Tuesday, 19 March 2019

GWR 8 Wheel Tender Discovered

The 2019 season has got off to an excellent start, the race trains all went ahead as planned, in spite of the weather which threatened to cancel some of the races,  all three of our named locos getting in on the action.  The Friday of the races saw three race trains running down to Cheltenham Race Course and for the first time in the heritage era, a non-stop express passenger run from Cheltenham to Broadway.
7903 & 35006 about to set off with the race trains on Wednesday (photo courtesy of Peter Gutteridge)
With 2807 still out of action following valve repairs over the winter, it was necessary to get 4270 back to act as a standby in case of failure.
4270, standing by inside the David Page shed on Saturday
2807 was having her valves put back in over the course of the weekend and is expected to get a test steaming during this week.  If all goes to plan, she may be returning to traffic at the weekend.
2807, nearly ready to run again now.
To the best of my knowledge, the GWR only built one 8 wheeled tender (I am now confidently expecting to be corrected by a more knowledgeable reader). That tender was originally paired with the one and only GWR pacific, 111, The Great Bear.  For a little while at least, there is now another one.  Dinmore Manor's old tender, which is next expected to see service behind 3850 was to be found with 8 wheels.  To be fair, 4 of them were not the usual size of wheel that you might expect to find on a GWR tender.
Accommodation bogie on the front
It turns out that the draw gear is not yet completely ready to be fitted to the tender, which in turn meant that the vacuum cylinder couldn't be fitted, which in turn meant that the leading wheel set couldn't be fitted.  That was all a problem, as the lifting jacks are coming up for their annual inspection, which can't be done whilst the tender is hoisted aloft. After their inspection, the jacks will next be required for fitting the centre axle to DES, one of our collection of diesel shunters.  Kenneth & Martin were to be found preparing the last pair of axle boxes for the tender in anticipation of the day that they can be re-fitted
Kenneth (L) & Martin.
At the close of play on Saturday, the tender finally had to move, and the plan was that it should go on road 6 between 3850's frames and the Peckett.  The upshot was that just about everything on roads 5 through to 11 that had wheels had to be shunted, and if it didn't have wheels had to be moved out of the way.

The wooden blocks supporting one end of the tender were marked up so that they can be returned to the same place when the tender returns to the jacks.
Something like a large jigsaw puzzle, with hints!
A full ballast train on road 5, which was blocking road 6 was first to have to move, in this case, up towards the car park .
Ballast train being shunted.
Then the bubble car, scrap class 20 (without a draw hook on one end) and the well wagon with 76077's boiler on it moved across to road 5 from road 6.
And then the Peckett was moved...

The Peckett & 76077's boiler on the move
Somewhere along the way, 2807 and 4270 were fetched out and back in on different roads to free up space for 35006 to go into the shed at the end of the day.

The last wheel set for the tender also needed to be moved from road 7 to road 6.

Neal uses the telehandler to swap the wheel set from road 7 to 6
At last, the tender itself could be shunted across.  The accommodation bogie had been specially modified by Mark & Mike to fit into the place of the missing axle, but even so, it was shunted at a very slow pace with people watching it carefully as it moved to make sure that nothing untoward occurred.
The 8 wheel tender on the move
All went as planned, and all that remained to be done was to put back just about everything else to where it had come from.
The Peckett and 76077's boiler, back off to where they came from
Just in case you weren't sure about the identity of DES (short for Diesel Electric Shunter), the next engine to be lifted on the jacks, here it is.  It was just about the only engine that wasn't included in the mega shunt on Saturday.
Spot the missing axle

Sunday, 10 March 2019

The Cotswold Express

As you'll have noticed, blog posts from me have become a little sparse lately. My employers don't take the same creditable stance that the GWSR does regarding working hours. For those of you that are fans of Scott Adams' cartoon strip, Dilbert, the one for yesterday pretty much summed up my life since the start of the year:

The light at the end of that particular tunnel has hopefully just about arrived and I was able to get along to Toddington on Saturday for the first time this year.

Before we get round to that though, my spies have been sending in photos of some of the activities within the steam loco dept lately:
Richard steam cleaning the pits...
...Fitting new piston rings on 2807...
...Creating foundations for the new wood store
The above photos all courtesy of Peter Gutteridge.

