Depot News

The latest news of progress made by our volunteers at Williton Depot

  • Depot News – week ending 02-May-21

    Another week of action and progress at Williton, the focus of activity being 47077 ‘NORTH STAR’ and Class 14 ‘Teddy Bear’ D9518. Restrictions on depot attendance remain in place but we again managed to operate on four days out of the last seven, minimising risk and making better use of facilities.

    47077 ‘NORTH STAR’ – Efforts were made to get her massive Sulzer 12-cylinder diesel engine ready to start after a long period out of use. The various tasks that were in progress around the loco had to be stopped and put in a safe condition to allow power-up and start-up. The ‘triple pump’ was run to prime the oil, fuel and water systems and everything was looking good. Several volunteers stood by with their cameras, ready to take a video of the event.

    The DEPG’s 1965 Crewe-built Brush ‘Type 4’, formerly D1661 but now Class 47 number 47077 ‘NORTH STAR’ residing on Number 3 road inside Williton Depot on 20th April 2021. Photo by Chris Shields © CC BY-NC 3.0

     

    Unfortunately, when the moment came to press the ‘START’ button, there was a click – but the engine did not turn over. The batteries had decided that they were not going to co-operate and that was the end of it. Although the batteries had been kept in a fully charged condition over the last year or so, the combination of the age of the batteries and the lack of use has meant that charging had become ineffective, leaving the batteries too weak to be able to do their job. A locomotive without batteries is useless, so we now have to replace the 48 individual batteries that make up the full set.

    Undeterred, our volunteers went back to their tasks and carried on, such disappointments being part of railway preservation life. Further attempts to start-up may be made this weekend using batteries borrowed from other locos and connected in parallel to boost capacity. Once started up, we will be able to complete our assessment of the work remaining to be done to get this loco ready for service.

     

    Class 14 ‘Teddy Bear’ D9518 – The ‘Tuesday’ crew comprising Terry, Colin F, Chris and Mark continued on renovating the sandboxes and getting them ready to refit to the locomotive frames. On the weekend, Colin G continued his work on the wheelsets, filling and sanding the surfaces to provide a good smooth surface for painting. The rate of progress is very encouraging!

    One of the sandboxes from D9518 gets some serious attention from Colin at Williton on 27th April 2021. Photo by Terry Deacon © CC BY-NC 3.0

     

    One of the sandboxes from D9518 ready for painting at Williton on 27th April 2021. Photo by Terry Deacon © CC BY-NC 3.0

    Chris makes sure that the sandboxes from D9518 get a good layer of undercoat at Williton on 27th April 2021. Photo by Terry Deacon © CC BY-NC 3.0

     

    OTHER LOCO NEWS:

    Class 33 ‘Crompton’ D6575 is in action this weekend on crew training specials between Bishops Lydeard (BL) and Williton (WN). This news was broadcast yesterday via our DIESELGEN email bulletin service. This loco will change places with sister loco D6566 (33 048) during Saturday afternoon and D6566 will then work back to BL and will also work the crew training turns on Sunday. An additional working that is scheduled for Thursday 6th May is an Empty Coaching Stock (ECS) move from BL to Minehead, where D6566 will attach to some newly-repainted coaches and haul them to BL in conjunction with BR(W) 4-6-0 number 7828 ‘ODNEY MANOR’. These moves are part of the preparation for the re-opening of the WSR on 22nd May 2021.

     

    Class 35 ‘Hymek’ D7017 – this loco remains in the yard at Williton, having had her tarpaulins removed and having had a wash, courtesy of Ian. The plan for this loco is to be ‘lifted’ in late June or July so that her bogies can be rolled out so that the springs can be changed. No doubt there will be other work that will need to be done while the loco is lifted, but we hope to complete the work during the autumn so that D7017 is available for service in 2022.

    Class 35 ‘Hymek’ D7017 stands on number 1 road in the South yard at Williton on 20th April 2021, with Class 33 D6566 (33 048) to her left and Class 14 D9526 to her right. Photo by Chris Shields © CC BY-NC 3.0

     

    Class 35 ‘Hymek’ D7018 – this loco is inside the shed on number 2 road and is undergoing an investigation on the control block of her Mekydro hydraulic transmission. After several attempts to get the automatic gear change function working as it should, it has been decided to switch the control block for a known good control block that was in use at some time in the past. This will hopefully resolve the problem and allow more time for the delinquent control block to be further investigated to find the blockage (or stuck valve) that is preventing proper operation. In the worst case, the transmission will be locked in second gear and she will operate on the WSR in the same way as she did in 2019.

    A view of ‘Hymek’ D7018 through the former boiler room window of 47077 ‘NORTH STAR’ taken on 26th April 2021 while both locos were residing in the loco shed at Williton. Photo by Natalie Royal © CC BY-NC 3.0

     

    Class 52 D1010 ‘WESTERN CAMPAIGNER’ – this loco is waiting patiently outside the shed on number 3 road for her opportunity to displace 47077 and enter the next phase of her own restoration. With the remedial work on her failed transmission still held up by lockdowns, volunteer effort will be focused on the cooler group renovations and long list of bodywork repairs. This loco will be the subject of a fund raising campaign to cover the cost of specialist sub-contract services that will be needed to return this loco to service. The funds generated by our new booklet “D1010 WESTERN CAMPAIGNER – FROM MEREHEAD TO MINEHEAD” will go into this fund, along with revenue from sales of pre-owned books, so please help the fund grow by buying from our online store. Thanks !

    Class 52 D1010 ‘WESTERN CAMPAIGNER’ outside the loco shed on number 3 road at Williton on 20th April 2021, minus her lower front valances (already removed for restoration) and clearly in need of some bodywork repairs. Photo by Chris Shields © CC BY-NC 3.0

     

    Class 14 ‘Teddy Bear’ D9518 – information that was posted on rmweb earlier this week reminded us that our loco was the LAST of the class to perform work on BR back in April 1969 and one of the last ten to be withdrawn from service. Here’s an extract of some posts made by rmweb member “br2975” :

    On this day in history; Saturday, 19th. April, 1969
     
    Cardiff Canton allocated D9518 worked the following Radyr trips from Monday 14/04/1969 – Saturday 19/04/1969:
     
    06:15 Roath Branch
    09:35 Roath Branch
    14:20 Maindy                                                                                                              
     
    When D9518 returned to Radyr on the Saturday, it had completed what was the last recorded revenue working of a Class 14 loco on British Rail. Commencing Monday, 21st April 1969 this would become a Class 08 duty.
     
