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  • DIESELGEN 16-Apr-21

    Class 33 ‘Crompton’ D6575 (33 057) approaches Govier’s Lane crossing in Watchet on 22nd March 2021 with a short train of empty ‘DOGFISH’ hopper wagons destined for the PW depot at Dunster. Photo by Tom Courtney © CC BY-NC 3.0

     

    Tomorrow, Saturday 17th April 2021 at approximately 11:00 after the arrival into Williton (WN) of the steam-hauled crew training special from Bishops Lydeard (BL), Class 33 ‘Crompton’ D6575 (33 057) will run from WN to BL light engine and stable there in preparation for some movements that have been planned by the WSR Infrastructure Engineering Department for Tuesday and Wednesday, 20-21 April.  The details are as follows (timings are approximate):

    Tuesday 20th April 2021

      Off shed from BL at 09:00 to collect the engineers’ train from the ‘up’ sidings at BL and depart for WN where sleepers and other PW materials will be loaded. Continue towards Minehead (MD) and/or other locations as determined by the Infrastructure Engineering Department.

    Wednesday 21st April 2021

      Continuation of the previous days’ working, the final leg of the working being to depart Minehead (MD) at an undetermined time to move a ‘LOWMAC’ wagon to BL where the loco will stable and remain on standby duties.

    Other workings may take place. The railway is to be considered as LIVE at all times.

    Please note that the stations remain closed to the public and trespassing is not allowed. During the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the best way to view these workings is via the webcams at BL and WN.

    BL: http://www.wsr.org.uk/r-cam-bl2.htm

    WN: http://www.wsr.org.uk/r-cam-wn2.htm

    Many thanks to Railcam UK and the WSR for providing these webcam services.

    Take care and stay safe!

  • Depot News – week ending 11-Apr-21

    Last week, we provided information about the re-opening of the WSR on Saturday 22nd May 2021 and the subsequent expansion of workings through to the summer peak, where the BLUE timetable includes a regular diesel loco-hauled service that starts on Saturday 3rd July, running from Minehead to Bishops Lydeard and back, with an additional working between Bishops Lydeard and Williton. This gives us 27 days of running with 60 miles per day, so 1,620 miles in total during which the DEPG will be providing the haulage.

    In addition to this, we will of course be supporting the WSR with engineering trains, empty coaching stock moves and short-notice backup ‘Thunderbird’ locos in case of any issues arising with the steam locos that will be intensively working the majority of services.

    The logical choice for the diesel loco-hauled services are our Class 33 ‘Cromptons’ D6566 (33 048) and D6575 (33 057) because these locos can be crewed by both WSR and DEPG crews, offering versatility and flexibility for the WSR’s Operating Department. This is especially important when changes to rostered services need to be made at short notice.

    However, to provide some variety and allow some of our other locos a chance to share the workload, we intend to have ‘Hymek’ D7018 and Class 14 ‘Teddy Bear’ D9526 available for as many days as possible. The reason that we are limited in the number of running days for these locos is because of availability of crews. The lack of running over the last year has prevented our trainees from ‘passing out’ and the WSR resources must be focused on training and passing crews in the most efficient way to address their own needs, so Class 33 drivers will be the priority.

    In the background, we will be working on ways to expand the use of the diesel-hydraulics and we will keep everyone informed via our website and also via our DIESELGEN email bulletin service.

    Last week, we wanted to bring attention to the major upgrade that is taking place at Seaward Way level crossing, just outside Minehead Station, so we had intended to include a photo of one of our locos approaching the crossing. However, the photo that we used was not at the level crossing – it was at Kentsford Farm crossing, which is between Watchet and Washford! Here’s the photo again, but this time with the CORRECT caption. Thanks to those eagle-eyed readers who reported this error (all such reports are welcomed, honestly!). 

    Class 35 ‘Hymek’ D7018 puts on the power at Kentsford Farm crossing, on the climb to Washford on 21st June 2019. The loco had just returned to service after a thorough overhaul that lasted 24 years! See our booklet ‘HYMEK D7018‘. Photo by Mark Ireland © CC BY-NC 3.0

     

    To explain some more about the upgrade to Seaward Way level crossing, it is interesting to note that this crossing did not exist 30 years ago – it was built when the area was under development, as can be seen in the following photos (hopefully correctly captioned this time):

     

    An aerial view from 1991 of what was to become Seaward Way (depicted in yellow) with the level crossing under construction at the point of intersection with the WSR, within the red circle. Photo by Ian Chappel © CC BY-NC 3.0

     

    Construction of the level crossing was carried out well in advance of the roadway so that the WSR could operate as normal throughout 1991. This photo shows GWR 2-6-2T No. 6106 approaching the fully functional crossing in September 1991, with barriers down – but no roadway in place. Photo by Steve Edge © CC BY-NC 3.0

     

     

    The DEPG’s first locomotive, ‘Hymek’ D7017, slows to 10 mph for the Seaward Way level crossing with Paul Tucker at the controls and Dunster station visible in the distance. Photo taken on 24th October 2009 by Martin Southwoood. © CC BY-NC 3.0

     

     

    Driver’s eye view of Seaward Way level crossing from the cab of Class 47 D1661 ‘NORTH STAR’ on 26th May 2017. Photo by Robin Moira White © CC BY-NC 3.0

     

    Seaward Way level crossing, just outside Minehead station, with Class 14 D9526 halting traffic while she positions to couple up to her train on 22nd June 2019. The crossing is currently undergoing complete renewal and upgrading to a full-barrier type with CCTV facilities and is expected to be completed by mid-June 2021. Photo by Colin Harris © CC BY-NC 3.0

     

    The crossing is being upgraded to a full-barrier type with CCTV facilities to cope with the significant increase in both vehicle and foot traffic along this road. Changes to the signalling layout will also allow locos to run around their trains without having to cross the road, simplifying movements within station limits and reducing the disruption of road traffic. These changes will create a significant amount of re-training and familiarisation work for train crews and ground staff, but will yield benefits for train turnaround times and station operations. Click here to read more about this development.

