Friday, 4 January 2019

Happy New Year!

The sun has now set on another running year that has broken all records before it and its now time to take stock and get down to the preparation for the new operational year that starts in March. A period of consolidation is expected over 2019 with a much changed timetable seeing fewer special Events and a more balanced (hopefully) operation.

With the Santa trains out of the way Boxing Day through to New Years Day saw regular timetabled services as well as the Christmas Cracker Gala, being run for the final time before it reverts to normal running days in 2019. Due to its boiler capabilities English Electric Type 3, D6948, was in use for the GREEN timetabled days on Boxing Day and New Years Day. It was also rostered to work both days of the Christmas Cracker, again utilising its heating capability. It would also get an extra day on the 27th December after the DMU was declared a failure; seeing a BLUE day become a PINK day.

I was rostered on the Green Machine for Boxing Day. The GREEN timetable was amended to see D6948 run light to Winchcombe to collect the 3rd rake and to take it back at the end of the day. It created a long day but also gave the opportunity to do something that we don't do a lot in the dark! The railway takes on a very different air when darkness falls, especially if its foggy, and the only things you can see are the lights burning brightly on the signal posts! It presents a new set of challenges, but I find it quite enjoyable! I was joined by Simon T with Kev J and Mark S in the boiler room. With the loco prepped it was time to head off to collect the 3rd rake. Kev and Mark made a start on prepping the boiler as we were en route, however, the boiler wasn't to be so willing and it was well into the first run from Cheltenham before a fault was found and rectified - a loose electrical contactor! This wasn't to be the only problem encountered over New Year, although for the remainder of Boxing Day, the boiler worked very well! Sadly, the issues didn't stop there as on our second run the loco cut out on three occasions. In the front cab Simon and I were mystified as to the cause however, Kev (in particular) and Mark, who were in the rear cab, were well aware of what had happened. An electrical short had occurred due to some errant wiring around the hot plate and caused arc-ing around the hot plate surround. Mark isolated the offending circuitry as we travelled onto Broadway and, on arrival back on shed, with the loco out again the next day, he stayed behind to make the wiring safe in the cab and to fix the loose contactor on the boiler.
As your blogger (in Hi Viz) heads to uncouple the loco the light is already fading and the headcode glows brightly. (Courtesy of K. Jarvis)
The loco and boiler seemed to behave itself for the following few days but, on New Years Day, the boiler decided to throw its toys out of the pram again - blowing water and steam into the boiler compartment rather than through the pipes. The fault is yet to be diagnosed fully but will require the boiler to be removed from the loco and a partial strip down. Not a small job by any means and adds another big job to the list for both Class 37s.

As mentioned earlier, D6948 was given an extra day's running because of a failure with the DMU. After completing its turns on the Santa Specials it was found that one of the DMBS vehicles (W51363, possibly) had suffered a grumbling roller bearing and would require a possible axle (or bogie) swap. With DMS W51405 still awaiting the finishing touches to its overhaul it leaves the DMU set without a second Driving vehicle. Luckily the required repairs should be completed before the new running season begins - however, there is now a long queue of motive power needing use of the lifting jacks in the David Page shed! 

The Christmas Cracker Mixed Traffic Gala saw D6948 joined by sister 37215, Class 45, 45149, and Class 20, D8137 along with 'P&O' and 'Foremarke Hall' from the Steam department. All locos performed well, as you would come to expect. Due to car troubles I couldn't attend however, one of the members of our Youth Group was able to provide some great photos. Thanks Tom!

D6948 at Cheltenham as 37215 runs round to the front. (Courtesy of T.Clarke)
37215 after running around at Cheltenham about to lead the 2B10 to Broadway. (Courtesy of T. Clarke)
Mark S gets 37215 to clear her throat as it hauls 2B10 1205 to Broadway. (Courtesy T. Clarke) 
'Peak' 45149 awaits the RA at Toddington with 2C17 1300 to Cheltenham. 'Foremarke Hall' is on the rear. (Courtesy of T.Clarke) 
With the orange glow from the station lamps cutting into the approaching darkness 45149 and 'Foremarke Hall' prepare to leave Cheltenham with 2T30 1700 to Toddington. (Courtesy T. Clarke)
One of the highlights for the Saturday saw Class 20, D8137, hauling Train 2 with 'P&O'. This gave the opportunity to witness the 1000hp EE Type 1 hauling 8 MK1s along with 100 - odd tonnes of Merchant Navy (load 10/11ish) at the back! It would have given the smallest main line loco in the fleet one heck of a workout and made a terrific sound!  

With the running season over, the first week of 2019 has still seen a couple of diesel movements centred around Winchcombe with a lot of moving around of vehicles - not only within C&W but also in the P'Way yard. The big P'Way project for the close season sees the renewing of sleepers, ballast and track at Toddington, from the signal box to the new turnout at the end of the MPD. This is some of the oldest track on the railway with sleepers that date back to the relaying of the line in the 1980s! You can keep up to date with the wonderful work of our P'Way team courtesy of Jo Roesen's excellent blog here. In order to make access to provisions easier the P'Way team requested the movement of their train from Winchcombe to Siding 1 at Toddington. Therefore on the 3rd Jan the Class 73, E6036 was fired up and taken to Winchcombe to pick up the mess coach and the associated wagons. 

