Tuesday, 31 January 2017

The Fastest Barrows in Gloucestershire

I popped in briefly on the afternoon of 24th January to see what was happening and it appears that there has been some new concreting going on in the department - a new strip around the far edge of the inside of the David Page Shed and a small section out in the yard on Road 7.
David Page Shed looking neater around the edges

New concrete section on Road 7. Beyond is Mavis (l) and 3850's frame

It also seems as though someone has been busy with the grey primer - I assume this chimney and smokebox door belong to 3850, and will also be sporting black paint at some point in the near future.

3850's Chimney and Smokebox Door in Grey Primer

On Wednesday there was much excitement between everyone, it seems - today was a special day as it marked the arrival of a new fleet! And what kind of fleet, you ask? Well, here they are - get ready to feast your eyes on some new metal and wheels in the Steam Dept: 

New wheelbarrows lined up for action
(Photo courtesy of Peter Gutteridge)

But, these are not any ordinary wheelbarrows - oh, no - they are the special Limited Edition MotoGP versions! Each one is named after a motorbike brand/racing team, featuring exclusive livery not available anywhere else...

"Adds about 50bhp, this does"
On the grid alongside Honda, we have Ducati, Kawasaki, Suzuki, and Yamaha (other brands are available).

Jokes aside, wheelbarrows in the dept get a hard life - they have to transport heavy and often wet ash and coal, and have to be wheeled over some of the rougher areas of the department. It all means a relatively shorter life span for your average barrow. The old ones required their wheels to be inflated at intervals, but the new ones fortunately have solid wheels so there won't be any need for that these days. However there is no escaping the wet ash during loco disposal at the end of the working day - dry ash on its own is not a problem, but, depending on the sulphur content of the ash, when it mixes with water it forms sulphuric acid which will gradually start to eat away at the steel. Hopefully it will be a few years before we see evidence of this on our new galvanised friends.

It was a big day for a few members of our department - it happened to be a training day for those wishing to operate the JCB Telehandler. Blog companion Chris Blake was one of those being trained today, so no photos from him this week as he was too busy. I hope everybody involved passed with flying colours. 

JCB Telehandler Training
Things are progressing well with the Starfish - buffers were being installed by Clive S and two other gentlemen (I'm sorry I didn't get your names but I didn't want to disturb you).

Buffers going on on the Starfish
Meanwhile poor Dave A can never seem to catch a break from me and my camera. Here he is again, grinding down what look like the last of the rivets on the floor. Now that the Starfish is nearly finished he will need to find somewhere better to hide!

Dave in the Blog again

Where 2807 is concerned, the good news is that the main drag link successfully passed its Non-Destructive Testing (NDT) on Monday after being straightened out last week and it, along with two other links, have received a nice shiny coat of paint.

Three finished links

I've been aware that my own set of overalls have been attracting their own colony of moths lately, as it were. Saturday was the perfect day to change that - I arrived just after 9am and the first item on everybody's to-do list is to stop in the mess coach for a cup of tea, so that's exactly what I did. I happened to notice a new addition to the usual tea and coffee offerings:

Peppermint Tea in the Mess Coach

I will leave you all to research the health benefits of Peppermint Tea but it, as well as green tea, is supposed to be very good for you

After my cup of tea I had some time to catch a few photos of a special delivery. No, not more wheelbarrows - this time it was a very large delivery of scrap pallets, and this delivery, along with small donations by other people throughout the year, is what helps get the locos fired up ready for a day's steaming. These should in theory last an entire season. They're also what keeps Roger the King of the Woodstore and his helpers busy every Wednesday - all of these pallets need chopping up into manageable sizes that are perfect for lighting up locos with!

Neat piles of pallets - there were 26 stacks in all
In the shed I found Ray and Eleanor painting the inside of Dinmore Manor's new tender with bitumen paint. I promised I'd give you an update about how it is generally progressing and after a quick chat with Ray all it needs is one or two coats of gloss black on the exterior and it is ready. I wonder if it'll have a BR logo on it like the current one? It would be very interesting to see it applied.

Almost there: Dinmore Manor's new tender
One of the more dirty and difficult tasks of the winter season is to clean the underside of all the locos. During the course of a year, so much old oil and dirt (and whatever else it's managed to attract) gets stuck to the components underneath. And due to its nature, if left for a long time, it will only get worse. A buildup of all the black gunk not only gets anyone who happens to venture underneath extremely dirty, it also makes the inspection of the components and workings extremely difficult. If the dirt gets into any delicate areas it can cause expensive premature wear also. So, what better time to clean than during the 2 months of down time? 

I ventured underneath Foremarke Hall and found Alex, Tom, and Tom doing just that. Armed with armfuls of rags, brushes, and buckets of diesel and kerosene mix, they were hard at work scrubbing away at a year's worth of dirt and grime. As I was dressed appropriately for the occasion, I also got stuck in myself.