    LOCO NEWS:

    47 077 – Our ‘celebrity’ Class 47 has been getting the attention again, as we concentrate on completing the bodyside and roof overhaul and getting her ready to leave the confines of the loco shed. When ‘outshopped’, ‘NORTH STAR’ will be wearing a livery of BR blue from the late ‘seventies, when she was based at Cardiff Canton and carried the BR ‘double arrow’ logo in addition to nameplates with a red background (she ran without the BR logo for many years after first taking on the blue livery). Last weekend, the air filters that sit behind the grilles at roof level were cleaned and reloaded with fresh filter material, getting her one step closer to a test run. 

     

    DEPG volunteer Warren uses the filter casing as a template to cut out a square of new filter material for 47077 ‘NORTH STAR’, with many other filter cases piled up alongside. Photo taken at Williton on 5th April 2021 by Ian Robins © CC BY-NC 3.0

     

     

    The reloaded filter casings are back in position behind the grilles, to protect the engine room from the dust and dirt of the outside world. Photo taken at Williton on 5th April 2021 by Ian Robins. © CC BY-NC 3.0

     

    Other than reported above, the status of our locos remains unchanged this week, due to lockdown. Many thanks to all of our volunteers for their continuing dedication to keeping our locomotives in the best condition possible.

     

    ON SHED: Now that we have completed our booklet on Class 52 ‘Western’ D1010 ‘WESTERN CAMPAIGNER’, we can now start to share the many photographs that were sent to us for consideration for inclusion in the new booklet. In the end, we had many more photos than we could fit in, but this is a good thing – so don’t be dissuaded, keep ’em coming !

    Here’s an atmospheric shot of D1010 at the fuelling point at Bristol Bath Road depot, with just over one year to go before the end of the Class on BR:

     

    D1010 ‘WESTERN CAMPAIGNER’ with only two digits remaining attached on her numberplate, stands at the fuelling point at Bristol Bath Road depot in January 1976 in the company of a Class 08 and a Class 03. Photo by Bob Tiller © CC BY-NC 3.0

     

    DEPG NEWS: The easing of Covid-19 restrictions is the main news this week and the Williton depot returns to ‘normal’ as from tomorrow, subject to a limit of 12 persons on site, so we can now restart work on ALL of our locos. Attendance at the depot needs to be booked in advance. New volunteers are welcome – simply email contact@depg.org or use the contact form if you would like to come along and help (remember to obtain or renew your membership first). There is something for everyone, but we do need to spread the attendance throughout the week to make sure that we keep within the limits of our facilities, and remember, all attendance has to be booked in advance.

    DEPG WEBSITE: Our ONLINE SHOP IS NOW LIVE so go ahead and visit our store!

    Our new booklet, ‘D1010 – FROM MEREHEAD TO MINEHEAD’ is going to be delivered to us during the next few days. This will allow us to get pre-ordered booklets out in the mail starting from April 14th so PLACE YOUR ORDER NOW ! This booklet covers our Class 52 D1010 ‘WESTERN CAMPAIGNER’ and its life in preservation, from Foster Yeoman’s quarry at Merehead to the West Somerset Railway to Minehead. All proceeds go to the D1010 restoration fund.

    WSR NEWS: The WSR will be operating crew training special services from next Saturday onwards as the big effort to renew staff competencies gets under way. Gradually, this refresher training will extend to other forms of voluntary work as the assessors get through their priority lists. The DEPG stands ready to support the re-opening effort as necessary and we are working on a campaign to get maximum patronage on the diesel-loco-hauled services that will run on the BLUE timetable.

     

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  • Depot News – week ending 04-Apr-21

     
    This week, we concentrate on the activities that are being planned for the next few weeks, leading up to the re-opening of the WSR on Saturday 22nd May 2021. In addition to the activities needed to support the WSR, we also have some activities of our own that we have to fit in for various reasons.

    First, we need to make sure that the current duty locomotive, Class 33 ‘Crompton’ D6575 (33 057) is ready for action. This loco is currently fully serviceable and is stabled alongside Platform 1 at Williton (WN) station (the ‘down’ line) in the company of a brake van (or guard’s van). We expect that she will be moved to Bishops Lydeard (BL) to support the planned staff training specials that will operate from the 19th April in the BL-WN section. These specials will run two or three round trips on each Saturday between the 19th April and the 15th May.

    When services start on 22nd May on the BROWN timetable, they will be steam hauled from BL to WN with the loco running around its train at WN for the return leg to BL. On the Saturdays in May and the Wednesdays in June, these services will include catering, with morning service offering ‘Tea, Coffee and Cake’, the midday service offering ‘Fish & Chips’ and the afternoon service offering ‘Cream Teas’. Click the links for more details. One of our ‘Cromptons’ will need to be on standby at BL to support all of these operations.

    Saturdays in June see an extension of some services to Watchet and Blue Anchor, under the GREEN timetable, again steam hauled both ways. Then, in July, the RED timetable includes non-stop services from BL through to Minehead plus one Minehead to Watchet service, again all steam hauled.

