Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Roll Out the Barrel

I am pleased to see that we have had some response to the appeal for more cleaning rags, I was pleasantly surprised to find one in the oil store still in its original wrapping
We don't normally get rags still in their original wrapping
 I was even more surprised when I got to the oil store and discovered that it had come from a box full of shirts. 
A box full
Thank you to the kind soul who donated them, they will of course be put to good use, however we need much more, our stocks are extremely depleted at the moment.  If you were considering replacing your curtains, or getting rid of your old winter clothes and replacing them with summer ones, then this would be a good time to do it.   The rag collecting point is the green bin attached to the fence at the yard entrance.  All donations gratefully received.

Moving swiftly along, it seems that we have some students of literature amongst our number.  Some years ago, one of the conveniences in the yard was out of action and marked as "Do Not Use Pan insecure".  The message remained long after it had been fixed and returned to service.  Rather belatedly, it has had an addendum:
Pan insecure
 It is a considerable while since I last read Peter Pan, but I recollect just the one crocodile which had swallowed a clock and was after Captain Hook, not Peter Pan. Never mind, it amused me anyway.  You get a better standard of graffiti at the GWSR.

Last Wednesday morning, yours truly was up bright and early to dispose both 35006 and Dinmore Manor, followed by lighting up and running 35006 for the day.  As I write this, the weather is gloriously sunny... it wasn't at all like that on Wednesday.  
35006 being coaled up in the pouring rain
 The fireman for Dinmore Manor was Ed, he arrived complaining of a combination of the dreaded man flu and norovirus. He was clearly trying to elicit sympathy... you won't be at all surprised to hear that he didn't get any. In the end, a spare fireman (John) was found and Ed went off back home to recuperate.  I steered well clear of Ed all the same, just in case he really was contagious.  
Ed, just before being relieved of Dinmore Manor
Clive in the office.
The cleaner (Steve)
 Our arrival back on shed at the end of the day was delayed whilst one of the new yard lamps was erected.
Lamp erection team at work.
 We had been running with a rake of 7 on Wednesday, as one of the coaches had been found to have a faulty spring.  It had been removed from the rake to have the spring changed.
The errant coach (Photo courtesy of Peter Gutteridge)
The broken leaf spring (Photo courtesy of Peter Gutteridge)
Changing the spring (Photo courtesy of Peter Gutteridge)
The broken spring now removed (Photo courtesy of Peter Gutteridge)
 The coach was inserted back into the rake at the same time that the diesel took over for the last round trip of the day.
A new yard lamp erected (Photo courtesy of Peter Gutteridge)
 Being a glutton for punishment, I was back again on Saturday, this time with Steve as my driver and Adam as the rostered cleaner.  I had 35006 once again.  I was down as the prep crew, which meant that I was also responsible for lighting up 4270 as well.  In fact, Adam is well advanced in fireman training and once I had done the initial safety checks he was very capable of sorting out 4270 by himself.
Adam (L) and Peter cleaning the pit once 35006 had moved forward
 The operations notices had mentioned that there would be a 10 MPH temporary speed restriction (TSR) at Didbrook for the P Way team to undertake track maintenance.  They were still getting themselves set up when we arrived.
TSR not quite yet in place.
 Adam fired us down to Cheltenham and kept everything nicely under control.
Adam on the shovel
Running round at Broadway
 At Cheltenham, I was asked by a chap about the principles of how steam locomotives work, after a bit of a chat, he announced that he didn't really want to know for himself, but for his wife who had dragged him along.  Later on at Broadway, we had a hen party on the train, with the bride to be and her entourage wanting photos taking with the locomotive.  It seems that steam locomotives are becoming more & more popular with the fair sex.
Hen night photos by 35006
The bride to be
 I assume that the chap in the above photo is the husband to be, though they are not usually invited on hen nights, so who knows.

The nice thing about getting a prep turn on a red timetable day is that after you have done your round trip, there is still plenty of time in the day to do something useful in the shed.

