Wednesday, 11 October 2017

When does a diesel steam?

A simple answer to the question posed in the title.......when it has a boiler fitted. Three of our locomotive fleet are fitted with boilers, however, only one is in service at the present time. Class 47, 47105, had an operational boiler until removed from traffic for its overhaul and Class 24, 5081, had an operational boiler until at least a decade ago. Class 37, D6948, is the only GWSR locomotive that has an operational boiler and that was fired into life for our recent Autumn Diesel Weekend. Mark S was given the joy of being Boilerman for the day with the help and expertise of Bob Clegg from the DEPG on hand. Although not overly cold, the green machine was used to heat the stock first thing in the morning to blow any cobwebs away in the two main rakes.

The pipes are attached, the cocks are open, let there be steam!
The Diesel Weekend is our final 'diesel only' fling for the year and, at least for this year, it was decided to keep things low key. We were also competing against a number of railtours involving heritage traction and a couple of other larger preserved diesel events so it was hoped to attract more families and day trippers, as well as the core 'bashers'. The weather was suitably mixed for early October and this also, perhaps, led to numbers not quite being what we had hoped. However, feedback, again, was excellent with a number of superb photographs and write ups appearing across social media.

On Saturday, with D6948 heating the stock, 37215 was moved into P1 at Toddington for a photo opportunity,
English Electric Type 3's in the morn.

Two era's of BR livery in one shot.

While we wait for the road with 37215, D6948 runs to shed to await its first service.
All the mainline locos (except the Class 73) saw action throughout the weekend. Both days saw a service utilising the Class 37s paired up in one direction and top and tailed on return. An ever popular diagram and, even with numbers down, was well patronised on both days.
With D6948 steaming away inside, 37215 gets set to lead the pair to Cheltenham Racecourse on the Saturday.

37215 and D6948 power towards Gotherington on the 07/10/17 with a service for Cheltenham. (Courtesy of David Dew)

After arrival at Cheltenham Racecourse, and with the 'Reds' glowing, 37215 passes D6948 as it runs round the train ready to lead the service back to Toddington. D6948 stayed at the back to heat the coaches. (Courtesy of David Dew)
After its recent tour of the East Midlands and Epping Forest, Class 26, D5343, returned to the GWSR just in time for the weekend and, despite running a little low on power (a fault with no current diagnosis), saw use over the weekend on a couple of round trips. As I was rostered on 37215 for the Saturday I only managed to get one photo of the McRat on a service train. It certainly sounded its normal 'chitty' self.

Tony looks out for the road as D5343 awaits departure from Toddington.
The 'Peak', 45149, had an early morning visit to Winchcombe to extract the 3rd Rake from the P'Way yard before running to Cheltenham to work the first service north. The 'Peak' was still running on one compressor after the flashover of the no.2 end compressor earlier in the summer but was still able to see out its duties. Rectification work on the errant compressor is tentatively scheduled for the close season over the winter. Again, due to being rostered on 37215, I didn't get a chance to get any pictures. However, I am indebted to David Dew who sent me a number of pictures he took throughout the Saturday....including one of 45149. Thanks again, David.

45149 approaches Southam Road bridge, Cheltenham, with a service from Toddington. (Courtesy of David Dew)
David also managed to get a couple of pics of me at the controls of 37215. One of the roles of the Secondman is to be competent at the helm of a locomotive, just in case the Driver becomes incapacitated. After a number of turns and a successful period as a Secondman, it is intended that the Secondman then starts training to be a Driver. As I was paired with one of our Driving Instructors, Richard S, I was afforded the opportunity to 'practice'.

A lone passenger waits the arrival of the 'Blue Beast' at Gotherington. I did manage to stop in the right place and let her embark her onward journey! (Courtesy of David Dew)
A spirited departure as Richard S keeps a look out behind. (Courtesy of David Dew)
Back at Toddington MPD, no loco was left out of the event. With our Class 73, D6036, sat in the yard awaiting a week of ballast work, our long term project locos were placed strategically at the front of the shed - 47105 on Road 11 and 5081 on Road 10 - evoking memories of Crewe Diesel Depot in the 1970s.
1970s Crewe Diesel or 2017 Toddington Depot??

