News and Updates

18/04/21 – Frantic wagon restoration

As our last update stated from Monday we could return to normally scheduled activities. So a few of us decided to hit the ground running. If you follow the Rothley C&W facebook page you will have seen what we have been up too. Monday with Dave and I chalking up 3436.

Jake joining us and focusing on the details, those being the swan necks and air pipes, along with the axle boxes, brake levers and cast lettering.

I applied the OLE warning flashes refurbished way back on New Years day

Then I applied gloss white to the previously primed oval plates and also masked and painted the twin high speed traffic stars.

Then with maul sticks in hand Dave and I began signwriting, Dave initially focussing on the sole bar details and the tank for me.

Dave also had a go at the west and north numbers as well as the yellow for the commuted charge symbols, broadening his signwriting abilities.

Whilst we focused on the tank the C&W team through piped our recently arrived chassis. As well as a few spots of welding and grinding the upper surfaces flush. More on this in future updates.

As well as work on the tank and chassis. Michael and Jake applied top coat Gloss and Bitumen to the Single Bolster, our apologies for not capturing any images of this.

On to Tuesday with the signwriting continuing. Dave completed the final sole bar “plate

I started by chalking up and applying the Esso lettering to the east plate.

With his signwriting confidence building I encouraged him to have a go at the main Esso company branding. Giving encouragement and advice when needed, certainly regards bigger being better, and we are talking brushes.

For me the focus was the remaining details. Axle cover lettering painted red, this is a prototypical alternative to the red stripe indicating bearing greasing requirements. Commuted charge details and OLE warning flash screws painted white.

Finally the west side Esso logo was applied. I gave my Tamiya curve tape a try, although its no replacement for traditional signwriting.

That completes 3436, signwriting one vehicle however was not enough and Dave also applied the markings to the Single Bolster, although missing the bolster we do have some future plans for this vehicle.

On to Wednesday morning and the GCR C&W team moving 3436 outside ready for us to begin our next tank DB998926.

We begin, scraping and sanding down the Creosote tank including its underframe.

Dave replaced a gate valve on the end of the tank with a blanking plate, this was fitted when the vehicle was in use as a water tank and of course not prototypical of the creosote tank it is. He then applied a coat of wood primer.

With the tank being rather small and in a reasonable condition, quick work was made of the preparation.

On to Thursday and after a quick blow down we spot primed the vehicle.

With the heating on and a quick drying primer we turned to applying undercoat to the vehicle.

To round off the week, black gloss was the order of the day for Friday.

So on to the weekend and a final push for the creosote tank. Dave and I once again maul sticks in hand. Dave focusing on the west side and the east side for me.

Jake once again focusing on the details, fitting new vacuum hoses, painting swan necks, brake levers and cast lettering details.

With that, the second tank wagon for the week and number 6 for the tank wagon train complete.

The vehicle was then shunted out of the shed and joined its Esso counterpart whilst the Ferry Tank entered the shed.

Our full attention however turned to the Yellow Coach. Ross and Dave sanding down the filler applied many months ago.

Nick and I turned to the gangway ends. Riveting our repair plate above the North Gangway and reassembling.

We also fitted a inter vehicle connector, although this is not wired into the coach it replaces the departmental connector which will be moved to the South end to enable us to connect this vehicle with the Test Car at Quorn.

The vehicles examined last weekend and the Single Bolster were shunted away by the Ops department who also brought up from Swithland the Bogie Bolster D, requiring exam.

We also have a better view of the Chassis kindly through piped by Pat and Jamie, the C&W fitters.

With the sealer out Nick went around the coach sealing those areas requiring it whilst Ross and Dave began the second fill.

To wrap up the day we took a look at the sole bar lighting as a number of strips had failed

On to Sunday and we begin at Quorn, Eddie has been squirreling away boxes for us so we had to have a quick sort out of the theatrical vans, we seem to now have 3 of them. We consolidated all of the “parcels” into one van. We did however leave a trail as we chose to move the parcels with Danny our dumper.

