Monday, 24 February 2014

7820 Dinmore Manor

Dinmore  Manor has arrived at Toddington at last, so I thought it would be a nice idea to run a bit of an article on her to welcome her and the Dinmore Manor Locomotive LTD (DMLL) group to the Gloucestershire & Warwickshire Railway.

The Great Western Railway started the Manor class with a batch of just 20 locomotives built in 1938.  The intention was to create a lightweight engine capable of operating on 'blue routes', yet possessing the stability of a 4-6-0 wheel arrangement which would be able to replace Churchward's successful yet by this time ageing 43XX class.  Much of the weight saving was achieved by the use of a new boiler, smaller than those in use on other GWR 4-6-0 locos which became designated Standard No 14. Much of the rest of the locomotive shared common parts with the Granges.

A further batch of 20 was ordered by the GWR in 1939, but WWII intervened at this point and the order was cancelled.  It wasn't until 1950 that more were finally built. By this time of course the order was placed by the recently formed British Railways, and it had been scaled back to just 10 examples.  7820, Dinmore Manor was the first of this second batch.

The class is mostly associated these days with the Cambrian line however they were also to be found in many places within the GWR network, including on Newcastle to Swansea services with a Manor taking over at Banbury.  These services ran through Stow-On-The Wold and Cheltenham. Both Gloucester and Cheltenham had an allocation of Manors.

The later batch of engines were built at a cost of £8,189 each.  I expect that the DMLL wish that her current rebuild had come in at that price.  The price did not include the tender as Manors weren't provided with new ones, but received tenders liberated from withdrawn locomotives instead.  During her 15 years of BR service, she was attached to seven different tenders, the first being number 1750 of 1907, originally built for 2926, Saint Nicholas. Other tenders that she was paired with during her BR life, included ones originally built for; 3802 County Clare, 4119 Primrose & 4016 Knight of the Golden Fleece.

Manors were the last GWR 4-6-0 class to remain intact, the first withdrawal wasn't until April 1963, with the last two surviving until December 1965. Dinmore Manor survived in traffic until November 1965.  A quirk of fate saw a large proportion of the class sent to the legendary Barry Island Scrapyard and as a consequence, 9 examples, nearly a third of the class, still remain today. All bar 7808, Cookham Manor were saved via Barry Island Scrapyard.  As a testament to the usefulness of these engines, all 9 have been restored and seen at least one boiler ticket in preservation.

In BR use, Dinmore Manor's shed allocations were extremely diverse, commencing with Oswestry, she also spent time at Aberystwyth, Chester, Laira, Truro, St Blazey, Canton, Cardiff East Dock, Oxley & finally Shrewsbury.  She spent a third of her working life at Plymouth Laira (83D), from December 1954 until September 1959.  To mark this fact, she will soon be fitted with an 83D shed plate.

What of the building that Dinmore Manor Was named after?  Situated 8 miles north of Hereford, it dates from 1189 and is now the private residence of Martin Dawes the mobile phone tycoon.  Situated at an elevation of 500', it commands views of the Malvern hills.  The associated land around the manor is used as a horse stud farm.  The grounds also incorporate a 1200 year old yew tree.  Needless to say, one of the original nameplates is on display in the house.
Dinmore Manor
Dinmore Manor entered Barry Island Scrapyard in May 1966 and remained there until September 1979 when she left for the Gwili Railway. No restoration work was undertaken at the Gwili Railway and it wasn't until she moved to the West Somerset Railway in 1985 that work commenced, though ultimately, much work was done at Tyseley.  She finally returned to traffic on the West Somerset Railway in September 1995.
7820 at Minehead on the West Somerset Railway
7820 on the West Somerset Railway
Since Dinmore Manor was taken out of traffic in 2004, DMLL have been painstakingly rebuilding her at Tyseley, with the boiler work being carried out by Ian Riley at Bury.  The following collection of photographs of her restoration were kindly provided courtesy of Mike Solloway:

