• DIESELGEN – 21-Mar-21

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

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

    Class 33 ‘Crompton’ D6575 (33 057):

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

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

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

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

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

    Take care and stay safe!

  • Lennie Renwick

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Len Renwick, Diesel Driver and Railwayman. RIP

    Martin Howard, DEPG Chairman

     

     

  • Depot News – week ending 14-Mar-21

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

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

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

     

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

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

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

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

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

     

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

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

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

     

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

     

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

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

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

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

    Mugs featuring your favourite locomotives !

     

    Coasters featuring your favourite locomotives !

     

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

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

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

     

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  • DIESELGEN 09-Mar-21

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

     

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

    Class 33 ‘Crompton’ D6566 (33 048):

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

    Class 33 ‘Crompton’ D6575 (33 057):

      Remain at WN on standby

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

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

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

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

    Take care and stay safe!

  • 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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  • Depot News – week ending 21-Feb-21

    Another week of lockdown and another week of highly variable weather. The Webcam capture below shows some of our locos being lashed by rain driven by the gusty wind, with temperatures in double digits! Compare this to the scene last week (see previous depot news article).

    Wet and windy weather can be seen on the Williton North webcam on 20th February 2021, courtesy of Railcam UK and the WSR ©

    WSR Operations Manager and DEPG member Paul Fleet attended at Williton last Tuesday (16-Feb) to run D6575 and he reported a minor issue with a control switch that will need some attention. Hopefully the weather will be good enough so that Ian will be able to attend to inspect and hopefully resolve the issue. Paul took the opportunity to move the loco further along the platform, to the extent allowed by the signal, to allow easier access to the bogies and underframe for inspection (as shown in the webcam capture above).

    Paul also attended at Bishops Lydeard last Tuesday to run the Class 09 shunter D4107 and our Class 33 ‘Crompton’ D6566 (33 048). No issues were reported with either locomotive.

    This coming Tuesday (23-Feb), DEPG member and Maybach specialist Bob Clegg and a small team will attend at Williton and perform checks on the Maybach engines that are installed in our ‘Hymeks’ and in our Class 52 ‘Western’ D1010. Terry will also attend to run a check over our Paxman-engined Class 14 D9526.

    Around half of our regular volunteers have now had their vaccinations, so there are continual signs that progress is being made. We can’t wait to get back to Williton and get on with the work!

     

    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 RELIEF” 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 the heavy hauling.

    The ‘relief’ railtour ran one week before the main tour, meaning that it was 44 years ago TODAY that D1010 hauled the actual “WESTERN REQUIEM” railtour over the same route as covered by the ‘relief’ … well, that was the plan …

    Unfortunately, D1010 developed a coolant leak from her ‘B’ engine somewhere between Paddington and Reading, resulting in the engine shutting down. The loco battled on with only one engine running, losing time, until she arrived at Cardiff, where she was removed from the railtour. The tour continued, but under the control of a dirty Class 37, number 37 179 until the ’37’ was herself replaced at Pontypridd on the return leg by 1023 ‘WESTERN FUSILIER’ – much to the delight of the fans !

    Here’s a photo of 1023 ‘WESTERN FUSILIER’ at the head of the return leg, at Pontypridd:

    Class 52 number 1023 ‘WESTERN FUSILIER’ takes over the return leg of the ‘WESTERN REQUIEM’ railtour at Pontypridd on the 20th February 1977. Photo by Barry Lewis via Wikimedia Commons © CC BY-NC 3.0

    The photos that are available on Wikimedia showed that the steam heating boiler of D1010 was working well on the outbound leg, but I wonder if the ’37’ that took over at Cardiff had an operational boiler, given that it’s normal duties were working freight around the South Wales area. Does anyone know the answer to this question ? Perhaps this was another reason why everyone was so delighted to have a ‘Wizzo’ back on the front for the long haul back to Paddington ?