Electro-diesel E6036 heads the P'Way Mess Coach and tools wagons on their temporary move to Toddington. (Courtesy of M. Peers)
Within C&W at Winchcombe, the Class 03, D2182, was busy shuttling a variety of rolling stock around the yard. The close season allows the main rakes to have a complete shakedown and for the rectification of some of the larger faults that had cropped up throughout the running season, but needed to wait for an extended period of non running for repairs to be effected. The railway had also taken loan of two Mk1 coaches from the North York Moors Railway and these needed to be checked over and assessed prior to being registered for use. 

So, Winter maintenance is now the name of the game. The major overhaul continues with Class 47, 1693, the bogie overhaul on Class 24, 5081, is reaching its final stages before reassembly and replacing under the loco and, our Bubble Car (W55003) overhaul continues with undercoating continuing on the the outside and the cabs being refurbished on the inside. 

W55003 in the David Page shed during undercoat application. (Courtesy of GWSR DMU Group)
D5343 and 47376 'Freightliner 1995' have been winterised in serviceable condition. As mentioned above, D6948 is going to require some attention to its wiring and will require the boiler to be lifted out to identify the fault that led to its breakdown at New Year. Sister Class 37, 37215, is also going to need some major attention before the running season begins and is one of the locos that will require lifting from its bogies in order to undertake repairs to the Traction Motors and blowers. Parts donor, 20035, is now very much just a shell and power unit. The cab has been completely stripped as has all of the engine room compartments. It is hoped that the remaining parts can be removed in the next few weeks and the remaining elements disposed of. All locomotives will also require end of season/beginning of season exams (essentially akin to an old BR B-Exam) to establish their fitness to run at the beginning of the new season.       

Speaking of the new season - it is just 63 days away! The new timetable is available to view here with the special events list here. On the diesel front there are a number of changes from our 2018 timetable. Although the mainline locos don't see any further allocated running days, there are more days where mainline locos will see use for a whole day rather than just on one trip. There is also more running during the week and we will also see greater running over weekends - particularly during the high season in the summer. The timetables that see diesel running are:

BLUE - DMU only
PURPLE - Diesel hauls 1510 from Broadway to CRC and 1625 CRC to Toddington
GREEN - Full day diesel turn starting with 1100 Toddington to CRC
RED - DMU only.

Work is also continuing behind the scenes with improvements to the yard at Toddington that includes a new overhead gantry crane, a diesel fuel tank and fuelling point entering the next phases of the implementation process. Planning for both the Gala in July and Diesel weekend in October is well under way with discussions for guest locos well advanced. Our October date has been pushed back from its usual first weekend of the month to cover the 12th/13th October. This is to prevent a clash with our neighbours at the SVR and to look at the possibilty of securing a guest loco from the SVR event.

Finally, a sad note. Just before New Year the Railway lost another of our elder statemen, Bernard Dudfield. Bernard was one of the 'originals' having been there at the beginning of the fledgling GWR in the early 1980s and taking on roles across the railway including being Director of both the GWSR and GWRT. Even after finishing his tenure in the Boardroom, Bernard continued to work in a variety of the departments including P'Way, Lineside and S&T; working right up until his death. A no-nonsense but affable character who would always greet footplate crew with a cheery wave when out and about on the lineside. Our collective condolences to Bernard's family.

Bernard at Broadway in March 2018. Rest in Peace. (Courtesy of M. Elvey/GWR Broadway Blog)

Friday, 7 December 2018

A Quiet Sunday

A dreary, cold and desolate Sunday (02/12) greeted the first weekend of Santa Specials at the GWsR. Of course, the diesel fleet is not involved and, for the first year, Santa's trains were operating at the bottom end of the line. This left Toddington feeling a little barren and windswept with only one hardy soul present when I arrived.

On arriving I was met by one of our 'elder' statesmen of the department, Derek Mills. Derek had decided to put in a shift around the shed and was getting a little worried that no one else had turned up. Although, now more at home behind the sales stands of the Cotswold Mainline Diesel Group and Growler Group, Derek had worked extensively on the restorations on 'Peak' 45149 and on the earlier diesels that had arrived at the fledgling railway in the 1990s. Despite not being as mobile as he once was, Derek has been helping out recently with the bogie overhaul on Class 24, 5081, doing some small jobs and organising some of the spares for the 24081 Group.

With the first order of business sorted - putting the kettle on - I had a quick gander around the shed. Immediately inside the door was a small pile of what seemed, on first looks, as a pile of scrap. With a second, more thorough, glance it appeared to be a collection of bits and pieces from the Grolwer Group container. Group Treasurer, Kev Jarvis, had been clearing some of the odds and sods that the group had collectively accumulated over the 20+ years of existence. The largest piece in the pile was a flame cut from one of Inverness TMD's famous Highland Class 37's.

The last earthly remains of 37260 'Radio Highland', a long way from Inverness.
I was quite tempted to get it myself and put it up in the garage at home!!

