16/01/21 – East Coast Excitement

This weekend has been the railway’s East Coast weekend, bringing together visitors Tornado, Deltic 55019 and some of the home fleet. Both the Deltic and Tornado have been hauling the van train up and down which has been a pleasure to behold, and something I’d been looking forward to since the A1 arrived at the GC.

We’ve been spent our weekend putting up our temporary building, alluded to last week. You may remember that we tidied and cleared an area of the yard for this purpose.

Saturday saw Dave, Richard and I gathering the pieces of framework together and starting to make sense of the jigsaw puzzle before us. A second hand building with no instructions, and no idea if all the pieces were present it quite the challenge!

It wasn’t long before we got the first frame together, that being those with the doors. We then attached the side frames, using the perlins clamped to the GUV to steady the structure while it was built up. By the end of the day the frame work was completed, bar a couple of the roof perlins. Using my new impact wrench made everything very easy, how did we manage before these modern tools?

Sunday saw more of the gang in attendance, so we moved the cladding and roof sheets closer to the framework and continued the last few bits of the frame. The roller shutter got mounted using the Volvo while the van train was on the line, and we got one roof sheet fitted and bolted down.

Next week, we shall continue by getting the roof cladded and then making a start on the sides. Thanks, and see you then!

02/01/22 – Happy New Year

Hello everyone and happy new year to you all. Over the past few days, we’ve been sorting out our workshop and tool vans, but we’ve covered enough of that over the past few months so I’ll use the opportunity to review what we’ve done over the past year.

We started last year off with completing 1408, the ex-China Clay Slurry tank wagon and then making a start on the Esso tank, 3436. Then news of the 3rd National Lockdown came to us and prevented site access for a couple of months.

We were allowed back on to site initially to carry out routine maintenance on the wagon fleet. Starting with the Dogfish, then Grampus and then the rest of the wagons. All were brought down to Rothley for us to look at and carry out any work required.

Once April 12th came around, we were allowed to carry out non-essential work. Dave and Matt covered the signwriting on the Esso tank, completing that wagon. We continued work on what turned out to be one of our biggest projects, our Mess Coach.

At this time, we also quickly tackled the Creosote tank DB998926, adding that to the burgeoning tank wagon train.

Then the first of a few new acquisitions this year, the Ferry Tank, 500817. This cam with another 10ft wheelbase chassis destined for the Palshocvan body, B855667.

This time, we had begun the big push on the mess coach, getting that finished and back to Quorn in October.

The aforementioned Palshocvan was welded to its chassis, got a new roof covering, painted and released into the van train, though made its debut for a photo charter with the tank train.

Most of our vehicles, including the road vehicle fleet, were in use for Railways at Work Gala, with most of us dressing the part as well. We all really enjoyed this weekend and hope it will be as good next year.

Our 99th vehicle arrived soon after this gala, being 3711. This arrived from Meldon at the Dartmoor Railway. This vehicle arrived in quite a state and has had the braking rigging rebuilt just to get it able to be moved.

The Bogie Bolster was sat at Quorn waiting for us while we were working on the Mess Coach at Rothley. We eventually got around to working on this, starting by cleaning the chassis down and replacing a bolster timber. We also looked at the braking system, overhauling the vacuum cylinders and getting the slack adjusters sent away. This vehicle is now waiting for paint.

We also saw the team at Rothley overhaul the CCT, which was previously in use with us as a store. It has been emptied, welded and painted for use in the Winter Wonderlights. Both Matt and Dave assisted with the signwriting on that, which made it look a treat!

At this point, I’ll cover some of the other things that have happened. We’ve pulled together 6 BRUTEs, ready for a BRUTe train.

We’ve visited the Bluebell Railway and brought back a van full of spares. Dave and Matt have also been to the Chasewater Railway to assist in the signwriting of a VEA of theirs.

Despite the continuing pandemic, we’ve had a good year. We’ve completed 7 vehicles this year, with one of those being SC21202 which I think in terms of work equals around 3 or 4 vehicles! We’ve made more contacts with other railways and firms in the industry that have helped us out immensely. We’re looking forward to seeing what 2022 has to offer for us and will get some more wagons completed.

Next week, we’ll be somewhat back to normality, with most of us being back to work. I’ll wrap up this update by wishing you all a happy and healthy year ahead. I also want to thank you for your continued support. Join us again next week to see what we get up to.

