Tuesday, 9 October 2018

It's a Washout

The plan was that Dinmore Manor would run during the West Somerset Railway's gala on the last weekend of September, cool down on the Monday, return to Toddington on the Tuesday, be put back together, have a FTR exam and have a warming fire lit on the Wednesday and be ready on the Thursday for a steam test, followed by running on the Dinmore Manor supporters' day.  The timescales were a little tight, but achievable, what could possibly go wrong?  Well, what could, and indeed did go wrong was that the person who was supposed to organise the transport could forget to do so (name withheld to protect the guilty).  There are relatively few companies that can shift a steam loco and tender and they tend to need booking well in advance.  We are extremely grateful to Reid's who pulled out all the stops to squeeze us in and get Dinmore Manor returned to Toddington on Wednesday evening.
Long shadows on the ground, Dinmore Manor puts in a belated appearance
One way of stopping grit getting into the injectors!
The sun is now over the yard arm, and Dinmore Manor descends onto the unloading road
 Ben is a fireman on the WSR as well as a driver on the GWSR.  He had prepped Dinmore Manor before departure from Bishops Lydeard, the grate had been cleaned and the start of a warming fire had been put in place, all it needed was a match... and of course some water in the boiler.
Sam connects a hose to the blow down valve
 The recently installed hydrants in the shed were then swiftly filling the boiler with water.  Once we had about half a glass, the fire was lit and the warming fire commenced.
One match applied and off we go
Dinmore Manor was returned to us from the WSR spotlessly clean
 The tender was following some hours behind,
The tender arrives
All that was left now was to squeeze them up together and connect up the draw bar and safety links, and drag the tender round to a pit via the parachute tank to fill it up.

Regrettably, the day job kept me away from the DMLL supporters' day on Thursday, however by all accounts Dinmore Manor's supporters had a marvellous time driving and firing their own loco for the day.

Dinmore Manor, ready just in the nick of time (photo courtesy of Martin Ginger)
Dinmore Manor and friends (photo courtesy of Martin Ginger)
 The following day, Mark & Martin paid a visit to Riley's to inspect the progress with 3850's boiler.  As can be seen from the photos below, the boiler is now upside down, the door plate and the lower half of both side plates have been cut away.  The front section of the barrel has also been removed.
3850's boiler (photo courtesy of Martin Ginger)
The boiler is now at the stage where no more bits have to be removed and it is now starting to go back together.As you can see in the photo below, the  throat plate has already been replaced
New throat plate (photo courtesy of Martin Ginger)
Saturday morning arrived, and so did a significant quantity of rain, the hot sunny days and associated line side fire risk seems like a very long time ago now.  Dinmore Manor was by now cool from the supporters' day on Thursday and was due for a washout.  

Amongst the collection of odds and ends left in the mess coach looking for a new home was this jigsaw puzzle of Dinmore Manor... not 7820, but the building after which 7820 was named.  It's a pretty grand looking place and I wouldn't mind betting that you could get a pretty good sized model railway in some of those rooms. I don't think that I'd want to have to keep the gardens in order though... my fingers are rather more black than green!
Dinmore Manor... in 1,000 pieces
 Concerns that the jigsaw puzzle may not have all 1,000 pieces were allayed by that fact that the pieces were all still in the original sealed plastic bag inside the box.  I took pity on it and since Saturday, Mrs blogger & myself have progressed some way towards completing it.  I wonder if there is a jigsaw out there of Foremarke Hall (the building that is, there are some of 7903 to be found in shop on Platform 1 at Toddington)

Getting back to business, being the diesel gala weekend and truly miserable weather, most of the steam dept volunteers chose to spend their Saturday elsewhere, only the brave or foolhardy turned up.  The principal task of the day was to make inroads with washing out Dinmore Manor.  Normally a loco on washout would be shunted out onto a pit and the whole process done in the open however we elected to do as much as possible indoors in the dry.   Yours truly squeezed under the cab floor and fitted a hose to the blow down valve, this time to let the water out.
An advantage of having a standard hose fitting attachment on the blow down valve

Slacken off and move aside the lock arm, then undo the valve...
...and the boiler empties out of the far end of the hose which had been placed in a pit.
 I know that there is a lot of steam in the photo, but I must stress here that this was a freak of the atmospherics on the day, the water was in fact a very pleasant 43 degrees C, we know this as Mike measured it with his new infra-red temperature gun.
Mike demonstrates his new toy
Next stop was to remove the hand hole/mud hole doors and enough washout plugs
Sam removing a hand hole door, note the magic tool to stop it falling into the boiler.
 Whilst Sam & Mike removed the washout plugs, Eleanor and I ventured into the firebox to clean the grate and remove the accumulated deposits on the various stays
Eleanor, lost in a cloud of dust in Dinmore Manor's firebox
 One of the less obvious tasks for a washout is to change the glass in the gauge frame and rod through the feed holes from the boiler to make sure that there is nothing blocking them and potentially causing an inaccurate reading.
Gauge glass removed
 Why the glass needs changing so often is readily apparent from the photo below, note that the steam has cut away much of the top of it.  NB, the wasted section is all in the top nut of the gauge, the part visible in the gauge starts where the tide mark is at the very bottom of the picture.
Steam etched glass
Mike rods through the feed holes to the gauge frame
Eleanor undoing washout plugs in the smoke box.
 Once Dinmore Manor was un-boxed, it was time shunt it outdoors onto a pit and give it some therapy with high pressure water to clean the accumulated sludge out of the boiler.  We now have an electric pump on one of the hydrants in the shed, which is far easier (and quieter) than the petrol powered pump that we used to use for washouts.
Electric pump, fed from a hydrant in the shed
 Soon enough, a small team of people were taking it in turns to get themselves wet whilst jetting water into each of the hand/mud hole doors and washout plugs.
Mike started the process off
 After inspection, Martin took the washout plugs and mud/hand hole doors into the machine room for a clean up using a very gentle rotary brush
Martin cleans a washout plug
Jamie has a go at getting wet, Mike supports the hose
 It's a bit like cooking a chicken, just wait until the juices run clear and it's done!
Water draining out of the bottom of the boiler
Sam hosing through a washout plug's hole in the cab
At the end, Mike washes through the mud hole doors and the washing part is done
Jeremy rolls up one of the hoses
 Mark & Len were around on Sunday to finish off the washout by reinserting the washout plugs, changing the fusible plugs etc and giving the boiler a thorough inspection.  All being well, Dinmore Manor will be running on every day that the railway is open from now until the end of October.

