Monday, 27 February 2023

Ready to Steam!

7820 inside the steam shed after being reunited with her tender - Photo courtesy of Mike Solloway
As I'm writing this, we've only got a few days to go before our 2023 operating season commences on Saturday 4th March. It really is amazing (or to use a rather more pertinent word in the context of heritage railways, 'worrying') how fast time passes us by! It only seems like yesterday that we shut-up-shop as it were for the much needed winter downtime. At first you think you've got plenty of time to get all the various maintenance jobs sorted out, but in reality it's actually quite the opposite when you take a look at the rather lengthy job sheets for each locomotive. The phrase 'These things are sent to try us!' comes to mind at this point, closely followed up by 'There's no rest for the wicked!'. Oh what fun!

Fortunately, recent weeks has seen great strides made with various outstanding jobs and the steam shed has been particularly busy on Saturdays with large working parties putting in a sterling effort. Our three operational locomotives (35006, 7820 & 7903) have all passed their required 'Cold Exams' and, at the time of writing, have either been through or are about to undergo a mandatory 'In-House Steam Test' or 'Hot Exam'. The smell of burning coal and steam is in the air!
Saturday 25th February was a busy day on shed with work being undertaken in all areas of the department. It was a particularly good day for the DMLL group with regards to both 7820 & 3850 as a large number of jobs were carried out. Work was also undertaken in relation to 2874 and 76077. The increasing amount of daylight certainly helps our efforts. 
Some of the jobs & tasks carried out over the past week or so are listed below along with some relevant photographs. 
  • 7820 shunted and coupled back to her tender.
  • Tender and boiler filled.
  • Tender spring adjusted.
  • Cab received a thorough clean.
  • Smoke-box re-oiled to look much cleaner. 
  • A number of defects sorted. 
  • Damaged steam heat valve swapped out.
  • New coat of paint applied to cab handrails.
  • Tool check and inventory completed ready for traffic at the weekend.


  • 3850 new smokebox door pin underway in the machine shop.
  • Tender brake gear being worked on, along with front footplating and buffer beam being filled and sanded.
  • Tender footplate painted underneath and reassembled with added spacers and strengthening brackets. 
  • Sanded and repainted the fronts of the water tank.
  • Preparations made to re-wheel 3850 in the not to distant future. 
  • The boiler is now fully tubed and is soon to be filled with water for the first time since 2015.


  •  Back head cladding received undercoat.


  • Final fettling on 7903 safety valves. 


  • Re-fitment of the speedometer and generator following maintenance.
  • Re-fitment of damper door mechanism / linkage. 
  • Re-fitment of mud-hole doors and washout plugs following a 'Cold Exam'.
  • Maintenance carried out on safety valves. 


  • Work on cylinder cladding undertaken.
  • Continued work on the boiler crinolines.
  • Ongoing work in preparation for the return of the boiler early next month (8th March). 
  • Boiler hydraulically tested with no issues identified and pressure maintained.
7820's cab - Photo courtesy of Mike Solloway
Work on 3850's tender - Photo courtesy of Kenneth Sims
Work on 3850's tender - Photo courtesy of Kenneth Sims
Work on 3850's tender - Photo courtesy of Kenneth Sims
Work on 3850's tender - Photo courtesy of Kenneth Sims
Work on 3850's tender - Photo courtesy of Kenneth Sims
Work on 3850's tender - Photo courtesy of Kenneth Sims
76077 back head cladding having undercoat - Photo courtesy of Andrew Beale
3850's tender receiving attention to its paintwork - Photo courtesy of Andrew Beale
3850's wheelsets -
Photo courtesy of Andrew Beale
3850's wheelsets - Photo courtesy of Andrew Beale
2807's cylinder cladding being worked on - Photo courtesy of Andrew Beale
The front end of 2807 -
Photo courtesy of Andrew Beale
2807 boiler crinolines - The boiler is due back on 8th March - Photo courtesy of Andrew Beale
7820 looking resplendent after a thorough clean, wax, and polish
- Photo courtesy of Andrew Beale
7820's cab
- Photo courtesy of Andrew Beale
7820's cab - Photo courtesy of Andrew Beale
3850 up on the jacks - 23rd February 2023

