News and Updates

Two-Sheds

Our focus this weekend has been progressing the assembly of our temporary building that will provide a much needed covered working area for the team.

Eddie, Richard, Ross, Jake, Nick and myself were on-site on Saturday, making the most of the dry conditions we modified and attached a replacement section of roof supporting angle, before continuing fitting the roof sheets; some tell-tale weathering of the roof sheets helped us work out which ones fitted where.

We completed eight of the twenty roof sheets and one ridge capping before running out of serviceable J-bolts; more have been ordered but they won’t be here until next week.

Having come to a halt with the roof, our attentions turned to an offending lump of buried concrete that was fouling the door, Eddie successfully chipped away at this until it was clear. Richard and myself then drilled-out all the old pop-rivets from the end frames, some being more stubborn than others.

Some of the side cladding panels unfortunately had graffiti, this was cleaned as best we could before starting fitting, by the time it got dark one rear end panel and the full length of the east side were fitted in place, re-using the old j-clips. Some further securing with pop rivets will also be required.

Seeing as this weeks update is a little light on wagons, I thought a Saturday morning’s sunrise pic of a couple vans and a brake on the Quorn turntable would be good.

On Sunday with Nick, Ross and Eddie on-site work continued with the rear and west side cladding panel fitting, and some primer paint was applied to cover the remains of graffiti that could not be cleaned off.

By the end of the day all side cladding was fitted and secured, Ross and Nick also managed to salvage a few more J-bolts so four more roof sheets were fitted too.

Now, we are one-up on Monty Python’s trainspotter, Arthur Jackson, and we can quite rightly say, we have “two-sheds”. Arthur ‘2 Sheds’ Jackson

Join us again next week, all the best.

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!

Couplings, Sacks and Ropes

A busy weekend for the team at Quorn, and a visit to Swithland.

Our first full weekend of 2022 with most of the team on site started slowly due to the torrential rain on Saturday morning, however we kept ourselves busy labelling up some toolboxes and sorting some sacks ready for filling to create some additional theatrical loads. It was great to see Matt who has been absent recently due to struggling with health issues, nothing terminal but his involvement will be reduced until fully recovered.

Once the rain had eased Nick and Jake took a look at the north end screw coupling of Palshoc van B855667. The coupling that had been fitted temporarily last year during its restoration was slightly long being of the type more suitable for use on coaching stock, this meant that when coupled to an adjacent van there was a large gap between the buffers. A correct wagon type screw coupling with a shorter loop had been sourced and was fitted, centrally adjusted and oiled.

Matt, Ross and myself made a start of filling the theatrical load sacks with old clothing and carpet underlay to boost the amount of typical freight loads that can be used during demonstrations and upcoming events this year. A total of twelve sacks were filled and tied.

The next challenge was making space in a theatrical load storage van for the sacks, luckily it was just a matter of re-arranging what was in there and packing things more neatly.

In contrast to the previous day’s rain, the bright sunny start to Sunday saw Nick, Matt, Ross and myself make our way to Swithland sidings to attend to the securing ropes on container B55897B that is loaded in Medfit B458484 in readiness for it’s possible use during events in January. Although blocks and sleepers actually do the main task of holding the container, in order to give the prototypical look the ropes are fitted as per BR20427, Instructions for the loading and securing of containers on rail vehicles.

The visit to Swithland also gave us the opportunity to take a look round some of the wagon fleet that we haven’t seen for a while, it’s always good to keep a check on how things may be deteriorating but thankfully no major issues were noted, although it’s clear that some wagons will need to feature in the future work plan before too long, such as the two Tube wagons B732357 and E301588.

Once back at Quorn Matt and myself took the opportunity to have a cursory walk round the van train that was stabled in the sidings at Quorn. The paint on a few of the chalk boards was noted to be cracked and peeling off vans B780282, B786348, B850498 and B852838, mostly on the west side which seems to suffer more from the weather. The boards were sanded and repainted.

Ross continued with the inspection of the vans to determine which ones are going to be priority for attention to body side panels in the coming months, again an issue mostly on the west side of the wagons.

In readiness for an upcoming event in which the 17 strong van train is required, the operations department arrived with a Class 08 shunter to carry out a full-train brake test. D4137 was duly coupled to the south end of the vans and thankfully all was in order with the brake test.