On the turntable at Tyseley
Mechanical help required
Off her driving wheels
Inside the frames
Boiler work in progress
New throat plate
Work progresses on the boiler
New tube plate
Out of frames steam test
DMLL volunteers and their boiler
Brake rigging assembly
If you can assemble flat pack furniture, then putting this lot together should be no problem
Boiler in frames
Motion assembled
Ready to leave for Toddington
There was no small element of irony on Wednesday, road transport was responsible for the scaling down of the railways, yet the low-loader sent to fetch Dinmore Manor from Tyseley to Toddington managed to break down, resulting in her arriving a day late. 
Dinmore Manor 1 : 0 Low-Loader
Arriving at Toddington.  Photo courtesy of Dan Wigg
She is now safely tucked up in the David Page shed and needs a few more tweaks before she is ready for her in frames boiler exam on 7th March:
7820 brought the sunshine with her
The blower and ejector pipes still need fitting
Mike getting to work on the blower pipe work
Dinmore Manor
Mark and Mike couldn't resist trying out the footplate for size.  Mark seems quite happy about things, even though somebody appears to have nicked the regulator handle.  Look as he might, Mike couldn't find a shovel up there.
Something missing!
So, other than the regulator, what exactly is missing then?   When asked, Mike replied that the list of tasks left to do were: "Make & fit ejector exhaust pipe, split pinning of bogie, some cylinder cladding to be fitted, fit cab floor, complete grate/drop section installation, fit brick arch, modify damper door linkages to suit new ash pan, fit handrails, carry out valve setting, packing of valve and piston rods, fit cab seats, insurance steam test, run in. Relax".  Let's hope that the 'Relax' item on the list comes soon.

More sources of information on Dinmore Manor and her sister DMLL locomotives have been available for some time now amongst the plethora of links in the right hand margin of this blog, however should you have failed to find them so far, here they are again:

Dinmore Manor Locomotive LTD on facebook
Dinmore Manor Locomotive LTD on flickr
2874 Blog
7820 Blog
Dinmore Manor Official website

Monday, 17 February 2014


Saturday morning saw another group of people taking fork lift training:
(L-R) Chris, Steve and Mike (instructor)
This season, we mostly seem to have abandoned the more usual for railways, orange hi-viz in favour of lime green. Well all apart from Steve, who has abandoned hi-viz altogether.  The third student was Sean who was still to be seen wearing last season's fashion.
Sean in outmoded orange
Notice how the threat of fork lift training has managed to clear the car park of cars, well all bar that one car in the background.  I didn't inspect it for damage later, but I very much doubt that it will have escaped unscathed.

A few final bits of maintenance work were being carried out on the 8F.  I'm loathe to refer to the 8F by its number (currently 8274) as it changes on a fairly regular basis (8476, WD 348 and Turkish Railways 45160 at various times as well as 8274).  Added to that, she will be changed again for the Back to Black steam gala in May to something else.  Don't ask me what, I don't know yet. As she'll be in some form of BR livery, I'd guess that the first two digits will be 48, after that, your guess is as good as mine. Furthermore, numerically, 8274 is far too easy to confuse with 2874, so on this blog at least she will just have to remain simply as being 'the 8F'. Anyway, Mike was busy working on the Wakefield lubricators. He's hopefully cured the water ingress and fitted new seals to the pumps, so now the oil should flow to where it is required rather better than before.
Mike fitting the new seals to the oil pumps
 Meanwhile up by the tender, Ade and Nick were stripping down the axle boxes and cleaning them out:
Nick and Ade, sitting down on the job.
Nick's mum, Tonia was busy painting the inside of the coal spaces of various locos.  It would be easy to literally paint yourself into a corner, so Tonia wisely left the base of the bunker to last so that she could exit back onto the footplate of 5542:
Finishing off the bunker of 5542
Then later working on Foremarke Hall's tender
Not technically really anything to do with the steam loco dept, other than the fact that it's owned by several steam loco dept memebers, one of the DMU cars has been hiding in the David Page shed having some corroded body panels removed and new ones let in.  Here Neil reinstates some of the woodwork of the door frame behind a new section:
Neil prepares the door frame for fitting.
George inserted the new section of body panel last week and now that it has been primed, you can't see the join at all.

The current major focus of attention of course is still on Foremarke Hall and preparing her for sending her boiler to Tyseley for overhaul.  All the tubes are now out, the last of the flue tubes having been removed on Wednesday.  Cleaning out the residual muck in the boiler was a job that came my way.  I looked for a carpet to sweep it under, but sadly one wasn't to be found, so I ended up removing it one bucket full at a time:
Before: Lots of muck in there.
After: You could eat your dinner off of it
Well ok, perhaps you wouldn't really want to eat your dinner off of it, but it was definitely an improvement on what it was like before.  On Wednesday, the plan is that she will be dragged onto the pit and somebody will venture in there with the pressure washer to finish the job.  Hopefully some kind soul will take pictures for me to incorporate in the next blog post.

