Friday, 30 November 2018

A Telegram from the Queen

You can't have failed to notice that the festive season is nearly upon us, in fact we ran the first Santa specials on Sunday, a charity event for local disadvantaged children.  John moonlights in other departments as well as ours, often being seen working as a guard.  One of his other roles on the railway involves a red suit and a fake white beard... even though he has a perfectly good real white beard of his own.  He was to be seen on Saturday getting in some practise at getting up and down chimneys by getting in and out of 35006's tender to remove the build up of rust and general gunge from in there.  I'm sure that I overheard him mutter something about having had too many mince pies.
Santa John getting in some chimney practise
 3850's tender draw bar clevis has been mounted on a lathe in the workshop to freshen up the thread.  The associated nut came off a poor second after putting up a brave fight  when being removed and a replacement will need to be turned up.
Draw bar clevis in the lathe
Elsewhere in the workshop, Tom and Steve were attending to a lathe that had managed to lose its drive belt
Tom (L) & Steve
 Tony & Devindra were milling Dinmore Manor's smoke box locking arm to achieve a flat face once again.
Tony (L) & Devindra
  Tony & Devindra also made a new smoke box door spacer ring:
New spacer ring (photo courtesy of Mark Young)
The recently acquired buffers for 76077 have been dismantled and will now be refurbished
76077's buffers in their constituent pieces
 It was rather cold outside, a brazier had been lit, but every time that I went past it, nobody was around to benefit from it, most people finding something to do in the shed.
All we needed was some chestnuts to roast on it
 Ben & Ade meanwhile were busy applying a coat of bitumastic paint into the coal space of Foremarke Hall's tender.
Ben wielding a paint brush
 An outstanding task for 3850's tender is to scrape the tender journal bearings.  Engineer's blue was applied to the axle and the bearing rotated around it.  The dark blue spots on the bearing reveals the high spots which then need to be scraped gently.  Obviously this is an iterative process with many repeats until the bearing is making contact with the axle over the whole of its length rather than just in a few spots.  Without this process, only a few high spots of the bearing face would be making contact with the axle, which would get very hot in use.
Steve rotates a bearing on an axle
Engineer's blue transferred from the axle to the bearing surface
Steve re-profiles the bearing with a scraper
 It's a long and slow, but very necessary process.

Several people used a bunch of life expired sleepers to create a new mini ash dock in the yard.  I presume that this is for use in the event of ashing out locos on the new pits

The new ash dock
 3850's pony truck frame stays have had the necessary welding done by Rob
Pony truck ready to continue with painting & assembling (photo courtesy of Mark Young)
Sam & Rob have repaired Dinmore Manor's grate and ash pan
Sam in Dinmore Manor's firebox
Moving on to Wednesday, it transpires that 2807 has suffered a bit of a set back.  What had initially been thought to be a broken piston valve ring simply turned out to be gummed up piston valve rings, but unfortunately there was also a lack of lubrication reaching the piston valve in question.  Whether or not it gets sorted in time for the Santa Specials at the weekend is not clear at the moment and one of our stand by locos may have to stand in.
Piston valve removed (photo courtesy of Peter Gutteridge)
Piston valve on the valve bench (photo courtesy of Peter Gutteridge)
 Meanwhile, just in case it turns out to be necessary to run Foremarke Hall instead of 2807, her steam heat pipes were being lagged.
Foremarke Hall's steam heat pipe lagging (photo courtesy of Peter Gutteridge)
 Whichever locos turn out to be running at the weekend, I can probably state without fear of contradiction that it won't be 76077.  That didn't stop work taking place on the various tender parts that the owning group have for it.
John (at least I think it's John under all that PPE) working on the tender horn guides (photo courtesy of Peter Gutteridge)
 Having had so much work done recently, it was deemed prudent to give Dinmore Manor a steam test to make sure that she would be OK to run on the Santa Specials over this coming weekend.
Mike raising steam (photo courtesy of Matthew Harris)
I'm working on the principle that no news is good news, and that as nobody has told me otherwise that everything was OK.  I hope so, I'm rostered to fire her on Sunday.

A recent item of note is that the GWSR has started providing branded clothing direct from the manufacturers which can be obtained by clicking on this link.  With the festive season almost upon us, you might well discover that otherwise elusive perfect Christmas gift.  Do note that you can also obtain branded items for Foremarke Hall, 35006, Dinmore Manor and 2874 as well if you wish.

