Monday, 13 January 2014

Another Brick in the Hall

I'm all for people sending in photos for this blog, especially if they're accompanied by an interesting, informative and preferably amusing description of what is going on.  Why on earth wouldn't I be, it saves me from having to think of something to write about.  This week, I received a few images from Brian Rowe, who along with his children had visited the GWSR for one of the Santa specials.  So far so good.  Unfortunately, the photos all managed to include me. Brian must have a bullet proof camera as it seems that taking photos of me failed to crack the lens.  It's always nice to know that we have had happy customers and to be able to report on it, but pictures of me appearing in here is hardly going to encourage people to visit us, quite the opposite in fact.  My Photoshop skills are basic to say the least, so I had a quiet word with the Photoshop fairy, who is a very good friend of mine.  She knew exactly what to do in the circumstances:
Brian's children
Chris, the Christmas Elf.
Thank you very much to Brian for providing the photos, and I'm glad that the Santa Specials were so enjoyable for you and your family. 

On to this week.  The gentlemen's convenience in the yard at Toddington is not normally a suitable topic for inclusion here, however I couldn't fail to notice that a new sign had appeared on the door:
Time and motion study
 Several people were seen to enter making a careful note of the time as they went in.

My spy in the 35006 camp had let me know that a few more cosmetic touches had taken place during the week:
Driver's side trailing driving wheel is now in final gloss black..
... and one of the smoke deflectors has acquired a black topcoat as well
I noted that an article in this month's issue of Steam Railway magazine regarding 35006, which whilst not being definitive on the subject, at least raised the hope that she might steam again in 2014, 50 years since she was withdrawn.  Like many others, I can't wait.

It's farewell to 2807 for a while too.  She's off to Tyseley for some remedial work on her horn guides.  Access underneath has been improved by the removal of some of the vacuum brake and steam heat piping.  Separated from her tender, she was moved out onto the unloading road in the car park for collection during the week.  All being well, the remedial work on her horn guides won't take too long and she'll be returned to us in time for the start of the new season in March.

2807 being shunted into the car park
Waiting in the car park
  Also in the car park, was the amusing spectacle of a number of grown men who appeared to be wrestling with a giant anaconda. They were in fact trying to get a replacement DMU corridor connecting cover to go over the three metal hoops that would give it its shape.  The anaconda didn't give up without a fight.

Snake charming
Aside from all of that though, most other people were roped into dismantling Foremarke Hall in readiness for shipping her to Tyseley for her boiler rebuild.  In some ways it's a bit of a sad process, but on the other hand, the quicker we crack on with it, the sooner she'll be back with us again.  I started off with Sean, dismantling the brick arch. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that even after a surfeit of turkey and plum pudding at Christmas, I was still able to squeeze myself into the firebox.  It was a bit strange though as most of the items that you depend on to pull yourself back out with were now missing from the cab:
Bare backhead
The brick arch... now you see it...
... now you don't
 I'd always regarded brick arches as being pretty robust items and was surprised at just how easy it was to dismantle.  In what seemed like no time at all, I had removed the bricks and passed them out to Sean on the footplate.

Elsewhere around Foremarke Hall, a multitude of people were busying themselves removing bits.  Most of the bits being removed were in the smoke box, or connected to bits in the smoke box.

John disconnected the steam pipes
Dan in the smoke box disconnecting the blower
 Asbestos hasn't been permitted for use as an insulating material in steam locomotives for some considerable time.  During her rebuild after rescuing from Barry Island scrap yard, Foremarke Hall was put back together with an asbestos substitute, meaning that it could now be removed quite safely without the need for quarantining the loco in a depressurised polythene container and sending in men in space suits to do the work.
Paul removes some of the asbestos substitute
 After removing a few bits of pipe work from the smoke box, I found myself spending the afternoon cleaning bits of Foremarke Hall as they came off the loco.  The pressure washer is a fun bit of kit to play with.
Just about proving that you can operate the pressure washer with one hand
Chris interrupted me briefly and borrowed the pressure washer to clean the JCB.  You'll note that he is rather better dressed for the task than I was. Waterproof trousers were definitely a good idea, the bottoms of my overalls were remarkably damp by the time I had finished.

Chris cleans the JCB
 The price for borrowing the pressure washer was to send me a couple of photos for this blog that you'll find at the end.... and of course he cleaned up one of the panels of Foremarke Hall for me while he was at it.
Somewhere in the foam is a panel from Foremarke Hall
 The pressure washer has a minimum level for diesel in one of its tanks.  There is no mention of what dire consequences await if you allow the diesel to fall below the level of the line, but I chose not to find out and refilled it when it got down to here.
  I had made a pile of nicely cleaned bits in anticipation of an "I cleaned this lot" photo at the end of the day.  Before I'd finished though, Clive, John & Dan started shifting them away for storage, so I grabbed this shot of the ones that they had left behind before they were shifted too.
A small selection of nicely cleaned bits
 Cleaning is only the start of the process of course.  There is still plenty of work left to be done in terms of removing the rust and repainting. 

Meanwhile,  Steve and Matt had a go at removing the petticoat which had so far proved to be rather problematical. 
Steve and Will puzzle out how to extract the petticoat
 Eventually the petticoat was removed and Steve emerged from the smoke box looking rather grubby.  Later on, he remarked on a well known social media site that  "Smokebox internal cleaning also progressed by most parts of me!".  The idea of a 'self cleaning' smoke box is not that you should clean it with yourself.
Steve after emerging from the smoke box
And finally,  as mentioned earlier, the price Chris paid for borrowing the pressure washer was to provide me with a couple of photos that he had taken earlier in the week,  He had been taking part in some winter maintenance on the 8F on Wednesday, work which involved separating the loco from her tender. He was rather surprised to find a quite sizable mushroom lurking on the drag box. His best guess is that OTC have started up their own organic mushroom farm.  It adds a whole new meaning to the expression 'Meals on Wheels'.

Hopefully it's not one of the poisonous varieties.


  1. Re the ' Censored ' photos … I've still got the originals !! Be afraid, be very afraid - the time will come !!!!

    Great blog, as ever, thanks : had assumed Foremarke would just ' go away ' as is, didn't realise what was involved. Look forward to having her back ASAP.

    Chris the Elf

    1. I'm afraid, I'm very afraid!

      As for Foremarke Hall, it's obviously better to do as much as possible at Toddington with volunteer labour as opposed to paid labour at Tyseley.



  2. I understand Ray (am re-reading K J Cook's book on Swindon) that they used to plunge the items to be cleaned into a 'bosh' (presumably onomatopoeia) containing caustic soda. Dangerous stuff.

    1. They also used asbestos like it was going out of fashion. Much as we may malign the modern 'health and safety' culture, it does have a lot of benefits.