shut it down to investigate. The problem is due to lubricating oil leaking into the air inlet of one of the cylinders and causing pre-ignition. The engine must not be run again until the problem has been fixed because pre-ignition puts a lot of stress on the bearings. We consulted the instruction book and found that a possible cause is a blocked air filter. Sure enough, somebody appears to have painted one of the air filters with red oxide paint and blocked most of the holes in it! We are now in process of cleaning both air filters and we are cautiously optimistic that this will cure the pinking. Another problem that has come to light is that water has got into the reversing gearbox and the piston rods on the pneumatic actuators are rusty. This may be superficial, and easily removed, but it remains to be seen whether there is further corrosion deep inside the gearbox. We have started to paint Carpenter. The planned colour scheme is like that of her twin, Walrus, which lives at Buckinghamshire Railway Centre. This is black with a white top, to represent a glass of Guinness with foam on it. we think white will be more durable than black because it will absorb less heat from the sun. Most of the black paint on top of Carpenter has peeled off. We had expected to get Carpenter running by the end of 2009 but this now seems unlikely. Our new projected completion date is Spring 2010.

May 2009- Wallingford Station Development Update

New platform extension takes shape- April 2009 At last, some real progress has been made on tidying up Wallingford Station. Over the Winter, the usual crew have been working flat out and have extended the platform by about 30 feet. We now have a complete platform with ramp, that has been fenced with GWR cast iron railings. This replaces the derelict mess of concrete that up until now greeted every train arriving in the station. There are still many hours of work to finish the platform. This includes painting the railings, putting up a GWR lamp, siting the 'Wallingford' nameboard and perhaps a bench so that people can watch the trains arrive. There are more photos of the work carried out on the Gallery page.

So what plans does the society have for the station?
We have agreed a layout that we would like to see developed on the site in the long term. We realise this make take many years to acheive, so we are improving what we can with the resources we have now. This includes making some changes to track layout and providing better facilities. We have just taken delivery of a new portacabin. This will provide us with an expanded Cafe, which will tide us over until a more permanent building is built. We plan to revamp the musuem in the old cambrian railways coach, which the cafe will vacate. The demolition of Paul's Malt Factory, 17th February 2001 Ultimately, it is hoped to provide a new station building that can house better facilities for visitors. It is likely to be a steel framed, wood clad building, that, despite modern construction methods, will still resemble a GWR style building. The time scale in which this is achieved depends on funding and the number of volunteers.

Next, we may install a long siding along back of the platform which will be used for stock storage. Building a maintainance shed is also high on our list and can be build without altering the track layout for the time being.

In the longer term, we want to rebuild the platform on a new alignment with run-round loop and station fittings. Further sidings will also be added.

Permanent Way Upgrade 2005-2008

An inspection of the permanent way at the end of last year revealed that the track-work requires significant upgrading if we want to continue to run trains in the future. Track Out- Feb 05 The worst affected section is on the Cholsey side of the Winterbrook Lane crossing, where some components of the trackwork date from the 1930s. Spot re-sleepering took place here about 5 years ago, however, the older sleepers have since deteriorated such that they require replacement.

The inspector felt that it was vital to have a plan in place and some of this work completed in time for the start of the season in 2005. With this in mind, the troops, or anyone willing to help, were mobilised after Christmas to begin the huge task of re-laying the track.

Since January 2005, there has been a team of people, toiling away every weekend out in the bleak conditions of Winterbrook Curve. A number of wooden and steel sleepers were spot re-sleepered in the first couple of weeks. This involves digging individual sleepers out of the ballast, jacking up the track and removing the sleeper. This is then replaced with a new sleeper and the track re-aligned. It sounds simple, but can be back breaking work and is very time consuming.

New Sleepers In!- Feb 05 The fact that there were more bad sleepers than good in a number of panels, combined with the prohibitive weight of the concrete sleepers, meant that a different technique was then employed. It was decided that it would be more efficient to remove the track entirely, remove the ballast, lay new concrete sleepers and then re install the rails. Due to the weight of the concrete sleepers, this is not a task that can be completed by hand. Thankfully, Tom and Dave Buckingham were able to lay their hands on a forklift/ shovel. With the aid of this, an efficient operation was established, whereby the machine was employed to shovel up the ballast and to lower the concrete sleepers into place.

08123 Leads the Pway Train- Feb 05 Excellent progress has been made in 2005 and over 300 sleepers have now been changed in this way. A further consignment of sleepers has now arrived and has been taken by train down to the works site. There are about 600 sleepers that will need changing in the not too distant future, so there is plenty more work to be done. If you donít have a bad back and would like some exercise in the fresh air then please give us a call.

© 2011 Cholsey & Wallingford Railway Preservation Society. Last updated on March 2011
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