Monday, 7 September 2015

The Delicate Art of Delegation

To start with, there has been a significant development in the yard during the week, the water tank has been craned into place.  This will make topping up the water tanks/tenders of our locos before the first trip of the day much easier.  I imagine that it means that we'll no longer be dependant on the milk tanker (full of water of course, not milk) for boiler washouts too.
Over 6 tons of water tank takes to the air
Dropping it into place
Securing the bolts

The above three photos courtesy of Pete Gutteridge.
Job done, photo courtesy of Dan Wigg
 There are still a few jobs to be done before it can be used, such as fitting the arm, but the project has taken a significant step forward.

Saturday was always going to be a bit difficult for me from a blog writing point of view.  To start with, I had a meeting in the morning that as it turned out lasted well into the afternoon. Lots of useful things were discussed and decisions made etc, but nothing that is appropriate to report here just yet.  For the latter part of the afternoon, I was to be involved as a guide for a large group (150 and 180 were both numbers that I heard, I certainly didn't count them all) of people associated with collecting Bachmann models. This presented me with a bit of a conundrum, how on earth was I to get any interesting stories regarding what was going on for this blog?  The answer was to delegate.  I left my recently acquired camerain the hands of somebody who preferred to remain anonymous, with instructions on how to use it and advice on obtaining a collection of photos that could be woven into an interesting and informative narrative (that's not to say that I have done, just that the potential was there). There are remarkably few people in the Steam Loco Dept that I would trust with my camera, I know exactly what sort of pictures I'd get if I left it in the hands a certain individuals. Anyway, suffice it to say, the majority of the pictures this week were not taken by me.

I have studiously avoided checking the collecting point for cleaning rags in the car park, it never appeared to be over flowing and there always appeared to be rags in the oil store.  The mysterious process by which they were transferred from the one place to the other was answered by seeing this photo of Paul with a collection of rags.  Conclusive evidence that men can multitask after all is provided by the fact that he is also shifting a wheel barrow with a bin in it.
Paul, myth busting

Sean oils up 4270 prior to the day's work
Steve ready to fire 4270
Meanwhile, round on the parlour road, 2807 was being prepared for the day ahead.  For reasons that had eluded me, the GWSR was to be descended upon by  host of people from Bachmann Model Rainways.  A brass "Bachmann" head board had been brought along and was now adorning the front of 2807. Phil had put it there.
I could have sworn I heard him singing a certain song
Trainee fireman, Mike hiding from the rain as best he can in 2807's cab
Once the headboard was in place, it was decided that it could use a spot of therapy with the Brasso, so off it came again. Graham provided the elbow grease.
Graham makes the headboard gleam
There was a helicopter out buzzing the trains with a photographer on board as part of the event.  I saw the helicopter from the window of the meeting room, but so far have yet to see any of the photos from the shoot.  

If you recollect from last week, 5542 has had a few issues with her grate, the cross member that the fire bars rest on has warped a bit and needed straightening out. The first task was to remove the all the fire bars and then the offending cross member:
I think that is Rob in 5542's firebox
Chris provided illumination
Could be anybody really!
Well a start has been made, a few bars are out
Now that is Rob, who appears to have changed places....
....with Chris
Job done, firebars removed, cross piece still visible though
The process from here, was to remove the cross piece and restore it to as new condition. This appears to have commenced with Steve putting the fear of God into it with a large hammer:
Steve gets busy with a hammer, Rob watches
The sad condition of the cross member is displayed by this photo, no wonder it had difficulty keeping the fire bars where they were supposed to be:
In need of some TLC.
The decision appears to have been taken to seperate the two halves and attend to each one individually:
One half awaiting attention
The time honoured technique of heating the recalcitrant item to a cherry red colour and then bashing it into submission with a sledge hammer appears to have been employed.
Eleanor applies the heat
Personally, I prefer burgers on my BBQ
Once it was deemed to be hot enough, it was shown no mercy:
Chris hangs on, while Scott applies a little sledge hammer therapy.
It was about this time that I was able to escape from my meeting and liberate my camera, just in time to generate some hot air of my own and conduct the yard tour for the last group of visitors from Bachmann:
I was collared by Glyn (in the Hi-Viz) who was organising the turn out.
Glyn shepherding some of them into the diesel shed.

