Wednesday, 7 June 2017

So much for scratching around!

The weekend just gone (3/4 June) saw us already in to the 6th month of the year and back to normal running weeks after a number of 'event' weekends. This meant that heavy work could progress on the fleet and a large group turned up to conduct a variety of tasks, and not just on the mainline fleet.

Before getting stuck in on the Sunday, I decided to take advantage of the reasonable weather, to take a trip up to Buckland over the recently opened extension towards Broadway. All footplate staff had received an Ops Notice telling us to familiarise ourselves with the new track. As the Diesel Gala will see Top and Tailed running, I headed out on the Auto train to sample the new line. Congrats to the PWay guys on such a good job. Without their work we wouldn't be able to do what we enjoy doing.
Auto coach W238 'Chaffinch'. A forerunner to the event development of the DMMU
With the Auto Train being used on the Buckland shuttles, it meant that a number of guys from the CDRG could get to grips with some of the little issues on the Class 117. As the unit is used day in day out chances for maintenance are limited therefore every opportunity is taken. Some minor work was also carried out on the 'Bubble' Car as well, although I couldn't get any photos.

One of our yard shunters has been a little temperamental of late. 'DES', short for Diesel Electric Shunter, has had a few niggly problems but has soldiered on thanks to the small group who maintain it. This weekend saw some work done by Chris to get DES back into operational use as it has had a few issues with cutting out over the recent weeks. Fuel strainers and fuses have all been changed/cleaned, amongst other things, to rectify.

'DES'
Work was also continuing on the long term overhaul of 47105. Ian, Dave and Mark S were busy with a number of tasks. More panels from the cabs were removed for repainting which allowed checking of some of the wiring and pipework leading to the control desk. 
 
With the panels off for painting the wiring and pipework can be checked in the cab of 47105.
Some of the bodywork also saw some long awaited attention with Mark S welding new panels onto lower body sides. He also smoothed down some of the earlier welds ready for a new application of primer. Work know seems to be gathering more pace now that a lot of the mechanical work has been completed.
Mark S smooths down earlier welding work ready for re-priming.
The other big job is, of course, on the wheel sets of Class 24, 5081. Initially, Mark E and Ben E started on the monumental job of clearing away several decades of dirt, rust and accumulated mess from the first of the wheel sets removed during the lift.They would be joined later in the morning by myself and Stuart on cleaning duties, with a view to removing the hand brake mechanism.
One of the worst jobs! Ben needle gunning away accumulations of dirt and rust.
Like father, like son! Mark and Ben work the tools on the bogie of 5081.
It didn't quite pan out that way and the brake rigging had to stay in situ to await another day, but during the cleaning process some interesting information was revealed from the frame. It would appear that the last time this wheel set had a full overhaul was a lot further back in the annals of history than first thought! Given that 5081 has been in preservation pretty much since the day it was withdrawn from BR stock on 5th October 1980, it was thought that the bogies would have received some major overhaul attention at some stage during its preserved life. However, it would appear that the last time the wheel set had received this kind of overhaul was at its last BR works visit.....in 1975!! How accurate this is is obviously up for debate given that regular maintenance would have seen brake block changes and the like, but it would explain the amount of dirt and overall grime that existed on the frame!
One of the traction motors with the start of the handbrake rigging resting on it. Utterly encrusted with dirt and dust. 

At the end of the day 45149 was shunted across to Road 10 for charging. Mike, Curly and Mark W had been working on replacing the batteries and these needed charging ready for the 'Peak' to be used in a couple of weeks time. Also, at the bottom of the yard, Richard G was busy with the component recovery on 20035.
45149 is parked up on Road 10 ready for 'plugging in'.

Considering at the start of the day we were wondering what to get on with, a lot was actually achieved all round!

More details for the GWSR Diesel Gala have been released, including the timetables. There are additional links on the page that will take you through everything you need to know! Loco allocations will appear towards the beginning of July. They are accessible on the GWSR website here.

