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!

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

A weekend of two halves.

The Saturday just gone saw a large group at Toddington MPD with work starting on finding fault and repairing 'Peak' 45149's expired No. 2 compressor. This compressor had become a little notorious given the noise it would make when it kicked in and had failed completely during our Summer Gala in July. Mike, Andy, Tony and Simon from the CMDG group made a start on removing the compressor from the 'Peak's' No.2 end nose and stripping the offending parts of the compressor. One of the high pressure cylinder scrapper rings was removed and replaced. By the end of the day the compressor was ready for testing and refitting.

Steve M continued on the stripping and removal of parts from his spares donor Class 20, 20035. It is hoped that over the winter shutdown an effort can be made on removing some of the larger items, such as radiators, from the nose of the Type 1 ready for assessment and potential overhaul.

Mark S continued with prepping the sole bar of 47376 'Freigtliner 1995' ready for welding in new sheet steel above the buffers. By the end of the day this had been completed and left to settle.

New steel welded to the sole bar of 47376 'Freightliner 1995' ready for painting.
Sunday was a different kettle of fish with only four of us in - myself, Mark S, Tim and Matt. On arrival at Toddington an unusual sight greeted those coming through the gate. With the Broadway extension seeing several ballast drops throughout the previous week, the ballast train was sat in Platform 2 with our ED, E6036, resting in Platform 1.

Clas 73, E6036, sat in a damp Platform 1 at Toddington on Sunday morning.
The empty ballast train waiting for its next call to duty.
With only the four of us in it was a touch on the quiet side - but still productive. With the Class 37's pretty much fit for service I carried on with the cleaning of the 'new' exhauster that was started by our YMG graduate, Chris. Not the most enthralling of jobs, but, if we are going to have a range of good quality spares across all the fleet to keep them all running, it'll be jobs like this that keep the back up stock healthy. Out came the needle gun and small wire brush to get off the more stubborn paint. Some of it STILL doesn't want to let go!

More stubborn paint is removed from the exhauster
Mark S continued with the body work repairs to 47376's sole bar. Having welded the new steel into place it was now a case of finishing them off, sanding down the welds and then painting. With this done, it was time to switch to sister machine, 1693 (or 47105).

Tim and Matt had continued with the cleaning, paint removal and repainting of the fuel pump gallery doors.

All clean and repainted. Ready for refitting.
Mark made a start on the No 2 end roof section removing some of the rotten metal work around the grilles before preparing new metalwork to weld in place.
No2 end roof section. Despite the metal work underneath looking rusty, it is in good condition.
The extent of the rust line across the grill.

Class 47s were notorious for the guttering at the boiler end (No 2 end) to rust away. The original damaged strip has been removed and a new section will be fabricated.
Despite it not being even 4pm, the light had started to fade quickly and the temperature had dropped to around 3C (overnight Sunday to Monday, Gloucestershire had the lowest temperatures in the country with -4C being recorded just 4 miles away at Winchcombe) meaning that time was running out to complete the metal work cut, prime and undercoat, and weld. By the time I downed tools, Mark had completed 4 sections with primer and had left them out to dry.

New Metal. Set out on the steps to dry.
Also in on Sunday, making use of the crisp winter sunshine and giving work on W55003 a rest, the DMU group were out in the yard giving L425 some much needed TLC. DMS W51405 has been out of the set since the Autumn Diesel Gala with issues relating to its engines. Some work has gone on, courtesy of George and the team, to get her back up and running before the Santa Specials. The remaining members of the unit, TCL W59510 and DMBS W51363, were split and shunted over the pits so that pre-exam work could be completed. George also used the opportunity to take care of some of the rectification of the ongoing issues with the engines on the W51363. With the unit in use everyday during the running session it gives the team precious little time to sort out any of the niggling issues that creep in. The following pictures are courtesy of the GWR Diesel Group/CDRC.

L425 sat in the yard. The DMU team undertaking some maintenance on TCL W59510. DMBS W51363 to the left and DMS W51405 to the right.
Into the pit! Underneath W59510.
DMBS W51363 after its wash and spruce up in the fading light.
Work on Class 24, 5081's wheel set paused for the weekend. However, progress has been swift with the first set of springs being placed and more of the brake rigging fitted. The Traction Motors have also had their first coat of black as have the brake cylinders.
Part of the brake rigging jacked up underneath the rear of 5081's wheel set. As you can see, the addition of the grey primer is now complete on the frame.
With 3 of the brake cylinders in situ (the fourth is on the floor centre left) the springs are now ready for fitting. The first can be seen in the centre of the picture.

Close ups of two of the springs positioned and awaiting attachment.
Finally, on a personal note, a couple of weekends ago, I was chatting with one of our longer serving volunteers. Derek Mills is one of our Departments' retail volunteers, an ex-operational volunteer in the department, and a former British Railways Fireman based at Bristol Bath Road during the late 1950s and early 1960s. We had chatted a lot over previous cups of tea of the fact my Grandfather was also based at Bath Road as a Driver from 1957 (moving from Newport, Ebbw Junction) and that we had a lot of common acquaintances that had worked there and/or St Phillips Marsh. Derek had been chatting previously with our HoD, Andy Durham, and had found out my surname in the course of the conversation. Having never previously known it, Derek surprised me with the information that he was my Grandfathers' first Fireman at Bristol Bath Road!

It's amazing how small this world can be sometimes!