Monday, 12 February 2018

Brass Monkeys

My first weekend at Toddington MPD in a number of weeks and winter was still very much making its presence felt. Temperatures started at 2C when I left home and, as I approached the Cotsolds, it slowly dropped to around freezing. The diesel shed is usually a good place to be, out of the wind, with it usually being a few degrees warmer. Today was the complete opposite......even with two heavy duty diesel heaters on all day it barely seemed to break above 'frigid' cold! Outside, a constant drizzle and swirling wind didn't make being outside any more appealing - our P'Way colleagues braving it to carry on putting in the Depot's new southern turnout.

Brass Monkey just out of shot!
However, prior to the events of the weekend just gone, a little update on some of the work that I have missed across the fleet and, we start with the DMUs!

At our AGM in January it was announced that Class 117, DMBS W51370 had been offered for sale. A number of offers were received with one being accepted that sees the DMBS heading for the Whitwell and Reepham Railway in Norfolk.

W51370 with her new owner, Paul. (Courtesy of the CDRG/GWSR DMU)
As a consequence Class 107 DMS, Sc52029 will now be refurbished along with W51372 (the second Class 117 bought with W51370) with one of the two being paired with W51360 to create a second, power twin, DMU set to go along with set L425 and the 'Bubble' car. Speaking of which, the 4th Feb saw the DMU team back working on the 'Bubble' car in the David Page shed. After initially having all windows refitted the last one fitted was removed again due to poorly fitting window seals. After a bit of readjustment the rubbers and glass were refitted and the carriage now has a full complement of glass. More rubbing down and priming of bodywork was completed and the new diesel heater fuel tank was collected ready for refurbishment and refitting beneath the floor.

The new diesel heater fuel tank. (Courtesy of the CDRG/GWSR DMU)

Primed.....but not quite ready to fire! (Courtesy of the CDRG/GWSR DMU)
It didn't end there! W51372 also recieved some attention with the stripping of the ancillary components from no.2 engine ready for the engine to be dropped. This also included having the cooling system drained, the fuel system isolated, air intake disconnected, exhaust dropped off and freewheel assembly removed. All are stored awaiting refurbishment.

L425 has also received some much needed TLC with DMS W51405 having its engine dropped and removed for overhaul after a number of troubles blighted its use in the last few months of the 2017 running season. The whole set has also had some sprucing up with guttering being cleaned out and general clean inside and out.

A few blogs back I mentioned that Class 37, D6948 was awaiting the fitting of its new Type 3711 AVR (Automatic Voltage Regulator). During the locomotives retro-refurbishment it was decided to fit a more modern Brush AVR however it had proven to be a little troublesome in the primitive surroundings of a Class 37 engine room. In a modern engine room (these Brush units were fitted to the Class 57s) these AVRs are very stable but, the amount of flashing, banging, arcing and sparking that goes on in the Class 37 engine room was causing unsettling interference and leading the AVR to trip. The Type 3711 AVR is the same as fitted to our Class 20 and our other Class 37 and, these units have proven themselves very reliable. The only problem is that, like all heritage spares, they are becoming harder to come by. It also sees the wiring in D6948 become 'standard' again. At some stage prior to preservation a modification was done to the wiring that made it non-standard to the rest of the Class 37/0 subclass. This is to be reversed over the next few weeks. 

A shiny new Type 3711 AVR unit. This is the spare and, no, it isn't pink! It is a trick of the light in one of D6948's owners' kitchen! (Courtesy of P. Smith)
The unit, similar to the one above, has now been fitted in D6948's engine room by Mark S and Dean, thoroughly tested and has not flagged up any issues. However, a full shake down in running mode (hauling a train) is yet to happen. A spare has also been bought to cover any failures. Elsewhere, other work on D6948 that is going to take place over the next few months includes a modification to the blower motor circuits to see them run in series rather than in parallel making them run quiter and extending the bearings' life span. It will also mean a modification to the BMR1 relay in order to run at a 1/4 of the current. 

Finally, on the Class 37 front, 37215 will have work to reinstate the DSD or Driver Safety Device at some stage during 2018. The DSD has been isolated on the loco, certainly since I started volunteering, due to a persistent fault. This will need detecting, evaluation and eventual rectification in order for the system to be fully operational.

So, onto the weekend (well, Saturday) that was the 10th Feb. Only 4 weeks away from the start of services for the 2018 season and, 6 weeks away from the opening of Broadway. It was a very quiet day with only four of us in attendance - myself, Tim, Dave M and Mark S and, as mentioned above, it was COLD! Work was centred mostly around Class 47, 1693 and its ongoing overhaul. Tim and Dave were busy with the rocker and injector covers. Dave was cleaning them and Tim was re-fitting all the injector springs. It was too cold to continue with the top coat of paint on all the covers. I was let loose on the oil bath cleaning oil, soot and general congealed dirt off of various parts.