35006 was in the shed receiving some attention to its brakes.  A couple of the brake shoes had worn thin and needed replacing.
Brake shoe removed
One of the worn shoes
John takes the opportunity to clean up some of the accumulated grime under there
Steve (top) and Dave refit one of the shoes
 With many of those present from the Dinmore Manor group being tied up with the boiler washout, there were few to work on the tender for 3850,

Tony, wire brushing old paint and rust off of the tender
Nigel wire brushing the tender's horn ties
 Later on, their progress was obvious
Freshly primed...
...and underneath behind the drag box
Neatly primed horn ties
 During the last week, somebody has even got as far as getting 3850's tool tunnel into undercoat.
Nicely undercoated tool tunnel.
 2807 underwent an official steam test on Wednesday and also a mechanical exam.  The steam test was passed successfully and all is well on the mechanical front.  She spent Saturday sat in the shed sheltering from the rain and benefiting from some TLC from Alex who has a rare talent in getting steam locos to look their best.
Alex cleaning 2807's running plate.
Ben emptying 2807's smoke box.
 Being a diesel gala, only diesels were running of course.  As we were finishing the washout, the green class 37 pulled up alongside Dinmore Manor.
The green class 37
 It's hard to spot in the photo above, but a close up reveals that the steam heat bag has been rested on a plastic chair, obviously it was tired and in need of a rest.
Putting its feet up!
 The reason for this soon became apparent, the crew wanted to expel the last steam from the steam heat boiler.
Not fooling anybody, we all know it's a diesel really
2807 is rostered for all the services in November, including the race trains.  The owning group have decided that the steam heat bag is looking  a bit tatty now and want to replace it.  Unfortunately it is of the GWR variety which is a different pipe diameter to all of our other locos (BR variety).  As the GWR diameter of pipes are no longer available, this will involve replacing not just the pipe itself, but also the fittings on either rend of it for BR ones. My initial reaction was to think that it was a great shame to lose an original fitting, but of course 28XX's being freight locos never had steam heat originally at all, the steam heating currently fitted being a heritage era modification.
GWR steam heat
And finally, it's a sweeping generalisation I know, but the demographic of the Steam Loco Dept could with a fair degree of accuracy be described as male, pale & stale.  Yes, there are a small number of ladies (who punch well above their weight) and a few who are on the right side of forty, but the sad fact is, we are predominantly male and middle (and I'm being generous here) aged.  Collectively, we have long since recognised the reality that all that we manage to achieve within the department is very much down to the fact that our wives are extremely understanding (that may well be a euphemism for long suffering) and don't give us too much grief if for sake of example we are late home for dinner because we ended up helping to reunite Dinmore Manor with its tender until late at night, or return home looking like a chimney sweep because we've been working in a firebox or smoke box.  Without their support we just couldn't do all the things we do.  It came to pass on Sunday that a number of us treated our better halves to lunch at Dumbleton Hall as a way of saying thank you and to meet some of the other members of the department of whom they had probably heard much, but never met in person.  I'd never been there before, but, it was a sizable place and quite imposing.
Dumbleton Hall hiding behind some cedar trees
Of course some better halves are already familiar characters on the railway
 To be honest, most of us didn't recognise each other, we're usually clad in grubby overalls and smeared in soot/oil & grease.  Some of us even scrubbed up quite well
An excellent time was had by all
John (head of department) is usually to be found working on the railway three days each week, in spite of a lengthy commute.  In recognition of the amount of work that he puts in, he was presented with half a dozen bottles of wine along with flowers for his wife Margaret by Chris one of the steam department's inspectors. 

Dumbleton Hall was of course the inspiration for the name of Collett Hall class loco number 4920, which is happily still surviving having like so many steam locos been saved via Barry Island scrap yard.  She is currently resting between boiler tickets at the South Devon Railway.  She ran on our line for a while, but I'm afraid that was before my time and I have no photos of her back then. 
Dumbleton Hall awaiting restoration on the South Devon Railway

1 comment:

  1. One of the joys of working with steam locos is of course the grime that adheres to the entire body. Some years ago I unwisely become involved on the dirty side with the Lakeside line. Pleasant duties included acting as Third Man on the footplate and disposal after each day rostered. They told me the ash dropped into the pit was toxic and corrosive so being a Bear of Little Brain I scooped it up into a wheel barrow and removed it to where it was needed most.
    The other chance opportunity to get involved was at Quainton Road, where the smoke box on L94 needed liberating from its concrete overcoat with a jackhammer.

    I would be telling a tale of I were to say I thoroughly enjoyed the task.
    Next stop was the Flour Mill at the Forest of Dean railway.
    Happy days!