There has been a lot going on recently, despite the lack of reports, I will try to cover everything, but apologies in advance if I miss anything out or forget to mention some of the hard work that people have been doing.
70013 rounded off her summer’s activities in fine style; with an appearance at the NRM’s Shildon Site for their Annual Steam Gala closely followed by a visit to the North Yorkshire Moors Railway for their Gala. Immediately after the NYMR’s gala, the engine was prepared for road transport so that she could be moved to Loughborough ready for the GCR’s Steam Railway Gala on the following weekend. The move from the Moors also coincided with the emptying of M17019, our hired support coach for the season. So the Trusty Red Van made the journey to Grosmont ready to receive all of 5305la’s good and chattels. Hopefully this will be the last time we have to strip out the hired coach because the team are determined to complete 17064 ready for next year’s Main Line season. The extra effort of trekking hundreds of miles to remove some spanners, saucepans and sleeping bags has made them all the more determined to finish, but more about the coach later.
Oliver Cromwell had a good season on the Main Line, in all she worked 34 main line tours, making 19 engine & van moves, visiting four major galas, appearing at Open Days at Neville Hill and Shildon and covering over 11,000 main line miles. The engine was in steam and on duty for 67 days, which when you count in preparation, disposal and maintenance days, each with several people means many more support crew days – thanks Guys for all your hard work.
As soon as the GCR’s gala was finished, the team swooped onto 70013 like a carefully choreographed flock of vultures, stripping the engine down for a period of planned maintenance. The team were at work stripping the engine as the footplate crew disposed on Sunday evening. Cracking work gang. The springs were removed and have gone to be overhauled by a specialist spring firm. The expansion links have been delivered to Lancashire for attention, the valves & pistons have been stripped for a routine V&P exam, and numerous other tasks that have been identified over the previous weeks are being sorted. We are grateful to David Wright of Locomotive Maintenance Services for his efforts, both for this period of maintenance and for his engineering support over the main line season.
Meanwhile, all this activity with the Brit doesn’t mean that the other engines are being ignored. 45305 is now enjoying an elevated position in the shed as the team have lifted her for a routine axlebox inspection. This has been on the cards for a long time, but needed to be scheduled in with other activities on the shed, because once an engine is up on jacks, everything behind it is trapped in. In our case we had to wait until after the GCR’s new borer had been moved down the shed, (the machine is so large that all the vehicles on 3 road had to be dragged out of the way first). Then Boscastle had to be lifted and her wheels rolled out of the shed (so the Five had to move out of the way) , then 3809 (ditto), and only then could we lift the five. While we were waiting for a lifting slot, various other tasks have been undertaken, many of which have been reported in previous news items. We are very grateful to Ralph Ingham and Paul from KWVR who visited the GCR as support crew for the WD. They generously offered to help with 45305 while not on duty with their charge. Both men knew the five when she was shedded at Keighley and have fond memories of her. We took shameful advantage of their generosity and put them to work getting her ready for the lift. Ralph in particular probably regretted offering his help when Alison asked whether, since they were waiting for input from Tom on a technical decision, he and Chris Williams could help her replace the lubricators on the running plates? But he and Chris Williams didn’t flinch (much) and the lubricators are now safely back in position on the engine.
Sir Lamiel has been available for traffic most of the summer, but for various reasons she has seen very little work with the GCR. That changed at the Steam Railway Gala when the Standard 2 failed on the Friday and 5305la were asked whether the Arthur could step in at short notice for the Saturday. We were happy to help, and 30777 had an unexpected outing. Lamiel was due to visit the Bluebell Railway for their Giants of Steam Gala shortly after the GCR’s event, but a failed superheater element on Saturday meant that she was unable to attend. We are in the process of sorting out a new set of superheater elements for the engine, because we knew that the current set were getting tired, but are waiting for key castings to be delivered. All of the other components are ready and the elements can be fabricated reasonably quickly once the castings arrive, it was just unfortunate that they hadn’t arrived in time to replace the elements before now. While Ralph and Chris were busy replacing the lubricators on the five’s running boards they heard a strange sound, which Chris, quipped was someone vacuuming the Arthur – actually he was right, Hugh was busy using the 5305 LA heavy duty vacuum cleaner to clean off the front buffer beam of 30777 after some maintenance work had been done in the smokebox – many a true word spoken in jest – we do like a clean engine!
The support coach is gaining momentum; Gary has been putting in mammoth efforts getting the outside sorted & painted (note how I carefully avoided the term “up to scratch” – neat huh!?). While Malcolm, Steve and the rest of the Wednesday gang (among others) have been doing stirling work inside. Some of the orange plastic panelling has been re-installed in the vestibule, the ply panelling in the corridor is now finished – it turned out to be one of those jobs which look simple when you start, but where you quickly discover that it’s not as easy as all that. Steve has made a superb bracket / shelf for the urn, (another job which turned out to take longer than initially expected). Dave Wright has been busy manufacturing bunk beds, Dick has modified the gas box to fit the clearances on a Mark 2, Mark and Allastair have been busy with wiring and Malcolm has nearly finished plumbing in the kitchen sink. Kevin has been bucking the trend by taking bits off the coach. All in all, the coach is pretty well advanced now, so we should be able to knock it on the head fairly quickly ready to start on ‘99’, after-all we have got 3 main line certificated engines to look after!
One final job which has been done over the summer: a complete overhaul of the 5305 Locomotive Association Information Board which is usually at the front of 45305 in Loughborough Shed. For a long time (too long!) it has featured a couple of laminated photographs and a page or two of text, also laminated. The lamination meant that it was not easy to change the text on a regular basis, and the photos were, to put it politely, out of date. So it has been completely re-vamped. It has now reverted to a plain white-board with the 5305 LA heading. This makes it easy to keep the hand-written notes about the status of all 5 of the engines in our care up to date it also allows us to include a web address and acknowledgement of the NRM’s ownership of three of the five locos.