Monday, 2 April 2018

Into the unknown...

The Easter weekend (30/31 March and 1/2 April) was a big weekend in the calendar of the railway. For those of you who are regular readers of the various GWR Blogs, not necessarily this one, you would know the reason why. For those who are just casually popping in, this long, Bank Holiday weekend was the first weekend of public services along the new extension to Broadway - including the grand opening of Broadway Station by Lord Faulkner of Worcester. However, none of the diesel fleet were timetabled to take part, except for operating the very last train to Cheltenham from Toddington and it's return to Toddington at the end of the day. English Electric Type 3/Class 37, D6948 was rostered for the turn all weekend, having been the first, ever, diesel loco to haul a service to Broadway Station earlier in March. 

Good Friday was definitely NOT a 'Good' day for weather! 
I was rostered on the 'Green Machine' on both Good Friday and Easter Sunday and, the weather could not have been much more different over the two days. Good Friday saw a continual torrent of rain throughout the day which saw the Department almost deserted. One of the downsides of crewing the last run of the day is that you have to be around all day as the loco also acts as Thunderbird. Not too bad on weekends when a lot of things are going on, but a pain in the ars backside when there isn't a lot to do. George F was around working on the Class 117 set. One of the engines needed removing and swapping out, whilst other bits and pieces needed to be checked ready for commencement of weekday services to/from Broadway. I certainly didn't envy him out in the rain! However, in a passing conversation, he was able to enlighten me on the origins of this.......
Our mysterious green shunter.
This IS 'Mavis' and is owned by George. 'Mavis', a former industrial shunter, was bought to operate the P'way train but, by all accounts, is a bit troublesome to operate...the loco has a manual clutch! With this being a source of problems, George has been trying to find time to fit a more reliable system but his responsibilities with the DMUs have meant 'Mavis' taking a back seat. Mystery solved! 

Speaking of shunters, it was also mentioned, a few blogs back, that a new Class 04 shunter has been purchased to take some of the pressure off of our current 'Class 04'. 11230 whilst our other shunter DES is out of action. 11230 is not actually a BR shunter but was one of a pair built by the Drewry Car Co. for use at Willington Power Station to the same specification as a BR Class 04. The new arrival is a 'proper' BR Class 04, D2280 from the North Norfolk Railway. D2280 was built in 1960, withdrawn in 1971 then sold to Ford Motor Company. It had been at the NNR since 2001, having been painted in BR Black but without any numbers.

The new arrival, BR Class 04, D2280. If you look closely, you can still see the 'FORD' logo on the front under the handrail!
So, with several hours to kill (unless we got called to rescue a failed kettle), it was time to find something to do. Simon, my allocated Driver, turned up not long after I did and we decided to have a go at removing more of the components from Class 20, 20035. Cannibalisation of the loco had moved on a fair bit since I last saw it. The front roof sections ahd been removed and more of the pipework leading through into the engine room had been removed. 

20035's cannibalised nose end. 

The exposed engine. Not long until it can be lifted.
Simon decided we would attack the underside, so after firing up 11230, we coupled up the Class 20 and hauled it over the pit on Road 9. Several decades of grime, rust and wear had taken its toll and, most of the pipework and bolts had seized and wouldn't give up freely. The loco was promptly put back into its siding and, with the rain still hammering down, we both retired to the Class 26 Spares Van where we could work on other things in the relative dry. 

One of the major jobs in preservation is spares removal and cleaning. Not the most glamourous of jobs but very necessary!

Simon cleans up another of the cannabilised items from 20035.
A number of items had already been salvaged from the carcass of the Class 20 and Simon had been busy stripping and cleaning them to see if they were reusable or expired. Not the most glamopourous of jobs but, with an ever dwindling source of spares across preservation and in mainline use, component recovery is a very necessary job. We both got to work with the wire wheels and brushes! 

Removal of motor switches, complete with bushes and insulators.
With all parts separated, the switch can be cleaned up whilst the insulators need either repair or throwing away.
In the blink of an eye, a quick cuppa and then off to prepare D6948 for the last service. Luckily, the loco had seen some use during the week with the P'way train - the usual P'way loco, ED, E6036, had run out of fuel! - so, D6948's lump was still reasonably warm and so didn't take too long to get up to operating temperature and, then, it was off to Siding 1 to await the arrival of 'Foremarke Hall' with the down service. 