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

     

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  • Depot News – week ending 14-Feb-21

    Last weekend, Ian and Tom performed an ‘A’ exam on Class 33 ‘Crompton’ D6575 (33 057). The ‘A’ exam is a check-and inspect process that would have been performed once per week in the days when the loco was running on the mainline. For heritage railway usage, the check gets performed every 50 hours based on the engine run time. Because several days could pass before the loco is next put to use, the driver performs additional checks before starting up the engine and moving the loco.

    D6575 required a top-up for the cooling system, so a quantity of pre-mixed water and anti-freeze solution was pumped in to make sure that the level was correct and to maintain the strength of the anti-freeze.

    Williton yard is sprinkled with snow on 13th February 2021 with D7017 facing, D9526 behind the ‘Hymek’ and D6575 standing in Platform 1 alongside. Photo by Tom Courtney © CC BY-NC 3.0

    While on site at Williton, Ian performed a battery condition check on all of the locos in the DEPG fleet by measuring the voltage across the batteries and comparing against the standard value of 100 Volts. Here’s the results of the check:

    Loco Off-load voltage Action
    D1010 96V Full day charge required (planned for 23-Feb-21)
    D7017 92V Full day charge given, now OK
    D7018 100V No action required
    D9526 100V No action required
    47 077 96V Half-day charge given, may need more (check on 23-Feb-21)

    If the batteries are allowed to remain discharged for long periods, they will lose their capacity to hold a charge, so it is important to keep an eye on these important parts to ensure that a loco can be started up whenever the need arises.

    Many thanks to Ian and Tom for braving the cold weather to get this work done. The photo below shows the relatively luxurious surroundings that are provided to the batteries in ‘Hymek’ D7018:

    The 48 batteries for ‘Hymek’ D7018 have been relocated to a purpose-made frame that is located in the former steam generator compartment, seen here during restoration work on that loco in 2016. Photo by Graham Perry © CC BY-NC 3.0

    WSR Operations Manager and DEPG member Paul Fleet will be attending at Williton during the coming week to run D6575 and he will also attend at Bishops Lydeard to run Class 09 shunter D4107 and our Class 33 ‘Crompton’ D6566 (33 048). The engines are run for long enough to maintain their battery levels at full strength without the need for separate charging, while checks are performed on the ancillary machines such as compressors, exhausters and blowers.

    DEPG member Bob Clegg has organised a small team to check the Maybach engines that are installed in our ‘Hymeks’ and in our Class 52 ‘Western’ and to perform pre-heating and running of the engines where possible. This work is planned to take place on Tuesday 23rd February and such attention will keep these irreplaceable machines in good working order. Terry will also attend to run a check over Class 14 D9526.

    Around half of our regular volunteers have now had their vaccinations, so there are continual signs that progress is being made. We can’t wait to get back to Williton and get on with the work!

    LOCO NEWS: As stated above, the locos that received attention last weekend were D6575 (33 057), D7017 and 47 077. The status of our other locos remains unchanged this week, due to lockdown.

    This weekend is the 44th anniversary of the “WESTERN REQUIEM RELIEF” 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 the heavy hauling. The railtour route was via Gloucester to Cardiff then to Pontypridd and onward to the very end of three of the valley lines, reversing at Pontypridd each time.

    D1010 ‘WESTERN CAMPAIGNER’ in charge of the “WESTERN REQUIEM RELIEF” railtour, pictured at Treherbert in the Rhondda valley on the 13th of February 1977. Photo by Kelvin Lumb © CC BY-NC 3.0

    The “relief” ran a week before the main tour because of the very high demand for tickets, and both tours were a sell-out. This fantastic image of D1010 at the headshunt just beyond Treherbert, just over 1000 feet (302m) above sea level at the head of the Rhondda valley in South Wales, was captured by Kelvin Lumb on the day of the relief tour, and shows the admiration of the those who had travelled independently to this remote spot to pay homage to the Class. The loco was then uncoupled from the train and ran round the coaches to re-couple at the south end and haul the train back into Treherbert station. Many thanks to Kelv for sharing his photos with us. 