     
    On this date in history; Saturday, 26th. April, 1969
     
    The following reported withdrawn from Cardiff, Canton on this date:- 9500, 9502, 9514, 9518, 9527,
     
    The following reported withdrawn from Swansea, Landore on this date:- 9521, 9524, 9536, 9538, 9555
     
    These withdrawals rendered the class ‘extinct’ on B.R.
     

    Many thanks to Neil Evans and to rmweb member “br2975” for bringing this information to our attention. After serving BR for a mere four years, our loco went on to do seventeen years of hard labour at NCB Ashington Colliery before retiring and eventually coming into our hands.

    Bought from BR in full working order in 1969, NCB No. 7 (aka D9518) still had five more years of work ahead of her when seen operating at Ashington Colliery in this photo dated 25th May 1981. Photo by Colin Girle © CC BY-NC 3.0

     

    Class 14 ‘Teddy Bear’ D9526 – this loco remains hidden by tarpaulins on number 1 road, just outside the Old Goods Shed after being ‘evicted’ from its shelter because of the structural issues that are currently affecting that Grade II listed building. This loco has undergone a 250-hour inspection and is waiting for a test run to Bishops Lydeard so that she can go over the pit at Westridge shed and have an underframe examination. After that, she will be ready for service !

     

    Many thanks to all of our volunteers who are hard at work maintaining, restoring, managing and fund raising for our fleet of heritage locomotives !

     

     

    BOOK REVIEW – This week, we have another pre-owned book to offer via our online store, but this one is rather unusual and appears to be quite rare. “TRIBUTE TO THE FORTY’S – 1958 to 1986” is a paperback booklet, A5 in size (21 x 15 cm) with 100 printed pages and more than 200 photographs, all in black and white except those on the cover page. The booklet was published by the CLASS 40 APPEAL in 1986 and was clearly a success because seven members of the class have made it into preservation, including two mainline-registered examples.

    This rare booklet has been very kindly donated to the DEPG for the purpose of fund raising, so we are offering it at £15, the entire proceeds of which will go to the D1010 restoration fund.

    If you have railway books that you want to donate to us, please let us know by return email or by using this contact form so that we can work out an economic way of getting them from you. We appreciate your efforts to give us more items to sell to raise funds for the DEPG fleet.

     

     

    ON SHED: We didn’t have time to include our usual ‘On Shed’ feature last week, but I felt a bit annoyed with myself afterwards because I found that the very next day, Monday 26th April 2021, I had a note to release an ‘ON THIS DAY …’ post to share two photographs that were taken exactly 40 years ago, so after waiting all that time, I missed the boat ! Here they are today instead.

    FORTY YEARS AGO – there was an unexpected snowfall at the end on April, blanketing many parts of the country, including South Wales. This view of Ebbw Junction depot, on the western side of Newport, shows seven Class 37s and one Class 47, probably 47 901, at rest on the morning of Sunday 26th April 1981. The line going left is to Ebbw Vale, the four track South Wales main line is to the right, and Alexandra Dock Junction sidings are on the far right. Photo by Andy Royal © CC BY-NC 3.0

    FORTY YEARS AGO – 37284 rests at Ebbw Junction (EJ) depot on the morning of Sunday 26th April 1981 along with 03382, a loco that was destined for use on the Burry Port and Gwendraeth Valley line in West Wales. Low bridges on that route meant that the 03 needed her cab cut down, so for reasons unknown, that task was allocated to EJ. The loco had come from Bristol Bath Road and hung around the depot for months before being modified and then heading west. Photo by Andy Royal © CC BY-NC 3.0

     

     

    DEPG NEWS: The DEPG held a Board Meeting last Saturday, partly on site and partly by Zoom, and a synopsis will be prepared and included in next weeks’ roundup.

    Last week, we asked this question …. which railway magazines do you buy on a regular basis ? 

    We had several replies so we say thank you to those respondents, but we did not get enough responses to make a clear picture. Please reply to this email with the titles that you read and we will collate the results and share them in a future roundup. Thanks !

     

    Membership – is your membership up to date ? If not, please renew by going to our Join Us page and selecting the appropriate membership ‘product’. This is a quick and easy way to keep your membership current. It doesn’t matter if you don’t remember your membership number – we will sort that out for you.

     

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

    Our new booklet, ‘D1010 – FROM MEREHEAD TO MINEHEAD’ is in stock so get your copy 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 plus some interesting stories from the days when the loco was still working on the mainline. All proceeds go to the D1010 restoration fund.

    WSR NEWS: The WSR ran another of their popular Zoom sessions for volunteers last week and again it was well attended and very useful and interesting. We applaud the WSR for their investment in time and effort to hold these very informative sessions.

    Traincrew training activities continue with diesel haulage this weekend, as reported earlier. The weedkilling train will run this week to avoid a repeat of last year where volunteers spent many back-breaking hours performing hand weeding along the whole 22-mile length of the line!

    The priority is to ensure that everything is ready for the return of public services on Saturday 22nd May 2021. These ‘excursion style’ services will run between Bishops Lydeard and Williton and must be pre-booked via the WSR website. It is really important to support the WSR to ensure that these services are a commercial success. Please buy a ticket if you can. Thanks !

     

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  • Depot News – week ending 25-Apr-21

    This week, we have plenty of ‘action’ photos showing the team back at work at Williton, hard at work on our several of our locomotives. We are still restricting the number of people on site at any one time, but we were able to operate on four days out of the last seven and we have made progress on multiple fronts. Here goes:

    Saturday 17th April – Ian led the electrical work on 47077 which included inspections and scheduled maintenance on the electrical auxiliary machines (compressors, exhausters, blowers, pumps) and Gordon led the work on the refitting of the ‘NORTH STAR’ nameplates, which look very good indeed after careful restoration by Graham. Meanwhile, the Class 14 team comprising Simon, Colin and Terry made progress on the major subassemblies of D9518.