I noted that much has been done on the Peckett, John (works number 1976), with much of the cab having been painted in primer.
Peckett cab components
 A recent blog post regarding the building of a new cab for 2874 showed a photo of the new brass castings for the spectacle windows.  This prompted a question from one reader regarding where these were to go.   The answer is that as built, the 28XX locos had a pair of spectacle windows at the top front part of the cab, either side of the whistle.  They were use to neither man nor beast, unless you happened to be around 7'2" tall.  

4270 still has them fitted, as this photo that I rummaged up on flickr shows.  Being of little use, the spectacle windows were generally replaced during GWR/BR service with a steel insert.  This happened to 2807 and 2874.   In the original cab sheet of 2874, you can see where the steel insert to replace one of the spectacle windows went.
Where a spectacle window originally was.
 The plan of course is to revert 2874 to as near as built condition as possible, so the spectacle windows will be reinstated and that is what the new castings are for.
The new castings ready for machining.
The frame that the cab will be built on for 2874 is now finished and painted black, the first bits of angle iron of the cab are in primer and have been bolted on.
Angela & Cliff, having just got the frame and cab angle iron finished
 Going back to that original bit of cab sheeting, there was a bracket bolted on to it that needed salvaging for the new cab.  I ended up removing it (angle grinder therapy required).
The wanted bracket
 By the end of the day, it had been wire brushed and was in primer and hanging up in a container to dry:
It's got a good few more years of life left in it yet
Various other bits of angle bracket that couldn't be salvaged from the original, having rusted beyond salvation, were having replacements fabricated in the machine shop
New angle brackets being trimmed to size.
 Meanwhile, 2807 was nearing the end of its washout cycle, Gil was busy tapping washout plug threads and boxing it up again.
2807, soon be back in traffic again
The new lamp by the parachute tank in the yard.
 An unusual item of interest, apparently one of the variety of wagons used for storage in the yard was getting a clear out, and amongst the items that were being weighed in for scrap were the cut off ends of some old coupling rods.

Mortal remains of a coupling rod
 Some debate ensued as to what steam loco they could have come from... in the end, a big clue was D9510 stamped on one of them.  D9510 was a class 14 diesel hydraulic, which was cut up on site at BSC Corby in August 1982.  How the cut off ends of its coupling rods ended up in a wagon at Toddington will probably remain a mystery.
The view from the footplate can be rather nice at times
 And finally, Mike was at Tyseley on other business on Monday, when he noticed this being put on a van to go to Riley's.  It is the replacement front boiler barrel section for 3850.  More news on 3850 is that machining has commenced on its new cylinder block.  It's all slowly pulling together.
Front boiler barrel section loaded and ready to go (photo courtesy of Mike Solloway)

Tuesday, 7 May 2019

Counting Down to the Gala

The gala preparations are now slowly but surely edging into the home strait, in fact with a few weeks to go, the first of our gala guests has arrived at Toddington:
6023, King Edward II arriving at Toddington (Photo courtesy of Chris Blake)
Her first running day is currently scheduled to be Saturday 25th May, the first day of the gala.

The website is almost fully populated with all the relevant information.  For instance, the footplate rides are selling fast, with at the tme of writing, just four left to choose from.  The details of the footplate rides can be found by following this link.  A not to be forgotten experience, or the ideal present for the steam fanatic in your life. The timetable for the gala has now also very recently been put up on the website and can be found by clicking on this link.   The only missing item that I am aware of is the connecting bus service from Cheltenham Spa Railway station to Cheltenham Race Course station.  I understand that it's not far from being finalised and being made available.

So as a reminder, here is the loco line up that all being well (touch wood/cross fingers etc) will be with us for the late May bank holiday weekend:

Starting with the visitors, in order of age:
Mackintosh 0-4-4T, 419
(Courtesy of the Scottish Railway Preservation Society)

No. 419 is a member of the Caledonian Railway’s ‘439’ class of 0-4-4 tank engines designed by J F Mackintosh. Between 1900 and 1925, 92 were built, mostly at St. Rollox Works in Glasgow, no. 419 being turned out from there in 1907. Of a very attractive design, these ‘Caley Tanks’ were mainly used on suburban and branch line passenger services as well as banking duties and light freight work. The engine survived well into British Railways days as no. 55189, being withdrawn from Carstairs depot in 1962 after a creditable 55 years of sterling service, all North of the border. It was then sold to the Scottish Railway Preservation Society (SRPS) for £750. It was overhauled and returned to steam in 1971 and, after a further overhaul which was completed in October 2018, is now based at the Bo’ness & Kinneil Railway. No. 419 is finished in a very attractive ‘Perth blue’ livery and it will add a delightful splash of colour to the Festival.

