Wednesday, 28 December 2016

And it's Goodbye From Him

You may possibly have read on the Boardroom Blog that passenger numbers for the Santa Specials were up by 13% this season, which is a very pleasing development.  If you rummage around in one of the dustier corners of the GWSR website, where the loco roster appears, you will also find the following:

"The information on this page is kept as up to date as possible. However please remember that the locomotives we operate are old and things can go wrong, and locomotives are replaced. Also it is sometimes necessary to reallocate locomotives for operational reasons at short notice."

You can see where this is going can't you.  Last Wednesday, there was a plea from one of the Dinmore Manor LTD directors looking for volunteers to help change a spring on Dinmore Manor, as one had broken on its tender that day.  On Thursday and Friday, the standby loco, 2807 was put into traffic, to cover for Dinmore Manor.

I arrived on Thursday morning to assist with the spring change.  Unfortunately, Dinmore Manor's spare tender spring had been sent off for refurbishment, so the plan was to remove one from the nearly ready to enter traffic new tender and put that on the currently in use tender.  After doing the important things, signing on and getting a cup of tea, I was about to wander into the yard when I noticed that I wasn't alone in the mess coach:
A red-breasted feathered friend!
Obtaining sharp images of birds is not as easy as you might think, especially when only armed with a cheap and cheerful point and shoot camera.
Not quite!
 After a little perseverance, I was able to obtain a photo or two of our visitor... I trust you'll agree a higher standard of visitor than some of the other GWSR departments have to their premises.  No need for traps on this occasion.  After a little encouragement our visitor left under his (or for all I know, her) own steam via one of the carriage doors.
No wildlife was harmed in the production of this blog!
 Meanwhile, out in the yard, 4270 had just set off for the day's work, and 2807 was still being prepared, a process that involved not only lighting her up, but also borrowing the trimmings from Dinmore Manor.
They have the antlers, but forgot the red nose!
 Once Ian turned up, it transpired that Dinmore Manor had been failed with more than just a spring, apparently the gasket between the steam feed and the injector body on the fireman's side had blown, so that needed changing too.  Another example of the mission creep so often associated with steam locomotive renovation and operation.
The offending gasket, blown out on the right of the picture
 Usually, the most difficult part of many jobs is finding the right tools, unusually in this case, the right size spanners were easily tracked down, and it didn't take too long to remove the section of the injector steam pipe, which is a far simpler way of approaching the task than removing the injector body.
The steam feed pipe removed.
 Once the pipe was off, the mating faces needed to have all vestiges of the old gasket removed
Half the gasket left on the injector body
 I took the pipe off to clean up the flange faces and create new gaskets for each end.
Cleaned up flange.
 The gasket material comes in sheets, you need to cut it to shape and then cut holes for all of the mounting bolts and crucially one in the middle to allow the steam through (no names will be mentioned at this point, purely to protect the guilty).
It would be embarrassing to have forgotten about the hole in the middle
 Once you have your gaskets, "reassembly in the reversal of disassembly" as it says in so many Haynes manuals.  I was pleased to hear that the joint had remained steam tight when Dinmore Manor returned to service on Christmas Eve.

The major task, swapping springs between tenders had already been started by Ian and Dan, a space existing where previously a spring had been on the new tender.
Spring removed
 So far so good, the new one had come off relatively easily, it having only been installed earlier this year.  The broken one on the original tender had been in situ for substantially longer, nobody was quite sure how long, but twenty years seemed likely.  It had certainly become accustomed to being where it was and was more than a little reluctant to be removed.
Dan, removing the rather fiddly split pins
No doubt that it was broken
 The nuts that hold the spring in place are in a rather inaccessible spot and were not going to come undone in a hurry, it was deemed easier to cut through the remainder of the broken spring to improve access
Ian cuts through the spring
 Even with the centre portion of the spring removed, the retaining nuts having dropped down to an accessible location required the application of heat along with a considerable helping of brute force and ignorance before they would undo. 
The broken & now gas-axed spring removed.
 Some little while later, once the retaining nuts had been tapped to clean up the thread and the whole lot put back into place, Dinmore Manor was ready for a warming fire in anticipation of returning to traffic on Christmas Eve.
Job's a good 'un!
The prompt return to service of Dinmore Manor on Christmas Eve was fortuitous, as 2807 was failed on Friday evening with a blowing super heater element.  After working her turn on Friday, she was parked up and left to cool down, so that Ian could attend to her on Christmas Eve and get her ready for service again on Boxing Day.  I note from photos that have appeared on well known social media sites that he succeeded in this and 2807 along with Dinmore Manor were both working on the Boxing Day services.

And finally... and it really is finally, your humble blogger has decided that it is time to hand over the blog to new management.  I have long been aware that the day job has meant that I have been unable to cover the activities of the Wednesday gang anywhere near as much as I would have liked, or since I became an active member of one of the home fleet owning groups, pass on as much information as I would have liked on some of the other home fleet locos.  The hardest part though is that my day job often leaves me with far less time than I need to do the job properly.  Henceforth, this blog will be edited by Donna, who will hopefully be receiving frequent contributions from many members of the Steam Loco Dept, which she will collate into a regular post.  I have no doubt that she will stamp the blog in her own inimitable style and that you will find it to be a vast improvement.  I will continue to provide help/advice from the sidelines when requested and will become one of the contributers for the Dinmore Manor LTD collection of locomotives (7820, 3850 & 2874).  I will also make occasional contributions pertaining to the gala when there is news to be announced on that front.  
Your new editor, Donna, cooking breakfast on Dinmore Manor last week
 Thank you very much for agreeing to take over the blog Donna, and also to those who have agreed to make regular contributions.  I wish you all a happy & steam filled new year.


  1. Good bye old blogger, may your steam pressure remain constant and your firebox always be warm, you have done so well with this blog it has been a pleasure to read it and see your pictures. To Donna, we look forward to your new blog, we are sure you can keep the fires stoked and the pressure on. Good luck with the new job of the blog. A Happy New Year to all in the Loco works.
    kindest Regards
    Paul & Marion

  2. Pesky day jobs... your photos were supurb, hopefully you'll still be contributing a few ?!
    Will miss the humour, thanks for the informative blog.

  3. I'll miss your well informed witty banter, thank you - you did a great job. Best - Jerry

  4. So sorry to see you leave the big chair. Your humour was inimitable and very interesting as well. Good luck to Donna. Regards and Happy New Year to all, Paul. (that rhymes)

  5. Ray enjoy your retirement from blogging you have earned the rest, your blogs were a must read each week.
    Donna good luck and I look forward to reading the news.

  6. Who would be daft enough not to punch the center hole out in a new joint ring?