Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Gala Announcement No. 1, Winter Maintenance Continues

Firstly, I hope you all enjoy the photos from this week. On the last blog I didn't bring my SLR and had to rely on my mobile phone - something I won't be doing again (aspect ratio of the photos made for terrible viewing, I thought). Back to the SLR this week thankfully. 

The first item on the agenda for this week's blog is, as you may have gathered from the title, an announcement regarding the first visiting loco at this year's Cotswold Festival of Steam. The theme for this year is 'Work Horses of Steam' - celebrating the unsung heroes that kept the country's economy going. 

Some artwork for this year's Gala
Ray, although hanging up his blogging hat at the beginning of the year, is still a fireman on our line and is a part of the Gala Committee (along with several other of our volunteers). Organising one is not an easy task but they play an enormous part in the success of the railway and have contributed to the record-breaking years of late. I am sure it will be a massive success as always.

He has very kindly written a few words and supplied some beautiful photos of the first visiting loco - you may have heard about it already from various sources, but if you haven't - here it is:

Ex-LMS 'Black Five' 4-6-0 no. 45305

The first of our visiting locos for the 2017 Cotswold festival of Steam gala (subtitled Workhorses of Steam) has been announced in the form of Black Five, 45305, which comes to us by kind permission of the Great Central Railway and the 5305 Locomotive Association. 
Black Fives were designed by Sir William Stanier during his tenure as CME at the LMS Railway and were intended as a mixed traffic, go anywhere, do anything 4-6-0. In a production run lasting from 1934 until 1951 (by then under BR), a total of 842 were built which could be found operating on all parts of the railway network after nationalisation. They remained active on the railway network until the final day of BR steam, indeed three out of four of the locomotives used on the final BR standard gauge steam train (the fifteen guinea special) on August 11th 1968 were black fives. 
45305 was built in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in 1936 and spent most of her working life in the north west of England, finishing up at Lostock Hall. She was originally scheduled to haul the fifteen guinea special however a failed brick arch shortly beforehand saw her sidelined in favour of 45110, which worked the first and final legs of the tour. Things looked bleak for 45305 after that, as she was sold to Draper’s scrapyard. Most scrapyards of the time cheerfully took to converting incoming steam locos to razor blades in short order, but Albert Draper took the view that he should save at least one for posterity, so 45305, unlike the other 742 steam locos that had entered the yard was saved and is even now still owned by the Draper family. 45305 has enjoyed a number of stints on the mainline during a busy preservation life, and when not on the mainline, can usually be found working on the Great Central Railway.
45305 at Kinchley Lane during the GCR's recent Winter Gala
45305 on shed at Loughborough on the GCR
45305 crossing Arten Gill viaduct on the Settle and Carlisle line
The sometimes carried nameplate
Keep your eyes peeled for future announcements in the coming months!

If you'd like to re-visit the main Gala reports of old you can find them below (Day 1 just for reference):

Back to the home locos, the 2807 Group were busy once again on Wednesday. Bruce was up on top of the boiler refitting the clack valves as he had machined them. He was very pleased at how they remained steam tight after the previous machining, a couple of years back. 
Bruce fitting the brass bonnet back over the clacks.
(Photo by Roger Molesworth)
Bruce also measured the new pin for the rocking shaft and checked the dimensions of the taper within the rocking arm. The tapers must match exactly.

Meanwhile, John T continued with his gadget for lining up the 3 drag links. It appears that the middle link sits slightly higher than the rest so the gadget needs some further fettling!  

Brian was tasked with re-fitting the two eccentric rods between the frames. Later, John assisted him in removing the LHS front cylinder cover so they can check the internal condition for wear. To get the cylinder cover off means removing the cylinder cladding, which necessitates removing the rear section of cladding, too! Luckily, it didn’t mean removing the valve cladding because that means having to remove the valve rod lubricator... Roger remarked, did Churchward ever work in the loco department, or just in the design shop?

Brian demonstrates how to remove the cylinder cladding
(Photo by Roger Molesworth)
Cladding removed, the piston can now be seen
(Photo by Roger Molesworth)
The piston head was right at the front of the cylinder, which meant you couldn't measure the internal dimensions or check for wear. So, Brian found a pinch-bar, and Roger M utilised a piece of wood, so together they could push the loco backwards a couple of feet. Fortunately it all looks good inside the cylinder.    