This leaves us with a dedicated parcels van, a mixed merchandise van and a Animal feed van. We are now focusing on a bulk load, more on this in the future.

Back to Rothley and Ross and Dave continuing to sand the yellow coach,

Nick and Jake looked at the Bogie Bolster, carrying out its exam and a vacuum test. As expected some work to carry out on the braking system, but this will be when we move back to Quorn.

I carried out a repair to the South end of the yellow coach with a slight modification to move water away from the wooden gangway support as this coach will be stood in all weathers once back at Quorn. Nick also applied a mount for a socket which will connect the coach to the Test Car to enable us to power it from the Test Cars Generator.

After a sweep down Ross and Dave started coach fill number 3.

Nick and I them moved to the Ferry Tank and removed the handrail in preparation for replacing the floor which has become quite corroded. Nick also made a start at removing the floor rivets.

To top the week of, whilst Dave carried out some housekeeping Jake took the opportunity to rest after what has been a mammoth week of restoration.

3 vehicles out shopped and a further 2 worked on. Thankfully back to work for a rest and as always more next week.

11/04/21 – Wrapping up the mixed.

Saturday began with a spot of shunting, with the Ops Department sending a loco to move our completed wagons from Rothley to Swithland Sidings and replace them with others requiring exam from both Swithland and Quorn.

We also utilised the C&W shunter to move the Single Bolster out of the way, this is remaining at Rothley to complete its refresh.

Whilst the Ops Department shunted Swithland and Quorn, which included Michael who is leading the Bolsters refresh we turned attention to 3436 with its fine coating of dust.

We left this vehicle pre-lockdown in full black gloss awaiting signwriting.
Back in January we decided to cut some sections of old roof section to recreate the oval Esso plates. Over lockdown however, it came to light that the Swithland Wagon Group had a set manufactured. These were dropped off, although they had been made using the modern Esso logo. So we sanded the rear of each to bare aluminium to facilitate repainting.

Once back to bare aluminium one of the plates was offered to the vehicle and clamped into position. Blocks of wood placed under the plate to induce a curve.

Each clamp was positioned in such a way that to draw around it would place a mark in the correct place to line up with the attachment bracket on the tank.

These were then drilled at a smaller size than final and bolted up using smaller than final size bolts.

This confirmed the positioning of the holes, we then removed the plate and fitted it to the other side to confirm the alignment with the brackets on the other side. Thankfully they matched which allowed us to drill the other plate to the smaller size and once again each plate was bolted into position using the smaller sized bolts. These were then removed one by one, the holes opened up with a cone cutter and larger bolts including spring washers were fitted.

Finally, the plates was given a coat of etch primer.

By this time the Ferry tank along with some coaches requiring annual exam had been brought up from Loughborough and Quorn, this is in preparation for work next weekend after completion of the exam work and hopefully the Esso and Creosote tanks, these will be our focus from Monday as non essential volunteering may resume. With the shunt moving on to Swithland for collection of the final vehicles we turned to straightening the bent step mounts.

Whilst the centre road was empty it gave us opportunity to take a relatively clean shot of “The Yellow Coach”

To wrap up Saturday the next selection of wagons requiring exam arrived.

On to Sunday then, with the exam work starting on the Iron Ore Hopper, LNER Steel High, Shochood B and Medfit. Both Nick and Michael undertook the axle box exams on the Steel High and the Medfit, while Jake oiled the brake rigging.

I carried on warming parts of the Ferry Tank up to encourage some movement, this time on the south end coupling, a UIC screw coupling seized in its longest position. Unfortunately no amount of heat or penetrant was effective, so this will be left for another day. With the hot spanner in hand, I also removed some bolts from some plates bowed with rust to remove the plates and the old step bolts on the east side.