Collett King Class, 6023, King Edward II
(Courtesy of The Great Western Society)

The King class locomotives were the pinnacle of the Great Western Railway's four cylinder 4-6-0 locomotive development. The genesis of the design started with Churchward's Star class, first introduced in 1907 for express passenger trains to and from London Paddington to the West Country and the West Midlands. When Collett succeeded Churchward as the GWR's Chief Mechanical Engineer in 1922, he first modified the design to come up with his Castle class of locomotives and further enhanced it again with the 30 strong King class, introduced in 1927. 6023 entered service in June 1930, and was initially allocated to Newton Abbot, followed by periods at Plymouth (Laira), Old Oak Common and Cardiff Canton, from where it was withdrawn in June 1962 having covered 1,554,201 miles, Via a circuitous route, 6023 was eventually sold to the legendary Barry scrap yard, from where she was ultimately saved and restored. The restoration was more difficult than most as one of the sets of driving wheels had been cut through after a shunting accident at Barry, so one of the first restoration tasks was to take on the job of casting new wheels. No. 6023 appeared at the Cotswold Festival of Steam in 2018 and was an extremely popular visitor. The GWSR is delighted to welcome this hugely impressive engine back and we are pleased that it will remain until late August.

Thompson B1, 1264
(By courtesy of the Thompson B1 Locomotive Trust and the North Yorkshire Moors Railway)

The B1 class was designed by Edward Thompson, chief mechanical engineer of the London & North Eastern Railway, really as a wartime utility 4-6-0 that could more or less go anywhere, handling both freight and passenger traffic. Introduced in 1942, construction continued over the following decade with 410 completed, shared between Darlington works, Gorton works, Vulcan Foundry and the North British Locomotive Company which built no. 1264 in 1947. It entered service at Parkstone Quay, Harwich working services between there and London Liverpool Street including the Scandinavian boat trains. In 1960 it moved to Colwick operating services over the former Great Central line and was withdrawn from there in 1967, arriving at Barry scrapyard in South Wales the following year - having the fortunate distinction of being the only LNER locomtive to end up there. It was then bought for preservation in 1976 and over the next 21 years was restored to working order in 1997. In 1998 it moved to Carnforth for main line certification and subsequently put in thousands of miles service, most notably on the 'Jacobite' service between Fort William and Mallaig. In 2008 1264 was withdrawn for overhaul and re-entered revenue-earning service on the NYMR in 2013. The engine has recently been returned to its lined black LNER livery. This is the first time in preservation that a B1 has visited the line - but there is a published photograph of sister engine no. 61083 heading south through Bishops Cleeve with a diverted express from sheffield to Bristol, in 1961.