28/12/21 – Bashing on with the Bolster

Some more progress made on our Bogie Bolster, B928135. The brakes have been tested and some floor planks replaced.

I hope you all had a good Christmas Day and got all the presents you were wanting from Santa. Before Christmas, we had a delivery of some presents of our own, courtesy of Rail Vehicle Components Ltd. We are, again, very grateful to Neil for getting these slack adjusters sorted for us, and know where to turn when it comes to getting anything else of that ilk sorted.

I went to Leek to collect the slack adjusters on 22/12. Not wanting to have them sitting in my car over Christmas, Nick and I were at the railway on the 23rd to fit them back to the Bogie Bolster. Once the obligatory tea was consumed, the Slack Adjusters were removed from my car and laid next to the wagon.

Starting at the North end, the slack adjuster was carefully lifted underneath and slotted into its safety loop and connected to the cross shaft. this was pinned up and the slack adjuster rotated to extend it to meet up with the correct linkage on the bogie. This was back together and pinned up within half an hour. Time for another cuppa, then to tackle the south end.

The south end was a little bit trickier. This was the end that we identified a few issues with, and thought we had rectified them. As per the opposite end, I slotted the slack adjuster into its safety loop but found the cross shaft and the hole in the eye of the slack adjuster were half a hole out.

In the end, I had to use the hot spanner to persuade the “A Gap” setting bracket that it wanted to undo. This meant I could reset the A Gap to allow the slack adjuster to be fitted and pinned up. We think the A Gap was modified by BR, probably due to a brake issue to get it “home”, an adjustment the wagon has lived with ever since.

With both slack adjusters fitted, we could now prove the vacuum system that we’d overhauled a few months prior. With our exhauster started and connected, the vacuum was created, but nowhere near high enough to be functioning correctly. We diagnosed a faulty DA valve, which got bypassed and the test re-done. This time the test was satisfactory for both cylinders and the wagon left to see how long the brakes held for.

Today, in between rain showers, we sorted out 2 replacement floor planks for the south end of the wagon. Cut from an old workbench top, the two ‘planks’ were adjusted to suit their positions and fitted to the wagon.

The list of jobs on the bolster is now running a bit shorter, nearly to the point where it just needs paint, which we need to wait for the warmer weather. There will be another update before the year is out, with our annual wrap up update. Join us again in a few days to find out what we got done in 2021.

19/12/21 -Check up for a Grampus or two

Its been wagon work this week, carrying out the annual exam on the some of the engineering fleet.

Hello everyone and welcome to another update from us. Our main focus this weekend was the annual exam of the Grampus wagons (well 4 Grampus and 1 steel Tunny). These have recently been unloaded so became available to us.

Dave, Nick, Richard and myself set up on the wagons, undertaking axle box exams and oiling up the brake gear. As these had been left loaded with spoil we had expected the axle boxes to have some water content but were pleasantly surprised.

An axle box exam consists of the following: cleaning around the box to make sure nothing can fall onto the pad or into the box. For divided boxes, the split pins are removed and the nuts are undone to lower the box bottom. For open-fronted boxes, the cover is just a case of levering the cover open with the special-shaped ‘Shark’ spanner. Once open or lowered, the pad is removed from the reservoir and placed on an empty paint tin. The contents of the tank are examined; mostly these were full of oil, but some did have some water in them. At this point, the exposed part of the journal is inspected for any damage or scoring.

The water gets emptied out of the tank and then they are topped up with fresh oil. The pad is examined, the tails are teased out and if the top and tails are satisfactory, it is placed back into the reservoir. After this, it is just a case of reassembling the axle box.

Richard was guided through undertaking a vehicle inspection by Dave and I oiled the brake gear on the push braked wagons which is accessible from each side of the wagon, so no need to go underneath. All doors chains were inspected, and besides one door securing lug being broken off, all is well.

Sunday started with more of the same, finishing off the exams by oiling up the only vac braked Grampus we have, DB991408. This is clasp braked so much more involved to oil up with lots of brake linkage in the centre of the wagon. The wagon also has screw couplings, so these were oiled as well.

After the wagon work was completed, operation tidy up carried on and I also sorted out the remote on/off for the power supply installed last week. We sorted through the spanners and have categorised them into Metric, A/F and Whitworth.

