Exactly 48 years ago – Class 25 25162 hauled recently-withdrawn ‘Hymek’ D7017 through Reading General station on a hot and sunny Wednesday 30th July 1975, en route from Old Oak Common to Taunton. The ‘Hymek’ had been saved from the scrapman because of funds raised by the D+EG and was destined for the fledgling West Somerset Railway, but had to take up temporary residence at Taunton because the WSR was not able to receive traffic at that time. Photo by Michael Cheetham © CC BY-NC 3.0
The Diesel and Electric Preservation Group (forerunner of the DEPG) will celebrate it’s 50th anniversary as a preservation organisation in September of this year, but on a very hot day 48 years ago, the first object of it’s attention was moved from British Rail’s Old Oak Common depot (three miles outside Paddington) to Taunton after being acquired by the group. The loco was destined for Minehead on the West Somerset Railway, but the line was not ready to receive traffic, having been closed by BR in January 1971 and left unmaintained for several years. The loco stayed initially at Taunton stabling point, and was later moved to be within the confines of Taunton station itself, where work was done by volunteers to tidy up the loco and perform some basic maintenance.
The move to Taunton took place on 25th March 1976 and the loco hauled the first passenger service in the hands of a preserved ex-mainline loco when she worked the ‘Quantock Flyer’ from Minehead to Williton and back on 19th March 1977. Well done to all those who worked so hard to save this wonderful machine and start an organisation that now owns six locomotives and has three other locomotives in its care.
2023 is a year that is filled with golden anniversaries in the field of railway preservation. One such anniversary is that of the very first ex-mainline diesel to be saved for preservation, Class 42 ‘Warship’ D821 ‘GREYHOUND’, now based on the Severn Valley Railway (SVR) in the care of the DIESEL TRACTION GROUP (DTG) along with the DTG’s other locomotives, D1015 ‘WESTERN CHAMPION’, Class 35 ‘Hymek’ D7029 and Class 17 ‘Clayton’ D8568.
The DEPG have been invited to send D7017 and her sister D7018 to the SVR to take part in their late September ‘MAGNIFICENT SEVEN‘ event, which will feature intensive operations using mostly diesel-hydraulic locomotives. As wonderful as this opportunity is, it puts a lot of stress on our volunteers at Williton to not only get the two locos working reliably on our ‘home’ line for our own anniversary event, but to do additional work to allow them to travel to an ‘away’ railway where they will be scrutinised and expected to perform without fault. This is a massive challenge, but we will do our level best to get them ready so as not to disappoint !
Here’s a short video clip of D7017 undergoing a test start-up at Williton after reinstatement of her wiring:
MANY THANKS to John, Neil, Ian R and Tom for getting this work done !
The YELLOW timetable is now in effect for weekdays and Saturdays until 26th August, and the diesel turns are being shared by Class 14 ‘Teddy Bear’ D9526 and Class 33 ‘Crompton’ D6575 (33 057) on alternate weeks. This additional diesel loco-hauled working is covering for the Class 115 Diesel Multiple Unit (DMU) which had been out of service undergoing heavy maintenance work, but has happily now passed inspection and will gradually return to active use, initially on crew training turns.
Keep an eye on our DIESEL RUNNING DATES page for details of which loco will be rostered for which service.
Class 14 ‘Teddy Bear’ D9526 worked the YELLOW timetable on Saturday 29th July 2023 and was pictured at Williton with Class 35 ‘Hymek’ D7017 on number 1 road alongside. Behind the ‘Hymek’, D1010 ‘WESTERN CAMPAIGNER’ is partly hidden by tarpaulins that are covering the roof apertures created by the removal of the cooler groups. Photo by Jon Tooke © CC BY-NC 3.0
The WSR’s Class 115 Diesel Multiple Unit (DMU) was out on a test run on Saturday 29th July 2023, running from Minehead to Williton and back. The newly overhauled unit was gleaming in a welcome moment of sunshine when pictured at Williton by Jon Tooke © CC BY-NC 3.0
This coming weekend sees the WSRA’s ANNUAL STEAM RALLY taking place at Norton Fitzwarren, and it is an event that is well worth supporting, regardless of the weather !
Although the event has steam in the title, it includes a vast range of exhibits from horses to tractors to vintage cars, trucks and buses. The DEPG will also be participating with Class 14 D9526 providing brake van rides over the truncated remains of the Barnstaple branch line, but we are unable to fulfil our previous intention of having one of our Class 35 ‘Hymeks’ on static display, due to the over-run of their repair work. We will also have a SALES STAND at the show, manned by stalwart Chris Shields with support from other DEPG volunteers.
This event is lots of fun and is WELL WORTH A VISIT. There will be a frequent FREE (for rally-goers) shuttle service from Bishops Lydeard to Norton Fitzwarren worked by Class 33 ‘Crompton’ D6575 (33 057) and Class 09 ‘Gronk’ D4107 (09019) and a FREE bus connection from Silk Mills Park & Ride.
Beyond that, the FORTIES WEEKEND event will take place on September 9th and 10th and is always very popular with a wide range of related exhibits and themed activities, including the now-customary evening dance on the platform at Minehead ! Click here to go to the WSR website for details of this event.