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


    WSR NEWS: The WSR have introduced a requirement for all competency records to be held electronically within HOPS. The Heritage Operations Processing System (HOPS) is an on-line facility that is used by many heritage railways to handle the complex business of staff (both paid and voluntary), operations, training, competency, rostering and a host of other useful things.

    The DEPG is well prepared for this, due to work that has been done in the background by our Martin Howard and Simon Purvis, and it is great to see that the WSR is one of the leaders in the adoption of HOPS and will benefit from the ‘one system process’ that is now mandatory across the WSR family of organisations.

    In practical terms, it means that our volunteers need to demonstrate competency and have records maintained to verify competency before performing any kind of work on our locomotives. This may sound like ‘a load of red tape’ and it will no doubt cause frustration to some, but considering that our locos are irreplaceable, these are the obligations of the DEPG trustees and we need to be able to demonstrate that our locos are being looked after in a professional way, in addition to being critical from the viewpoint of safety.


     

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  • Depot News – week ending 07-Feb-21

    More good news this week as we have been advised that more than one third of our regular Williton volunteer team have already received their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. This bodes well and suggests that it will not be too long before we can get back to work.

    Our priority this weekend is to perform an ‘A’ exam on Class 33 ‘Crompton’ D6575 (33 057) to ensure that she is kept available for use on the WSR engineering trains. The ‘A’ exam is a regular check-and-inspect process that is performed at 50-hour intervals, measured in engine running time, and covers safety items such as wheels, brakes, lights and windscreen wipers, then moves on to the basic maintenance items such as oil and coolant levels, fuel and batteries.

    Class 33 ‘Crompton’ D6575 (33 057) departs Crowcombe Heathfield for Williton on 5th December 2020 on a crew refresher training run. Photo by Peter Nicholson © CC BY-NC 3.0

    Our vintage locos were designed in an age when a lot of maintenance was ‘normal’, but modern locomotives still have regular safety checks, even though they can run for a lot longer before needing attention. All of these checks are in addition to those made by the driver whenever the loco is started up. All checks have to be completed satisfactorily before the loco can be moved.

    We will explain more about ‘A’ checks, ‘B’ checks and so on, in a later article.

    LOCO NEWS: The status of our other locos remains unchanged this week, due to lockdown.

     

    DEPG NEWS: The next edition of our quarterly newsletter has been delayed by two weeks so it is now expected to be mailed nearer the end of this month. We will be mailing it to all members, so if you are not already a member of the DEPG, then join now to make sure that you get your newsletter.

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

    In addition to our range of clothing and collectibles, new merchandise is coming soon including mugs and coasters featuring each of our locomotives along with additional items in the clothing range. DEPG membership can be purchased or renewed from the shop pages and most importantly, donations can be made as well. Our surprise best seller so far has been our D1010 ‘WESTERN CAMPAIGNER’ hat!

     

     

    If you would like a hat that is specific to your favourite DEPG locomotive, let us know because we will be getting some on order. Colours available will be maroon, green, blue or black. Hats with the DEPG logo will also be available in these colours.

     

     


    WSR NEWS: The WSR have publicised vacancies for several key staff positions, as follows:

    • Director Mechanical Engineering
    • Director Infrastructure Engineering
    • Operations Lead

    These vacancies have arisen because of the expiry of the 6-month contracts that are currently in place until the end of March. Also advertised recently are vacancies for a Safety & Compliance Lead and a Volunteer Manager.

    For details, click here: http://www.wsr.org.uk/news.htm#2262

    Ensuring that these important positions are covered beyond March is a clear declaration that the WSR intends to be ready and waiting to re-open as soon as conditions allow.

