Sunday, 28 April 2019

Rag Time Blues

The Cotswold Festival of Steam "Northern Soul" gala is now less than a month away, and as has become something of an annual tradition, the stock of cleaning rags is now perilously low again.  If you have any suitable old and otherwise unwanted items of clothing/curtains/towels or the like, please send it our way.  There is a green bin situated at the entrance of the yard at Toddington, please make your donations there. 

Last weekend, your humble scribe was out and about on the footplate of 2807 all day, which isn't particularly conducive to finding out what has been going on in the steam loco dept. I am therefore very thankful to Martin who provided me with the following photos, but alas no description of what was going on
Dinmore Manor covered in scaffolding, hopefully no Notre Dame repeat to come (photo courtesy of Martin Ginger)
3850's sandbox has moved from being primed to grey undercoat (photo courtesy of Martin Ginger)
Tony(R) instructing Jeremy on the use of a lathe (photo courtesy of Martin Ginger)
3850's tender being prepared for painting by David (photo courtesy of Martin Ginger)
Newly cast brass window frames and fittings for 2874 (photo courtesy of Martin Ginger)
Mike lifts out one of 3850's extension frames (photo courtesy of Martin Ginger)
Meanwhile, whilst Martin was keeping up to speed with the activities within the steam loco dept, I was out and about on 2807.   The photo below isn't perhaps the clearest, but ahead on the track towards Hunting Butts tunnel, a couple of young lads are playing.  This is not a safe place for them to be. If you are the parent or guardian of a child or children living in the area, please ensure that they know that the railway is not a playground and that they should stay outside of the fence.
Not a playground!
I noticed that shuttering has been put in place for foundations for the mark II wood store.  Hopefully that will be installed in the near future.
Wood store to be installed here.
Foremarke Hall arrives at Toddington
It was a driver training day for Chris...
...his instructor, Ian was pleased to see adequate pressure on the gauge...
...and it was a delightful day to be out on 2807.
Moving on to this weekend, we set our calendars back to the1940's.
OK, not a real Spitfire, but jolly impressive nonetheless
 Many of the people who turned up, including our volunteers took the trouble to don 1940's attire (I don't think my own personal wardrobe contains anything quite so contemporary).  Mike looked the part, however, being on first aid duty, he carted around a modern backpack of medical supplies.  To be fair, if there had been an accident, nobody would have wanted to be tended to by a first aider with 1940's bandages.
Mike, modern first aid in 1940's clothing
 Of course, there were other devices to be seen that weren't quite in keeping with the wartime event.
I don't think he was checking up on the football results from 1944 somehow
The trains ran to time, in spite of the best efforts of the Luftwaffe
4270 has entered traffic for the first time since she returned to us from the ELR.  Amongst the many things that have happened, is a spring change.  2807 has also managed to break a spring, which was changed on Friday.  The 2 broken springs were being cleaned and strapped to a wooden pallet ready to be sent off for refurbishment.
Eleanor resorts to reading the instruction manual, Peter grapples with the strap binding machine
 The floor of the shed has become rather filthy over the winter, Mike decided that it would be a good idea to scrape off the worst of the gunge and follow it up with some therapy with the steam cleaner.
We have some firemen who struggle to make this much steam
 Mike got a little bit bored after a while and managed to betray his allegiances:
Clearly a fan of brass safety valve bonnets and copper capped chimneys
Nigel brought chocolate cake, and it wasn't even his birthday.  It was at this point that we discovered that the mess coach didn't possess a single knife, a plastic one procured from somewhere else was eventually pressed into service.
You can never have too much cake!
 A small team of people were to be found excavating a trench for the electric cables to feed the new yard lamps that will shortly be put in place.
A trench being dug...
...John applying paint to one of the ladders to go with the lamps
 With her thermic syphon washout plugs now sorted, 35006 needed a steam test before she could be signed off as fit for traffic
Hard to tell against the cloudy background, but a safety valve has lifted
You will be pleased to know that 35006 passed with flying colours and is now ready for service again.

I spent much of the day cleaning many years accumulation of grime from the extension frame liberated from 3850.  This is now loaded onto a trailer and will shortly be heading off for use as a pattern for new ones... hopefully they won't faithfully replicate the slight bend put into it by a certain less than careful previous owner. 
Frame extension, loaded onto a trailer.
Ed, one of our firemen and a Home Guard member gave some of his platoon a guided tour of the yard.
"Oh no, I've been blogged"
 You'll be pleased to know that they followed Corporal Jones' advice and didn't panic when my camera appeared.