Then, the DEPG at 50 event will feature a full day of diesel-hauled services on FRIDAY 22nd SEPTEMBER and mixed traction days on the Saturday and Sunday. Details are being finalised and will be published as soon as possible, hopefully next week. A Friday evening service will run from Bishops Lydeard to Minehead and back and will offer food and drinks to all ticketed travellers (DEPG members will enjoy significant multiple discounts and privileges) so KEEP THIS DATE FREE and make a plan to attend !
Our DIESEL RUNNING DATES page is updated several times per week and is kept as accurate as we can make it. The loco allocations are subject to availability (of course), but we do try to field the allocated loco wherever possible. Click on the banner below to go to the website page:
The DIESEL RUNNING DATES pages is supplemented by our DIESELGEN bulletin service which captures non-public running such as special trains and engineering workings (where we have sufficient notice to publish such workings). Sign up for DIESELGEN emails or keep an eye on our website homepage.
Class 52 D1010 ‘WESTERN CAMPAIGNER’ – as sneakily reported in the last roundup, the lifting of the two cooler groups and the ‘A’ transmission came to fruition on Monday 24th July 2023 in one crane hire session, thanks to the close co-operation of George from HEAVER BROTHERS of Exeter who operated the truck-mounted knuckle boom crane. There are literally hundreds of photos and hours of video footage to be worked through in order to create a video for the DEPG channel, but the focus on the repair work on the two ‘Hymeks’ is priority so the media work will just have to wait in line until resources are available. Meanwhile, here are some more photos that give a flavour of that very interesting day:
D1010 – the heavy-duty knuckle-boom crane was provided by HEAVER BROTHERS of Exeter. Driver and crane operator George (on the right) received his pre-lift briefing from DEPG Chairman Martin Howard at Williton on Monday 24th July 2023. Photo by Andy Royal © CC BY-NC 3.0
D1010 – Step 1 – the cooler group was lifted out from ‘A’ end of the loco at Williton on Monday 24th July 2023. This made space for our volunteers to get inside and release the bolts that held the ‘A’ transmission. Leroy appears to be satisfied with the proceedings ! Photo by Andy Royal © CC BY-NC 3.0
D1010 – Step 2 – with the cooler group lifted out and the drive shaft disconnected, the ‘A’ transmission was prepared for lifting out at Williton on Monday 24th July 2023. Volunteers Geoff (yellow hat) and Leroy (white hat) make the final preparations for lifting. Photo by Martin Howard © CC BY-NC 3.0
D1010 – the 4.5 tonne Voith hydraulic transmission was lifted out from ‘A’ end of the loco at Williton on Monday 24th July 2023 so that it can undergo a complete overhaul in the care of the DEPG ‘transmission team’. Lift team members Martin (L) and Leroy (R) appear happy with the rate of progress. Photo by Andy Royal © CC BY-NC 3.0
D1010 – where the sun don’t shine ….. the lifting of the ‘A’ transmission exposed the inner axle of the ‘A’ bogie, covered with the dirt accumulated over 50 years of running, including many miles on the mainline before the loco entered preservation in 1977. Pictured at Williton on 24th July 2023 by Martin Howard © CC BY-NC 3.0
D1010 – the ‘A’ transmission was given a quick external clean then moved to the DEPG’s nearby transmission repair facility. Pictured at Williton on Tuesday 25th July 2023 by Martin Howard © CC BY-NC 3.0
D1010 – Step 3 – the cooler group was lifted out from ‘B’ end of the loco at Williton on Monday 24th July 2023. This assembly had already been partly stripped down while still in the loco, so it was lighter and easier to move without risk of damage. Pictured from a very unusual angle by Andy Royal © CC BY-NC 3.0
D1010 – the cooler group from ‘A” end now has to be stripped of radiator elements so that it can undergo repairs to corroded sections. Pictured in ‘selfie’ mode at Williton on Tuesday 25th July 2023 by volunteer Nick Boyce © CC BY-NC 3.0
Having the loco outdoors has generated an increased interest in our SPONSOR A PATCH scheme, with several more patches being engraved with their sponsor’s names or messages. This initiative remains the single most successful fund-raising activity and has allowed us to make significant progress with the restoration work. PLEASE CONTINUE TO HELP US FUND THIS PROJECT.
Photographs and certificates of sponsorship will be sent out to all who have sponsored the restoration work, and we are applying more resources to catch up with this obligation and deliver the documents. Click the image below to sponsor a patch. Thank you in advance for your support and your patience!
Class 33 D6575 (33 057) – this loco is stabled at Bishops Lydeard and will work the shutle services for the STEAM RALLY that run between Bishops Lydeard and Norton Fitzwarren on the weekend of 5/6th August. The loco will then remain at Bishops Lydeard in readiness for her YELLOW timetable duties.
Class 35 ‘Hymek’ D7017 – this loco is undergoing the re-connection of the wiring that was removed during the fault-finding that took place during the previous weekend. The driver’s side window is next on the list for attention, along with a few other electrical issues that will be repaired in time for her next booked working on Sunday 13th August.
