Monday, 24 October 2016

One for the Bog

Saturday saw a rules and signals mutual improvement class led by Steve, who was keen to show off the whizzy new PowerPoint presentation training material that he had created.  The graphics which were not infrequently interspersed with American style steam locos trundling along a track and crashing into each other with a rather satisfying boom, were nonetheless a very useful refresher session. 

The concreting of road 6 is now well under way, another pour in the 4' having taken place during the course of the week.  John sent me the following photos of a fair team of people (Ade, Clive, John, Martin, Alex, Jamie, 2 x Chris's and of course Tim & Neal) at work on Friday.  The next two photos courtesy of John Cruxon.
A deceptive perspective, really about two thirds done from the far end
Finishing off levelling the concrete
Tim & Neal were the only people in evidence working on it on Saturday though, removing the shuttering.
Tim(l) & Neal.
 It's hard to tell from this angle, however the extent of the concrete on road 6, now extends about two thirds of the way down the length of the shed.
The end is in sight.
A week or two ago,  I reported on the fact that the rather deformed ash pan on 35006 was being worked on. The bowed section has now been replaced with what is hoped to be a sturdier section of steel.
A fine looking job
 Perhaps a little less glamorous, but no less important, John and Dave were busying themselves on Saturday with draining water contaminated oil out of the axle boxes.
John, draining oil.
 The Dinmore Manor group had a fair presence on site on Saturday, needle gunning and priming 3850's boiler being a priority, as that needs to be completed before the full Non-Destructive Testing of the boiler can take place.
David (l) & Keith, busy with needle guns.
 Once the needle gunning and wire brushing had been done, they added a coat of heat resistant, rust inhibiting primer.  When they paused for a tea break, the side of the boiler looked rather like a slice of Battenburg cake, uncharacteristically, I resisted the temptation to try a piece.
Not one of the "Exceedingly Good" cakes.
 Tea break finished, David & Keith finished priming the sections that they had completed.
It's getting there.
 By the end of ten years of faithful service, a steam loco will have collected a fair accumulation of grime, as well as a bit of rust. That will of course all need to be removed one way or another before renovation can begin.
Nigel wire brushing a cylinder cover
 Cylinder covers are remarkably heavy items, requiring a few people people to manhandle them back into the container after they had been cleaned.

A little more work on 3850's motion has taken place, with the lifting links now removed, cleaned and placed into storage.
The cleaning bath had two right hand gloves, but no left one... Doh!
Lifting links in the container.
Meanwhile, an item that had yet to be done for Dinmore Manor's new tender was the guard irons, Kenneth was in the Dinmore Manor container treating them to some grey undercoat. 
Kenneth painting the guard irons.
As you may be aware, 2807 has been away for a spell at the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, appearing in their recent gala.  Unfortunately during that time, one of her tubes started to leak.  The tube in question was sealed at both ends and she was able to continue in service.  Now that she has returned to Toddington, we needed to establish if the problem was just a single manufacturing defect in one tube, or if it was an issue that affected all of them.  The answer lay in removing the failing tube and examining it.
2807's smoke box.
Unfortunately, the leaking tube was at the top of the boiler and concealed behind the superheaters, giving very limited access.  Without removing the superheater elements & header, the tube was only going to come out in small pieces, which is what happened, Phil pushing the tube from the firebox end, Ian cutting it off in 6" sections as it appeared in the smoke box:
The first section to emerge... fact it was the first of many.
Finally, the failing section of the tube was located, the hole the size of a pin prick was found in the indented area towards the left hand side.
It may not have been big, but with 225 PSI behind it...
This is excellent news, apart from the one small pin prick of a hole, the rest of the tube was in excellent fettle, with plenty of good solid metal left in it.  Had the problem been due to the tube having worn thin, then it would have indicated that the rest of the tubes were probably nearly life-expired, which in turn would have necessitated a full re-tube. As things stand, it looks like it will just require the replacement of the one tube.  

I received the final picture from Phil, of him and Ian having successfully removed the offending tube, an unfortunate typo on his part in the accompanying text said "One for the bog".  I hope that he meant "One for the blog".
Phil (l) & Ian

Monday, 17 October 2016

Welded to the Railway

The concreting of road 6 in the David Page shed has progressed significantly during the last week, prompting an influx of emails to your humble blogmeister containing photos of the work in hand:
Concrete mixer arrives (Photo courtesy of Roger Tipton)
The concrete pour begins (Photo courtesy of Roger Tipton)
By the end of Wednesday, a sizable section of the floor had been done.
Photo courtesy of John Cruxon
Moving forward to Saturday, yet more concreting was taking place in the David Page shed
A second section in progress
Even a section of the apron on road 7 had been done too
I didn't have the pleasure of meeting Luke, a new starter in the department, however that didn't prevent him from forwarding a few photos of more preparatory work for the next concrete pour on Saturday, with shuttering and steel reinforcing being put in place:

The next two photos both by kind permission of Luke Hudman:
Wednesday's pour on the left, steel reinforcing appearing
No explanatory notes came with this picture, however I have to hope that Aaron was about to weld some of the steel reinforcement into place rather than weld Sean's boots to the track.
Aaron about to weld something... but what?
More work has taken place on 2874 during the week, with a few more photos appearing from Roger.   With the boiler now out of the frames, the full extent of the corrosion of the rear drag box is becoming evident.  There will be a lot of work required here before she is ready to run under her own steam again.
2874's rear drag box as seen from between the frames (photo courtesy of Roger Tipton)
 That the final years of the decline of steam on British Railways saw a sad neglect of maintenance is well known and documented however the following image of a pin that secured one of the brake equalising beams is still shocking. 
Used and abused (photo courtesy of Roger Tipton)
 The well known second hand car joke, "One careful owner, the rest were not so choosy" seems to be applicable here.  The Great Western Railway (as in the 1835 established original company to trade by that name) was the first careful owner, the 2874 Trust will now carry on in that tradition rather than the one shown subsequently by BR (at least in its latter years of ownership). 

Saturday was the date of the AGM of Dinmore Manor Locomotive LTD (DMLL), the owners of Dinmore Manor (well the clue was in the name) as well as 3850, 3845 and until the 2874 Trust formally takes ownership, the owners of 2874 as well.   The group's supporters gathered for a round trip of the line behind their flagship loco with a fish and chip lunch, before heading off to the Toddington village hall for the actual AGM.
Dinmore Manor setting off on the first round trip of the day
 For the lunchtime run, with the DMLL members on board, the "Dinmore Manor Shareholders Special" headboard was rummaged up and put in place on the top lamp bracket.
DMLL Shareholders Special, about to depart
 The lure of fish and chips was too strong, but at least I had enough time before hand to get in a little light needle gunning of 3850's boiler before joining the train.  Roger had been around for much of the week and had managed to make a great deal of progress, including finishing off the backhead and the whole of the top of the firebox.
Needle gunned & primed firebox crown...
...and the now finished backhead.
Roger's extraordinary input of time and effort into working on 3850 & 2874 was  recognised by DMLL at the AGM, by awarding him the "Volunteers Cup".

One of the diesel shunters that is used from time to time to shunt the yard has been jacked up to allow its springs to be removed so that they can be sent away as a batch for refurbishing.

Des, all 6 springs removed
The drain funnel for the parachute tank in the yard that was manufactured last week has been painted
Tim painting the new drain for the parachute tank on Wednesday (photo courtesy of John Cruxon)
 On Saturday, somebody (I'm afraid that I don't know who) had treated it to a top coat.
Soon be ready for installing.
Later on in the day, after the DMLL AGM, I needed to put a warming into 4270, as I would be its fireman on Sunday.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that a keen new starter in the Steam Loco Dept called Mike had decided to hang around until the end of the day to see if he could help.  Of course he could:
Mike getting the warming fire going in 4270.
Sunday morning arrived, and as if on cue, the heavens opened as soon as we had started prepping 4270 for the day's work to come.
Steve watches as trainee driver Clive oils up 4270
Cleaner Andrew tries to shelter under the running plate whilst cleaning the wheels & motion
 As luck would have it, the skies cleared up as soon as we set off shed and stayed clear for the rest of the day.  Operationally, we had a slight issue, the water crane on the end of platform 2 at Toddington is currently out of use.  This meant that we had to take water each time at Cheltenham where we had little time to do it. 
It helped that we could fill up before we left the yard.
Ready to leave on time from Toddington...
...and off we went...
...and into Greet tunnel, which has yet to be relocated
 It was perfect conditions for lineside photography, and the usual suspects were to be seen at various points along the line with their cameras.  One enterprising chap at Gotherington was even using one of those new-fangled drones. 
Smile, you're on candid camera!
 As noted earlier, the water crane on platform 2 at Toddington where we would usually replenish our tanks was out of action.  That forced us to take water each trip at Cheltenham.  The timetable allows little more than time for a "splash & dash", rather than fully filling the tanks.  The fact that the water tanks on 4270 take a fair while to balance across (the one you're filling can be full and the one on the other side still half empty) meant that we were taking rather longer on the runarounds than the timetable allowed.  My apologies to anybody who was inconvenienced by our slightly late departures from Cheltenham Race Course on one or two of the trips.
Some of the water dispensed even reached the tanks.
Breakfast was kindly provided by Steve
 One thing that I have noticed with trainee drivers, is that they all seem to miss using the shovel.  Clive was no exception, and whilst I was busy pulling down coal in the bunker, he took the opportunity to swipe the shovel and build up the fire for me.
Clive building up the fire...
... and eventually back on his side of the cab.
 I don't think that I've seen it reported anywhere else yet, but platform 2 at Cheltenham Race Course has now been given a layer of tarmac.  The team that built platform 2 must be congratulated on a first rate job.
CRC platform 2
 A hot tip for any cleaners/trainee firepersons, presenting the hard working crews with a cup of tea when they arrive back at Toddington will always be extremely welcome
Eleanor has got the idea... she'll go far!
And finally, Dan has read all the way to here in this blog post and must have thought by now that he had got away with it... no such luck!  He'd been keeping it quiet, but on Sunday he reached the grand old age of 21, which as a number of people pointed out makes him the same age as me.
Dan, 2 years ago on his first solo firing turn (photo courtesy of Jamie Christie)
Happy birthday Dan.