7903 looking rather smart
- 23rd February 2023
Matthew & Bob reattach the speedometer and damper door mechanism / linkage - 17th February 2023
35006 being prepared for her In-House Steam Test the following day (24th) - 23rd February 2023
As Brian Blessed would say... P&O's alive! - The heatings been switched on! - 23rd February 2023
Test Underway - It would appear that the kettle has boiled! - 24th February 2023 - Photo courtesy of Jamie Christie
Steaming, Cleaning & Oiling - Getting P&O ready for our 2023 season - Photo courtesy of GWSR
7820 will be the first to operate services on Saturday 4th March, with 7903 & 35006 also out testing on the same day. 
Important Note: New websites were launched earlier this month for both the GWSR and the GWRT, thus any pre-existing bookmarks to the main blog page via the old GWSR website will no longer work. The new websites can be found by visiting (GWSR) and (GWRT).

All of the departmental blogs can now be found on a new main blog page here:

I think now is as good a time as any to leave you with this rather apt song: The Final Countdown 
Until next time folks, further news and announcements are on the way!
Alex (the sooty one!). 
All published photographs are my own unless otherwise stated/credited.

Thursday, 16 February 2023

Pug, Pug, Glorious Pug!

L&Y Pug No.11243 - Photo courtesy of Callum Porter
If you've read the title of this blog and are expecting a rendition of 'The Hippopotamus Song' by 'Flanders and Swann' then I'm afraid to say that you're in for a bit of disappointment. Alas, my singing talents are long gone and thus some mere words of apparent wisdom will have to suffice instead. Hopefully some of you will be content with this but I fear others may well be asking 'Please, sir, I want some more', and no you won't be getting a rendition of that either, despite having played a certain Oliver Twist in a school production umpteen years ago. 'Oh what the Dickens?!' I hear some of you cry.

On a more serious note and moving on from the subject of mud and hippopotamuses (there's certainly plenty of the former around at the moment!), I'd like to talk about the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway (L&YR) Class 21 0-4-0ST steam locomotive, more commonly referred to as the trusty 'Pug'. A locomotive with wide appeal to both railway modellers and enthusiasts alike. Just two 'Pugs' have survived into preservation out of a total of sixty produced between 1886 & 1910.  
With thanks to The East Lancashire Railway (ELR) and the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway Trust, we’re pleased to confirm we’re welcoming L&Y Pug No.11243 for this year’s Cotswold Festival of Steam (CFoS) as our third guest. Resplendent in its immaculate new LMS livery, it will be out and about shunting wagons around Winchcombe and on some short passenger trains too, so plenty of opportunities to ride behind and see this diminutive but characterful loco at work. These pugs didn’t quite make it to Gloucester, but they were regulars at Bristol and are representative of the types of small wheelbase locos seen working Gloucester docks and beyond. There's something for everyone at CFoS.
An L&Y 'Pug' 0-4-0T at work in Goole Docks - Photo © Ben Brooksbank (cc-by-sa/2.0) -
The Class originates from the purchase of three saddle tank locomotives that were ordered from the Vulcan Foundry in Newton-le-Willows, Lancashire in 1886. These tanks had the Serial No.s 1176-1178 and L&Y No.s 916-918.
From 1891, J. A. F. Aspinall, a mechanical engineer who served as the Locomotive Superintendent of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway (L&YR) ordered a further 17 locomotives, this time to a modified design. The modifications included: enlarging the cab, extending the tank over the smokebox, shortening the wheelbase to 5' 9" (1.75m) and raising the boiler pressure to 160 lbf/in2 (1,103 kPa). These locomotives were constructed in three batches at Horwich Works between 1891 & 1895. Aspinall's successors, Henry Hoy and George Hughes, ordered 40 more locomotives in three batches.
L&Y Pug No.11243 (19) was one of the final batch of 20 to be built in 1910 as part of Lot No. 65 - (Serial No.s 1092–1111, L&Y No.s 2, 3, 8, 12, 17, 19, 28, 43, 56, 64, 71, 75, 118, 226, 271, 298, 481, 517, 613, 614, LMS No.s 11238–11257).
The final locomotive was delivered in July of the same year, some four months before the first 'Pug' retirements started.
L&Y Pug shunts at Castlecroft - 18th June 2022 - Video © preservedrailway
The London, Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS) gave the locomotives the power classification 0F and they were constructed for work in busy harbour and dock environments. These environments had sharply curved sidings which necessitated small locomotives with short wheelbases. The 'Pugs' were specifically designed to work in the docklands areas of Fleetwood, Goole, Liverpool and Salford. In later years they began venturing further afield, reaching places such as Bristol, Bangor, Crewe, Derby, Widnes, York and Swansea. Upon nationalisation, only 23 'Pugs' remained in service.