 Which leads me nicely into the fact that I have delayed this blog post slightly until Friday 30th November as it is 2874's 100th birthday. Steam locomotives don't get telegrams from the Queen for attaining the age of 100, but if they did, 2874's would be arriving today.
2874 during BR ownership at Shrewsbury, (photo courtesy of M.L.Boakes)
The 28XX class of locomotives were designed by George Jackson Churchward of the Great Western Railway company for heavy freight work.  The prototype originally numbered 97, but later renumbered as 2800 first steamed in 1903.  In 1905, production commenced continuing until 1919. The class remained at work until the last one, 2876 was withdrawn on 31/01/65, so the class as a whole had a service life in excess of sixty years. The 28XX class was the first UK design of 2-8-0 locomotive. 

The principle work of the 28XX class was long haul heavy freight trains.  The sealing of the internal steam pipes was one of the few problems encountered with the class and commencing in 1934, most of them had external replacements.  2874 was among the few that retained internal steam pipes and is the only one of those in preservation likely to steam again.

From 1909, all 28XX locos were fitted with super heaters and ones built before that retrofitted. When in 1938, Collett embarked on building the 2884 class of heavy freight locomotives, his design differed from Churchward's in few material ways, the most obvious being the use of external steam pipes from the start and a side window to the cab which bears testimony to how essentially correct Churchward's original design had been.

2874 was built in Swindon to Churchward’s design and was part of a batch of 28 to Lot 210, Diagram I and had Works Orders of 2762 - 2789 respectively. Work started in 1918 and was completed at the end of November. The recorded cost to build was £4992 and when the tender was included £6193. It was rated 8F with a tractive effort of 35,380 lbs weighed out at 92 tons 12cwt with its tender.  The tenders used by these locomotives were almost exclusively the Churchward 3500 gallon models.

Coming into traffic on 4th December 1918, 2874 was just too late to help with the major war effort where its class colleagues provided valuable assistance to the Royal Navy in hauling coal from the Welsh coalfields to numerous ports in the Western region and up into Lancashire for onward movement to Scapa Flow – the so-called “Jellicoe Specials”. The first shed was Old Oak Common where it worked turn and turn about on the coal trains from Wales to London - later homes included Reading, Leamington, Tyseley, Neath, Cardiff, Banbury (1947), Stourbridge Newport , 
Aberdare and her final one again at Neath. She was condemned on 24th May 1963 and sold to Woodham Bros on 9th October that year after a working life of 44 years. As we all know, many of the locomotives that ended up in Dai Woodham's scrap yard lived to steam another day.
2874 in Barry Scrapyard
2874 when at the Pontypool & Blaenavon Railway
Shortly after arriving at Toddington
On display in the car park at Toddington during a Cotswold Festival of Steam Gala
2807 of course reached her 100th birthday thirteen years ago and at the time was yet to return to steam in preservation.  Likewise, 2874 has reached 100 years of age and has yet to return to steam in preservation. She doesn't have enough puff at the moment to blow out 100 candles, but watch this space, one day she will steam again.
2874 contemplating a bright future

Sunday, 18 November 2018

Centenary Special

It doesn't happen very often, but some weeks this blog pretty much writes itself... or to be rather more accurate kind people send me photos and explanatory text which can pretty much be cut and pasted straight into the blog with minimal editorial oversight from myself.  This is one of those weeks.

Your humble blogger had an eye on one or two items at an auction yesterday, all of which went for far more than I was prepared to pay, so all in all a bit of a waste of time.  Consequently I didn't make it to Toddington until after lunch time.  I was greeted by tales of how much difficulty that Mark, Luke & Harry were experiencing fitting the brick arch into Dinmore Manor.  When I went to find them, it transpired that the difficulties had been much exaggerated and they had the situation well under control.  
Harry (L) & Luke, first bricks in place (Photo courtesy of Mark Harding)
Getting the hang of it now (Photo courtesy of Mark Harding)
Job done, fit for service again (Photo courtesy of Mark Harding)
I noted that by the end of the day that Dinmore Manor had been reunited with its tender.
Dinmore Manor, back in one piece again
3850's pony truck had arrived back from shot blasting, the usual suspects were busy applying primer, then undercoat:

3850's pony truck getting some TLC
Evidence of damage by a previous owner to some parts of the pony truck have come to light which will require a little light welding to restore it to its former glory.
Tim & Roger continued removing salvageable items from 2874's cab
Kenneth continued removing rust & general grot from under 3850's tender...
...and I wire brushed and primed a few brackets from under 3850's tender.
.No photos, however I am assured that a brave team entered the water space on 35006's tender with a view to cleaning out any rust and other grot that had accumulated.  I believe that the plan is to weld sacrificial anodes into all of the tenders to minimise the the build up of rust inside them.

