Monday, 21 August 2017

Musical Chairs

 We use reverse osmosis equipment at both Toddington & Cheltenham which roughly turns tap water into distilled water.  This is far better for the locomotive boilers, as less residue gets left behind when the water boils, extending the life of the boiler, meaning less frequent washouts are possible, and no need to perform a blow down every day.  One of the fireman's many duties regarding prepping the loco for a day's service is to take a water sample, which will then be analysed to determine how well the reverse osmosis plant has been doing its job.  Small plastic containers are provide by the water analysis team for the purpose, and all the fireman has to do is to obtain a sample, usually from the lower water gauge test cock, or perhaps the water gauge drain.  I made the mistake of placing the sample container on the warming tray before filling it, and got on with all the other things that I needed to do first... such as lighting the fire.   You can see where this is going already can't you.
The bit of the plastic container that welded itself to the warming tray

The replacement, filled and safely stashed in the much cooler tool tunnel
 My apologies to the water team!

I had been monitoring our online crew rostering facility with some interest in the lead up to Friday, as nobody had signed up to clean the loco.  I was having visions of having to not only do all the pre-flight checks & the light up, but also having to clean Foremarke Hall as well.  Ade, the driver for the day had also shared my concerns and press ganged encouraged Gwendolyne to come along as well.
Gwendolyne at work with the Brasso (other brass cleaning products do exist)
 Tom had also noticed that there was no cleaner signed up.  As he was coming along later in the day to put a warming fire into 4270, he took it upon himself to simply turn up considerably earlier than would otherwise have been necessary and help clean Foremarke Hall as well.
Tom using an alternative brass cleaning product.
 This was of course excellent news as far as I was concerned.
Ade oiling up Foremarke Hall
Heading into the south headshunt whilst I operate the points.

Breakfast came from the Flag & Whistle rather than the shovel on this occasion
 Somewhere in the far flung corners of the GWSR's social media empire, there is a photo from the lineside drainage gang of Foremarke Hall with an intrepid blogger taking a photo of them, taking a photo of me, taking a photo...
Lineside drainage gang at work between Gotherington & Bishops Cleeve.
 Leaving home at stupid o'clock on footplate days,means that I only get to hear the shipping forecast on the radio as I drive in.  There is precious little shipping in the general vicinity of Toddington, so the Met Office has taken this as an excuse not to provide a specific forecast for the area.  Clearly they haven't taken the fact that we have a Merchant Navy class locomotive in our operational fleet into account.  The nearest part of the shipping forecast to Toddington is probably the Bristol Channel, for which the forecast was "gale force 8, becoming cyclonic".  I'm no expert in these matters, but quite frankly that didn't sound too good.  Predicatably enough, the weather closed in and several heavy downpours of rain ensued.  Also predictably enough, the rain only occured when we were running tender first.  Foremarke Hall's tender provides a measure of protection, but you are still pretty exposed and will get very wet in short order.  The usual trick for the driver and fireman is to find a cleaner to shelter behind, this causes some problems as there is usually only one cleaner available.  On this occasion, we had both Gwendolyne & Tom, so no problem.
Gwendolyne, rather unimpressed that she is now a weather shield
 No sooner had we got to Toddington and changed direction, than the sun came out.  Perfect comedy timing!
You wouldn't have guessed that it was hammering down five minutes earlier
 For later trips, when the rain came back again, we put up the storm sheet.  It does a fair job of protecting the crew from the rain, but it does make it difficult to see where you're going when running tender first.  The tried and trusted technique of jamming a broom under it to provide a small aperture through which to see was employed to good effect.
It makes sweeping around the footplate a bit of a challenge though.
 Cleaners have noticed that they can earn Brownie points by fetching tea and cake along during the layover at Toddington.
Gwendolyne earns some Brownie points.
One item of note, was that one of the nifty lights in the yard by the pits, was looking rather the worse for the wear.  Forensic analysis of the traces of yellow paint on the light were found to match the telehandler.  The name of the guilty party has been witheld, but only because he bought me breakfast.
Go home light... you're drunk!
As you may recollect from last week, I mentioned that a game of musical chairs was about to be played with a large crane and the various 2-8-0 locomotives associated with the Dinmore Manor group.  By the time that the music stopped on Monday; 3850 had been turned round to face towards Cheltenham (a move which will facilitate the cylinder block extraction), 3850's old boiler was temporarily placed on 2874's frames, 2874's boiler was rotated through 90 degrees, and 3845's boiler was lifted and brought to Toddington.