A spring from one of the fuel injectors from 1693.
Dave drew the shot straw!
On Road 10, Mark S was working in the engine room of the Class 24. Some of the brass seals on a number of the tanks had started to weep and needed resealing. This proved to be easier said than done! The seals had seized in place and no amount of 'coaxing', threatening, or foul language loosened them up! Even heat expansion didn't free them up (although it did provide some small respite from the cold!) and Mark resorted to cutting the first few, only to find that, with one tank head, the metalwork was a lot thinner than anticipated.

That isn't going to help!
The bogie overhaul on 5081 has also progressed further with more top coat being added and the brake system almost fully back in situ. The traction motors have been reunited with their bellows and some areas top coated.

More bits fitted and top coated.

Its starting to look more like a bogie.

Traction motor bellows back in situ.
In my last blog I photographed Class 20, 20035 sat on Road 11 with one of the plank wagons previously stored at Hunting Butts tunnel. It was unclear why the wagon was attached to the '20'. As I wandered down the yard I noticed that there was quite a bit of the '20' now missing and the plank wagon was full of 'stuff'. Well, the cooler group has now been completely removed from the nose end, most of it being deposited in the plank wagon rather than have it strewn over the yard. It will all be stripped down, refurbished and used for spares across the owners other Class 20s. Mystery solved!

Various parts of the roof section and cooler group removed from the loco and stored in the plank wagon.

The void left by the removed cooler group and roof section.

The cannibalisation begins on 20035.

Sunday, 21 January 2018

Not quite a winter wonderland...

Saturday, 20th January 2018

With a fair number at Toddington work continued on many fronts this weekend, coupled with a rather rushed AGM. The accumulated snow in the car park at Toddington, scraped off the asphalt back in late December, was still taking up a number of parking spaces! Now just a heap of frosted ice!

Firstly, a bit of an update on Class 45, 45149. As you may remember the 'Peak' was failed on day 1 of the Christmas Cracker event when it wouldn't take power and then wouldn't restart when shut down to try and reset it. Well, after much investigation, it was traced down to a small relay in the Electrical Cabinet that had stuck. Its amazing how such a small part can prevent a 135 tonne engine from working!

The offending part, the orange assembly in the centre of the picture. (Courtesy of A.Durham)
The 'Peak' is now back among the operational ranks with preparation being taken for the 2018 running season.

Another update, this on one of our smaller, yet equally important, locomotives. Again, you may remember that our yard shunter 'DES' has been out of service for some time after its middle axle seized. After assessment, a disappointing quote for repair and a further assessment, it would appear that the initial diagnosis was not quite as bad as thought.

The damage after the offending axle had been removed before Xmas.
The owners have received quotes from a number of manufacturers for a new bearing fitting - some more reasonable than others - and, its now a case of assessing the options and moving forward.

A final update, this time from the Cotswold Diesel Railcar group. With the running timetable for 2018 seeing a reduction in the amount of time the DMU is in operation (increasing the maintenance time) and the rapid progress on overhaul of the 'Bubble Car', the group have decided to put Class 117 DMBS W51370 up for sale.

W51370 when it arrived at Toddington in July 2017. (Courtesy of the CDRG/GWSR DMU)
The unit arived during the summer of 2017 along with fellow DMBS W51372 but has been deemed surplus. Work will now focus on the refurbishments of W55003, Class 107 DMS Sc52029 and W51372.

The Cotswold Diesel Railcar Group also have a new website that you can get more regular updates on the DMU's......

So, to Saturday, and with a fair number in attendance because of the AGM work was centred around the Class 24, Class 26 and Class 47, 1693. Down at the headshunt, P-Way were 'enjoying' the conditions putting in the new south turnout and, out in the yard, Simon, Tony, Andy D, Andy M set to work on D5343, trying to stay as much out of the elements as possible. With work on the cooler group having been completed attention turned to the exhaust system which had had a leak in the bellows since BR days.

Class 26, D5343, enjoying the continual drizzle over the pit on Road 8.

The offending exhaust pipes. The leak was identified in the middle set of bellows in higher pipe, but both sets were coming off.

Easier said than done! But, they eventually submitted.
After the AGM, the quartet were joined by Richard G and myself to spread out over the other jobs that were remaining. Richard G set to cutting out new gaskets for the last sections of Cooler group pipework, working with Andy D and Tony to get it all fitted in place. Simon, Andy M and myself set about removing the sections of the exhaust pipework and bellows to establish how damaged the sections were. As you can imagine, the bolts weren't too forgiving after several decades in situ but, eventually, gave way to brute force.