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

If it's worth doing......

As I sit at home writing this, rather brief, addition to the Diesel Department Blog the GWSR Cotswold Festival of Steam will have come to an end for another year. The largest event in the railway's running calendar looks to have been another success bringing in a large boost in capital as we march towards Broadway opening in 2018. There were some unusual sights...one of which was to give us some musical entertainment throughout the day!

Our source of musical entertainment for the weekend.
It wasn't just rail mounted steam.....

The end of the Cotswold Festival of Steam signals an increase in intensity in preparation for the Diesel Gala which is now only 8 weeks away! With the loco roster confirmed (hopefully no last minute hiccups!) the timetable is being composed along with the final loco roster. This should be made public towards the end of June along with details of visiting attractions.

This weekend is usually a very quiet one on the diesel side of the shed and this weekend was no different. Some members of the group were active in helping out across the gala undertaking many of the support roles that allow our big events to run smoothly, many of the Type 4 Group had disappeared over to Hungary for an excursion behind the exported 47375 and Class 26 D5343 was down at Bishops Lydeard preparing for its role in the West Somerset's Diesel Gala. However, there is always a job to be done somewhere and three of us turned up on the Sunday to potter about a bit. Work continued on 47105 with Matt taking advantage of the quieter environment by completing some spray painting on some of the locos cab fittings.
Framed by 47376 and 37215, Matt sprays primer onto some of 47105's cab fittings.
It was stifling in the shed, even with the side doors open, the main doors stayed shut to prevent access to the yard, so any chance to have a break was taken. As no heavy work was being undertaken and no movements taking place, we opened up a route into the yard viewing area and welcomed a steady flow of visitors into the shed for a look around the fleet, to take photos and have a natter about the locos and the work we do. Although many were steam buffs a lot of questions were asked and praise given for the attention to detail demonstrated in maintaining the locomotives. In between these most welcome interruptions, Dean and I set about giving D6948 a bit of a clean. Rather him than me, Dean started up on the roof cleaning some of the accumulated soot, grime and bird lime off the top. Its surprising just how much dirt gets dumped on the top of surfaces in the shed - even when there is no work going on or breeze to blow any dust around! 


Not the most glamorous photo of Dean as he edges his way back towards the nose hatch.
So clean you could eat your dinner off of it! Dean's head pops up at No 2 end as he is just about to venture up to finish cleaning the remainder of the roof.
Whilst Dean was trying his hardest not to fall off I was making a start on the body side. As with the roof, it is amazing the amount of dirt that ends up on the loco and the various bugs that end up calling it home. By the end of the day, through much sweat, drinking of various types of hot beverage and chatting to visitors, one whole side had been polished up along with the roof and both noses. It will probably need doing again before D6948's next weekend out over the 10th and 11th June! Such is life!

D6948 doesn't scrub up too badly!
Those of you who have kept up to date with the blog will know that Class 24, 5081, had a little lift a couple of weeks ago to enable removal of one bogie and insertion of a spare 'accommodation' wheel set ready for work to progress on removing and replacing the suspension springs and other little jobs that need doing. Everything seems to have gone well and the loco is now safely at the back of road 10 with the first bogie already having had some work to prep it.

The first bogie from 5081 removed for attention during the first lift. Traction motors are covered to prevent dirt ingress.
 
5081 on its 'accommodation' bogie.
Sadly, 5081 will still be out of traffic for at least 2 years but the motto has always been 'if a job is worth doing, it is worth doing well'. 


RUNNING DAYS
June sees 8 mainline diesel running days during the month. Many are on the RED timetable - 1555 Toddington to Cheltenham and the 1640 Cheltenham to Toddington return. The dates and loco rosters are as follows:

June 3rd and 4th - D8137 RED Timetable - 1555 Todd-Chelt; 1640 Chelt-Todd

June 10th and 11th - D6948 RED Timetable - 1555 Todd-Chelt; 1640 Chelt-Todd

June 17th - 45149 RED Timetable - 1555 Todd-Chelt; 1640 Chelt-Todd

June 18th - 47376 RED Timetable - 1555 Todd-Chelt; 1640 Chelt-Todd    
 
June 24th and 25th - 37215 and 45149 DAY OUT WITH THOMAS Event (Ticket Only)


Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Where we're going we don't need.......rails!