 A recent arrival in the yard, is a GWR boiler wagon, used to move boilers between the various shops of Swindon works.  It will become the temporary mobile home for 2874's boiler whilst work takes place on its rolling chassis.  Before that, the plan is to refurbish the trolley.
The first of its wheels has been painted
The boiler trolley in the yard
 The boiler barrel would rest on the upright part on the right of the photo above, and the front of the foundation ring on the back of the trolley on the left.  Clearly the boiler would not rest directly on metal, and there must have been some sort of wooden structure mounted at the back for the boiler foundation ring to rest on.  Should you have or know the whereabouts of any photos of these in service at Swindon, or even any original drawings, then we would be very pleased to hear from you.
What should go here?
 The frame that the new cab for 2874 will be temporarily erected on has been cut, mark was to be found "gluing" it all together with the MIG (Mark Inserts Glue) welder.
Mark, sticking the frame together.
During the week, I received this rather nice photo of Bill, one of our signalmen, who moonlights as a driver on the Talyllyn Railway.
Bill on 0-4-2ST, "Sir Haydn" at Quarry Sidings (photo courtesy of Phil Mason)
 2' 3" gauge Sir Haydn (No 3) was built in 1878 in Loughborough by Hughes' Loco and Tramway Engineering LTD according to wikipedia, but Falcon Engine & Carriage Works according to the worksplate that she carries.  She was originally built as an 0-4-0ST and worked on the Corris Railway, which in 1929 was absorbed into the Great Western Railway.  Although she spent nearly 20 years as a GWR loco, she didn't receive any of the usual GWR modifications such as a belpaire firebox, safety valve bonnet or pannier tanks.  Bill claims to have been built somewhat later than 1878 and has not had any obvious GWR modifications.

And finally, the 2874 Trust is keen to obtain more money to assist with the restoration of 2874 from the Ecclesiastical insurance Company.  The following is a quote from David Foster, a trustee of the 2874 Trust.

"In December 2017, the 2874 Trust was fortunate to receive a grant of £1000 from the Ecclesiastical Insurance Company in their “12 days of giving” – this company donates significant sums to charities every year by distributing all their profits. This year they are undertaking a “Movement for Good” programme to give £1000 to each of 500 charities and a further £50,000 to each of 10 charities.

We want to try again! The process is through people nominating their chosen charity. The more nominations we get, the better the chance of success – the initial round started on 23rd April – the details of how to nominate the 2874 Trust are below – the information you need to complete the nomination is the Charity Number - 1166258 (we have confirmed we are eligible under their rules). The second round starts later in year and we will try for that one as well.

Obviously we will be in competition with many other worthy causes but we would be delighted if you could help

Log on to

Right hand side of page “Nominate Now”

Details needed – Charity Number 1166258 our name The 2874 Trust should show up on screen

Charity Type – select Education Skills

Who you are – “Other”

Why you are nominating – suggest something along the lines of “ the organisation is helping the preservation of heritage engineering skills by training and developing volunteers through restoration of a historic steam locomotive”"

Hopefully your help here will see more funds donated to this extremely worthy project.

Tuesday, 16 April 2019

Wardrobe Malfunction

 The Cotswold Festival of Steam is only about 6 weeks away now, the publicity is starting to ramp up a bit, adverts in the railway press and banners appearing around the railway etc.  The best vantage point to see the gala is from the footplate and as usual we are making available 6 footplate rides on home fleet locos for each day of the event.  For the first time, the footplate rides will cover the whole length of the line including Broadway.  Tickets for the footplate rides are available from the main GWSR website by clicking on this link.
May 25th - 27th, don't miss it!
For my sins, I was back again at Toddington last Tuesday, this time for a purple timetable.  The new 40' container had arrived in its temporary location that we had cleared the weekend before.
This one has a side entry
 I know that a few of the containers are about to be shuffled around a bit, but I was still taken aback to discover that the oil store has a compass on the bench for preparing the lamps... its not going to be moving far enough to warrant that.
Perhaps it is thinking its off trekking in the Himalayas or something
 On a purple timetable, we have 2 steam locos running, the first crew turn up fairly early and dispose both locos, then prep their own.  Crew 2 turns up at a slightly more civilised time and prep the other one... I was on crew 2.

Train 1 goes out as the "Cotswold Express", which stops at neither Hayles nor Gotherington.
Crew 1 fireman, Martin attaching the Cotswold Express headboard
 My driver for the day was Chris, who decided that as we were going to be stopping at Hayles (if requested) and Gotherington (even if not requested), that we should sport the "Cotswold Rambler" headboard on Dinmore Manor, our loco for the day.