    Class 47 47077 ‘NORTH STAR’ gets reunited with her nameplates at Williton on 17th April 2021, modelled by Warren. The nameplates have been painstakingly restored by Graham and now carry the red background that was typical of the 1970s. A reflection of Gordon and ‘Hymek’ D7018 can be see in the glossy rail blue paintwork that was applied by WSR Restorations at the Swindon Shed in October 2019. Photo by Ian Robins © CC BY-NC 3.0

     

    One pair of D9518‘s hornguides seen here at Williton on 17th April 2021, being prepared by Simon and Terry before re-fitting to the loco. Photo by Terry Deacon © CC BY-NC 3.0 

     

    MeanwhileD9518‘s wheelsets get special treatment from Colin at Williton on 17th April 2021. The rough cast surface finish of the wheel hubs and spokes have been filled and will be sanded to provide a smooth finish before painting. A smooth finish on the wheels is much easier to keep clean compared to rough cast finish. Photo by Terry Deacon © CC BY-NC 3.0 

     

    Sunday 18th April – Ian made a temporary focus shift to the diesel-hydraulics and was captured on the depot CCTV cameras washing ‘Hymek’ D7017, the local seagulls having been using the loco for target practice. The faded paintwork of D7017 certainly needed some TLC.

    Captured by the Williton depot CCTV system, Ian can be seen washing the sun-bleached and weathered paintwork of ‘Hymek’ D7017 on 18th April 2021. This loco is out of service and is waiting to be lifted so that her bogie springs can be replaced, hopefully some time this summer. Photo DEPG © CC BY-NC 3.0

     

    Tuesday 20th April – a team of four led by Terry made progress on the main frames and horn guides of Class 14 D9518 and also started repairs to the sand boxes. We welcome new members and volunteers Colin Foxhall and Chris Lawton to the DEPG team and we hope to see them at Williton on Tuesdays in future, along with our new Publicity Officer and long-time member Mark Bladwell. All three are seen in the photos below, hard at work on the sand box restoration. Sand is used to provide extra grip if the wheels start to slip on a greasy rail. The delivery of the sand to the rail is carefully controlled by a valve to ensure that the minimum amount of sand is used. This basic and simple method of maintaining traction is still used on mainline locomotives today.

    New member and volunteer Colin uses his restoration skills to attend to an area of thin metal on one of the sand boxes for D9518. Photo taken at Williton on 20th April 2021 by Terry Deacon © CC BY-NC 3.0

     

    New member and volunteer Chris (left) is no stranger to the WSR because he is also a member of the WSR volunteer PW gang. He is seen working on one of the sand boxes for D9518 along with long-time DEPG member and Publicity Officer Mark at Williton on 20th April 2021. Photo by Terry Deacon © CC BY-NC 3.0

     

    Another picture of Mark, this time at work freeing-up the threads on one of the sand boxes for D9518 at Williton on 20th April 2021. Photo by Terry Deacon © CC BY-NC 3.0

     

    The first of six hornguide assemblies has been offered up to the frames of D9518 as a trial fitment. After careful positioning, the hornguides will be rivetted to the loco frames using techniques that are exactly the same as those used for steam locos, so the task will be subcontracted to WSR Restorations at the Swindon Shed. Photo taken at Williton on 20th April 2021 by Terry Deacon © CC BY-NC 3.0

     

    A view of the temporary fitment, this time from inside the frames of D9518. Photo taken at Williton on 20th April 2021 by Terry Deacon © CC BY-NC 3.0

    Wednesday 21st April – Andy and Natalie progressed the re-paint in the former boiler room and engine room of 47077 ‘NORTH STAR’, getting to some of the areas that are difficult to access. There is plenty more cleaning and painting work to do inside the loco, so more help would be much appreciated!

     

    OTHER LOCO NEWS:

    Class 33 ‘Crompton’ D6575 was in action last week on engineering trains that covered the whole length of the line, gathering permanent way materials and delivering them to various places along the line. This running was briefed via our DIESELGEN email bulletin service. The next rostered working will be next Saturday but the line remains under the control of the WSR Infrastructure Engineering department so additional workings could take place without notice. The line is to be treated as ‘live’ at all times. We will send out another DIESELGEN bulletin as soon as we have details of the weekend workings.

     

    Class 33 ‘Crompton’ D6575 (33 057) was seen approaching Cottiford Bridge with an Infrastructure Engineering train on 21st April 2021. Photo by Steve Edge © CC BY-NC 3.0

     

    Class 47 number 47077 ‘NORTH STAR’ – Last week, we gave some reasons as to why this loco has gained ‘celebrity’ status, the first reason being that she was one of a small number of ‘standard Type 4’ locomotives that were adorned with names by the Western Region of BR in March 1965. Our loco carried the running number D1661 at the time and she was named on the same day as sister loco D1662 ‘ISAMBARD KINGDOM BRUNEL’.

    The giant-sized nameplate fitted to D1662 continued a legacy that was established by the GWR in 1938 when ‘Castle’ class 4-6-0 steam loco number 5069 was named ‘ISAMBARD KINGDON BRUNEL’, with Swindon Works having to use a smaller character size than usual, just to get all of those letters into the available space on the nameplate!

     

    The nameplate of GWR ‘Castle Class’ 4-6-0 No 5069 ‘ISAMBARD KINGDOM BRUNEL’ in the traditional position above the centre driving wheel of the locomotive. This loco, one of 171 members of this famous class, entered service on the GWR in June 1938 and worked until February 1962 when she was withdrawn and sent to the scrapyard (no doubt minus her nameplates). Photo by Wikipedia CC0

     

    The Western Region of BR battled to continue some of the traditional practices of the old GWR and we can see that this practice was successful and continues to this day. That most famous engineer ‘IKB’ has been commemorated through the ages, first with Castle Class 5069 then with Class 47 D1662 (later 47 484) then with HST power car 43003 and most recently with ‘flying cucumber’ Class 800 number 800004, all of which are pictured below. The sad decline in grandeur of the nameplate is obvious – and its ultimate form, the vinyl transfer, has definitely lost some of the old panache !

     

    Class 47 number D1662 ‘ISAMBARD KINGDOM BRUNEL’ became 47484 when modified for ETH in 1973 and changed from two-tone green to BR blue livery with a red background applied to her very long nameplate! Photo by Graham Turner © CC BY-NC 3.0

     

    First Great Western Class 43 HST power car number 43003 carrying its ‘modernised’ IKB nameplate. Photo by Wikipedia CC0

     

    GWR Class 800 ‘IET’ number 800004 carries a small vinyl transfer just below the driver’s side window commemorating ‘Isambard Kingdom Brunel’, as seen at Reading Train Care Depot in 2016. Photo by Wikipedia CC0

     

    As mentioned last week, the nameplate on D1662 was not the longest in length – because that accolade went to sister loco D1664 when the name of that famous GWR Chief Mechanical Engineer ‘GEORGE JACKSON CHURCHWARD’ was applied to her at Swindon Works on 8th May 1965.