On Saturday there was quite a variety of jobs being undertaken, with most locos having jobs on their own individual to-do lists getting ticked off as we slowly steam ahead towards the new season. Broadway canopy is still ticking along, with long lengths of steel gracing a large area of the David Page shed awaiting final painting. I have just realised I hadn't seen the Starfish Wagon while taking these photos - either it's moved and I didn't spot it or it's already been moved to Winchcombe to join the rest of the freight wagons. I'll find out next week and report back.
Parts of Broadway Canopy

Even more parts for Broadway Canopy!
You can follow progress on this and the rest of the Broadway Station build by following the link here. While we are on the subject of Broadway I'd just like to mention that during the last week, the Broadway Last Mile share offer just passed the £1,000,000 mark which is fantastic news for all involved. Hopefully it will continue so we can reach the target of £1.25m before the deadline at the end of April.

It was a beautiful sunny day, and not too cold - not bad for February and quite a change from the wet and windy weather from earlier in the week. Dinmore and Foremarke were basking in the sunlight that was streaming through the open shutters of the DP shed.

Is it too early to sunbathe?

Keith at work and enjoying the sunshine

I found Keith busy grinding away the paint on Dinmore Manor's running board and buffer beam. Some paint on the beam had chipped off when the running board panels were removed - so, the only thing for it was to sand it all down to get rid of any more flaking paint and to make the transition between old and new paint a little less obvious. It was also a good opportunity to tidy up some other areas on the buffer beam that need attention.

Flaking Paint on a Buffer
Sanded Buffer Beam
Down to the side of Dinmore, the outside of the boiler was getting a good clean, courtesy of Alex. Judging by some of the noises I heard from under the loco, I gather that somebody else was getting an unexpected shower as well. Still, look on the bright side - it would have reduced the amount of dirt that went home with them at the end of the day!

Dinmore Manor Having a Bath

Next door I found Phil G and Stephen J hiding inside Foremarke Hall's smokebox. It wasn't long until they came out and I found that the loco was having new boiler washout plugs fitted.

Stephen on his way out

Phil (l) and Stephen discussing washout plugs

Work continues on valve head assemblies - this time it was one of Dinmore's on the bench, being taken apart, cleaned up and inspected.

Angela at work on one end of the valve head assembly
The other half is disassembled

Dinmore's new tender had just had a new set of leaf springs fitted by Ray and Eleanor. Unfortunately I was too late to capture any photos of the fitting but anyway, here we have it:

New spring on the new tender

There were some very interesting things going on with 2807 - Gilbert and John T were measuring the left hand cylinder bore, with a natty little internal aluminium micrometer, of a type which I've not seen before - I must have led a sheltered life.  

Very nice little internal micrometer. It has various attachments
according to the range of measurements you're taking
John T taking the measurements
While working inside the cylinder you can really see the
need for the lamp at the rear so you can actually see what you're doing!

Inside the cylinder. Very clean
The good news for the 2807 group is there had not been a great amount of wear since it was last measured. Bruce played with the new pin and the rocking shaft, ensuring that the parallel section of the pin is parallel and ditto the hole in the rocking shaft arm, which Bruce had to ream out a little. He can’t finish the pin/arm fit because the tapered reamer is away for sharpening. Bruce then cleaned up the injector innards ready to be fitted back in their bodies.

Pete replacing the packing in the left hand cylinder gland
(Photo by Roger Molesworth)
Pete replaced the packing in the LHS cylinder gland. He was also in a hurry to get into the firebox to remove/replace the fire bars but by the time he got round to it it was later than he thought. Doesn't time fly when you're having fun?

One of 2807 Group's regular volunteers has been suffering with some aches and pains lately but he has still been able to help out with various jobs this week such as instigating the start of 2807's mechanical inspection and other little jobs to assist the others. We all sincerely hope you feel a bit better soon, Gilbert.

2017 Season Countdown:
4-5 March, BLUE timetable 

Just a quick note - there may or may not be an entry for next week due to the upheaval that is having new carpets fitted. It will likely be a little late. Meanwhile if you're on social media you can follow the GWSR on various platforms to get a broad fix of everything GWSR until things return to 'normal'.


  1. Much enjoyed reading your blog Donna. One question is that I am surprised how much 'fettling' is needed on some of these restored engines. Is it that, previously, some items were perhaps accepted as adequaate, in order to get a Barry scrap engine back to life, or is it that this stuff wears out a bit quicker than one might hope?

    1. Hi Howard, thanks for your comment.

      The maintenance and repair work that is done is to ensure that the engines will be as reliable as they possibly can be at the start of the season - in the days of mainline steam if an engine failed it would simply be replaced by another and then repaired to an adequate level to get it running again. We of course don't have an endless supply of engines, so we work with what we have. By doing all of the work that we can possibly do in the winter to the highest standards, we are not only keeping them running but we are also trying to preserve them for the future.