DOO, Neil, wanders past as we wait for 'Foremarke Hall' to clear the mainline for us to cross over to P2. Thanks to John Cruxon for the load of the headboard and fixing!

The last down train to Cheltenham Racecourse is usually quite full with the more hardy customer making their way back to their cars! Today was even more so after the festivities at Broadway. 8 coaches, 275 tonnes trailing and, all quite full.

After run round, a 25 minute wait to return to Toddington! A little oversight in the timetable! Time for another cuppa!
 For the return to Toddington we are used to it being a glorified ECS move, with very few passengers staying on board to head back north. However, Friday would still see a fair number of heads from carriage windows as we headed back through Bishops Cleeve and Winchcombe - despite the appalling weather!

After getting back to shed it was noticed that there was alot of 'fluid' that had collected in the bed pan of the engine and a lot of pooled oil at several places around the engine room. Baring in mind these locos are all over 55 years of age you can accept a certain number of leaks where seals don't sit right or are starting to perish. With the loco in use on the Saturday with a different crew the bed pan was drained to see if it was just general collection. I also noticed that the buffer beams of 47376 'Freightliner 1995' had been pretty much finished, with only a few of the pipe headers to be painted in top coat. 

No.1 end with just the yellow on the air pipes to go on. 

A full set on No.2 end.
 Easter Sunday was to see much better weather as well as a large group across the department working on a variety of projects. Mark S, Tim, Matt and Frank were all working on Brust Type 4, 1693 and her ongoing overhaul. With the weather fine, the loco was positioned under the small gantry crane so that the completed injector heads could be re-fitted to the Sulzer engine. 

Under threatening skies Tim signals to Mark S in 11230 to position 1693 in the right place. DES loiters behind awaiting the outcome of the ongoing repair investogations by the owners. 
 A gang from the Steam department were keen to take a look over the new Class 04, D2280, so I went to assist Mark S to shunt it across to Road 8. With both Class 04's together it is quite difficult to spot any immediate differences between the 'industrial contract - built' version and the 'BR contract - built' version. With D2280 over the pit 11230 was put back infront of D6948 and 1693. The group working on D2280 had the engine running in no time and carried out a full inspection of its condition.

D2280 ready for its assessment.
Whilst D6948 was outside, myself and Peter S (my rostered driver for the turn) had a look at a couple of little things. We had a quick look at the bed pan to see the extent of the oil leak after draining on Friday. There was a small amount sitting in the bottom after its outing on Saturday but, there was also now a large amount of pooling oil around the Heat Exchanger feed.

The Heat Exchanger feed pipe - most of the oil cleaned away, some still sits behind. This was covered in oil before cleaning.

The fluid is pooled on the bed plate at the bottom left of the picture. It has also pooled on the running plate in the centre, top of the picture. Nothing that would fail the loco but will need a look over.
It was agreed to just keep an eye on it and let our Technical Officer, Paul Good, look at it next weekend. It was certainly no worse when we arrived back on shed after the last turn. With starting my Driver Training this year, Peter then took me around the locomotive going through the preparation routine for service. We also took in some little maintenance jobs as part of this.

Some of the little jobs included some sticking relays that had been picked up when modifications were made to the Blower Motors in order to reduce wear and tear. There was also another sticking issue with the power application relays. A judiscial application of WD40 will hopefully alleviate the issues.

WD40......the magic sponge of the mechanical world! 

A quick visual inspection of the Blower Motor relays and a careful spray of WD40.  All, of course, are isolated with the BIS (Battery Isolation Switch) in the 'OFF' position. You wouldn't want to have the cover off if they were live!!
With prep done, and a lot of very useful tips, pointer and other information swimming round my head, I ventured back onto the shed to await time off shed by helping Mark E, who had been plugging away on the bogie of Class 24, 5081.

The bogie is starting to take shape as more and more bits are re-sited and top coat is applied. With a lot of the major parts of the brake system now refitted, the smaller bits, such as runners and joints, needed priming.

