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.


  1. Yes. The setting sun does give a great winter photo. The pic of the Box at Toddington looks wintery, but for a different reason, with the cold mist in the background. The lamp stand does look the 'biz' with all the lamps on it. Now the bottle jack rack (will it look as good?).
    Q: What will be the use put to Dinmore Manor's old tender when complete? Regards, Paul.

    1. Dinmore Manor's old tender has already seen use for 8 years behind Dinmore in its first ticket in preservation, then 10 years behind 3850 before a final stint with Dinmore when 3850 was withdrawn in 2016. Once the overhaul is complete it will be ready to go behind 3850 again once her heavy overhaul is completed. Of course, if anyone would like to hire the tender for a while until 3850 is ready for it we will be delighted to hear from them!

  2. HYN. I do find the 'workshop news' items the most interesting. The close ups of parts are much appreciated by modellers, for instance. Thanks for a very good blog. .