 Just because little has been said on these pages regarding 76077, doesn't mean to say that nothing has been happening. Andy kindly sent the following report regarding the various recent work parties that have taken place:

"Saturday 27th October

Graham Gould, Mick Hobbs, Chris Morris and Richard Winstanley completed the de-rusting and painting of the part painted boiler. Thanks to all for their help. Our class 45 diesel springs were swapped for a set of round pattern LMS type buffers for the front of the locomotive. Thanks go to CMDG for making this happen. Andrew Meredith, Chris Hinton, John Pedley and Chris Irving worked on clearing the old container of all parts some were taken to Loughborough ready for reassembly of the pony truck.

Buffer cleaning (photo courtesy of Andy Meredith)
Wednesday 31st Oct

John Pedley and Richard Winstanley, worked with other department members to free off the rusted brake components. Many thanks to those that helped out. 

Saturday 10th November

Graham Gould, Mick Hobbs, Richard Winstanley, Adrian Showell and Ben Evason, Andrew Meredith, Chris Hinton, John Pedley and Chris Morris all turned up to help. Plan for the day was to wash out the locomotive boiler to remove the dirt built up in the water space. Ben and Adrian worked on this and then started removing the old wooden roof with help from Andy Meredith, from the container ready for it to be scrapped. As you can see from the photo it’s not much use for keeping the weather out. It’s also amazing that considering the weight of parts that were on the roof it did not totally collapse. Mick Hobbs and Graham Gould helped clear the old container and then did an excellent job cleaning up the newly acquired buffers. John Pedley stripped all the usable components from the ash pan assembly before it was scrapped. There was not much salvageable except for the linkages for hopper ash pan and damper door hinges.

The dilapidated container (photo courtesy of Andy Meredith)
Wednesday 14th November  
Richard Winstanley worked with Neil Cooper and other dept members to remove the spring capture plates from the rear of the buffers so we can examine the condition of the springs etc. John Pedley stripped down the previously salvaged components from the ash pan ready for reuse. Thanks to the unknown department members for their help.  
The mortal remains of the ash pan (photo courtesy of Andy Meredith)

Company News

For those that don’t know a new company Toddington Standard Locomotive Ltd has been set up to oversee the restoration of 76077. Chris Hinton has signed over the locomotive to the new company and the directors are busy arranging share application leaflets etc ready for an official company launch early in 2019. Behind the scenes the wheel sets have been sent to SDR for refurbishment and have been returned to Loughborough ready for axle box work next year. While at SDR it was discovered that the quartering of the crank pins was significantly out, requiring the crank pins to be re-machined to compensate for this. Possibly they have been like that since the loco was out shopped from Horwich works. Hopefully the loco will be a smooth runner now and reduce the wear in the coupling rod bearings to a minimum. Work is also progressing with the manufacture of new spring hanger brackets to enable the weights on the driving wheel springs to be easily adjusted, something that the GWSR fitting staff will be glad to hear about. With assistance from Andrew Marshall the design of the new tender is being worked on with various different options available to us.

Main work on the locomotive's frames are due to start in 2019 with an aim to re-wheel the loco early in 2020.

Manufacture of missing fittings has started with work on the atomisers and carriage warming valve."

And finally, this report was received from Chris regarding the GWSR's marking of the centenary of Armistice Day:

"This was the railway's contribution to a day at CRC to mark the Centenary of the Armistice in 1918. The day started with a short formal service held at Toddington Station with the Gloucestershire Regiment dressed in WWI uniform together with members of the GWSR attending to show our respect to all those Railway Men and Women who have lost their lives whilst serving their Country. The Reverend David Hall (GWSR Volunteer) directed the service which included other members of the Railway forming a Colour Party comprised of Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Gloucestershire, Col. Mike Bennett OBE, DL and Senior Inspector Warrant Officer Chris Sparks MBE (RAF); with the Flag borne by our own Alex Hayes, steam Department member.

The last Post, Reveille and supporting music was provided by Cheltenham Silver Training Band.

Our Loco 2807, was on duty with a specially sourced giant Poppy and has strong links to the past, as it was part of the Jellicoe Specials hauling coal from South Wales to the Grand Fleet in Scapa Flow. The Loco crew was Ian Butler Diver, Jim Clarke Fireman and Sam Perry the cleaner.

