Today's urgent task was to replace the track bonding wires and the wires and posts that operate the home signal No.1 at Didbrook all of which were removed prior to the lifting of the track for sleeper replacement last week.
Stage 1 was to clear ballast (of which there is plenty prior to tamping) from between two pairs of sleeper ends each side of the fishplates to enable the mounting of the drilling machine. This makes life easy to drill a pair of holes on each side for two bonding wires. Luckily every other rail joint here is welded so we only had to bond 5 joints on each side. Here's Neil C in full flow with the motorised twin drill:
A pair of bonding wires was then threaded through behind the inner fishplate and chairs, chopped to length and bent through the holes. The wires have clearance and are secured for good electrical contact by hammering in tapered pins round them. John P and Richard C followed on behind the drill:
Here's a view of the wires in place - hopefully bent sufficiently away from the ravages of the fotthcoming tamping.
We then turned our attention to fitting the two pulley wheels which take the signal wire under the track from the Cotswold side to the Malvern side where the signal is situated. This meant clearing the ballast between two sleeper ends and underneath 4 sleeper ends to give acces for bolting- a bit awkward for spannering up but a nice neat solution with the pulleys secured to the sleeper ends on steel plates:
This left the signal wire posts and pulleys to be installed. These are hammered into the ballast which usually gives them sufficient rigidity as there is very little lateral force on them an we have ensured that the runs are (almost) perfectly straight! Here's one in position with the signal wire threaded through. The longer ones of these where we go through shallow ballast into softer earth are made from short lengths of point rodding:
There were several joints of the wires to be made. Malcolm W is skilled in this "art" which I would describe as a method of metal wire plaiting! I should have taken a close-up of one. It certainly ensures that a joint is secure. He was complaining of holes in his fingers at the end. Signal wire is very unforgiving stuff even with the assistance of pliers. The last joint has to be made while keeping tension on the run. Luckily we got it right and only a small amount of adjustment was needed on the Toddington signal box adjuster to get the "pull" operating correctly.
Bring on the tamper !