Monday, 26 June 2017

Thomas and his Diesel Friends!

My first weekend at the GWSR for a few weeks coincided with our first Thomas and Friends event of the year. The railway puts on two every year, endorsed by the owners, HIT Entertainment, and they both draw in a lot of families over the weekend that, perhaps, would never visit a heritage railway under normal circumstances. This weekend, in particular the Saturday, would be no different thanks to some excellent weather.

I was down to crew 37215 providing the shuttle locomotive along with Thomas, himself. 45149 was also out on the Cheltenham shuttles, with 'Daisy' on the Toddington-Buckland section and 'Mavis' (the Class 04) in the siding with the Troublesome Trucks.

The 04 masquerading as 'MAVIS' along with the Troublesome Tricks at Toddington. 

On arrival at Toddington I was able to get a quick photo of the Class 04 and the trucks in the cattle dock siding. Further down the yard, 45149 was powering up ready to head to Winchcombe to pick up the 3rd rake before running on to Cheltenham and the Class 117 was being readied to play 'Daisy'....although I always remember 'Daisy' being a Class 101 when I was growing up!

'DAISY' at Toddington on arrival from Buckland. (Courtesy Alex Barnard)
As we weren't off shed until 1000 I took the opportunity to have a quick noisy around the shed to see what has been happening in my absence. Sadly, my phone was having none of it and I only managed to get a few pictures before it decided to throw its toys out of the pram and not work for the rest of the day! Luckily, others have stepped up on the picture front! Thanks peeps!

The work is picking up pace on the overhaul of 47105 with work continuing on the cabs. One thing I noticed was the fitting of a refurbished cab door at number 2 end. Although devoid of paint it will not be long before the undercoat process starts on this. Later in the day, Dave and Tim were around continuing with the overhaul work.
New, shiny, cab door on 47105.
More work has also been progressing on 47105's engine and a quick look through the engine room door shows an inspection panel missing and a view of the internals of the 2580hp Sulzer engine.

Inside the rectangular window!
Work has also been steadily progressed on the Class 24 and its bogie overhaul. The handbrake rigging has all been removed and, judging by the layer of dust on the floor, a substantial amount of cleaning and needle gunning has gone on.

The first of 5081's bogies. The layer of mess around the bogie demonstrates the amount of dirt already cleaned off.

The handbrake rigging has been removed and all the frame needle gunned back to the metal.

Perhaps the first time the frame has seen the light of day since the mid 1970's!?
Along the far wall of the shed was a variety of other bits and pieces including the disassembled handbrake rigging and the removed springs awaiting cleaning and assessment.

The various separated parts of the handbrake rigging of 5081's bogie along with five of the suspension springs.
By now it was time to get 37215 prepped and ready to go. We first had to get her out of the shed, easier said than done as she was sandwiched between the two Brush Type 4 locos! As 45149 was already on her way to Winchcombe, Richard S (my Driver for the day) went to ask Thomas for a hand pulling us out, to which he duly obliged. A few wheel slips later and 37215 was out in the yard ready for prep and 47376 was back with its kin in the confines of the shed.

Further down the yard, Andy and Tony were giving 5343 the once over after its highly successful visits to the Swanage and the West Somerset lines.

Andy (on the floor) and Tony take a breather as 37215 eases towards the headshunt.
 And, with that, we headed light engine down to Winchcombe to await the throngs and the arrival of Thomas on the first trip down from Toddington. Things weren't to go totally to plan! On our second trip up to Toddington, as we were running round, the remote horn at Number 1 end stuck outside the Signal Box! The poor signalman and those in the yard were treated to a continuous, monotonous tone at a substantial volume! Cue much laughing from a number of colleagues in the steam department. Andy and Tony appeared with ear defenders and a number of tools to try and fix it, however, it wasn't until Tim appeared and managed to isolate the remote horn solenoid that peace reigned again. We soldiered on using the horns at number 2 end.