Dave and Matt inspected each of the 4 vehicles, and using Rothley’s Class 10, we checked the vacuum functionality on the 3 fitted vehicles. These have been overhauled recently so no issues were found. These 4 wagons are now back in traffic and can rejoin the mixed freight.

Vacuum Gauges in the resident Class 10.

To fill up the rest of the time, the team washed the Ferry tank before it enters the shed to remove the algae settled on the tank. The algae seems to only be removed by detergent, water and plenty of scrubbing. In doing this, some older details on the tank come to the surface as pictured below.

The team moved to Quorn around 1600 to move Madge’s trailers around and to start the Test Car’s generator and compressor to ensure these still function when we do finally get our sense of geography back. In striking up the compressor, we took the opportunity to put some air in the Volvo’s tyres.

Final point of order before I sign off this week, Dave has been refreshing the Test Car 2 Booklet. These are now on sale through Dave’s eBay page and on very kindly on West Hill Wagon Works’ website. The proceeds of any booklets purchased go toward the upkeep and maintenance of Test Car 2, and of course are very gratefully received.

Last thing for me to do is sign off. Non essential volunteering can recommence from tomorrow, so we’ll be back working on the tanks and Yellow Coach, join us next Sunday to see how far we get!

05/04/21 – Easter Brakes

This update begins on Friday with Nick, Ross and I on site. Continuing the mixed freight brake overhauls focusing on the Shock Hybar wagon which we started last weekend. Last week we discovered the cylinder in a very poor internal condition. Water had clearly gotten in and after a few conversations and a little investigation we have determined this is due to the vehicle having been coupled to the LNER Tube wagon. This vehicle is fitted with high level vacuum pipes, so out current theory is that due to the poor state of the hoses water has been able to enter the train pipe and has allowed moisture into the system.

First thing was to clean up the cylinder components and apply red oxide primer to the none sliding surfaces.

The cylinder was then reassembled with new seals and the release valve was also overhauled.

To facilitate the fitment of the cylinder the hand brake lever was then removed

With the cylinder installed, assembly of the components began, fitment of the overhauled release valve, release chord, piston rod, piston gaiter, and actuating arm attachment

This was followed by the refitting of the handbrake lever and door stop spring removed last weekend to drop the cylinder.

This completes the overhaul of the cylinder and the obligatory vacuum test was carried out. Operated a number of times, slow release test, test of the release valve and final application. The brake was applied at 16:30 and remained hard on when we left site at 19:00.

On to Saturday and the Shock Hybars brakes still applied, attention turned to the Pipe wagons cylinder and its associated components. These were removed, split and overhauled.

Once refitted the usual vacuum tests were carried out. These of course were successful and the brakes were left applied at 15:30.

Jakes attention was focused on the scraping down and application of fresh paint to allow those vehicles missing running numbers and weight details to be added.

Ross and I looked at the re-roping of the Shocks sheet.

Whilst Nick replaced, repaired or fitted label clips to the vehicles on site for routine maintenance

On to Sunday and the first job was to apply the running numbers, gross weights and tares missing from those wagons prepared Saturday. My brass stencils were used and these will fill the void until these vehicles run through our works for body overhaul.

Once these were applied we revisited the inspection sheets annotating repairs carried out and rechecking that we had completed all the required tasks before return to traffic. What was picked up was to re-secure the handrails on the coal hopper, straighten a bent securing pin ring and replace a missing brake handle pin.

Repairs made to the vacuum through pipe of the Coal Hopper was also painted.

We also looked at the weed killing tank fitted to the BR Tube. This was a stalled project that left us with a bright red tank inside our vehicle. We located a sheet, covered the tank and strapped it down.

One issue that observed was the rotten state of part of the floor. A temporary repair has been carried out, again until the vehicles return for future body work.

Once complete and also because we had my stencils out, we branded the sheet. We decided on our friends at the West Hill Wagon Works, they create various 3d printed products for your model railway needs and of course are one of our valued supporters.