    Finally, click below to get a glimpse of the excellent progress being made with the track relaying on the Doniford curve:

    http://www.wsr.org.uk/cgi-bin/snap.cgi?h=Snapshot&p=2021/02/027

    http://www.wsr.org.uk/cgi-bin/snap.cgi?h=Snapshot&p=2021/02/026

    Many thanks for your support !

     

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  • Depot news – week ending 31-Jan-21

    With lockdown still preventing progress at Williton and elsewhere, we can report that a positive step has been taken with the springs from our fully disassembled Class 14 ‘Teddy Bear’ number D9518. All six springs have been sent to a locomotive spring manufacturer for the purposes of refurbishing and testing. Upon their return in a few months from now, our volunteers will then be able to build up the “rolling chassis” and then start to re-install the major subsystems including the brake frame that was restored last autumn.

    BR-Swindon built (1964) Class 14 number D9518 (aka NCB Ashington No. 7) being dismantled for a full and thorough restoration. Seen at Williton on 11th December 2014. Photo by Graham Perry © CC BY-NC 3.0

    The springs for a Class 14 are identical to the springs of a Class 08 or 09 shunter, but the way that the springs are fitted to the frames is different. We will go into more detail and explain the differences when the springs are ready for re-installation. The below photo shows the frames with the old springs still in place.

    Step back in time to October 2018. While being stripped down to her basic frame, D9518 rests on trollies in the ‘Swindon’ Shed with her springs still in place above the horn guides (the rectangular cut-outs where the axle bearings would normally be). The DEPG’s Class 47 D1661 ‘NORTH STAR’ looks on as she awaits her turn in the paint shop. Photo by Terry Deacon © CC BY-NC 3.0

    We will be setting up a campaign on JustGiving to raise the funds that will be needed to return D9518 to service on the WSR so that she can work a passenger train for the first time ever !

    NCB No. 7 (aka D9518) had five more years of work ahead of her when seen operating at Ashington Colliery in this photo dated 25th May 1981. The cars parked on the left give off shades of beige that were favoured in the ‘seventies but were definitely going out of fashion by the time that this photo was taken. Photo by DEPG Class 14 team member and driver Colin Girle © CC BY-NC 3.0

     

    LOCO NEWS: The two Class 33 ‘Cromptons’ D6566 (33 048) and D6575 (33 057) were started up by WSR Operations Manager and DEPG member Paul Fleet and run for a while to re-charge their batteries and ensure that they remain fully serviceable and ready for the WSR to use on engineering trains.

    DEPG ‘Crompton’ sisters D6566 (33 048, nearest) and D6575 (33 057) captured while repositioning at Williton during a bright and sunny moment on 31st December 2020. Photo by Class 33 loco manager Ian Robins © CC BY-NC 3.0

    The status of our other locos remains unchanged this week, due to lockdown.


     

    DEPG NEWS: The synopsis of last weeks’ Board meeting has been made available to all who have signed up for our weekly roundup e-newsletter and a hard copy will be mailed to all members along with their next newsletter. In the spirit of open governance, redactions have only been made where absolutely necessary.

    We are making good progress on the next edition of our quarterly newsletter and it is on track for mailing in mid-February, so if you are not already a member of the DEPG, then join now to make sure that you get your newsletter.


     

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

    In addition to our range of clothing and collectibles, new merchandise is coming soon including mugs and coasters featuring each of our locomotives along with additional items in the clothing range. DEPG membership can be purchased or renewed from the shop pages and most importantly, donations can be made as well.


     

    WSR NEWS: Last Thursday, the WSR hosted a Zoom session where Chairman Jonathan Jones-Pratt gave a detailed update on the status of the WSR including finances, infrastructure and future plans. Over 60 volunteers joined the call and several engaged in a healthy Q&A session that followed the news briefing. In my book, the WSR get top marks for this initiative because it brought people together and re-ignited the spirit of the ‘WSR family’ and showed that we are all so eager to get back to work and get the railway back to normal operating status as soon as we can.

     

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