Meanwhile a small team of people worked on detaching the front of the smoke box. Rivets were initially removed by gas-axe, but later they moved onto using a pneumatic hammer.  No photos of that bit, it was too loud to approach:
John giving the rivets a little heat therapy
Will took over for a while
The next big thing to come off was the boiler cladding.  The nameplates were in the way, so a nice easy task was to unbolt them.
The one I removed
Tim removing the other one
Once the nameplates were off, the tricky bit started. We needed to remove all the screws/bolts/straps holding the boiler cladding in place.
Clive coaxing one of the more recalcitrant fittings to come free
 The boiler cladding is held on by amongst other things, a set of screws underneath.  Normally getting underneath isn't a problem, we'd just shunt her onto a pit and under we go.  Today however the weather wasn't conducive to going outside onto one of the pits, so it was a case of getting underneath where she stood.  "We need somebody young and slim" said John looking in my direction.  "Young and slim" in this case being a euphemism for 'expendable' or possibly 'dumb enough to fall for flattery'.  If you're not on a pit, the options for getting between the frames are very limited.  One option might be to clamber up onto the running plate and see if you can squeeze yourself in underneath the boiler.  I tried that and swiftly came to the conclusion that all bar the most advanced anorexic couldn't make it in that way.  The brake rigging bars entry between the driving wheels, so the only viable option would be to crawl in through the gap between the front bogie and the leading driving wheels.  Unfortunately where Foremarke Hall was stood, by the doors of the shed, rain had come in underneath and that spot held a rather uninviting oily puddle.  Anyway, to cut a long story short, I found a plank of wood to use as a crawling board to get mostly over the puddle, crawled halfway in and then turned left and crawled on under a variety of obstacles until finally I found enough room to stand up somewhere in the vicinity of the eccentric rods.
The way I got in... you can see the plank on the ground in the middle
After that it was simply a matter of unscrewing the screws holding the cladding together if they would unscrew, or pointing out the error of their ways to them with an angle grinder if they wouldn't.
Before starting... note the strap to prevent the cladding springing apart and clouting me in the face
One of the separated sections after unscrewing/grinding
Needless to say, lunch time arrived whilst I was under there, so I had to crawl out for lunch, then crawl back in again afterwards.  The very front bit of cladding couldn't be accessed from underneath, Hawksworth had rather inconsiderately designed Modified Halls with a frame stretcher and vacuum reservoir in the way.  Somehow, the front one would have to be dealt with from the outside.  Once all the accessible ones underneath had been separated, I crawled back out and helped with removing them.  None of them gave in without a fight, except one which was held in place by a handrail mounting point.  Once I had freed it from the mounting point, it succumbed to gravity and shot off underneath the boiler, only the last foot or so being visible.  Clive saw me take the picture below and said "Don't put that on the blog". He thought that John might be a bit upset about what we'd managed to do to his lovely engine.  Needless to say, John was quite relaxed about it.
The bit of the cladding that nearly escaped under the boiler
Faced with the prospect of getting back underneath and pushing it out, or manhandling it out from above, I went with the latter.  A bit of brute force and ignorance later, out it came. 

We still had the bit of cladding at the very front of the boiler to contend with.  Access from underneath was impossible, so Steve tried reaching in from the running plate with the angle grinder:
Steve makes sparks fly
It still wasn't coming undone though, Will had a go at getting in under the boiler.  Will really does come under the heading of 'young and slim' however even he couldn't quite manage to wriggle in under there. Eventually even he gave up and did his best to reach in from the running plate instead.
Will prying the two sections of cladding apart.
Eventually it succumbed and the two sections parted company. It had proved to be a surprisingly difficult job in the end.  Heaven knows how it will all be put back together again when the time comes.
The end of the day: Foremarke Hall, with most of her cladding removed
And finally, a hot item of news is that we are expecting delivery of Dinmore Manor during the course of this week.  For the purposes of this blog, I'll refer to her by name rather than her number number, as 7820 is the same set of numerals as 2807, just in a different order. Sometimes I think  that we deliberately select engines with similar numbers just to confuse people.  I wouldn't be in the least bit surprised to find that 4270 gets renumbered to be 4255, just so that people will confuse her with 5542.  