The offending section.
The damaged bellows section. You can just make out the internal graining and carbon build up. At 10 o Clock on the inlet, you can see a raised lip. This is where the exhaust gases were escaping from the bellows.  
With the sections removed Simon set about assessing whether to refubish or replace the five sets of bellows removed. The final job was to refit the frost grill to the body side. I drew the short straw with Richard S - who had been undertaking some yard training with Martin, one of our 'new' starters. I say 'new' as Martin has previous railway experience and is being fast-tracked to operational roles.

Is that the right way up?
None of us could decide which was the right way round. Richard and I agreed that the way in the picture above was the right way as more holes lined up with the bolt holes in the body work. However, whichever way round you had it some holes would line up and others wouldn't!! Time is now of the essence with refurbishing and refitting the exhaust pipes and bellows as it has been agreed that D5343 will be heading to the Mid Norfolk Railway for their Diesel Gala in March and a month long stay. For nearly 60 years of age, she gets about a bit!!

Also, out in the rain, was spares donor 20035 - coupled to an unusual visitor. The Class 20 had been positioned on Road 10 so that component removal could continue. Most of the cooler group had been removed with only the radiators themselves to be lifted out. This will require lifting of the roof, which was scheduled for starting on the Sunday. It was coupled to a 4-wheel wagon - a 16T Mineral Wagon, I think. I'm not too knowledgeable about wagon types! This wagon had been stored, along with a number of others, at Hunting Butts Tunnel but I wasn't quite sure how it had ended up here. A lot of the wagons at Hunting Butts have suffered quite extensive vandalism however, as you can see from the photo, this one (other than graffiti and the wooden floor being burnt) is still in reasonable condition.

20035 and friend.
There was also a large group working on Class 24, 5081's bogie overhaul. Ben, Mark E, Paul and Martin set to progressing the overhaul after the Xmas break. Some work had been going on on weekdays with Paul and Martin getting the project to a point where re-fitting of the removed parts could now start. As it stood at the beginning of the day, the majority of the brake rigging that had been removed had been treated to red oxide, primer and a first top coat. The brake cylinders had been reattached to the bogie frames and some of the new/refurbished springs fitted. The wheels had also received various coats of paint.

5081's bogie at the beginning of the day. The frames are partly in undercoat, partly in top coat. The first springs are in place, brake cylinders are fixed to the frame and wheels have received primer. 

The cross frame in undercoat. The first parts of the brake rigging has been re-fitted and primed.  
The Traction Motors have also received a coat of paint and are awaiting their turn for refurbishment and refitting to the bogie, once the springs are all in situ.

Elsewhere in the shed, Tim and Mark S were busy on the two Class 47s. Mark had completed welding on 47376 with all the new plate on the buffer beam and sole bar now primed and ready for undercoat.
New plate at No.1 end. All primed ready for undercoat and top coat. 
Work had been ongoing on 1693's overhaul. Members of the BT4G had been continuing with removing paint above the cab windows at No. 2 end as well as refitting various parts to the cab interiors. Tim was busy refitting parts to the rocker heads that had been cleaned, primed and repainted. Quite a fiddly job with a lot of springs and small parts to refit to an awkward and weighty engine component. Mark S continued with preparing various body work and roof sections for welding of new metal work.

Earlier, Mark had removed an item from D6948 that had caused a problem on New Years Day when were both rostered. Whilst I had been filling the boiler water tank, the loco had been on pre-heat and Mark was doing his pre-service checks. Next thing, Mark shouting he could hear running water in the engine room. No reason why it should be running from the boiler so it was running from something above the frame. It was found to be coming from the pre-heater pump so this was quickly shut down. The down side was that the whole unit would need removing and inspected...the problem identified as a split seal on the pump that would need the pump to be replaced, at not an insignificant cost for the owners.

The offending preheater on the container floor awaiting collection by the suppliers.
 As the preheater has only run for around 15 hours in total the suppliers have agreed to collection and potential replacement of the unit under warranty.

Also with D6948, preparations have been made to remove the troublesome AVR (automatic voltage regulator). The owners had decided to utilise a more modern type to that used on 37215 and D8137 and had investigated and sourced a type used on the GWR Class 57s. After expected initial teething troubles it had appeared to settle down and become quite reliable but, on occasion, it would still trip causing loss of power and all air systems, leading to eventual emergency brake application. A possible cause was investigated but no logical sequence of events could account for a regular problem - the only conclusion being that it didn't cope well with sudden increases in voltage field, such as rapid changes in selection of direction when running round or shunting. A new AVR of the alternative type mentioned earlier was sourced from our friends in the Heavy Tractor Group during late 2017. This is due for fitting in the next few weeks. Staying with the Class 37's, an issue came to light with 37215 when it was used in lieu of 45149 on Day 2 of the Christmas Cracker. I'm not sure quite what issue was (others more in the know will tell me, I'm sure) but it was not anything leading to a withdrawal from traffic as '215 was used on the 2nd January for a stock transfer from Toddington to Winchcombe. However, it led to much head scratching and perusal of plans by Kev, Paul, Mark S and Dean prior to the AGM.