Slack runners and brackets await the paint brush and a coat of primer. 
The slack adjusters have also been removed and, with some in re-usable condition, others are a complete right off! Considering the bogies haven't been off the loco in about 40 years, it isn't surprising to see some extreme damage caused by over use. One slack adjuster, in particular, is definitely ready for some 'end of life' care!!

Some of the slack adjusters removed. The worst of the bunch is in the centre of the picture! 

One wonders how they worked effectively with such a substatial twist in the rod!
With Road 10 out of action due to a new concrete apron being laid, hopefully for our new gantry, a quick shunt of Road 11 was needed to get 1693 to the back of the shed for ongoing work. It gave the rare sight of 11230 venturing into the Diesel Shed.

Class 04, 11230 pulls all 117 tonnes of Class 47, 47376, out of the shed. 
Finally, Class 26 D5343, remains at the Mid Norfolk Railway undertaking a number of contracted running days after its successful showing at their Spring Gala, where it became the first (and probably last) of its class to work with a Class 88 that was on loan from DRS! The Class 26 is due to return to the GWR next weekend, but not before it pays a trip to Doncaster, Roberts Road Depot (owned by Electro Motive Diesel/GBRf) for tyre turning. Perhaps another first and last for the CDMG's well-travelled Sulzer Type 2.

End of the day. Peter positions D6948 back in the shed. 
Finally, a quick update on the locomotive roster for week commencing 02/04/18. Originally, our 'peak', 45149, was due to work the PURPLE timetable on Tuesday 3rd April. This has now been changed to fellow Sulzer-engined Type 4, Class 47, 47376 'Freightliner 1995'. All other rostered locos remain unchanged.

Monday, 26 March 2018

A Quick Update and A Week of Firsts!

The 2018 running season has now entered its second week, leaving just a few more days to go until the official public opening of Broadway station. However, on the 21st March, the first scheduled passenger train travelled over the Worcestershire border and into the new Broadway Station for the first time in nearly 60 years. The railway's 'Merchant Navy', 35006 'Peninsular & Oriental S.N. Co', more universally known as 'P&O' was handed the job of hauling the first 'Shareholders and Volunteer' Special to the new station.

The diesel hauled service had to wait until 1600 when English Electric Type 3 (Class 37), D6948 made its way from Toddington becoming the first diesel locomotive to haul a passenger train into Broadway station. At the same time, Peter Smith (one of D6948's  owners/Driver) and Paul Cronin (Secondman) became the first diesel crew to operate a passenger service to Broadway. Peter kindly provided a couple of photos of the event.

In homage to the long lamented 'Cornishman', the only named service to be timetabled to traverse the line, D6948 had its route indicator blinds set to reflect the reporting numbers of the 'Up' and 'Down' services. The first departure to Broadway showing '1H32' which was the reporting number for the 1030 Penzance - Wolverhampton Low Level and the departure from Broadway showing '1C33' for the 0900 Wolverhampton Low Level - Penzance. 

D6948 sits in Broadway Platform 1 on the 21st March 2018 after arrival with the final special service of the day. Headcode '1H32' proudly showing. (Courtesy of Peter Smith)

Ready to return to Toddington, D6948 waits the road looking very much at home. (Courtesy of Peter Smith)
In reality, the 'Cornishman' never saw an EE Type 3 operating the service - D6948 not being released into traffic until 18 months after the service stopped. The booked motive power was generally a 'Castle' class steam loco from Wolverhampton shed and it is unlikely that any diesel would have worked the service...although I stand to be corrected, if anyone knows.

The weekend before the celebration at Broadway, Class 26, D5343, headed off to the Mid Norfolk Railway for their Spring Diesel Gala, held over the weekend 16th to 18th March. Several 'firsts' were to occur for the 'McRat' over the weekend. All photos are courtesy of Tony Richards, who headed over to Norfolk to crew the loco over the weekend.
D5343 at Dereham heading a rake of Blue and Grey liveried Mk2 air braked coaches for the first time in nearly 30 years. 16/03/18. (Courtesy of Tony Richards) 
On the 17th, the loco encountered a little problem with taking power requiring the loco to be rescued and returned to Dereham for further attention. The rescue loco was to be DRS owned Class 88 Electro-Diesel, 88008 'Ariadneproviding the unlikely-to-be-repeated sight of a Class 88 paired with a Class 26!!
A first, and probably, a last! Brand new DRS Class 88, 88008 'Ariadne' is coupled to D5343. 17/03/18. (Courtesy of Tony Richards)

As the snow starts to fall, the unlikely pairing are readied for departure. 17/03/18. (Courtesy of Tony Richards)
After a bit of head scratching, the problem was identified as a reset AWS switch which had been overlooked and the Class 26 was back to operational condition quickly.