On Road 11 more evidence of the body work preparation on Class 47, 1693. With the glasswork covered on No.2 end primer had been added around the cab areas and extra sanding and filling had been undertaken. No.1 end has been sanded back and the glass covered ready for priming. The buffer beams have also had a coat of primer added ready for a top coat in the near future.

More progress on the second bogie of 5081 has seen more bits refitted to the frame. All of the larger bits, traction motors and brake frames, are now in grey primer and awaiting a date with the top coat. With 2019 being the 60th anniversary of the Class 24 build it is hoped that the loco will be completed in time for the middle of the new running season. The seized fuel pump has also been stripped and sent for repair. I believe a new one has been sourced with the repaired pump being kept as a spare, although I may be corrected on this.

Traction motors and frame await a date with the spray gun!
Out in the yard Brian Parsons was busy doing some mechanical work on the real Class 04, D2280. The 204hp shunter should now have been accepted in to traffic within the yard at Toddington as cover for 'sister' 11230 which is out of service for a long standing repair to be effected. Elsewhere in the yard, George was busy doing some last minute preparations on the DMU for its role in the midweek Santa Specials. After checking over the four Leyland engines it was time to refuel and have a quick check of the power and brake systems.

So, what was the agenda for the day? Well, after completing the first cuppa of the day, Derek and I were joined by Steve M who had turned up to carry on stripping down Class 20, 20035. Not much of the loco now remains on the main frame except the power unit and the support structure. Scattered around the floor of the shed are a number large crates containing a variety of tanks, pipes, filters and switches that have been removed for spares, sale or scrap. With not much else going on Steve asked Derek and I to make a start on cleaning some of the accumulated gunk and dirt off of the removed metal work. As it was still relatively dry outside I fired up the pressure washer while Derek grabbed a chair and a wire brush.

This is what we started with....minus a few of the longer/larger pipes.
Derek gets to grips with the more stubborn dirt.
The cannibalised electrical cubicle. 
Despite threatening skies and showers passing by across the Cotswold edge, the yard at Toddington stayed dry until well into the afternoon although there continued to be a strong wind. Luckily this was blowing down the yard and meant that we didn't get drenched from the pressure washer.

Not sure which came up cleaner - metal or concrete?!

Later in the day we were joined, briefly, by Mark and Ben E who had dropped in before heading up to Broadway to recover some bits and pieces from one of their containers for use on the Class 24 later in the week. On their return Ben stayed and helped out with some more of the component recovery on the underframe of the former CFR Class 20. Steve is hoping to have the power plant removed in the early New Year and to have the remainder disposed of by April. 

Just a reminder that the fleet has four more running days of the 2018 season remaining. We have GREEN timetable days on Boxing Day and New Years Day - D6948 is the rostered loco due to its heating capability. On the 27 and 28 December we have the Mixed Traction Gala with D6948, 37215, D8137 and, 45149 rostered to work alongside the steam engines to a more intensive timetable than usual.

Finally, the 2019 timetable has been finalised and published. The diesel fleet sees a similar amount of running as the 2018 timetable but the number of timetables has been simplified slightly. The number of special events has been reduced and the year split into 'off peak' and 'peak' running. The diesels will see regular use on the BLUE and RED timetable (DMU only), the PURPLE timetable (last train of the day from Broadway to Cheltenham then return to Toddington) and on GREEN timetable (3 round trips). For full details you can click HERE.

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Close season Part 1.

Winterisation has begun on the whole fleet as the railway gears up for the festive season. The diesel fleet sees little running between November and April which gives the department volunteers plenty of time to throw themselves into the heavier side of the maintenance schedules.

The Saturday just gone (03/11) saw a healthy number of people milling about - and not least because there was a Department Meeting in the morning. 10 of us were floating about and activity spanned the whole fleet with work ongoing on 1693, D6948, 37215, D5343, 45149 and 20035.

Steve M has made significant progress on the stripping of components from Class 20, 20035. With the loco resident in the shed (his operational Class 20, D8137 has been temporarily banished outside) huge strides have been made in removing the larger items from the engine bay. Tanks, boxes, pipes and a whole host of other items adorn a variety of boxes, bags and floor space.

One side of the loco has now been removed enabling clear access to the power plant and the cab has been stripped of all the equipment. With the deadline for disposal of the loco getting ever closer a lot of work will be undertaken over the winter to salvage everything before removal of the power plant itself.

Very little left in the cab. Seats, glass, instruments...gone!
Work has continued with the Class 24 bogie overhaul and it is hoped to be completed before the start of the 2019 season. All the brake rigging has been primed and new slack adjusters have been commandered. The frame has also been given a covering of undercoat with the springs almost ready for fitting.

The other long term overhaul on Class 47, 1693 progresses further. The body work continues to be sanded and any imperfections attended to with filler. The radiator and fan section of the roof has been placed back above the loco after being needle gunned and primed. It hasn't been fitted securely to the loco but has been secured to temporary spacers using a ratchet strap.

Tim, Dave and H were all busy with the tasks of sanding down the layers of paint. Dave and H, stationed at opposing ends, were sanding back the paintwork above the cabs. After the DMG, Tim also joined in with the sanding.

