New Points

We have recently taken delivery of two sets of points which will be used as part of track relaying work over the next few years.

A fully loaded delivery lorry arrives in our car park, click for larger view Managing Director Nigel Bowman supervises unloading of the first point section, click for larger view Point unloading underway, click for larger view Point unloading underway, click for larger view The last point section is unloaded, click for larger view

The two points were both manufactured approximately 90-100 years ago, and were originally used on the Penrhyn Quarry Railway in North Wales, where our locomotive Lilian was also used. When the PQR closed much of its track was bought by the Ffestiniog Railway, and our two points were laid at south end of Minffordd station on the FR. After 50 years in use, the points have become too worn for the long and heavy trains run on the Ffestiniog and so were removed and replaced with brand new points earlier this month. However, as our trains are much lighter than those run on the Ffestiniog, from our perspective the points still have many years of serviceable life left. As there was a very real possibility the points would be cut up for scrap, we were happy to purchase them and give them a further lease of life.

Our 'new' bullhead points, dismantled into 3 sections each, temporarily stored in our car park, click for larger view The frog/crossing end of one of the 'new' bullhead points, click for larger view

The points themselves are quite unusual for a narrow gauge railway as they are made with bullhead rail, rather than the flat-bottom rail which is in near universal use across the world. We already have one set of bullhead rail points plus plain bullhead track laid at Newmills station, also from the Penrhyn Quarry Railway via the Ffestiniog Railway. In fact we believe that we may even be the last narrow gauge railway using bullhead points in our mainline (the Ffestiniog still have some in use in sidings).

The blades and locking mechanism on one of the points, click for larger view Our 'new' bullhead points, dismantled into 3 sections each, temporarily stored in our car park, click for larger view

One of the points is intended to be put in at the western end of Launceston station, next to the small locomotive shed. This would allow the point currently in that position to be moved to replace a near life-expired point elsewhere on the railway. However, our “new” bullhead point is much larger than the point it will be replacing. Points are often referred to by the angle that the two rails make when they meet at the point frog. The current point is a 1 in 5, whilst the replacement bullhead point is a 1 in 12! The bullhead point is much longer and will start further west once it is laid, whilst the run round loop will require some adjustment to match up with the point.

The track gang measure the location for one of the points, click for larger view View of where one of the points will be laid; it will start at the joint nearest the camera on the left-hand rail, click for larger view