Williton Shed News – 18th September 2013

I wish to start this report by apologising to our loyal readers for the lack of news reports lately. I am very aware that
this is the first significant news update for Williton since the end of June. This regrettable state of affairs has been
forced upon me through extremely trying personal circumstances that have conspired against allocating time for my
leisure interests. Suffice to say, these problems are now, hopefully, firmly in the past.

Some changes are planned to the website and its layout, but these are envisaged to be an evolutionary process
rather than a major upheaval and are designed to make it easier for us to provide updates quickly and in a much
reduced timescale. It is also planned to make uploading images much quicker and easier.

As you might expect, much has happened at Williton this summer, and it has certainly been a busy one.

Summer DMU and QB diagrams. We continue to have a robust programme of loco-hauled services on Fridays
and Saturdays during July, August and September utilising the DMU diagram. This provides for the expected
increased passenger loadings on these days than the DMU can comfortably cope with. It also gives the DMU itself a
break, and allows us to run our locos and also train and develop our crews. The loco roster for these workings has
been varied and all of our operational fleet has featured at some point. It has been very gratifying to see our regular
supporters out enjoying haulage with their particular favourite locos. Class 14 D9526 has also featured extensively
on the mid-week QB trains and some additional engineering trains. There have been some peculiarities though;
examples are towing the DMU to cover for no coaching stock being available. There are precedents for this of
course, with locos rescuing failed DMUs in BR days. Also, we found ourselves in a slight predicament on 20th July
when we had rostered the Western for the Saturday turn. The WSR also had a large block booking that day and
needed a lot of extra coaches. This meant that with the Western generating an increased turnout of enthusiasts,
they found themselves squeezed into just three coaches together with a good number of ordinary passengers.
Apparently it was very cosy on board! At the time of writing, the 2013 season of summer running is drawing to a
close. Last weekend, 13th & 14th September, Hymek D7017 performed the honours on both days. The locomotive
performed extremely well throughout, hauling a seven coach set with ease. I am pleased to report from first-hand
experience as the Secondman on both days, that the engine sounds fantastic. It runs very smoothly indeed and the
exhaust is unusually clear for a Maybach, though like any engine, it will still darken a bit when you make it work hard.
It is a credit to Dr Maybach's engine overhaul workshop.

WSRA Steam Gala at Norton Fitzwarren. The annual WSRA organised Gala held at Norton Fitzwarren at the
beginning of August was a much drier affair than last years sodden and ultimately cancelled experience. Sentinel
DH16 trundled sedately up to Norton to participate by offering the familiar and ever-popular 'Driver for a Fiver'
experience over part of the Norton Triangle. We also had a couple of outings to deploy and recover the
demonstration stock that was stabled on the West Chord during the event.

Special dinner train. On Sunday 17th August a rare evening working of the Quantock Belle was booked to be
hauled by D832 Onslaught. A group reservation was made on board for DEPG staff and families to celebrate the
Chairman’s birthday. With Driver Harris at the helm, ably supported by Secondman Hill and Warship Engineer
Fitzjohn, a most pleasant evening was enjoyed by all who attended from the depot. Normally the QB operates from
and to Bishops Lydeard throughout and dining passengers remain on the train except during the turn-round at
Minehead. For this auspicious occasion, special arrangements were in hand for the DEPG party to travel to BL on
the 18:14 departure from Williton which meant that we were technically a few minutes late joining the QB. After a
necessarily slightly rushed cheese and biscuit course with our after-dinner coffee, we were allowed to disembark at
Williton on the return journey and were able to witness a fine spirited departure of the Warship into the night.

