Friday, 23 September 2016

All Change

We seem to struggle to get all of our home fleet together at the same time, days before Dinmore Manor returned from her summer holiday on the Dartmouth Steam Railway, 2807 headed off to the North York Moors Railway (NYMR) for an extended visit, which will include their Autumn Gala (30th Sept - 2nd October).  The crews at the NYMR were delighted at the way that 2807 appeared to flatten their steep gradients when she visited last year and invited her back again this year.
2807 on the unloading road, prior to departure
A few days later, Dinmore Manor returns (photo courtesy of Steve Oddy)
Now safely back in the David Page shed, Dinmore Manor will be undergoing an "A" exam, before she will re-enter traffic.  The opportunity has been taken to shunt her up to her new tender, but not yet attach it. 
Dinmore Manor, tantalisingly close to her new tender
The tender itself has been turned out in black by Dan, who has made an excellent job of it.
Back to black!
In the last blog post, I mentioned that 2874's boiler had been lifted.  Since then, the smoke box, which was wasted beyond repair has been removed, and the salvageable items recovered from it
2874's boiler, without its smoke box
A variety of salvaged smoke box attachments, including the chimney.
 A recent firing turn on 4270 has reminded me that the leather pipe from the water tower at Cheltenham (an original fitting) has enough holes to make you think that it has had a fight with a porcupine and come a very poor second:
Pete tries in vain to stay dry
 I couldn't help but notice that one of the wagons up at Winchcombe has some curious lettering on the side, it seems to be suffering from some sort of identity crisis.
Is it for fruit or a passenger?
 Either way, not too many passengers will weigh more than 10 tons, or at least I hope not.  Perhaps this is our answer to the recent problem highlighted on the Snowdon Mountain Railway.

For the first time in as long as I can remember, I won't be able to be around for the Thomas weekend (24th & 25th of Sept), I have commitments elsewhere.  I was reminded that it wasn't far off, by the presence of this nice little Hunslet called Jessie that had appeared in the yard.
 Good progress has been made in the preparations for concreting the back half of the shed. 
The track is back in place and levelled
 I was tied up with the day job last Saturday, however I found time to pay a visit on Sunday.  One of those outstanding jobs that nobody fancied taking on, was the removal of the studs that secure the clack/safety valves to the top of 3850's boiler. 
Looks easy doesn't it!
 The problem is, that they haven't been disturbed in at least 10 years and have rusted in solid.  They are located in a fairly tricky to get at place and for the first few at least, it's hard to get enough room to get a stilson onto them and turn them any meaningful distance.
About to start on the first one
Extra leverage was always required to get them started at least
There's always going to be one that snaps off rather than come out
 In the end, I gave up on the last two, they really weren't going to play ball, and the stilson was coming off second best.
Oops... don't know my own strength!
 Ian will cut them off and drill out the parts that remains in place at a later date.

Sunday is the day that the DMU team spend working on their items of rolling stock.  I don't usually mention them in here, because normally if I'm around on a Sunday, it's because I have a footplate turn and miss out on seeing what they are up to.  Aside from that, I'd have thought that their activities would be more appropriate to be covered in the diesel blog, even though they are mostly if not all members of the steam loco dept.  Needless to say I was harangued by one of them for this glaring omission.  Anyway, although I missed out on taking photos of them in action, I did at least capture Brian and Tom at the end of the day.  I leave it to you to work out which one has yet to visit the washroom.
Brian (l) & Tom
I think it's fair to say that it's possible to get extremely mucky with diesels as well as steam.

And finally, congratulations to Paul who has passed out as a driver.  Paul is already passed as a DMU driver on the GWSR and can now add driving steam locos to his CV.  All photos courtesy of Judith Freeman.
Paul with his steed for the occasion, Foremarke Hall.
Paul (centre) with on the left, Elliot (cleaner) and James (fireman)
Paul with Inspector Irving.

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Rearranging the Furniture

My lottery numbers have yet again conspicuously failed to turn up and I am consequently still a wage slave.  This is a busy time of year from the earning an honest crust point of view and your humble blogger will be highly dependent on reports from others for the next few months at least.  Nevertheless, I am able to report that the new weighing scales have been calibrated by the manufacturer.  instructions for use are being composed and the scales will not be available for general use until those have been ratified.

