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Ffestiniog Railway Society
Cymdeithas Rheilffordd Ffestiniog



07 March 2015


Our task was to recover the cabinets, which although externally very bent, had protected the equipment within quite well with little damage. In excess of 20 cables entered the bases and these required disconnection, recording, labelling and protection from the elements. It took until mid-afternoon to complete this operation.

On our return to Minffordd, we were initially held at Cae Pawb for about an hour whilst new equipment was being installed by fellow S&T folk, during which we undertook a safety inspection on the Cherry Picker since that had become overdue. Then we briefly stopped at Pole 40, alongside the cemetery to change a couple of broken insulators spotted on the outward journey.

Damaged Cabinets


Always expect the unexpected and this working party was to be no exception. Not an attack from mother nature this time, thank heavens! But damage caused by a deficiency of friction between tarmac and rubber.

We enjoyed a good variety of work, coupled with a similar variety of weather.

Pont Croesor

Not a location commonly associated with the JASPER’s, apart from maybe, a pole route rebuild project presented on April 1st!

In what was a rare event, we took the S&T train to Pont Croesor to attend to a pair of location cabinets mounted close to the main road, which had been destroyed by a motorist heading south on the B4410 who was unable to negotiate the right angled bend as it crosses the WHR. A Clio lost control on the bend which sent it careering through the path of the railway and into two location cabinets, which were uprooted and badly damaged in the impact.

Boston Lodge entrance

Boston Lodge – Works entrance

Some years ago, we installed a catenary over the gated entrance which had dangly bits to help protect the telegraph wires from vehicle impact.

A few months ago, the whole lot was destroyed by a lorry not making it within the height limit. One of the poles complete with stay rod base, was heaved out of the ground and dragged away.

The soil is really only sand, so not a lot of resistance was offered, which at least prevented major damage to the components. We had to dig a new pole hole and another for the stay block to sit in. All this took place in gale force winds and driving rain. Suffice to say that we got a good soaking.

Pole Route Safety Inspection

Our policy is to conduct a full survey of all our poles every 5 years. Our last formal inspection was back in July 2010, so one was now due.

With a dry day forecast, essential if you hope to put pen to paper, we headed off to Moelwyn Tunnel North. There was a small unfinished job to complete there, suspending the telecoms cable on the portal inside wall.

With this done, we split into two teams and set about the inspection, heading off towards Boston Lodge. Each pole was examined for base rot, pole head condition, stay wire condition and any other faults. The works train leap frogged the teams and we made steady progress down the line, making Tan-y-Bwlch for lunch.

After we’d refuelled, one team started from TYB and the other was taken to Bryn Mawr to start their inspection. The timings worked well and we rendezvoused at Rhiw Goch.

By late afternoon the final leg to Boston Lodge had successfully been achieved together with a number of tired feet from a day of ballast walking. We just have the section from Moelwyn Tunnel to Glan-y-Pwll to complete next time, but at least the bulk of the work and the key open wire sections have been completed.

Insulator damage on Pole 40

Pole change – Ty Fry No.67

Following on from our inspections, the woodpeckers have been at it again in the Ty Fry area. Two poles, 67 & 72 have both received major attacks. Some 6 nest holes peppered No.67 and another 4 in pole 72. These are significant cavities in the pole and will have weakened them.

The decision was taken to change Pole 67. The train was prepared and we headed off the short distance to do the change. First the cross arms were removed and then the catenary cable that hangs lower down un-bound. We used the crane to directly pull the pole out of the ground. The new pole had the step irons and earth wire fitted and then that was lifted into place and ‘screwed’ into the old hole which was at a good depth and had held its shape. The new pole was a tight fit, but it eventually reached the bottom and then it was be dressed.

There was not sufficient time to attempt a second pole change, so we took a good look at Pole 72 to assess the job. It is going to be quite difficult as there are BT wires, a jointed catenary cable and it is a tricky location on a bend. To replace it will require a day with no trains running, so will probably have to wait until next winter.

Damage on pole 68 Changing pole 68

On arrival back in the yard, the old pole was unloaded and a 1m section, containing no less than 4 nesting holes, removed. This has now been transported back to Gloucestershire and will be erected in a suitable location in the hope that local Woodpeckers will make good use of it.

Other activities

With most of the wires now in the duct alongside Minffordd mineral line, there remains an odd few which will have to be cut free from the fence. We raided Boston Lodge for some pipe suitable to sleeve the joints once the cuts have been made. Also in the same spot, some track circuit work was attended to. The cameras trained on Britannia Bridge also required attention to their adjustment.

And finally…

With major projects no longer having to take priority over our core work, it was good to be addressing the preventative maintenance again. There are a number of more minor issues resulting from our inspection and they will be attended to in the coming months.

Next W/P is on the
21st & 22nd March 2015

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