The weekend just passed saw another special event at the GWSR. With the summer rapidly approaching they are coming thick and fast! This does mean that, with bigger events, the Diesel Shed gets used for some of the exhibitors...and this weekend (13th and 14th May) was no exception. With work therefore temporarily suspended on most locos due to this weekends' event, attention turned to Class 24, 5081 which had been shunted into the Steam Shed in readiness for its lift. In 2016 the railway took delivery of a set of synchronised lifting jacks which had been placed within the Steam Shed on the new reinforced concrete floor of Road 7. The Class 24 was the first Diesel loco, if not the first loco, to use the jacks and was due to be lifted so that extensive work could be undertaken on its wheel sets.

5081 is set into position ready for its lift.
Work commenced on Monday 15 May with Technical Officer, Paul Good, assisted by Tim L, Mark E, Richard D and new volunteer Mike W removing the dampers and disconnecting the Traction Motors as well as prepping an 'accommodation' bogie to go under the loco.

Monday morning and 5081 goes for its ride (Courtesy of Mark Elvey)
The following pictures are provided by Richard Drewitt and shows some of the progress made....

Mike, Mark and Paul share a joke as the first damper is removed.
Traction Motor cables hanging free.

One of 5081's dampers.

The 'accommodation' bogie ready for placement under the loco. The Traction Motors are in dry storage.

Shiny new springs ready for fitting.
If you are interested in helping out or wanting to know a bit more about 5081's repairs, you can head to the owning groups' website here.

Class 26 D5343 was off enjoying its first attendance at the Diesel Gala down at Swanage. Judging by the reports on social media she acquitted herself well and was very well received. The loco was used on a number of services over the Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Sadly, I didn't manage to get down to see it however, courtesy of Alex Williams (via social media) we have a cracking shot of D5343 leaving Corfe with the castle in the background. Thanks Alex!

D5343 leaves Corfe Castle during the Swanage Diesel Gala on 06 May. (Courtesy of Alex Williams)
 D5343 will next be in action at the West Somerset Diesel Gala over the weekend of the 9th, 10th and 11th June.

Elsewhere, we had a well patronised Class 37 Driver Experience on the Friday with 37215 and, the weekend saw the GWSR 'Cotswold Bricks Event' (we weren't authorised to use the Registered Trademark of a certain Scandinavian Construction Toys company). This was the first year of the running of this event and  a non-standard RED timetable was being operated with the 3rd MK1 rake being used with top and tail diesels instead of the DMMU. The locos rostered were Class 20, D8137 and Class 73, E6036 - the ED making a rare passenger outing away from a gala.

Saturday started off with miserable weather that got progressively warmer and sunnier throughout the day making photography a little easier. Although essentially a shuttle service, it doesn't leave much time for relaxing or grabbing a drink. Luckily though, apart from the steam services running a bit late, the day was reasonably uneventful. However........  

D8137 at Winchcombe awaiting departure time.

Class 73, E6036 makes a rare passenger service appearance at Toddington.

D8137 rounds Chicken Curve under a gloriously blue sky. (Courtesy of Alex Barnard)

......Sunday's crew had a slightly 'unusual' day. On Saturday, our Ops Notice gave warning of a P'Way Track Walker between Toddington and Laverton. On Sunday, Steve Madge was to experience a different type of track walker near Laverton....none of which were wearing Hi Viz or carrying any tools! We do get the occasional human trespasser or wandering sheep on the line but Geese and Goslings are certainly a new one on most of us!

