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.
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.
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).
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.