Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Fireman Sam

Your humble scribe took the weekend off, Mrs blogger & myself thought that we should celebrate our wedding anniversary by going away.  I am grateful therefore to Peter who took a number of photos on Wednesday of the various activities taking place.

The first job was to recalibrate the cylinder pressure relief valves on Foremarke Hall.  Should the water level be allowed to get too high in the boiler, there is a danger that water rather than steam could be allowed into the cylinders.  This is an extremely bad thing as water is incompressible.  All the kinetic energy of the train in motion is then used to press the water against the cylinder end cover, the result wouldn't be pretty and would either involve the piston head disintegrating , piston rod bending or the cylinder cover being forced off.  Whichever went first, a "Please Explain" letter would soon be winging it's way from the loco owners to the crew.  The cylinder relief valves are the last line of defence between water being carried over and disaster.  The idea is that they permit the water to be expelled when the cylinder pressure significantly exceeds the boiler pressure 

All photos unless otherwise stated courtesy of Peter Gutteridge
One of the relief valves being tested...
...then fitted back in place
2807 was also in for a little TLC, or to be more precise, its tender was.  One of the tender springs had a broken off mounting point lug
The broken one
How it is supposed to be, complete mounting point lugs
Not all split pins come out as easily as they should
Bruce fitting the replacement spring.
And finally, the GWSR now has it's very own Fireman Sam.  Not the cartoon kind of fireman that drives around in big red engines with blue flashing lights and puts out fires, far from it.  Our fireman Sam drives around in big black or green engines and creates the fires that keeps them in steam.
Sam (L) and Inspector Irving (Photo courtesy of Neil Carr)
Fittingly, Sam passed out on Dinmore Manor, which is appropriate as he is the youngest director on the board of Dinmore Manor Locomotive LTD.  Congratulations Sam!

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Plastered on Po

Upon arrival on Saturday, I was greeted by the sight of the cleaning rag collection bin over-flowing from a bulk delivery by one of our supporters.  Many thanks indeed to whoever it was, our stocks have been running low lately.
An excellent start to the day
 The food fayre was on over the course of the weekend, with a modified green timetable featuring Dinmore Manor and 35006 running the steam services, along with a diesel and the DMU.
Dinmore Manor and 35006 preparing for the day ahead.
 I noted that some of the pieces of steel scattered around the shed that looked like they might be component parts of the Broadway footbridge have now been assembled into larger pieces of the footbridge
Neal & his team have been busy
 2874's boiler was needle gunned and painted with primer some while ago, then a number of regions of the primer were stripped off and grease applied in its place to facilitate non-destructive testing.  Now that has finished, it is time to clean off the grease and reapply primer to protect it.
Angela priming the boiler barrel after removing grease.
 Outside of the railway, Angela has nautical interests and demonstrated her rope tying skills when attaching a tarpaulin sheet over the front of the boiler barrel.
The weather was unseasonably pleasant, however most people preferred to work indoors, where there was plenty to be done on 3850's tender and frames.
Jeremy strips paint off of one of the cab side sheets
Richard primes the inside of the tender drag box
Martin paints underneath the tender
Eleanor undercoats the tender horn ties.
David paints the tender safety link shock absorbers
Stuart undercoats the front of the tender body
 I couldn't fail to notice that there was something new lurking in the shed... being bright yellow, it was hard to miss.
 It transpired that it was an industrial dust extractor.  Sounds like a good idea to me, wire brushing and needle gunning both generate lots of dust which gets everywhere, so extracting it at the point of generation has to be a good thing.

Both Jeremy and myself were wire brushing 3850's cab sides, the new yellow dust extractor was manoeuvred over towards Jeremy by Steve and switched on.
Dust extractor at work
 Or was it at work?
Steve looking perplexed
 I'm not sure if it never worked at all, or if it did but only briefly, anyway it wasn't the success that I had hoped for.  I am sure that experiments in this direction will continue.

