Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Santa Season Starts

The first Sunday in Advent was the 29th of November, so I guess that last weekend was an acceptable time to kick off the railway's festive season with the first of the Santa Specials.  Christmas seems to have been in full swing in the shops since at least August, which to your blog writer seems far too early. 

Several members of the Steam Loco Dept (sorry, I forget who, doubtless someone will remind me and I can update you next week) have paid some attention to the railway's fading Santa Special headboards and they are now looking much tidier than before.
Who needs a red nosed reindeer when you've got a headboard like this!
 Edit:  We had two Santa headboards originally, an aluminium one and a wooden one. The aluminium one was repainted by Sean, and another aluminium one to replace the wooden one was made by Steve, who got it cast and powder coated.  Thanks to John for the update.

The first weekend of the Santa Specials saw just one loco in steam, Dinmore Manor, finally returned back to us after an extended tour of the Dartmouth Steam Railway, the Battlefield Line and the Severn Valley Railway.  It's good to have her back, though given the wintry weather over the weekend, perhaps her crews might just have preferred to be on one of our resident tank engines.
7820, Dinmore Manor, about to head off ECS for the first Santa Special
For Jonathan, it was his first firing turn since passing out in October:
Paul (l) and Jonathan about to set off on Dinmore Manor
Traditionally, Santa is known for having a large flowing white beard and wearing a red suit.  Dinmore Manor set off with a long flowing white beard, and even a white hat, but not much evidence of a red suit.
Dinmore Manor does her best Santa impression.
Drain cocks shut, she looked more like her old self
On Sunday, her crew even adorned her lamps with reindeer antlers:
"Lamplers", photo courtesy of Jamie Christie
Once Dinmore Manor had left Toddington, she spent the rest of the day shuttling over-excited children from Cheltenham Race Course to Winchcombe the North Pole, where they would meet Santa and his elves in Santa's grotto.  

Work has been quietly taking place on 35006, the centre big end bearing has arrived and has been machined:
One half of the centre big end bearing...
...and trial fittings of the bearing on the crankshaft journal have taken place.
I notice that the tool store has been tidied up, spanners and sockets allocated a home and put in them.  I hope that this state of affairs will persist and tools will be returned whence they came after use.  I don't know for sure, but I suspect that this is Clive's handiwork:
All as it should be in the tool store
It was cold, wet and miserable on Saturday, and while some of the early starters were trying to warm themselves up with a cup of tea in the mess coach, Nigel appeared to taunt us with a sticky bun for his breakfast.
There's nothing like a good healthy breakfast
There were fairly few people around at Toddington on Saturday, mostly because a fair few people were off for a buckeye coupling training session at Winchcombe in the morning and/or shunting and yard safety training in the afternoon.  

The work on dismantling 3850 has slowed to cataloguing and taking off site some of the components that had already been removed.  Brake hangers and brake beams here being loaded into a trailer for removal
Eleanor (l) and Chris loading a trailer
Off to be refurbished at DMLL's private site.
The water tank in the yard was receiving some attention, previously inaccessible bits when it was lying on a well wagon, were now being painted.  The centre car of the 117 DMU has recently been out shopped from the Carriage and Wagon Department and looked so good, that I thought I'd include it in the shot too.
Water tower and DMU centre car
Trevor finishing off painting the water tank
A bit of a shunt was required to get 35006 outdoors onto a pit (it was cold and wet out there, I'm surprised that they didn't want to stay in the shed) and to move 2807 onto the indoor pit.  One of the things that was in the way was the milk tanker used to store water for use in locomotive wash outs.  Unfortunately it had been sat around outside in the rain for a bit too long and the brakes had seized on.  Mark gave it some percussive therapy with a sledge hammer and finished it off with a liberal coating of motion oil persuaded it that it wanted to move.
Mark uses some gentle persuasion on the milk tanker

2807 heading towards the new indoor pit on road 7
Later on Mark was to be found in the shed fabricating an operating lever for Dinmore Manor's centre section drop grate, the existing one being a bashed about bit of scaffolding tube.
Mark at work
The reason 2807 was moved onto the pit inside the shed is that its owning group needed to prepare it for swapping out the pony truck underkeeps.  The one on the fireman's side has been losing oil at a greater rate than it should, and new underkeeps have been cast and will be installed over the coming weeks.
Gil (l) and Roger working on the pony truck of 2807
No work was taking place on 5542 on Saturday, but there was evidence of activity being about to take place.  The grate was out, and the components of a new brick arch were in evidence.  The deflector plate looks new as well.
Ready to be installed back in 5542's firebox
And finally, there will once again be a few Mutual Improvement Classes in January, one of which will cover the dark art of stripping and rebuilding a water gauge.  Definitely not something I'd be keen to do on a loco in steam unless I really had to.  As a demonstration aid, Chris has mounted 3850's water gauge on a board
3850, partially stuffed and mounted!

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