Behind them, work was continuing on both locos. On 5081's bogie overhaul, Paul G, Mark E and a new starter (apologies to them for forgetting their name so quickly!) made headway on the priming, painting and reassembly of some of the brake rigging. 

The red oxide is added to the main suspension arms of the bogies brake set. They have had some preparatory work for reassembly but still need some seals before refitting to the bogie.
One of 5081's brake cylinders, primed and undercoated.
After being having primer added a few weeks ago, the first layer of undercoat has now been applied.
The same has happened to the traction motors.
The refurbishment of 47105's cylinder liners continued over the weekend, also, along with a few smaller jobs, including the refitting of some of the cab fittings. It is hoped that a couple of weekends with decent weather will allow the refitting of the pistons, cylinder liners and covers to finish off this part of the overhaul.

Sunday saw me rostered with Steve M on D8137. It had been a while since I was last rostered on the Class 20 so I was looking forward to it. A later start than the previous day allowed a little bit of work to be be done on 20035's component recovery. Steve was keen to drain the cooler group of anti-freeze with a view to removing the radiators for refurbishment in the coming weeks and using the anti-freeze with his other Class 20, 20228, down at Barry. After sourcing a number of barrels from behind the steam shed, we headed down into the yard to start draining. Steve had tested some that had been drawn out earlier and it had appeared to be of good standard. However, as it started to drain into the first barrel, it quickly became apparent that the system did not have as much in it as first thought!

With the drain cocks open, the antifreeze flows free, however......... only yielded half a barrel! The Class 20s have a number of other drainage pipes but, even these, did not provide as much as hoped.
With all the pipework and fluids drained, the next job is to lift these radiators (4 of them) out and get them refurbished.
With this all stowed away in Steve's container it was time to go and fire up 20035's sister, D8137, ready for its turn.
D8137 - prepped and ready for action.
47376 'Freightliner 1995' arrives at Toddington as D8137 waits in Siding 1 to drop onto the back and work the next service to Cheltenham. The gloom is noticeable in the way the Class 47's headlights are glowing.
It could almost be Winchcombe in the 1960s. D6948 brings up the rear of a Cheltenham bound service as D8137 waits to head north.

Also, on Sunday, the DMU gang were busy working on various small jobs on the Class 117 3-car set. W51405 is still sat in the yard awaiting its required maintenance and a possible call to C&W to have a bit of a spruce up. Adjacent to siding 1, the three new DMU Cars are parked up awaiting refurbishment. Whilst sat in siding 1 on the Class 20 I took the opportunity to take a couple of snaps.

Class 117 DMBS, W51372.
The interior of Class 117 DMBS, W51370. A lot of work lays ahead on all three vehicles.
Work has also continued on the Class 122 'Bubble Car' with more steel plate being added to replace existing, damaged body work around the 'Cotswold/Cheltenham facing' cabside. Further plating and fabrication work is needed to shore up the 'Cotswold' side of the body work before the primer and undercoat can be added to complete this stage.

With the running season drawing to as close, you have fewer opportunities now to enjoy our diesel fleet on service trains before 2018 and the grand opening of the extension to Broadway. The DMU will be out most days on the Blue and Red timetables. We have a couple of weekends of the Green timetable, and one of Red, which see the following loco allocations:

Sat 14 Oct - Green TT - Class 20, D8137
Sun 15 Oct - Green TT - Class 47, 47376 'Freightliner 1995'

Sat 21 Oct - Red TT (GWSR Food and Drink Fayre) - Class 20, D8137 
Sun 22 Oct - Red TT (GWSR Food and Drink Fayre) - Class 20, D8137

Sat 28 Oct - Green TT - Class 37, 37215 and Class 37, D6948 Top and Tail
Sun 29 Oct - Green TT - Class 26, D5343 and Class 45, 45149 Top and Tail

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

The (BR) Blue and the Green

Firstly, a correction from the previous episode. I wrongly added that our upcoming Autumn Diesel Weekend on the 7th and 8th October is all ticket. To clarify - IT IS NOT!!! The normal GWSR fare structure will apply over the whole weekend. For more details go HERE.

