Monday, 15 January 2018

One In, One Out

Your humble blogger was tied up in a gala committee meeting in the morning and had a pressing engagement elsewhere in the afternoon, so a slightly sparse report this week I'm afraid.  The two items that I have for you both come under the heading of good news though.   The first item is that after a sojourn on the Llangollen Railway, 2807 has returned and is now well into her winter maintenance programme.

Amongst the myriad tasks taken on, was a boiler washout
Bruce (l) & Gilbert highly visibly washing out 2807's boiler (photo courtesy of Roger Molesworth)
The fireman's side leading coupling rod requires new bushes and to get at it of course, you need to remove the connecting rod.  This was new-starter Rob's first chance to get stuck in with the loco, doubtless a pleasant change from making boot scrapers.
Rob about to remove the connecting rod (photo courtesy of Roger Molesworth)
Job done, coupling rod next (photo courtesy of Roger Molesworth) 
The driver's side piston valve is also in need of some attention, John prepped for the job by removing the access cover, running board plates and lamp bracket.
John excavating the driver's side piston valve (photo courtesy of Roger Molesworth)
This was all on top of the usual winterisation tasks such as draining the hydrostatic lubricators and removing the injector innards
David draining the hydrostatic lubricator (photo courtesy of Roger Molesworth)
Well that's the "One In" from the title of this post, what is the "One Out"?  Well, that is 76077, which has been fetched out of its isolated spot on the north siding into the car park
The mortal remains of 76077 (photo courtesy of Pete Gutteridge)
The various items have been craned off of the well wagons and are now cordoned off in a section of the car park. They will soon have a small marquee erected over them, a contractor will then come in, shot blast the lot and then coat everything in primer.  After that, the owner (probably assisted by GWSR volunteers) will get the frames into top coat before it gets sent off to Locomotive Maintenance Services for the start of its restoration.  The clock is ticking on this, as we need the space back in the car park before the 2018 running season starts.
76077's Boiler...
...and pony truck
After so long in the doldrums, it is wonderful to see 76077 on the road to running again.  Watch this space for more news on her progress as and when the information becomes available.

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Winter Maintenance Begins

Monday the 1st of January was confusingly the 1st running day of 2018, yet the final day of the 2017 season.  The weather was a bit confused too, rain on and off, ending with a nice sunset.  Foremarke Hall stood in for Dinmore Manor:
Setting sun at Gotherington
Foremarke Hall simmering in the shed at the end of the season
The other loco running on January 1st was 5526, which has now gone back to the South Devon Railway with our thanks for its use over the Santa season. 

That brought the curtain down on the 2017 season, and aside from a few lost days due to snow in December, a very good year.  I understand that we still came in with over 100,000 passengers over the course of the year, setting another record.

Leaning back on laurels however is a luxury that the steam loco dept can't afford, we now have to deal with all the winter maintenance of our running fleet of locos for the 2018 season, which kicks off on the 10th of March, a shade over 2 months away from now.

Judging by the scaffolding on Toddington signal box, the S&T dept have a bit of work on their hands too.
Toddington signal box coming in for some TLC
Saturday was fairly cold, the pile of snow that had been shifted from the parking spaces in the car park over a week ago still hadn't warmed up enough to melt away. 
Ammunition for a snow ball fight or a kit of parts for an igloo?
 Most people sensibly elected to locate things to do inside the David Page shed, as it was marginally warmer in there than outside.

I had noticed on New Year's day that the lamp stand had been completed, but it was too dark to take a photo then.  There was plenty of light on Saturday, but somebody had parked one of the diesels in the way, so you'll have to make do with a very side on shot I'm afraid.
All the lamps neatly set out.
 The cabinets that the lamps had been squirrelled away in hitherto, had caused the lamps to get bashed about a bit when they were being put in/taken out.  Hopefully this arrangement will spare the lamps any more damage.

Speaking of damage, one of the main jobs on Dinmore Manor was to effect a temporary repair on the spring hanger that failed during the Christmas Cracker event.  The hanger had sheared through, leaving one of the bogie springs supported at one end only.
The remains of the hanger, plus the spring
Close up of the broken spring hanger
The nut that came off, with the sheared off hanger still inside
 The steel has been ordered, and four new spring hangers will be machined up.  Although only one has broken, because it is such a difficult job to change them, that it makes more sense to replace the lot rather than risk them going one at a time over the next year or so and causing a great deal of extra work and lost steamings.

It will take a few weeks to get the spring hangers machined and ready to be fitted, so the object of the exercise now, was merely to repair it well enough to allow Dinmore Manor to be shunted around if need be.  It is currently over the indoor pit on road 7, and it's blocking 35006 on the lifting jacks.

The temporary "fix" was to weld the nut back in place on the spring hanger and reassemble it.
Welded back in place
By then end of the day, Dinmore Manor was at least in a position where it could be safely shunted again.

As mentioned above, 35006 was still on the lifting jacks.  The good news is that the axle boxes have all been examined and found to be in good order
35006 on the jacks
Of course, not being on a pit made it a bit cramped under there
 I was amused to note that at least three of the chocks under 35006 were stamped with 2807 on them.
Chocks away!

The lubrication pads from some of the axle boxes
John M applies oil before re-fitting them
 Little appeared to be happening to Foremarke Hall, its tender had already been coated with its annual coat of bitumastic paint, however John C was busy removing the injectors for a spot of cleaning:
John C removing injectors
 Roger and Chris had a go at coating the coal space in Dinmore Manor's tender with the bitumastic paint.  The paint doesn't flow very well at the best of times, and when the needle of the thermometer is hovering at around the freezing mark, it doesn't flow at all.  It's better applied with a trowel than a paint brush.  Not to be deterred, the intrepid team came up with a novel solution:
Roger puts the tin in a bucket and pours in boiling water
After a while to let the bitumastic paint warm up a bit, they set to work in Dinmore Manor's tender.
Roger (l) and Chris at work
Other winter maintenance tasks on Dinmore Manor included re-cutting the ejector seat.  Steam has a habit of cutting grooves in brass components, and re-facing the valve joints from time to time is a necessary evil.
Mike re-cutting the ejector valve seat
 Other tasks in hand were removing the grate (which will be being changed soon).
Sam removing the grate
 The safety valves were also taken off, again, like the ejector they would need their faces lapping in to provide a steam tight joint once again
Safety valve bonnet
Bonnet removed, safety valves in the middle, clack valves to the sides
Safely removed and stored in the DMLL container
The boilers from 3845 and 2874 are both now ready for NDT testing.
2874 on the left, 3845 on the right
The 2807 group are avidly awaiting the return of their loco, which will be arriving back at Toddington in the near future. There are only so many boot scrapers that you can make before you lose the will to live.
Bruce works on yet another boot scraper
In fact there was something of a production line going on in their container
 The very good news is that 2807 will shortly be back after a successful venture out to the Llangollen Railway and they'll soon be able to get on with their own winter maintenance programme.

 Another task on the go in the department at the moment, is to make a stand inside the shed for the various bottle jacks that we have.  A stand has been welded up, and Gwendolyne & Ade were busy cleaning up any rough edges, before painting could commence
Gwendolyne (l) & Ade
Some time later, nicely coated in primer
 Sam even found some time to remove some of the worn plate work from Dinmore Manor's old tender:
Sam at work.