Saturday, 15 April 2017

Gala news and the week that was...surprisingly quiet!

First and foremost some BIG news. It may only be April but the final touches are being put to our Summer Diesel Gala line up and we can announce the locomotives that will be appearing over the 28, 29 and 30 July, subject to the usual caveats that come with operating 50-60 year old locomotives! As well as our own home main line fleet this year sees TWO visiting locos heading to Toddington, the first time for a long time (if not, ever!) that this has occurred. The full listing of appearing main line locomotives will be:

Type 1 - Class 20
At the recent GCR Diesel Gala Class 20, D8098 departs from Ropley.
In celebration of the 60th anniversary of the introduction of the class with British Rail our own D8137 will be joined by D8098, courtesy of the Type One Loco Company Ltd. Pairs of Class 20s were a very common sight on the Honeybourne line during the 1960s and 1970s and this will recreate that scene. D8098 is normally resident on the Great Central Railway.
Our other resident Class 20, 20035 (CFR 2001) which is undergoing component recovery will be on static display in the yard.

Type 2 - Class 24, 25 and 26
At the recent GCR Diesel Gala, Class 25 D5185 rests between turns.
Our second visitor comes in the shape of another Loughborough based locomotive Class 25 D5185, courtesy of the Northampton Type 2 Group. A popular runner at its home base and across a variety of preserved lines since returning to traffic in 2013, the locomotive will fill the void left by the withdrawal from operation of our Class 24, 5081 which will be on display in the Diesel Shed. Our other Type 2, Class 26 D5343 will also be in operation throughout the weekend.

Type 3 - Class 37
Both of our ever popular Class 37s, D6948 and 37215 will be in operation over the weekend.

Type 4 - Class 45 and Class 47
Class 45 'Peak', 45149 will be in service throughout the weekend along with Class 47, 47376 'Freightliner 1995'. 47105, which is undergoing long term overhaul, will be on display in the Diesel Shed.

Electro-Diesel - Class 73
Not normally a regular performer, other than on permanent way trains, the Gala gives our resident ED a chance to stretch its legs. E6036 will be in use over the weekend on selected services.

The full list -  

Class 20, D8098 (courtesy of the Type One Loco Company Ltd)
Class 20, D8137
Class 20, 20035 (static display)

Class 24, 5081 (static display)
Class 25, D5185 (courtesy of the Northampton Type 2 Group)
Class 26, D5343

Class 37, D6948
Class 37, 37215

Class 45, 45149
Class 47, 47105 (static display)
Class 47, 47376 'Freightliner 1995'

Class 73, E6036

It is hoped that some of the new extension beyond Laverton, towards Broadway, will also be available for us to run trains for the first time utilising either top and tail or via DMU.

The gala website and timetable/ticket booking should be online by the end of the month so keep an eye on the GWSR website ( Please do remember that the event is ALL TICKET and no free entry will be allowed to any of the sites throughout the weekend. One day rover tickets will cost £21 online or £23 on the day with discounted 2 and 3 day tickets available on line also. Loco allocations will be added later. Ticket prices include access to all open 'backstage areas' including the Diesel Shed and our Carriage and Wagon Workshops. As with previous years a free bus connection from Cheltenham Spa national rail station direct to the GWSR's Cheltenham Racecourse station will be provided on Saturday 29th and Sunday 30th July.

Onto other news..........

This week has been a very quiet one in the Department. With the running season starting to get in to full swing, a number of events being prepared for and, of course, the Easter getaway, running maintenance is the name of the game as far as the majority of the fleet is concerned. Last weekend, 47376 'Freightliner 1995' worked the weekend GREEN timetabled services along with the DMU. The following excellent photographs are courtesy of Malcolm Ranieri...many thanks, Malcolm! We are so blessed to have a number of excellent photographers who are regular visitors, volunteers or affiliated with the railway and some of the best scenery around.
47376 'Freightliner 1995' has the power applied as she passes the Royal Oak pub at Gretton working towards Toddington. (Courtesy of Malcolm Ranieri)
In glorious sunshine 47376 'Freightliner 1995' prepares to slow for a stop at Gotherington. (Courtesy of Malcolm Ranieri)
47376 'Freightliner 1995' passes the Winchcombe bracket signal on a working from Cheltenham Racecourse. (Courtesy of Malcolm Ranieri)    

As with all running days the green 3-car Class 117 DMU L425 was also out and about performing the 'Laverton Shuttles'.

Class 117 DMU with Driving Motor Brake Second (DMBS) W51363 leading arrives at Winchcombe. Driver Jeff Lacey is ready to hand over to he token. (Courtesy of Malcolm Ranieri)

Jeff exchanges the token pouch with Signalman Keith Newman on arrival at Winchcombe. (Courtesy of Malcolm Ranieri)

Although owned, primarily, by members of the Steam department under the auspices of the Cotswold Diesel Railcar Group, the operation of the DMU comes under the Diesel Department umbrella. The CDRG own one full set, the Class 117, but also own Class 122 'Bubble Car' W55003 (currently under restoration) and, a further 'power twin' formation that will be made up of Class 117 DMBS W51360 and Class 107 DMCL (Driving Motor Composite with Lavatory) Sc52029, also under restoration. As L425 is used very intensively any maintenance is undertaken when it is deemed most convenient by the CDRG - the sight of a bogie in the yard at Toddington on Good Friday demonstrating that a bogie swap had happened at some stage during the week.

DMU bogie awaiting maintenance.