The weekend just gone saw our final Thomas and Friends event of the year. It is always a busy event that sees a very intensive timetable, utilising two of our mainline diesels and the DMU, the Class 04 and one of the steam fleet alongside the main protagonist. 45149 was put to work on the Cheltenham - Winchcombe services and 37215 on the Toddington - Winchcombe shuttle, alternating with Thomas.

The cheeky blue chap on shed on Saturday morning.
Saturday started off early. A 5.45am start from home to be on shed at 7am in order to meet up with my driver, Richard S, and to prep the class 45 - our locomotive for the day. On arrival, the 'peak' had been parked outside Road 11 attached to the battery charger.

The beast at slumber! My bag gets in on the act!
An external walk round showed all was well and it was ready to fire her up. 45149 is fitted with a mileage counter, something, I must admit, I had not noticed before - but, then, this was probably only my third time rostered on it. I wasn't sure if it was showing 250,080 miles or 350,080. If accurate, and showing 250,080 isn't far off the distance to the Moon which is 252,088 miles away!!! It would be interesting to know when this was set at zero and how long it has taken to get to this reading! Perhaps one of the chaps in the Cotswold Mainline Diesel Group know?

The Smiths mileage/distance counter.
Two hundred thousand or three hundred thousand? You decide!
After the internal checks and starting up, extracting 37215 from the shed, we were off to Winchcombe to pick up the scratch rake and head to Cheltenham. The weather wasn't particularly pleasant which was to put quite a lot of people off and the day wasn't as well patronised as usual. One group it didn't put off was BBC Gloucestershire's Live team who turned up around mid day with the GWSR's Commercial Manager, Colin Fewell. Our Department Manager, Andy Durham, was to get his 5 minutes of fame with 37215 during a brief 'show and tell' broadcast live on social media!
On the run round at Winchcombe. 37215 is in the P'Way siding awaiting the return of Thomas.

Awaiting departure as the weather improves. But, someone was late to the party! Guess who? he is!

Taken from Winchcombe Box after dropping off the 3rd Rake, 45149 awaits the road.

At 139 tonnes (45149) and 103 tonnes (35006) respectively, the heaviest/largest locos from the respective GWSR motive power fleets stand side by side at Toddington MPD.
Sunday was to bring much better weather which led to much improved attendance. Winchcombe was heaving with people and all trains were running pretty close to capacity throughout the day. A later start for me as I was rostered on the ever reliable and popular 37215. Cue plenty of cab visits, questions and photos. A cracking day was to end with a fantastic photo opportunity of two blue diesels in the same platform at Winchcombe. Both locos performed faultlessly despite 45149's continued compressor fault.

Beautiful in blue! 37215 and 45149 at Winchcombe at the end of the Sunday.
Meanwhile, on the Saturday, although parked up in the old dock siding at Toddington with the 'Troublesome Trucks', 11230 received attention to its engine courtesy of George and, its owner, Ian C. The Class 04 had failed during the week leaving Toddington MPD with no shunter - DES also being sidelined with serious wheel bearing problems. By the end of the Saturday the engine seemed to be running without issue.

Elsewhere at Toddington on the Saturday, things remained fairly quiet with few people in attendance other than those rostered or helping with the event. Tim and Ian from the Type 4 Group were busy working on 47105 and its continued overhaul. More work in the engine room and on the liners was completed bringing the project further along.
47105's roof space from the cab of 37215.
On Sunday it was the turn of Class 24, 5081, to have its bogie overhaul continued with. With D6948 and 47376 pulled clear and outside of the shed, the first coat of primer could be sprayed on to the first bogie. Both Traction Motors had also been cleaned and these, too, received their first coats of primer.
5081's bogie receives its first coat of primer.


5081's Traction Motors, all cleaned of 40 years of grime, also in receipt of primer.
Class 26, 5343, made it safely to the Epping and Ongar Railway for their diesel gala. Having suffered a slight failure in its last couple of days at the Great Central, the loco was back to fighting fit and has already worked a few turns on the old London Underground route between Epping Forest and Ongar in preparation for their gala. She is due to be back at the GWSR in time for the Autumn Gala.