    DEPG Staff Rep Andy recounts a story from way back when he was aged 10 or 11, when he got home from a hard day’s trainspotting on the platform of Cardiff General Station (now Cardiff Central) and told his steam-loving (and diesel-loathing) father that he had seen a loco with the most massive nameplate, starting with ‘George’ but he couldn’t remember the rest. To his complete surprise, and without even looking up from what he was doing, his father replied ‘”George Jackson Churchward, perhaps?”.

     

    Class 47 D1664 ‘GEORGE JACKSON CHURCHWARD’ waits at Reading station on 9th August 1971, in original two-tone green livery but with full yellow ends and BR-corporate numerals with no ‘D’ prefix. Photo by Bryan Johnson © CC BY-NC 3.0

    Many thanks to the website Class47.co.uk and to Wikipedia and their contributors for providing the details and photos for this feature.

     

    BOOKS for SALE – This week, we have two more pre-owned books to offer via our online store, both from Bradford Barton publishing and both dated 1974. These books form part of a well-known series and although old and faded on the outside, the black-and-white content of these 21 x 22 cm books remains in very good condition.

    BR DIESELS IN CLOSE-UP by Norman E. Preedy and H. L. Ford, published by Bradford Barton in 1974

    BR DIESELS IN ACTION by G. Weekes, published by Bradford Barton in 1974

    These books have been donated to the DEPG for the purpose of fund raising, so we are offering each book at £10, the proceeds of which will go to the D1010 restoration fund.

    If you have railway books that you want to donate to us, please let us know by return email or by using this contact form so that we can work out an economic way of getting them from you. We appreciate your efforts to give us more items to sell to raise funds for the DEPG fleet.

     

    DEPG NEWS: By way of clarification of what was written last week, it has been pointed out that the Diesel Traction Group (DTG) have already installed their spare heat exchanger into D1015 ‘WESTERN CHAMPION’ so the ex-class-56 heat exchanger that is being provided by the DEPG is going to be stripped and the core cleaned and tested before installing it into a Class 52 housing, and this will then become the spare for D1015. Many thanks to Bob Clegg for straightening that out.

    Membershipis your DEPG membership up to date ? If not, please renew by going to our Join Us page and selecting the appropriate membership ‘product’. This is a quick and easy way to keep your membership current. It doesn’t matter if you don’t remember your membership number – we will sort that out for you.

     

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

    Our new booklet, ‘D1010 – FROM MEREHEAD TO MINEHEAD’ is in stock so get your copy 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 plus some interesting stories from the days when the loco was still working on the mainline. All proceeds go to the D1010 restoration fund.

     

    WSR NEWS: The WSR are continuing their traincrew training activities with steam haulage being provided by WSR ‘Mogul’ number 9351, running between Bishops Lydeard and Williton on weekends. The priority is to ensure that everything is ready for the return of public services on Saturday 22nd May 2021. These ‘excursion style’ services will run between Bishops Lydeard and Williton and must be pre-booked via the WSR website. It is really important to support the WSR to ensure that these Covid-safe services are a commercial success, so please buy some tickets if you can. Thanks !

     

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  • Depot News – week ending 18-Apr-21

    The BIG NEWS this week is that our new booklet, “D1010 WESTERN CAMPAIGNER – FROM MEREHEAD TO MINEHEAD” has been published and we have started shipping out against the advance orders that have been building up since we first put the booklet on our website.

     

    This new A4 glossy booklet comprising 72 printed pages and 72 photographs (64 in colour, 8 monochrome) has been produced by Mark Townsend using content from Bob Tiller and Paul Tucker, with features provided by Roger Geach, Neale Long and Gordon Crook. There are many previously unpublished photos that have been provided by the authors and also by Bernard Mills, Steve Marshall, Kelvin Lumb, Don Bishop, Barry Gay, Jon Tooke, John Kite and Chris Shields.

    We would like to thank each and every contributor for the time and effort that they have put into helping us produce this booklet. Thank you all !

    The cost of producing the booklet has been covered by the revenue from the advance orders, so from now onwards, ALL OF THE PURCHASE PRICE goes directly to the fund for the restoration of D1010 so PLEASE BUY A COPY AND SUPPORT D1010 !

    Special thanks go out to Mark Townsend for his tireless effort in promoting all aspects of sales and marketing for the DEPG and for his huge contribution to the production of this booklet.

     

    LOCO NEWS:

    Class 33 ‘Crompton’ D6575 is going to be in action next week, although a light engine move from Williton (WN) to Bishops Lydeard (BL) that was scheduled for Saturday 18th was disrupted by an issue elsewhere on the line, so the movement took place on Sunday 19th instead. The loco is rostered to operate on engineering trains that will travel from BL to WN then on to Minehead and back during Tuesday, Wednesday and also on Thursday 20-22 April, gathering permanent way materials and delivering them to other places along the line. This has been briefed via our DIESELGEN email bulletin service (the Thursday running is new information).

    Class 47 number 47077 ‘NORTH STAR’ – Further progress has been made on the list of tasks that need to be completed on this loco before she will be able to have a test run. Last weekend, Ian and Tom made a start on the inspection and maintenance of the auxilliary electrical machines, a list that includes the compressors, exhausters and traction motor blowers. These plus some other smaller machines all need to be cleaned, inspected and adjusted as necessary to ensure that they are ready for service.

    Meanwhile, Leroy, Gordon and Roy were working on the external aspects, giving attention to re-fitting some bodyside parts that had been removed for the body repair and re-painting. The nameplates were also trial-fitted on one side, finding the bolt holes being a trial in itself. Luckily, Gordon is an expert, having changed the nameplates on D1010 many times!.

    DEPG volunteer Gordon diverted from his usual work on D1010 to perform a trial fitment of the nameplate for 47077 ‘NORTH STAR’, now adorned with a red background, as was the case when the loco wore the BR blue livery in the 1970s. Photo taken at Williton on 10th April 2021 by Ian Robins © CC BY-NC 3.0

     

    Our ‘celebrity’ Class 47 is famous for a number of reasons – first, she was one of a small number of ‘standard Type 4’ locomotives that were adorned with names by the Western Region of BR in March 1965. Later, when repainted in BR corporate blue livery, she continued drawing attention to herself by carrying a non-standard version of that livery throughout a period when anything ‘non-standard’ was being eliminated.

