Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Beware Low Flying 42XX's

Rumours that the tamper was afraid of the rain (Hurricane Ophelia was on its way) were unsubstantiated, it turned out that it was really in the David Page shed to tamp the newly laid track on road 6, prior to the concreting of the shed floor being finished.
The tamper on road 6 (photo courtesy of John Cruxon)
We have a GWR lamp that has been kicking about for a while, I'm not sure where it is going to end up being erected, but it has come in for a little TLC.
Roger, Ian & Martin giving the lamp some attention (photo courtesy of John Cruxon)
Looking good (photo courtesy of John Cruxon)
2807 has been in action at the Llangollen Railway, where she will be staying for the remainder of the year.  Some video footage of her appearance at their gala has appeared and can be found by clicking on this link.  You'll need to scroll through until about 9 minutes in to find the section with 2807.

As mentioned last week, 4270 has been returned to Crewe to receive attention to the balance weights on the fireman's side driving wheel.  She was jacked up to permit removal of the driving wheel set as can be seen in this photo:
Low flying 4270 at Crewe, photo courtesy of Peter Greenwood
The great and the good  (plus me) of Dinmore Manor Locomotive LTD (DMLL) paid a visit to the West Somerset Railway on Saturday where Dinmore Manor has been running for the summer season.  After a run behind their flagship loco, they then retired to a nearby village hall for their annual general meeting.  Gathering together DMLL supporters for a team photo is very much like herding cats, so here is a photo of those that could be rounded up.
Some of the DMLL supporters at Minehead
Saturday was Dinmore Manor's last running day on the West Somerset Railway, she arrived on the Churnet Valley Railway (CVR) this morning to attend their 25th anniversary gala this coming weekend and for a few private charters.  The good news is that she will be back with us in time for the race trains in November and will be operating throughout the Santa Specials season.
Dinmore Manor being unloaded at the CVR this morning (photo courtesy of Mark Young)
And finally, I am delighted to say that in spite of being inflicted with me as his fireman for many of his training turns, Chris has passed out as a driver.
Chris (r) with Inspector Irving (photo courtesy of Chris Hayes)
Congratulations Chris on a well deserved promotion.

Monday, 9 October 2017

2807 Heads of for Christmas Holiday

It's been a busy week for 2807, on Tuesday she had her annual steam test.  That was passed with flying colours, then on Wednesday it was a normal blue timetable day for her, followed by a gold footplate experience course on Thursday.  Friday was a day to cool down, then on Saturday she was prepared for being transported. By the time that you read this, she will have arrived at the Llangollen Railway where she is to see out the remainder of the year. 

I was the rostered fireman on Wednesday and when I found 2807 on one of the pits, the fire from the steam test the day before was still burning on the back of the grate.  The instructions for firemen say that you should always rake it all out regardless, don't try lighting up on it.  I took the view that you shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth, and after a rudimentary clean of the dead ash, left it where it was and carried on from there.  Needless to say, the back half of the grate stayed blacked out for the whole of the first trip and stubbornly refused to catch the fresh coal placed on top. I raked it through at the end of the first trip, lesson learnt!
The remains of the fire on the grate
 Precious little coal had been left in the tender, but it was just about enough to light  up on and get us round to the coal dock to obtain more.
Won't get far on that!
 A new notice has appeared on the fence by the yard entrance advising how to book a yard tour if you want to.
Roll up, roll up, roll up, get your yard tours here
 The cleaner on Wednesday was Luke, who is one of the growing number of amateur chefs that we have in the steam loco dept.
Jolly good it was too, thanks Luke.
The driver was Mark:
Mark on the big red handle
 Luke had a go at firing the middle trip and made a very good job of it, needing little intervention from me.
Luke wielding the shovel.
 A feature of the day was that the railway was over-run by school kids, ostensibly being evacuated.  To the best of my knowledge, WWII finished some considerable time ago (OK, technically Russia & Japan are still at war) , so it seemed like it was perhaps a bit late to still be evacuating children.  Having said that, given the number of questions that they kept on asking when they came up on the footplate, it suddenly made sense that their parents might want to send them off somewhere else for a few years.
Not only evacuees, but unexploded bombs too
Fortunately, the unexploded bomb remained unexploded.

Back on the footplate, the ejector handle was blowing by a bit, presumably the packing inside was no longer sealing as well as it should.
Indoor water feature
 Our friends in the PWay dept have visited again, and the track on road 6 in the shed now extends out onto the apron.
Road 6 inside the shed...
...and outside, while in the background, 2807 simmers at the end of the day
We're inexorably approaching the time when the shed floor concreting project will finally be concluded. 
2807 was back out again on Thursday for the gold footplate experience course.  Once again, yours truly was down as the fireman.  