D6948 and 47376 remain in operational condition with 'in service' maintenance being conducted as and when required. One thing that is ongoing with D6948 is a slight issue with its vacuum pipes. It has been known for a while that the pipes on the loco are difficult to resit on the 'dummies' when uncoupling from stock and are kinked when fitted back on the 'dummies'. Originally it was thought that the pipes that had been ordered and fitted were the wrong size. After comparisons with the rest of the fleet, all pipes were measured at 750mm - normal for BR diesels. After further investigation it appears that the pipes have been re-sited on the buffer beam at some point and this has, in turn, caused the issues with the pipes. Although not a serious issue a resolution is being investigated in order to reduce the stress on the pipes.

The GWSR DMU fleet also took delivery of its final Class 117 DMBS. W51370 joined sister W51372 and Class 107 DMCL Sc52029 in the 'awaiting restoration' line. Time will tell as to whether the owners see fit to restore them all or strip for spares. In the meantime, L425 suffered a failure on the 21st September which saw DMS W51405 replaced in the set by W51360 for the Thomas weekend. With the increased demands being placed on L425, the ongoing restoration of 'Bubble' 122003 and three 'new' trailer cars to look at restoring or stripping the small restoration team are becoming increasingly overwhelmed. So much so, an SOS has gone out from the Cotswold Diesel Railcar Group for more hands to share the load. If you are interested in lending a hand, even if you can only give up a small amount of time, then contact the group via email at or via their facebook site HERE.

And, its not just the DMU's that need additional help. As everything at the GWSR is kept ticking by volunteers all the groups within the Diesel Department are always on the look out for new people. If you are interested in giving restoration a go (no specific skills are necessary, just enthusiasm) and diesels are your thing then give us a shout via the GWRT website HERE, come and visit us at Toddington MPD or contact one of the owning groups direct -

The Growler Group - owners of 37215 and custodians of D6948 -

Brush Type 4 Fund - owners of 47105 and 47376 -

Cotswold Mainline Diesel Group - owners of D5343 and 45149 -

24081 Group - Owners of 5081 -

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

A quick update.

Just a short update on the last few weeks within the Department. Again, due to family and personal commitments, I have had a bit of a break from Toddington so haven't been able to bring a full scale report as usual.

However, things haven't stayed still in my absence. On my last visit, Mark B and myself got to work on 45149's rocker covers. The seals had started to perish causing some leaking so four were removed and, making use of the good weather, new sealant was added along with new rubbers.
Mark B makes a start on removing the old seals and cleaning the grooves ready for the new.

Ready for the adhesive!
Mike had squirreled himself away in the van with a wire wheel for getting rid of the more stubborn bits and pieces before the covers were re-sealed and re-fitted to the 'Peak's Sulzer lump. Elsewhere Andy M was busy working on the air feed system in number 2 end cab and Dave M continued working on 47105's liners.
Andy M gets intimate with the Drivers foot well of 45149.
The following weekend I volunteered to visit the Great Central Railway to 'look after' D5343 during the Sunday of the GCR's autumn Diesel Gala. Originally down to do two trips on the Rothley shuttle and one round trip of the full line, D5343 was pressed into service to cover the turns of the Heavy Tractor Group's 37714 'Cardiff Canton' which had failed earlier in the day. We ended up doing three full round trips with the 'McRat' working admirably and not putting a foot wrong. It was also interesting to crew a loco on another line, see how their crews work and operate and, of course, crew on a double track preserved line! The Class 26 should have arrived at the Epping and Ongar Railway by the posting of this tome ready for their coming gala before returning to the GWSR for our autumn Gala over the weekend 7th and 8th October.

D5343 stabled with an old friend at Loughborough - the DEPG's 'Hymek' D7017.

On arrival at Leicester North with the first round trip - little did we know that we would be doing a few more! Paired with another friend, Class 25, D5185.