    For the DEPG, our big part comes into focus on Saturday 3rd July, where the BLUE timetable includes a 60-mile diesel-hauled service that starts and ends in Minehead with an additional shuttle between BL and WN. This opportunity for diesel haulage has come about due to the non-availability of the DMU this season. In total, the current published timetable shows 27 days where the BLUE timetable is in operation. This significant amount of running gives us the opportunity to use Class 35 ‘Hymek’ D7018 and Class 14 ‘Teddy Bear’ D9526 on some days, while our stalwart Class 33s D6566 (33 048) and D6575 (33 057) will cover the majority of the workings.

    These BLUE timetable workings will provide an hour stopover at Williton between 1320 and 1430, so we hope to be able to find enough volunteers to be able to open our depot on each running day and put on a bit of a ‘show and tell’.

    A screenshot of the BLUE timetable taken on 4th April 2021. Click here to go to the WSR website to get the latest version of this timetable.

    The origination point of Minehead for the BLUE timetable is not ideal for most diesel fans, but it is an opportunity that has been presented to us and we now need to do our very best to make sure that every ticket is sold and that these services are a commercial success. PLEASE TRY TO SUPPORT THESE DIESEL-HAULED SERVICES! We will announce our plans for haulage as soon as we can, but this depends on volunteers completing refresher training so that we can provide sufficient crews to cover this workload. It also depends on locomotives being available for service….

    For Class 33 D6566 (33 048), work is ongoing to resolve the oil dilution issue but the investigation reports show that the engine oil is still within limits for further use, so the loco will be made available for service in time for the staff training services that start on 17th April.

    Class 14 ‘Teddy Bear’ D9526 is waiting for an opportunity for a test run to BL so that she can go over the pit for an underframe inspection. If all goes well, she will be available for use immediately after that.

    Class 35 ‘Hymek’ D7018 is currently out of service for attention to the gear-change mechanism in the Mekydro transmission, but plans have been made to resolve this in time for the summer services. In the worst case, the loco will be locked in second gear and will perform its duties in that way (and few will be able to tell the difference).

    So, we WILL be READY !

    We can keep you informed of diesel loco workings if you join our DIESELGEN e-mail bulletin service. Here’s some photos from previous years to remind us what we have in store from July onwards:

    Class 33 ‘Crompton’ D6575 (33 057) leads her slightly older sister D6566 (33 048) as they climb towards Nornvis Bridge on 8th June 2013. Photo by Graham Perry © CC BY-NC 3.0

     

    Class 14 ‘Teddy Bear’ D9526 lifts a Minehead-bound service out of Watchet on 6th June 2014. The old goods shed to the left of the footbridge is the exact same design as at Williton, but it now houses the Watchet Boat Museum and is well worth a visit. Photo by Graham Perry © CC BY-NC 3.0

     

    Class 35 ‘Hymek’ D7018 puts on the power after passing Kenstford crossing, on the climb to Washford station on 21st June 2019. The loco had just returned to service after a thorough overhaul that lasted 24 years! See our booklet ‘HYMEK D7018’. Photo by Mark Ireland © CC BY-NC 3.0

     

    LOCO NEWS:

    D1010 – After the excitement of last week when the ‘A’ engine of Class 52 D1010 ‘WESTERN CAMPAIGNER’ was started up (see last week’s Depot News posting), this weekend is a lower key affair as the ‘B’ engine receives care and attention. This engine, although fully serviceable, cannot be started because the transmission has been removed for investigation and repair, so the ‘B’ engine needs to be lubricated and turned over manually to keep all of her moving parts from seizing up. Because of the positions of our locomotives and rolling stock in the crowded South Yard at Williton, it is necessary for D1010 to be able to move herself so that we can release Class 47 47077 ‘NORTH STAR’ from the loco shed some time later this month.

    47 077 – This loco needs to have some work completed before she can be removed from the shed. The key outstanding tasks are the re-installation of the Serck hydrostatic radiator shutter panels, all of which were refurbished last year and are lined up ready and waiting, and the reinstallation of some other roof panels to make her watertight and able to be moved outside. Then there are several internal tasks to be completed before the loco can be made ready for inspection. If lockdown rules permit, these tasks will be completed before the end of April.

    D7017 – Good news this week because a complete new set of primary suspension coil springs have arrived at Williton depot. The photo below shows the brand new parts, set to scale against a steel tape measure. Many thanks to all who donated towards the purchase of these parts. The elliptical secondary suspension springs are to be the subject of a new fundraising campaign on JustGiving.

     

    A complete set of 24 brand new coil springs for the primary suspension of Class 35 ‘Hymek’ D7017. The two smaller springs fit inside the largest spring, and each wheel has its own set of three springs. Pictured at Williton on 3rd April 2021 by Ian Robins © CC BY-NC 3.0

     

     

    For comparison, the above photo shows the ‘old’ springs from sister loco D7018, following their removal for reconditioning in 2004. Photo by Paul Tucker © CC BY-NC 3.0

    Other than reported above, the status of our locos remains unchanged this week, due to lockdown. Many thanks to all of our volunteers for their continuing work to keep our locomotives in the best condition possible, considering the circumstances.

     

    BOOK REVIEW – This week, we feature the first of our pre-owned books to be offered for sale via the DEPG online store. The honour goes to ‘The Power of the PEAKS‘ by Keith Montague, published by Oxford Press in 1978. This hardback book has 128 pages and more than 200 black-and-white photos covering the three classes that make up the ‘Peaks’, namely classes 44, 45 and 46.