One of the key jobs of the winterisation process is to give the locomotives a good clean. I made a start on cleaning the cab of D6948. The 'Green Goddess' (the nickname given to the Class 37 by Jo who does our Extension Blog) has seen a number of rostered turns in the last few weeks due to its steam heat facility, however, the weather has been quite wet meaning lots of mud and dirt has ended up being trapsed into the cab. Armed with a hoover and cleaning rags I made a start on No. 2 end.

Have hoover....will travel!
Elsewhere with D6948 the safety valves on the boiler had been refurbished and refitted allowing the boiler to be pressure tested and used in anger on the last PINK timetable weekend. Given the downturn in the weather it couldn't have come at a better time! There had also been an issue identified with the electrical supply to the boiler. Some scorching had been identified on the wiring to the boiler. One of the locomotive's four owners, Peter S, had a brief look after the DMG meeting to identify the extent of the issue and to see what would need to be done. Sister loco, 37215, also received some maintenance from Growler Group vice Chairman, Mark S.

During the week (07/11) both Class 37s were placed over the pit road 9 so that both locos could have their undersides checked, traction motor brushes checked and changed and, the motors themselves could be greased. The opportunity was also taken to try and rectify a long standing, but minor, brake issue with D6948. Due to the changing personal circumstances of some of our department we have suddenly ended up with a regular 'Wednesday' gang - our Technical Office, Paul G, along with Kev J and Dean T now regularly attend on weekdays rather than weekends. One reason is that Kev has another great responsibility with the mighty 'Black & Ambers' - or, Newport RFC - which swallows up large chunks of his winter weekends. This particular week saw them joined by Mark S to complete the work on the two EE Type 3s.
Over the pit. (Courtesy of Kev Jarvis)
The environs of the pit. Even with new lighting it isn't a pleasant place to be! (Courtesy of Kev Jarvis)
Mark and Paul check the grease levels of one of the traction motors. (Courtesy of Kev Jarvis)

Spare set of bushes for a traction motor. (Courtesy of Kev Jarvis)

Nipple! Grease, that is! (Courtesy of Kev Jarvis)
Back to the weekend and work was also being conducted on the winter maintenance program for both CMDG locos - Class 26, D5343 and Class 45, 45149. The group have decided that, for the immediate term, the Peak will continue to run on 5 traction motors until such time as circumstances allow for further investigation into the damage and possible repair. The Class 26 has now been decommissioned for the close season and preparations have been made to allow the loco to survive being outdoors through the rigors of a Cotswold winter. Tony, Simon and Andy were busy attending to the two locos.

The weekend also saw the DMU crew make a start on the 'M' Exams on the 3-car set. The DMU will be the most active member of the Department over the next few months seeing regular use during the Xmas Season, therefore any scheduled maintenance only has a small window in which to be conducted. One slight hiccup has surfaced with the ongoing restoration of DMS, W51405, which has been at Carriage and Wagon at Winchcombe since June. C&W have a couple of more pressing issues that need completion prior to the Xmas period. This will necessitate the DMS potentially being moved back to Toddington for a short period before it can be placed back with C&W and its refurbishment completed. Elsewhere, the Class 122 sees ongoing work from the team with the cabs contiuing to be fitted out and the bodywork on the final stages before top coat can be applied.

Finally, our shunter fleet. DES inches slowly towards being back in service. Timken are currently machining spacers and ensuring they are within accepted tolerance levels. The date for return of the wheel set is still pending however the owners are hopeful that the axle can be refitted and the shunter back in surface before the new running season. Our new Class 04, D2280, has had to be pressed into emergency duty as Toddington Yard Pilot despite only just being released, temporarily, into traffic. Our other Class 04, 11230, has had a long standing problem with its uploader valve. This has got to a point where it is now in need of further investigation and rectification therefore the decision has been taken to remove it from traffic for a month in order to get it fixed. Elsewhere, our Winchcombe based Class 03, D2182, has seen a lot of work recently moving wagons and coaching stock around the yards at Winchcombe and remains in frequent use.

With the close season now in effect, the diesel fleet status stands at:

DES - Unserviceable. Wheelset repairs.
D2182 - Serviceable at C&W, Winchcombe.
D2280 - Temporarily serviceable at Toddington MPD. Full FTR Assessment to be conducted.
11230 - Unserviceable. Uploader Valve issue.
D8137 - Serviceable.
20035 - Component recovery. 
5081 - Unserviceable. Bogie overhaul.
D5343 - Winterised.
37215 - Serviceable.
D6948 - Serviceable.
45149 - Serviceable.
1693 - Unserviceable. Overhaul.
47376 - Serviceable.
E6036 - Serviceable.

W51360, W51363, W59510 - Serviceable
W51405 - Unserviceable. Refurbishment
W51372  - Unserviceable. Awaiting decision.
Sc52029 - Unserviceable. Awaiting decision.
W55003 - Unserviceable. Overhaul.

The DMU will be in service during the Santa Specials in the run up to Christmas. The unit will run five services a day from Toddington on the following dates:

Saturday 8th December
Sunday 9th December
Saturday 15th December
Sunday 16th December
Friday 21st December
Saturday 22nd December.

Tickets are going fast but you can see the timetables and book tickets here.