I ended up with three different groups of varying sizes to guide around the yard, which I mostly confined to pointing out 35006, 2874, 5542 and the recently erected water column and trying my best to say something vaguely interesting about each.  I suspect that I may have failed in that objective.  Matters weren't helped by the fact that for the first couple of groups, the class 20 was lurking over by the diesel shed with its engine running, drowning out everything that I was saying.  Probably a good thing really.

I noticed in my travels that the piston valves from 5542 had been removed, I have no idea why, but they weren't where they're supposed to be.
Something missing!
Dan touches up the paint on a few rusty bolts on 35006
Fresh from the same meeting that I had been in, Len & Mark have now found gainful employment on the brake mechanism of Dinmore Manor's tender
A bit more work required before it will fit
Another refugee from the same meeting, Kenneth was to be found painting the inside of Dinmore Manor's tender.
Kenneth at work.
I found Graham a bit later on, nearly wearing a variety of safety items, it turns out that he had been removing the scale form inside 2874's boiler.
Their work complete on straightening out the cross piece for 5542's grate, Scott & Chris reassemble and refit it:
Bolting it up.
Chris puts it back in place
Only around 40 or so firebars to refit now
Foremarke Hall's elephant ears have been undercoated
It seems that there was a fair bit happening on Sunday too, photos of the first coat of concrete protecting paint in the new pit being applied have arrived in my email account.  The second coat should have happened today by the time that you read this.
Why use a paint brush when a yard broom will do
David at work
The above two photos courtesy of Donna Ludlow
And finally, I am the bearer of several pieces of excellent news: 

On Sunday, we acquired a new fireman:
Well Done!
Inspector Irving congratulating fireman Clarke
 Congratulations James.  The above two photos courtesy of George Forrest.

My erstwhile firing instructor, Ade has also passed out as a driver.  As he was being assessed mid-week, when I couldn't be present, I gave him strict instructions to organise a suitable passing out photo for this blog, which he has managed to do.  The photo was very kindly taken by Neil Carr, who accidentally managed to line up a couple of fire irons in the background such that they look like antennae on Ade's head.  The dangers of delegation are it seems very real.
Driver Showell being congratulated by Inspector Lacey
 Congratulations Ade, hopefully we'll get a turn out as a crew sometime in the near future.  I promise to take a little more care when I point my camera at you.

Last but not least in line for congratulations are Ed and Laura.  Ed popped the question over the weekend and Laura said yes.
Ed even got up on one knee.
It's not just railway uniforms that they like to dress up in evidently.  As Ed is well advanced in fireman training, and Laura is a cleaner, who knows, we might even have a husband and wife crew on the GWSR in a few years time, that would be something to look forward to. Congratulations to both of you.


  1. Great blog as ever. Good to see the water tower going back together. Am I alone in thinking it somewhat ironic that an 00 scale model of 2807 is (or was until very recently) produced by Hornby?!

    1. You may very well think so, I couldn't possibly comment! :-)

  2. Is that David Cameron on Laura's left, moonlighting as a squadie!

    1. Well spotted that man. Yes that is David Cameron. MI5 are on their way to your house now that you've blown his cover. If you're lucky they'll come in person rather than sending in drones.

  3. Hi I was just wondering where the water tower came from, it looks like a relic from the steam age, but everything seems to be reproduced nowadays just wondered if it was original

  4. That's a good question. It was previously located slightly to the south of platform 2 at Toddington, but I have no idea when it was first put there.

  5. The valves were missing from 5542 as they were part way through some long overdue TLC. 2 broken rings found and all replaced, rebuilt and tested by Monday evening ready for a quick trip to Llangollen. (You must be the only loco dept person not to have commented on their condition)