    The loco started life in two-tone green with small yellow warning panels, as was her livery in recent times when working on the WSR as D1661. In 1973, when she was repainted from green to blue by the staff at Old Oak Common, the BR ‘double arrow’ logo was not applied. This strange omission carried on for several years of running and was still not corrected at a subsequent repaint. However, the following year (1976) saw her brought back into line with the standard livery applied. If you have photos from this period, please reply to this email or contact us because we are trying to build a gallery of photos for this loco and would welcome your help.

    Class 47 number 47077 ‘NORTH STAR’ in blue livery without the BR logo is seen powering through Reading towards Paddington on 1st September 1975. Photo by Martin Addison © CC BY-NC 3.0

     

    There are several photos on the Class47 website, but not enough to be able to determine the exact dates of the livery changes. Here’s a link to the gallery on the Class47 website: http://class47.co.uk/c47_photos_1.php??index=6&jndex=2&kndex=61&s_loco=1661

    Another reason that our loco is famous is because she was chosen to haul the very last scheduled loco-hauled cross-country service on 19th August 2002, the 1M56 08:46 from Penzance to Manchester, paired with 47 847. The event was filmed by Locomaster Profiles and is available on DVD via this link: https://www.videoscene.co.uk/north-star-south-west-47840-penzance-birmingham

    Class 47 D1661/47077/47613/47840 ‘NORTH STAR’ leading 47847 on the very last scheduled loco-hauled cross-country service, the 1M56 from Penzance, seen pausing at Stafford en route Manchester on 19th August 2002. Photo by Julien Weston © CC BY-NC 3.0

     

    Our loco has carried four running numbers during her time in mainline service. Introduced as D1661 in February 1965, she was named ‘NORTH STAR’ on the 20th March 1965 at a ceremony at Paddington by the then Minister of Labour, Ray Gunter. The loco then departed for Bristol where sister loco D1662 (who would work the train back to Paddington) was named ‘ISAMBARD KINGDOM BRUNEL’, surely the outright winner of the “longest ever nameplates award”, were there to be such a thing ? No, believe it or not, that title went to one of her sister locos! (more on this next week).

    An extract from ‘Modern Railways’ magazine dated May 1965 shows two locomotives that received their names on 20th March 1965. This was in the tradition of the Great Western Railway but a somewhat defiant gesture that was in opposition to the developing corporate image of the new ‘British Rail’. Photos by BR and B Stephenson, courtesy of Ian Allan Publishing.

     

    After naming, the new ‘NORTH STAR’ worked to Bristol along the very line that had been conceived and built by IKB and worked by the original ‘NORTH STAR’, the first steam loco to operate on the Great Western Railway. This famous loco had been built by Robert Stephenson & Co. in 1837 and modified for the broad gauge under the direction of Daniel Gooch (later Sir Daniel Gooch), the 20-year old ‘Superintendent of Locomotive Engines’ that had been recruited by Brunel from Stephenson’s own firm !

    A replica of 2-2-2 ‘NORTH STAR’ of 1837, built in 1923 from some parts from the original locomotive and now on display at the STEAM museum in Swindon. The original loco nameplate and worksplate is also depicted. Photos by Geof Sheppard © CC BY-NC 3.0

     

    Then, after the end of steam on BR in August 1968, the ‘D’ prefix became redundant and locos across the country starting having their ‘D’ prefixes peeled off or painted out. Our loco became ‘1661’ while still green and continued to carry that number when first repainted into BR blue. Then, in February 1974, our loco became 47077 under the new TOTAL OPERATIONS PROCESSING SYSTEM (TOPS) that was being introduced to bring BR into the computer age.

    This changed to 47613 in 1984 when our loco was fitted with Electric Train Heating (ETH, ETS) to be able to power the air-conditioned coaches of the day. The final change was to 47840 in November 1989, after being fitted with long range fuel tanks to facilitate cross-country working on the full length of the northeast-southwest route. Here’s a link to a photo that was taken immediately after conversion from steam-heat to electric-heat capability: https://www.flickr.com/photos/marcusgilmour/32839886990/in/photostream/

    After completing 43 years of mainline service, ‘NORTH STAR’ was acquired by the DEPG and was refurbished by Brush in Loughborough before working a mainline charter from Derby to Minehead on the 28th May 2007, culminating in a handover ceremony that took place on the platform at Minehead station. After eleven years of work on the WSR, the loco was suffering from severe corrosion in several areas of her roof, resulting in water leaks that caused damage to her bodywork, so she was ‘stopped’ in 2018 and has been undergoing restoration since that time. She is due to emerge in her new identity as 47077 at the end of this month.

    The DEPG’s celebrity Class 47 D1661 ‘NORTH STAR’ on WSR metals at Longlands Bridge for the first time on 28th May 2007 as she heads towards Minehead and preservation! Pictured with 47828 and 45112, the motive power that will return the charter to Derby later in the day. Photo by Steve Edge © CC BY-NC 3.0

     

    Other than reported above, the status of our locos remains unchanged due to the restrictions that were in place throughout last weekend. Many thanks to all of our volunteers for their continuing dedication to keeping our locomotives in the best condition possible.

     

    ON SHED: Last week, we shared 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. Here’s another view from that same day, showing the numberplate that had lost two of the cast aluminium numerals  – the missing two being painted on. The original ‘D’ prefix had long since been removed, leaving the plate somewhat out of balance.

    D1010 ‘WESTERN CAMPAIGNER’ with only the last two cast aluminium digits remaining attached on her numberplate (the first two being painted on) stands at the fuelling point at Bristol Bath Road depot on a dismal day in January 1976. Photo by Bob Tiller © CC BY-NC 3.0

     

    DEPG NEWS: In the true spirit of heritage diesel group co-operation, the DEPG is donating a spare heat exchanger to the Diesel Traction Group (DTG) for installation on D1015 ‘WESTERN CHAMPION’. The heat exchanger is actually from a Class 56 but shares the same core with the Class 52 ‘Western’. This will allow the DTG to get D1015 up and running much more quickly and will allow them to have their defective unit refurbished as a non-urgent (and therefore less expensive) task and held as a spare for the future.