Finally, it had been hoped to provide you all with some of the plans and hopes for 2018 within the Diesel Department from the AGM. However, the Steam Department AGM, and then the subsequent joint AGM, both overran eventually leaving only 25 minutes for the Diesel AGM before we were evicted by the custodians of the Village Hall at Toddington. Therefore, only a very brief meeting was conducted that was a little short on detail in some areas. We will have to wait for the detailed minutes to be made available, however, some interesting titbits did present themselves. As a railway, as you may have seen from the Boardroom Blog, 2017 was another record year, with both Diesel Galas turning a profit - although the main gala in July wasn't as financially successful as 2016. New formats were used for both galas which have been adopted by other events across the railway and will be carried into 2018. Across the whole MPD site a number improvements have been given the go ahead, either for completion or to look at possible funding. This includes a new mess and training facilities building, new overhead lighting for the Diesel Shed and improvements of lighting in the David Page Shed and, more importantly for us in the Diesel Department, concreting extension of the apron outside the shed on Roads 10 and 11 ready for the inclusion of a new overhead gantry spanning both roads.

Class 117 DMS W51405.

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

The Last Hurrah!

Firstly, here is hoping that you all had a good Festive Period and New Year.

2017 has made way for 2018, Christmas has been and gone and, the last few weeks of life on the GWSR have certainly been a mixed bag. Crammed into the last two weeks of the running season there have been celebrations and disappointments in equal measure.

The 23rd December saw the new extension to Broadway joined to the rest of the GWSR network. Steve M and Richard S took the P'Way Team's Mess Coach and Tools Van up to the Childswickham Road bridge using the Class 20, D8137, and the Class 73, E6036. The team had completed the connection by lunchtime and, with the Mess Coach and Van now coupled to the loaded ballast wagons stored at Broadway, Steve and Richard eased the train into Platform 1 at Broadway Station.....the first train to call at Broadway since 1960. They also managed to drop the first load of ballast in the station. A huge effort by our colleagues in the P'Way team, although the fun doesn't stop for them just yet! Below is the triumphant picture of the P'Way team (courtesy of Jo Roeson/GWSR P'Way Blog) with the ED and train in the platform....

The Saturday P'Way gang (there is also a Wednesday gang) along with the first train into Broadway station. Hats off to you, Gents! (Courtesy Jo Roeson/GWSR P'Way Blog)
The Christmas period is always a busy one for the railway with the Santa Specials usually fully booked by the end of the Summer, the Christmas Cracker Mixed Traffic Gala and the New Years Day Races at Cheltenham. However, it wasn't anticipated that the weather would nearly curtail the running season early.

Christmas Eve saw Class 37, D6948 used on the last round trip on the RED timetable. One of the pre-cursors of the loco being based at Toddington was that it was retro-fitted with a steam heat boiler for providing heating to the rolling stock. Although Class 47, D1693 also has a working boiler, it is still in the midst of its overhaul, as is Class 24, 5081 although the boiler on the 'Rat' isn't operable. With the temperatures hovering around freezing the passengers would have welcomed heat all day round. However, after Christmas, temperatures plummeted for the BLUE timetable. The 27th and 28th December saw Gloucestershire (and most of the South West) receive a covering of snow. The fall in the Cotswolds was enough to see services suspended as roads became treacherous and signal/point rodding froze. The car park at Toddington became a skating rink and electricity was lost. A concerted effort was put into trying to clear the car park for the final gala event of the year....the Christmas Cracker Mixed Traffic Gala. For this event we would have three diesels out, along with two steam engines and the DMU. Rostered diesel locos were Class 37, D6948, Class 45, 45149 and, Class 20, D8137. I was rostered on D6948 which meant an 0730 clock on in order to shunt the loco out of the shed, preheat, set up the boiler and run the usual pre service check over. On arrival at Toddington it was easy to see the culmination of the effort to clear the car park.

Iceberg ahead!!!
The lying snow did give the whole area a suitably wintery feel - the temperature being about 2C. Dean (Growler Group Chairman and our Boiler Man for the day) and Driver, Andrew (an ex-Old Oak Driver and, one of our Traction Inspectors) had already arrived and we duly set about prepping the loco. Dean gave us both a crash course in operating the pre-heater (minimises the stresses of a cold start on the engine) before we went about checking the outside of the loco and refilling the boiler water tank.