Late Summer Weekend. A favourite event in the WSR calendar, who can resist the joint temptations of classic
steam and diesel traction, an intensive timetable, delightful West Somerset scenery and the promise of some fine
summer weather. All this actually came together at the very end of August to make for a memorable weekend. What
better illustration can there be of the rewards that we enjoy from our hobby? This event does not normally use
visiting locomotives, so gives an excellent opportunity for the WSR and DEPG to field an interesting selection of
locomotives from their respective fleets. The theme for this event was to be the transition period from steam to diesel
on the Western Region of BR. For us, the current operational pool of locomotives was extensively mined to give a
roster that included D832, D1010, D7017 on service trains and D9526  on Driver for a Fiver, all from the WR
hydraulic fleet, and Class 47 D1661 representing the diesel-electrics. Remember that D1661 was initially allocated
to WR when new and was one of the few named 47s at the time, being named North Star in the finest Swindon
tradition. With a little manipulation of the timetable and some careful allocation of crew rosters, we were hopefully
able to present a line-up that had some interest for everyone who attended. At the time of writing, I have not had any
images of this event submitted for inclusion with this report. Any contributions are most welcome and will be added to
the gallery at a later date.

Minehead Beer Festival. Another regular and very popular event in the WSR calendar is the Beer Festival held
on the platform under the canopy at Minehead Station over the weekend of 8th/9th September. Warship D832 was
stabled on the turntable to provide an interesting backdrop to the proceedings, while Western D1010 was deployed
on the DMU diagram. The event is organised by the Somerset Branch of CAMRA (CAMpaign for Real Ale) and
always provides a superlative collection of ales, stouts and ciders from across the South West. It is hugely popular,
with visitors attending from all around the Minehead area, but is also well patronised by people travelling to and from
the event by train, with extra trains being run in the evening specially for the event.

D7018 updates. Our second Hymek continues to make quiet progress. As I have mentioned in previous reports,
much of the work being done is undramatic but essential background stuff that needs to be in place for the big bits
to work. The next big bit to go back into the loco will be the cooler group which is getting close to completion, but we
still have some remedial work to undertake on it to make good some areas of concern that came to light during
pressure testing, essentially consisting of some weeping leakage from some very inaccessible corners. In readiness
for the cooler group, its location in the loco has been receiving some attention from the mechanical staff to ensure
that all associated pipework is in place and in good shape to connect up. The auxiliary drive shafts have also been
fitted and the dynastarter now looks the part, ready to spin the transmission over as soon as the relays kick in. In
that respect, the big news of the moment is that a major milestone in electrical work has been reached. The
electricians have been quietly busy with the rewiring and electrical component repairs and modifications. It has taken
a long time, but they have finally been able to carry out live testing of all systems. After temporarily connecting up a
spare set of batteries, all circuits were methodically switched on and tested for correct operation. For the first time in
many years, our second Hymek was aglow with its own lights. The first stage of static live testing has now been
passed. The next stage will be to switch on some of the rotating machinery to check that it a) turns/operates and b)
turns/operates in the correct direction! Fingers crossed, but this will include spinning the transmission over. We
eagerly await results! Some modifications have been necessary to the vacuum brake exhausters. We have been
unable to source spares for the original type of exhauster fitted to Hymeks from new, and have been obliged to fit a
different model for which spares are available in order to continue to operate these popular locomotives. This has
meant re-routing the fixed pipework to reflect the new arrangement, and several trial and error fitting sessions have
been needed before we could be happy with the outcome. The engine workshop has been busy too. Recent efforts
in this area have concentrated on finding a suitable MD870 crankcase block to form the basis of the build. A furious
round of wheeling and dealing between us, DTG and Bury Hydraulic Group has resulted in a suitable set of
components to begin assembling a power unit. Sadly, during this process, it came to light that the engine from
D7029, which last ran on the North York Moors Railway some years ago, was scarily close to catastrophic failure.
Among the images shortly to appear in the gallery section, is an example of a failed main bearing outer shell, and a
bad crack in the base of the crankcase, which has condemned the block to a new life as razor blades. Naturally,
when the crack was discovered there was much discussion in the messroom as to what may have caused it. It is an
extremely unusual failure for a Maybach and it has certainly caused some debate. Before you rush to send in your
own theories for the failure, remember that it was running in this condition. Whether the crack and the failing bearing
are connected events is open to conjecture. A 'chicken-and-egg' situation perhaps; which came first? Anyway, the
block chosen as the best candidate for rebuilding is now on the way to reviving that famous Hymek growl. That
engine originally came to us from Pound's Scrapyard in Portsmouth many years ago. Although it is clearly a genuine
ex-BR Maybach engine because of its special to type mounting feet arrangement, it is unfortunate that the area on
the crankcase which is stamped with the engine serial number also happens to have suffered the worst from open
air storage by the sea and it is now completely illegible so, alas, we cannot determine which Hymek it came from.
You may recall some images appearing recently on www.wsr.org that show a significant stage being successfully
passed, namely the hot pressure test of the coolant system after the new cylinder liners had been fitted. The
serviceable main bearing shells have been refitted, but further work on this engine has paused for the moment, at
least it has at Williton. While we await the delivery of the replacement crankshaft main bearing shells to replace
those damaged when in D7029, the engine build team has been seconded to the infrastructure department for a
major project in the main shed, of which more later in this report. The rebuild continues at Dr Maybach's secret labs
where more components are being prepared for fitting.