    Being one of the popular ‘The Power of ….’ series, these books are very well known and may already occupy your shelf, but if not, BUY THIS ONE and you will be able to enjoy the many and varied photos that cover the career of this heavyweight class, from inception through to publishing date. There are several pre-owned copies available from online resellers but we are selling this book to raise funds for the DEPG, so buy our copy instead. We are asking for £10 plus £3.50 p&p which is close to the going rate.

     

    If you have books or magazines that you want to donate to us, please let us know by emailing contact@depg.org or by using this contact form so that we can provide a postal address to you. Our diesel depot is only open for a few days of the week, so it won’t do to have a pile of packages outside the gate, but we will soon work out an alternative arrangement. We appreciate your efforts to give us more items to sell to raise funds for the DEPG fleet.

     

    DEPG NEWS: The synopsis of the Board Meeting that was held last Saturday will be available shortly and will be circulated with the roundup next week. Attendance at Williton depot is still determined on the basis of “urgent and essential” tasks only, but the number of tasks falling into this category has been increasing steadily. We hope to be able to relax restrictions soon and get back to work, but we will be following the guidance from the UK Government and adapting our procedures to suit. Meanwhile, all volunteers are being kept up to date via a separate emailing list.

    An update regarding social media coverage – the two videos of our Class 52 D1010 engine run by Tom and Leroy that were posted last week on TwitterFacebook and Instagram reached more than 8,000 views within a matter of days, showing that our outreach has grown significantly during the last few years. Many thanks to DEPG volunteer Natalie for managing our channels and raising our profile !

    DEPG WEBSITE: Our ONLINE SHOP IS NOW LIVE so go ahead and visit our store!

    Our new booklet, ‘D1010 – FROM MEREHEAD TO MINEHEAD’ is going to be running on the press on Tuesday this week, and as soon as the proof is approved, the batch will be run during the following 3 days. This will allow us to get booklets out in the mail starting from April 12th so PLACE YOUR ORDER NOW ! This booklet covers our Class 52 D1010 ‘WESTERN CAMPAIGNER’ and its life in preservation, from Foster Yeoman’s quarry at Merehead to the West Somerset Railway to Minehead. All proceeds go to the D1010 restoration fund.

    WSR NEWS: The WSR ran another of their Zoom sessions for volunteers on Wednesday 31st March and well over 70 volunteers joined to listen to WSR Director Steve Williams run through the status of the significant number of responsibilities that fall under the heading of Business Development on the WSR. Well done to Steve and well done to the Board of the WSR for starting – and maintaining – these informative monthly sessions.

     

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  • Depot News – week ending 28-Mar-21

    This week, we have plenty of photographs showing Class 33 ‘Crompton’ D6575 (33 057) in action on the ballast train workings that took place last Monday. The day started with some shunting in Williton, with D6566 (33 048) moving to take up a position in the DEPG yard so that she could get some attention later in the week. This then left D6575 free to run around her train of three ‘DOGFISH’ wagons and position them for filling with fresh ballast. Then, D6575 hauled the train to Doniford, where the ballast was distributed along the newly re-laid formation. The empty wagons were then taken to the Permanent Way yard at Dunster and the loco returned to Williton light engine.

    A number of our members and supporters were all safely positioned with cameras at the ready, so we received several excellent images of these workings, some of which are included below:

    Class 33 ‘Crompton’ D6575 (33 057) approaches the Doniford worksite with fresh ballast on 22nd March 2021. Photo by Mark Ireland © CC BY-NC 3.0

     

    Class 33 ‘Crompton’ D6575 (33 057) waits at Helwell Bay after delivering fresh ballast to the Doniford worksite on 22nd March 2021. Photo by Mark Ireland © CC BY-NC 3.0

     

    New trackwork at Doniford Halt, seen just after the delivery of fresh ballast on 22nd March 2021. Photo by Mark Ireland © CC BY-NC 3.0

     

    Class 33 ‘Crompton’ D6575 (33 057) pauses at Blue Anchor on her way home to Williton after delivering the empty ballast hoppers to Dunster PW yard. Pictured on 22nd March 2021 by Tim Johnson © CC BY-NC 3.0

     

    DEPG volunteer Class 33 loco manager Ian Robins and DEPG volunteer Tom Courtney have been attending to D6566 at Williton and have started to replace the fuel injectors with newly-refurbished parts. One of the high pressure fuel injection pumps will also be replaced as part of a programme of work to trace a possible fuel leak that appears to be gradually diluting the engine oil. Analysis reports show that the engine oil is currently at its lower limit for viscosity, so we hope that a solution is found before having to replace the engine oil.

    The next scheduled working of our locos will take place in mid-April in support of the crew refresher training workings that will take place prior to the RE-OPENING of the West Somerset Railway ! We can keep you informed of diesel loco workings if you join our DIESELGEN e-mail bulletin service.

     

    LOCO NEWS: This weekend, a small team comprising Gordon, Leroy and John Cooke attended at Williton to work on our Class 52 D1010 ‘WESTERN CAMPAIGNER’ and get her started up, the objective being to prepare her to move under her own power so that our Class 47 47077 ‘NORTH STAR’ can be extracted from the loco shed. This work has become essential due to the need to prepare our celebrity ’47’ for hire to another railway… but more about that at a later date!