Tom & Tom

Alex. Note the sliding doors now have a coat of primer

If the above photos are anything to go by, it turns out being underneath a loco is a very good place to be if there's a camera about - plenty of places to 'hide'. After they'd been snapped I decided to do a bit of 'spring cleaning' - the below photo paints a pretty good picture of what they were all like. I've no idea what the white fluff was - it certainly wasn't feathers...

A dirty spring

I was using an oversized brush for the job but it was good for getting quite a bit of the diesel and kerosene mix onto the surfaces. It wasn't much good for getting any of the crud off though.

Sometimes, the best tools for the job are those that were not designed as tools in the first place - this piece of metal was just the right size to scrape away the dirt on all the flat surfaces:

Scrape, scrape, scrape...
The best things in life are free...

While I was scraping away at those surfaces, with a bit of luck the mixture I had applied earlier had been doing its job on the edges of the leaves and softening it all up a bit more. It just needed a little precision brushing to help it along: 

I think it might be time to change your toothbrush...

After a wipe over with a rag, the cleaned spring should look a little something like this:

You could almost eat your dinner off that. Almost.
Later in the day I spotted a group of about 8 department members, all scurrying around like soldier ants, busy moving the piles of pallets into the woodstore ready for Wednesday. It takes some doing, moving all the pallets - once deposited by the Telehandler, they are passed over the fence and manhandled back into neat piles to make the most of the available space. 

Up & Over
Elsewhere in the shed I found Mike S, Keith, and Roger T busy trying to take apart 3850's valve head assemblies for a test. It was proving a little difficult! The securing pin and the large nut were both very stubborn.

1 x stubborn pin

Working out what to do next?
With some persuasion, the pin came out....
Time to get the RBS (Really Big Spanner) out
and onto that nut 

Roger gives it a tap to help it along


One of 2807's eccentric straps
(Photo by Roger Molesworth)
During the week, 2807 had her eccentric straps and rods removed so they could all be cleaned and have the wear analysed. The good news is that the straps should last until the 10-year overhaul. There is a mystery however, surrounding the felt pad that sits in the recess indicated below... 

Where has the felt pad gone?
(Photo by Roger Molesworth)
It was expected that it would be sat there in the recess when it was removed, but it was gone - and the story was the same with the other one. Jeff L suggested that perhaps there was something on the sheaves themselves that was shaving away the bottom of the felt pad. The sheaves were cleaned and examined by David, Bruce and Gilbert, but they couldn't see any obvious step that presented a sharp edge, apart from a change in the surface where the two halves meet that wasn't noticeably sharp. New pads were fitted and the eccentrics put back in place - we shall have to wait and see if it happens again. 

She also had her steam pipe cladding re-fitted but I think it may need a little touching up...

I'm not sure that was supposed to happen...
(Photo by Roger Molesworth)

Handrails and parts of the cab also received another coat of 'Deep Bronze Green' - when March comes around she's going to look fabulous for an old girl. 

The Loco/Tender Coupling Guide that was made of wood last week has slowly been evolving over time - John T has taken on the development of this gadget - and as all good designers and engineers do they spend lots of time discussing options and measurements before making their final pieces. By the end of Wednesday he had a piece of steel marked out, ready for cutting. On Saturday, he set about cutting it out (during which many cutting discs expired) whilst Roger M refitted the three drag links. With those back in place it is almost complete - I'm sure we will find out more next week. Perhaps we'll even get a video if it works successfully?   

2017 Season Countdown:
4-5 March, BLUE timetable 


  1. Just a suggestion - how about painting the insides of the new barrows with bitumen paint. It might help them last a bit longer, after all it works well in tenders.

  2. At Worcester loco sheds,when I,was a cleaner,back in 1960,one of the cleaning gang,was usually assigned to go under a loco,to clean the inside motion!.And on a Castle class,there was a lot of it!.Regards Anthony.

    1. How interesting Anthony! Was cleaning the inside motion done every day like cleaning the rest of the loco?

    2. Hi,Donna!.Cleaning the inside motion,was usually done daily!.We,concentrated,on the loco's used on passenger services!.So with 8,or 9,Castle Class,used on the London expresses,plus various tank engines,(Standard 3MT,2-6-2Ts,4100s,Panniers).there were a good few,to keep clean!.The express loco's were usually kept the cleanest! Anthony.

  3. Unfortunately, I joined 'The firm' in the seventies, and cleaning of any type of the diesels did not seem to take place very often, if at all! Usually waiting for them to be repainted or scrapped. Some did get a (volunteer) clean in advance of pulling a special (unless BR decided to switch the diesel at the last moment - not giving anyone time to clean the replacement). Such are the plans of mice and men (other genders are available). Regards, Paul.

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