In the picture below is just some of the team who helped to do the installation, Roger, Martin, Mike and Richard. Not pictured, but part of the team, is Mark (designed the steel frame that the scales sit in and the indoor pit) & Nigel (wiring).  

The new weighing scales & a diesel wheel set being used as a test load. (photo courtesy of John Cruxon)

Having said that I am now in a very busy work period, I have to confess that I took last weekend off to go and play with the 2 surviving Beattie well tanks down in Cornwall, so I know little of what happened then.  On Tuesday, I received a large number of photos from a correspondent who would prefer to remain anonymous who was present when a crane was hired in to "Rearrange the furniture" in the yard.
The crane arriving
The new rail for the Broadway extension was sitting on wagons on the unloading road, along with a BR 20 ton brake van.  I'm informed that the brake van was a gift to the GWSR and will shortly be heading down to Carriage & Wagon for some tender loving care. I'm sure that they'll have it looking as good as new and in use on our heritage freight train. The proliferation of vegetation poking out of it in various places made a few people wonder if it was the GWSR's entry for the Chelsea flower show.
Many thanks to the generous donor
Not just flowers and trees growing on the brake van, there were strawberries too:
It must be having an identity crisis and think that it's a Fruit D.
Foremarke Hall, crewed by Jeff (our oldest driver) and Tom (our youngest fireman) was pressed into service to shunt the rail out of the way to make way for the crane.
Bryan, cleaning Foremarke Hall
The new rail
Foremarke Hall shunting the new rail
Foremarke Hall shunting the rail onto road 8.
It was all change for the containers in the yard.  The three smaller ones were temporarily lifted out of the way:
Shifting the small containers
Once the three smaller containers had been moved, a small team of people set about levelling the ground and placing concrete sleepers to act as foundations in order to put them back down again.  They would return to roughly the same location, but rotated round through 90 degrees and will eventually have a covered walkway between two of them. 
The small container team, about to start work
 This is where the covered walkway between two containers will be
Mike demonstrates his shovel leaning technique, finely honed after many years of practice
 Meanwhile, the large container team prepared to shift the three large containers onto the previously built foundations.
Chris does some final concreting
Then the crane gently lifted each one and placed it on the foundations.  The task was made slightly more difficult as all three of the existing forty foot containers needed rotating by 180 degrees.  A new container arrived during the morning as well, so now there are four of them.
Container in flight
The four, forty foot containers in their final resting place.
Excellent job
Perhaps a little surprisingly, some of the containers weighed nearly 15 tons, yet didn't need to be emptied before lifting (which would have been a major undertaking in some cases). 

The concrete sleeper foundations for the three smaller containers took quite a lot of work to get positioned level, in the right place and at the correct height.  
Clive (l) and John positioning a concrete sleeper
Sleepers finally in place, the containers started landing in position:
 Job done, it was time for a brew
Tea time!
Apparently an inspection pit received some minor damage during the operations, fingers were pointed, but the identity of the guilty party wasn't established.
Finger pointing!
The day's work however wasn't entirely finished, yes, the containers had all been moved, but there was one more task to perform.

A bit of a clue to the remaining task could be found by the erection of a stack of sleepers next to 3850's boiler:
Ian and Roger creating a sleeper stack.
 All was revealed, when 2874 was shunted out of the shed and up to the crane.
2874 emerges into the sunlight
Arriving next to the crane
Apparently 2874's boiler hadn't been off the frames since the year that I was born (so that would be 21 years ago then) and it had pretty much rusted in place.  It had been freed up a bit by means of jacks a few months ago, but still there was plenty of rust holding it in place.  It didn't come completely free without a bit of a struggle.
Ready to start lifting
Starting to free up (photo courtesy of Roger Tipton)
Free at last (photo courtesy of Roger Tipton)
The now boiler less chassis of 2874 is shunted out of the way
Ash pans live a hard life and don't tend to survive for very long before needing replacement.  The one on 2874 was no exception to this, it was so badly corroded, it was barely still attached in some places. Ian put it out of its misery!
Ian applies some gas-axe therapy to the ash pan.
The mortal remains of the ash pan (photo courtesy of Roger Tipton)
All that remained to do was lift the newly freed up boiler over the recently rearranged containers and land it on the stack of sleepers
Checked at the signals
Coming in to land
Job done, the boiler on the sleeper stack.
With the boiler in place on the sleeper stack, there was still just enough room for the crane to get out.