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.

STEAM!!! 
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.

Tuesday, 31 July 2018

As the dust settles....

Our visiting locomotives have returned to their home bases, the bunting has been pulled down for another year and the reflections on the 2018 Diesel Gala are well under way. On face value it would appear that everything has exceeded even the most optimistic of forecasts, even though the weather, yet again, conspired to ruin all the organisers' hard work.

I was not the only one keeping an eye on the ever changing forecast for the weekend (27, 28 and 29 July). After 7 weeks of blistering temperatures and wall to wall sunshine, all forecasts pointed to a marked change with rain, thunder and wind all on offer. On Friday as we all got together, a sense of impending doom was never far away as all talk was on the weather and how would it affect numbers. 

27/07 - Friday was, luckily, a nice, pleasant and warm day. Our guest locomotives had all arrived earlier in the week and a collective sigh of relief was exhaled when D832 passed its Fitness to Run exam. Just a week prior, the BR Type 4 Hydraulic had been having its tyres turned at Tyseley and it was touch and go as to whether she would make it. But, as I arrived at 8am, the yard was already coming to life as locos were placed in the right places and vendors had started to arrive. In the yard, Class 73, E6036, was on the unloading road as a static exhibit offering cab visits and a general view of the size of one of the smaller locos in the home fleet. 

E6036 sits in the early morning sun in the car park at Toddington.
Due to a lack of 'available' volunteers, I had offered to help out in the Car Park field as we were short and I wasn't rostered on until mid-day. Considering we have 900+ volunteers at the railway, its somewhat frustrating that on diesel events we always struggle to get volunteers to cover the required support roles - but that isn't a gripe for this blog! As I was slowly broiling in the car park, I wasn't able to get out and photo the various 'moves' that were occurring at Toddington. I did, however, manage to get round the shed to see the static exhibits before heading to the field. 

Inside the diesel shed, on Road 10, Class 24, 5081, was joined by Class 47, 1693, as well as shunters DES and Class 04, D2280

DES, it is hoped that the centre axle will be ready in the next few weeks.

Our newest shunter Class 04, D2280.

1693 takes a break from its restoration offering cab visits to those in attendance.

5081, on show in the shed. The newly refurbished No. 1 Bogie in clear view. No. 2 bogie is just to the left out of shot. 
All locos on display had information boards attached so that the public could see what is going on and to highlight some of the mechanical elements. Below are on the Class 24's bogie. 
  


After finishing in the car park, a stroll back to the mess room took in one of the 'drag' arivals at Toddington. Class 20, D8137 arrived from Broadway with the Class 117 in tow. What proved to be a bit of a master stroke was the addition of the DMU as a 4th rake of stock - effectively giving us DMU drags. George and the DMU team had disabled the direct drive meaning that 3 days of dragging the set wouldn't damage the engines. Haulage duties would be shared amongst the Class 20, the Class 26 and the ED. 

D8137 whistles its way into P2 at Toddington with the DMU. 
Later in the day Class 26, D5343, was utilised on the DMU drag.

D5343 heads off towards Winchcombe. 
Back in the yard, it was time to prep the blue EE Type 3, 37215 ready for her round trip of the day. I was rostered with the Gala's Chief Organiser, Peter Smith.
The Growler Group's pride and joy celebrating 20 years in operation. 
As we headed off shed, Class 47, 47376 'Freightliner 1995' had arrived back on from her exhertions in the Cotswolds. 

47376 rests in siding 2 at the end of its exhertions.
We were due to replace the 'Warship' on a service from Broadway. I had been waiting to come face to face with this beast of the Hydraulic world. Having driven then during his days at Bristol Bath Road, my Grandfather would wax lyrical about his love of the 'Westerns' and 'Hymeks' and his loathing of the 'Warships'...not because of their stature or the mechanics, but purely down to not being very 'Crew-friendly'! When you are up close they are certainly something different and, on both engines, they make a pleasing racket.

D832 'Onslaught' heads away onto siding 1. The DEPG's Bob Clegg catches a lift. 
On passing Winchcombe, it gave me the opportunity to photograph perhaps the railways busiest shunter, but one that rarely gets a mention - outside of the C & W Blog. Carriage and Wagon's resident Class 03, D2182, has recently had a new, much needed repaint into BR Green - complete with white wheels and copper capped chimney! Whether the copper capped chimney is your thing or not the loco certainly looks smart in its new colours. 