With the service stopped, Driver Steve Madge turns to nature as he tries to get the details of some unusual trespassers! (Courtesy of GWSR Facebook)
Class 47, 47376 'Freightliner 1995' was utilised on both days on the 1555 Toddington - Cheltenham and 1640 Cheltenham - Toddington.

E6036 on the rear of a Laverton service as 47376 'Freightliner 1995' waits for the off with the 1555 Toddington - Cheltenham (courtesy of Alex Barnard).

Away from the loco running we had the 'Cotswold Bricks Event' organised by the Southern Lego Train Club that took over a marquee in the Car Park and half the Diesel Shed. Not only were there trade stands but some fantastic displays and models made entirely of construction bricks. Ranging from one off designs or replicas of ships through to a variety of model railways.....one of which took well over 7 hours to set up! 37215 and D6948 provided the backdrop in the Shed and a little scale between the models and the real things.

A Pendolino rounds the curve on Jamie Douglas' Manchester Brickadilly layout.

Jamie Douglas' amazing Manchester Brickadilly layout.

An EMU rubs shoulders with a Pannier Tank and a number of LU Units.

An LMS Black Five, Southern Q1, GWR 'City' and Southern 'Battle of Britain' show how much these types of 'train sets' have improved in 20 years. Mine were never this good! 
 
He runs on wheels.......close enough!

A Class 70 sits amongst a number of European units and locomotive types.
 With the next big event being the Cotswold Festival of Steam Gala over the Bank Holiday weekend at the end of May, the only remaining mainline diesel running of the month sees Class 45, 45149 running on the RED timetable over the weekend of 20th and 21st May.

Monday, 1 May 2017

May Day Mayhem

Firstly, as mentioned in the last blog, the details of this years' Summer Diesel Gala have been finalised. Both guest locos have been announced and, now, the ticket booking and information page on the GWSR website is up and running. The link is here

Remember, this is a TICKET ONLY event. £20 (1 day pre-booked adult ticket price) gets you access to unlimited travel on our railway covering the 13 miles from Laverton to Cheltenham Racecourse, a 40 minute frequency of services, access to our Diesel Shed and Carriage and Wagon facilities, trade stands and displays, as well as access to our usual facilities across our station sites. There is no gratis entry to any of our sites over this weekend.

We certainly hope that the weather at the end of July is a little more settled and pleasant than our typically unpredictable Bank Holiday weather! As I left home the day promised to be miserable. The trip up the M5 was not particularly pleasant and I was left facing the probability that my Secondman turn was going to be a wet one. However, on arrival at Toddington, the weather improved and, apart from the occasional light shower, was actually quite pleasant at times. This enabled a lot of work to take place outside, much to the relief of the Type 4 Group in particular.

This weekend had been chosen to start the replacement of the 6 refurbished pistons back into the engine room and, if time would allow, to remove the remaining 6 for refurbishment. As 47376 'Freightliner 1995' was rostered for the diesel turn it took on the mantle of super shunter and was used to drag 47105 (along with 37215 and D6948) over to the gantry crane.
47376 'Freightliner 1995' acts as Toddington MPD 'super shunter' to pull sister 47105 out of the shed.

47105, along with 37215 and D6948, is dragged out into the yard under a slightly threatening sky.
Once under the gantry Tim, Dave M and Ian started to replace the 6 refurbished pistons into the Sulzer lump. No job in the engine room is ever easy due to the confined spaces and this job is definitely no exception. Not only did the piston need to be hauled across the yard on a trolley but then hoisted up over the loco and then guided into place. With Ian and Tim in the engine room, Dave was given the unenviable task of winching the piston up using our rather antiquated gantry.
One of 47105's newly refurbished pistons ready for refitting.
The first piston is winched up over 47105's engine room.

Dave M (standing) and Ian (back to the camera, in blue overalls) prepare to slot the piston back into its cylinder.