Out in the yard the steam crews were busy prepping their steeds ready for the riggers of the day. At this point we were none the wiser to the issues that would raise their head during the day........leading to the steam crews, and myself and Andrew, working well into darkness.

With pre-heating having been done, we bribed asked Mark and Eleanor on GWR Manor 7820  'Dinmore Manor' to do us a turn and fetch D6948 out of road 11. As we don't have extraction in the Diesel Shed we try not to start locos up whilst under cover as the fumes could cause problems if someone happened to be working within the shed.

With the boiler filler hose attached, Andrew completes the remaining external prep on D6948 in the snow and ice. E6036 sits outside road 10 awaiting more attention.
GWR/BR Built Modified 'Hall', 7093 'Foremarke Hall' melts some of the snow and ice as she heads off shed. D6948 ticks over in the background before following.

Once off shed, coupled to 'Dinmore Manor' and the chocolate and cream rake, we were to run Class 1 (express) to Cheltenham Race Course. The snow that had fallen across the region made for some spectacular views but also required some careful driving by Andrew, with a 350 tonne trailing load behind.

The view from the Secondman cab window as we headed through Dixton. In the far distance, the hills of the Forest of Dean. 

The view forward of Dixton and Oxenton Hills. The snow still extant across the four and six foot and, at lineside.
We had left Toddington around 15 minutes down, under normal circumstances this would be easily picked up without further problems however, today was not to be forgiving. On arrival at Cheltenham we split from Dinmore Manor for it to run round and take the train back to Buckland. We then followed into Platform 2 to await the next arrival.

Awaiting the next arival at Cheltenham Race Course.
 The next 'down' service was hauled by GWR/BR Modified Hall 7093 'Foremarke Hall', she stayed attached and we moved onto the front to lead the train back to Buckland. However, we were to receive news from the Cheltenham Signalman that 'Dinmore Manor' was stuck at Gotherington as there was an issue with the token machine at Winchcombe and the path for the Manor into Winchcombe could not be given. It would be a 20 minute or so wait for us to depart. Cue another cup of tea!

Waiting for the previous 'up' train to clear Gotherington and rectification of the signalling problems. 
Things were to snowball (pun totally intended) from here on. 'Peak' 45149 was to fail on a 'down' service at Toddington which was to throw the timetable out by over an hour and set locos out of sequence, so much so, that things were hastily changed. On arrival from Buckland the 'Peak' seemed in fine form. However, when powered up to leave for Cheltenham, the amps died and no power could be obtained. Class 20, D8137, was called upon to drag the 'Peak' back to shed. On shed, the engine was switched off to see if it reset any issues. It didn't! In fact, the engine would not even turn over. It was left on Toddington MPD awaiting an assessment to ascertain the actual problem. Eventually, Andrew and I would find ourselves working one final turn to/from Cheltenham - getting back into Toddington at about 1745 and then having to wait around for the last working to arrive at Toddington so that we could shunt release the loco. Neil was to replace Andrew in the driving seat for this - Andrew needing to get off home.

With the headcode ablaze, dusk begins to settle across Winchcombe on the final run.
It did mean a run in the dark which, for me, was the second time in two weeks -  a third was to follow on New Years Day. The railway takes on a different air under darkness and requires steady attention from both crew on the footplate. It certainly gives you an appreciation of how the crews of old worked in those conditions, especially when interpreting lights and signals. You can understand how easy it was to mistake a car's brake light for a red signal lamp!

Day 2, Saturday, of the Cracker event was to be just as eventful. Our other Class 37, 37215, had been pre-heated and prepared to replace 45149 however, it was the turn of the steam department to suffer a failure with 'Dinmore Manor' being replaced by Pannier Tank 5526. There was also a set of broken fishplates to replace at Southam that saw services delayed. Despite all the issues faced by services the resilience of the railway shone through and things were concluded fully although all fellow crews agreed that two days like that had not been encountered for some time.

Below are some photos from Malcolm Ranieri from the Saturday of the Christmas Cracker event......