One of the other visiting locomotives was 'Peak', 45060 'Sherwood Forrester' owned by the Pioneer Diesel Group and sister to our very own 45149. Whereby our 1Co-Co1 has an Electric Train Heating (ETH) Generator, 45060 was fitted with a steam heat boiler - the Steam Heat pipe clearly visible on the buffer beam, just to the left of the right hand buffer.

While Simon takes a break from the cab, 45060 'Sherwood Forrester' brings up the rear of a crossing service at Thuxton. 17/03/18. (Courtesy of Tony Richards)
The UK saw more snow on the 18th March leading to services at the GWSR being suspended, however, the final day of the Mid Norfolk gala continued unaffected. The scenes provided were reminiscient of D5343's former stomping grounds in the Highlands of Scotland.

A cold start! 18/03/18. (Courtesy of Tony Richards)

If the stock was Blue and Grey this could easily be mistaken for the Highlands of Scotland instead of Hoe in Norfolk! 18/03/18. (Courtesy of Tony Richards)

D5343 was the only GWSR loco to run during the 'extreme' weather. She looks at home waiting at Thuxton for the Northbound service to cross. 18/03/18. (Courtesy of Tony Richard) 

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

The running season beginneth!

Where has the last couple of months gone?

The weekend just passed (10/11 March) saw services resume again for the 2018 timetable, and the countdown to Broadway well and truly in sight....less than 3 weeks! The Class 117, fully kitted out with its new refreshment area, was out keeping 'Foremarke Hall' company on the Light Blue timetable. The unit was running with the two DMBS trailers, W51363 and W51360, as the formations' DMS, W51405, is still awaiting a little more TLC courtesy of 'Dr.' George and the DMU team and, our colleagues at Carriage and Wagon.

In the late afternoon sun, W51360 leads the DMU back into Toddington. Messers Kirwan and Carr at the helm.
One of the two 'latest' DMU arrivals, W51370, has disappeared to pastures new. The remaining Class 117 DMBS, W51372, and Class 107 DMS, Sc52029, await the call to restoration when time allows.

The job awaiting the DMU team when W51372 is called to the restoration line.
Saturday 10th saw 8 of us working on the Mainline locos undertaking final preparations for re-awakening the fleet for 2018. Despite a fairly warm outside temperature, the shed was still a little frigid. Many of the locos were showing condensation on their bodysides, giving indication of the cold temperatures experienced in recent weeks, hopefully, giving way to more Spring-like conditions.

D6948's body side and cab side window showing signs of the increasing temperature coupled with the cold atmosphere in the shed.
Work has continued to progress on the Class 24 bogie refurbishment and the end is now in sight for the work to be completed on the first wheelset. Most of the frame has now had a coating of primer, undercoat and, now, top coat and, most of the brake rigging has now been refitted to the frame. Most, if not all, of the springs are now in place and it can't be too long before the frame is lowered back on to its wheels and, the Traction Motors are re-sited.

The frame of 5081's No.1 end bogie is almost all in black top coat, or in grey undercoat.

Still in primer, the brake rigging is re-sited onto the frame. 
The Class 47's saw Tim, 'H' and Dave undertaking various tasks. 47376 'Freightliner 1995' is due to be rostered in April and, with the temperature in the shed rising suitably quickly, Dave was able to progress with the painting of the buffer beams and solebar at both ends.
47376's no.1 end buffer beam. The buffer beam and pipe heads in undercoat. Just the top coat to go. 

47376's no.2 end buffer beam and pipework. The buffer beam is also awaiting its top coat as the pipe heads have been striped back to the metal work and await primer and undercoat.

Dave undercoating the pipe heads at no.2 end.
Tim and 'H' continued with 1693's long term restoration and the repainting of the injector heads ready for refitting to the Sulzer engine. More preparation was also undertaken on the body sides ready for more corrosion to be cut out and repaired.