    Below is a short video clip by Tom that shows the Maybach MD655 V-12 engine at ‘A’ end being started up for the first time since November 2019 and a longer series of clips from two different perspectives that have been provided by Leroy:

     

     

    The below picture, captured by the Williton Depot security system, shows the moment when the ‘A’ engine burst into life:

    Other than reported above, the status of our locos remains unchanged this week, due to lockdown. Many thanks to all of our volunteers for their continuing work to keep our locomotives in the best condition possible, considering the circumstances.

     

    BOOK REVIEW – This week, we are very pleased to have received a copy of a booklet dating back to 1985 entitled “IAN ALLAN MODERN RAILWAYS PICTORIAL PROFILE:8 The HYMEKS”. This booklet is in excellent condition and has been donated by member Ian Harden, to whom we are extremely grateful. We intend to raffle this booklet so that we can generate a contribution to DEPG funds while allowing the maximum number of people to participate, each with an equal chance of success. We will provide more details in a future roundup.

    Also this week, we received two books from the daughter of the late Roy Hudson who passed away in 2013 after a lifelong love of railways. These books were produced in the late ‘seventies by our predecessors, the DIESEL + ELECTRIC GROUP in conjunction with Bradford Barton. We will also be including these books in the forthcoming raffle. We are very grateful to Roy’s daughter, Kim, for taking the time and trouble to send these books to us.

    If you have books or magazines that you want to donate to us, please email us at contact@depg.org or USE OUR CONTACT FORM so that we can provide a postal address to you. Our diesel depot is only open for a few days of the week, so it won’t do to have a pile of packages outside the gate, but we will work out an alternative arrangement. We intend to offer pre-owned books on our website, starting soon !

     

    DEPG NEWS: A Board Meeting was held yesterday via Zoom and many issues were discussed, not least of which was the impending re-opening of the WSR and the preparations that the DEPG has to make in order to be fully ready to support that re-opening. A synopsis of the meeting will be released as soon as possible.

     

    DEPG WEBSITE: Our ONLINE SHOP IS NOW LIVE so go ahead and visit our store!

    As mention earlier, we intend to create a new product category for pre-owned books, where we will offer items for sale that have been donated to the DEPG for the purpose of fund-raising. It may be possible to find some of these books on other pre-owned book websites, perhaps cheaper, but buying from the DEPG will ensure that 100% of your purchase goes straight into our loco funds – and you will get an interesting book in the bargain.

     

    WSR NEWS: The WSR have now posted details of the ‘excursion style‘ public services that will start on Saturday 22nd May 2021, subject to the reduction of Government restrictions in force at that time. The timetable is colour-coded, so to find the details of a particular ‘excursion’ day, click on the appropriate coloured dot that is below the calendar graphics. For example, the BLUE timetable can be studied in detail by clicking this link.

    We want to help to make sure that these services, and especially the diesel-hauled services, will be a commercial success, so please visit the WSR website and consider buying a ticket to ride.

    To support the return to scheduled running, the WSR have announced that training and competence assessment of traincrews is restarting on Saturday 17th April and will run for 5 consecutive weekends prior to reopening on 22nd May. 

    The WSR will be running another of their Zoom sessions for volunteers on Wednesday 31st March at 1800 and we encourage all of our volunteers to join these sessions. The next session will be hosted by Steve Williams and will cover Business Development on the WSR.

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  • Depot News – week ending 21-Mar-21

    Our Class 33 ‘Crompton’ D6566 continued to claim the ‘most watched’ top spot after having worked the WSR ballast train on multiple occasions over the last two weeks. The ballast has been hauled from Williton to various sites along the line in the direction of Watchet. On Monday 22nd March, there will be more ballast trains working between Williton and Doniford in support of the track relaying work that is close to completion there.

    Class 33 ‘Crompton’ D6566 (33 048) stands at the head of the WSR ballast train at Williton on 13th March 2021. Photo by Tom Courtney © CC BY-NC 3.0

    However, they won’t be hauled by D6566 because she has failed a lubricating oil test and now has to stand down from WSR duty pending an investigation to find the reason for the drop in the viscosity of her engine oil. This is most probably due to a fuel leak in one of her high-pressure fuel injection pumps, resulting in diesel fuel reaching the lubricating oil sump, mixing with the oil and causing a reduction in viscosity. Her place will be taken by sister D6575 (33 057) who will be in action on Monday and D6575 will move D6566 to the DEPG depot for further attention.

    Class 33 ‘Crompton’ D6575 (33 057) basking in the sunshine alongside Platform 2 at Williton Station on 13th March 2021. Photo by Tom Courtney © CC BY-NC 3.0

    DEPG volunteer Class 33 loco manager Ian Robins and DEPG volunteer Tom Courtney have been attending to D6566 at Williton and have eliminated the possibility of a fuel leak from the pipework that carries the high pressure diesel fuel from the injection pump to the injector. All eight rocker covers were removed and the engine was started up last Saturday, and allowed to run for a while so that any fuel leaks could be identified. This test showed no signs of leakage so additional investigations will take place during this coming week. Here’s a short video clip taken by Tom Courtney that shows the Sulzer 8LDA28 engine of D6566 running without its rocker covers in place:

     

    Consider signing up to our DIESELGEN service where we (try to) let you know by advance email whenever one of our locos is called into action. In previous years, this service was used to post the dates and times of loco-hauled passenger services, but since Lockdown 1.0, we have expanded it to include ANY working. The difficulty with engineering workings is that they run under the direction of the Infrastructure Engineering group, so dates and times will be varied to suit the circumstances on the day. The webcams provide the answer – we include webcam links in the Dieselgen bulletins where possible, so you can watch the live action !

