Monday, 11 January 2016


Saturday saw the running of a Mutual Improvement Class (MIC) on assembling and disassembling GWR gauge frames.  As with other MICs in recent years, it was held in the cafe at Winchcombe station.   Upon arrival, I was bemused to spot the following notice:
"Locomotives running today"

Curiously, this appears to be the reverse of that perennial Flying Scotsman Train/Locomotive confusion in the mainstream media.  Regardless, the permanent way team were hard at work replacing the track between the platforms, so running trains or even just locomotives at Winchcombe would have been more than a little tricky.

Removing the track from platform 2

When it says STOP, it means STOP.

Anyway, that wasn't what we were there for.  

Stuffed and mounted gauge frame (borrowed from 3850)

 The gauge frame confused Ed, who thought he might just be able to squeeze a drink out out of it.
The pub with no beer!
 You might be forgiven for thinking that once passed out as a fireman, you should know how to change a gauge glass, and of course you should, but unless you keep the details of how to do it relatively fresh in your memory, you're more likely to struggle with it when facing the situation for real.  It never hurts to have a refresher course.

 Clive made the mistake of turning up fairly early on and had his arm twisted by the inspectors, Jeff & Chris, into talking people through it in groups of three.
Clive(l) demonstrating how to change a gauge glass to Paul, Andy & John
 Whilst the gauge frame dismantling and reassembling exercise was taking place, Jeff held a quiz for the rest of us on the differences that we could expect to encounter when our Merchant navy, 35006 joins the running fleet in the new season.  For instance, at 48.5 square feet, the grate on 35006 is heading on towards twice the area of our next largest locos, 2807, 3850 & 7903, all with 27 square feet of grate.  I suspect that rather more shovelling will be required to keep that adequately covered.  The low level of the crown of the firebox below the bottom of the water gauge and the fact that it won't take much over the top of the glass before water carries over into the cylinders will require some finesse when it comes to boiler control.
Ade is so adept at it, that he can reassemble the gauge whilst simultaneously holding a conversation with Clive

Later on, back at Toddington, although it wasn't actually raining when I arrived, there was strong evidence that it had been.
The ash pit was more like an outdoor swimming pool
 Winter maintenance continues apace, Brian was to be found steam cleaning the cylinder covers of 2807...
As if there wasn't enough water about.
...correspondingly, in the shed, the piston valves were being inspected for wear
One of 2807's piston valves being extracted for inspection
Piston valve extracted
Meanwhile, Bruce was checking out the pony truck axle boxes
Bruce at work
There was no sign of activity on 5542 on Saturday, but according to its Facebook page, 5542 had a boiler washout during the week, and the con rods and coupling rods were removed for bearing inspection and found to be in good order.

On Dinmore Manor, the big end bearings were being taken out for replacement
Manoeuvring a con rod on a hydraulic platform
Steve, preparing to press out the big end bearing
Mike(l) and John watching as the bearing is pressed out
 It was Mike's birthday too, dedication above and beyond the call of duty!

The tender that Dinmore Manor is currently paired with is the one that arrived with 3850.  Ten years of salt air down at Minehead has taken its toll, and there is a fair amount of rust in the coal space.  It needs to be needle gunned back to clean metal and painted with rust inhibiting primer before bitumastic paint can be applied.
Somewhere under all that PPE, Eleanor needle guns the rust away

Thanks to David, there was a consignment of biscuits in the mess coach, along with a large quantity of mince pies left over from the MIC earlier:
Well there was, George has sniffed out the biscuits
In fairness to George, I might have had a biscuit or two as well.... and perhaps the odd mince pie.

And finally, more excellent news from the Foremarke Hall camp, the first warming fire was put in the boiler last Thursday, a full steam test will follow shortly.  All photos from here on, courtesy of John Pedley.
John starting the fire

Evidence of combustion


  1. Who got the test cocks on the gauge frame upside down..... Perhaps it ready for 3850 to visit Australia???

  2. They were the right way up by the time that Clive was ready to start the training session.