    A heat exchanger from a Class 56 sits in front of ‘Hymek’ D7018 at Williton Diesel Depot on 15th April 2021, awaiting transportation to the DTG at Kidderminster for use in D1015 ‘WESTERN CHAMPION’. Photo by Natalie Royal © CC BY-NC 3.0

     

    WSR NEWS: The WSR have started their traincrew training activities with steam haulage being the priority to ensure that everything is ready for the return of public services on Saturday 22nd May 2021. These services will run between Bishops Lydeard and Williton and must be pre-booked via the WSR website. Please try to support the WSR to ensure that these services are a commercial success.

    A recent announcement from the WSR is the appointment of Bob Meanley as Director (Mechanical Engineering) and John Gibbins as Civil Engineering Adviser. It is great to hear that Bob will be returning to the WSR and we look forward to welcoming John in his new role as well. The announcement from the WSR gives more details. Click this link to view the announcement: WSR Board Appointments 16APR21

     

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  • 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.

     

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  • 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.

     

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  • Depot News – week ending 07-Mar-21

    After the news bonanza of last week, it is a bit quieter this week because we only had two volunteers back to Williton since then to perform repairs on a malfunctioning door lock on Class 14 ‘Teddy Bear’ number D9526. Maintaining the security of our heritage assets is a priority task, so that issue was resolved first, then the loco was started up and moved back to her previous resting place, closer to the Old Goods Shed, with ‘Hymek’ D7017 in tow.

    Just a reminder, last week, we had to move the locos away from the Old Goods Shed to allow access for a structural survey, but now that has been conducted, we need them back up tight to the Old Goods Shed to maximise the space available to the WSR infrastructure team who are using part of our yard for materials handling in connection with the Doniford track relaying project.

    Here’s a couple of photos of D9526 from 2018, to give us a taste of what we hope to see later this year, after restrictions have been eased:

    Class 14 ‘Teddy Bear’ D9526, sparkling clean as always, runs over the level crossing at Williton while signalled in the direction of Crowcombe Heathfield on 7th October 2018. Photo by Natalie Royal © CC BY-NC 3.0

     

    The crew of the 14:55 Minehead to Bishops Lydeard service hold a conference while preparing Class 14 ‘Teddy Bear’ D9526 and her train for the 20-mile journey. Photographed on 1st September 2018 during the WSR’s ‘Late Summer Weekend’ mixed traffic event, photo from the DEPG archive © CC BY-NC 3.0

     

    Last week, we provided some background to the pre-heating equipment that is fitted to all of our Maybach-engined locomotives. The article stated that it takes four or more hours to get the coolant up to the required temperature, but I have been informed that it only takes that long if the pre-heater is playing up !

    In normal circumstances with a fully functional pre-heater, it will take between 60 and 90 minutes to warm up from cold and this period is built into the three-hour preparation period that the driver allows when readying the loco for service. Interestingly, in ‘railway speak’, the name given to the opposite process that takes place at the end of the day is ‘disposal’. A detailed account of the ‘Preparation and Disposal’ of a ‘Hymek’ locomotive is given in Chapter 5 of our booklet “HYMEK D7018”.

    While on the subject of corrections, the WSR’s Andrew Barclay 0-4-0 diesel-hydraulic shunter, works number 578, ex-ROF Puriton ‘Number 1’ uses a 24V electrical system, not 48V as I had stated last week. Two errors in one roundup ? What a dunce ! Must try harder, as my school teachers used to say.

     

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

     

    44 YEARS .. and a week … AGO: Last week, we covered the last working of the ‘Westerns’ on BR, the ‘WESTERN TRIBUTE’ railtour of 26th February 1977. Several of our readers have sent comments and photos, so we can now share their feedback:

    From Neale Long:

    “Although I was not present, it has been established that D1013 ran Newport-Plymouth on one engine due to a split engine coolant vent pipe which was replaced at Laira before the final leg of the tour from Plymouth to London. Interestingly, the original routing of the tour was London-Plymouth-Swansea-London but this was changed after objections from Laira who wanted to fuel the ‘Westerns’ for one last time, so the itinerary was reversed enabling Laira to service their locomotives for the last time. Thankfully, the diesel hydraulic story didn’t end that fateful night !”

    From Paul Mear (with expansion from the editor):

    “D1013 ‘WESTERN RANGER’ led from Swansea to Plymouth. Here’s a great photo by Brian Aston showing the locos climbing out from the Severn Tunnel on the Bristol side, having already passed through Pilning station. The two tracks are at different levels along this section of the line. The photographer is probably at Ash Lane footbridge or Over Lane bridge, just west of Patchway tunnel. By the way, the M5 goes over the top of Patchway Tunnel. The Bristol Channel and the hills of Wales are visible in the background.”

    The ‘WESTERN TRIBUTE’ railtour captured on film on the 26th February 1977 as D1013 ‘WESTERN RANGER’ leads D1023 ‘WESTERN FUSILIER’ on the climb from the Severn Tunnel to Patchway and Stoke Gifford junction, where the loco will turn west towards Bristol Temple Meads before continuing southwest to Plymouth. Photo by Brian Alston © CC BY-NC 3.0

    Many thanks to our contributors for sharing their knowledge and experience.

    This and other ‘Western’-hauled railtours will be covered in our forthcoming booklet “D1010 – from Merehead to Minehead”.

     

    DEPG NEWS: The February 2020 edition of our quarterly newsletter has now been mailed out and all members should have received their copy by now. Please let me know if you didn’t get your copy.

    A word of explanation on the current policy of mailing all of our members 4 times per year. A few years back, we asked members to indicate if they would prefer to have an electronic copy of the newsletter rather than a hard copy. This database of preferences was not GDPR compliant so it could not be copied across to the new and compliant DEPG email system.

    We intend to set up a new system for member preferences and we will describe our intentions in a future newsletter, including a method of verifying that members do actually receive the emails that we send to them. Meanwhile, we will continue to mail out the Newsletter on a quarterly basis because this is the most inclusive and reliable method of reaching all of our members.

    The synopsis from last weeks’ DEPG Board Meeting is not yet ready but we hope to include it in the roundup next week.