All of our home fleet have now passed their boiler insurance steam tests for the year...
Foremarke Hall being prepared for her steam test
 The 2019 timetable features train 1 each day running as "The Cotswold Express".  This means that it doesn't stop at Hayles Abbey Halt or Gotherington.
Foremarke Hall tries out the "Cotswold Express" headboard for size.
35006 has had her lamps painted and a red lens fitted to the lamp without one.
The above three photos all courtesy of John Cruxon.

Dinmore Manor too has had new piston rings fitted:
Mark(L) & Gilbert fit one of 7820's pistons (photo courtesy of Keith Smith)
Saturday was a blue timetable, which according to the new "Crew Confuser Simplifier" has a split shift, crew 1 turning up horrendously early, prepping the loco (which now includes emptying both the smoke box and the ash pan in the morning)  and doing one round trip. crew 2 (which included me) are supposed to turn up at a leisurely 11:45, empty the pit and then take over from crew 1 at 12:31.  I turned up at 09:00 only to find that Alex (the crew 1 cleaner) had already disposed of the ash in the pit... thank you Alex.
Foremarke Hall heads for her stock ready for the first train of the season.
 Winter maintenance hadn't quite been finished at this point, both Dinmore Manor and 2807 both had their valves out and awaiting reassembly.  I'd like to say that this was a result of my inability to get to Toddington lately and that my presence would have made all the difference, the truth of the matter though is that Tyseley's supplier of piston ring blanks for machining had gone bust, which had held up supply.
Dinmore Manor, no valves fitted
Where one of the valves should be...
...and where it was.
 Our job was to remedy this situation, the bore was coated with steam oil, as was each of the piston valve rings in turn.  They start off going in easily enough, but persuading them across the running plate is a bit challenging... a liberal application of brute force and ignorance is required.
Richard "encourages" the valve to move, Eleanor holds a sacrificial piece of wood
 Richard denied that he was thinking of all the lorry drivers that had taken excessively heavy vehicles over bridge 8 over the years, or of any of the lorry drivers that had struck our bridge at Broadway as he hammered.
Eventually, the valve spindle dropped into its well in the frame
Richard applies some steam oil...
... and eventually the valve is fully reinserted.
By the end of the day, both valves had been installed, and Dinmore Manor was dragged out of the shed for a warming fire to be put in, prior to a test run in the next few days.

2807's valves were still being reassembled on Saturday.
New valve rings on the work bench
2807, awaiting its valves.
Mark reassembling 2807's valves with the new rings.
 35006 was apparently pretty much done as far as winter maintenance was concerned, she was being brought into steam for a test run to make sure that everything was OK.
35006 coming in to steam
 4270 is the only member of our home fleet that hasn't been mentioned yet, she is still away on her holiday at the East Lancs Railway, but she'll be back with us in the very near future.

My afternoon was spent on the footplate of Foremarke Hall,
The line side clearance team were doing excellent work at Bishops Cleeve
 The line side was noticeably cut back over long distances of the line, they've been doing some excellent work over the winter period.  
The new "Cotswold Express" headboard looks rather good.
 Saturday was a driver training turn for Mike
Mike in the driving seat.
 We passed 35006 at Winchcombe, apparently everything was in order and she'll be hauling the race trains along with Foremarke Hall during the week.
Passing 35006 at Winchcombe
We didn't spend long at Broadway, but it was pleasing to see that the steps for the footbridge are coming along nicely.
Footbridge steps coming together on platform 2
 Jeremy (cleaner) had a go at firing from Broadway to Cheltenham Race Course, he made a pretty fair job of it.

Jeremy building up the fire at Broadway.
And finally, at the risk of uploading a photo that may find its way into some of the less salubrious corners of the internet, now that we have finished running events with a certain really useful engine, the owners want their faces back. To that end, they have been wrapped up in something akin to cling film and will shortly be dispatched whence they came. 
They might well have suffocated by then of course