Finally for Sunday, with the warm weather, the return of trains and groups of 6 allowed to meet outside, we allowed Jake and Michael to prepare, prime and undercoat the upper surfaces of the Single Bolster.

On to Monday, with Nick, Jake, Michael and I at Quorn continuing with a few out standing vehicles requiring routine maintenance. The usual inspection and oils being carried out. Bringing the Mineral, Iron Ore Tippler, Fish Van, Catfish, Salmon and Sturgeon back into traffic.

Step boards on the Catfish were also replaced and we took a look at the brakes of the New Chassis, Ferry Tank and Palbrick.

This concludes an unusual Easter bank holiday, things are sounding good for a little normality to return from the 12th we already have plans afoot but as always we keep an ear open for government guidance and direction from the GCR.

28/03/21 – Oiling and Overhauls

We’re back again for another weekend of maintenance, this time on a portion of the mixed freight set. Those being: B740654, B721587, B724570, E301588, B732357, E212315, B916549 and B425356. As per the preceding few weeks, the wagons received an axlebox exam and the brake gear oiled. Dave and I also inspected each vehicle, noting down items/issues as required.

The vehicles that we have been working on this weekend haven’t seen any vacuum attention for a while, so it was decided to test the vacuum and give the fitted vehicles a vacuum overhaul. The vacuum piped vehicles had their hoses changed as required and the vacuum hose & dummy seals replaced. I also replaced some vacuum branch pipes which had seen better days.

Given the new hoses and seals, we connected the exhauster plant up and tried to create a vacuum, which got got to 19 inHg at the other end of the consist. The vacuum was destroyed using the test cock and the brakes observed for any activity. Two vehicles passed the vacuum test, having just had their hoses replaced. These will of course be done when they come back to us for bodywork and painting. Of the other vehicles, three are piped (though one with an issue) and the other three had failed the test. The Pipe, Shock Hybar and LNER Tube will receive vacuum overhauls over the coming weeks.

Sunday saw us attempt the vacuum overhauls of the three failed vehicles, starting with the Shock HyBar. Our conclusion is that this vehicle is a right pain to remove the vacuum cylinder from, having to remove the door banger/stop and possbily the handbrake lever. After a considerable amount of faff, the cylinder was removed and taken apart for inspection and overhaul.

The Shock Hybar having taken longer than expected, we then took a look at the LNER Tube. This was somewhat easier to remove (although the hot spanner was required to undo the nuts) and was in remarkable condition when taken apart. The cylinder was cleaned out of the rolling ring dust and reassembled with new rolling ring and joint seals. Dave removed the release valve and overhauled that so it was ready to refit when the time came. Matt took away the piston rod and polished it.

The cylinder was re-assembled and it was put back under the wagon and tested. The re-fit was much easier than the removal!

With just the Tube connected to the exhauster, 21 inHg was achieved and exceeded with the rig, and the cylinder exercised a few times. The brakes applying and releasing just fine, a slow brake application was made and the brakes allowed to apply and sit. The brakes were applied around 1600 and were still on when we left Rothley at 1800, a good result as when initially tested yesterday the cylinder didn’t apply at all!

Next weekend is Easter weekend, and the vacuum overhauls will continue on the Pipe and the Shock Hybar and we will also look at the leaking trainpipe on the Coal Hopper. Join us then and see how we get on!

21/03/21 – Short & Sweet

A small update for this weekend, 5 vehicles dropped off at Rothley for us to attend to this being our 3 Rudds as well as 2 of our Grampus wagons.

With essential maintenance being the order of the day, Axle box exams, brake rigging oil and a general inspection.

The GCR have requested the air system of the Rudds be recommissioned. We are aware of pipe work missing from 2 of the vehicles and all other components were brought up to standard apart from the missing pipes this will be attented to by the GCRs C&W team in the week.

We are looking forward to a return to normal, expected date for this being the 12th April, we are keen to progress other projects and return to our pre lockdown productivity. Although vital there isn’t too much you can say about routine maintenance.