Once the train arrived at CRC Station, being filmed by ITV, the "Glosters"marched from the train to join other Services mustered ready for a formal Act of Remembrance in the Racecourse Parade Ring."
2807 & poppy, (photo courtesy of Chris Blake)
Gloucestershire Regiment in WWI uniform (photo courtesy of Chris Blake)
2807 arriving at Toddington (photo courtesy of Chris Blake)
Departing Toddington (photo courtesy of Chris Blake)
Parade (photo courtesy of Chris Blake)

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Toad (and Newt) in the Hole

Peter, my normal Wednesday correspondent has provided me with a number of photos of the activities of the steam loco dept last Wednesday.  For reasons that he didn't explain, he chose to include a photo of a much earlier form of transport, the ill fated Mary Rose, which sank off Portsmouth a long time ago, I'm sure Google will reveal much more about it if you search for it.
Mary Rose (photo courtesy of Peter Gutteridge)
 I can only assume that the timber used to build it came from ancient woodland that once bordered our line, or that it must have had on board some pioneering steam powered device for automatically loading the canon which inspired Churchward in his later designs.

Now that the winter maintenance season is nearly upon us, work is starting on some of the locos that are not scheduled to be used until the new season starts.  35006 was having its tender emptied of coal prior to the application of a coat of bitumastic paint in the coal space....
Either that or the fireman should have gone to Specsavers! (photo courtesy of Peter Gutteridge)
Some went through the door as well as the window (photo courtesy of Peter Gutteridge)
 The weigh scales have been giving suspicious readings lately, Gilbert has devised a new mounting bracket and the results have since become more consistent.
Gilbert fitting his new bracket (photo courtesy of Peter Gutteridge)
 Dinmore Manor (along with 2807) will be working the Santa specials from the beginning of December, so jobs that can be squeezed in before then are being attended to, one of which is the application of bitumastic paint in the coal space.  I seem to remember doing this job last year... or was it the year before?
Painting started (photo courtesy of Peter Gutteridge)
 Meanwhile, whilst 35006 was being de-coaled, Martin was underneath with the pressure washer.  His cunning plan was to hide under the loco to avoid getting wet from the rain outside.
Creating his own rainstorm under 35006 (photo courtesy of Peter Gutteridge)
Moving on to Saturday, it was time to bite the bullet with 3850's tender.  A number of brackets that had been left in place had proved to have made access into other areas practically impossible.  There was also a suspicion that rust had built up behind the brackets and that should be cleaned out and painted too. Unfortunately, the nuts and bolts that were securing them had got quite settled in their homes and weren't at all keen to move thank you very much. In fact it was worse than that, as the split pins holding some of them in place had been painted over, making a tough job next to impossible. As ever some heat was brought to bear, the split pins cut away and they eventually all gave in.
Mark applies some heat to the fireman's side vac cylinder mounting bracket
Split pins gone, and the nuts now loosened
 Needless to say the corresponding bolt heads were concealed in awkward to reach spots calling for some dexterity to get a spanner on the back to hold them still whilst undoing the nuts. 
A pipe mounting bracket that needed to come off...
...and another on the fireman's side
 Access to the bolts behind the driver's side vac cylinder mounting bracket was extremely limited, but fortunately the bolts didn't turn as the nuts were undone, the last person to install them had obviously had a hard enough time of it to go to the trouble of welding tabs in place to prevent them from turning. To that kind person, I am extremely grateful.
Driver's side vac cylinder mounting bracket
 Needless to say, in a few weeks time when we are ready to refit the brackets, we'll be looking at the above few photos to remind us which one fits where.
Martin took photos for the next DMLL working volunteers email
 Martin experienced a spot of bother emailing the working volunteers email this week, taking several attempts before getting the readable attachment to attach as desired.  Fortunately his skills with a paint brush outshines his skills with email.
Martin priming sundry 3850 items...
...Nigel wire brushing them earlier.
 Tim and Angela continued to remove the various brackets and hand rails attached to 2874's cab
Angela (L) & Tim
 76077 has not been forgotten about, Ade and Ben were giving it it's first boiler washout in at least 50 years

Ade manipulates the pressurised water, Ben cleans out the crud through the mud hole doors
 76077's buffers were in the shed for overhaul, first stop was to wire brush off the old paint.
Wire brushing off the buffers...
...then applying a little heat to encourage the back plate screws to free up
 At the end of the day another trailer load of items disappeared off to Loughborough to be reunited with 76077's frames.

And finally, four toads and a newt were rescued from the diesel pit on Saturday by Simon, a fifth toad managed to escape under its own power.  There was no news on the sobriety of the newt. Roger released them in a pond which would hopefully provide them with a more agreeable habitat.
Four toads and a newt, photo courtesy of Roger Molesworth