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

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