     

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

    We have placed orders for our new range of coasters to complement the mugs that we featured last week and we are expecting stock to be delivered in the next few days. We will then be able to offer mugs and coasters for each of the locomotive types that are in our fleet. We will add these to our online store as soon as we can take photographs of the different designs and get the products uploaded.

    We now have stock of the caps including four colour scheme options with the DEPG logo and two options for D1010 (let me know if you want a cap that is specific to your favourite loco) and we are standing by, ready to ship !

    Caps in four different ‘liveries’ with the DEPG logo and in two different ‘liveries’ for D1010 – these have just been uploaded to our online store, albeit with temporary photographs. Photo by Andy Jackson, Arena Screen & Design

     

    WSR NEWS: The unofficial WSR website wsr.org.uk carries an update on the status of the replacement of Seaward Way level crossing, just outside Minehead station. The detailed news article is available by clicking this link.

    Also posted on wsr.org.uk are the minutes of the Partnership Development Group (PDG) which is a multi-interest group that is tasked with looking at the ‘big picture’ for the WSR and the surrounding area. The report is well worth a read and is available by clicking this link.

    Finally, there is a warning on wsr.org.uk/news regarding the increased incidence of trespassing on the railway since lockdown began. The railway must be considered as ‘live’ at all times. Engineering trains will be operating during this coming week and we have to make sure that the railway can be operated safely. With the improvement in the Covid situation and the planned relaxation of restrictions, we are getting closer to a re-opening – so let’s not jeopardise anything by reckless behaviour.

     

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  • Depot News – week ending 28-Feb-21

    This week, we have plenty of news to report because DEPG member and Maybach specialist Bob Clegg and a small team comprising Martin and Neil attended at Williton last Tuesday (23-Feb) to perform checks on the Maybach MD-870 engines that are installed in our ‘Hymeks’. Both locos were started easily and ran nicely, with no issues reported.

    Terry also attended to check over our Paxman-engined Class 14 D9526 and this loco was also started up and run for an hour or so, again with no issues reported.

    A short video compilation is provided below:

     

     

    ‘Hymek’ D7018 runs while 47 077 ‘NORTH STAR’ tries to continue her hibernation. This scene was captured at Williton on 23rd February 2021 by Martin Howard © CC BY-NC 3.0

    The preparation of D7018 gave an opportunity for the pre-heating to be performed using Bob Clegg’s new portable pre-heater that is connected to the loco using quick-release self-sealing hoses. The portable pre-heater allows us to get the Maybach MD870 engine warmed up to the required temperature for starting, even if the on-board pre-heater has failed. The concept has now been proved to be successful so the pipework for D7017 and D1010 will be modified at some point in future to allow the portable pre-heater to be used on all three locos. This will reduce the risks of on-board pre-heater failure that has been the cause of some locos missing their booked turns in the past.

    Portable pre-heater in use on D7018 at Williton on 23rd February 2021. Photo by Martin Howard © CC BY-NC 3.0

    Pre-heating the engine before starting allows the engine parts to expand to a closer fit, thereby reducing the wear, noise and smoke that would otherwise accompany a cold start. It can take four or more hours of pre-heating to get the coolant up to the required 43°C before the start button becomes live and allows starting to take place. This was not a problem in BR days because locos seldom stood around idle for long enough to cool to below 43°C, but in preservation, we have to take account of this and make sure that the engines are properly looked after. NOTE: HSTs that are fitted with MTU engines also have pre-heaters.

    The twin Maybach MD-655 engines of our Class 52 ‘Western’ D1010 ‘WESTERN CAMPAIGNER’ present us with a different set of challenges. The engine at ‘A’ end (currently at the north end of the loco, away from the shed) is serviceable but the cooling system suffers from leaks so the loco was drained prior to the winter as a precaution against frost damage. It will be necessary to stem the leaks and re-fill with coolant before pre-heating can be attempted. The engine at ‘B’ end (currently the south end of the loco, nearest the shed) cannot be started because the transmission has been removed from the loco (the dynastarter drives through the transmission). Both engines need lubricating and turning over by hand and this will be arranged as soon as possible, with a separate working party dedicated to the task. Meanwhile, the batteries have been charged so that there will be the capacity to start up ‘A’ engine when ready.

    Also receiving attention to batteries this week was the WSR’s Andrew Barclay 0-4-0 diesel-hydraulic shunter, works number 578, ex-ROF Puriton ‘Number 1’ which these days resides at Williton yard. This loco uses a 48V electrical system and the battery charger is a lot smaller than the 110V types that are used on the mainline locos, so it is a quick and easy task by comparison. The Paxman engine of this loco will be run at the next opportunity.

    The WSR’s Andrew Barclay 0-4-0 diesel-hydraulic shunter, works number 578, ex-ROF Puriton ‘number 1’ gets a battery recharge at Williton on 23rd February 2021. Photo by Martin Howard © CC BY-NC 3.0

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

    Last week, we covered the 44th anniversary of the “WESTERN REQUIEM” railtour that ran from Paddington to Aberdare, Merthyr and Treherbert at the heads of the valleys of South Wales with our very own D1010 ‘WESTERN CAMPAIGNER’ doing some of the work before disgracing herself (temporarily) by the overheating of one of her engines. As reported last week, she was removed from the railtour when she reached Cardiff and was replaced by 37 179 for the trip to the heads of the valleys, until sister loco D1023 ‘WESTERN FUSILIER’ saved the day by taking over at Pontypridd for the climb to Merthyr and the return to Paddington.

    The substitution of the very grubby Class 37 made me wonder if the carriage heating was being supplied by the loco on that cold day. The question was posed in last weeks’ roundup and the following responses were received:

    From DEPG founder member Clive Burrows:

    “Your weekly roundup raised the question about the ability of 37179 to heat the train it took over from D1010. The Cardiff Canton and Landore Class 37 fleet included a batch of steam heat fitted locomotives that were in the series 37175-37192.  You may recall the WR high speed tests carried out by a pair of Class 37s in the mid 1960’s that used D6881 & D6882, which are from this series D6875-D6892 that became 37175 to 37192. They covered a mixture of freight and passenger work in the South Wales and Bristol Divisions, taking over West Wales passenger duties from ‘Hymeks’ in 1972 as the ‘Hymeks’ were being progressively withdrawn from service.

