Monday, 26 October 2015

Shiny Shoes

Several people bemoaned the lack of a blog post last week.  I decided that I deserved some time off for "Good behaviour", well ok, some time off anyway. What passes for normality around here will be restored just as soon as I have worked out what normal is.

This week, the lifting jacks that have been stood outside the David Page shed for some considerable time, have been sent off to be overhauled.  The space for them on road 7 in the David Page shed is now ready for them to be installed.
Lifting jacks being lifted
The above two photos courtesy of John Cruxon
Apparently the crane was capable of lifting 100 tons, perhaps we should have forgotten about renovating our lifting jacks and just stuck the crane in the shed instead.

3850 has seen a fair bit of dismantling work take place over the last week or so, which has caught me slightly by surprise as there is nowhere obvious to stash the large volume of bits that have so far come off of it.  Here is a bit of a catch up on what has happened so far:
As she was at the start of Sunday, most of the boiler cladding removed
 I have heard a rumour that 3850's water gauge frame may be temporarily mounted somewhere and be used as a working exhibit for new and trainee firemen to practice replacing broken gauge glasses.  I'm not sure how true that is, but nevertheless, Eleanor had a head start by dismantling it on Sunday.
Eleanor removing 3850's gauge frame
 The backhead cladding was already partly off, some more cladding and the fire box doors and runners were removed on Sunday
Liam removing a section of backhead cladding
 The sight feed lubricator was removed and given a clean too
Liam cleaning the sight feed lubricator
The brakes were largely removed on Sunday:
Ash and Tom got on with dismantling the brakes
 The job entailed getting underneath 3850... and in Ash's case at least, it involved getting fairly grubby too...
... or perhaps it's some sort of war paint?

 Oblivious to the fact that he needed to clean himself up, Ash conscientiously cleaned all the tools that he had been using first.  I'm not entirely convinced that the wash room was the best place for that, but nevertheless, full marks for trying.

Cleanliness is next to impossible and all that.

A team of people spent Saturday rubbing down Foremarke Hall's tender in anticipation of some top coats of paint being applied.  I have no photos from Saturday I'm afraid, however Sean returned on Sunday to finish carry on with the job:
Sean continueing rubbing down Foremarke Hall's tender
Foremarke Hall herself has been at Tyseley for boiler work for some time now, I have received a few photos and an update on progress from John:

The boiler rebuild has progressed well, and is now just in need of having its flue tubes installed.
Boiler being lifted from a well wagon.
Beware, low flying boiler.
Foremarke Hall's bogie has been removed  in order to permit access to the leading pair of axle boxes which require overhauling
Removing the bogie...
...axle boxes stripped and cleaned, ready for overhaul.
Careful examination of the top right hand corner of the above photo reveals a piece of metal with "7029" painted on it.  Obviously Foremarke Hall has been keeping good company during her stay at Tyseley.  I wonder how close 7029, Clun Castle is to steaming again now?

The above four photos all courstesy of John Cruxon.

As mentioned last time, Dinmore Manor was only back with us briefly, before heading off with 3850's erstwhile tender, (the one hired from the Bluebell Railway, has now been returned to its owners) to the Battlefield line for their gala over the weekend.  Apparently it was an excellent event, and one of our newest firemen, Mike was on hand to capture a few photos for posterity.
7820, waiting whilst Cumbria & Sir Gomer make a spirited departure
Dinmore Manor at the head of a maroon set
Both the above photos courtesy of Mike Solloway. 

Dinmore Manor will be returning to us in the latter half of November, after a few events on the Severn Valley Railway.

And finally, on  Sunday, 5542 was the sole steam loco out running, her driver, Ian, was due for his biennial reassessment, Neil on the other hand, who was driving the DMU wasn't. I've mentioned in the past that appearance is one of the things that the inspectors are looking for.  I'll leave it as an exercise for the reader to work out which boots belong to which person.
Spot the difference
Inspector Irving was observed returning to his car to get his sunglasses.
Apparently it was clean them like this or watch Eastenders on the tv... enough said!

Monday, 12 October 2015

Dinmore Manor Returns (briefly)

After the etching of various bits of concrete in the David Page shed, teams of volunteers were on site on both Wednesday and Thursday to put the paint on.  I have no photos of the relevant people at work I'm afraid, but Donna has sent a couple of photos of the finished work:
Newly painted section of road 8....
... and of road 7, photos courtesy of Donna Ludlow.
There was another diesel gala running over the weekend and you might have been forgiven for thinking that the steam dept would be a fairly quiet place on such an occasion.  Not a bit of it, there was lots to be getting on with and people turned up in droves to get on with it.

Dinmore Manor Locomotive LTD was having a particularly productive time, with work taking place on all three of their locos on site.  To start with, last Sunday saw the first work for a while on 2874, in which the cab was lifted from the frames.  There is nothing now (apart from gravity and 50 or so years worth of rust) holding the boiler in the frames.  There is no plan in place to lift the boiler just yet, but all the necessary preparations have been performed.
Ian uses the FLT to lift the cab off the frames (photo courtesy of Roger Tipton)
The now cab-less 2874 back in the yard
The removed cab.
After her extended holiday on the Dartmouth Steam Railway, Dinmore Manor returned on Thursday.  In a frenzy of activity, she had a boiler washout on Friday, followed by a mechanical fitness to run exam and a steam test on Saturday.