On arrival back at Loughborough with the penultimate train of the day. Cue a 3 hour drive home....thanks M5!
Back at Toddington, Sundays mean the DMU gang are present continuing their work on the 'Bubble Car'. A corner had been turned this Sunday gone with the final plate welded in, sanded and door hinges re-fitted. All photos are courtesy of the GWSR DMU Group/CDRG.

The final panel is welded and smoothed on the side of W55003.

The door hinges go on and another objective is achieved.
In the afternoon W55003 received some final filling followed by its first application of undercoat.

Undercoat is applied.
And, finally, a note to remind everyone that it is our final all-diesel event of the year coming up - our Autumn Diesel Gala running over the weekend of the 7th and 8th of October. Over the weekend all of our Mainline locos (except the Class 73) will be in use at some stage. All details can be found here including timetables, loco allocations and ticket info. This event, like our Summer Gala is ALL TICKET. Come along and help us relieve the 1960s and 1970s for the final time this year.

D6948 and 47376 'Freightliner 1995' at Toddington during our Summer Gala in 2017.

Friday, 1 September 2017

Summer Holidays

Things have been a little quiet in the department as far as bodies on the ground over the last few weeks. Family holidays, work commitments but also the busy GWSR Summer timetable has seen the numbers on site at any time down in the 1s, 2s and 3s. That said, the activity in the department has not let up. August is a busy running period that sees a diesel turn on our 'Green' timetable up to three times a week coupled with ongoing 'Red' timetable trips over the weekends. Over the month most of the operational fleet, and visiting Class 25, D5185, have been used on timetabled services with only 45149 and E6036 sitting out - 45149 awaiting work on its misbehaving compressor. 47376 'Freightliner 1995' also had an additional trip out on a Friday 'Blue' timetable on the 25/08/17, taking place of the Class 117 after W51360 developed an engine fault. With W51363 only having returned from Winchcombe having had a new coat of paint and a spruce up, and only the chocolate and cream rake in use, the DMU turn was taken over by the 47 with the Maroon rake. W51363 was returned to Toddington on the Thursday but had not gone through its 'fitness to run' exam in time to be reacquainted with its brethren in L425. Normal play being resumed on Saturday.

E6036 gets an outing to Carriage and Wagon, Winchcombe, to collect Class 117 DMBS W51363 after its mini overhaul. (Courtesy of Dave Clark, C&W Blog)
W51360 was parked on the apron outside Toddington MPD over the weekend where work on its engines could take place. With W51363 back in traffic W51360 will act as back up until further assessment as to which remaining vehicles jump to the front of the refurbishment queue....Class 117 DMBS, W51372, or Class 107 DMCL, Sc52029 (or even the remaining Class 117 vehicle still to arrive). After initial assessment by the CDRG W51372's engines have been inspected, started and are in very good condition having been fully refurbished not long before going into storage - this car being a member of the unit used to transport workers into the Channel Tunnel. The electrical systems also appear to be in good condition so this one could have just jumped to the front!

W51363 sits in the sunshine outside Toddington MPD on 27/08 awaiting further work on its engines.
Elsewhere with the DMU's, George and the crew have continued to work on W55003 with more sanding, filling and priming having been done around the northern end cabsides. If you are Facebook savvy you can keep up to date more regularly with progress here. One of the team generally posts regular updates on Sundays.

As mentioned earlier many of our mainline locos have been used on the weekday 'Green' and weekend 'Red' timetables. The week just passed saw 47376 'Freightliner 1995' used on the Tuesday and Thursday 'Green' and D6948 used on the Wednesday 'Red' timetable. 47376 also got pulled out of the hat to work the 'Blue' substitute timetable on the Friday. 

