Watercress Line

Windows 9 discovered at Ropley

Well what will the weather throw at us today; in the last couple of days we've had pouring rain, settling snow and heavy frosts to keep our un-prepared country paralysed as usual.. Kids not going to school because 'elf and safety say it's not safe for the poor dears; crikey, us old men that mainly comprise the Ropley MPD Volunteer Wednesday Gang (and, I suspect, every other weekday gang) had to go to school whatever the weather. We built slides in the playground, lobbed snowballs at each other and had FUN in the freezing Winter.
No snowballs or slides at Ropley today, it was just wet, as it turns out...

There was some consternation in the mess as we gathered for our briefing and first cuppa of the day; there was no cake in evidence for our morning break! Welsh Pete arrived with his just as we were going to work but Kieran was conspicuous by his absence.. Starvation loomed! Never fear, by 10-00 Kieran had delivered not one but two Xmas cake offerings but had gone home again as he has a stinking cold.. There's dedication..
The 9F is still being worked on in almost every conceivable direction and today was no exception. part of the front running plate was ready to be re-fitted as the valve and piston covers on the right of the loco had been fitted earlier in the week. A fairly straightforward job for three of us took us up to tea time.
As usual these days, there are regular small gangs continuing with bogies, copper pipes and painting so these get reported only when particular milestones are reached. None were today!!! The rest of us pick up whatever Mark, Matt and Paul ask us to do; Russian John helped by Jim were lighting a warming fire in our visiting Black Five, Aussie John, Roy and George "knocked up" a chimney cover to keep the rain out of the Standard Five residing in the head shunt and with a couple of others I was asked to remove the axles from a large trailer that staffer Andy had built for the railway a couple of months ago; apparently, they needed lengthening a bit...

Not a difficult job you'd imagine; we jacked the thing up, made it safe on blocks then attempted to remove the eight bolts holding the brackets to the trailer frame. my God, they were tight! After a bit of huffing, puffing and cursing, we got some light on the subject and found the nuts welded to the bolts... No wonder we couldn't shift them! It did, however, give me an excuse to use my favourite tool, the gas axe after first hoisting the trailer on it's side for better access...
It bucketed down after lunch which kinda dampened any enthusiasm for working outside so there were a few early baths with not that much to keep us all busy in the sheds.. There is a sort of drift to an early afternoon tea, followed by "see y'all next week". It was almost dark when I left about 3pm; roll on Summer; I hate these short days, though next Wednesday will be the eve of this year's shortest day. And, incidentally, the Wednesday Gang Xmas lunch. So another short day next week; I dunno how we have the nerve to turn up some weeks!!!
So I guess it's Merry Xmas from me, and Happy New year from him; I'm working most of Xmas between "the day" and the New Year; (punters still want to watch their sport on tele and it gets me out of the house) but I will be back rarin' to go in 2018.

Until then, from your Ropley Scribe.


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