Craig Donald, Signalling & Telecommunications Technician, talks us through some of the level crossing gate repairs the team have performed.

Over the years we have had gates made professionally for us, but they sometimes had short lives due to the timber not being very good. We have carried out small and major repairs and made brand new gates. Making new gates is now our preferred choice.

Replacing in situ the top beam and the vertical spars.

This gate, on platform 2 at Grosmont, was in a poor state all over and was also rebuilt without removing it. It's a system which works but it is easier and quicker to make a new one in the workshop. The bottom beam was replaced first and the top and vertical sections a short while later.

Typical problems around the joints. These are all at Grosmont. Where there are mortise and tenon joints and other fittings water will  get inside the joint. No matter how well the gates are made the flexing as they go across the road and hit the clapping post or road stops always breaks any waterproof seals.

At New Bridge level crossing the gates had received so many repairs over the years that there were more repairs and spliced in parts than original gate.  We found that repairs do not last very long either as we were finding the timber breaking next to the repairs, due to the way the gates hit the clapping post many times in a day.

We thought we had done an excellent job on splicing out a rotten joint but once again within a few weeks the adjacent timber had snapped. The spliced in part can be seen on the right hand side of the second photo. All of our gates are worked from a wheel and not walked across the road as would often be the case with long gates.

We have now moved onto making brand new gates instead of making repairs. The lorry is delivering a batch of timber for us to make two gates. Jim is wondering which bit goes where.

On the first photo we have laid the bits out for the New Bridge gate and marked them up so we know which piece belongs where. Same again on the second one. We are also making new NE arms.

Instead of mortise and tenon joints which are cut right through the bottom and end beams we make short stumps now to locate the timber.  With the old mortise and tenon joints you take away a sizable section of the timber where it is hollowed out which weakens it. Also on the end vertical timbers the horizontal joints went right though the timber exposing the end grain. This also caused rot.

The New Bridge gate being assembled to make sure we have it at the correct dimensions before any further work takes place.

Originally we used machine tools to make our joints but we soon found out that a good old hand held saw is far more accurate.

Using an electric routing tool to form the fancy edging.  Also we are now fitting new jointing brackets.

On the first photo the brackets are ready to install. On the second we clamp a jig to the gate. This jig has holes inside it filled with steel tubes to make sure we get the drill vertical and that holes in the timber line up with the brackets.

All of the joint brackets are new and fabricated out of steel strips welded together.

We also make new large hanging bars for the hinges. Once again steel plates are drilled and welded to a round threaded bar made by the MPD Dept. for us.

The hinges and brackets are now fitted and the gates are ready to move out to site.

We move the gates using rollers Egyptian style. In the first photo we have the Grosmont gate rolled out of the workshop and being picked up by a lorry which will then take it through to Grosmont for us. In the second a gate for New Bridge is rolled out to a nearby UWC where it is loaded onto two P Way trolleys.

At Grosmont the lorry did all the lifting for us. First it removed the old gate and then installed the new one. In the second photo the new gate a few nights later.

At New Bridge the P Way crane also removes the old gate and installs the new one for us. This is done on an evening when trains have stopped running for the day.

We have both crank and rack and pinion drives on the railway. Rack and pinion for gates which travel more than 90 degrees. These mechanisms and bearings were very worn.

The gate bearings had extreme wear on them. Not sure if they were left over from BR days or if the NYMR installed them in the early days. The base of the square shaft should not be touching the hard to see casting. In the second photo the wear is clearly visible.

All of the phosphor bronze bearings on the railway were badly worn so we had new ones made for us. We had one spare as a pattern  and the foundry charged about £75 for each one.

Just to give an idea of the amount of wear on the shaft. We welded the shaft up with the final top layer being with stainless steel. The round part is then profiled to be a nice fit inside the new bearing. The second photo shows the base after it was cleaned down with a grinder and is now waiting to be welded. 

Removing the old mechanisms so that they can be repaired.

Some photos of the worn parts.

New bearing installed and the repaired rack mechanism. The roller does actually spin again now.

A recent photo of the repaired gate on platform 2 at Grosmont. Making the gates ourselves has saved a lot of money plus you get the satisfaction of knowing it's your own work. Over the last few years we have learnt different ways of making the gates through trial and error. But now we have replaced or heavily repaired all of our gates we will have to move onto something else.

As you can see repairing the level crossings involves a lot of different challenges. It takes about 5 to 6 days to make a gate spread over a few weeks and about two days to make the steel items.

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