As mentioned earlier, withdrawals commenced in 1910, with two going in that year (917 and 918), four in the 1920s, and thirty-one in the 1930s. After the formation of British Railways (BR), those left were withdrawn between 1957 and 1964.  
Bank Hall Locomotive Shed: No.11246, one of the ex-Lancashire & Yorkshire 0F 0-4-0Ts employed in the various Goods Yards in Liverpool. Note the simple 'spark-arrester' - Photo © Ben Brooksbank (cc-by-sa/2.0) -
Our visiting 'Pug' No. 11243 (L&YR 19) was allocated to Newton Heath shed in 1921 and was withdrawn ten years later by the LMS. No. 19 was one of several pugs sold in the 1930s and it was purchased by contractors John Mowlem in 1931. The locomotive was given the name 'Basset' and used on a contract to extend Southampton Docks. Research reveals that it was sold two years later to locomotive dealers 'George Cohen & Sons Ltd', although there is apparently no record of it ever having been in service with them. It was sold to the 'United Glass Bottle Manufacturers' in 1935, where it was renamed ‘Prince’ at the company's works in Charlton, London. It stayed there for the remainder of its working life.
Sister L&YR 'Pug', Oxenhope Station - Inside the museum shed of the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway. The locomotive is a Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway class 21, 0-4-0ST, known colloquially as a 'Pug'. It was built at Horwich works in 1901. She was withdrawn from traffic in 1964 and was the first locomotive to arrive at the KWVR in 1965. She is currently awaiting an overhaul - Photo © Chris Allen (cc-by-sa/2.0) -
The locomotive was acquired by the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway Trust in 1967 after 36 years of industrial service. A trial steaming was undertaken at Haworth which revealed that extensive restoration work was required. As a consequence of this, the 'Pug' became a static exhibit, firstly at Oxenhope and subsequently at 'Steamport Southport' - The site of the former L&Y shed. A final steam event took place there in February 1998 which featured the loco repainted as local No. 51231 (an engine that was withdrawn in 1959). Sister 'Pug' No. 51218 was also present for the occasion.
'Steamport Southport' (previously known as Southport Derby Road MPD) was closed at the turn of the 21st century. As a result of the closure, a number of items of rolling stock were relocated to the newly formed Ribble Steam Railway at Preston, this included 'Pug' No. 19. The loco remained on public display restored to exhibition condition until early 2020 when it was relocated to the East Lancashire Railway. In March 2020 it was put on the railway's 'Lanky' gala display as No. 51241. During the coronavirus pandemic, the L&YRT trustees decided to arrange a detailed investigation as to the overall condition of the 'Pug'. It was discovered that the boiler was in a good condition, as were the locos mechanicals.
Due to the positive outcome of the investigation, the trustees decided to progress with restoration to full working order and active service. This was agreed under a contract with the East Lancashire Railway which started in February 2021. 
East Lancashire Railway Autumn Steam Gala 15/10/22, L&Y Pug 19 ‘51241’ shunting at Ramsbottom - Video
© Lancashire Rail Productions
A number of tests on the loco and its boiler were carried out in early 2022 and a final steam test took place on the 29th April, which was successful. No.19 hauled its first ever passenger train on the 18th June at the East Lancs Railway.

Since June 2022, the 'Pug' has operated services on both the Ribble Steam Railway and the East Lancashire Railway.

Further information about the 'Pug' can be found here: 
Find out more about the L&YR Trust here: 
Important Note: New websites were launched earlier this month for both the GWSR and the GWRT, thus any pre-existing bookmarks to the main blog page via the old GWSR website will no longer work. The new websites can be found by visiting (GWSR) and (GWRT).