Chris, rambling in the Cotswolds

Foremarke Hall, ready to set off for Cheltenham
 The cleaner was Matthew, he's shaved off his beard... I didn't recognise him when I arrived in the morning.
Chris (L), Matthew & breakfast
 Of note, was that a member of the steam loco dept is now moonlighting, Stuart was undergoing his first day as a trainee signalman at Cheltenham Race Course signal box.  Never fear, he will remain in the steam loco dept as well.
Stuart delivers the token at Cheltenham Race Course station
 The weather was not our friend, we had to hurriedly put the storm sheet up for a while in a futile attempt to counter the worst of the British weather.
Down comes the rain, up goes the storm sheet
Matthew made a fairly reasonable job at providing steam for a while
 Moving on to Saturday:
Dinmore Manor and 2807 getting ready to depart (photo courtesy of Martin Ginger)
Saturday saw some activity with 3850's cylinder block, as you recollect, the front end of the loco had been separated from the main frames in its entirety.  The cylinder block is beyond salvage, the extension frames are bent, but we need to get one off to use as a pattern for new ones.  Only the buffer beam is salvageable.  The task for Saturday was to separate the buffer beam from the frame extensions and the frame extensions from the cylinder block.  It sounds simple, but it definitely comes under the heading of a non-trivial exercise.  To start with, the rivets that had been drilled through the previous week had to be given some therapy with the oxy-acetylene torch to lose the majority of the rivet, the remainder being punched through with a hammer and punch.
Most of the relevant rivets gone
Dealing with one of the last few rivets
We jacked up the buffer beam and removed the sleeper stack holding it up.  A trolley was then inserted underneath to catch it when it fell.  I'm sure that it won't surprise anybody to learn that it didn't fall... Rust 1:0 Gravity.
Using jacks to rotate the buffer beam seemed to help (photo courtesy of Martin Ginger)
 The buffer beam finally removed, the team assembled for a victory photo:
L-R, Martin, Neal, Keith & Sam
 The weight of the buffer beam on the trolley revealed that perhaps we needed to adjust the tyre pressures to accommodate the load
They were all like this
 Low tyre pressures or not, Martin leaped into action with a grinder to start cleaning off the paint.  There is at least one small crack in a BR era repair to it that will need some welding.
Martin makes a start on removing paint.
 Once the buffer beam had been removed, the letters GWR and date 1940 were revealed... several years before 3850 entered traffic.  I presume they were built as a batch and kept on the shelf until they were needed to put on a loco.
GWR 1940
 We were on a roll now, so we pressed on with removing a frame extension, we only need to remove one to use as a pattern.  All of the rivets/bolts holding it in place came away with surprising ease... all bar one that is
This one, at the thickest part of the frame took longer than the rest put together
 We were not to be beaten, and after some considerable complaining, the last rivet was cleared.  A small amount of encouraging later, and bingo, it was free.
Mark beams with delight now that one of the extension frames is free
Other tasks taking place on Saturday included the changing of a broken spring on 4270:
Spring cleaners changers at work
 One of the lamps for erection in the yard is now in top coat and looking rather good
Soon to be stood up in the yard
 The 2874 Trust is about to commence the build of a new cab for their loco.  The ironwork has been salvaged from the original cab, but the plate work is past the point of being usable.  The cab is a relatively easy component to transport around to galas etc for publicity purposes.  To this end, a frame is being made to locate the cab on, until it is ready to be fitted to the locomotive.  Angela, Tim & Roger were working on fabricating the frame on Saturday
L-R, Angela, Tim & Roger
 The 35006 group were still embroiled in cutting the thread for the thermic syphon washout plugs on their loco.  Last week I mentioned that they had rigged up a socket arrangement with a 5:1 multiplier to drive the tap that cuts the thread.  Their current view is that 5:1 still isn't enough, and 25:1 would make the job easier.  I didn't suggest having a third shredded wheat for breakfast (other breakfast cereals do exist).
The partially tapped hole for a thermic syphon washout plug
After a bit of shuffling of turns to fill in a vacancy for a firing turn, yours truly was back on the shovel on Sunday too.  Like the previous Sunday, I was back on 2807, now fixed since its hot bearing issue when we had to fail it before completing a first full round trip.
Crossing Foremarke Hall at Gotherington
Mark (cleaner) filling the tender
 My driver for the day was Chris.  Chris had tried to leave a comment on last week's blog saying that he and Tom, far from being idle bystanders as 2807 was assessed for damage to one of its coupling rod bearings last week had played an active role in the disassembly.   He showed me photos of the dried out felt pad that was supposed to lubricate the bearing, it had dried out because the restrictor above it had been blocked by some foreign matter.  All is now fixed of course and the bearing concerned was frequently checked throughout the day and found to be running cool.
Chris (L) & Mark relaxing at Cheltenham Race Course station
 Mark had a go at firing and made an extremely good go at it, needing almost no input from me regarding what to do and when.
Mark earning his keep
Mark collects the token from James at Gotherington
Donna, my erstwhile partner in crime in writing this blog appeared for a round trip on the train.  I invited her onto the footplate, but she explained that she was wearing the wrong shoes for the footplate
Donna, attempting to avoid the camera in the wrong shoes
At the end of the shift, we arrived back at Toddington, and I went under to unhook 2807 from the stock.  When I disconnected the vacuum pipes, I turned back to undo the coupling.  At this point, the clip from the carriage's vacuum pipe managed to entangle itself with one of the belt hoops on the back of my trousers. Try as I might, I couldn't get the wretched thing free.  Eventually I had to resort to calling out to Chris to disentangle me.  He was more than a little amused and asked should he take a picture for the blog first.  The lack of photo here is a clue as to what I might have said.

And finally, I have some excellent news to convey, Mike has passed out as a driver.  Mike is one of the directors of Dinmore Manor Locomotive LTD, so it was most appropriate that he was driving Dinmore Manor on the day of his assessment.  His task was made a little bit more challenging, as not only did he have to satisfy Inspector Lacey that he was competent as a driver, but also trainee Inspector Burnett.
L-R, Trainee Inspector Burnett, Mike & Inspector Lacey
Congratulations on a fine achievement Mike.