Ian and Tim (extreme left) guides the piston back into place as Dave (top right) lowers it in.
The weather was to hold off long enough for the job to be completed. Meanwhile, back in the shed, Rich W was prepping some of the other engine room materials ready for refitting.
Freshly cleaned casing ready for repainting and refitting on 47105.
Also in the shed, Mark S was busy prepping Class 24, 5081, ready for work to commence on its suspension issues. One of the jobs to be done was the fitting of the lifting clamps to the lifting points. Most locos have 4 set lifting points that are reinforced and distribute the weight of the loco evenly. On the photo below, the two lifting points on B side can be clearly made out by the addition of the yellow clamps above the centre of each bogie. The loco will have the same on the opposite side and 4 hydraulic synchronised jacks will be used to lift the loco.
5081 gets prepped ready for being raised clear of her bogies in the near future.
Finally, Mark B and I set about getting Class 26, D5343, ready for her UK tour which starts with a trip to Swanage for their impending Diesel Gala. Most of the prep had been completed on Saturday and Sunday meaning that the loco was sat out in the car park at Toddington waiting to be loaded. The following photos are courtesy of Tony Richards.
Sunday 30/04/17 - D5343 gets the once over ready for her holidays to a number of other railways. (Courtesy of Tony Richards)

D5343 gets a quick wash and wax ready for her excursion. (Courtesy of Tony Richards)

After completion, the Class 04 shunts D5343 out into the car park. (Courtesy of Tony Richards)
One job that needed to be done was to ensure the brakes were applying evenly from the cylinders. Armed with a short handled spanner, mallet, tape measure, and with D5343 back in the yard, Mark B and I set about measuring the rod extension from the cylinder when the brakes are applied and, where necessary, readjusting the rigging on the bogie. Normal extension is around 2 - 3 inches from each of the 4 cylinders on each bogie. Some were significantly out, others were still acceptable. 
D5343 in the yard at Toddington.

One of 4 brake cylinders on each bogie. The measurement was taken on the extension of the rod from the cylinder shaft. That is the part that has the hole in it in the centre of the picture. When the brakes are applied the cylinder fills with air pushing the rod out and pushes the brake block against the wheel. To minimise excessive wear this should only extend out of the cylinder by 2-3 inches.

While I am doing the very difficult job of applying and releasing the brakes, Mark B is under the loco tightening the brake rigging on the front of the bogie.

The brake rigging. This is what pushes the block onto the wheel when the brakes are applied. Two nuts need adjusting (one already has the spanner round it) to realign the blocks and readjust the extension from the cylinder.
A couple of other checks were completed to fulfill insurance requirements before the 26 was shunted back out into the Car Park to await her lift to the Swanage Railway - her first port of call.

Not everything on the railway was going as swimmingly as the progress in the yard. We received a message from our DOO (Duty Operations Officer) at around 1pm that 'Foremarke Hall' (one of our resident steam engines) had decided to throw a tantrum in Toddington station and would need replacing on the 1330 working to Cheltenham. 47376 would be required earlier than anticipated to haul an extra round trip. After a quick change of clothes, and with Ian still fitting a piston, Dave M and I went to the rescue. Ian returned to work the 1555 with me as rostered.
Thunderbird 1 reporting for duty!
Mainline diesel workings for May:
The coming month sees a slight increase in diesel usage throughout. As well as our normal RED timetable workings on the weekends of the 6/7 May, 13/14 May and 20/21 May we also have additional running over the 13/14 May due to our 'Cotswold Bricks and Trains' event. Over this weekend the Class 20 and Class 73 (in a rare passenger outing) will be Top and Tailing the DMU schedule with our 3rd rake of coaches. This will give you the rare opportunity of traveling the Laverton extension behind mainline locos. The loco rosters are as follows:

May 6th and 7th (RED) -      37215 (1555 Todd-Chelt and return)

May 13th and 14th (RED) -  D8137/E6036 (Top and Tail in place of the DMU)
                                               47376 (1555 Todd-Chelt and return)

May 20th and 21st (RED) 45149 (1555 Todd-Chelt and return).