Friday, 1 March 2019

The Third Gala Visitor is Announced

We don't seem to be doing very well at this, news of our third and final gala visitor (just like the first) has leaked out into the public domain in advance of being cleared by the loco's owners.  With both apologies and grateful thanks to the Thompson B1 Locomotive Trust and the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, I am delighted to be able to announce that our third and final gala visitor this year, is Thompson 4-6-0, B1, 61264.
61264 in reflection at Crewe
 The B1's were a wartime design, emerging in 1942 and intended as a mixed traffic class, the LNER equivalent of the Hall or Black 5 classes by the GWR and LMS respectively.
61264 approaching Bury on the East Lancs Railway
 A total of 410 B1's were built, 274 by the LNER and a further 136 by BR.  There were never 410 in existence at the same time as one (61057) suffered an accident in 1950 and was consequently scrapped before BR had finished its production run.
61264 with teak stock at Grosmont on the North York Moors Railway
 Originally numbered 1264 by the LNER when built in 1942, she was renumbered by BR as 61264.  She finished her days in departmental use as number 29 from 1965 until 1967. In departmental use, it worked as a mobile carriage heating unit, bereft of couplings so that it couldn't haul a train, but still able to propel itself.
Underneath the impressive gantries at Grosmont
Uniquely amongst surviving ex-LNER locos, 61264 was sold for scrap to Woodham Bros in Barry Island and went on to become the 83rd loco to be rescued from there in 1973.
61264 is currently based on the North York Moors Railway and is main line certified, enabling her to run on the services from Grosmont to Whitby.
At Grosmont
Although all my photos here show 61264 in BR guise, she is currently turned out in her short lived LNER livery and identity of 1264.

This announcement explains away the "Northern Soul" subtitle to the Cotswold festival of Steam as 61264 and previously announced Caley tank, 419 are both from somewhere well north of the Watford Gap.  Our other guest, 6023, King Edward II doesn't have northern credentials, but is turned out in BR blue.

As usual, the Cotswold Festival of Steam is the unmissable gala event of the year, advance tickets can be obtained by following this link.

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

The Second Gala Visiting Loco is Announced

Having recently announced that our first gala visitor will be Collett, 4-6-0, 6023, King Edward II, we are now in a position to say that our second confirmed gala visitor is McIntosh, 0-4-4T, 419.  419 was one of 92 members of the Celedonian Railway's 439 class. 
419 at Bo'ness on the Bo'ness & Kinneil Railway
 Production of the class spanned from 1900 until 1925, with 419 being built at St Rollox works, Glasgow in 1907.
419 at a recent 30742 charters event on the Churnet Valley Railway
 The wide range of production dates, means that although most were built by the Caledonian Railway, the last few of the class were built post-grouping by the newly formed LMS
419 at Consall, reflecting in the Caldon canal
The class were built for branch line work, suburban duties and banking.   
419 at Kinglsey & Froghall
 She is currently in Caledonian Railway blue livery and numbered 419.  During her LMS days, she was renumbered to 15189 and subsequently to 55189 in BR ownership.  Today, she is the sole survivor of her class.
419 reflecting in the river Churnet
 419 has only just returned to traffic in October 2018 after a heavy general overhaul lasting 9 years.
Somewhere in the vicinity of Cherry Eye bridge
Over the gala period, we will be operating four passenger rakes, two of 8 carriages and a couple of shorter rakes of five (or possibly a 4 and a 6).  419 will operate on one of the shorter rakes.
Unseasonal February sunshine
419's early period of service is not known, but by WWI, she was based at Polmadie in Glasgow to work suburban trains out of Glasgow Central station.
Perhaps the ford was a little too deep to be negotiated on this occasion
Later she was transferred to Lockerbie from where she would have worked passenger trains to Dumfries.  By 1952, she was back at Glasgow, though more for empty coaching stock manoeuvres than pulling suburban passenger trains.
419 in silhouette
It's hard to tell from the above photo, but there is a Westinghouse air pump fitted just forward of the cab on the fireman's (right hand) side of the cab.  Initially when built by the Caledonian Railway she was only air braked, a vacuum brake system not being fitted until LMS ownership.
Under the branches of an oak tree
419's last duties were as station pilot at Carstairs from where she was withdrawn in December 1962
She was purchased from BR for the princely sum of £750.
419 is the flagship locomotive of the Scottish Railway Preservation Society which saved her directly from BR in 1964. 

There is no doubting her heritage or where she was born
Caledonian Railway 419
419 comes to us by kind permission of the Scottish Railway Preservation Society.

I believe that advance tickets are already or at least will be shortly available on the GWSR website. The gala itself will be subtitled "Northern Soul".  Make of that what you will, but many will see it as a hint regarding the heritage of the third gala visitor, that we hope to be able to announce shortly.