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Monday, 25 March 2013

Keeping the Line Open

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Some pictures from Network Rail show why the line was closed for a while during the weekend and the machinery needed to keep it open.   These pictures are in the area of Dent Station - the highest in England.
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Sunday, 24 March 2013

Storm force from the East and hot coffee for the snow plough driver

The weather station has recorded its strongest gust since its installation on the water tower.

57.6 mph at 1136 today, from a direction of 107 degrees.   That is storm force, more or less from the East.   For Settle, that is cold.

The railway has been closed at times over the weekend because of drifting snow.   Scheduled track works today have been shortened and snow ploughs are out again today on the line.

Pat deals with the 'contact us' messages on the Friends of the S&C website.   Yesterday she received this heart warming message from one of the heroes battling to keep the line open:

"I would just like to express my gratitude to your staff at Appleby today. Having been called at short notice to operate a snow clearing engine at Blea Moor with members of the p way staff. We were really grateful for the flask of coffee and biscuits provided as we battled to keep the line open for network rail. It restores your faith in people's kindness and left me speechless. I will be singing your praises to my bosses this week and hopefully I can repay this act of kindness!! Thanks again Willy"

(To give credit where due, the coffee will have come from the S&C Development Company's Appleby kitchen that normally services the trolleys for the S&C's the passenger trains)


The weather station on top of the tower is earning its keep

Settle weather station

click on the link to see what it's doing right now

Whilst the actual outside temperature is only just below freezing, the apparent temperature is reading -9.1 C due to a gale force easterly wind.   If I was a brass monkey I would stay indoors.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

On Telly in New Zealand

We were on telly in New Zealand last evening at 9.30pm.   Well, it was 9.30pm there.   We know because of the e-mails we have had from down under.   One was from David Cuthbert who wrote:

"Congratulations to everyone involved for such a fantastically interesting programme. We haven't been able to establish how the water got into the tank on top of the building in the first place - did it get piped and pumped from the nearby hills? If someone had time to answer this - perhaps on the blog? - I would really appreciate it."

Thank you David.   Glad you enjoyed the programme and that it travelled well.   The water got to the top of the building by gravity.   The source was a few miles up the line at Stainforth which is a hundred or so feet higher in altitude.   It came via cast iron pipes at the side of the railway line then via a valve in a manhole alongside the tower, up a pipe inside the tower and then into the tank via a float valve.   All that pipework is still in place.   No pumping was involved.   One day I shall pluck up courage and turn the big valve in the manhole and see what happens.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Some Serious Track Laying

Today we set about the serious business of laying railway track, in preparation for the mineral wagon's arrival.   This involves moving the buffers sideways by 5 feet and backwards by 6 feet as well as extending the line by 7 feet.   Wensleydale Railway permanent way man Andy Feather lives in Settle and volunteered to help with the job itself and to show me how railway line should be laid - the old fashioned way, one sleeper at a time.   He also has access to the right tools for the job.   And we are indeed doing it properly, including replacing the ferrules of the rail chair screws (top left).   The new ferrules are yellow plastic.   Most of the old ones were also plastic but two or three we made of oak; an example is sitting on the sleeper alongside a new yellow one.

We did not finish the job today but between us we dug out, levelled, laid, drilled and chaired six sleepers.   Only another four to go - hopefully during the coming week.
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Sunday, 10 March 2013

More Nuggets of Gold

This scruffy looking desk was rescued from from the skip by FoSCL volunteer Dave Moss, who has looked after Horton in Ribblesdale station (next up the line from Settle) for more years than he may care to remember - but that is another, heroic, story.

The desk was from the porter's room - not the sort of desk you sat at but a stand-up desk.   It was wall mounted with wooden front legs.   Interesting enough so far but on opening the lid . . . .

. . . .  what should we find but three foolscap handwritten sheets detailing the porters' daily duties, shift by shift.   Heaven knows when Horton in Ribblesdale (unmanned for decades but restored by the S&C Trust) last had porters of any sort - let alone by the shift!

We shall have great fun transcribing the writing - and preserving another nugget of heritage gold.
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Cracking on with the Track

Click image to enlarge

Our troublesome truck has had its last journey by rail, having been moved last week from Oakworth to Ingrow as part of a works train.   It is now alongside the Vintage Carriages Trust building - top picture.   This will enable much easier crane access when we come to take it by road.

Our good friends at the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway, besides offering us the truck, have let us have the rail components we need to extend and strengthen our track to take the wagon.   Here are the bits I collected from KWVR track supremo Arthur Walker yesterday.   They include four quite specialised rail chairs that are needed at buffers to take double width rail.   I was doubting that we would be able to source these anywhere nowadays.   Our little Honda Jazz managed the weight of cast iron but moaned a bit.

(In case you are wondering, we shall be making a substantial donation to the KWVR for the truck and the track.)

Next job is to get the track laid and ready for the truck.
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Monday, 4 March 2013

This Spring Weather

Our very odd home has hidden benefits.   Heavily insulated in parts, un-insulated in others and bristling with eco-gadgets and monitoring systems makes you face up to what the weather is doing - for good or ill.

Either through personal choice or regulatory requirements we now have:
- solar photo-voltaic panels
- massively thick roof insulation on the annex
- radon barriers under the ground floors
- rainwater harvesting
- low energy LED lighting
- high efficiency domestic appliances
- condensing gas boiler
- heat recovery ventilation
- high thermal efficiency window glass
- a bicycle
- a dog

With all this you tend to look at the fuel bills to see if it is worth it.   Because some things have only just been fitted we cannot yet come to any conclusions - but we shall.

We also have our roof mounted weather station which we discover is viewed daily by many local people.   Today, it tells me that it has not recorded any rain for the past seventeen days.   Does that ring any bells?    Remember what happened when the heavens eventually opened last year!