The last month has seen a number of the maintenance tasks completed on a trio of our fleet, allowing all three to return to the active roster - or be close. Class 20, 20137 returned to the active roster at the beginning of the month after completion of its B Exam during April. The 'chopper' would make it's 2023 debut on the 1st May.
|20137 sits in the yard at Toddington on 11th May 2023. The loco is now back on the roster after having its B Exam delayed. |
The second loco to return to the roster is the BT4Fs Class 47, 47376 'Freightliner 1995', which had been out of service since the end of 2022 whilst the group caught up with a couple of outstanding maintenance jobs, including some attention to the exhaust system, and took the opportunity to give the engine room a refresh and repaint. The 47/3 returned to action the day after 20137 on the 2nd May. The loco, along with sister and fellow BT4F loco, 47105 would take part in the railways' first 'Double Up Sunday' on 7th May which would see both 47s working services in double-headed and top and tail formations throughout the day.
|47376 (l) and 47105 sit at an overcast Cheltenham Race Course station after working down from Broadway at the 'Double Up Sunday' event on 7th May 2023 . (Courtesy of 'RDD Driver')|
|Having run round, the pair await the 'RA' to head back to Broadway on 7th May 2023. (Courtesy of 'RDD Driver') |
47376 would also work a solo trip on, what was heralded as a very successful day. There is another chance to savour two Sulzer 12LDA28-C engines through the Cotswolds on Sunday 3rd September when both Class 47s will be paired up again for a whole day on the 3rd installment of the 'Double Up Sunday'. Details - https://www.gwsr.com/events/double-up-sunday-class-47
Finally, the last loco that is nearly back on the roster, is Class 37 37215. '215' was taken out of service so that both of its compressors could be removed and replaced with an overhauled set that the owning group had in reserve. Back in 2021 it was identified that both compressors were leaking and that efficiency was starting to deteriorate, so it was decided that both would be replaced. However, with D6948's repairs taking a lot longer to progress than imagined, '215' had to soldier on - until more pressing repairs were required at the beginning of 2022.
|Evidence of the leak on the top compressor of 37215.|
With the green one back in traffic, '215' could be taken out of service to get the compressors swapped, along with a couple of other jobs. So, on successive Wednesdays during late April both ailing compressors were removed.
|Keith gets to grips with the A-Frame as he gets ready to remove the top compressor from the nose of 37215. (Courtesy of Kev Jarvis)|
It's not an easy job to remove both compressors and just as difficult to slot in the new ones due to the restricted amount of room in the loco nose and the use of a manual A-Frame gantry.
|With the top compressor removed Hugh gets to grips with the bottom compressor, attaching it to the A-Frame chains. (Courtesy of Kev Jarvis) |
|...And out it comes! (Courtesy of Kev Jarvis)|
Fast forward to the 3rd of May and the 'Wednesday Gang' made a start on getting the 'new' bottom compressor into place and, on the 10th, the 'new' top compressor was lifted into situ.
|Growler Group Tech Officer, Paul Good, oversees the lift of the top compressor on 10 May.|
The lift on the 10th was to be a race against the weather as the previous day, and the forecast for the 10th, was to include lightning, thunder and hail. Not a great combination when working outside, using a gantry crane or having the hatches open on the top of the loco.
|With Keith in the nose, Paul guides the compressor in through the hatch. Phil B and Andy D are in charge of the chains. |
Luckily, the weather held off whilst the top compressor was winched into the nose and most of the pipe work was refitted.
|Phil B prays to the Compressor Gods as he helps to line up the top compressor with its support slots. |
But, after lunch it hammered down with incessant thunder and hail the size of raisins. Definitely not the time for working outside! Sadly, yours truly was the designated fetcher/carrier and several trips to and fro from the loco to the shed meant that, by the time we finished, I was drenched! Phil, Keith and Paul continued to refit all the pipework under torchlight.
|And, down it comes! Thankfully, we closed the hatches before it started!|
With everything back together, Paul wanted to test the system which meant prepping the loco for start up. With the prep complete, the brake selector in 'air pass', the Battery Isolation Switch (BIS) in and the controller in 'Engine Only' (EO), the oil pumps were started to prime the engine and allow a start up. Fingers were crossed that the compressors would kick in about 5 seconds or so after the engine fired.
With the engine started, the compressors kicked in as we'd hoped although air was leaking from a connection that had not been sufficiently secured. Paul, armed with a set of Stillsons, made short work of tightening the nut. However, even with the escaping air, it was a surprise to see the 'Main Res' gauge already creeping past 50 psi....then 80, then 100. Everything was going to plan.
The next checkpoint was to see if the safety valves would kick in at around 150 psi and return the main reservoir level to the normal operating pressure of around 120 - 135 psi. As the gauge hit 152 psi the valves kicked in and returned the pressure to 125 psi. Perfect.