3845's boiler being lifted (photo courtesy of Mike Solloway)
 Eagle eyed readers will note that 3845's smoke box was cut through as part of this process.  The smoke box was already unfit for further service, with both the chimney and smoke box ring having been crudely gas-axed out long before 3845 came into DMLL's ownership.  3845 is still in the DMLL restoration queue and the intention is to return it to running order in the fullness of time, however it is at the back of the queue behind 3850 & 2874.
3850's boiler being placed on 2874's chassis (photo courtesy of Mike Solloway)

3850 swings round through 180 degrees (photo courtesy of Mike Solloway)

2874's boiler swings round through 90 degrees (photo courtesy of Mike Solloway)
 Moving on to Wednesday, a start was made on the concreting of the last section of the David Page shed floor.  3850's frames were safely tucked away at the back of the shed on road 6, then the first panel of track in the unconcreted section was lifted out, by Terry, Roy, Chris, Tom & Peter.  Getting the old, largely buried concrete sleepers out by hand was deemed to be too much like hard work, so they cheated and got the telehandler to lift them out.
Attaching chains to the chairs (photo courtesy of Peter Gutteridge)
Up it comes (photo courtesy of Peter Gutteridge)
 By now, 3850, facing Cheltenham was isolated on the previously concreted section of road 6.
3850... trapped!
The Wednesday gang also kindly removed the vac cylinders from both 3850 and 2874.  It took a lot of effort, but they both freed up in the end.  3850's dismantled OK, and revealed its innards to be in surprisingly good condition.  2874's proved to be too much of a challenge and has been left for another day.
2874's rusted up vac cylinder (photo courtesy of Peter Gutteridge)
The freed up end plates from 3850's (photo courtesy of Peter Gutteridge)
At some point since emerging from Barry Island scrap yard, somebody had taken the trouble to needle gun and prime 3845's boiler with some form of rust inhibiting paint. That time and effort was well rewarded, as although the paint is rather faded now, it has kept the boiler in remarkably good condition. In most places, needle gunning is not required first, we can go straight in with wire brushes to get back to good clean metal, then apply a fresh coat of rust inhibiting primer, which is exactly what a small team of people got up to on Saturday.
David working on 2874's boiler, before starting on 3845's
David (a different one) removing rust from the saddle area
 Saturday also saw more of the track on road 6 lifted prior to the commencement of concreting.
Track being dislodged...
...and pulled free by the telehandler
Popping out the sleepers
 There is now a bit of a stack of sleepers in the yard, best keep quiet about them, or P Way will be carting them off to Broadway.
The start of the sleeper stack.
Steam locomotive boilers have a number of safety features built in, one of which is fusible plugs.  The fusible plug is a hollow "bolt", with a lead core, which is screwed into the crown sheet of the boiler and protrudes into the water space.  Should the water level in the boiler fall too low, and the plug protrude above the water space into the steam space, then the higher temperature of the steam will cause the lead plug will melt, thereby emitting steam into the firebox.  This will be noticed by the crew who will then be alerted to the fact that the water levels are dangerously low and that immediate remedial action needs to be taken to prevent the collapse of the crown sheet.

Rod was in the machine shop on Saturday, busy re-leading a number of GWR style fusible plugs for use on our locos.  The plugs have an inner thread into which the lead is melted, of 1/2" W.  Once the plug has been used once, it can be rebored to 9/16W and re-leaded.  After the two uses, it is scrap and a new one has to be made.  This process takes place during every boiler washout.
Removing surplus lead in the base of the plug
Rod in the machine shop
Gunmetal blanks for making the next batch.
Trimming the lead core to a cone.
The nearly finished product, almost ready to fit
In fact, here are plenty that Rod made earlier, (scrap ones in the background.)
With Foremarke Hall and 4270 out running the service trains, 35006 was enjoying a relaxing day off... or at least the loco itself was, the owning group were getting on with regular maintenance.  One booked issue has been that the tender brakes drag occasionally.
Tweaking 35006's tender brakes.
 Hopefully that won't be an issue next time she runs.  The usual lubrication tasks were being attended to in the cab as well.
35006 enjoying the TLC
I am advised by Steve that a selection of photos are available from 35006's recent visit to the Mid Hant's Railway, hopefully I'll be able to share these with you in the near future.

And finally, one of Saturday's footplate crew managed to leave his hat behind at the end of the day.  Helpfully, one of the many reprobates still present marked the inside of the hat with its owner's name for ease of identification.

The moral of this tale, is that you should never leave anything lying around in the mess coach.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Andy Cap

Something that I omitted to mention in my last post, was that Donna's timing for retiring from the blog was impeccable. My distinctly better half & I were just about to disappear off on holiday for a fortnight... rather like the sun as it happens, as that disappeared off to the Mediterranean for a fortnight, leaving nothing but rain at our holiday destination up north.  Once again, I was walking the Coast to Coast, with our itinerary timed to coincide with steam on the Settle to Carlisle line:
5 minutes after arriving at Kirkby Stephen, Scots Guardsman passes through
 The route of the Coast to Coast also passes through Grosmont on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, no surprise that we found more steam there.  What might come as a bit of a surprise is that we also found Paul.   Normally to be found driving steam or the DMU on the GWSR, Paul also moonlights in a number of other places, including as a fireman on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway.  As if that wasn't enough, Paul also finds time to take an active part in the GWSR's gala team, in particular dealing with the finances and making sure that we don't go over budget.  Many people are given to wonder how he manages to find time for it all and hold down a full time job.
Paul, happy aboard the "Pocket Rocket"
 On our return from Robin Hood's bay the following day, we elected to go via Whitby and take the steam train back to Grosmont where we were staying again.  Once again, we discovered that we would be transported by the Pocket Rocket, with Paul firing it.