14/03/21 – Bearing up

Our second week back, and continuing with our routine maintenance regime. This weekend the gang has been at Quorn undertaking axle box exams and brake oiling on the van train, its brake vans and a few other vehicles. These vehicles being the 2 Catfish, which also had their doors oiled; the Fish Van, which just had its brake gear oiled as we ran out of the bearing oil; and the Iron Ore Tippler, which had its brake gear oiled. We were quite stuck in, so not so many pictures which makes this rather a short update.

Once work on the van train was completed, we took the opportunity to rebalance some of the loads in the van train including some of our parcels.

We’ll be back again next week, working back at Rothley on the Rudds and some of the Grampus wagons.

06/03/21 – Returning for Routine

As mentioned in last weeks feature we are back on site at Rothley this weekend.
Our focus for the coming weekends being the routine maintenance of our engineering fleet in support of the GCRs plans to resume passenger services.

Those who follow the GCR and Rothley C&W Facebook pages will be aware of the arrival at Rothley of our 8 Dogfish Ballast hoppers.

Nick, Ross, Dave, Jake and I on site, first task was to check the 32 axle boxes.

Also on the list of tasks was the oiling of brake rigging and the ballast door mechanisms.

All the loose/rotten foot boards were then removed.

Arears of bare metal on the step board supports were Red Oxided whilst Ross began the manufacturing of new steps.

A number of the supports were also straightened.

On to Sunday and the same team on site. Th manufacture of the 12 new step boards was completed, then they were painted in wood preserver and fitted.

We then inspected each vehicles condition. Focusing on the essentials for them to operate as intended.

The key aspect being the operation of the doors. These were tested and correct operation ensured.

Inevitably leaves and other items that had collected in the wagons was subsequently dropped on to the floor. So this of course had to be cleaned up.

This concludes the tasks required to get these vehicles fit for operation. There are a few out standing items, most notably overhaul of the powered braking systems. These remains out of use as to do them at this time would delay the vehicles return to service. They will of course be done at some point in the future as well as a repaint for each vehicle but this will be after the Railway returns to passenger use.

The Shark ballast plough was also brought up with the rake, this will be tackled by the C&W staff as it is not one of our vehicles. Another set of vehicles will be brought to Rothley for us to look at next weekend.

Vehicles receiving routine maintenance this weekend;
BD983166
BD983593
BD983603
BD992714
BD993128
BD993304
BD993412
BD993478

Vehicle Profile #9 Scammell Scarab

This story begins in June of 1953 at the Scammell Lorries Ltd factory, Tolpits Lane, West Watford, leaving the factory a 6T Scammell Scarab carrying the military registration 20 AN 52 and delivered to the Royal Air Force on the 26th June 1953.

RAF Scarab 20 AN 54 sister to our very own 20 AN 52

On the 17th July 1953 she was allocated to 14 Maintenance unit at RAF Carlisle, an aircraft equipment depot. This was followed by further moves on the 26th May 1955 to 35MU at RAF Heywood another aircraft equipment depot, then to 7MU RAF Quedgeley on the 4th Jan 1956, 250 MU RAF Bircotes on 31st Jan 56 before her final movement into storage at RAF Andover on 8th October 1957 being sold off to an ex forces vehicle dealer in Ely Cambridgeshire sometime after 22nd May 1970. When placed on the disposal list in 1970 she had accrued no more than 9000 miles over 17 years of service.

The story picks up again in the Early 1980s when two chaps by the name of Dave Wood and Martyn Upson bough the vehicle from the Ely dealer. It arrived running on 3 cylinders and they successfully worked to rectify this.


They decided to paint her in to a British Road Services livery, although a fictitious Red by mistake, she was registered WFX 336 in November 1982. In 1984 she took part in that years Brighton Run, using an Hilman Imp as a support vehicle. She also stared in an episode of One by One, filmed in the late 1980s the series followed the career of an international veterinary surgeon. With raising petrol prices a diesel Scarab was bought and she was sold to a Roger Tuplin, Roger bought a trailer, a genuine BR flat from Kings Cross station and after a number of years then sold her to a member of the Nene Valley Railway who fitted the insulated body from a Ford D series lorry to the trailer.