All of the departmental blogs can now be found on a new main blog page here:

Until next time folks, further news and announcements are on the way!
Alex (the sooty one!). 
All published photographs are my own unless otherwise stated/credited.

Tuesday, 14 February 2023

Spring is coming!

Looking across the steam shed at Toddington from P&O - Yes, I know I've missed a bit on top of the boiler barrel!
It's mid-February as I'm writing this and spring is just over a month away, with the official start of the season in the Northern Hemisphere being on Monday 20th March. However, judging by the coverage of thick fog outside my bedroom window (naturally, I'd prefer to see a plume of steam!) and with little signs of life, I am yet to be convinced it is coming. My furry feline friends in this residence aren't showing any inclination of venturing out into the frozen wastes either for that matter, evidently preferring a state akin to hibernation next to a nearby radiator instead. Oh it's such a hard life for them!
Anyway, back in the land of the living (or should that be the land of the awake) things are progressing well in the steam locomotive department, in readiness for the start of our new operating season on Saturday 4th March. 35006, 7903 and 7820 have all recently passed their required 'Cold Exams' and will be put through 'In-House Steam Tests & Hot Boiler Exams' shortly. I have my fingers crossed that all will be well and everything goes to plan as it's quite a nervous time.
Chris Ardy next to a cleaner looking 36006, 7820 is on the right

One of the benefits of the downtime over the winter period is the fact that the locomotives spend far more time inside the shed then they ordinarily would during the operating months. Besides Winter Maintenance, this allows time for much more thorough cleaning to take place. Running steam locomotives regularly on a heritage railway is an invariably dirty process and it's important to try and stay on top of cleaning as much as is feasibly possible. Whilst cleaners are rostered on operating days, there is only so much you can achieve in the allotted time - It's usually a few hours at best.
The reassembled drivers-side motion undergoing a clean

As many of you readers will know, Toddington Shed is not only where we store and maintain our operational locomotives, but also where some of the major restoration projects take place. Restoration and maintenance work inevitably creates a lot of dirt, dust and detritus which slowly builds up over time on the locomotives on shed, much like classic cars for example. The cleaning process is very similar in many respects to a car, with buckets, rags, sponges and soap required.

This is the result after a fair amount of elbow grease!
To say that I couldn't really feel my arms the following morning would be a bit of an understatement! Many people rave about going to the gym week-in week-out, but in my experience, volunteering in this department gives you more than enough exercise to render a gym membership surplus to requirements (although I appreciate everyone is different). I've never really seen the appeal of running on a treadmill seemingly travelling nowhere. With cleaning and working on these great pieces of British engineering, you can see the fruits of your labour as time progresses, which to me is priceless.     
The cylinder block cladding looking a bit cleaner!
Whilst myself and Chris Ardy were cleaning, Steve, Bob, Chris and Jack continued with maintenance on the loco following the cold exam. This included the refitting of the washout plugs and mud-hole doors, amongst other tasks. 

We also experimented with some heavy duty 'Tar & Glue' remover which seemed to work well removing the stubborn dirt.
A good day by all accounts with the drivers-side of P&O looking a bit cleaner than before. Only the rest of the loco to do!

In wagon news... The tank is now reunited with its chassis and is progressing well

7903 is undergoing winter maintenance and as previously mentioned, she passed her cold insurance exam and is being boxed up ready for an in-house steam test. Part of that work included fitting two new Safety Valves to the Safety Valve base. These will have final adjustment once she is in steam.
New Safety Valves - Photo courtesy of John Cruxon
Whilst this has been going on the Coupling rods have been off and the Crosshead’s split to have new lubrication felts fitted. The right hand coupling rod has had the thrust face on the rod built up with white metal to take out some excessive slide play. The picture shows the face built up and awaiting final machining. This has now been done and the rod has been refitted.
Right hand coupling rod thrust face - Photo courtesy of John Cruxon

Now for something a bit different.

