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High Level Tack Refurbishment,

Agreed at the January 2012 Board Meeting.


by Mike Bentley

For some time now there has been concern about the condition of the high level track.  The cement in between the blocks and track base has deteriorated over successive winters to the extent that it was considered that the most sensible way forward was to strip and completely refurbish it.   It is around 30 years since it was originally built and well before the ground level; the complete rebuild and extension of which was finished last year.  Also like the ground level track, the signal cabling will be replaced and put into trunking rather than as now leaving the cabling dangling dangerously below the track base.

Mike Bentley has volunteered to head up the rebuild/refurbishment.

The following notice was sent to Club Members asking for volunteers.

"I have been asked to lead the renovation of the high level track project. As you can see we no longer have a usable high level track. Beams had to be removed ready for re-positioning. About a third of them will need to be removed. We feel movement is due to extreme heat / cold. Affected ones face south - I think. The track will all have to come off and be relayed with new sections in places. Please warn everyone that the track is not useable. We hope to have it back in use by Spring. Please contact Mike if can help him. He is in the club email /phone list"

January 12th 2012 we start the project 

January 15th 2012

To clean up the concrete parts, we use a well bured bolster chisel. The pillar (no18 bit) and a top beam. All  were cast FREE by the local quarry. Stuart called in every morning

going to work with his trailer and picked up a set, dropped the trailer off and on to work. If you look at the 30 years ago and picture 3rd down the page you can see the dough nuts- no jam type.

I am not sure but I think the dough nut is the correct way up as well. So the (no18) is sitting on the top of it. See  picture on the 30 years you can just see the dough nut & a bit of wood.

22nd January 2012

25th January 2012

On Sunday the 25th  I was delighted to be able to talk to Peter McMillian about the structure and planning of the raised level track. As he was part of the team that designed and built it he had original plans, measurements and structural details. This was most useful in planning the way forward with the project.

Having removed quite a few beams and some lengths of track we were able to check the stability of the concrete supports. One was found to rock so it was decided to expose it to investigate the cause. I had discovered that the top visible support was sitting on a doughnut ( being bolted to it) that was in turn sitting on a concrete slab. The problem was the bolt appeared to have become too long – or the mortar between the doughnut and the top support had crumbled.

It was decided to remove as much of the remaining mortar as possible fit spacers to level the block to put the bolt under tension. This done we put fresh mortar in and added concrete as a support in a ring around the structure. We will reinstate the grass- honest.

We can now consider re-instating the beams using similar materials to previous and done in such a way as to allow some lateral movement.

We were very lucky to be loaned an ‘A’ frame system by David Osborne – who even painted it. This will enable us to place the beams in position with ease. (Our poor chairman suffered having lifted them off by hand).

There will be lots to do and there are many questions to be answered but I am sure – with all the help and good will ( not to mention advice) it will be sorted.

Mike Bentley    

Mike, assisted by John and Peter dug out the soil around the loose doughnut on the raised level track, and after re-alignment, re-concreted it back in position.

31st January 2012

A busy day today. Discussion with Bill and Mark regarding the signal cable runs and the decision to try to make use of original wiring. Bill then measured up for the length of trunking we would need. John filled in the excavation we made last week with frozen turf. Chris and I cut up lengths of DPC to cover the tops of the pillars before the beams were to go back in place. With lots of help the 'A' frame was put together complete with block and tackle and one by one the beams were cleaned of any remaining mortar and hoisted / lowered back in position. The 'A' frame worked very well in making the job safe and manageable.
The next job will be to level them up using shims before fixing them in place using mainly the original method.
Thanks to everyone that helped today.