The last check point was to see if the loco would be capable of completing a quick shunt and returning to shed under its own power. After conducting a power and brake check - something that is done as part of the service prep - 37215 completed the shunt and returned to shed without problem. Only the buffers are outstanding on the loco, but it is now fit for traffic.
|D6948 sits in the yard after acting as shunter and before its rostered turn on the 10th May 2023.|
D6948 continues to get mileage back under its belt after its own return to service. The fuel filters have been cleaned or replaced and the fuel starvation issue seems to have been corrected. The Class 37s will also have their own 'Double Up Sunday' on Sunday 6th August. Details - https://www.gwsr.com/events/double-up-sunday-class-37
However, before then we have the '1960s Green Livery Day' on Sunday 11 June in which D6948 will be rostered alongside the Class 117, L425 and 'Modified' Hall, 7903 'Foremarke Hall'.
|'1960s Green Livery Day' - Sunday 11th June 2023. Details - https://www.gwsr.com/events/1960s-green-livery-weekend|
There is also the small matter of our 2023 Diesel Gala over the weekend of July 7th - 9th, of which this years' visitor has been announced recently. There had been talk of where to go after having 50035 'Ark Royal' in 2019 and then 55019 'Royal Highland Fusilier' (along with 55009 'Alycidon' a month later) in 2022. Top of the wanted list has been a 1000 'Western' for a number of years but there are logistical and cost implications of using road transport to get them to the GWSR, therefore it remains a pipe dream for the time being.
That is also the case for looking at getting a bigger sized loco in for the gala, as transport costs continue to rise meaning less financial margins for bringing in big locos by road. Sadly, we are not able to look at the multiple engine convoys that arrive at the SVR, Swanage or WSR. However, we have a guest that has visited before but not for a long time - late 1990s, I believe! Our home fleet will be joined by Class 25 'Rat', D7659 (25309 under TOPS) courtesy of Waterman's Railways Heritage Trust and Peak Rail.
|WHRT's Class 25, D7659 after overhaul at Peak Rail. |
D7659 has returned to the heritage rail scene after an overhaul that has taken 23 years to complete due to many false dawns, having last worked in 1998. The loco was the final locomotive built at Beyer Peacock in Manchester before becoming the first preserved diesel to be re-certified for mainline use. The 'Rat' will compliment our home fleet nicely given that Class 26, D5343 is still out of action. Keep your eyes on our social feeds and the GWSR website for more up to date information on the timetables, ticketing and any changes that may occur between now and July.
Another loco that has made a triumphant return to the preservation world, that has links to the GWSR and Toddington, is Class 50 50021 'Rodney'. 'Dave', as it is colloquially known in the preservation world (a nod to the sit-com 'Only Fools and Horses') made it's new 'debut' at the Swanage Railway during their Gala and Beer Festival over the weekend of 12-14 May.
'Rodney' entered preservation in 1994 when bought by two private individuals and was moved to the GWSR at Toddington under the custodianship of the fledgling Diesel Department. The loco was fully restored and worked at the railway for around 18 months before being moved to Bo'ness. It would go onto suffer a catastrophic failure and be dumped at Tyseley. Back in 1994 the GWSR only ran for a couple of miles so it would be great to give 'Rodney' the full run of the line, if we can organise a visit in the near future.
Class 24, 5081, will hopefully be back in time for the Gala as well. The engine governor, that was removed and sent away for repair, has now been returned and is due to be refitted very soon. Hopefully it will see the long standing power fault resolved and the popular Sulzer can return to traffic.
|5081 at Gotherington during the 2022 Diesel Gala. |
Its fellow small Sulzer, D5343 is starting to reach the home straight regarding the metal work at no. 2 end. New metal sheeting has been welded to the front and has been secured to the sills that were manufactured through our friends at the SRPS at Bo'ness. Initial stages of applying primer has begun as well as the application of filler in areas that require it.
|The new steel plate on the front of D5343 now sits in place on the solebar utilising the new sills that has been manufactured through the SRPS. |
Whilst the welding and cutting has gone on on the cab front and sides, the engine room has also been having an overhaul and repaint. This has included having the engine room doors removed so that they can be repaired, primed and repainted. The oil and water pipes have already been completed in the appropriate colour schemes, as has the pipework in no. 2 cab.
|Jon and Tony get to grips with the bodyside engine room door, preparing it for repainting. |
D5343 will be on display during the Diesel Gala giving punters an opportunity to see the progress being made on the loco. It is also likely that Class 20, 20228 will also be on display.
Lastly, 'Peak' 45149 has been enjoying the sunshine as the rostered loco for the Sunday just gone. It worked its first PINK timetable day on the 21st May, racking up 84 miles.
|'Peak' 45149 basks in the late spring sunshine at Winchcombe as it waits the passage of the steam-hauled service on Sunday 21st May 2023. (Courtesy of Neal Whitehead) |