Moving on from the guests to the home fleet:
Churchward 2-8-0, 2807
This is the oldest Great Western Railway locomotive in working order, having been built in 1905: No. 2807 was a fine example of G J Churchward's engineering design excellence. It was the first 2-8-0 class to enter service in the UK and for many decades was the most powerful freight locomotive type in Britain. So successful were they that many of the class survived to the end of steam on the Western Region of British Railways in the 1960s. This fine 'heavyweight champion' re-entered service in 2010 and has been a regular and popular performer on the Gloucestershire Warwickshire railway ever since. It was restored mainly at Toddington - in fact, it was the first steam locomotive to arrive at the embryonic Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway in 1982.
Churchward 2-8-0T, 4270
No. 4270 missed the Cotswold Festival of Steam last year as it was away for wheelset repairs at Crewe so this is a welcome return. This locomotive spent its entire working life in South Wales handling mineral traffic. Essentially, it is a tank locomotive version of the 2800 class and in fact, was the only 2-8-0 tank locomotive class to run in the UK. The majority were used to handle coal and other mineral traffic, primarily in South Wales, where high power was needed to convey mineral traffic over relatively short distances and over often steeply-graded routes. It is a pleasingly attractive engine that returned to steam for the first time since withdrawal from British Railways in 1962 just in time for the 2014 Cotswold Festival of Steam. The locomotive has been subject to an extremely comprehensive restoration both at Toddington and off-site.
Bulleid 4-6-2, 35006, Peninsular & Oriental S.N. Co
The powerful Merchant Navy class are particularly associated with the heaviest express passenger services on the Southern Railway's routes from Waterloo to Bournemouth and to the West Country. Despite this, the class of 30 locomotives were ostensibly mixed traffic designs introduced by O V S Bulleid to a highly unconventional design, the first appearing from Eastleigh works in June 1941 looking quite unlike any other British steam locomotive, with an 'air-smoothed' boiler casing and incorporating many new features. Not least of these, was chain-driven valve gear for the middle of the three cylinders enclosed in an oilbath - intended to reduce routine maintenance. Although the engines were extremely capable, the design was let down by some of the new features. As a result, the entire class were rebuilt to conventional appearance during the late 1950s, as 35006 is now presented. In fact, 35006 was 'modified' in October 1959, the last to be so treated. 35006 was withdrawn from service in August 1964 having spent its entire working life allocated to Salisbury shed, working the heavy West of England expresses. It was the second locomotive to arrive at Toddington, from the scrapyard at Barry, South Wales, in 1983. It moved for the first time in preservation on 10 August 2015 and is a hugely popular locomotive on the railway now.
Hawksworth, 4-6-0, 7903, Foremarke Hall
The Great Western Railway's standard mixed traffic locomotives were the numerous Hall class 4-6-0s introduced in 1924 by C B Collett as a development of Churchward's 'Saint' class.  The Halls were extremely successful, economical and versatile - as at home with fast freight as they were with express passenger trains.  When F W Hawksworth became chief Mechanical Engineer at Swindon in 1941, he set about making a number of design changes to the class, the result being the 'Modified Hall' which was introduced in 1944.  Production contiunued until 1950, after nationalisation of the railways.  Foremarke Hall was completed in 1949.  Restored to working order in 2004, this popular locomotive has proved to be an extremely reliable performer over the ten years before its '10 year' overhaul, re-entering service just in time for the 2017 Cotswold Festival of Steam.
Collett, 4-6-0, 7820, Dinmore Manor
The Manor class is a smaller version of the earlier 'Grange' class designed by C B Collett and introduced in 1938. The Second World War interrupted production, which resumed in 1950 after the Great Western Railway had been nationalised to become the Western Region of British Railways. With a light axle loading the 30 'Manors' were very much at home handling freight as well as passenger trains and were particularly associated with secondary main lines such as the Cambrian route to the West coast of Wales. Indeed, the class famously handled the 'Cambrian Coast Express' which started from Paddington usually behind a 'Castle' class locomotive, the 'Manor' taking over from Shrewsbury. No. 7820 was the first post-war member of the class.

All the above text on the locomotives shamelessly nicked from the official website!

I'm sure that you'll agree, we have a pretty impressive line up of steam locomotives, never mind the traction engines (I beleive that we have booked rather more than usual this year) and the narrow gauge line being in operation.  Whatever your steam preference is, we have something for you.

Aside from the gala, Foremarke is currently receiving a bit of pre-gala TLC, her valves have been removed for a bit of fettling:
Getting a valve out (Photo courtesy of Peter Gutteridge)
Valve on the valve bench (Photo courtesy of Peter Gutteridge)
Where the valve was (Photo courtesy of Peter Gutteridge)
The boiler trolley mentioned in the last blog post is coming along, one of its wheels now being in top coat.
Boiler trolley wheel (Photo courtesy of Peter Gutteridge)
And finally, one of our firemen has decided that the time has come to hang up his shovel.  Graham retired from the footplate last week, after a day on 35006.  He had the benefit of not one, nor even two, but three inspectors on the footplate during the day.  Paul his driver was having his biennial reassessment, and a trainee inspector was assessing Paul under the supervision of Inspectors Irving & Lacey at various points during the day.
L-R, Inspector Irving, Graham, Inspector Lacey, & Paul
Graham will be devoting his spare time to art & golf, but fear not, he also intends to return to the steam department to assist with various other duties.  We thank you for all you have done for us over the years Graham and wish you a very happy retirement from the footplate.