D2182 in its new coat of BR Green. 
28/07 - Dinah Washington said it best with 'What a Diff'rence a Day Makes'! Saturday was wet and wild. The wind had been howling all night and didn't let up all day, the rain was intermittent but heavy with the odd rumble of thunder. This bleak outlook was a worry that visitor numbers would take a nose dive. However, that seemed not to happen too much and all trains were well patronised and the car parks full. I was given a day on our second visitor, Hymek, D7017, on loan from our good friends at the DEPG. I had been impressed with the locos performance the last time she had visited and was glad to be able to experience it first hand. A proper Western Region scene was to greet me as I strolled into the yard. D7017 was dragging GWR Modified Hall 7093 'Foremarke Hall' from Road 9 as 'Warship' D832 'Onslaught' slumbered on Road 10.

D832 slumbers outside the shed as, behind, D7017 hauls 'Foremarke Hall' from Road 9.
On getting into the cab I was very surprised at how well set out it was.....they had even been built with a cooker, complete with oven!!

The compact cab layout of D7017.

How many other locos were fitted with an oven???
The 'Warship' was off shed first with us closely following. As we headed off shed D832 was heading off towards Winchcombe. I was sat in the back cab as we had a full cab up front - Driver Paul Tucker from the DEPG was joined by Neil Carr as Conductor/Driver as well as DES owners Paul Jones and his father, who came along for a ride into Toddington.

Twin Maybach's scream down towards Didbrook.
 
10 minutes later D5343 heads into Toddington from Winchcombe. We would slip onto the back to give the McRat a workout upto Broadway. 
After we arrived a Broadway we were accosted by 'Bert Ferrule' from the P-Way Department who had 'enjoyed' a nice leisurely walk from Toddington with one of his P-Way colleagues to check on a number of track anomolies that had been reported over the previous week. The hot weather had caused a number of issues - some less serious - and, after walking the 4 miles to Broadway, the chaps needed to view the track from the cab - either that or they couldn't be bothered to walk back! I probably wouldn't blame them for blagging a lift! Other issues had been reported down at Stanley Pontlarge (beyond Winchcombe) which resulted in P-Way putting a 10 mph slack in place for a half a mile.

D7017 in a rare break in the rain at Broadway.
On arrival at Toddington, another Western Region scene was too good to miss up as we parked up adjacent to Class 37, D6948, which had just pulled up and coupled to the back of the train in Platform 1. The ED, that had been in the car park on Friday, was now hauling the DMU around. Its place in the car park was taken by 'Peak' 45149. The 'Peak' was on restricted duties after suffering a partial traction motor failure in June as it was heading into Greet Tunnel. Although damage was minimal it has meant that the traction motor has failed and will require replacement. Until a time that the damage can be easily accessed and assessed the loco is able to run on 5 of its 6 motors as they are in series and can be individually isolated. Not ideal but it allows the loco to operate.

Green is the colour! Paul Tucker reposes in the Secondman's seat of D7017 as D6948 runs onto the back of the arrival from Cheltenham. 45149 photobombs from the car park.
Being out and about meant that I couldn't get many pictures of anything else. Luckily, we have a lot of very talented photographers that are associated with the railway. The next few are courtesy of Malcolm Ranieri and are all from the Saturday.....
D5343 heads towards Gotherington with a down service to Cheltenham.

ED, E6036 leads the Class 117 set away from Gotherington towards Stanley Pontlarge.

37215 heads past Gotherington's distant signal on its way to Cheltenham.

Visiting 'Warship' Class 42, D832 'Onslaught' approaches Three Arch Bridge.

D6948 heads away from Broadway under a rare patch of blue sky.

D832 heads towards Toddington as the clouds gather once again.

D7017 pulls into Toddington with an up train as the Class 117 set waits for its loco change before heading back to Winchcombe.
Thanks Malcolm for allowing me to share them.