    To view the Williton webcam, click on this link. Many thanks to Railcam UK and the WSR for providing these webcam services.

    Although it is great to see these locos and their crews at work on the WSR, we must all remember that the railway and the stations are still closed to the public. Safety is the number one priority.

     

    Last week, we featured the ex-BR ‘DOGFISH’ wagons that are being used for these ballast workings, and we can now provide more background to these wagons because DEPG member and regular contributor Jon Tooke has sent us the following information and photos:

    Jon Tooke writes:

    “Just to fill in the back story of the Catfish and Dogfish wagons that may be of interest to readers. As you correctly stated in the recent piece about wagons, it was the GWR who invented using all manner of coded names for wagons to avoid confusion such as Conflat, Mica, Mogo and Tadpole to name a few but the terms Catfish and Dogfish were later additions, possibly when BR came into being.  Many more can be found here Code Names for Great Western Carriage Stock and Vans or here Great Western Railway telegraphic codes – Wikipedia.

    Way back in September 2004, a DEPG team led by Graham consisting of Darren, Roy and myself undertook the repainting on a contract basis of the WSR’s fleet of Cats and Dogs and we must have done a good job because the wagons still look good today, considering all the work they are involved with on the railway, and I notice the paintwork is weathering nicely after all this time!

    When the wagons arrived at Williton, they were in all sorts of varying shades of colours, with the paintwork in even more varying states of peeling and paint loss. First, we set about steam cleaning them all over thoroughly to remove years of dirt and detritus from all the nooks and crannies, then the old paintwork was either needle gunned or angle-ground back to a decent surface to apply a base undercoat.

    The top coat of black on the frames and below the solebar was sprayed on by Graham, likewise the hopper front, back and sides but in olive green colour. The important bits of hand painting were done by myself, Roy and Darren on the chequer-plated platform on one end of the vehicle, the brake reservoirs, buffer-beams and so on, all in gloss black. The door operating hand wheels were painted white as were the hand brake wheels. To ensure that the doors on the hoppers were in the correct positions for loading and discharging, I made up a stencil from thick card with the words DOOR, OPEN, CLOSED and an arrow pointing in the appropriate direction. These were stippled with white paint to give a clear indication of operation. Likewise, another stencil was made and used for the wording on the solebars to state the wheelbase and weight, again picked out in white as was the old cast BR wagon works plate alongside.

    The guard rails and foot step supports were also picked out in white, and in true BR workshop fashion, the hoppers had overhead hazard warning flashes added to them, the wheel sets were given white tyres with yellow axle bearing covers with roller bearing red bands through the middle and my goodness, they looked just like something out of the Hornby box when we had finished them!

    The wagon information details were sourced and applied to the hopper sides by Colin and Graham.

    As this was a rather unusual task for the DEPG to undertake, and so that everyone who saw these vehicles knew who had done such an excellent job on them, on the bufferbeams on each vehicle I painted the date and that it was A WILLITON WRD REPAINT !”

    An unrestored ex-BR ‘CATFISH’ wagon receives attention at the DEPG Williton Diesel Depot, unofficially and temporarily renamed as the “WILLITON WAGON REPAIR DEPOT” (WRD) for the purpose, on 31st July 2004. Photo by Jon Tooke © CC BY-NC 3.0
    One of several restored ex-BR ‘CATFISH’ 19t hopper wagon fleet stands proudly outside of the DEPG Diesel Depot at Williton on the 25th September 2004. Photo by Jon Tooke © CC BY-NC 3.0
    The detail that was added to the bufferbeam of each of the restored vehicles …. Photo by Jon Tooke © CC BY-NC 3.0

     

    Eleven years later on 25th January 2015, one of the previously restored and hard-working ‘DOGFISH’ 24t hopper wagon fleet waits at the platform at Bishops Lydeard behind Class 33 ‘Crompton’ D6575 (33 057). Photo by Jon Tooke © CC BY-NC 3.0

     

    Several loaded ex-BR ‘DOGFISH’ 24t hopper wagon viewed from the trailing cab of Class 33 ‘Crompton’ D6575 (33 057) at Bishops Lydeard in 2015. The three discharge control handwheels can be clearly seen in this view. Photo by Jon Tooke © CC BY-NC 3.0

    Many thanks to Jon for sharing this information with us all.

     

    LOCO NEWS: Other than that reported above, the status of our locos remains unchanged this week, due to lockdown.

    DEPG NEWS: Last week, we learned that ex-BR, ex-WSR driver and former DEPG member Lennie Renwick had passed away. Lennie was one of life’s real characters, having started work on BR in the late days of steam and subsequently amassing a huge wealth of mainline driving experience that he was keen to pass on to our own volunteer crew members. Our website carries a very appropriate obituary, penned by our chairman, Martin Howard. Lennie will certainly be missed.

     

    DEPG WEBSITE: Our ONLINE SHOP IS NOW LIVE so go ahead and visit our store!

    This week, we have already mentioned the wheel lathe at Bristol St. Philips Marsh depot, so it is quite topical that we have just received a donation of some GENUINE ex-BR vinyl stickers featuring that very depot – see below:

    We are going to be placing these on sale via our website but we only have a small quantity, so it will be first come, first served!