Sunday, 28 April 2019

Rag Time Blues

The Cotswold Festival of Steam "Northern Soul" gala is now less than a month away, and as has become something of an annual tradition, the stock of cleaning rags is now perilously low again.  If you have any suitable old and otherwise unwanted items of clothing/curtains/towels or the like, please send it our way.  There is a green bin situated at the entrance of the yard at Toddington, please make your donations there. 

Last weekend, your humble scribe was out and about on the footplate of 2807 all day, which isn't particularly conducive to finding out what has been going on in the steam loco dept. I am therefore very thankful to Martin who provided me with the following photos, but alas no description of what was going on
Dinmore Manor covered in scaffolding, hopefully no Notre Dame repeat to come (photo courtesy of Martin Ginger)
3850's sandbox has moved from being primed to grey undercoat (photo courtesy of Martin Ginger)
Tony(R) instructing Jeremy on the use of a lathe (photo courtesy of Martin Ginger)
3850's tender being prepared for painting by David (photo courtesy of Martin Ginger)
Newly cast brass window frames and fittings for 2874 (photo courtesy of Martin Ginger)
Mike lifts out one of 3850's extension frames (photo courtesy of Martin Ginger)
Meanwhile, whilst Martin was keeping up to speed with the activities within the steam loco dept, I was out and about on 2807.   The photo below isn't perhaps the clearest, but ahead on the track towards Hunting Butts tunnel, a couple of young lads are playing.  This is not a safe place for them to be. If you are the parent or guardian of a child or children living in the area, please ensure that they know that the railway is not a playground and that they should stay outside of the fence.
Not a playground!
I noticed that shuttering has been put in place for foundations for the mark II wood store.  Hopefully that will be installed in the near future.
Wood store to be installed here.
Foremarke Hall arrives at Toddington
It was a driver training day for Chris...
...his instructor, Ian was pleased to see adequate pressure on the gauge...
...and it was a delightful day to be out on 2807.
Moving on to this weekend, we set our calendars back to the1940's.
OK, not a real Spitfire, but jolly impressive nonetheless
 Many of the people who turned up, including our volunteers took the trouble to don 1940's attire (I don't think my own personal wardrobe contains anything quite so contemporary).  Mike looked the part, however, being on first aid duty, he carted around a modern backpack of medical supplies.  To be fair, if there had been an accident, nobody would have wanted to be tended to by a first aider with 1940's bandages.
Mike, modern first aid in 1940's clothing
 Of course, there were other devices to be seen that weren't quite in keeping with the wartime event.
I don't think he was checking up on the football results from 1944 somehow
The trains ran to time, in spite of the best efforts of the Luftwaffe
4270 has entered traffic for the first time since she returned to us from the ELR.  Amongst the many things that have happened, is a spring change.  2807 has also managed to break a spring, which was changed on Friday.  The 2 broken springs were being cleaned and strapped to a wooden pallet ready to be sent off for refurbishment.
Eleanor resorts to reading the instruction manual, Peter grapples with the strap binding machine
 The floor of the shed has become rather filthy over the winter, Mike decided that it would be a good idea to scrape off the worst of the gunge and follow it up with some therapy with the steam cleaner.
We have some firemen who struggle to make this much steam
 Mike got a little bit bored after a while and managed to betray his allegiances:
Clearly a fan of brass safety valve bonnets and copper capped chimneys
Nigel brought chocolate cake, and it wasn't even his birthday.  It was at this point that we discovered that the mess coach didn't possess a single knife, a plastic one procured from somewhere else was eventually pressed into service.
You can never have too much cake!
 A small team of people were to be found excavating a trench for the electric cables to feed the new yard lamps that will shortly be put in place.
A trench being dug...
...John applying paint to one of the ladders to go with the lamps
 With her thermic syphon washout plugs now sorted, 35006 needed a steam test before she could be signed off as fit for traffic
Hard to tell against the cloudy background, but a safety valve has lifted
You will be pleased to know that 35006 passed with flying colours and is now ready for service again.