    In addition to scheduled passenger duties in West Wales, I often caught the 8-coach 16:55 Newport to Cardiff that was always hauled by a Class 37 from this series and sometimes came across them on passenger trains to Gloucester and Cheltenham. The conversion programme to fit ETH to some Class 37s (Class 37/4) resulted in the steam generators being removed from 37175-192. Canton modified several of these locomotives to use the redundant boiler water tank as an additional fuel tank, thus increasing fuel capacity from 950 gallons to 1750 gallons and enabling these locomotives to have an extended range.  A yellow dot was added under the locomotive number to denote locomotives modified in this way.

    The steam generator fitted locomotives were also used on a variety of freight duties.  As an example, I can recall catching the 04:15 Westbury to Acton Mendip stone train from Westbury back to Chippenham when returning from an incident in the early hours of 9th June 1982 and the train being hauled by 37181 & 37187 from this series.”

    And from regular contributor Neale Long:

    “Interesting to read the report of the actual Western Requiem Railtour as opposed to the relief which ran a week earlier. In view of what actually happened I’m glad I travelled on the Relief and not on the actual main tour. Clearly D1010 struggled manfully to get the tour to Cardiff where inevitably, and to my mind, quite correctly she was failed. What was absolutely staggering to me was the effort BR made to rescue the tour by running D1023 light engine from Old Oak Common to Pontypridd, a simply magnificent effort to rescue the day and tour.

    As regards the boiler on class 37179, she was part of a small batch of WR based boiler fitted Class 37’s used on passenger services in West Wales. Several overnight passenger trains ran throughout the year necessitating locomotives with train heat. There were workings such as
    Paddington – Milford Haven / Fishguard Harbour sleepers and postal trains from Swansea to Bristol TM. Peak periods such as rugby matches at Cardiff saw these locomotives come into their own with train heating facility. The batch, I seem to recall was from 37177-37190. I venture to suggest that its appearance on the tour was of no coincidence. These would have retained an operable boiler until the
    early 1980’s.”

    Many thanks to both contributors for sharing their knowledge with us all.

    This railtour, and others, will be covered in detail in our forthcoming booklet “D1010 – from Merehead to Minehead”.

    44 YEARS AGO TODAY: Another anniversary today is the withdrawal from service of the last four remaining Class 52 ‘Westerns’ following the success of the ‘WESTERN TRIBUTE’ railtour of 26th February 1977. The last blast of the ‘Westerns’ was a 628-mile double-headed railtour from Paddington to Swansea to Plymouth and back to Paddington, and the locos allocated to the railtour were 1023 ‘WESTERN FUSILIER’ and 1013 ‘WESTERN RANGER’. Our own D1010 ‘WESTERN CAMPAIGNER’ and sister loco D1048 ‘WESTERN LADY’ were on standby as backups and actually shadowed the railtour as far as Bristol on the first leg and to Plymouth and back to Paddington on the subsequent legs. In the event, the tour went to plan and the backup locos were not needed.

    D1013 ‘WESTERN RANGER’ prepares to lead D1023 ‘WESTERN FUSILIER’ out of Swansea on the second leg of the ‘WESTERN TRIBUTE’ railtour on the 26th February 1977. Photo by Barry Lewis © CC BY-NC 3.0

    This railtour commemorated the end of the 19-year diesel-hydraulic traction era on the Western Region of BR. All four locomotives were withdrawn from service just two days later, 44 years ago to this very day.

    D1023 ‘WESTERN FUSILIER’ stands at the stop blocks at Paddington with D1013 ‘WESTERN RANGER’ behind her, after successfully working the 628-mile ‘WESTERN TRIBUTE’ railtour on the 26th February 1977, the very last working for the class. Photo by Barry Lewis © CC BY-NC 3.0

    Luckily, all four locos survive from that day to this, plus three others that were withdrawn earlier. The preserved locos are:

    Number Name Date withdrawn Owners Location
    D1010 WESTERN CAMPAIGNER 28-Feb-1977 DEPG Williton, West Somerset Railway
    D1013 WESTERN RANGER 28-Feb-1977 Western Locomotive Association Severn Valley Railway
    D1015 WESTERN CHAMPION 13-Dec-1976 Diesel Traction Group Severn Valley Railway
    D1023 WESTERN FUSILIER 28-Feb-1977 National Railway Museum NRM York
    D1041 WESTERN PRINCE 23-Feb-1977 Bury Diesel Group East Lancashire Railway
    D1048 WESTERN LADY 28-Feb-1977 Midland Railway Centre Butterley Derbyshire
    D1062 WESTERN COURIER 22-Aug-1974 Western locomotive Association Severn Valley Railway

    Also surviving from the diesel-hydraulic era are two Swindon-built Class 42 ‘Warships’, four Beyer-Peacock ‘Hymeks’ and no less than 19 of the Swindon-built Class 14 ‘Teddy Bears’.

    It is also important to note that diesel-hydraulic transmission is still in use on the mainline every day, being the motive power for countless numbers of second-generation multiple-unit trains such as Sprinters and TurboStars.

     

    DEPG NEWS: The next edition of our quarterly newsletter has now been printed and is ready for mailing during this coming week. Current DEPG policy is to mail out the Newsletter on a quarterly basis because this is the most inclusive method of reaching all of our members. Some members may prefer Newsletters by email, but we cannot be sure of delivery due to spam filters and the like, so we will continue to send items by post.

    A DEPG Board Meeting took place over Zoom yesterday and a synopsis will be produced as soon as possible and will be included in a future roundup.

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

    We have placed orders for our new range of coasters and mugs with high quality images covering all of our locomotive fleet – as can be seen from the photo below. We will add these to our online store as soon as we can get photographs of the different designs uploaded. We have also ordered more caps including some with the DEPG logo and we expect that everything will be available to ship from next week onwards.

    Mugs for all of our loco classes – these will be available on our website starting next week. Photo by Andy Jackson, Arena Screen & Design

     

    WSR NEWS: The second of the monthly Zoom meetings took place last week and the subject was the enhancement to the Safety Management System and the Compliance Management System. The meeting was very well attended and the clear message from volunteers was that we are ready and waiting for the refresher training and competence checks, so bring ’em on !

    The WSR Chairman, Jonathan Jones-Pratt, once again stated the intention to restart the WSR with services top-and-tailed between Bishops Lydeard and Watchet, pending re-opening to Minehead when the track improvements have been completed, so we all need to be ready when these moments come. Again, the Zoom meetings are a great initiative by the WSR and they get ten points for doing it.

     

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