In ‘crafty corner’ Richard and Dave prepared the labels for each crate containing each of our power tools, continuing the organisation of those.

That just about wraps up our work for this week. Next weekend is Christmas Day and Boxing Day, so for a somewhat rare occasion, there will be no real update from us. All of us here wish you a Merry Christmas and if we don’t post before, and very Happy New Year.

05/12/21 – Oddjobs and Assistance

An oddjobs weekend while the Railway gets settled into the Christmas period. Dave has provided some assistance to C&W’s ongoing FO and work has continued on the Bogie Bolster.

So it begins the run-up to Christmas, we’re still pressing on working on the wagons and sorting stuff out. The first thing to do was unload Nick’s van with a battery charger and some paint. The charger is intended for use on the GUV. We are now looking at getting the batteries working again in this vehicle, but a more permanent charger is a good addition. It was heavy though and took Jake, Nick and me to carry it from the van to the GUV.

The batteries on the GUV were inspected with an endoscope to check the electrolyte level and topped up where necessary. Unfortunately on one cell, the de-ionised water came out just as quickly as it was put in which stopped progress somewhat.

Nick was called out to the dining train to sort out an interior steam leak, which he sorted out with Jamie; or at least attempted to. Word is that a 5p is too small to temporarily seal the steam piping and a 1p is slightly too big.

On Sunday, Nick and I were on-site and began by sorting out a replacement cell for the GUV and fitting it. The ‘new’ charger was energised in the hope of charging the batteries. Initially, nothing happened, so we’ve left the batteries to charge and will check on those later this week. Once we’d done this Nick again had to disappear to finalise the steam leak from Saturday, thankfully this time all sorted. I finished off the heater control panel from last week, having found the other fuse holders.

Eddie continued to clean down the Bogie Bolster. He’s nearly finished this task, so which will only leave the bolster timber to finish and paint,which will wait for when the weather allows.

Dave was also on-site, though went to assist C&W with the signwriting on the FO. The vehicle is needed soon, so an all hands to the pumps request. I’m sure Dave’s assistance is very much appreciated.

As the light was fading, Nick and I sorted out our power tools and filed them away to prevent tangles. Each tool will get a brief functional test over the coming weekends and will be identified and its condition noted on its crate so it can be seen at a glance whether the tool is in a fit state to be used. There is still some work to do on this, but we made a good start. We both called it a night just as the Winter Wonderlights train went past.

We eagerly anticipate the return of the slack adjusters from their overhaul, so that the Bogie Bolster brakes can be re-assembled and tested. I had a phone call from Neil at Rail Vehicle Components last week to give me an update and shall be in touch this coming week to sort out getting them back to us. Join us next time and see what we manage!

28/11/20 – Bitterly cold Bolster

This week we’ve made progress on B928135, I continue work on the Living Van, and after some very long hours by C&W, the CCT re-enters traffic for the Winter Wonderlights

Hello everyone, it has been a cold and damp weekend but fortunately, this hasn’t hampered progress. Work continues on the Bogie Bolster and I’ve made steady progress on the Living Van electrical work. First, though, I’ll just cover what has been done on the CCT.

This vehicle is now back in traffic, ready to be used for the Winter Wonderlights trains. It will be holding the generators that power the lights on the other carriages. The C&W team have done amazing work in such a small amount of time, ably assisted on the signwriting by Matt and Dave. Dave also helped out in the final stages on clearing the vehicle out before it left Rothley, ready to receive the generators. It’s looking quite smart, and I can’t wait to see it trundle by Quorn in the coming weeks.

Dave, Matt and Jake made a start on the ‘new’ bolster plank for the wagon. The BoBol has been turned for us in the week, so the bolster requiring attention is now the south end. They identified a suitable piece of timber and set about trimming it down and drilling the required holes to fix it to the wagon. Dave also racked one up on the drill kill count, though still has some to go to match Matt. A start was made on drilling the bolster pockets, but this will have to be completed another day.

I made a start on the mess area heaters, making a fused switch panel to control them. I wanted to be able to choose to have either of the 2 heaters on, and this achieved that. I cut and threaded some steel conduit to suit, and used a flexible conduit to ‘pipe’ to each heater. Just got to find one more fuse holder and that end of the circuit will be complete, just the other end to go!

