Monday, 17 April 2017

This One's Eggstremely Good

Wednesday 12th April - the final week before Easter celebrations start, when chocolate eggs are flying off the shelves and a certain loco fleet and their committed group of volunteers are busying themselves with preparations for a busy weekend. Chris B was there to tell the story.

We do not often see the engineering side of our Steam Department volunteers but here, Keith is machining up a fuseable plug ready for 35006 when she is next in steam. These are designed to fail if ever the water level becomes too low and saves the boiler from any serious damage, but our firemen are well trained and fully aware of the correct techniques to prevent them ever bearing this situation.

Keith fashions a fusible plug for 35006

Well, by the time you read this, Easter will have come and gone. But in preparation for our Easter Eggpress Trains these very nice new headboards have been produced, and Chris is seen with Roger after finishing off a great paint job.

Chris with a smart new Easter Eggspress headboard
that he has just finished painting.
[Donna adds: That's a lovely shade of purple. It looks very much like a colour used by a certain large confectionary company. Was that done on purpose?]

Meanwhile outside, the steam heating pipe from Foremarke Hall was receiving some attention as a small leak had developed that needed some good old fashioned elbow grease to make sound again. Ian, as the youngest, had the pleasure of providing the motive force here whilst Mike and Roger hold on.

Good old brute force and elbow grease gets the job done

Ashing out can be a bit difficult when the loco is not going to be moved, so the best way is not to over fill the barrow as this will need lifting up those steps in the background. Adam on the shovel.

Our ace painter Tim, can be seen adding the final coat of black paint to an old GWR Ballast wagon that is now nearing the end of a complete overhaul. Both Alex and Brian had a hand on the brush handles too, which resulted in a speedy operation as it is hoped that the out-shopped wagon will be ready for our upcoming Steam Gala.

Starfish Ballast Wagon almost complete
All of the above photos and words courtesy of Chris Blake.

Easter Weekend fell into the middle of 10 days of continuous running at the GWSR. A red timetable nestled in between two blue ones, Friday through to Monday saw the locos head out on the line with their newly made and painted 'Easter Eggspress' headboards, promising fun for all the family. Pulling the trains this weekend was a combination of 7820 Dinmore Manor and 2807.

On Saturday I had a bit of time to be able to do some work in the department - nothing too involving, just some painting, but a job that needs doing nonetheless. On arrival I found Mark Y moving 2874's/3850's set of wheels over to the front gate ready for painting and eventual collection.

Sam supervises the lift of a pair of wheels

Now I may have got this wrong as it's all a bit confusing but I think that 2874 and 3850's wheels are both interchangeable sets. This set is what was on 2874 but I believe they are going to be fitted onto 3850 when the time comes. 

4 pairs of wheels were moved to the top of the yard, with
the 5th to follow later
Over the course of the morning we had developed quite a painting party - which is fantastic really, as it meant that the job got done much more quickly. It was also a sociable activity - and with much to talk about and many hands on deck it turned what could have been a mundane task into a pleasant one. I couldn't, however, find a 'spokes'-person for comment! 

Some of the painting team doing a 'wheely' great job,
clearly on a 'roll' there
A bonus of such a task is that you are not too 'tyre'-d out at the end of it to do anything else!

The reason for the painting is that this set of wheels is going to go down to the South Devon Railway to be re-profiled, and the green anti-corrosion paint plus the grey undercoat will protect it from the elements whilst down there. 

No prizes for guessing what is about to happen here

In the shed I found Alex just about to make a start on the finishing touches to the floor of the Starfish Ballast Wagon - it had just been cleaned and was about to receive a coat of black paint. Alex had another lady with her - it turned out to be her first day and her name is Donna as well. There aren't that many of us around, but it could get confusing!

Donna 2 joins the Steam Department
(as photographed by Donna 1)
Donna (I shall have to make a note of the first letter of her last name otherwise it will sound like I'm talking about myself in the third person) can usually be found organising the yearly Wartime in the Cotswolds event with her husband but has joined the department as well to do something a little different and challenging. Welcome to the department Donna - I am sure you will love it here!

We really are getting quite a team of ladies in the department now - 8 I think - which is fantastic.

Between them, Alex and Donna painted the floor which now looks as good as the rest of the wagon.

Shiny black floor on the Starfish Wagon
It all looks spectacularly shiny now
The wheels and the wagon are not the only things to have received paint lately. Dinmore's new tender has had its final coat of black - I would imagine that it looks as good as when one would have left Swindon Works for the first time. 

Beautiful paintwork on the new tender
And also 4270 has had the paintwork finished on her running board.

4270's running board is complete
Add this to 7903's recent overhaul, 35006's restoration, plus 2807's and 7820's fresh coats of paint over the winter, it all means one good-looking fleet of locomotives.  

3850's overhaul is ticking along, and the smokebox has been shot blasted and painted in the anti-corrosion green. David H continued to wield the paintbrush well into the afternoon and painted it in grey undercoat to match the wheels.
Green smokebox for 3850 was painted grey later in the day

You may recall from last week's post that the gang working on Dinmore Manor were having a little trouble removing the cylinder cover. Bruce (not Brian as I had written prior - apologies) and Gilbert from the 2807 group had given them a helping hand to make a puller for it.
The Cylinder Cover Puller as made by Bruce and Gilbert

Roger M described its use in his weekly 2807 report:

"You remove the central bolt that holds the cladding to the front of the cylinder cover. Place the puller against four studs (fit nuts to the studs, if necessary, to ensure they provide a level surface). Then screw the central bolt through the boss in the puller, and hey-presto! It pulls the cover away from the cylinder. This is obviously a lot safer than using brute force to break the seal between the cover and the cylinder block."

Finally, very shortly we will be travelling back in time to 1996. I'm not sure when, as my time machine isn't finished yet (I'm just missing the flux capacitor), but I'll let you know!

You don't need a time machine to look ahead at the coming week on the GWSR, however.  

The Week Ahead:
18th-20th April: Blue Timetable, 2807
21st April: Closed
22nd-23rd April: WARTIME IN THE COTSWOLDS, Yellow Timetable, 2807, 4270*, 7820
25th April: Blue Timetable, loco TBD.

*first run out in 2017

Next weekend it is the ever popular Wartime in the Cotswolds. The theme is 'Battle of Britain', with the star attraction being a replica Spitfire in the car park at Toddington! Visitors are encouraged to dress up in 1940s clothing. More info on the event can be found here.


  1. Wonderful blog content. Take your photos quickly of the Starfish wagon as ballast takes no prisoners when it comes to scratching and dust! Regards, Paul.

  2. Just a quick note to say that I enjoyed a day at the railway today and was very impressed with the cleanliness of the locomotives. I travelled behind 'Dinmore Manor' and, seeing Eleanor on the footplate, almost asked for an autograph! Your blogs make it seem like I know the people in the department and always make absorbing reading.
    Many thanks for all your hard work,
    Barry D. Friend

  3. G'day,

    Will the ballast wagon join the others for use on the railway? A different type I know, but I love to see wagons in use rather than "for display purposes only".



    1. I am assuming it will be in use during the Gala but I'm not sure.

    2. There are already 2 similar wagons in the freight train so it seems likely.


  4. Hi,Donna!.You got the wheels,correct!.The set,that was under 2874,is a Collett,set.While the ones,under 3850,are the older,Churchward pattern!.So they're going to swap them!. Regards!. Anthony.