Time to look back on the 2019 season. Both 'Chaka' and 'Tourska' were used at various times on train services, backed up by the Simplex diesel whilst the Hunslet diesel also made a couple of passenger trips when the Simplex needed attention. There were busy days and quiet ones, but overall it was a satisfactory year. We were able to run all advertised running days, though of course like every other railway, new recruits are welcome, particularly for guarding duties.
Justines boiler steam test [Photo R.Parsons].
'Tourska' is about to reach the end of its ten year boiler life, so will not be available next season and will be missed. 'Chaka' has been taken out of service for winter storage. The good news is that 'Justine' has completed its extensive boiler overhaul, passed the insurance tests, and should soon be back at Toddington with a view to having it ready for next year's train running.
Autumn leaves and linside cuttings [Photo M.Wilsden].
Track and lineside maintenance is always ongoing, with more sleeper replacement and cutting down of dead trees and foliage scheduled during the winter. California Signal Box has continued to receive attention and looks much better, but there is more to do. It will also be rewired over the closed months. The 16mm live steam garden railway is a great attraction as ever, not just for children but older visitors as well!
The 16mm railway [Photo J.Corris].
The 2019 season is not quite finished at the time of writing. A private 'Farewell to Tourska' steaming is due shortly and we have just negotiated two visits in late November and early December by a tour operator with diesel hauled trains. Plans for 2020 running dates are being prepared and will be published here when available.
Further work has been carried out on the main running track over the winter, including sleeper replacement and fishplate oiling, whilst currently underway is relaying the runround loop at Toddington, which has suffered from waterlogging.
Toddington's loop removed.
Our Simplex diesel and three side tipping skips have been used to remove and transport very wet clay and ballast to Didbrook. Toddington platform is also receiving remedial work on the rear foundation, with blockwork and fencing being rebuilt.
Remedial work to Toddington's platform.
Our Signal Box 'California Crossing' much needed timber replacement has proceeded very well, with painting in progress before the steps to the cabin are put back in place. Whilst Inside the workshops the Trecwn brake van is once more looking resplendent in bright red on the exterior, while the interior has received a repaint as well.
The boiler inspector has visited to visually check 'Chaka' and will shortly return for its annual steam test. Off site, Justine's boiler overhaul has made good progress towards completion with firebox stays soon to be fitted.