    WSR NEWS: The WSR are delighted to announce that ‘excursion style‘ public services will resume on Saturday 22nd May 2021, subject to the reduction of Government restrictions in force at that time. The commercial success of these services will depend on public patronage, so please visit the WSR website and consider buying a ticket to ride.

    To support this milestone date, the WSR have announced that training and competence assessment of traincrews is restarting on Saturday 17th April and runs for 5 consecutive weekends prior to reopening on 22nd May. 

     

    The WSR will be running another of their Zoom sessions for volunteers on Wednesday 31st March at 1800 and we encourage all of our volunteers to join these sessions. The next session will be hosted by Steve Williams and will cover Business Development on the WSR.

     

    Go to previous Depot News post

    Go to Depot news

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  • DIESELGEN – 21-Mar-21

    Class 33 ‘Crompton’ D6575 (33 057) basking in the sunshine alongside Platform 2 at Williton Station on 13th March 2021. Photo by Tom Courtney © CC BY-NC 3.0

    Some movements have been planned by the WSR Infrastructure Engineering Department for Monday 22nd March as follows (timings are approximate):

    Class 33 ‘Crompton’ D6575 (33 057):

      08:30 Shunt sister Class 33 ‘Crompton’ D6566 (33 048) to the DEPG yard. Depart Williton (WN) with loaded ballast hoppers and deliver ballast to Doniford (and/or other locations as determined by the Infrastructure Engineering Department).

    Other workings may take place. The railway is to be considered as LIVE at all times.

    Please note that the stations are closed to the public and trespassing is not allowed. During the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the best way to view these workings is via the webcam at WN.

    WN: http://www.wsr.org.uk/r-cam-wn2.htm

    Many thanks to Railcam UK and the WSR for providing these webcam services.

    Take care and stay safe!

  • Lennie Renwick

    It is with sadness I have to report that long-time friend and previous DEPG member Len Renwick passed away peacefully at home on 9th March 2021.

    Len, known to everyone as Lennie, was a railwayman through to the core. He started his railway career on the Southern Region of BR, initially on steam but switching to diesel fairly soon after as steam was eliminated on the region. He drove diesel and electric units and diesel locomotives on the mainline for many years and amassed a wealth of driving experience.

    After finishing his career on BR and settling in Somerset, he found he could still put his mainline skills to good use on the WSR where he was often to be seen at the controls of the DMU or one of our Class 33s.

    A great story-teller, he enjoyed the messroom banter almost as much as the driving itself and he would often be found keeping other DEPG staff enthralled with his stories of life on the footplate, with no profanities left out! He was also kind-hearted and unstintingly generous when passing on his traction knowledge to our own crews.

    Many will recall that for many years Lennie was infamous for having a rather rotund shape and one delightful memory I have of him during this period is when he was conducting 56302 off the mainline in 2016. I was to accompany him for route-learning purposes and we were taken by car to Silk Mills to meet the loco. As soon as it stopped, Lennie was quickly up the steps before me but struggled for a moment at the top to squeeze his frame into the doorway. From down in the cess all I could see was his backside still out of the door! I remember thinking that I just hoped the handrails would hold!

    Fairly soon after this Lennie retired from his work with the WSR and began a quieter period of his life. I next saw him a year or two later when he surprised me when he turned up at Williton. The small slim man who appeared before me was almost unrecognisable with his greatly reduced frame having given up the booze and hand-rolled cigarettes which had been for so long an integral part of his life. He kept in occasional touch with developments at Williton and I’m sure he was waiting to see us running again in 2021. Alas it was not to be, but I hope to arrange some kind of Class 33-based memorial for him in the near future when circumstances allow.

    Len Renwick, Diesel Driver and Railwayman. RIP

    Martin Howard, DEPG Chairman

     

     

  • Depot News – week ending 14-Mar-21

    Last week, it was our Class 14 ‘Teddy Bear’ D9526 that was in the spotlight, but this week, our Class 33 ‘Crompton’ D6566 has reclaimed the top spot after having an ‘A’ exam performed at Westridge Shed, Bishops Lydeard, last weekend. This was to prepare her for duty on the ballast trains that have been running from Williton to various places along the line, delivering ballast as required by the Infrastructure Engineering Department.

    Eight hundred tonnes of ballast have been ordered by the WSR for distribution along the line. The ballast is used in quantity when relaying track at sites such as at Doniford, but it also used in smaller amounts for topping up and building up the shoulders of the trackbed at multiple places along the line. Considering the length of the line, a little ballast spread along both sides of a very long line will amount to a lot ! These photos, posted on wsr.org.uk last week, say it all:

     After loading up at Williton, Class 33 ‘Crompton’ D6566 (33 048) is seen delivering ballast to build up the shoulder at Watchet station on 10th March 2021. Photo by Neil Smith © CC BY-NC 3.0

     

     The Class 09 shunter D4107 (09 019) is doing the hauling in this photo of the ballast train, delivering ballast from the 24-ton ‘DOGFISH’ hopper wagons to build up the shoulder near Tribble Bridge on the 3rd of March 2021. Photo by WSR Infrastructure Engineering © CC BY-NC 3.0

    The ballast workings are set to continue on Monday and Tuesday next week, and no doubt at other times that have yet to be confirmed. Sister Class 33 loco D6575 (33 057) has been re-positioned from Platform 1 at Williton (the ‘down’ line) to Platform 2 (the ‘up’ line) to leave the line clear for the ballast train workings. D6575 remains on standby and is fully ready and available for use by the WSR.