I spent much of the day cleaning many years accumulation of grime from the extension frame liberated from 3850.  This is now loaded onto a trailer and will shortly be heading off for use as a pattern for new ones... hopefully they won't faithfully replicate the slight bend put into it by a certain less than careful previous owner. 
Frame extension, loaded onto a trailer.
Ed, one of our firemen and a Home Guard member gave some of his platoon a guided tour of the yard.
"Oh no, I've been blogged"
 You'll be pleased to know that they followed Corporal Jones' advice and didn't panic when my camera appeared.

 A recent arrival in the yard, is a GWR boiler wagon, used to move boilers between the various shops of Swindon works.  It will become the temporary mobile home for 2874's boiler whilst work takes place on its rolling chassis.  Before that, the plan is to refurbish the trolley.
The first of its wheels has been painted
The boiler trolley in the yard
 The boiler barrel would rest on the upright part on the right of the photo above, and the front of the foundation ring on the back of the trolley on the left.  Clearly the boiler would not rest directly on metal, and there must have been some sort of wooden structure mounted at the back for the boiler foundation ring to rest on.  Should you have or know the whereabouts of any photos of these in service at Swindon, or even any original drawings, then we would be very pleased to hear from you.
What should go here?
 The frame that the new cab for 2874 will be temporarily erected on has been cut, mark was to be found "gluing" it all together with the MIG (Mark Inserts Glue) welder.
Mark, sticking the frame together.
During the week, I received this rather nice photo of Bill, one of our signalmen, who moonlights as a driver on the Talyllyn Railway.
Bill on 0-4-2ST, "Sir Haydn" at Quarry Sidings (photo courtesy of Phil Mason)
 2' 3" gauge Sir Haydn (No 3) was built in 1878 in Loughborough by Hughes' Loco and Tramway Engineering LTD according to wikipedia, but Falcon Engine & Carriage Works according to the worksplate that she carries.  She was originally built as an 0-4-0ST and worked on the Corris Railway, which in 1929 was absorbed into the Great Western Railway.  Although she spent nearly 20 years as a GWR loco, she didn't receive any of the usual GWR modifications such as a belpaire firebox, safety valve bonnet or pannier tanks.  Bill claims to have been built somewhat later than 1878 and has not had any obvious GWR modifications.

And finally, the 2874 Trust is keen to obtain more money to assist with the restoration of 2874 from the Ecclesiastical insurance Company.  The following is a quote from David Foster, a trustee of the 2874 Trust.

"In December 2017, the 2874 Trust was fortunate to receive a grant of £1000 from the Ecclesiastical Insurance Company in their “12 days of giving” – this company donates significant sums to charities every year by distributing all their profits. This year they are undertaking a “Movement for Good” programme to give £1000 to each of 500 charities and a further £50,000 to each of 10 charities.

We want to try again! The process is through people nominating their chosen charity. The more nominations we get, the better the chance of success – the initial round started on 23rd April – the details of how to nominate the 2874 Trust are below – the information you need to complete the nomination is the Charity Number - 1166258 (we have confirmed we are eligible under their rules). The second round starts later in year and we will try for that one as well.

Obviously we will be in competition with many other worthy causes but we would be delighted if you could help

Log on to www.ecclesiastical.com/movementforgood

Right hand side of page “Nominate Now”

Details needed – Charity Number 1166258 our name The 2874 Trust should show up on screen

Charity Type – select Education Skills

Who you are – “Other”

Why you are nominating – suggest something along the lines of “ the organisation is helping the preservation of heritage engineering skills by training and developing volunteers through restoration of a historic steam locomotive”"

Hopefully your help here will see more funds donated to this extremely worthy project.