Out on the apron of Road 11, Class 20 'donor', 20035 sat minus about a third of its nose. This loco was bought by the owner of D8137 (who also owns Class 73, E6036, and Class 20, 20228 at Barry) to be sacrificed as spares. Having had its radiators and the cooler group equipment removed it is now awaiting the time where the power unit and bogies to be removed and the body grounded for eventual scrapping. This isn't going to be immediate as some alterations to the storage areas around the shed need to be completed to allow for safe, secure storage.

Something appears to be missing!

50+ years of heat, oil and grime stains one of the inner walls of 20035.

20035's salvaged remains....or, at least, the first lot!
Out in the yard, Tony, Richard G, Ian and myself headed over to Class 26, D5343, to finish a couple of small jobs and to start cleaning her up ready for the trip to Dereham and the Mid Norfolk Railway where the loco is due to star in the MNR's Spring Diesel Gala. D5343 was being collected on the Monday, 12th March so needed to be ready for movement into the car park at Toddington by the end of Sunday. First thing that needed to be done was to secure the metal flooring in the engine room so as to limit trips. After searching the for the pot containing the screws, and finding there were a lot fewer than we needed, started fitting the plates together and hunting out holes in the floor to secure the plates to.

Tony's legs do a very passable impression of the adjacent fire bottles! 
Once we had managed to secure enough of the plate to the frame of the engine room it was time to start cleaning the cabs of rubbish, tools and flies! One of the more unpleasant sides of the preservation environment is the incursion of all manner of small (and not so small) animals and insects into, what you think, are secure locomotives. It is a well known fact that some species of fly need places that are moist and warm to breed. Locomotive engine rooms, especially if stabled outside, seem to fit this bill perfectly - especially in the filter sponges. D5343 is no exception and a valiant, if futile, effort was made to try and eradicate as many as possible. Windows and doors were opened in the vain hope that the obstinate insects would like to experience the wider world of Toddington yard with only minor success!! We tried! However, it isn't just flies that get into the confines of the locos as was testament to the amount of bird 'leavings' adorning the cab surfaces. With D5343 and, moreso, 45149, it is not unusual to find nests and the like in and around the bogies and external bodywork but more unusual to find evidence of them INSIDE the locomotive. Armed with some heavy duty cleaner, blue roll and builders wipes the four of us set to work cleaning down both cabs.

During a lull in fly swatting, a quick photo of our colleagues in P' Way working on the new south turnout at Toddington. Doing a cracking job, fellas!! 

The McRat being readied for another trip away from the GWR.
As well securing the metal floor in the engine room, Richard wanted to see about securing some of the cab flooring that was floating freely on the bulkheads running through the floor. So many holes but hardly any lined up with each other!

Richard plays 'Russian Roulette' with the cab floor.
Surely the locomotive wasn't delivered from Eastfield by UPS??! A random label addressed to a member of the CMDG at Toddington found under the cab desk.
Also found, pictures of 26043 in the David Page shed shortly after arrival from Scotland. Its amazing to see how far the loco, as well as the inside of the Steam Shed, has come in 13 years!! 

After the cleaning of the cabs had been done Tony and I returned to the engine room to give the engine itself a bit of a clean. Over the Winter the engine room had taken in quite a lot of water. We weren't sure if this had come through the roof or there was a leak interally. No sufficient hole could be found in the fibreglass roof or in the seals around it, but, given the amount of standing water, was it too much for an internal leak - especially as the loco had not run since before Christmas. We cleaned it up as best we could and referred it onto Andy, Simon and Curly who were in on Sunday.

Tony starts mopping up.

Elsewhere, in the yard, 'DES' was parked behind 45149 as it awaits the work to commence on repairing its axles. The owning group hve had a number of quotes and are looking at progressing the work as soon as funds allow. The likelihood, though, is the reliance on the Class 04 as sole Toddington shunter will continue for the near future at least. Although, not quite as long as we were anticipating (cue the suspense!)!

Behind 'DES' was positioned another shunter. One I have seen a few times, although usually parked at the back of the steam shed. I am not quite sure the history of this one. Previous incarnations of the GWR website listed a a shunter by the name of 'Daisy' and with the running number 21 but I have never seen any loco carrying either moniker since I joined the railway in 2013. Other than that, I know nothing other than it is......