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Waste Not, Want Not

Last week, the "Wednesday gang" received a request from the Operations Manger to attend to the lubrication of the axle boxes of the flat wagons that had been used to take the new rail up to the Broadway extension recently.  The wagons had been fetched up from Hunting Butts after a lengthy period of inactivity and now required some attention.  In particular, the axle boxes needed topping up with oil.  All 16 axle boxes involved have now been filled and the wagons declared fit for ferrying the next delivery of rail to the rail head when the time comes.
Some of the Wednesday gang at work on the axle boxes (photo courtesy of John Cruxon)
After that, the Wednesday gang cracked on with preparing road 6 for the next concrete pour.  Two areas inside & outside the shed were prepared for a concrete delivery on the 12th.  This is on top of the usual jobs of chopping up the lighting up wood & cleaning/maintaining the running fleet of locos.
Road 6, prepared for the next concrete pour
Finishing off concreting road 6 is important, as the commissioning of the lifting jacks is dependent on that being done first.

A combination of work, family events & holiday has meant that I haven't managed to be around on a Saturday for a few weeks now, so it was good to be able to catch up with what was going on last Saturday.  For a start, loco cleaning is a never ending task, Alex & Ian set to making Dinmore Manor sparkle again:
Ian (l) and Alex bringing back the shine to Dinmore Manor
In my absence, it came as no surprise that the steam loco dept has retained its reputation for prolific tea consumption.
Steve (l) & Phil demonstrating the art of tea drinking
Both pistons had been removed from 3850, along with a last few items from the brakes and suspension, which required cleaning with the pressure washer before putting away in the new container.  The pressure washer has proved to be a bit reluctant to play ball lately though, and in spite of the best efforts of a number of people, it continued to sulk.  A cold pressure wash is better than nothing, but still leaves a lot to be desired in terms of its ability to get things clean.
John tests the pressure washer
Phil & Steve join in trying to get it fixed
In the end, it was cold water only to clean 3850's vacuum pump
Dave decided to clean the pit step ladder with it anyway
There were quite a few heavy items that had been removed from 3850 over the last few weeks which needed to be removed from the shed and placed into one of the containers.
Ian hoists a piston onto a trolley, Sam steadies it
Keith with a cross head and cylinder cover about to be stashed away
(l-r) Sam, Keith & Tony shifting slide bars
Some items were a bit to big for manhandling and mechanical assistance was required.
I think this was the start of the linkage from the brake cylinder
The rear cylinder covers of GWR locos at least, pretty much never get removed, the piston usually being removed from the front where there is more access.  It is highly likely that the last time they were removed from 3850, was when it was still in BR service.  In this case, because we'll be replacing the cylinder block due to the large crack in it, everything fitted to it will need to be removed.
RH rear cylinder cover
The technique for removing rear cylinder covers, was to find an old length of sleeper, suspend it from the mobile hoist and then swing it back and forth through the cylinder to clout the cover.  It did the trick nicely.
Keith propels the sleeper through the cylinder and into the cover.
Once that was done, the next job was to finish prepping 3850 for being lifted off of its wheels.  The pony truck horn ties are amongst the small number of things left preventing that, so Keith & I set to removing the split pins and lock nuts in anticipation of that.
Keith removing split pins and lock nuts from the pony truck horn ties
35006 is now in its period of winter maintenance, the jobs that were identified during its period of running over the summer are now being dealt with.  Dave & John were to be found at work underneath it in the pit.
Dave (l) & John.
 The task for Saturday was to make a start on repairing the ash pan, some deformation has occurred which will need remedying.
In need of some therapy.
And finally, the recently erected water tank in the yard still hasn't had a drain fitted, a job for Saturday was to fabricate one:
Chris de-rusts what will become the top of the drain.
Two sections are welded together
With a backstop added and a drain pipe (actually a cut off section of flue tube from 3850's boiler), the whole thing starts to take shape.
Unfortunately Pete appears to have mistaken it for a hat
Some of the team responsible for getting it this far:
(l-r) Steve, Jamie, Phil & John
All that is left is to paint it and concrete it into the ground by the yard water tank.

The remainder of the flue tube has been pressed into service as an umbrella stand at the offices where Jonathan works.  Waste not, want not!
3850 custom umbrella stand (photo courtesy of Jonathan Perks)
It put me in mind of an old riddle:  "What goes up a chimney down, but not down a chimney up?".