Jake and Dave also fitted the handle to the steel cupboard in the Living Van, and we all went out to lift the doors up on the Grampus (and Tunny) to allow for their annual exam to start.

That covers Saturday’s activities. Sunday had Nick, Eddie and I onsite. Eddie continued on the prepping of the Bogie Bolster while Nick and I attended to the other vacuum cylinder on the BoBol.

We now have access to the other cylinder, so while the yard was free, we changed it using the one Dave had overhauled some weeks ago. This went rather well, and we now await the overhauled slack adjusters to carry out the vacuum test.

After this, I continued to work on the mess area heaters, labelling all the wires and soldering wires to the one fuse holder I have.

Once I’d done that snow started falling, so I made a hasty retreat home to Derby. We’re hoping its warmer next week so that we can get started on the Grampus annual exams and continue with the bolster timber. As always, more to follow next week.

14/11/21 – Not messing around

More work on the mess vehicle this week, but we’ve not forgotten about the Bogie Bolster.

This weekend has seen a continuation of the sorting and tidying of our vehicles at Quorn. Last week, Dave, Matt and I painted the luggage area by this week this had dried, so we set about moving things back and setting things up to how we want things. The workbench was put in front of a window and a fluorescent light was added to the bottom of the upper shelf to act as task lighting.

I insulated our other paint cupboard and added 2 tubular heaters; one to each cupboard to keep the paint warm and protected from frost when the weather gets colder.

Dave continued with the angle grinder on the Bogie Bolster to finish wire brushing the bodywork to get this vehicle progressed. Once complete, he overhauled the rest of our release valves so we have plenty ready to use.

Later on, I fixed one of the lights in the GUV which had been long term out of service and then moved on to re-jig some of the lights in the Yellow Coach. When we moved in, there was a light above the electrical cubicle but not in the ex-first class toilet. At that time we moved the cubicle light to go in the toilet but was switched off the corridor lights. Anyway, onto today, I fitted a NOS fitting to the cubicle wall and re-connected the feed to be as converted. We now have a toilet light switched from the toilet switch, and the cubicle light re-instated.

Matt generated the signwriting templates for the bogie bolster.

On Sunday, Dave and I moved our last steel cupboard into the luggage area of the mess van. Dave then sanded and painted this into an undercoat then BR Light grey gloss to match the walls in the luggage area. I sorted out a few extension cables and power tools that had cable issues.

Matt and I then dug out some timber racking that was removed from one of our recently acquired vans. We’ve repurposed some of it to use as shelving in the luggage area, which took longer than expected. Nick and I finished this when Matt had to leave.

The last task of the day was to fix one of the solebar lights which had stopped working. Thankfully just a tube that had stopped working and nothing more sinister. That wraps up this weekend, the team will be back next weekend with more antics. More as ever next week…

17/10/21 – Back on the brakes

In this week’s update, we’ve continued working on the Bogie Bolster’s brakes and have started a mass tidying and sorting activity.

Welcome to another update from Quorn, which leaves me following up on Dave’s fantastic first update. As a team, we’ve continued looking at the brakes on the Bogie Bolster and starting to sort out for the long-anticipated return of the Living Van, which sadly hasn’t happened this weekend as was previously rumoured. We are still passing best wishes to Matt who is still feeling under the weather.

Dave, Jake and I looked at the brakes on the Bogie Bolster, targeting problem areas. The Gloucester 3 piece bogies don’t have hangers for the bow girders and instead use an inclined pocket to guide the blocks to the wheels. Due to lack of use, some of the bow girders had seized in the pockets which could mean that the brakes either wouldn’t work or would apply and not be able to adequately release.

By removing the stop bolts, we were able to slide the bow girder out of its pocket adequately to clean them out. After this, we applied oil to the sliding surface and resituated the bow girder in its pocket. We repeated this process on the south end bogie. This has ensured the brakes on the bogie apply and more importantly release under their own mass.

I removed the unserviceable slack adjuster from the north end brake rigging. I’ll ring around some firms in the week to see if we can get such an item overhauled (while we are at it, we might as well have both done!)

Richard was able to rejoin us this weekend, and spent his time scraping the north end bogie frame and made a really good job of it. Jake and Nick went to Rothley to retrieve some of the tools we’d left in the Living Van as we’d been struggling without them, mainly the angle grinders and the axlebox maintenance kit. The last thing we did on Saturday was to liberate some steel cupboards from the van train so that they can be used in the GUV or Living Van to improve our storage situation.