......a John Fowler & Co 0-4-0 diesel shunter. As you can see from the photo it was built in 1957 - potentially making it the oldest diesel locomotive on the railway. I am sure there is someone in the Motive Power Department who would be able to enlighten us further!

The 0-4-0 is obviously having some work done on its engine.

In the immortal words of CAT from Red Dwarf......'What is it?'
Sunday, 11th March was another fine day. I was only at Toddington briefly for a Diesel Group meeting. One of the major points from the meeting was a resolution to our potential shunter problem. With 'DES' not available for traffic for the foreseeable future and 11230 playing freely with its reliability, the railway (read Motive Power department) took the decision to actively look for another option. This has been found in the shape of another Class 04 shunter that is being purchased privately by an active GWR volunteer - this one being from the BR order rather than being an industrial version masquerading as a BR Class 04, as 11230 is. We have no further details as yet, so watch this space.

We also had some good news on a couple of larger projects that we hoped to have completed during 2018 with funding secured. Shed lighting has arrived and will hopefully be installed in the Diesel Shed during 2018, as will the concreting of the apron outside Roads 10 and 11 with a view to the Gantry Crane being installed in the future. In addition, the loco pit in the yard (in front of where the Class 26 is positioned) has had a new pump fitted with a view to pumping out the near 2 foot of filthy water contained therein and putting it back into full use.

We also discussed the Summer Gala and the possibilities for visitors. There were a number of options centered around four possibilities. Sadly, one of those possibilities, D1010 from the DEPG at Williton on the West Somerset Railway is now unavailable but, the remaining three options are now being investigated with a view to having one guest loco in the Summer for our first Diesel Gala to be running to/from Broadway. Further details will be announced in the near future.

After conclusion of the meeting, I had a quick scan round to see what was happening before heading back home for a Mothers Day meal with my Mam. 37215 had been pulled out of the shed and fired up by Kev and Mark S. It was so nice to hear the EE 12CVST engine shattering the peace of the Cotswolds once more!

37215 basks in the sunshine as she is started up for the first time in 2018.

BR Blue in Toddington Yard...along with rusting CFD orange.
D5343 was having its final checks before being hauled into the car park ready for picking up on Monday, 12th March for its trip to the Mid Norfolk Railway. Curly, Simon and Andy checked the underside of the loco including the brakes and general condition. She is due back at the GWR in mid-April.
Curly emerges from under D5343 as he inspects the underframe ready for the locos visit to the MNR.
'Peak' 45149 was also receiving some attention to its compressor at no.2 end. This compressor had failed in 2017 amd was repaired during the close season. With the 'Peak' due to be used in the first week after Easter a full shake down was required to ensure the locomotives' fitness to run.

With the 2018 season now underway the diesel fleet will be in use on the following days through March and early April....

Light Blue Timetable - Toddington - Cheltenham RC - Toddington

  • Saturday 17th March - Class 117 DMU
  • Sunday 18th March - Class 117 DMU
  • Saturday 25th March - Class 117 DMU
  • Sunday 26th March - Class 117 DMU
Easter Special Timetable - 1600 Toddington - Cheltenham RC; 1705 Cheltenham RC - Toddington
  • Friday 30th March - Class 37, D6948
  • Saturday, 31st March - Class 37, D6948
  • Sunday, 1st April - Class 37, D6948
  • Monday 2nd April - Class 37, D6948
Purple Timetable - 1535 Toddington - Cheltenham RC; 1630 Cheltenham RC - Toddington
  • Tuesday, 3rd April - Class 45, 45149
  • Wednesday, 4th April - Class 37, 37215
  • Thursday, 5th April - Class 45, 45149
  • Saturday, 7th April - Class 37, 37215
  • Sunday, 8th April - Class 37, 37215
  • Tuesday, 10th April - Class 26, D5343
  • Wednesday, 11th April - Class 26, D5343
  • Thursday, 12th April - Class 26, D5343
Pink Timetable - Broadway - Cheltenham RC - Broadway
  • Saturday, 14th April - Class 47, 47376
  • Sunday, 15th April - Class 47, 47376
Usual caveats apply - locos may change depending on operational availability.