After getting D7017 back to the MPD we had a 3 hour wait until heading out on the evening 'Beerex' with D832. After another deluge of rain I went for a wander around the stalls. It was good to see a nice mix of owning groups, model demonstrators and sellers, railwayana stalls and general interest exhibitors. However, another sharp shower had everyone diving for cover. 

Certainly not the pot of gold I was expecting!
Eventually, time came to go and re-awaken the Type 3 hydraulic. A headboard had been attached bearing the 'Cheltenham Spa Express' monicker. Although this named train was synonymous with Hymeks, it wouldn't have traversed the Honeyborne Line. But, what difference does it make in pres??!

Prep complete and headboard in situ.
 As if by magic, the clouds parted and we coupled up to the 'Warship' in P1 for the evening 'Beerex'. However, the 'Beerex' would just be a standard evening run as On Train Catering were unable to crew the Buffet. OTC are one of the departments on the railway struggle for volunteers - if you can spare some time and like working in catering, or just generally with customers, get your name down and come and help out.

In glorious evening sun. Shame it hadn't been like this all day.
 After travelling down to Cheltenham on the Hymek, I swapped so I could experience the 'Warship'. Well, it would be like describing chalk and cheese. The 'Warship' is a huge, chaotic beast of a locomotive. The cab spaces are HUGE! And, incredibly noisy as the gear box is directly beneath the floor and sounds like someone crunching the gears of a truck! It is an impressive piece of machinery but everything is at arms length from the driving position. Even at a little over 6ft tall, Peter S was having to lean forward to reach some of the controls!

Although we are sat in the back cab, with Mr Smith in the 'Driving' seat you get an idea of the gargantuan dimensions of the 'Warship' cab.  
On a personal level it was a great privilage to experience both of these locomotives at close quarters and I can't wait to experience them again!

Hydraulic Heaven at Broadway.
On arrival back at Toddington shed a strange smell was eminating from the mess room. Mark E had been threatening a BBQ for the last couple of weeks. This time he was going through with it! A quick scoff and then round to the Pheasant for a couple of beers! 

A very welcome spread!
On the way to the pub, a couple of opportunities to take some night time shots and test the camera on my phone. 

D832 and the skeletal remains of 20035 illuminated by one of the apron lights.

With the coal mounds in the foreground, D8137 rests in the coaling road.
29/07 - Sunday dawned in the same vein as Saturday...windy, sharp showers and grey skies. A recurring thought was that the weather would seriously affect visitor numbers. Sundays are statistically the quietest day of the three and this would be no different. However, the rain didn't affect the numbers nearly as much as was expected. For the final day I was rostered on our green Type 3, D6948 with one of the loco's owners, Kev Jarvis. 
D6948 after arrival at Broadway.
A strange turn that would see us start early, double head with fellow Class 37, 37215 before topping and tailing a couple of times with a full run Broadway to Cheltenham and finish late. As such, again, I have to rely on another of our photographers (also a Trainee Secondman) Alex Raybould, for pics. Thanks Alex!

D832 heads away from Gotherington with an up service.

D7017 heads through Hayles Abbey Halt with a down service.

With yours truly at the helm, D6948 runs light engine to the shed past Hymek, D7017.
By the time we got back it was time to put all the locos back in the shed. All the stalls had cleared away - many, earlier in the afternoon due to the weather.  

At the end of the weekend we had run 81 services over 3 days, covered over 1000 miles total, no services ran more than 5 minutes late and we did not suffer any loco failures. The weather, and a couple of other factors, failed to dampen the atmosphere that was to be enjoyed by over 2000 visitors. This was the benchmark, given the storming start to 2018 across all events, that the organisers had set as a target. Given that 2017 saw in the region of 1600 visitors, 2018 saw a 20% increase. Our biggest gala to date was a rousing success. 

Thanks has to be extended to all volunteers from all departments that helped to make the gala a success and allowed it to run very smoothly. 

Extra special thanks go to all our friends at the DEPG and West Somerset Railway for allowing D7017 to return again and for all the crewing and prep undertaken in the run up to and over the weekend. Also, to our friends at the Bury Hydraulic Group and the East Lancs Railway for allowing D832 to attend and for crewing and prep undertaken. 

Well, how are we going to top that next year??????!