She then exchanged hands once again and she found ownership in Crowland, Lincolnshire and it was from this location our involvement begins.

Towards the end of 2019 Dave Bower and I, along with Jack Arthur Shaw came together and purchased the vehicle, now christened Madge, she arrived at Quorn & Woodhouse on the 19th December 2019.

She arrived to us in a pseudo British Railways livery of Blood and Custard minus lettering and a little more Crimson that prototypical. Also part of the deal was the insulated body trailer.  This had been kitted out as a living van and having spent a couple of nights in it I can state it is both warm and comfortable.  Over our first Christmas we removed her indicators and painted the fuel tank, vacuum reservoir, oil bath, engine cover and rear wheels black, more in keeping with a BR Scarab, we also applied lettering and the fictional number QW 6128  E (6 tons and part of the station postcode) This was in preparation for her first public appearance at the GCRs Winter Gala 2020. This went down very well and with a last-minute Photo Charter appearance covering for poor lighting at the preferred location, her usefulness on-site was cemented.

A number of jobs continued on the trailer including adding BR totems, painting poster areas to the correct 40″x 60″ and adding the fictional number T 11246 E (Owners birthday dates).

Our thoughts, however, turned towards the desires for a flat trailer.  During a chance conversation whilst at work, a friend of one of our colleagues happened to have “a trailer with one of those couplers”.  After viewing and negotiation, the former silage trailer and dolly arrived at Quorn in late January of 2020.  This needed a little more than lettering and with the dolly uncoupled, a new floor, a full repaint, and the manufacture of a headstock it was first coupled to the Scarab in July 2020 after the first national lockdown. The Scarab and trailer combo then spent every subsequent open weekend on display until October.

With the completion of my 1958 built Aluminium Container, it was placed on the flat trailer for a number of weekends for public display before being loaded on to the Medfit

October saw another charter with the whole team and enactors in period dress and Madge joined by my Morris Minor Van, we created a number of cameos and succeeded in our aim of recreating a genuine steam era goods yard.

The desires for a shorter trailer came to ahead.  With thanks to John Giles, of the Mechanical Horse Club, for his patience and advice, I completed the purchase of a Taskers 15ft trailer, it being repainted from Army Green to BR Crimson.

Our current fleet with a 3:1 ratio

The Scarabs are of course synonymous with British Railways and in 1958 over 7500 Scarabs and 30,000 trailers were in use with the company, that’s a ratio of 4 trailers to each Scarab. The whole ethos of the vehicle was to replace the horse providing a stronger, less labour intensive alternative whilst maintaining the manoeuvrability of a real horse.

That concludes the look at our resident Scarab and our lockdown features, with great delight we have been asked to support the GCRs aims to return to passenger operations on the 17th April 2021. Our fleet of engineering vehicles are overdue routine maintenance and this is to be our focus to support re-ballasting work required in the single line section as well as other engineering requirements to get the railway ready for services to resume.

21/02/20 – Stop that wagon!

This week we’re taking a look at the work our Test Car 2 was built for, namely the slip/brake testing of freight wagons. 

For 50 years from the late 1960s the acceptance of new or modified wagons onto British Rail included dynamic brake testing predominantly carried out using the slip/brake method. This test measures the brake stopping distance performance of the wagon independently, i.e. not coupled with other vehicles in a train. 

In order to conduct slip/brake testing a special coupling arrangement was used on Test Car 2, the design of which originated from use on North Eastern Railway J21 and J25 type steam locomotives providing banking assistance on the Darlington to Kirkby Stephen line over Stainmore Summit in the 1940s and 50s. 