The mainline fleet sees only four more running days of the 2018 season. We see Class 37, D6948 running on Boxing Day (26/12) and New Years Day (01/01/2019) on the GREEN timetable. First train being the 1100 Toddington - Cheltenham Racecourse.

Between Xmas and the New Year we have the annual, two day Christmas Cracker gala on the 29 and 30 December. This sees a more intensive timetable utilising both steam and diesel traction. Locos to be used are to be confirmed, although D6948 will be in use utilising its boiler throughout both days. There are also BLUE timetable days on the 27, 28 and 31 December.

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

In Memoriam.

A sad note, as some of you would have heard already, on the 12th October 2018 it was communicated through the department (and elsewhere, eventually, via social media) that Malcolm Ranieri, long time photographer and contributor to all things transport, had passed away unexpectedly at home. 

Malcolm Ranieri. (Courtesy of Old Glory Magazine/M. Elvey)
Many of you would have known Malcolm from his photography of, not only our diesel fleet, but also of the whole of the GWR. His pictures have been used on our postcards, adorned raffle prizes and gifts as well as being a very regular contributor of photos in 'The Cornishman', 'The Growler', on our linked social media sites and owning group magazines. He was fixture at most of our large events and could more often than not be found at Didbrook or Stanway getting the photos of trains powering out of Toddington. He was also a contributor to the wider railway and transport media as well as being a regular speaker at archive events - not only for GWR groups but also the wider railway community. 

A very personable man and a true gent. You will be missed by many. RIP Malcolm.

One of Malcolm's last photos to me for the blog. Our ED, along with the DMU, heads towards Gotherington during our July gala. (Courtesy M. Ranieri)

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

October Rains!

....and, boy, hasn't it??!! According to the Met Office, October has been the warmest on record. Its probably been one of the wettest and it has conspired to mean that most diesel running for the last part of the 2018 season has seen grey clouds and plenty of precipitation!

The start of the month saw our last 'gala' of 2018, the Autumn Diesel Weekend. Although a much lower key affair than our main gala it is the last chance to get the home fleet out for a big 'hurrah'. Plans were afoot to capitalise on the financial increases that the summer gala had brought in and bring in a guest loco. However, at the last moment, the plans were scuppered. However, it leaves a possible opportunity for our 2019 gala. I was rostered on the Saturday (06/10), crewing D6948 with Peter S. Originally, the timetable stood with the 'Green Machine' not in use until the afternoon, however, given the weather conditions (it was absolutley lashing down!), a late decision was made to top and tail D6948 with sister 37215 in order to provide steam heat. D6948 is currently the only locomotive with a working boiler so it made sense to use it all day to provide heat all day. I didn't 'get the memo', only a phone call as I was heading up the M5 to alert me to the change of plan. Luckily, I had anticipated it and was only 15 minutes from Toddington. I arrived and signed on in time to meet the loco, along with Peter, Bob C and Mark S (our boiler men), as it headed off shed.

In the car park, Class 24, 5081, was sat on the unloading road. The driving rain had caused a number of deep puddles to form and stopped people from getting a really close up view of the overhauled bogie. It also washed off the layer of dust that had built up on the locomotive from the sanding of Class 47, 1693, during its own overhaul.

The Class 73, E6036, was also rostered to work over the weekend pulling the 3-car DMU as a forth rake. However, this was also changed in the run up to the event. The ED was placed in the dock siding at Toddington as 'Thunderbird'.

After getting D6948 hooked up it was off to Cheltenham with 37215 leading courtesy of Messers Tony Boston and Adrian Kenny. Tony was on his first solo run after passing out on the GWSR as a Driver - some 30 odd years after passing out as a Driver for British Rail. He is due to become one of our Traction Inspectors in the near future having enjoyed a railway career that saw him drive the vast majority of diesel and electric locomotives as well as Eurostars, from where he retired a few years ago.

The photo below shows why D6948 comes in very handy when the weather is cold and, why, the four owners paid to have a boiler fitted. The Class 37s were originally fitted with a boiler to provide steam heat when working passenger services however, the Welsh variants were primarily to be used on freight workings and many had their boilers removed or, like D6948, were never fitted.

The punters throughout the day certainly appreciated the heat being pumped through the Maroon rake of Mark 1s! There was also a bigger reason for having the boiler running all day. One of the key issues that needed sorting was the continuing reliance on just a couple of people to work the boiler. Therefore the opportunity was taken to train a few more people on the basics of start up, keeping pressure and, operation on service trains. Myself, Paul G and Peter received a quick run through later in the day from Mark S.

On arrival at Cheltenham and preparing to head back north.
On arrival at Winchcombe Peter reported a minor issue with the brakes. One of the features of the Davies and Metcalfe brake mechanisms used is the ability to put the air system into a state of 'boost' or 'overdrive' in order to increase the speed of release. The mechanism wasn't working in either cab so, given that we had a substantial lay over at Winchcombe awaiting a down train, Mark and Paul investigated the switch and diaphragm.