On arrival at Winchcombe after horn troubles. (Courtesy Alex Barnard) 

Surely, there can't be many better sights? Noses and dominoes!! (Courtesy of Alex Barnard)

Beautifully framed. 45149 runs around its train before heading back to Cheltenham, Racecourse. (Courtesy of Alex Barnard)
As 'DAISY' heads on shed, 37215 heads towards Toddington. (Courtesy of Alex Barnard)
Elsewhere, whilst most of the railway was engaged in Thomas-mania, the yard was still active with plenty of other work going on. The Cotswold Diesel Railcar Group took the opportunity to conduct work on 'Bubble Car' W55003 and Class 107 power car, Sc52029. The 107 had been returned to Toddington from Carriage and Wagon so that work could be conducted. Many thanks go to our colleagues in the small, but dedicated, band in the CDRG for the updates and photos. You can follow them here and/or here.

Sc52029, still wearing (just!) its Strathclyde PTE orange, black and white livery hasn't been worked on for about a year. On Saturday, the team got on with a number of jobs that were becoming more pressing. The cab brake valve was stripped down, cleaned, inspected and rebuilt allowing it to move more freely and smoothly. The gear selector and throttle controller were stripped down and a lot of glass was seen in the top of both controllers tops and in the gearing underneath. This was cleaned out and lubricated. The air horn selector valve had been "robbed" to keep the 117 set going, the old selector valve was left on the floor. The selector valve was found to operate one tone only so, the valve was stripped down and a new operating mechanism was manufactured and fitted. The selector valve will be fitted at a later date. A new battery box has been fitted and it is hoped the new batteries and battery cabling can be fitted before the unit heads back to Winchcombe.

The driving cubicle on Sc52029. (Courtesy of the CDRG)

The gear selector mechanism gets a much needed clean and lubrication. (Courtesy of the CDRG)
On the Sunday, it was the turn of W55003 to have some much needed go forward on its overhaul. Courtesy of the CDRG:

As both engines have recently been overhauled and fitted, the day was mostly spent finishing off these installations. New coolant hoses were fitted, the Kenlowe fans were wired up, the newly installed batteries and battery charger was finalised, no 2 engine throttle motor was re-installed, copious amounts of tea was drunk.
No 2 engine was cranked over to check oil pressure and to move coolant around the engine, some small leaks were repaired
With the point of no return and the steam locomotives due back in, the opportunity to start both engines had past us by, it was decided that the Bubble needed to go back into her berth in the shed. I am certain, weather depending, she will be back out over the pit next Sunday, hopefully with the sound of 680's singing away.
A rare foray outdoors for W55003. (Courtesy of the CDRG) 

W55003 stands in the yard at Toddington MPD. (Courtesy of the CDRG)

No2 engine throttle motor, back in place. (Courtesy of the CDRG)
 Just proves that, whichever department you work in, tea is the universal conduit!

On to other is now just over a month until our department's major event. The 2017 Diesel Summer Gala is well into final preparations, and the marketing is now going to be ramped up.

The official event poster!

All information, including timetables and provisional loco allocations, can be found here. As it is our premier diesel event, we are all keen to ensure that it is a huge success. Remember tickets are available via the above link and, early purchase will save money over the on the day purchase. No free entry is allowed, a valid ticket is required for entry to all attractions.

Finally, July starts of in a few days and this signifies one of our busiest times with a steady increase in the number of running days in the lead up to, and in the aftermath of, the gala. The loco roster for July is as follows...with the usual caveats for unforeseen technical issues. Timetable details can be found here.

01/07 - RED - D8137
02/07 - RED - D8137

08/07 - RED - 47376
09/07 - RED - 47376

15/07 - RED - D6948
16/07 - RED - 37215

22/07 - RED - 5343
23/07 - RED - 5343

25/07 - GREEN - 37215
26/07 - RED - 37215    
27/07 - GREEN - 37215

28/07, 29/07 and 30/07 - DIESEL GALA 


Wednesday, 7 June 2017

So much for scratching around!