    The DEPG offers its DIESELGEN service where we (try to) let you know by advance email whenever one of our locos is called into action. In previous years, this service was used to post the dates and times of loco-hauled passenger services, but since Lockdown 1.0, we have expanded it to include ANY working. The difficulty with engineering workings is that they run under the direction of the Infrastructure Engineering group, so dates and times will be varied to suit the circumstances on the day. The webcams provide the answer – we include webcam links in the Dieselgen bulletins so you can watch the live action !

    To view the Williton webcam, click on this link. Many thanks to Railcam UK and the WSR for providing these webcam services.

    Although it is great to see these locos and their crews at work on the WSR, we must all remember that the railway and the stations are still closed to the public. Safety is the number one priority.

     

    The hopper wagons in use are ex-BR ‘DOGFISH’ types that were built in quantity from 1955 onwards. These wagons are very useful for heritage railways and many have been preserved. They incorporate three discharge chutes that allow ballast to be dropped to the right, to the left or on the centre line of the track, with each chute controlled by the white-painted handwheels that are mounted on the operator’s platform at one end of the vehicle. Each wagon is fitted with the continuous vacuum brake so a brake van (or Guard’s van) is not needed. The smaller white-painted wheel low down on the side of the wagon is for applying the handbrake when the wagon is not under the control of the vacuum brake.

    There was a tradition in BR civil engineering days of naming types of wagon after fish or things ‘fishy’. This goes back to the old days of telegraph communication when a codeword was the most useful way of describing a type of wagon with the minimum risk of a mistake being made. There were MERMAID, TURBOT, SEACOW and other types of wagon. The WSR also has several of the smaller ‘CATFISH’ variety. Here’s a photo of a ‘DOGFISH’ (well, a ‘DOGFISH’ hopper wagon, actually):

    Ex-BR ‘DOGFISH’ 24t hopper wagon number DB983290, seen here at Dunster station on the WSR on 8th June 2018. The three discharge control handwheels can be seen on the similar wagon to the left. The smaller handwheel at low level on the right is the handbrake. Photo by Geof Sheppard © CC BY-NC 3.0

     

    LOCO NEWS: Other than that reported above, the status of our locos remains unchanged this week, due to lockdown.

     

    DEPG NEWS: The DEPG has been invited to attend at the STEAM & VINTAGE RALLY that is planned for the weekend of 7th and 8th August this year, subject to Covid and the weather of course. We are DELIGHTED to confirm that we will attend and we will be bringing along some of your favourite vintage diesel locomotives!

    There is a dedicated website for this rally and there is also a Facebook page so you can find out more about this event from these two sites. We will be contributing to these sites as soon as we have had our plans reviewed and accepted both by the DEPG Board and the WSRA event team. We are really looking forward to it !

    DEPG WEBSITE: Our ONLINE SHOP IS NOW LIVE so go ahead and visit our store!

    We have just updated our online store to include our new range of coasters. These complement the new range of mugs that we placed on sale last weekend, so we now have multiple products featuring ALL of our heritage locomotive classes. Here some photos to show you what we have been doing:

    Mugs featuring your favourite locomotives !

     

    Coasters featuring your favourite locomotives !

     

    WSR NEWS: The WSR have announced that public services will resume on Saturday 22nd May 2021, subject to the reduction of Government restrictions in force at that time. This announcement was made in the WSR’s ‘THE PLATFORM’ e-newsletter. This newsletter has been posted on the WSR website so this news is definitely in the public domain !

    The re-opening date allows us to focus on the planning and resourcing of the multiple tasks that need to be completed in order to support the railway, not least of which are staff competencies. The staff ‘refresher’ training could start as early as 12th April, but the work of the infrastructure, signalling, rolling stock and operations teams has to be sufficiently advanced so that the ‘refresher’ trains can actually run at this early date. There is much to do, but we will all pull together to support the WSR and make sure that this season is a success.

    The WSR will be running another of their Zoom sessions for volunteers on Wednesday 31st March at 1800 and we encourage all of our volunteers to join these sessions. The next session will be hosted by Steve Williams and will cover Business Development.

     

    Go to previous Depot News post

    Go to Depot news

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  • DIESELGEN 09-Mar-21

    Class 33 ‘Cromptons’ D6566 (33 048, ahead of the ballast hoppers on the ‘down’ line) and D6575 (33 057, alongside Platform 2 on the ‘up’ line) at Williton, ready to support the engineering trains that will run during the rest of this week and early next. Class 14 D9526 and ‘Hymek’ D7017 continue their hibernation with ‘Western’ D1010 and Andrew Barclay No. 578 (ROF Puriton No. 1) also visible outside the main shed. Image captured on 9th March 2021 from the Williton North webcam, courtesy of Railcam UK and the WSR ©

     

    Some movements have been planned by the WSR Infrastructure Engineering Department for Wednesday 10th through Friday 12th March and again on Monday 15th and Tuesday 16th March as follows (timings are approximate):

    Class 33 ‘Crompton’ D6566 (33 048):

      08:30 Depart Williton (WN) with loaded ballast hoppers and deliver ballast to several locations, as determined by the Infrastructure Engineering Department.

    Class 33 ‘Crompton’ D6575 (33 057):

      Remain at WN on standby

    Other workings may take place. The railway is to be considered as LIVE at all times.

    Please note that the stations are closed to the public and trespassing is not allowed. During the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the best way to view these workings is via the webcam at WN.

    WN: http://www.wsr.org.uk/r-cam-wn2.htm

    Many thanks to Railcam UK and the WSR for providing these webcam services.

    Take care and stay safe!

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