We then concentrated on clearing up the yard ready for a temporary structure to be erected for which we have now received permission from the railway to proceed with. The Volvo was rather reluctantly coaxed into life to assist with moving a few heavier items, and it was great to get Madge started after a long period out of use, although she didn’t start first time, this was down to using a bit too much choke; once she’d fired up she ran smoothly.

The end result of the yard tidying was a nice clear area ready for the next stage.

Our afternoon was spent in the company of Nick Brodrick, editor of Trackside Magazine who came along to meet the team and see what we’re up to.

Needless to say this involved some photographs, thankfully the afternoon sunshine didn’t disappoint.

Thanks for reading, join us again next week; in the meantime stay safe.

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.

Bolster Topped

This week we’ve made some more progress with the Bogie Bolster B928135.

We start this weeks update by wishing Nick a very Happy Birthday. As we tried to warm up on a chilly but bright Saturday morning, Ross, Jake, myself and young Thomas (who joined us for the first time) eagerly watched Nick and his first challenge of cutting up his cake to go with our cuppa, thanks to Ross for his excellent Carrot Cake.

Making the most of the dry morning we finished off chiselling out the stanchion holes in the replacement theĀ Bogie Bolster, bolster top timber that had been started a couple of weeks ago. We then cleaned up the top face of the bolster plate and did a trial fit of the timber ensuring all holes were aligned.

The original timber of this south end bolster was decidedly rotten prompting its replacement, however the timbers on the other four bolsters are thankfully in a much better condition.

The bolster plate was treated with some bitumen paint before placing the timber on top.

As most of the original securing bolts had wasted we had to source some replacements from our bolt collection, however most needed a die-nut running down the threads before fitting through the top plate, timber and bolster.

The stanchions were installed and retention chain ends secured.

As the rain set-in on Saturday afternoon we started measuring up the floor at the south end which also needs a couple of replacement timbers; but we’re now another step closer to having the bogie bolster ready for painting…. once the weather allows.

Sheltering out of the rain we turned our attention to further cleaning up and tidying work, plus some electrical equipment checks and repairs, making use of the newly installed and very useful electrical equipment workbench in the mess coach.

After the excitement of yesterday, today has been a bit quieter. Ross spent the day manufacturing brackets to fit a AC to DC converter in the electrical cubicle. This will be used through the winter instead of the ailing batteries on the coach.

Nick removed the rotten timber from the end of the Bolster, ready for a new one to take its place.

Richard also returned to us after some time away recovering from the effect of COVID-19. After a quick tour around how we’re setting the place up, he set to work with Nick cleaning out the ends of the Grampus. The dirt collects in the ends around the hinges and on top of the headstock. This holds onto the moisture and accelerates the build-up of rust.

Now that the power supply was fitted, we turned on all the lights on the coach. Ross went to a position of safety on the other side of the line to take a picture.

Join us again next week, all the best.

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.

21/11/21 – C&W CCT assistance.

This update begins a little earlier than most with Dave at Rothley on Friday. This was to assist with the final stages of the CCTs restoration, which C&W has been pressing on with.

At the start of the day, the east side was in final gloss, and the west first coat with a second coat where the lettering is applied. This allowed Dave to chalk up and apply the Golden Ocher lettering.

On to Saturday and Dave repeating Fridays work but on the west side. The east received my attention with the black lining being applied to each character. 137 characters to be precise.

Jamie and Dave also applied the lining to the east side.

Once the detail work for the day was complete Jamie flattened the remaining west side first coat and applied the chalkboard topcoat. Nick was also on-site but remained at Quorn checking our Grampus wagons that are in Quorn yard for unloading. This is a start to the annual exam.

On to Sunday with Dave tackling the black character lining. His first attempt at this and an excellent job he made. I did have to step in towards the end as the concentration required took its toll.

Jamie and Dave then applied the topcoat to the west side followed by varnish to the east side.

With the door edges being painted also.

Nick applied a coat of paint to the internal shelving that is visible through the windows.

The vehicle is required for the winter wonder light trains with the deadline for completion being Wednesday. The GCR C&W Facebook page will show the completed vehicle in the week, and as always we will update you on our activities next week.