There is still a bit of finishing work required, on Dinmore Manor when she gets here, however her in frames steam test is scheduled for 7th March.  Dinmore Manor Locomotive LTD are very grateful that Cotswold Steam Preservation LTD have allowed the use of their tender during the period of initial steam tests.
Gilbert, once again spent Saturday working on 2807's tender.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Valentine Special

 On Friday, a section of concrete was laid out by the ash pit.  I'm extremely grateful to Peter Gutteridge for the following three photos:
Mark pours the concrete
Work in progress
Neil smooths it out
The volunteers involved in this work were; Chris, Tim, Tim, John, Neil, Jamie, John, Mark and Mark's dad. Sorry if I missed anyone out.  This is a very useful bit of work, previously we could only coal up tender engines on the ash pit, tank engines having to be driven round onto the unloading road.  Now with this extra bit of concreted apron, we'll be able to coal up tank engines by the ash pit too.
I couldn't resist taking a shot of the finished job on Saturday.
Speaking of Peter Gutteridge, he was one of the people being trained how to drive the fork lift on Saturday, along with Ade and Cliff.
(L-R) Ade, Mike (instructor), Cliff and Peter (in the fork lift)
  The training process included letting them loose with the fork lift in the car park and negotiating their way around various cones.  Needless to say I hid my car as far away as possible from the scene of the crime when I found out that they were practicing in the car park.

I also received a number of photos of 2807 from Steve who was at Tyseley on Friday.  It looks like the work on the horn guides has commenced.  The following photos kindly provided by Steve Burnett:
On the wheel drop
Dropping two sets of wheels at once
Shunting 2807 out of the way
Lizzie watches as the wheels are raised again
Signs of wear
More signs of wear
Moving on to Saturday, once again, dismantling Foremarke Hall was the main job.  I got involved in removing all the bolts that hold the cab in place in readiness for the cab to be lifted off.
Inside the cab, note light coming through where bolts used to be
I took very few photos of the work in progress however Chris Chewter rather sneakily took a photo of me as I was pretending to do something hard at work:
No need to censor this one
Sean was on the outside clamping the rivet heads with mole grips while I undid the nuts on the inside.  They hadn't been disturbed in 10 years and in some cases weren't at all keen to be removed.

Next up was removing the hand rails, so that the boiler cladding could now be removed.  Once again, these were fittings that hadn't been disturbed in a very long time, they weren't at all keen to move either:
Dan removes the casting that supported the ejector pipe and hand rail
Jeff clouts one of the pin that secures the hand rail to its support, Jamie keeps an eye on his progress
Sean working on another ejector pipe/handrail support
Steve clouting another of the handrail retaining pins
The job was finally finished and the hand rails parted company with the boiler.  Nothing gave in without a fight though.

Meanwhile, extracting the tubes from the boiler continued:
John got to work on removing the last of the large tubes...
... and when he'd finished, he removed a section of tube plate to make access easier
Easier access to the remaining flue tubes
 A bit later on, the other John carried on with cutting out the flue tubes, I captured a photo or two from the firebox end as John worked in the smoke box:
John looking determined to get on with the job...
... and then making sparks fly!
 Early afternoon, and as forecast, the heavens opened.  We'd kept the shed door closed as much as possible to keep out the wind all day, now it was keeping out the rain too.  We opened the door long enough to let some brave soul out with a flue tube, then rapidly closed it again as soon as they returned.
Phil adding another flue tube to the pile and getting soaked in the process
Phil tried to dry himself off by getting close to the chimney, only to find somebody had nicked it:
Phil wondering where the chimney has gone.  Photo courtesy of Chris Chewter
Andy had managed to find something useful to do on 4270, her specially extended safety valve bonnet needed a bit of buffing up with Brasso:
Andy rubs the safety valve bonnet, sadly no genie appeared
Later he tried rubbing down the cylinder chest cover, still no sign of a genie.
5542 needed her bunker emptying of coal in readiness for the inside of the bunker to be painted on Wednesday.  As it was sunny in the morning, she was shunted out into the yard:
5542 blinks in the sunlight
Ian shoveled coal out of the bunker and onto the footplate...
... and Clive shovels it off of a footplate and into a wheelbarrow
And finally, I was engaged in conversation with a couple of the steam loco dept's more senior members at one point during the day and both let slip that they had recently bought shares in the Bridges to Broadway appeal and in Foremarke Hall, yet both had somehow managed to overlook informing their wives of this fact.  I know that many wives of the members of the steam loco dept read this blog just to find out what their husbands have been up to, so I will refrain from identifying the guilty parties, subject to receipt of the usual well stuffed plain brown envelopes of course.  Anyway, this set me thinking.  Gentlemen of the steam loco dept, why be boring and predictable by getting your loved ones roses, chocolates, and champagne followed by taking them out for a romantic candlelit dinner for two this Valentine's Day, when you could get them shares instead?  Just imagine how their faces will light up with joy when they find that you got them such a thoughtful and original gift.