EE Type 3, D6948 rounds the curve at Didbrook. (Courtesy of Malcolm Ranieri)

EE Type 1, D8137 heads away from Winchcombe with a Cheltenham service. (Courtesy of Malcolm Ranieri)

Class 37, 37215, having replace the failed 45149, approaches Gotherington with a Buckland bound service. (Courtesy of Malcolm Ranieri) 

The Class 117 3-car DMU heads towards Cheltenham. (Courtesy of Malcolm Ranieri)
New Years Day saw the last timetabled services for the 2017 season. Again, I was rostered on D6948, this time with Mark S. We were to be joined by Bob Clegg from our friends at the DEPG along with a couple of gents from the DTG at the Severn Valley Railway. Bob was up to man the boiler and to give it a once over. The guys from the DTG were interested in seeing how it operated with a view to potentially reinstating the boiler on D1015 'Western Champion'. Before that D6948 needed pre-heating and the water tank refilling. This threw up a new fault that will need to be rectified during the close season - the pre-heater pump had fractured meaning that fluid was leaking on to the bed plate. Luckily the engine had enough warmth in it to prevent a cold start but this element will need replacing ready for the new running season.

Tim, Richard W and Dave M from the Brush Type 4 Group were all up to work on D1693. Several large parts, including the Piston Gallery doors required refitting meaning a spell under the gantry. A shunt was required to free D6948 but to also get D1693 under the gantry. During a break in the weather Mark went to power up the Class 04 shunter but it wasn't playing ball and refused to start. Plan B was to power up 37215 which was, again, on pre-heat ready to be used on a stock move to Winchcombe on the 2nd Jan.

Super Shunter Toddington style! 37215 positions D1693 under the gantry during a break in the weather.

Mark prepares to winch the Gallery Door up and into the engine room of D1693.

The Gallery Door is lowered cautiously into the engine room.
With this job finished the weather closed in once more and a steady drizzle set in again, although this was to die away shortly before heading out with D6948 for the 1555 service to Cheltenham. Dave and Tim went on to 47376 'Freightliner 1995' and the continuing work to reseal the solebar around the cabs. With No 2 end now done and primed, No 1 end has now been cleared ready for new metal work to be welded in.
Dave cuts away more rusted metal and clears the debris away from the solebar cavity on 47376.
With timetabled services now at an end all locos are now squirraled away for the winter maintenance programme. All the mainline fleet have repairs that are required - some more pressing than others - as well as exams and fitness to run assessments ready for the new running season that starts in early March. The shunters, 11230 and DES have repairs pending as does the DMU. Work on the Bubble Car is ongoing with a view to get it finished, ideally, for later in the 2018 season as well as restoration work on the Class 107 power car and the new Class 117 DMBS cars. 


Sunday, 17 December 2017

New Ground

Its been a month since the last blog update (families, eh?!) but, a lot has been going on throughout the department. Winter maintenance has thrown up a few more issues with our mainline locos, DMUs and shunters that need to be rectified before the new running season. Some have been alluded to before, some have come to light as a consequence of other work going on. First, a catch up with what has been going on prior to this weekend - 16/12/17.

One such loco to see the list of repairs needed lengthen has been the BRCW Type 2 (Class 26), D5343. The loco had been taken out of traffic in October, having failed in service when its Heat Exchanger developed a small hole and drained all its fluid. On the subsequent investigation it was found that additional repairs to its coolant system was required and the decision taken to do them during the winter. No2 Settling Tank was found to be in a poor state and this was removed (along with the radiators and frames) at the beginning of November.

The No2 Settling Tank is removed. 14/11/17. (Courtesy of Tony Richards)
Ian 'Chesh' Cheshire oversees the lifting of the Radiator frames through the roof of D5343. 14/11/17. (Courtesy of Tony Richards)
The tank was cleaned out and jet washed (our Head of Department drawing the short straw for that job!) and an assessment made on level of repair required. It would appear that the level required was significant enough that it has meant that any future repairs will see full replacement of the tank.

No, it isn't full of caramel!!! Yuk! (Courtesy of Tony Richards)
Our HoD, Andy, gets to work with the steam cleaner. (Courtesy of Tony Richards)
With the tank completely washed out, additional paint was removed and then repainted. The frame for the radiators was also rubbed down and then repainted, ready for refitting.

The exterior is rubbed down, the interior has had a new coat of rail grey. (Courtesy of Tony Richards)
The Coolant group space is given a clean. (Courtesy of Tony Richards)
Elsewhere on the loco it was found that there was significant oil carryover in the air system - likely to be caused by BR blocking the crankcase oil breather with a plug on No1 compressor. This is going to need to be re-instated to reduce the oil being forced out of the compressor and a new change over switch fitted, that had, apparently, never been included. This will also likely require the replacement of No2 compressor. All four Traction Motor bellows need to be removed and replaced as well, however, this should not prevent the loco being ready for the 2018 running season. 

D5343 finds itself in the unfamiliar surroundings of the steam shed, keeping P&O company.
Another loco to find itself in the unusual surrounds of the steam shed was 'DES', who needed lifting to get at its axles. DES has been out of traffic for some time with wheelset problems and the owners needed to get to the bottom of the extent of the damage. By lifting they were able to remove the offending axle and see what would need to be done to correct it. However, the diagnosis wasn't good and further investigation has been required to ascertain best way forward and the all important cost. 
DES sits at the back of the David Page Shed after its lift.