D9518 news. The long awaited restoration of D9518 has finally commenced. Readers will be aware that this loco is
essentially still in the condition she was left in, otherwise operational but awaiting an engine to be refitted, when the
Ashington Colliery system closed in 1988. A few parts have removed in the intervening period, but she is basically
as withdrawn and still wearing her last livery of NCB blue. After the June MTW Gala was safely over and Class 14
D9526 was firmly back in traffic, the attention of our maintenance teams could be directed elsewhere. Having spent
the intervening period since acquisition being shunted around the yards at Williton, our other Class 14 D9518 was
finally able to occupy the Old Goods Shed. Initially this was being looked at as little more than secure storage, but as
the summer running season got under way and maintenance turned to keeping the fleet running rather than
overhaul, it became clear that the depot had itchy fingers about! The decision was then finally made to start work on
D9518. Readers should be under no illusion that we will soon be having two Teddy Bears to play with. This
restoration is very much being looked at as a five year plan; indeed it is perfectly possible that it could take
considerably longer than that. With that in mind, it is also being seen as an ideal project to involve our apprentices in
from the start so, with guidance from our experienced engineering team, the new boys have begun to carefully
disassemble the loco. As part of this process, careful notes are being made so that we will be able to put it back
together easily when the time comes. Early attention has been directed at the upper body areas and getting the two
bonnet roof sections, doors and frames removed to ease access to the engine room and auxiliary equipment. The
bonnet roofs are now ready to lift off and the cooler group is also ready to remove. The loco will be moved outside to
have these lifted off and restored/stored elsewhere on site, then pushed back in for more dismantling to take place.
Ultimately, the wheelsets will have to come out as the tyres are very badly worn. They will need to be sent away for
retyring, which will be a major drain on our finances when the time comes. The latest news is that the bonnet roof
sections are now off and safely stowed awaiting refurbishment.

Infrastructure development. When the Shedmaster's Office was condemned a couple of years ago and replaced
by the current Portakabin next to the Tool Store, some thought was given to how best we might utilise the space that
we had now gained. Initially it was used as a temporary store for engine blocks, but this requirement has now
receded. It was thought that a new pedestrian entrance to the shed could be made in the newly exposed wall,
allowing us to provide an entrance more suited to wheelchair access than the current one. This in turn gave the
opportunity to improve the shed layout in a number of ways. The plan we have now settled on (and had local
authority approval for) calls for a mezzanine floor to be installed at the end of No2 Road above the current locker
room. With the lockers moved upstairs, the stairs being sited in the existing doorway corridor, space is now available
for the establishment of a 'clean room' where electrical machinery can be repaired. The fact that it will be on the
existing concrete floor means that heavy items can be easily manoeuvred from loco to workshop and back on a
pallet truck or barrow. Another benefit which will fall out of these improvement works is that the existing pedestrian
door will now open into a void under the new stairs; an ideal location for a compressor to provide a fixed compressed
air supply for the whole shed. A suitable second-hand compressor has been acquired and awaits refurbishment and
installation. Since these plans have been finalised, a contractor has been engaged to build the new front door and a
lean-to to house it. The lean-to is a deliberate part of the plan to provide additional weather protection and a clean
area to display all our statutory notices. The mezzanine floor is being constructed in-house using steelwork salvaged
from a demolished building in the East Midlands and has been designed by one of our working members who is an
architect. The modifications to the steelwork have now been completed, the uprights have been painted, and the
structure should start to take shape very soon. We will keep you informed as this project progresses.