Monday, 24 July 2017

All Change Please!

It seems that Donna has found herself gainful employment somewhere up north (I hear it's grim up there) and has had to relocate away from the railway.  I am sure that her regular readers since she took over the day to day scribing duties at the beginning of the year, will join me in thanking her for her tremendous contribution to this blog and also to wish her well in her new career.  I am informed that she will still be making regular visits to Toddington, so we haven't lost her completely.

So what happens now, I hear you say?   Well the honest answer is that I'm not quite sure.  For the time being, your original blogger has been dragged kicking and screaming out of a very happy retirement to once more put pen to paper fingers to keyboard and keep you posted regarding what we've been up to.  Never fear, a longer term solution, involving rather more witty, erudite and informative correspondents than I, will be found for your reading pleasure.  Watch this space.

I can at least provide a bit of an update on what has been going on lately, however since I retired from the blog, I have got out of the habit of bringing along my camera, or breaking off from whatever I've been up to in order to make notes on what everybody else in the steam dept has been doing. As a consequence many things of note are sure to have been omitted here, for which I can only apologise.  Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.

I can at least inform you that 35006 has returned safe and sound from her very successful trip to the Mid Hants Railway's gala a week or so ago.  Previously, she was facing north, and the opportunity has been taken to change her direction:
35006 facing south for a change
I have spent much of my time lately on the footplate or working on the various Dinmore Manor (DMLL) related projects.  For a start, Dinmore Manor's old tender (T1761) has been lifted off of it's wheels.  The axle boxes have been removed for refurbishment and the wheels cleaned and primed, ready to go to the South Devon Railway for turning.  They will go there on the back of the lorry that brings 3850's wheels back, thereby saving on transport costs.
Mark, preparing to raise the tender with the recently refurbished lifting jacks
Going up!
 Sometime later:
Wheels primed and ready for turning
Some good news regarding the axle boxes and journals, is that although the tender had been in service for twenty years without any major work, they were all in remarkably good condition and will require relatively little work to return them to good order.

The news regarding 3850's boiler is not so good though, the quote for getting it turned round and ready to steam again landed with an extremely loud thump when it came through the letter box.  The decision has been taken to remove the boiler from 3845, which is apparently in far better condition, and use that instead.  That means that we're back to square one on the boiler preparation front, but it will hopefully work out for the best in the long run.  3845 is stored at DMLL's private site, and work has taken place there to free the boiler from the frames in preparation for being lifted out by a crane:
3845, hiding in the undergrowth
 3845 shouldn't be considered as a donor locomotive, it is still intended to steam it again in its own right, however it is firmly at the back of DMLL's restoration queue.

Lifting a boiler from a steam locomotive is not the easiest of tasks, if the boiler has been in situ for any length of time (3845's will have been in place for in excess of 50 years), then the rust between the firebox sides and the frames will be enough to grip the boiler firmly in place.  Should you hire a crane in to lift the boiler, the rust bond would likely be sufficient to cause the crane to lift both the boiler and the frames at the same time... if you're lucky, as otherwise the boiler may fail to go up and the crane will go down.   Neither of these scenarios are desirable.  The trick is to loosen off all the boiler fixings/mountings, then carefully jack the boiler up and down a few times in the frames, to remove the layer of rust.  In 3845's case, the task had been made a lot easier by the fact the the smokebox was scrap (the chimney had been removed by brute force, ignorance & gas axe during its time in Barry Island scrapyard), so there was no need to remove the bolts at the smoke box saddle, just cut the smoke box through.
Keith prepares to operate the jack at the front end of the boiler...
Bob sets up another jack under the firebox
 Students of this blog will know that Bob is really a member of the 35006 group, but he has some previous experience of lifting heavy objects with jacks, and very kindly volunteered to help us out.
To further his assimilation, we even gave him tea in a Dinmore Manor mug.
 After a day of jacking, packing & pivoting, we eventually achieved something like a four or five inch gap between the mounting plates at the firebox end.  Not expecting to be writing a blog post, I didn't take a picture when we got it to the maximum height, so this interim shot will have to do:
Just an inch or so at this point
 I rarely visit DMLL's own site, but it's worth pointing out that a small engineering team are usually to be found there working on the collection of parts that until recently were on 3850.  At the moment they are busy re-bushing the various elements of the brake linkages.
Various elements of the brake linkages
The brake beams, re-bushed and in undercoat
Neatly re-bushed
An item worthy of note is that Dinmore Manor is expected to hit the 100,000 miles in preservation milestone in the next week or two.  She is currently running on the West Somerset Railway for the summer season and various members of DMLL will make the trip down there to ride behind her on the day in question.

And finally, the floor of road 6 in the David Page shed has been painted and sealed. 
Looking good
The southern end of the shed still needs to be concreted, but the ongoing flooring project is slowly drawing to a conclusion.


  1. Lovely to see an update from the steam department and great imformation about Dinmore Manor tbank you

  2. Welcome back (if only temporarily). Sorry to note that Donna has gone to pastures new. Her wit was in line with the tradition that you started. Nice to hear some good news about 3850, even if it means that 3845 loses her boiler for now. Also, it's nice to see a blog again from the steam dept. Regards, Paul.