Watercress Line

Loco Wednesday Gang Blog 12th July

It’s not easy finding time to write these blogs! My domestic arrangements have changed a bit, so our two-year-old grandson is very eager to assist as soon as he sees a picture of a train on grandad’s computer screen.  This assistance usually takes the form of brmmming one of his little wooden trains along the keyboard, so here I am, up at 5:30 to try to catch up with the last few weeks of the Wednesday Gangs feats of engineering, before my assistant wakes up.


The last few weeks have seen a lot of activity to prepare for the recent gala, which in case you’re on a remote island somewhere, was themed to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the end of steam on the Southern.  I was on TTI duty for a couple of the busiest days and I have to say that the railway did a smashing job with various themed timetables and lots of loco action.  The visiting public all seemed to enjoy it and although it was physically demanding all the volunteers and staff seemed to take a pride in getting it right. A real Waterloo Sunset.


The highlight for me wasn’t the double-headed Bulleids, nor the Merchant Navy, but the sight of 76017 and 80078 double-heading. 76017 because I’ve had the privilege of seeing it through the whole overhaul cycle during my time on the Wednesday Gang, and 80078 because it shows the potential of the railway’s own 80150 Standard Tank.  Martin tells me that the 80150 stall attracted a lot of interest during the gala and we raised sufficient funds to buy some power tools etc that will be a big help.  He was overjoyed yesterday to receive a donation of power tools and other equipment and I doubt I’ve ever seen a wider grin on his face! 


Inevitably, preparation for public access to the workshop required a little bit of housekeeping, but we’re getting back to normal now and spending a bit of time searching for those handy bits of scrap metal we left on a bench somewhere a couple of weeks ago, that were just the right shape for bending pipe.


Les and the bogie-men have been steadily progressing on CanPac’s bogie.  The rivets securing a horn block have been drilled out, and the worn holes filled with weld. The next step involves a lot of filing and grinding to get surfaces back to flat, then they will be drilled, reamed and rivetted. It’s a long job, so it’ll re-appear regularly in these blogs.


The Wadebridge-tender-gang will have to be re-named as they have finished assembling their tender chassis – at least for the time being. It’s now serving as a mobile store for various large diesel bits, and in due course it will be a temporary home for CanPac’s new tender body while the chassis is overhauled.  Wadebridge, together with CanPac’s tender have been “weathered” using poster paints, and appeared in the gala as 34019 Bideford. It’s now destined to go on display at an event in Eastleigh.


So, while the tender gang await a new project, they helped with shovelling ash from the pit, breaking wooden pallets and such jobs as removing the grate from the Black Five. This is partly to facilitate a boiler inspection but also to allow burned/distorted bits to be replaced.


Alasdair, Paul and I have been working on Swanage’s lubrication pipe system for some weeks now and have just reached the point where we think we know where every one of the bits in store will eventually be fitted, and how these bits relate to the 170 sections shown on the SR drawing. It’s not a one-to-one match as the pipe-work removed from Swanage wasn’t installed as per the drawing and had to be cut off the loco. So we’re now working out how to alter it so it comes closer to the SR design and to make it easier to maintain by putting screw fittings in accessible places. 


There is over ¼ mile of pipe to anneal, and Mike, Stu and Sam have been helping with this. Along the way they’ve occasionally spotted smoke coming from some unexpected places – a sign that burning oil inside the pipe is finding it’s way out through a hole or split. These are being marked up for repair when we can find some 5/8” pipe to make sleeves to repair and join the ½” pipe.  You haven’t heard the last of this!


Lastly, my thanks to Chris who brought up a PC during the gala.  Its set up as a spare ready to be installed

Under Assistant Ropley Scribe


Cake rota for the next few weeks:
 19 July           Colin-the-under-assistant_scribe & Iain

26 July             Andy-the-painter & Colin-Austin

2 August         Steve & Sam

9 August         Paul & Alasdair

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