FIG 14 - Test Car 2 - RTC 12 July 1987 - 383

In addition to the slip coupling, the brake system on Test Car 2 was modified such that a test engineer could independently operate the brakes of the wagon under test without affecting the brakes of the test coach or locomotive which remained under the control of the driver. 

A typical slip/brake test train would consist of a locomotive, Test Car 2 and the wagon under test. Class47 locomotives were preferred for the slip/brake testing, not just because they had adequate power to accelerate quickly; also, the responsiveness of the engine control system of the Sulzer locos (compared to the English Electric locos) made it easier for the driver to control the speed more accurately with the short and often light trailing load of a test train. 

The slip/brake tests were normally carried out on the Down Slow line of the West Coast Main Line between Crewe and Winsford. To ensure safe operation a ‘T3’ possession of the Down Slow line was applied by the Crewe Coal Yard signalman, making sure it was blocked to all traffic and protected by stop boards and detonators at each end of the possession section.  

This section of line was particularly suited to the slip/brake testing because the test section was level, and the four-track formation allowed normal traffic to continue on the other three lines whilst testing was in progress. 

It was not permitted to carry out slip/brake testing during hours of darkness, thick fog or falling snow and at least 1mile clear visibility was needed before testing could commence; this was because the test engineer had to be able to clearly keep the test vehicle in sight at all times when the vehicle was detached from the test car. 

A slip/brake acceptance tests of a wagon would normally be carried out over two days, one for each load condition, so one day for empty and one day for loaded wagon. 

Each day would start with test engineers joining the test train at the Derby RTC, a loco would arrive from Derby 4-shed and would transit to Crewe. The train would pause in the station to pick up a Traction Inspector, (and some sandwiches) then continue onto the Down Slow line at Crewe Coal Yard. The T3 possession was then set-up to protect the line, the train brake systems were configured for test and static test checks for correct operation were carried out. These static checks included measurement of brake cylinder application timings and pressures on the wagon under test, and a continuity brake test on the locomotive and test car brakes. 

Heavy duty instrument cables were attached from the test car, along the outside of the locomotive and into the leading cab (normally through the drivers’ cab-side window) and connected to twin intercom speaker/microphone outstations. The locomotive was always manned by a driver and a traction inspector for slip/brake testing; this allowed the test engineer to communicate using the intercom directly with the traction inspector in the cab so as not to distract the driver from his duties. 

Once the intercom was tested and the static brake tests completed to the satisfaction of the test engineer, the slip coupling was fitted between the test car and the wagon, and testing could commence. 

A slip/brake test is described in stages as shown in the diagrams below. 

The test engineer calculated the wagon brake stopping distance for each slip/brake test run, taking the total distance from the point at which the brakes were applied on the wagon until the locomotive and test coach had stopped, then subtracting the distance the locomotive and test coach had to reverse back to collect the wagon. The results were plotted on a speed/distance graph. 

The stopping distance limit in 1987 for a wagon running at 75 mile/h was 951metres, the graph below shows test results just failing to meet this, therefore this wagon would have been subject to modification to the brake system before a retest. 

A deceleration meter fitted on the headstock of the wagon containing a calibrated accelerometer and a low pass filtered output onto a strip paper chart provided an accurate measure and characteristic of deceleration rate of the wagon throughout each slip/brake test. 

Tests were always carried out at varying speeds from 30 mile/h up to the maximum operating speed of the vehicle under test. On average 15 slip/brake test runs could be completed during a day’s testing, however the achievable number of tests varied depending on how slick the team on board was working, the type of locomotive, the performance of the wagon under test, and more often than not, the weather. 

J:\1 - Dave\Book Prep\TestTrains Book\Figures Test Trains Book\Figures Vol 2 Test Trains\Vol2-43 - FIG 131 - ECML Slip Tests TC2 -  30 Jun 1985 -Z.jpg

After testing was completed the slip coupling was removed and a standard screw coupling re-attached, the brake system was configured back in the normal manner and the statutory brake continuity test completed before the train was hauled out of the test site. The train would then proceed up to Winsford for a loco run-round before returning via Crewe to the RTC at Derby. 