The "Pocket Rocket" at Whitby
The day after we had finished the Coast to Coast, we stayed on in Grosmont for a further day to ride the trains, and found Paul was rather dischuffed at having discovered that the B1 which he had been rostered to fire had been withdrawn with a weeping fusible plug and he was now relegated to a diesel:
Where do you put the coal?
  Returning back late on Wednesday, I was only back at the day job on Thursday, before taking a day off to fire on Friday.  Unfortunately, the day job came back to bite me all weekend, so I have no update from whatever might have happened in the department from then I am afraid.

What I can say though is that I had an excellent day on Friday, on 35006, in the company of Andy & Nick, and what transpired to be a rather extensive breakfast:
One extra large mobile BBQ
Nick gets going with the shovel & bacon...
...second course... black pudding
 Curiously, neither Andy nor Nick like black pudding... fortunately, Alex was around by this point, and with a cry of "Ecky thump" helped me demolish this lot. 
Andy scoffing his breakfast... note he's wearing a cap
 Hardly had we set off on the first trip, when Andy suddenly noticed that his head was not as warm as it had been.
Oh no... he's lost his hat overboard
 Nick and I surreptitiously whistled "Ilkley Moor bar t'at".

Something worthy of mentioning on this blog took place on 35006 over her last winter maintenance period, which I don't think has been mentioned before, is that the tender spray system has been completed.  Run the rear injector, turn on the correct tap, and presto, the coal dust is suppressed extremely well... all tenders should have something like this.
Difficult to tell from this, but this is the tender spray hard at work
 To be honest, it is incredibly good, as witnessed by the small flood of water making it's way onto the footplate from the tender.
No nasty coal dust here!
 On the second trip, we stopped at the relevant spot, and Nick was sent off to retrieve the missing cap.
Nick, cap in hand
Andy... reunited with his cap
 Having brought far too much food for breakfast, the sensible thing to do was to save some for lunch, the timetabled break between trips at Toddington is just about long enough to do it if you're quick.
Sausage rolls, warming, whilst trying not to melt the plastic wrapper
Separating linked sausages on the footplate isn't easy
Finally... separated sausages sizzling on the shovel
 To facilitate the on board cuisine, I had purchased at my own expense a new cooking implement for turning sausages/bacon etc on the shovel.  As my good deed for the day, after the last trip was finished and 35006 disposed, I washed it and left it in the mess coach for other crews to use.
The essential additional fireman's tool in use on the footplate.
Nick taking a photo of his lunch
A feast fit for a footplate crew!
 Even on a Friday, there is still plenty of extra-curricular activity on the line side, the line side drainage team were hard at work again:
Line side drainage team in action
There was also some form of carriage repairs/cleaning taking place on the maroon rake which had temporarily taken up residence on siding 1.
On some other blog, there will be a photo of me taking a photo of them, taking a photo....
Whilst on holiday, I received the following missive from Trevor:

"The Water Group has acquired an authentic GWR lamp hut, found rusting away on a Moreton in Marsh allotment. Getting it to Toddington was no easy matter, but finally it has been refurbished and erected next to the Toddington water hut as a salt, chemical and paint store. It replaces the Southern Railway concrete hut, which will be going to Cheltenham Racecourse station as a garden tools store."

Lamp hut, in as found condition...
...and after some GWSR TLC.  Both photos courtesy of Trevor Hobday
Finally, 3850's wheels are back from being turned at the South Devon Railway.
3850's wheels in the David Page shed
You may of course remember that these are the Collett pattern wheels that until recently were fitted to 2874, but which were recently swapped in a mutually beneficial exercise for both locos.  The lorry that fetched them up from the South Devon Railway also took back the wheels from Dinmore Manor's old tender (T1761), thereby saving on transport costs.  What you probably haven't noticed though, is that the wheels are arranged in the shed for 3850 as if she was facing towards Cheltenham, whereas the frames are on accommodation bogies and facing towards Broadway.  Those who are thinking that the cock-up fairy has paid us a visit, need not fear.   By the time that you read this, a series of operations involving a large crane should have taken place, by the end of which; the boiler that was on 3850 will be temporarily accommodated in 2874's frames, 3845's boiler will have been lifted, fetched to Toddington and placed on the sleeper stack that previously held 3850's boiler, and 3850's frames will have been turned to face Cheltenham.   Apparently the frame turning exercise will facilitate the removal of the cracked cylinder block from 3850.  All will be revealed in a future blog post.