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!

12/09/21 – Short Report

We’ve not a lot to report this weekend, there was very few of us around on Saturday and the War Weekend was in full swing. Now that the Palshocvan is finished, we took Sunday to carry out some sorting of the van train and the CCT. The latter is mooted to be going to Rothley to have some work carried out for a return to traffic for use later in the year, so we spent some time clearing all the items we’d stored in there out. Some of the vans have seen some issues with the loads that we’ve become aware of. The most obvious was the VEB, which has seen some of the racking collapse, which we’ve cleared and then thrown out. We’ve sorted some of the theatrical loads out and re-distrubted them, and put our kegs if one of the theatrical vans.

We’ll be back at it again in full force next week where we’ll be starting work on the Bogie Bolster, join us then

30/08/21 – Painted Palshocvan

For our bank holiday, we’ve been concentrating our efforts on our Palshocvan, B855667. After last weekend’s work sanding and scraping the body, Dave popped in during the week to finish preparing the corrugated end panels.

Saturday saw the team start off at Quorn to prep the Test Car and yard area for the Diesel Gala, and the upcoming War Weekend. We’ve moved everything out of the way we can and tidied the Test Car a little, including moving some gauges around inside to fill some gaps in the slip end. Lunch was consumed at Rothley after the van was de-dusted and wood primer was brush painted to all the wooden panels on the Palshoc.

Sunday was more of the same, but involved a spraying a coat of undercoat all round the van, and then one coat of bauxite top coat, plus another gloss coat on each side as they suffer the effects of the weather the most.

Matt was signwriting Monday and managed to get one side completed with the shock stripes aswell. Richard and Nick brush painted the solebars, and I set up the spray gear again to cover the running gear (apart from the wheels) with a coat of underframe black.

I finished off some of the wiring I’d started on the Living Van, and repalced/supplemented the plastic cable ties utilised underneath for Stainless Steel alternatives. I also painted the handbrake ends and the swan necks white, this being vehicle having a vacuum through pipe only.

It’s the Diesel Gala next weekend, and Dave and some other team members will be there to open up Test Car 2. Come and see us in the Test Car, where you can purchase one of our Stockbook, our booklet on Test Car 2 or a copy of Dave’s book, Rail Vehicle Testing. The rest of the team will be wrapping up the work on the Palshocvan, with the other side still to be signwritten and the roof to paint. Join us next week and see how we get on.

15/08/21 – Railways at Work

Before we get to the gala, Thursday evening saw us take a part in a photo charter run by TimeLine Events in Quorn Yard, featuring the team and Madge and Wilbur plus our collection of goods and parcels. (first 3 images are courtesy of Phil Thorne.)

This weekend has been the Railway at Work gala, which has seen the debut of the Tank train featuring 6 tanks, plus a pick up goods and the van train. On the road vehicle side we’ve Madge, Wilbur plus some other visiting road vehicles incuding a coal lorry, a steam lorry, and a steam delivery van and an Austin delivery van. Dave and Richard also had Test Car 2 open to show people about the vehicle, what it used to do and the role of testing on the railways in general.

Using the large team of re-enactors and our collection of goods and those of the stations, we’ve had goods and parcels flying around the railway. Jame and pat have been using the 15t crane to make various items fly; including Jamie’s tractor, Danny the dumper and Matt’s Aluminium conatiner. The conatiner has been on the back of every lorry, plus the big and little Scammell trailer.

I think all that’s left to say is the team have had a brilliant weekend being part of the action, and we are really looking forward to make next years event even better. Thanks to everyone who made this happen, from the vehicle owners, the re-enactors, the ‘goods’ collectors and the plethora of GCR volunteers. Matt shall resume our normal service next week.

Photo credit: Brandon Morley.

01/08/21 – Quiet before the storm

We’ve all been quite shocked by the news of the passing of Cliff Perry after a short illness. Cliff was a long term member of the GCR family and always graced the footplate with a beaming smile. A mentor and friend to many, he will be sadly missed.

Moving on from the sad news, this weekend has been a quiet one. Dave is on holiday, Richard has visitors at home and unfortunately Matt has car trouble so can’t get here. Jake works Saturdays as well, so that left just Nick and I.

The first job completed was the proving of the repairs to the through air pipe on the Ferry Tank. Thankfully, the only leak found was one on the cock that just required a bit a wiggle to seal.

Our attention then turned to the Palshocvan. Some items were left in there from the previous owner, so we sorted through them and emptied four barrows into the skip. Another job completed was freeing off one of the screw couplings.

After lunch I moved to progress the jumper cabling on the Living Van, wrangling with flexible conduit and the cable recovered from the roof. Nick started scraping the underframe of the Palshocvan, going through many layers of paint.

Jake joined us again on Sunday, first assisting me with the jumper cabling, and then helping Nick with the scraping.

The last job done as to dust off the Ferry tank before it leaves the cossetted confines of the shed to join the rest of the tank train at Swithland. A bit of a short update this week, normal service should be resumed next week, join us then!