Monday, 16 February 2015

Even Steam Locomotives Bleed

In my world, deadlines have an irritating habit of sneaking up on me.  Whilst I do enjoy the whooshing sound they make as they go past, it's generally not considered a good idea to miss them too often.  The same is true of the steam loco dept, the first trains are due to run in a few short weeks time and we're currently panicking working frantically to get everything ship shape and Bristol fashion for the start of the season.  The starting job for Saturday was to get 2807 presentable.  The boiler had been washed down on Wednesday, but the tender still wanted doing and then the boiler wanted some wax treatment to bring her paint work up to a high shine.   

I noted before I started that the buffer beams at each end had been painted on Wednesday too:
Neatly repainted buffer beam
 The numbering on the front buffer and the "Great Western" logo on the tender sides is apparently going to be repainted by Stu on Wednesday.

Paint drips are rather unlikely in the arctic less than tropical temperatures that we have been experiencing lately, so I can only surmise that 2807 has had a bit of an accident and has bled over her coupling. Even steam locomotives bleed you know.
I hope 2807 filled in an accident report form
I also noticed that a DIY brick arch kit had been delivered ready for installation in 2807's firebox:
Suffocating a brick arch
It looked a bit like a giant jigsaw puzzle.

Martin and I kicked off by washing down the tender sides.  I made the schoolboy error of washing the tender from ground level, whilst Martin worked round the top.  This meant that I ended up catching the drips.
Martin washing 2807's tender
 We were joined by Eleanor on her first day volunteering at the GWSR
Eleanor cleaning 2807's tender
 Ade & I waxed one side of the boiler, whilst Eleanor and Martin did the other.  Clive tackled the top of the boiler.
Clive cracked on with waxing the top of the boiler.
Ade waxing the side of the boiler
Two coats of wax and she was gleaming like a new pin

Brian of the 2807 group had the nerve to send social media messages saying how much he was enjoying sunning himself on a beach in Melbourne, Australia whilst we were all working hard on his loco. Given the results of the England v Australia cricket match that he attended a little later in the day, I think we had the last laugh.

Meanwhile, inside the smoke box whilst the loco was washed, polished and waxed all around him, Bruce was busy grinding in the regulator valve.

Bruce at work in the smoke box.

Much of the work that can be done on Foremarke Hall before she goes to Tyseley to be reunited with her boiler has already taken place. Cleaning the inside of the superheater header was one of the tasks left and Steve was to be found in the machine shop creating a tool to help do exactly that.
Steve at work on a lathe.
I mentioned a few weeks ago that the shed code on 4270 was being changed from NPT to EBBW as it was believed that is what was correct for Newport Ebbw shed.  Well it turns out that NPT was correct all along.  Andy has revisited his artwork and reverted it back to NPT.  
Clearly doesn't stand for "Never Painted Twice"
 I was asked recently if 4270 had been repainted with "Great Western" logo rather than GWR.  Well the answer as you can see below is no.  When quizzed on the subject, Ian replied that it is still in the plan, but for the "medium term".  Don't expect anything to happen on that front for a while yet.
GWR... "God's Wonderful Railway"
Ian also mentioned that during the week he had been working on the fittings for the pep pipe on 4270. It's not all plumbed in yet, but the target is to have it ready for the start of the season.

The 35006 gang were busy hydraulically testing the cylinder drain cocks

Cylinder drain cocks awaiting testing
Applying some high pressure water
 I had expected water to issue forth in a powerful spray and made sure that I was stood well clear before the hydraulic testing started.  I needn't have been quite so concerned
A disappointing trickle
 Whilst I was busy chatting to the 35006 gang, my attention was directed towards the nice shiny new actuating arm for the tender brakes and the neat bit of welding at the end.
Tender brake actuating arm
 More work continued on Dinmore Manor's own tender, the railway's footplate inspectors Jeff & Chris were busy needle gunning off what there was of the old paint and applying new.  
Jeff (l) and Chris.
 Meanwhile out in the yard, the concrete apron around the pits was coming in for a bit of attention with the pressure washer.
How many people does it take to operate a pressure washer?
 I asked what the plastic barrels were for and I have since forgotten the answer.  Possibly something to do with the water treatment?  My suggestion that it might be the departments secret home brew kit was categorically denied. 
Eleanor and Ade pressure washing the home brew water treatment barrels.

Shortly after that, it was time to give the "Planet's Favourite Praire" a bit of love and attention, well it was St Valentine's day after all. Cleaning the boiler and water tanks is simple enough, cleaning the roof is quite a different matter. It's one of those spots that never gets cleaned during normal service and it's quite difficult to access safely. Ade improvised by using a wet rag attached to the end of a broom.

Ade extends his reach with a broom

Whilst we were up on top of 5542, we noticed the 35006 gang sneak up and wheel off the centre con rod on a trolley. I have no idea when they plan to fit it, but hopefully it won't be too far off now.
Lifting the con rod onto a trolley
Towards the end of the day, I took a peek up in the station area to see how the Permanent Way gang are getting on with reinstating the track in the platform area.  It seems that somebody has gone to great lengths to get hold of one of our signals.  I presume that it was the Signal and Telegraph dept looking to provide it with some TLC.
Spot the missing signal.
 The Permanent Way gang have made considerable progress over the day, only a few panels left to replace before they get on with ballasting and tamping everything. 
Permanent Way hard at work.
 Note that the barrow crossing has been moved a coach's length further on, which hopefully means that trains in the platform will no longer foul the crossing.
Pathway to the new barrow crossing in the background
Nigel from the Permanent Way gang had the nerve to suggest that they were only replacing the ballast because the steam locos had got it all mucky.  As if!  It's a well known fact that steam locos operate with their drain cocks fully open as they leave the stations for the express purpose of steam cleaning the ballast.  Why else would they do it!
A recent photo of 2807 diligently steam cleaning the ballast at Toddington
 And finally, if you're sat reading this from the comfort of your own home and have been given to wonder about finding out how the GWSR operates at first hand rather than depending on the somewhat deranged view presented on this blog, then your luck is in.  The GWSR is holding its first ever recruitment fair on March 21st and 22nd.  Point your interweb browser at this link and then point your feet towards Toddington.  You won't regret it.


  1. Thanks for the info ref 4270, much appreciated. :)

  2. Excellent section on 2807, Stu (that`s me) did repaint 2807 on the front buffer beam because someone had dirtied and chipped them, I also diligently cleaned all 24 letters on the tender. Should look like new when the lads wax polish them.