The tender vacuum cylinder is now reassembled and after a few touches of paint will be ready for attaching back under the tender.
Mike (L) & Mark reassemble 3850's tender vacuum cylinder
Later on, David adds the finishing touches to the paint.
 As mentioned earlier, last weekend was the annual food fayre event, local producers of artisan (euphemism for good, but expensive) food products set out their wares both in a marquee at Toddington and also at Winchcombe.
The Toddington marquee
I am easily led astray by food, and in the afternoon I took a brief stroll around the marquee to see what was on offer.  I hadn't gone far before I stumbled across chocolate and fudge with images of our home fleet on the packaging.  I could hardly say no could I.  One bar of chocolate and a box of fudge was purchased by your humble scribe. The chocolate was scoffed long before I got home on Saturday, the fudge would not have lasted much longer either, however Mrs blogger took the view that I had over indulged and has hidden the remainder of it.  I have sent out search parties to the furthest flung corners of Blogger Manor, but thus far the search has proved fruitless fudgeless..
Too tempting to resist
Foremarke Fudge & Dinmore Delight!
 Last weekend was also the end of the season for the narrow gauge railway, they were going out with a bang rather than a whimper, with three engines in steam.
Two of the narrow gauge locos at work
 Meanwhile, back in the shed, Mike & Mark were grappling with the front sandbox on 3850 which doubles as a frame stretcher.  It would need to be removed to permit the removal of the cylinder block and the frame extension.  I suspect that the bolts holding it in place hadn't been removed since 1943 and they certainly showed no signs of wanting to be freed.
Nuts slackened off, a ten ton jack had limited success in pushing the bolts out...
...Some gentle heat therapy helped matters though.
Being a glutton for punishment, I was back again on Sunday, this time to fire 35006 for the day.  This was one of the timetables where there is a prep crew, all I had to do was lie around in bed whilst James lit my fire for me, I could swan in at 09:00 and take it easy. Well, I could have done, but I chose to go in a bit earlier anyway and finding my fire already alight and pressure building up, opted to give a hand with oiling up 35006 instead.  Unlike any of our GWR locos, it has four mechanical lubricators on the running plate, one for each cylinder and another for some of the motion parts.  They take a considerable amount of oil and a fair few turns of the wheel to prime them.
Two of the cylinder lubricators...
...and one of motion(L) and cylinder
James had lit the fire for me first thing, however he was off to a bad start as there was precious little coal in the tender, a consequence of no digger driver having been available the previous evening.  Steve was the prep crew driver and signs for the digger, so his first task of the day had been to fetch round a bucket full of coal.
And there still wasn't much left of that after James had lit up.
To cut a long story short, it was something of a miracle that the trains all started off on time as Dinmore Manor and 35006 had to take coal in the morning as well as the DMU stopping to take on more diesel.
Steve loads Dinmore Manor's tender with coal
The narrow gauge were steaming up for their last day of the season
We eventually got some coal too
There is a new shovel by the ash pit, with a handle at least twice as long as any of the other shovels.  I'm curious as to how well it will work.
Shovel for superheroes!
Having recently passed out as a driver, Andy made the most of the opportunity to take his dad along for a round trip on the footplate. 
Andy (L) and his dad
It was a lovely sunny day (forecast had suggested overcast) but a bit nippy first thing, the guard wanted steam heat.  I'd never fired 35006 before when steam heat was required, it's normally only used in the summer months.  On a GWR loco, steam heat is achieved by opening a valve and then setting the desired pressure using the knob on the top of the Mason valve... simples!  On 35006, it's one of the klinger valves attached to the steam fountain... keep turning it anti clockwise until either cows come home or you have reached half way along the line, at which point it is time to start turning it back the other way to close it off again.  The chances of getting to the point where it delivers steam into the carriages is slim.
How many turns?
It's also a job that requires gloves as I discovered, frantic attempts to open the thing in a hurry resulted in a layer of skin being peeled off of my index finger.
I very quickly reached the conclusion that opening and closing the steam heat klinger valve was a job for a cleaner.

