A bit of behind the scenes info goes to break the magic – its all in the planning!

You remember that first post from my first visit to Kirklees Light Railway? One of the tasks I had was to help out replacing sleepers. I was left impressed that the guy putting the bolts into the new sleepers, seemed to do it perfect every time, and I couldn’t see how – well, that magic has been broken today, I now know the secret, I know how this guy was doing it, but we will get to that in due course.

This post is 2 days at Kirklees Light Railway all rolled into one. I was at a loose end last Thursday, I had booked the day off work to look after our son, before my mum offered to take him. Tough choice now presented itself, a day at work, or a day at the railway – who was I kidding, a few e-mails to the railway and I was set for a day driving the miniature train, with a hope of some other bits and bobs thrown in.

So, arriving around 10, the final preparations for the days running were under way. Just been told I was to be put forward for my guard training, I took an interest in the check lists being done.

I took a ride up to Shelley, again, taking note of what was happening on the train, announcements etc. On my return I was asked to go and drive the miniature train. It wasn’t on the rails yet, so I had to prepare it.

The train lives on a wooden trolley, along with its 2 car batteries which it uses for power. Dragging the trolley the 100 feet or so from the workshop to the platform is quite a difficult task, the weight of the batteries alone is 30 to 40 kg, and then the engine itself is quite a bit more than that, and the bumpy terrain and the task becomes a real struggle.

Anyway, I got the engine to the track, and with some help, got the engine onto the tracks, and then loaded and connected the batteries.

The carriages are kept in a building next to the track, we reversed the train around and connected the carriages, and we were all set.

There I stayed for the day, and quite a good day, at 50p per person, I reckon a good 50 quid was taken, which surprised me for a Thursday afternoon.

Onto Saturday, and the day the magic was broken. My morning was taken up by the little miniature train, and I had another volunteer come and help out, only thing was, in 3 hours, we must have taken only 3 or 4 pounds, it was empty this morning, with most people turning up this afternoon, just in time for when the Barnsley Model Railway Club turned up to run one of their engines.

This freed me up to go and see what was happening around the station. Still a newbie, I am still having to rely on being instructed as to what is going on, and how I can help. With not a lot to really do on my own, I was at a loose end. I found out how to clean out the steam engine tubes, which is a filthy task, but absolutely vital to the operation of the engine.

I was then teamed up with a young volunteer, a task which brings me back to the first paragraph, it was now I found out how the guy knew where to put the bolts in the new sleeper.

With a pile of, I would estimate 100 sleepers – get ready for a geeky bit – all 36”, 7” by 3”, and cut from Douglas Fir trees, we were given a template and a drill, and 7 holes later, the marks and pilot holes were cut ready for screwing in the bolt – it wasn’t pure guess work, it was small pilot holes – makes perfect sense now – why risk splitting the wood without a pilot hole!


Anyway, with that knowledge, we blasted through the pile of sleepers in around 2 hours, and we could stand back afterwards and congratulate ourselves on a good job well done – except it was me who broke the drill bit in the wood – feeling rather sheepish and silly, I recovered the broken bit and discarded, the other guy doing it perfect each time – I am blaming a weak drill bit, nothing at all to do with my drilling skills!


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