Something is missing!

Ah, there it is! But it shouldn't look like that! 

Part of the larger problem. Bearing casing has been ground out and seized. 
This means that, until the situation is rectified (however that rectification comes) Toddington MPD is having to rely on our Class 04 to undertake all the shunting for both sides of the motive power department.

47376 has been receiving new metalwork around the buffer beam, solebar and cabsides. Mark S has been alternating his welding skills between 47376 and sister loco, D1693, over subsequent weeks and, has welded new sheet steel to the solebar of '376 and applied primer at No2 end. No1 end has also been identified as needing new steel and Mark has prepared this ready for welding in place. 

Mark has also welded new steel on D1693's roof and work has continued on the refurbishment of the locos engine. On the 03/12, myself and Chris set about cleaning out the rocker heads ready for Tim to repaint them. 
A rocker head from D1693's Sulzer engine ready for cleaning.
Newly painted heads ready for refitting.
ED, E6036, was also recieving some attention to its brakes with Steve changing its brake blocks. BR blocks had a tendency to move off the centre of the wheel and would cause a lip to be created as the pad was worn down. 
Worn and life expired brake blocks from E6036. On the left hand block you can clearly see the lip that has been created from where the block has moved off the centre of the wheel. 

The new blocks to be fitted. 
Each wheel has two brake pads, therefore the ED needed 16 new blocks. Steve had already managed to change the blocks on a complete wheelset. However, with the second wheelset, Steve also decided to do some adjustment to the Slack Adjuster and its rigging which required removing the alignment bars. 

Steve starts to remove the slack adjuster and the alignment bars.
There's always one pin that needs some gentle 'persuasion'!
Once the required work had been completed, lubrication had been done and the new blocks fitted it was time to reassemble the rigging and set the slack. This proved easier said than done and took a lot longer, and with more headscratching, than initially anticipated. Something just didn't seem right and, with the light rapidly fading, Steve's patience was wearing a bit thin. The bars just would not go back correctly meaning they were rubbing on the wheels! With the light nearly gone, the 'Eureka' moment and the job was complete....not without a fair amount of bewilderment and cursing!!  

Despite being in the throws of winter maintenance, a loco may still be required to act as 'Thunderbird' to the Santa Specials that are running at this time of year. This is usually a purely steam powered affair - with occasional incursion by the DMU - mainly because of the need for heat, however, should an engine fail, its usually a diesel that will be put into action. And so occurred on the 9/12 when visiting tank engine 5526 decided it was too cold to play (in reality an issue with a sticking steam brake) and EE Type 3, D6948, was hastily woken to run the second train with a view to 5526 being repaired quickly enough to take over later in the day. D6948, as many will know, is fitted with a steam heat boiler, so it was a natural choice to rescue the service. 
D6948 at Cheltenham ready to leave with the next lot of customers for the 'North Pole'. (Courtesy of the GWSR Steam Blog)
And, so to this weekend 16/12/17. Originally due to be a Diesel Management Group meeting but, due to a high number of absentees, it was postponed. However, a shout had gone out for a Driver and Secondman to help out the P'Way department with the movement of their tools van and mess coach to Broadway. I, along with Richard Scott, volunteered and a 6am alarm was set for Saturday morning. On arrival at Toddington, a panic had set in. The water troubles that had befallen Tewkesbury on Friday had also affected Toddington and the whole area had no water. It was touch and go as to whether the DMU Santa service would be able to run, a big problem if we would have to cancel as a day was lost previously due to the snow with refunds given to all that booked that day. A second lost day was inconceivable, so a resolution was reached with Severn Trent Water to supply Toddington with bowsers all day. Sadly, this hadn't been sorted before Richard and I had to prep the loco and head to Broadway. Initially expecting the ED, we had been notified that this had been failed earlier in the week with power problems. Neil C had put the Class 20 on charge and preheat overnight and this was allocated to be the train loco. .
Dinmore Manor gets ready to pull the Class 20 out of the shed.

The cloud of steam from Dinmore Manor gave a brief respite from the cold....the temperature being -2C according to my car.

