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.
|On arrival at Cheltenham and preparing to head back north.|
|Paul gets ready to head into No.2 end nose with Mark S to investigate the brake issue.|
|Cleeve Hill, above C&W, almost totally shrouded in low cloud.|
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.|
|Mark S and Paul G go through the end of day procedure on the boiler.|
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.|
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!!