The lighting up experience on Thursday morning left something to be desired, the heavens opened just as I emerged from the wood store with a choice selection of what had only moments before been nice dry wood.  Needless to say the coal was wet, 2807's storm sheet was down  and it was windy enough to keep blowing out the matches as I tried to light the first rag.  The only thing that I had in my favour was that at least the lighting up rags were not wet too. It had even been windy enough to blow over half of the wheelbarrows by the ash dock.
Yes, I tidied them up again.
John (driver) oiling up 2807's motion
 I was amused to note that a pair of gloves were wedged into one of the steps at the back of the tender.  They were still there at the end of the day.
Who's were they?
2807 all steamed up and ready to go
 The gold footplate day is as you might expect, has rather fewer participants than the silver one, who all get longer on the regulator and shovel.  It also starts from Toddington rather than Winchcombe and features breakfast and lunch in the Flag & Whistle.  At least two of the  attendees had had the day bought for them as a birthday present and they had both only been informed shortly before hand.

For the silver footplate experience, the fireman had to do a talk on the duties of a fireman on board the loco at the start of the day.  On this occasion, the fireman was spared that as he was needed to man the footplate whilst the participants tried out moving the loco light engine along siding 1.  Tim (retired fireman) was on hand to do the fireman's duties talk on another loco, sparing me from having to do it...  thanks Tim.
Learning how to make it go
 One of the participants had dropped out at short notice, so to keep things equal, Phil, one of our volunteers who helps out on the footplate days got roped in to fill the gap.  A nice idea I thought.
Phil grapples with the complexities of stopping in the right place
 Another difference with the silver footplate days is that the participants can also have a stab at hooking on and off if they like, it's not everybody's cup of tea, but some gave it a go.
Wrestling with the elephant trunks
 As usual, the various guests had a tour of the signal box at Cheltenham and had a go at pulling off the signals.
Cheltenham Race Course signal box
 The demographics were definitely white, male & middle aged, but there is absolutely nothing to prevent you signing up for one of these days if you don't happen to fit into any or even all of those criteria.  No previous experience is necessary, though in this case, one had done the silver footplate experience before with Foremarke Hall, and one drives a 7 1/4" narrow gauge loco on the Moors Valley Railway.  One flies hot air balloons which sounded like a fun thing to do, but again experience with hot air balloons is not an essential prerequisite for a steam footplate experience.  One of the surprise birthday attendees was the project manager for building the Tim Mitchell building at Winchcombe.
This chap was more used to 7 1/4" narrow gauge
Lunch time for the assembled throng
Shovelling coal.
2807 parked up at the end of the day on Thursday
The good news is that everybody left with a smile on their face.  Should you want a smile on your face too, the dates for the 2018 footplate experience days will be published sometime in the coming month or two.  I have no idea whether or not they will cover the line up to Broadway or not, however the link to watch is this one.

On Saturday, it was time to prepare 2807 for her journey on to the Llangollen Railway, where she will spend the remainder of the year.  A team of people swarmed all over her to get her looking her best, as well as raking out the remains of the ash that I had left on the grate, and emptying it out of the ash pan.

2807 sat on the pit where I had left her on Thursday
 Cleaning the grate wasn't the only task in hand, the 2807 group brought out their secret weapon to blow through the boiler's tubes.  Apparently the vacuum cleaner that they use was purchased prior to current EU regulations restricting power consumption, which were unaccountably drafted without considering the fact that domestic vacuum cleaners might be used to blow through boiler tubes.
Bruce(l) & Graham with the much modified vacuum cleaner
 The "Indoor water feature" noted on Wednesday was also attended to, the ejector seat being re-cut and new packing inserted.  Hopefully it will be dry now.

The task of getting Dinmore Manor's old tender serviceable again was underway.  The welding underneath had been successfully completed without the need for several brackets to be removed, which saved me a job.  Next job was to get some top coat on the wheel sets:
Eleanor doing her Rolling Stones impression  (Paint it Black)
Jeremy got in on the act too
First coat of black finished
 The tender vacuum reservoir has been removed, so Kate & Jack gave it a thorough clean up before putting a coat of rust inhibiting primer on it:
Kate (l) and Jack cleaning the vac reservoir
Kate was a little reluctant to relinquish the power tools for a paint brush