Good Friday saw the RED timetable with the Class 26 rostered for one round trip. One of the extra 'duties' for the diesel crew on this timetable is to act as 'Thunderbird' in the event of a steam engine failure. Whilst waiting to prep the loco and head off shed some minor work was undertaken elsewhere. On D6948 Mark S drained the boiler water tank and removed the two gauges and float mechanisms for repair. As the tank holds about 800 gallons, had only been filled a few weeks prior, and the boiler used once in that time, it took some time for the level to drop far enough for the dry removal of both gauges! Plenty of time for using a boiler of a different kind!

B Side gauge removed on D6948. Despite the tank being full it only ever registered as being less than a quarter full! A side always registered that the tank was full!! Hopefully this work will stop wet feet from inadvertent overfilling!
Finally, one notable excursion was made by one of the unsung 'heroes' of the department. Class 03 D2182 is usually confined to Carriage and Wagon at Winchcombe. Due to a shunt being required to rearrange some of the 3rd rake of coaches over in the P'way Sidings it made a rare foray along the main line on a service day, even if this was limited to the confines of Winchcombe station.

A rare sight on a running day. C&W pilot D2182 ambles through Platform 2 at Winchcombe heading for the P'way sidings. (Courtesy Malcolm Ranieri)

D2182 shunts the 'scratch' rake and removes a couple of coaches over to Carriage and Wagon on the 'Cotswold' (on the right as you look at the picture) side of the running line.
Would you believe that, at one point, D2182 was part of a children's play area in Leamington Spa?! A link to a picture can be found here (picture remains copyright of MasonPhenix19).

The magic of restoration!

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Green is the new......

The past weekend saw the GWSR have it's second Volunteer Recruitment Fair. Last year was a bumper year all round and it saw a first, highly successful, Fair that saw the volunteer staff numbers rise still further. With the ever approaching Broadway opening next year the need for even more volunteers is a primary priority. On the Sunday Andy Durham, Tony Richards and I  (with a number of visitors/helpers) were given the job of trying to sell the delights of the diesel department......shouldn't be too hard, surely!? We had a number of interested parties that put their name down as interested in working exclusively with the Diesels - a number of specialist engineers, a welder and a number that had no engineering skills at all but were keen to get their hands dirty. We also had a number of people stop by to ask questions as they were curious as to what we did (and why), some who just wanted to ask questions and those who were potentially going to volunteer but wanted to check out their options first. All in all it seemed like the weekend was very productive.

The beautifully laid out Department table!
It was also a Green timetable running day which meant one steam engine, one diesel and the DMU. D6948 was rostered to make its bow on normal service trains after its restoration. On the Saturday she had worked admirably (with one slight fault occurring) and Sunday was another good day. The sunshine really showed off the BR Green livery and many a comment was passed about how good she looked and sounded. Heading the maroon rake one could almost imagine it was the Western Region in the 1960s! Unfortunately the boiler was only used in anger on one run on the Saturday due the warm, sunny weather but, on that run, seemed to work well after being tinkered with last weekend. Guess we'll have to wait until later in the year to use it again to heat the stock.

Neil Carr awaits the tip from the Guard on the 1330 Toddington - Cheltenham Racecourse.

With the 'Right Away' given D6948 makes her way towards Cheltenham.

Despite lots of members of the public milling about work was still required on the fleet to bring them out of their winter slumbers. This involved a shunt during mid morning which gave the lucky public present in the diesel shed a first hand, close up, look at these machines being moved. Queue many comments of  'Aren't they impressive' from the assembled public!! With cordons up to prevent inadvertent public access, Matt P used Class 47, No. 47376 'Freightliner 1995' to move Class 73, No. E6036 and Class 20, D8137 out into the yard for ongoing maintenance. 47376 was having its post winter shakedown ready for its first use of the year. The Class 20 was having more work on its Exhauster and Compressor group.

Under the watchful eye of Tim L, Matt draws 47376 'Freightliner 1995' into the shed.

Steve M 'goes under' to couple up his Class 20.

One of the most dangerous jobs on the railway - coupling up!

D8137 is drawn out into the sunshine as the public are kept at a safe distance behind the camera.

Elsewhere in the diesel shed, keeping well out the way, Kev (the current Department Manager) was busy organising some of the sizeable amount of spares that have accumulated in the Growler Group container. A mundane, but vital job when keeping 100 tonnes of 50+ year old locomotive in working order. 

And, finally, Sulzer Type 4, No. 45149, owned by the Cotswold Mainline Diesel Group (who also own Sulzer Type 2, No. D5343 (26043)), was sat out on the depot apron having its batteries charged after its winter maintenance. When in BR service the loco carried the unofficial name of 'Phaeton' which was applied at Tinsley Depot in Sheffield. During the 1980's the painters at Tinsley went through a spate of 'namings' with many of its allocated locomotives that still wore standard BR Blue or Revised Blue liveries receiving painted on embellishments that covered a variety of subjects including birds, warplanes and mythical creatures. Included in this list was another GWSR resident, 47105, that received the name 'Goldcrest' in 1989.

The heaviest loco on the GWSR, Class 45 No. 45149.

Diesel Roster - 
47376 is out this weekend (8th and 9th of April) on the GREEN Timetable with three round trips between Toddington and Cheltenham. If the weather stays as good as it has this week then it is a perfect excuse to sample the most powerful locomotive in the fleet!

Over the Easter weekend we have the RED timetable which sees a diesel locomotive work the 1555 Toddington - Cheltenham and 1640 return. Rostered over that weekend are:
  • Class 26 (Sulzer Type 2) D5343 on Good Friday 13/04
  • Class 47 (Brush Type 4) 47376 'Freightliner 1995' on Saturday 14/04
  • Class 45 (Sulzer Type 4) 45149 on Sunday 15/04 and Bank Holiday Monday 16/04.