It was nice to see that a route master bus had been laid on to transfer passengers into Broadway town centre.
It's a bit lost if it's really trying to get to Trafalgar Square
It's not uncommon to get visitors from other heritage railways or loco owning groups appear.  This trio were from the LMS Patriot Project who were taking a day off from working on their new build to enjoy a day with us.
Patriotic trio
 As you may be aware, the original intention was to have the loco in steam for the 100th anniversary of the end of WWI, which they will not now be able to meet.  The locomotive will be called "The Unknown Warrior" and they have sensibly settled on a new target date of the 100th anniversary of the repatriation of the unknown warrior from France after WWI. Best of luck with it chaps.

On Saturday, Dinmore Manor was sporting a Cambrian Express headboard, even though we are nowhere near the Cambrian line.  Dinmore Manor was the last manor class loco to haul the Cambrian Express in BR days though, so I suppose it was appropriate.  On Sunday, she was to be seen wearing a Cathedrals Express headboard.  To the best of my knowledge there is no cathedral in Cheltenham, Broadway or anywhere in between.
Crossing Dinmore Manor at Gotherington
I let the cleaner (Luke) have ago with the shovel on the second round trip, he's right handed but seems to fire pretty well left handed too.  He needed precious few hints from me.
Luke feeding the fire
You may have noticed that I always refer to our pacific loco as 35006.  I was advised by the loco's owning group long ago that the shipping company of the same name don't like the abbreviated version of its name being used and frankly typing out the full name simply takes too long.  Unofficially it is often referred to amongst the crews as a certain Tellytubby character... the red one, even though 35006 is green... never mind.  Regardless, the fact that Andy, Luke and myself had all suffered minor finger injuries (it was the steam brake for Andy, using the coal rake for Luke) requiring us to raid one of the two first aid boxes on board that gave rise to the title of the blog this week.
Plastered on Po
And finally, yet more good news to bring to you, Andy T, who not only volunteers in the steam loco dept, but also in C&W has passed out as a fireman.
Andy(L) with Inspector Lacey
Congratulations on passing out as a fireman Andy.

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

The Sound of Steam

The day job beckoned on Saturday, however I was fortunate enough to have a firing turn on Sunday... well, if you regard prepping and operating a loco in storm Callum fortune, then I was fortunate.  Occasionally the rain diminished to the point of merely being torrential.  As an indication of how bad it was, a tray of tea soon filled up with rain water. 
After just a few minutes stood out in the rain!
Not only was it raining, but we have got round to the time of year when it's dark when you start in the mornings.  Clearly the number one priority was to get the tea under cover, so as the Saturday crew hadn't put the storm sheet up for us, we had to do it ourselves.
Storm sheet up, the tea would be diluted no further.
It wasn't too cold, but Steve (Dinmore Manor's driver on Sunday morning) decided that he wanted the "cab heater" switching on:
I duly obliged
 Ben had sent me an email saying that I should expect a footplate passenger called Alessandro who would be making sound recordings for possible use in DCC chips for model railway locomotives.  I am very much hoping that this means that there will be a modern version of a OO gauge Manor class locomotive offered by one of the model railway manufacturers in the near future. It is a glaring omission that needs rectifying at the earliest opportunity.  It seems that Alessandro had made a start on Saturday, as there was already a bunch of cables snaking their way around Dinmore Manor's cab when I arrived.
Cables in the cab...
...and trip wires more cables on the running plate
 Back in the mess coach, more books had appeared for reading by the discerning.  These two appear to be extolling the virtues of Sir Nigel Gresley and in particular his A4 class of locomotives.  I'm not sure if the donor by leaving them on the same table as "Great Train Disasters" was trying to make some sort of a statement.
Gresley books
Not a Gresley book!
Speaking of the things left in the mess coach, the Dinmore Manor jigsaw puzzle mentioned last week has been completed by Mrs blogger & myself:
Dinmore Manor in 1,000 pieces
 I have to confess that Mrs blogger did most of it.