D7017 – the engine was started up at Williton on Saturday 29th July 2023 so that the electrical systems could be tested. Volunteers Tom (L) and Neil (R) gave the ‘all clear’ after completing the tests. Photo by Andy Royal © CC BY-NC 3.0
Class 35 ‘Hymek’ D7018 – this loco is undergoing detailed investigation work on the transmission control block to trace the source of the issue that has prevented the use of the loco this season. The most likely outcome will be that the control block will need to be swapped back with the previous block that did not change gear automatically, because this at least allows the loco to be operated at reduced power. The investigation work is needed so that we can understand the issues and repair the block on the bench without the benefit of a test rig. This is taking a lot of time, hence the late roundup, but is a priority task !
The Stone-Maybach ‘Mekydro’ hydraulic transmission control schematic depicts a 1960s computer comprising almost entirely of circuits formed from fluid pressure flows, with 39 valves, some of which have multiple cores and time-dependent functions. It is from another era, and is not exactly straightforward. Photo by Andy Royal © CC BY-NC 3.0
Class 14 ‘Teddy Bear’ D9518 – as reported earlier, the team have been involved with and have been supporting the running of classmate D9526, so the work on D9518 has been slowed (but not stopped) to allow our volunteers to have a breather. We will return to this loco in a later edition of roundup.
This loco is the subject of a fundraising appeal so please follow this link to find out more. We need your help ! In addition to funds, we also need plenty of HANDS. If you love the ‘Teddy Bears’ and you are not already a member of the DEPG, please join us so that you can become one of the team that is going to return D9518 to fully operational condition as ‘NCB No. 7‘.
Class 14 ‘Teddy Bear’ D9526 – this loco is fully serviceable and ready for use in place of the DMU on some of the YELLOW timetable services during the peak summer period that started on Tuesday 25th July. Take a look at our DIESEL RUNNING DATES page for details of the running dates and loco allocations.
Class 47 47077 ‘NORTH STAR’ – this loco is undergoing a cylinder head overhaul (same massive type as the Class 33s, but 12 of them!) at Grosmont Works on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. The latest news is that the broken studs have been replaced and the cylinder heads are undergoing overhauls to get them all up to a high standard for future reliability. Some cracks have been found in the casting of the plenum chamber that feeds the exhaust gases into the turbocharger. These will either need specialist repair of the plenum chamber will have to be replaced. We have spares at Williton but their condition is unknown. Sounds like a weekend task coming on !
47077 – the plenum chamber that feeds exhaust gases into the turbocharger has been found to have multiple cracks that will need specialist repair – or the whole casting will need replacement. Pictured on 28th July 2023 at Grosmont Works on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway by Josh Smith © CC BY-NC 3.0
Andrew Barclay 0-4-0DH 578 – this loco is in full working order and is stabled in the South Yard. The cab is undergoing a repaint in the capable hands of Jon T, but the loco remains serviceable and ready for action. Progress is good and the upper half of the interior is looking good already !
Barclay 578 (ROF 1) – the upper half of the cab interior was treated to multiple coats of cream-coloured paint over the weekend of 29th July 2023 and is certainly looking much better for the attention. Many thanks to volunteer and photographer Jon Tooke © CC BY-NC 3.0
If you can help by donating your time to any of these projects, then please JOIN US and come along to the depot for an introduction to what we do and how we do it. We currently have people on site from Saturday through to Tuesday and we can open on other days if we can be sure of getting at least two volunteers on site at all times, so there is plenty of scope. We have tasks of all types to suit most capabilities, both skilled and unskilled.
Many thanks to all of our volunteers who give up so much of their time to work on the cleaning, painting, maintaining, restoring, managing and fund raising for our fleet of heritage locomotives !
BOOK REVIEW and ON SHED – we will have to skip these two features this week due to the weight of other news and the need to prioritise. Hopefully we will be back with these two popular features next week.
DEPG NEWS – the synopsis of the Board Meeting that was held at Williton on Saturday 22nd July is in progress and will be e-mailed to all DEPG members for whom we hold a valid email address, hopefully some time next week.
The ‘Williton Infrastructure Division’ – which comprises several volunteers with a long history of handling infrastructure projects at Williton – were very busy in the inclement weather last weekend, and made considerable progress on multiple fronts. WELL DONE TEAM WID ! Here is one of several photos that we will be sharing over the coming weeks:
Williton infrastructure projects absorbed considerable effort over the weekend of 29th July 2023. The first of several work sessions involved the delivery of concrete and the team of (L-R) Mike H, Tom and Graham (plus Paul T, out of camera) were worn out by the end of the day ! Photo by Jon Tooke © CC BY-NC 3.0
The DEPG depends on the support of all of our members, so please make sure that your membership is up to date. If you are not sure about your membership status, please click here or on the image below to access your membership record via MEMBERMOJO. Thank you very much !
KEY DATES for your diary:
WSRA STEAM RALLY: Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th August at Norton Fitzwarren
WSR FORTIES WEEKEND: Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th September
DEPG 50th ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATIONS : Friday 22nd and Saturday 23rd September 2023.