Watercress Line

Coronavirus / Covid-19 Update

Our priority during the Coronavirus / Covid-19 outbreak, and the railway's closure, is on meeting our running costs. We need around £75,000 per month. Without this income, within a relatively short period we will exhaust our reserves which are so important us for our long term plans.

Although these are difficult times for all of us, we are asking you to consider providing financial support to the railway. With your support, ideally through a monthly standing order, the railway can be in a safe and good position to move forward rapidly when circumstances allow.

The amount is up to you as everyone’s circumstances are different, but please give as generously as you can. One-off donations would also be welcomed.

Thank you.

Visit our donation page to make a monthly gift or donate a single amount.

You can also text WATERCRESS to 70085 to donate £10. Texts cost £10 plus one standard rate message.

Ropley Loco Wednesday Gang - 13th June 2018 – Of D-Day, Cake and Other Things

The day started well as Painless appeared with a huge supply of blueberry cup-cakes produced by Mrs Painless.  Perhaps this is the only legitimate use for blueberries - otherwise they don't do much for me. I’d brought in flapjack and fruit cake, but when I saw the cup-cake mountain I quietly returned the fruit cake to my bag – it will return again in August after a spell in the freezer, with no-one the wiser!

Painless had appeared to deliver cakes, and to be taken out to lunch by Dave-the-scribe, George and Andy - they are planning their next expedition to a Normandy battlefield.  It all goes over my head as my dad was a “D-Day Dodger” having spent his war at Dunkirk then North Africa, followed by the "holiday with pay" in Italy with the 8th Army. The term “D-Day Dodger” comes from a popular song written by an 8th Army soldier after the American-born Lady Astor allegedly used the term.  The “holiday with pay” comes from a line in the song – it was far from being that.  You can find the song on youtube.

Anyway, back to today.  The list of jobs on the whiteboard would have kept Eastleigh Works busy for a week or two, so we split up to get on with ongoing projects and whatever suited our various talents.

The tender gang (Dave-2Jags, Pilot-Pete, Colin-Austin and Kieran) elected to fit the front steps back onto Cheltenham, amidst the deafening roar of safety valves as the boiler inspector checked the repairs to its firebox.  It had also had maintenance on it’s bogie and a middle-cylinder re-bore, together with a new piston-head and rings.  In the afternoon, Mattie and Andy were lugging a trolley full of the plywood former that will be used to cast a new brick-arch in the firebox. We still use the term brick-arch, although it’s not constructed from individual fire-bricks any more, but cast in one piece from ceramic cement.  With luck it might be running next week.  It turns out that the 45 ton steam crane also had it’s boiler test but I was blissfully unaware of that.

Later in the day, the same gang were busy fitting brake-blocks to 76017’s tender and there was some talk of adding more paint to the tender-lifting gantries.  I should add a “special commendation” (from me, at least) for Dave and his gang. They’ve been clearing up the assorted bits of metal from the shed lane verge where it’s been dumped by generations of staff and volunteers. It looks pretty good now, and I understand a permanent fence will be fitted, making this area safer and less of an eyesore to our visitors.

The last new axlebox for 30506 has now been machined and white-metalled, and Ian was helping Matt with  blueing & scraping it to fit the axle journal.  The bogie boys were busy with 30506 too. Keith and Welsh-Pete were in the pit underneath the bogie, attaching the tensioning rods to the leaf springs that allow the side-control gear to steer the loco into curves.  This looks like a modification to the original design, as it isn’t shown on the original drawings, and was extremely fiddly to fit - especially from a contorted position in the pit.  They have also installed their own modification to provide grease lubrication of the sliding parts, which should be more effective than the gravity-fed oil lubrication.

The Swanage pipe band are nearing the end of their project at long last.  Alan and Stu were fettling the 12 carefully bent sections of pipe that sweep down under the RH cabside.  Dave was making the pipe clips for the next sections which will be installed when the boiler returns.  Bob-the-Welder assisted with the welding.  Mike and I spent our day wrestling with fitting an awkward bunch of 7 pipes into their clips, then making a start on the last bits of 3/8” pipe that connect the oil strainers to the oil pressure gauges.

It looks like our next project will the brake rigging on CanPac’s and Swanage's tenders so we went to have a preliminary look at that.  Swanage’s tender is really a long-wheelbase Merchant Navy tender chassis, fitted with a West-Country profile body, so it will have the same components as CanPac and we're hoping we can get replacement bushes and pins made for both at the same time.  In the meantime, theres some really wasted steel plate in the inner frame and brake cylinder brackets of CanPacs tender.  That's going to need some serious fabrication work – a bit above my pay grade!

And lastly, Martin told me that his merry gang had assisted Martin B and Johnny in fitting the ex-75079 bogie springs onto Standard Tank 80150 a few days ago, increasing the chances of  it being moveable.  A real milestone – well done chaps. If you want to contribute to the conservation and eventual restoration of 80150, you can contact Martin at mhr.friendsof80150@btconnect.com 


Under Assistant Ropley Scribe

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