47376 'Freightliner 1995' approaches Cheltenham Racecourse with the 1110 ex-Toddington on 24/08/17. (Courtesy of Mark Elvey)
EE Type 3, D6948, waits to leave Toddington on the 23/08/17 with the 1555 to Cheltenham Racecourse. (Courtesy of Peter Smith)
The Bank Holiday weekend saw Class 37, 37215, take on the 1555 Toddington to Cheltenham and 1640 return services in stunning sunshine. Yes......sunshine on a Bank Holiday weekend! I certainly know as, having been rostered on the Sunday and covering a turn on Monday, I ended up getting sunburnt! Cue sore forehead!
BR Blue always looks good in sunshine. 37215 sits outside Road 11 waiting to be fired up on 27/08/17.
Despite the running time for the fleet maintenance has continued on the long term projects. The remaining parts on Class 24, 5081's number 1 bogie had all been removed and the bogie now raised away from the wheels to release the dampers. These are now being lined up for overhaul along with the brake rigging. New springs have been sourced and are now just awaiting arrival. More cleaning needs to be completed before the bogie is put back together, primed and painted.
Number 1 bogie from Class 24, 5081, sits up on blocks after being lifted clear of its wheels.
Also on the 27/08, Mark S set to 47105's remaining liners with the wire wheel clearing some of the accumulated dirt and grease.
Mark S gets to work with the wire wheel on one of 47105's A Bank's liners.
Meanwhile, Simon and myself got on with stripping some of the smaller, salvageable bits and pieces from inside our donor Class 20, 20035. This loco was converted for working in France on the construction of the Lille TGV line and still wears CFD orange. However, it is in an awful state externally but, internally, most components are in reasonable (if oil and algae covered) condition. Most of pieces removed were around the cooler group, which is probably one of the most exposed areas given that the radiator fan is housed in the roof above. We removed some of the smaller air tanks around the compressor before moving onto the cooler group pipework which, despite being reasonably exposed to the elements, were in pretty good condition. The judicious application of oil, grime and general muck probably helped maintain the overall condition.
An accumulation of some of the odds and ends removed from within the nose end of 20035.

Assorted bits of pipework and a water tank. Most of the pipes are salvageable and can be utilised on the owner's other Class 20's, if needed.
Tools of the trade! Closer inspection of the environs give an idea of the overall condition of the bodywork of the loco.
After working around the cooler group we moved back towards the cab end and looked at what might be of worthy condition behind the engine. Several electrical switches were removed along with a few more bits and pieces from around the auxiliary generator and the air control system.

One of the traction motor blowers within 20035.

20035's power unit (or corner thereof) with some of stripped electrical and air control systems.
With all the bodywork decay, rust and stripped paint it was possible to see some of previous liveries worn by the loco in BR service.
BR Blue shows through the rust and CFD Orange on one of the air vents.
Talking of summer holidays, Class 26, D5343, is off on its travels again. For the last few weeks it has been at the Ecclesborne Valley Railway in Derbyshire, primarily for their gala but is also being used on timetabled services over the last week. As with all our locos the McRat has been faultless, coping admirably with the feared 1 in 27 climb to Ravenstor. Some photos of the 26 courtesy of Jason Pountney...thanks Jason.
D5343 heads towards Wirksworth on the Ecclesborne Valley Railway. (Courtesy of Jason Pountney)

D5343 runs round its train at Duffield on the EVR. (Courtesy of Jason Pountney)
The loco will be on the move again in the next few days to our friends at the Great Central Railway, Loughbrough, in order to take part in their late Summer Diesel Gala. A reciprocal arrangement after having Class 20, D8098, and Class 25, D5185, visit the GWR for our gala. The loco will also be used on a number of normal scheduled services at the GCR before returning to the GWR via another stop at the Epping and Ongar Railway for their Diesel Gala at the end of September. 2017 has certainly been the year of the McRat!

September now sees the timetable move into the autumn sphere. Most diesel running (other than the DMU which runs on all timetables) is now confined to 'Red' timetable days over weekends. There is also a 'Thomas' weekend at the end of September. Loco allocations are as follows (with usual caveats for dealing with 50/60 year old locos)...

2nd and 3rd Sept  - Class 37, D6948 (Red)
9th and 10th Sept - Class 47, 47376 (Red)
16th and 17th Sept - Class 20, D8137 (Red)
23rd and 24th Sept - Class 37, 37215 and Class 45, 45149 (Thomas and Friends)
30th Sept & 1st Oct - Class 37, 37215 (Red)