In addition to wagons, on-track plant and coaching stock were occasionally slip/brake tested, for example this Cowans Sheldon 75t breakdown crane needed testing after it was modified by fitting air brakes in 1987.  

Due to the fall in wagons requiring testing and UK network access constraints, slip/brake testing on the UK network finished by 2010. Computer modelling and dynamometers offer alternatives to testing now days although this type of testing does continue in mainland Europe and has also been done on private lines. An example were the tests done some years ago at the GCR, albeit without the need for a test coach since the computer took over. The link shows a Youtube video of a GCR slip/brake test run using D123 in July 2009. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s3UfKOhYSMk 

Once the GCR is up and running again, keep a look out for events at Quorn when we hope to have Test Car 2 open to visitors again with displays and more information about its history and slip/brake testing.  

For those with an appetite for more detail, the full story of Test Car 2’s work during the 1980s and 90s, along with accounts of why and how wagons were tested for acceptance onto British Rail, can be found in Dave Bower’s Rail Vehicle Testing book. ISBN 9781999935603 https://www.bowerbooks.co.uk/ 

Lastly, we await news from the GCR following the government announcement tomorrow whether we can re-commence working on the fleet again, continuing we’d left off on the Yellow Coach and 2 tank wagons. Either way We’ll be back with another feature, or hopefully an update. See you then.

14/02/21 – Support Vehicles

This week’s feature again starts with a small update: Matt returned to Mountsorrel to complete their LMS 12T van, mainly the east side door and the solebar ‘D’ Plates which completed the van.

The van was drawn outside by Mountsorrel’s resident Ruston, so the livery could be seen outside for the first time.

I have been continuing to make progress on the Slip Lamp for Test Car 2. All components have now arrived, so I can now focus on final mountings for all components and then wiring. As Matt said last week, we will have this on show as and when we can open the Test Car to the public again.

This week’s feature is a bit of a sideways step from the wagons, but is all about the road/site vehicles that support our endeavours restoring our wagons. The first to mention is our one-ton site dumper, Danny.

Not a lot is known for Danny’s history, but it was built by Winget around 1976. The dumper was registered in 1976 with the registration number PUT 666R. Danny is a Winget 3SE, and was in use by a local scout campsite before Nick became the owner. The powerplant is a Petter PH1, producing an enormous 9hp running to the front axle through a 3 speed manual transmission, a layout in common with many of the other site dumpers of the period. We use Danny for trumdling items around Quorn Yard and for the skip run when required. Danny can also pull a fleet of trailers we have, which added to Danny’s carrying ability.

We have begun to do some work on Danny, starting with having the steering box rebuilt. With the rebuilt box Danny was properly mobile again, so it was decided to paint Danny into a scheme representative of its current location. This started last year, but got postponed due to the decreasing temperatures.

The next vehicle is the Volvo BM L70 Loading Shovel, bought by the railway for the P’Way department to replace an even older Volvo Loading Shovel (still very muich missed from my point of view). The P’Way department now use a Telehandler, so we have sole use of the Volvo which we use to remove vacuum cylinders and generally lift and shift items around the yard.

There is a little work outstanding on the Volvo, mainly on the exhaust system. A new silencer is required and the relvant pipes to connect it to the turbo outlet. If anyone knows where we might get a suitable exhaust silencer for this, please do get in touch! Once the exhaust is done, we’d like to give it a spruce up.

Lastly, the one vehicle I would be remiss not to mention would be Nick’s daily driver, the humble Transit Van. Without the van, we’d not be able to move anything between the sites without the relative ease that we have or have the ability to collect wood from timber merchants and keep it dry or any other tasks like that. A very useful vehicle indeed.

When we are able to return to the railway, we will look to progress these vehicles alongside the rest of the wagon fleet.