7820, back at home on the GWSR
Unfortunately, Dinmore Manor won't be home for too long as she is soon off to star in events on the Battlefield line and the Severn Valley Railway, but she will be back once again in good time to take part in the Santa Specials.
Phil, mid-way through the FTR exam (photo courtesy of Steve Jones)
Mike stokes the fire in readiness for the steam test
Nigel cleans Dinmore Manor, Mike and Mark try to hide from the camera
Dinmore Manor has now been paired with the tender that until the end of last month was running behind 3850, the borrowed one will be returned shortly to the Bluebell Railway.  3850, including her tender was as you may recollect, "weathered" for a photo charter, and the paint applied as part of the weathering process now needed to be removed.  Kenneth attacked the tender the old fashioned way using a bucket of soapy water and a long handled brush.
Kenneth cleaning Dinmore Manor's newly fitted tender
3850 of course was heavily weathered, and I took on the task of cleaning that off.  I'm not such a luddite that I feel a compulsion to stick with 20th Century techniques of cleaning locos, if some 21st Century labour saving device is available.  So it was that I got the pressure washer out of its storage container and gave 3850 a thorough going over.  You never truly get a steam loco clean, and at times I felt that I was just rearranging the muck, but I think it emerged looking better for the treatment.  Several kindly folk took photos of me at work and offered to send them my way for inclusion here, needless to say, all have been rejected for the usual reason.

I'd not used the pressure washer for a while and had to work out how to use it again, I soon remembered that it's best to stand upwind of the direction of spray. 
A tender-less 3850 prior to cleaning
Giving the frames some pressure washing therapy
Some of the weathering proved to be remarkably stubborn.
The first tentative steps towards 3850's overhaul kicked off with the removal of her injectors which are to be sent off for refurbishment. 
Kenneth at work on the driver's side injector
One injector, removed and ready for cleaning
Nigel detaches the fireman's side injector
Kenneth starting to clean the injectors.
I have received a collection of photos of 3850's last day in service on the 30th of September, here is a small selection of them:
3850 under the canopy at Toddington
Waiting to set off from Cheltenham Race Course Station
In platform 1 at Winchcombe
 I particularly like this last one of 3850 with her crew at disposal, Mark (l) and Mike.  You may remember that this was the day that Mike has passed out as a fireman.
Mark, Mike & 3850
The four preceding photos, all courtesy of David Holmes.

Last but not least of the DMLL activities, was getting on with the real tender for Dinmore Manor.
Nigel (new starter) paints axle box covers
There was a lot of activity on the tender regarding the assembly of the brake rigging:
Raising one of the brake shafts. (photo courtesy of Mark Harding)
Tony using the hoist to lift one of the brake shafts into place (photo courtesy of Mark Harding)
Brake shaft and brake blocks in place
 Camera angles were a bit hard to come by, but Toddington looked like a proper steam shed on Saturday, 35006, 7820, 4270, 5542 and 2807 all in view in the photo below, 3850 just out of sight on the road to the right.
Toddington MPD
 It wasn't all just work on the Dinmore Manor stable of locos, 2807 had been out on a fire and drive on Friday and needed her grate and smoke box cleaning out. 

Foremarke Hall may be largely out of sight at Tyseley, but not out of mind:
Steve (l) and John work on Foremarke Hall's plumbing
 A large team of people were at work on 5542, reinstating her steam heating which has been disconnected for a while.  I'm sure that our customers will appreciate this now that the season of colder weather is rapidly approaching.
Clive at work on the steam heating
 5542 has had a few problems with the woodwork in her cab floor, Aaron had a go at cutting a few new bits of timber to size to effect a repair.
Aaron crafts a new floor board, John supervises (photo courtesy of Mark Harding)
The shops have long since been full of Christmas cards and festive fayre.  I'm pleased to say that we display rather better taste on the GWSR, by not kicking off the seasonal stuff until the last weekend in November.  We still need to make preparations behind the scenes though, and Sean has been repainting the Santa Express head boards.  The first one has returned from its refurbishment and looks extremely good.  
Very nicely turned out.
 In a departure from usual, the head board has been protected from the ravages of the shed by being placed in a cover.  If we did this for all our head boards, we'd have a hard time when we tried to rummage through them all to track down the one we were looking for.
Safe and sound
Photos of Sean at work have failed to surface so far, but this one of him later on in the day appeared on a well known social media web site:
Sean (photo courtesy of Steve Jones)
 It's not instantly obvious what is going on here, but I am assured that Sean was demonstrating for the camera the tried and trusted technique employed by drivers to encourage firemen to have ample boiler pressure available at departure time.  It's not recorded what Aaron's views on that were.

Readers of this blog with memories that stretch back to last year year will recall that the two Santa Express head boards are different, one aluminium, the other one wood.  The wooden one being highly favoured by crews as it was subtstantially lighter than the other, and less grief to move from one end of the loco to the other.  The bad news is that the wooden one has been retired, to be replaced by another aluminium one.  There's nothing for it, we'll all have to start having three shredded wheat for breakfast.

And finally, during the "Speed to the West" steam gala back at the end of May, on the final day, you may have seen a film crew loitering with intent on the railway.  Filming was taking place for a More4 series entitled Disappearing Britain.  Some of the preview trailers have caused a bit of a stir in the steam loco dept as both George and Neil have been glimpsed on the screen.  Yours truly knew about the cameras in advance and steered well clear of anybody who looked like they might possibly shove a microphone under his nose and start asking questions, so you'll have no excuse to avoid watching it.  To relive the delights of the gala, settle down in your favourite chair, put your phone on mute and tune your tv to the More4 channel on  Thursday evening at 21:00.