Paul gets ready to head into No.2 end nose with Mark S to investigate the brake issue. 
There seemed to be no let up in the continual driving rain and low cloud. Cleeve Hill was almost totally shrouded in mist and low cloud.
Cleeve Hill, above C&W, almost totally shrouded in low cloud.
As Paul and Mark worked on the issue the down train arrived courtesy of Class 20, D8137, and the DMU. In the space of 10 minutes the cloud that had shrouded Cleeve Hill had completely disappeared and the rain stopped. It almost brightened up!

At Toddington, Mark and Paul finished off the issue with the 'boost' on the brake system. It worked without incident for the rest of the weekend. Meanwhile, we awaited the 'Peak' to return from Broadway.

'Peak' 45149 has been running on 5 of its 6 traction motors after having an incident earlier in the year that caused one motor to short out and a small amount of damage to the electrical feed. Although a short term solution of isolating the motor has allowed the loco to continue in service a longer term solution is still being investigated.

The 'Peak' heads into Toddington.
As the day wore on the weather improved and, by the time we returned to shed, the cloud had gone and it had become a reasonable evening. A pre-cursor to the Sunday being a much better day. After a bit more boiler training it was time to do a 'blow down' on the boiler to remove excess pressure in the system.

Mark S and Paul G go through the end of day procedure on the boiler. 
In the shed, 1693's overhaul had progressed further still. The majority of the body work has now been rubbed down and any deviations filled and sanded. Later in the week some of the roof sections above the boiler room (1693, like D6948, will have a working boiler) were refitted after cosmetic work had been undertaken.

5081's second bogie overhaul has progressed to the priming stage. The bolsters, brake rigging and the frame has all been primed in green. The new springs are nearly ready for fitting and then the bogie can be re-assembled and a top coat added.

The following weekend, I was rostered again. Two days - a Driver Experience on the Friday (11/10) and then the penultimate PINK weekend with Class 26, D5343, for the 2018 season on the Saturday (12/10). Again, the weather was set to be pretty miserable and the Friday did not disappoint. Again, I was rostered with Peter S for the DriveEx with 6 intrepid customers. The conditions would certainly be challenging for all concerned. D6948 was again picked - moreso because it was at the front of the shed. However, the conditions failed to dampen the experiences and all customers enjoyed the day despite the wind, rain and wheel slip!

The Saturday wasn't much better, weatherwise. I had stayed at Toddington, rather than drive home, however the rain and wind had kept me up for most of the night...worried that the cabin I was staying in would blow away! As I walked down the yard the effects of the overnight wind could be seen all over. The exhaust covers on both D8137 and 45149 had both been blown off and were lying on the ballast. Bins of ash and cinders were all over the shed apron and the water pipe from the parachute tank was blowing all over the place. Richard G was sheltering in the relative dry of the cab of the Class 26.

After prepping the loco we headed round to the station to prep the train before heading off up to Broadway. As we got into the station at Toddington to perform a brake test, our colleagues on Dinmore Manor were enjoying the heat that the fire was providing. A great way to stay reasonably dry...despite the open footplate!

An open cab but a lovely warm fire on Dinmore Manor.
Elsewhere around the department, Simon and Andy were busy with a variety of jobs on the Peak as well as cleaning up some of the spares purchased from the owner of 20035 that is being stripped. Many classes of locomotive share common components so, despite being built by different companies, there are common user parts across a range of classes....particularly with tanks, exhausters and compressors. The CMDG have purchased a number of parts that will increase their ability to react to failures of larger equipment, particularly as a lot of the larger parts on the Class 26 and Class 45 are approaching life expiry.

More work was also completed on 1693 with additional body work, painting and mechanical work completed. There was also additional work done on the efficiency of the boiler on D6948 after a couple of issues had been identified after the Diesel Weekend.

The department is now on the run down towards winter maintenance where some larger jobs can be completed as well as the yearly examination cycle (B and C Exams) can be completed outside of the running season. There are still a few running days left in the current season starting with the weekend of the 20/21 October and our Cotswold Food and Drink Fayre. This will see an extended GREEN timetable with the DMU, 47376 'Freightliner 1995' (Saturday) and D5343 (Sunday) being utilised. The DMU is in use during the week for the rest of October on the BLUE timetable and we have the final PINK timetable on the 27/28 October with D6948 rostered again for both days. The railway has the annual November shut down before the Santa trains. The diesels will be woken up for GREEN timetable days on Boxing Day and New Years Day, the Mixed Traffic Gala on the 29/30 December and the DMU will be out on the BLUE days between Boxing Day and New Year. Then, that will be that for 2018! 

What a year it has been!!

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

An absence of noise does not mean silence!

Its been some time since the last tome from the Diesel Department. However, the lack of updates certainly does not indicate an absence of any happenings within the department.....far from it, in fact! The dust has well and truly settled on the main Gala and attention, once again, has turned to the run down to the end of the year and the Autumn Diesel Weekend.

It had been hoped to plan a bit of a coup and a first for the line for the weekend. We tried to entice the Class 17 'Clayton' from the Chinnor and Princes Risborough Railway as a guest locomotive; the deal was close to being signed, sealed, but delivery was snatched away as the C&PRR suddenly required the 'Clayton' for their own services. Foiled!!! Still, we have our excellent home fleet in use over the weekend with regular departures from Broadway and Cheltenham Racecourse. Usual ticket prices apply and these can be booked by visiting the GWSR website. You can also click HERE to access the download for timetables and the link to the tickets.

