Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Gala Week!

Its been a number of weeks since my last visit to the MPD; a combination of work and family commitments rendered a lot of my free time obsolete. However, like all things, life moves on and preservation stands still for no one. Since my last tome work has progressed at pace on all our long term projects.

The bogie overhaul continues on Class 24, 5081. After managing to get the bogie over a pit the remaining motor casings and the traction motors were removed ready for cleaning. More cleaning and debris removal as well as the remaining brake rigging has been removed. A few springs remain in position on the bogie, it's hoped that these can be taken off in the coming weeks.

The general overhaul on Class 47, 47105 has seen the remaining six cylinders removed and these are currently hanging up in the shed awaiting overhaul. More cab furniture has been refitted after repainting and renovation as well as additional engine work on the six refurbished cylinders.

Finally, the 'bubble' car has also seen a lot of progress made on the body work with some re-plating and sanding going on around the cab areas. One particular area of celebration was the refitting of the characteristic twin exhausts. As an additional goal, it is hoped for the engines to be restarted in the next few weeks.We also had an 'unexpected' arrival to the DMU stable in a 'new' Class 117 DMBS....W51372. Not quite sure where she came from or the reasons for arrival, but apparently, there is also another one on the way!

Class 117 DMBS W51372 is eased off the low loader in the car park at Toddington.


........the major focus of the last week has been the 2017 Summer Diesel Gala. The major event of the year for the department, where we can show off our fleet in full and the steam engines can take a deserved breather. This year saw the 60th anniversary (almost to the day of Day 1 of the gala) of the introduction of the English Electric Type 1 - later to become the Class 20 under TOPS. In the diesel era these distinctive locos were common visitors to the Honeybourne line in pairs on coal trains from the East Midlands to South Wales. It was only fitting that our first guest should be D8098 courtesy of owners, The Type One Locomotive Company, and the Great Central Railway. The loco was paired with our own D8137 after arrival and, after testing, it was decided that they would run in multiple...truly representing how they would have appeared on our line.

D8098 after arrival from the GCR.
Demonstrating its Scottish heritage....Inverurie Works 7/2/67
Our second guest, also from the GCR, courtesy of the Northampton Type 2 group was Derby Type 2 (Class 25) D5185 in lieu of our laid up Class 24. Another class of locomotive that would have worked on the Honeybourne Line from the London Midland and Western regions, although D5185 (or 25035 under TOPS) spent the majority of its life in the North West of England and in Scotland. Through the weekend she would occasionally be paired with our resident Class 26, D5343, to recreate a very Scottish scene in the heart of the Cotswolds.

D5185 on shed after arrival.

McRat and Rat together on Toddington MPD

D5185's co-owner and GCR Traction Inspector, John Pepper. I was lucky enough to accompany John on the Sunday at the gala as his Secondman. A very knowledgeable and enthusiastic preservationist and all round top man!

Our guests enjoying some early morning sunshine on the Thursday before the gala.
But, before all the fun, we had to do a major tidy up! As you can imagine, the shed area gets really filthy. Near 60 year old locomotives leak.....oil, diesel, lubricating fluids, water.....you name it, it ends up on the floor. On Wednesday morning myself and Tim set about cleaning the floor around Road 11 which would be the main public area. One of the biggest problems we have is caused by leaking Motak. When at operating temperature Motak is like oil. At room temperature it is like extra thick treacle and it sticks to everything! It also causes the concrete to blister and can only be removed by scraping it off the floor. When you have a 200 ft plus length of floor to clear you can imagine the effort needed to clear even half of it!

The before shot! Scooping up all the absorbent granules used to soak up oil, diesel and liquid motak. After removal the floor was steam cleaned, power washed and brushed.
Thursday would see an extension of the shed clean, however I was able to escape with Richard G and Tim to undertake the shunt of the yard.
Spares donor, 20035 is placed into the car park as a static exhibit.

D8098 and D8137 are paired up and the multiple working checked ready for the gala.
W55003 is prepped ready for its move onto Road 10 to be part of the restoration display with D5081 and 47105.
W55003 sees the light of day as it is moved into position.
After giving D5081 and 47105 a careful nudge back, W55003 is placed on Road 10 and just about clears the doors.

One of the more unusual pieces of railway stock we currently have on the railway is a 'Ballast Brush'. In order to free up 20035 to be moved into the yard we had to move the 'Ballast Brush' and a number of vans around. The Brush unit has no couplings and, in order to move it, you have to use a bar - similar to that used on HST's when attaching a locomotive to the nose end after a failure. Tim, having worked with HST's at Old Oak Common was well versed in the use of these and was able to assist with the coupling to DES.

The Ballast Brush being moved. The coupling bar is clearly visible bottom centre.
Nearly 9000hp of engine power lined up at Toddington MPD. L to R: 45149, E6036, 47376, D5185 and D6948.

D6948 awaits its call to arms.
With the shunt and clean up completed the anticipation started of what the weekend would bring. As with most outdoor events the biggest concern is the weather....and the good old British weather forecast didn't disappoint. Depending on who you spoke to, news report you watched or website you perused, the weather forecast ranged from glorious to world ending! In the end, over the three days, we had pretty much everything except snow. Luckily, most of the rain held off until the later stages of Saturday and Sunday although Friday saw almost constant, niggling drizzle. It takes a lot to dampen the diesel enthusiast and patronage, especially on Saturday and Sunday, seemed reasonably good - although, perhaps not to the levels we saw last year. All feedback, though, was excellent and all locos ran faultlessly. We do seem very blessed in this department and loco failures at all the galas I have been involved in have been rare. That said, we had a few 'issues' but nothing that required a loco to be stopped. Edit: 45149 did suffer a compressor flashover on Sunday afternoon but still finished its schedule using its other compressor.

More photos of the event........

D8098 and D8137 head away from Toddington on 30/07/17. (Malcolm Ranieri)

D8098 and D8137 arrive at Winchcombe on 29/07/17
D6948 waits for 47376 to depart with the next service to Buckland before heading via P1 to Toddington MPD.
Rat on a Rat. D5185's mascot looking out towards Broadway.
47376 'Freightliner 1995' approaches Toddington on the 30/07/17 with a service from Cheltenham Racecourse. (Malcolm Ranieri)
English Electric Type 3s D6948 and 37215 shatter the peace of Sunday morning as they head towards Hayles. The cows are totally uninterested as they sadly prove the old wives tale to be true. Not long after this the first of many showers made their way over Cleeve Hill. (Malcolm Ranieri)
BRCW Type 2 D5343 heads the next down service towards Hayles. The cows equally uninterested as the clouds gather. (Malcolm Ranieri)
Visiting Derby Type 2 D5185 heads towards Stanway heading a Buckland to Cheltenham Racecourse service. (Malcolm Ranieri)
45149 heads towards Stanway with a Buckland - Cheltenham Racecourse service on 30/07/17. (Malcolm Ranieri)
In an all too brief moment the gala for 2017 has been and gone and it is back to the normal timetabled services and routine maintenance although planning for the 2018 Gala, as the first to include Broadway, is already underway. We still have the remainder of this running season as well as the Autumn Gala to come. We are very privileged to have D5185 staying with us through August and she will be running a number of days throughout the month. Sadly, D8098 returns to the GCR later this week. Her visit, and subsequent running in multiple with D8137, proved very popular - in an ideal world it would have been good to keep both for a little longer.