The first half of Sunday saw just Dave and I start the task of tidying and sorting the GUV. At this stage, we are just getting rid of any rubbish before re-shuffling items around when the Living Van returns. Eddie was with us and continued scraping and prepping the underframe of the BoBol. He started on the south end bogie frame and did the same amazing job as Richard. Once finished on the bogie frame, Eddie continued on the trussing and solebar.

At the end of the weekend, Dave and I had made four dumper runs up to the skip and cleared all of the surfaces in the GUV. As a team, we’ve also ticked a few more jobs off the to-do list on the Bogie Bolster. Next weekend should see more of the same, with more work on the bogie bolster and probably some more tidying.

03/10/21 – Bring on the Bolster

Welcome to this weekend’s update. As mentioned last week, the Railway has had its Autumn Gala where the van train and the Windcutter Group’s Mineral train have been running in an intensive timetable. This doesn’t stop play for us, although attendance this week hasn’t been good for various reasons. Nick was on a Cub Scout camp, Dave was helping his son at the Great Electric Train Show with West Hill Wagon Works, Jake was working Saturday and both Richard and Matt are still both feeling under the weather, which just left me for both days. I opted not to attend on Saturday due to the weather and not wanting to lone work.

Jake, Eddie and I were there on Sunday to begin work on the long awaited Bogie Bolster D, B928135. We are hoping that this will be a quick turn around as it takes up the space of 2 wagons! Jake and I started by stripping down the northmost bolster of its timber, which is rotten so needs to be replaced. Eddie made a start on scraping the solebar of the wagon.

I managed to get some of the coach bolts on the bolster undone, but Jake and I ended up breaking up the plank remove it. This wasn’t an arduous task given it was completely rotten. I ended up using the gas axe to cut the rest of the bolts off to finish dismantling the bolster. Eddie had joined Jake and I by this point and assisted with cleaning out the built up dirt, rust and detritus from around the bolster. We loaded the broken timber and rust flakes into the dumper for later disposal.

Jake and I moved onto other jobs on the wagon, such as freeing a stuck air brake cock and readying the vacuum cylinders for removal so we can overhaul them. Jake de-pinned the rigging from the cylinders and I stripped off the piston rod gaiter and the release valves. We’ve also identified some further work to the North End bogie brake rigging which will be carried out before the wagon returns to traffic.

Next weekend Dave will have the Test Car open at the request of the Bus Rally organisers, and we shall continue the work on the Bogie Bolster. See what we get up to in next week’s update.

26/09/21 – Stopping the tank

This weekend has been a quiet one, Jake is away on a scout camp as a leader, Dave is on holiday, and both Richard and Matt are feeling a bit under the weather. This left Nick and I at Quorn to finish off the strip down and rebuild of 3711‘s brake system just to get it to be able to be shunted and to be able to use its handbrake.

Last week we methodically went though each stuck joint and freed it off or dismantled it, cleaned it and re-assembled it with copious amount of grease to ensure continued movement. This continued this week, focusing on the South axle. Nick and I removed the bow girders and got the centre swing links moving again. Jamie very kindly whipped up 2 bolts to be able to re-hang the frame to brake swing links, which fitted a treat. By the end of the day, we’d aimed to have everything back together, but that wasn’t to be. One pin got stuck on re-assembly and we had to partially dismantle to be able to get it out. We did get everything together, but weren’t able to adjust.

Nick got on site early on Sunday and adjusted the brakes up, which just left us with split pins to check and open out and a few tweaks to correct the operation of the handbrakes, using the gas axe and a large adjustable spanner. Since the wagon has been moved, we checked the roller bearings again which seemed to be satisfactory. We shall, of course, keep monitoring them. Nick then scraped and hoover some area of the tank and its frame, and I sorted out some rubbish with Danny to put in the skip. That completed the preliminary work on the tank, which now movable and stoppable, will await its turn in the queue unless requested sooner.

We spent the rest of the day was sorting out and looking at the next project, the Bogie Bolster D, scoping out the work required. Next weekend is the railway’s Autumn Gala so the van train will be out in force, and some of us will be at Quorn making a start on the BoBol. Join us then and see what we get up to!