Anyhow, on to the up dates of happenings within the fleet. August was a bit of a washout for me with a family holiday (it was lovely, thanks!) and preparation for the new Academic Year at work (not so lovely!) taking up a lot of my freedom. By the time I was able to have some free time it was nearly the end of August and another spate of late afternoon running on the PURPLE timetable. I was rostered on 37215 on the 27th August, continuing my Driver Training with Kev Jarvis. After picking Kev up at Bristol Parkway we headed to Toddington. First order of business was to put the EE Type 3 on charge for a bit. It hadn't run for a little while so a top up was insurance against a non start.

One of our slightly archaic battery chargers. I guess, given that it has and RG depot sticker, that it is ex-Reading TMD. It does the job, though.
With the loco on charge, job two was to head into the engine room of sister loco D6948. The boiler pressure release valves needed removing in order to be tested and re-certified. They aren't in a particularly easy place within the engine room - long arms and patience are definitely a pre-requisite! Kev ticks both boxes here and, with me ably assisting on torch holding and tool fetching duties, both valves were removed in about an hour.

With one of the valves removed, you can see the second one just to the left of centre, with a tag on it, poking out from behind the main boiler tank.

The first one sat on D6948's battery box.
With them both removed and marked up Kev started on cleaning them up and I went to clean up the rather rusty bolts and washers. Not the most glamourous of jobs but vital for the efficient workings of all our engines.

NUTS!! Well, bolts actually!
Adjacent to the Class 37s in the shed, the cannabalised remains of Class 20, 20035 awaiting further component removal and then a date with the hereafter. Loco owner Steve M had been particularly busy over the weeks I had been absent (certainly with the help of others in the department) and the fruits of that labour were very neatly stored around the immediate shed floor area. These will find their way into Steve's spares resources for his other Class 20's - D8137 and 20228 - as well as being sold on to others.

Steve gets to work on removing more bits from 20035.

The area where the battery box and fuel tanks would normally be housed.

Two of the many air tanks.

A variety of cylinders and pipework.
We were able to distract Steve enough in order to shunt D8137 out of the way of Road 10 so that we could get 37215 out of the shed.

Steve gets ready to fire up D8137.
Work also continued on the extensive overhaul on Brush Type 4, 1693 (47105) with Tim L and Dave M continuing with sanding of the bodysides and external components. The makers plates have also been removed ready for snading and priming. The plates will also be tidied up, paint removed and returned to original condition.

The makers plate removed from the cab side of 1693.
Work has also been continuing on the No 2 Bogie of Class 24, 5081. Most of the work has been progressed during the week, primarily on Wednesday's, with some work being completed on weekends. The frames have been needle gunned and everything stripped for refurbishing or replacement. Work has progressed at a quicker rate than No 1 bogie as the original experience has allowed for problems to be identified and rectified much more quickly. It is hoped that the turn around for this bogie will be completed before the start of the 2019 running season.

Raised, needle gunned and with all riggin and cylinders removed.
The next visit was the 1st September. A DMG Meeting was planned for the morning which saw updates on a number of internal matters. Progress is steady with looking at securing our Gantry Crane and extending the concreting of the apron outside the shed with a view to completion of planning by the end of the year. This will cretainly make removing engine components easier. Yours truly is also, slowly, working on a design for a booklet/brochure detailing the history of diesels on the GWSR and Honeyborne line, our current fleet, visitors and informative details for both the average member of the public and the most devoted of enthusiasts. Elsewhere, discussions were started on next years' main Gala planning, as well as our initial draft of the new timetable for 2019.

In the shed, Dave M was joined by Richard W working on 1693. More sanding, priming and body work filling. Still no details on the chosen colour scheme for when the preparation work has been completed.

1693 shows the progress being made on the bodywork.
The following week (8th September) was another rostered turn for me. This time on the EE Type 1, D8137. Last year I had been rostered on this loco a fair bit, this turn was to be my first of 2018! However, fate conspired against me and Driver, Richard S. Before all that, though, attention was turned to 'Peak', 45149. Simon T needed a hand with removing a leaking brake cylinder and seal. Simon fired up the Class 04, 11230 and, with Richard S, manouvered the 'Peak' over the pit on Road 9.

With 4270 having a boiler wash out on Road 8, 45149 is positioned on Road 9. 
With Simon off getting tools from the CMDG's Fruit D van I had a nosey around the outside of the loco. The'Peak' is, other than our Class 73, the locomotive I am least acquianted with so I decided to have a look at the bogies and external hardware. The bogies are of a Bullied design and were famed for cracking under speed and rough stress...something that hastened the Class's withdrawal in the 1980s. 45149 has a couple of small cracks but they are all very closely observed during examinations and are still well within agreed tolerances. In fact, very little (if any) movement of these has occurred since the locomotive was withdrawn from BR service in the mid 1980s.

The crack in No2 end bogie. 
With Simon's return we ventured into the unsavoury confines of the pit. These pits are usually used by the steam engines for clearing out ash pans and other hugely filthy jobs.
The underside of 135 tonnes of prime Class 45. 
The offending cylinder was on No1 bogie at the far end.