Class 73, ED, E6036 stands in disgrace awaiting the visit of her owner.
The preheat worked a wonder and after start up, within 10 seconds, the exhaust from the Class 20 was clear and the cab nice and warm. It was then prep, brake and power tests then across the yard to couple up to the P'Way tool van and Mess Coach. Our comrades in the P'Way department have been exposed to the elements a lot and, with temperatures plummeting, needed some form of respite for break/meal times. Up until now they have been sharing with the Broadway Station group but things were a little too cramped. Richard and I only too happy to traverse the new section! 
After coupling up, into Toddington station to request the token for the Broadway extension and permission to pass the stop board at Buckland. 
With the token on board, permission to pass the Stop Board at Buckland and Jo (from P'Way) safely ensconsed in the mess coach we headed off up the extension and into the unknown! As we were propelling, the view from the cab was restricted therefore both Richard and I were having to look out of the cabside windows as we trundled along at 10mph. I was seriously worried that my face would have frozen by the time we got to Broadway!

After arrival at Childswickham Road overbridge. The first time a Class 20 had been to Broadway since the line closed and the first time a mainline loco (except the Class 73) had been beyond the Stop Board.

The train obcsures the view of the goods shed at Broadway, but the station can be seen in the background.
We arrived safely, pleasantries exchanged with the guys already at the railhead, photos taken, before Nigel (P'Way HoD) dropped us back to Toddington with the token ready for the DMU services to Buckland. Testiment to the work the P'Way team have completed, the ride was very smooth and, even on the unfinished sections, the lack of a rough ride is proof of the fantastic job being done! 

Back at Toddington, Richard hurried off to the DMU, but I needed a coffee. Still no water, although the bowser had arrived and the Flag and Whistle had access for drinks. With Tony and Simon having arrived we headed over to start work on the right foot.
Coffee and bacon/egg baps. Proper job!
To work and refitting the removed settling tank and radiator frames. First, new gaskets had to be created. This job fell to me as Tony and Simon finished off the paintwork on the tank and radiator frame.
Measuring and cutting new gaskets for the Settling Tank.
By the afternoon, it was time to drag the Class 26 out of the David Page shed and under the gantry ready for refitting of the removed articles. Richard G also joined us to complete the task.

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The space that is normally taken up by the cooler group.

With the Class 04 fired up, firstly, we had to move the Class 45 and Class 117 DMS, W51405.

With Tony acting as Shunter, the 26 is propelled back towards the gantry.

After positioning the loco under the gantry, we winched the tank up to the cab door before Simon and Tony manhandled it into the rad room. Richard and I then changed sides and sent the winch down into the rad room before easing the Settling Tank into the correct position. 
Tony and Simon manhandle the tank into position with the weight being taken by the gantry. 

Simon removes some of the floor so that the pipes can be lined up properly and the new gaskets fitted.
With the tank installed correctly, we moved onto the radiator frames. Although heavier and larger, it was much easier to manouvere into the right places. 

Simon helps Tony (inside the radiator room) guide the radiator frame back into the side of the loco.  
The DMU trundles by on its way back from Winchcombe the North Pole. The blue DMBS is back in the rake whilst DMB W51405 is receiving attention to its engines. 
As the light was starting to fade it was time to go and meet Richard S, obtain the Buckland token and meet our lift back up to Broadway to head back with the Class 20 and P'Way mess coach. By the time we got there darkness had well and truly descended. The P'Way team were just tidying up, although in the malaise created by the news that the Pheasant pub at Toddington was closed due to the ongoing water problems and that they would have to go elsewhere for the post work pint. With the 20 now leading we could return to Toddington at line speed, although consideration was given for the number of foot crossings we would encounter and visibility as we headed through the darkness. Despite the work put into fencing and warning signs, some people in the locality are under the continuing assumption that trains no longer run and that they can still use the trackway as a shortcut or as a place to walk their dogs. Luckily, nobody was encountered and we had a safe, if extraordinary run through the Cotswold countryside in the dark with Jo catching a lift again with us - this time in the cab. 
D8137, route indicator lights ablaze in the gloom, prepares to head back towards Toddington. 
On arrival at Toddington to return the token and set Jo down before heading back to shed.

A quick reminder that we do have four more diesel running days before the season finishes. D6948 will operate on the final RED timetable days on Boxing Day and New Year's Day running the 1555 Toddington - Cheltenham and 1640 Cheltenham - Toddington services. The DMU will be out on the BLUE timetable on the 27th, 28th and 31st December as well as on the RED days.

We also have our Christmas Cracker Mixed Traffic Gala on the 29th and 30th December. Details, timetables and ticketing information can be found here. Come and have one last gala of 2017 before the final build up to Broadway begins. 

Booked to be running throughout both days are (subject to normal caveats and availability):

  • EE Type 1/Class 20 D8137
  • EE Type 3/Class 27 D6948
  • Sulzer Type 4/Class 45 45149.
Finally, on behalf of all within the GWSR Diesel Department, we wish you all a Merry Christmas and here's hoping for a properous 2018!