This is a genuine Swindon works trolley that the Steam Dept. acquired years ago. It is very manoeuvrable as the middle set of wheels are set lower - The trolley rocks on that wheelset with the only the front or rear axle being in contact with the floor at any one time. It had become very tired and damaged and was unfit for use. However the Wednesday gang took it on and have used it as a stop gap job. It has new replacement timber decks, courtesy of the old Garden Centre, and two new wheels on the middle axle. The frame has been straightened up and then a quick coat of black Smoothrite applied to finish it off.
Swindon Works Trolley - Photo courtesy of John Cruxon 
Last week we said our final goodbye to GWSR stalwart 4270 after many years of extemporary service. She was loaded and transported to The Locomotive Storage Company Ltd (owners and operators of The One:One Collection) site in Margate by Allelys Heavy Haulage. Fortunately, there were people on-site to witness her departure and arrival in Kent.     
4270 stabled in the yard at Toddington not long before her departure
4270 ready to go - Photo courtesy of GWSR
4270 departs Toddington for Margate - Video courtesy of Philip Young
4270 arrives safely at Margate - Video Hornby Hobbies Ltd
You may remember in one of the recent blog entries that I mentioned the fact that 35006's speedometer and associated generator had been removed for maintenance. Some of this work has been carried out by Andrew Meredith.
It was discovered that water had got into the system which likely caused problems with the speedometers operation.

The speedo was dismantled and all the components were checked over accordingly. The wheel diameter box down to the generator plug were rewired as the existing cabling looked like old lawnmower wire which was soaking wet and corroded. Andrew sleeved the connections and drilled and fitted a split pin in the bottom of the plug so any water can run out.

Once reassembled, the speedo was checked by using a lathe running at several speed settings and it performed well.    
Photo courtesy of Andrew Meredith
Photo courtesy of Andrew Meredith
Photo courtesy of Andrew Meredith
Last Friday was another day spent performing maintenance and cleaning on P&O, whilst work continued on 3850 and 2807. I gave the tender a good clean and tackled the fireman's side of the loco. The top of the boiler still needs doing!
If anyone has any suggestions about how we could turn the loco on its side or upside-down to clean, then I'm all ears. It would certainly make the task in hand a little easier for those of us including myself who are rather 'vertically challenged'. 
Bob working on the damper mechanism on 35006

Steve refitted the plugs underneath the Thermic Siphons on 35006

Work on 2807 is progressing well and her boiler is due to arrive shortly.

Last week, a final internal examination was carried out on 3850's boiler at Riley's to the satisfaction of the boiler inspector, with tubing due to commence later in week.
3850's boiler at Riley's - Photo courtesy of DMLL
3850's boiler at Riley's - Photo courtesy of DMLL

Saturday was a busy day for 2874 and DMLL, with maintenance carried out on 7820's tender fireman's side water valve.
First reach under the recently greased tender and remove the valve; spend a couple of hours removing the crud; then simply lubricate and reassemble. Well done Keith and David. Here are a few photographs showing the process. 
 7820's fireman's side water valve being removed - Photo courtesy of Kenneth Sims
Easy does it and it's off -
Photo courtesy of Kenneth Sims
Cleaning and lubrication underway -
Photo courtesy of Kenneth Sims
Looking much better - Photo courtesy of Kenneth Sims
There were 11 on site working on projects with good progress readying the 'Manor' for the annual exam, collating nuts and bolts for T1761, painting the tender footplate and 2874 running plate. In addition the workshop team were refurbishing a water valve. Further jobs to be done include painting a second topcoat on the repaired toolboxes and more footplate painting. No rest for the wicked as they say!
By popular demand, "Journey Through Steam" at Broadway Museum has been extended until 12th November – Open 10am-4pm daily. Further information can be found here: Journey Through Steam
Photo courtesy of Jack Boskett
Important Note: New websites were launched earlier this month for both the GWSR and the GWRT, thus any pre-existing bookmarks to the main blog page via the old GWSR website will no longer work. The new websites can be found by visiting (GWSR) and (GWRT).

All of the departmental blogs can now be found on a new main blog page here:

Until next time folks, further news and announcements are on the way... maybe Tilly will be awake by then!

Alex (the sooty one!). 
All published photographs are my own unless otherwise stated/credited.