 Meanwhile, there was real work to be done out in the yard if Dinmore Manor (the locomotive, not the building or come to that the jigsaw puzzle) was to be ready for work.  Peter rather wisely decided that cleaning the underneath of the front bogie would be as dry a place as any.  I stuck to cleaning inside the cab once I had the fire going and had done the tool check.
Peter cleaning the front bogie
 Alessandro on the other hand needed to attach microphones to all of the cables that he had put in place previously.  In order to keep them dry, the more exposed ones were temporarily encased in plastic bags
Not a poor man's safety valve bonnet, but a bag over a microphone
Alessandro connecting up his microphones...
...there was even one under the buffer beam to record the drain cocks...
...and a number scattered around in the cab.
 I'm not entirely sure how many microphones he had set up altogether, but I don't doubt that I would have needed to take my boots and socks off to count them all.
Alessandro checking the volume levels on each channel
The recording equipment looked far too expensive and fragile to survive for long on the footplate
 Alessandro's day started off badly, when we attached to the stock, we found ourselves parked up next to the class 20, AKA the "Whistling wardrobe" owing to the distinctive and rather loud sound that it makes.  I'm sure that he was picking up little else on any of his microphones.
The whistling wardrobe.
 Having said that the footplate is probably no place for modern digital sound recording equipment, I also take the view that it is not the best place for mobile phones either.  Steve has got round the problem by getting some armoured cladding for his phone and happily used it to check the timetable.  There was no point in him checking the weather forecast, we already knew full well what was in store for us.
Steve checks the timetable
 It was a pink timetable on Sunday, I don't think that I had done one of those before.

In spite of the fact that our recent coal deliveries have been of Welsh coal, Dinmore Manor appeared to have a tender full of Scottish coal.
Scottish coal, the clue is in the thick smoke
 Steve rather wisely inched a little way past the 8 coach stop board when we pulled up at Winchcombe to spare us from having both the chimney and the cab underneath the road bridge
No good would have come of it
 The rain was still quite relentless
Alessandro made use of a hi-viz vest to protect his sound recorder from the elements
 We even collected breakfast as we passed the buffet car during the run round at Cheltenham race Course to save getting wet.
Better than the average drive-through.
Allesandro took off his headphones for long enough to eat a bacon roll.
 Dinmore Manor returned from the West Somerset Railway facing south this time, so it was tender first into the rain all the way up to Broadway
Running round at Broadway
 That was it, one round trip and then we handed over to the afternoon crew of Andy M  (driver) Eleanor (fireman) & Andy T (cleaner).
Eleanor bolstering the fire before departure...
...whilst the two Andy's fill the tender.
Eleanor found the same seam of Scottish coal that I had.
 Sunday is a relatively quiet day for volunteer activity, but the work on 3850 and its tender still carried on:
Anthony painting the tender horn ties...
...Sam wire brushing the horn tie mounting points
And somebody had gone some way towards priming a cab side.
Roger meanwhile put what I think is the final top coat on 3850's wheels
 The people working on the Peckett, John had disappeared by the time that I turned up with my camera, but there is much evidence of work having taken place on it.
Plenty of primer and undercoat applied
Much of the motion and other fittings were in primer
A cross head and slide bar looking ready to be fitted
 Later on, when Dinmore Manor returned for disposal, Alessandro needed to spend some time removing his microphones
He could have at least used copper capped microphones!
No, a dog hadn't died in the yard, that's a microphone!
There had even been one down by the fireman's side injector
Evenually, the fruits of Alessandro's labours will be available via his website.    I'm looking forward to hearing the Manor when it becomes available.

And finally, you may recollect that I said last week that I had no photos of 4920, Dumbleton Hall when it ran on the GWSR, well one of this blog's readers has come up trumps and provided the following four photos.  Many thanks to Neil Herapath for sending these to me.
Dumbleton Hall with express lamp codes at Winchcombe

Dumbleton Hall having it's tender filled from the parachute tank at Toddington (since relocated to the yard)

Dumbleton Hall at Toddington

Dumbleton Hall at Winchcombe
The last photo is of particular interest as it predates the footbridge and building on platform 2 as well as the C&W extensions to the goods shed, never mind the Tim Mitchell building.