Now primed.
Sundry smaller items received a coat of primer too
35006 has been experiencing issues with the lubrication to the driver's side cylinder.  In order to isolate the fault, the owning group have borrowed a Wakefield lubricator to try out and see if it cures the problem.
Borrowed Wakefield lubricator on the left
Bob examines the oil feed non-return valve
Steve blows an airline through the passageways of the borrowed lubricator
Keith and Tony extricated over 40 tubes from the boiler of 3845 which will be used on 3850.
Tubes being cut
 The task was not made any easier by the amount of scale in the boiler and soot still in the tubes.  The boiler had obviously not been the recipient of much TLC towards the end of its working life on the big railway.
The first of several barrow loads of scale
Towards the end of the day.
A collection of cut out tubes
 You might have noticed that 4270 has not been featuring much lately.  She has unfortunately suffered from a crack on one of her driving wheel's balance weights and has been sent to Crewe for attention.  At the time of writing it is expected that she will be back in traffic here a little later in the year.  She can't get back soon enough as far as I'm concerned, she has the most weather proof cab of any of our home fleet locos and is the ideal loco to get on a cold winter's day.

A notice has appeared on the notice board in the mess coach:
Do you really need that extra shovel full?
The shovel appears to be full of the old round pound coins, which cease to be legal tender in less than a week from the time of writing, so perhaps the best thing to do with them is stick them in the firebox.  I doubt that they will burn very well though, you'd probably be better off shovelling a certain brand of smart phone instead.

Monday, 2 October 2017

A Quiet Saturday

More track has appeared in place in the last section of the David Page shed to get the concrete floor treatment.  I'd like to be able to say that it was down to the blood, sweat and tears of the Wednesday gang, but examination of the PWay gang's "Broadway Extension Blog" shows that it was them that we have to thank. I can't help but think that they were a little lost, if they were supposed to be working on the Broadway extension at the time, but we're remarkably grateful anyway.
Track reinstated on road 6
The wheel sets that were in the way for them have found their way into the David Page shed on road 7 on Saturday.  These are the wheels for Dinmore Manor's old tender (T1761 for anybody who is counting), fresh from being turned at the South Devon Railway, and in need of undercoating.
Tender wheels
Out in the yard, and awaiting being moved into the DMLL 40' container, was five more springs for the tender (two good ones being already in stock)
A little late, it's Autumn now.
Although the destination for most of the springs was correctly written, at least one spring had a curious label on it:
Din Moor... a loud peat bog in the north Penninnes?
The axle journals had been protected by Denso tape, which wanted removing, and the sticky residue removing.
Not an easy job
Richard (l) and Chey cleaning up a wheel set pior to undercoating
Our erstwhile blogger, Donna made an appearance too
Donna(l) & Will painting a wheel set
All in undercoat by the end of the day
The work on the tender wasn't limited to just the wheels, underneath the tender body, a small team of people were cleaning up some of the welds for inspection.  Martin was using a small powered device with a brush attachment, that sounded suspiciously like a dentist's drill.  
Martin, about to perform root canal surgery on the tender
The task of measuring various clearances was undertaken by Mark, who amongst other things measured the gap between the tender horn guides.
Mark measuring horn guide gaps.
Other items from the tender received some TLC on Saturday as well, the footplate and support brackets were wire brushed by Nigel, before Eleanor applied some rust inhibiting primer to them:
Nigel, wire brushing
Footplate & one bracket done...
...and Eleanor finishing off the other three brackets
As they don't appear to be available commercially, we're in the process of manufacturing some GWR style "Not to be Moved" boards, Dan was testing out some red paint.
Dan prefers spray paint to brush applied.
A packet of plain chocolate biscuits made the mistake of its life and strayed into the mess coach.  The steam loco dept takes no prisoners when it comes to biscuits, chocolate or otherwise.  My attempt to surreptitiously catch him in the act failed, and John swiftly hid the evidence under the table and tried his best "butter wouldn't melt" look.
Butter would indeed melt!
Precious few left in seconds flat
35006 is not sceduled to be in traffic for a few more weeks, so a small team of people opted to clean that.  It was outside in the rain, which might go a long way towards explaining why so many people wanted to paint the tender wheels, inside the shed.
Ian gets to grips with cleaning the Furth-Brown wheels...
...whilst Alex tackles some of the harder to reach places.
Foremarke Hall on the ash pit at the end of the day
2807 was the other running loco on Saturday, and as its owning group was tied up with their AGM, no work was done.  2807 will be in traffic on Wednesday and on the gold footplate experience on Thursday.  After that, she will be heading off to the Llangollen Railway for the remainder of the year.

Dinmore Manor's tender vacuum cylinder came in for some more disassembly towards the end of the day.  It's much easier to strip it when out of the frames and replace all the seals etc when it's on the work bench, than have to do it in situ.
Mark (l) & Will dismantling the vac cylinder
And finally, not satisifed with being passed out as a fireman, Eleanor demonstrates that she is also passed out on cleaning paint brushes, which turns out to be an extremely rare talent in the steam loco dept.
Eleanor cleaning paint brushes...

...Job done