The weekend just gone (3/4 June) saw us already in to the 6th month of the year and back to normal running weeks after a number of 'event' weekends. This meant that heavy work could progress on the fleet and a large group turned up to conduct a variety of tasks, and not just on the mainline fleet.

Before getting stuck in on the Sunday, I decided to take advantage of the reasonable weather, to take a trip up to Buckland over the recently opened extension towards Broadway. All footplate staff had received an Ops Notice telling us to familiarise ourselves with the new track. As the Diesel Gala will see Top and Tailed running, I headed out on the Auto train to sample the new line. Congrats to the PWay guys on such a good job. Without their work we wouldn't be able to do what we enjoy doing.
Auto coach W238 'Chaffinch'. A forerunner to the event development of the DMMU
With the Auto Train being used on the Buckland shuttles, it meant that a number of guys from the CDRG could get to grips with some of the little issues on the Class 117. As the unit is used day in day out chances for maintenance are limited therefore every opportunity is taken. Some minor work was also carried out on the 'Bubble' Car as well, although I couldn't get any photos.

One of our yard shunters has been a little temperamental of late. 'DES', short for Diesel Electric Shunter, has had a few niggly problems but has soldiered on thanks to the small group who maintain it. This weekend saw some work done by Chris to get DES back into operational use as it has had a few issues with cutting out over the recent weeks. Fuel strainers and fuses have all been changed/cleaned, amongst other things, to rectify.

Work was also continuing on the long term overhaul of 47105. Ian, Dave and Mark S were busy with a number of tasks. More panels from the cabs were removed for repainting which allowed checking of some of the wiring and pipework leading to the control desk. 
With the panels off for painting the wiring and pipework can be checked in the cab of 47105.
Some of the bodywork also saw some long awaited attention with Mark S welding new panels onto lower body sides. He also smoothed down some of the earlier welds ready for a new application of primer. Work know seems to be gathering more pace now that a lot of the mechanical work has been completed.
Mark S smooths down earlier welding work ready for re-priming.
The other big job is, of course, on the wheel sets of Class 24, 5081. Initially, Mark E and Ben E started on the monumental job of clearing away several decades of dirt, rust and accumulated mess from the first of the wheel sets removed during the lift.They would be joined later in the morning by myself and Stuart on cleaning duties, with a view to removing the hand brake mechanism.
One of the worst jobs! Ben needle gunning away accumulations of dirt and rust.
Like father, like son! Mark and Ben work the tools on the bogie of 5081.
It didn't quite pan out that way and the brake rigging had to stay in situ to await another day, but during the cleaning process some interesting information was revealed from the frame. It would appear that the last time this wheel set had a full overhaul was a lot further back in the annals of history than first thought! Given that 5081 has been in preservation pretty much since the day it was withdrawn from BR stock on 5th October 1980, it was thought that the bogies would have received some major overhaul attention at some stage during its preserved life. However, it would appear that the last time the wheel set had received this kind of overhaul was at its last BR works 1975!! How accurate this is is obviously up for debate given that regular maintenance would have seen brake block changes and the like, but it would explain the amount of dirt and overall grime that existed on the frame!
One of the traction motors with the start of the handbrake rigging resting on it. Utterly encrusted with dirt and dust. 

At the end of the day 45149 was shunted across to Road 10 for charging. Mike, Curly and Mark W had been working on replacing the batteries and these needed charging ready for the 'Peak' to be used in a couple of weeks time. Also, at the bottom of the yard, Richard G was busy with the component recovery on 20035.
45149 is parked up on Road 10 ready for 'plugging in'.

Considering at the start of the day we were wondering what to get on with, a lot was actually achieved all round!

More details for the GWSR Diesel Gala have been released, including the timetables. There are additional links on the page that will take you through everything you need to know! Loco allocations will appear towards the beginning of July. They are accessible on the GWSR website here.