The offending cyliner casing and its uncooperative joining nut.
The casing removed and a problem encountered. Its full of oil, grease and dirt. This needed clearing out before the casing was cleaned, primed and repainted

The errant brake cylinder. This was also removed, cleaned and refitted.
The cylinder had leaked and become clogged with dirt and solidified grease and oil. I cleaned the dirt out and went into the oil store to use the paraffin bath to remove some of the ingrained dirt.

Once cleaned it was back to the Fruit D to clean and prime the casing. Simon had started cleaning out the cylinder and was nearly ready to refit it. With the wire brush, the dirt came away easily and within the hour was painted in primer. With the primer dry, the top coat of chassis black went on.

The cleaned and refitted unit. 
With the unit back in place it was time to go and prep the Class 20. Elsewhere in the yard members of the steam department were busy moving a tender with the Class 04. However, the tender took a disliking to a set of points and decided to jump the tracks blocking Roads 7 to 11. The Class 20 was steadily warming up on.....Road 11! The only locos not affected by this mishap were the Class 73 or Class 26. Richard S was passed on both but the decision was taken to use the Class 26, D5343, as the ED would not cope well with an 8 coach rake on diesel power. D5343 was hastily fired up, prepped and rolled off shed to work the last service to Cheltenham some 20 minutes late.

During the following week, the Class 20 had an unexpected trip to Winchcombe on the 12th. Neil C was required to delivery a flat wagon containing scrap rail to the P'Way yard at Winchcombe before bringing back the wagons that would be used as the 'Troublesome Trucks' for the Thomas weekend. One of our P'Way colleagues took a couple of photos as well as photo of the Winchcombe based Class 03, D2182. The following are courtesy of Jonathan Taylor. Thanks Jonathan.

Resplendent in its new coat of paint (although some aspects aren't in line with BR standard colour schemes), Class 03, D2182 sits in the yard at Carriage and Wagon. (Courtesy of J Taylor)

D8137 arrives at Winchcombe and backs into the P'Way sidings with a single bogie flat. (Courtesy of J Taylor)

The Class 20 then prepares to propel the 'Troublesome Trucks' back to Toddington. (Courtesy of J Taylor)
Finally, speaking of Thomas and Friends, the weekend just gone (15th and 16th September) saw our last Thomas themed event. With costs increasing year on year and the Trademark holders requiring a greater share of the money, it was decided that the very popular weekends would come to an end. On the Saturday I was paired with Simon on 'Peak' 45149 doing the Winchcombe - Cheltenham shuttles. The first thing we needed to do, after prep, was to pull Class 37, 37215, from the confines of the shed.

In autumnal sunshine 45149 draws 37215 out into the yard. 
After running LE to Winchcombe we needed to back into the P'Way sidings to collect the scratch rake for the service. The trackwork in P'Way is very heavily ballasted and, with the track itself laid in a fairly haphazard way, a careful procedure is always required. It is also on a curve so sighting is difficult requiring, not only the Guard but also, the Secondman to convey hand signals to the Driver. Everything is done at a crawl.

After coupling the 'Peak' prepares to draw forward into the platform. 
Back in the yard at Toddington, it appeared that someone had forgotten to move Class 04, 11230, into the dock siding with the 'Troublesome Trucks'. However, he seemed happy enough to stay where he was!

Someone seems happy!
The Sunday was a much busier day, not only on the public side, but also in the shed. Work was continuing on Class 24, D5081. The Oil Priming Pump was removed on the loco; it had seized and would require a like for like replacement. Ben E also carried on with needle gunning the bogies. There was also more work on the Class 122 'Bubble Car'. Some prep work was also carried out on an ongoing requirment with the boiler on D6948. The loco needs to be retro fitted with a boiler pressure gauge in each cab. Only a couple of people are capable of working the boiler at present, requiring them to act as 'Boilerman' whenever it needs operation, however, it is hoped that the lead up to Christmas (yes, I used the 'C' word!) a number of Secondmen will be trained to operate it and lessent he requirement for a third member of footplate crew. This though, requires, as terms of insurance, both cabs to be fitted with pressure gauges to ensure correct operation. This will be a long and costly job but safety critical.

On the service front, due to not being able to raise a crew for the Sunday, 45149 was replaced by 47376 'Freightliner 1995' at short notice. Richard W and David F crewed the Brush Type 4; myself and Matt P crewed 37215 on the Toddington - Winchcombe shuttles alternating turns with the 'Really Useful Engine'.

47376 runs round at Winchcombe.

Class 47 and Class 37 front end profile. 47376 runs round before heading to Cheltenham whilst 37215  waits in Carriage and Wagon for the arrival of Thomas.

 At the northern end of the line, the Class 117 was utilised on Toddington - Broadway shuttles. 'Daisy' was the only 'mainline' diesel that actually wore a face througout the weekend. The faces that were made for the 'Peak' and the Class 37 were not officially licensed by HIT Entertainment therefore we were not allowed to use them. Those that remember the original series will probably already have noticed that 'Daisy' was actually a Class 101 DMU! But, why split hairs?!

'Daisy' departs for Broadway as we wait to run round and return to shed...our job done.