JUSTINE and 1091 are out of traffic and now in winter storage. CHAKA was steamed early November for maintenance checks, but will also now be stored for the winter break. TOURSKA is having some routine work done at present.
Chaka newly lined out building up Steam.
The restoration and maintenance season is now well underway. Major changes are planned for carriages 1 and 2 of our three carriage set. In carriage 1, the old London bus seats have now been removed, as they were very much life expired. They are being replaced by wooden slatted side seating, which will considerably increase the passenger capacity – particularly useful on Thomas days. No doubt some passengers will miss the bus seats, which we jokingly referred to as 'first class.'
Carriage 2 is having the inward opening centre doors rehung on the outside of the body. The effect will be to widen the entrances making them easier of access for wheelchairs. The entry steps will also be altered for the same reason.
Work continues on the Apedale bogies, which have been totally stripped and are being renovated. They are intended for use under the Wembley carriage. Their history is not fully documented - it is recorded that they were at the BR Poppleton Nursery, York, before Apedale. The high quality of welding on the wagons points to construction in a professional works, we think they may have been assembled by apprentices, possibly BR ones, as part of their training.
Test runs have been conducted with the Simplex diesel and Trecwn carriage coupled together for the first time to ascertain the possibility of using the combination in push/pull mode on off-peak operating days.
JUSTINE returned from Apedale at the end of September accompanied by some bogies on loan, which it is hoped to use under the Wembley carriage body. These are now in the process of being completely stripped down forrenovation.
The bogies from Apedale. Photo S.Mourton
October 3 and 4 saw our End of Season Steam Up, which was blessed with good weather and a healthy attendance. In steam and hauling trains were JUSTINE, 1091 and TOURSKA. The latter, 0-6-0T, Chrzanow 3512 of 1957, arrived during September to take up residence and was only working after strenuous efforts in the previous few days to get the loco through its annual boiler test, which were successful, grateful thanks to all involved. CHAKA was not steamed as it was about to receive lining out on its new paintwork, this has now been done and it is being varnished.
Preperation for the 2015 Steam up. Photo S.Mourton
The season ended with the Simplex and Hunslet diesels working trains during the GWR's diesel gala on 10 and 11 October. The Lister was brought out of its storage shed and trundled up and down the yard with three skips. It was used again a few days later between Toddington, our yard and Didbrook transferring wagons to and from various sidings, before being returned to storage.
The Lister at Toddington. Photo W.Richards
CHAKA is currently undergoing a repaint, aiming for it to be back in use for the October 3 and 4 End of Season Steam-Up. During its layoff work has been done on the stays to cure some minor leaks and the ashpan has been renovated.
1091 has been the regular steam loco in use, including 5 September for a visit by the Bachmann Model Railway Collectors Club.
JUSTINE left Toddington on 4 September on loan to Apedale for the month. It is being used there on the weekend of 12/13 September, possibly other dates as well.
Justine loaded and ready. Photo S.A.Mourton
Simplex diesel BRYNEGLWYS was out of service during most of August for maintenance, with a number of oil leaks being attended to. It has now returned to service. The Hunslet Diesel covered passenger workings on diesel days while the Simplex was out of action.
Polish built 0-6-0T TOURSKA arrived at Toddington on 14 September and was test steamed two days later. This showed that a small amount of work was needed before having her boiler insurance exam at the end of the month.
Tourska steam test 14th September. Photo W.Richards
We aim to have three steam locos available for the 3/4 October End of Season Steam-up. Unlimited rides with a day ticket costing £5 for adults, £2 for children 5 -15, under-fives free.
The last weekend of operation will be 10 and 11 October, during the GWR's Diesel Gala. We hope to run both the Simplex and Hunslet diesels on passenger trains. Please note the GWR make an entrance charge on the Diesel Gala weekend.
SENA 15 has left Toddington after being sold to a new owner. We are sorry to see the loco leave, it was a popular attraction on our railway and performed well in operation.
CHAKA entered service at the June 'Thomas' weekend, along with SENA 15, and worked well. After being used for a private visit in early July, CHAKA was in charge of train services for the Bus Rally day on 12 July. It is now receiving some further maintenance.
BRYNEGLWYS, our Simplex diesel has undergone a repaint, it now looks very smart and is ready for service. Its first public duties are scheduled for the GWSR Diesel Gala, along with the Hunslet diesel. Steam will be represented by Brigadelok 1091 on the Saturday and Sunday of the diesel gala. All subject to availability.
Bryneglwys undergoing a trial run. Photo S.A.Mourton
JUSTINE will be going to Apedale for the month of September, before returning to Toddington for our end of season steam up on 3 and 4 October.
We will soon start running trains on Wednesdays, the actual dates being 29 July; 5, 12, 19 and 26 August. First train is at Noon and then every thirty minutes, with the last departing at 15.30. These will usually be diesel-hauled.
CHAKA will be ready for operation once adjustments have been made to the braking system. As Chaka is larger than our other locos, a lot of cutting back on the lineside has been done to enable safe passage, still a bit more to do.
The Simplex diesel has had outstanding maintenance done. It is now receiving attention to the paintwork and should be ready to run services very soon.
The May steam gala saw SENA 15 and 1091 in operation over the very successful three day weekend, with ten loaded trains run each day.
Our faithful Hunslet diesel has been showing signs of strain lately, failing on two consecutive Sundays while working the passenger service. It was quickly mended on 31 May, with only one train cancelled, but on 7 June ran just two trains, with repairs completed the following day.
JUSTINE is diagrammed to work during the Classic Vehicles day on 14 June. SENA 15 will be in operation on the Thomas weekend of 20/21 June, along with another loco, probably 1091.
Easter Sunday and Monday got the 2015 season off to a great start, helped by the fine weather. 'Justine' was in charge with the Hunslet diesel hauling the first train each day. The 16mm layout was in operation as well and is an excellent added attraction.
Prior to that weekend, maintenance work was carried out on the signal & telegraph, and this is ongoing, particularly focussed on greasing and oiling points.
Work on the Simplex diesel is still underway.
Sundays 12 and 19 April are scheduled for diesel haulage. The 1940s Wartime Weekend is on Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 April, when 'SENA 15' is due to be the main loco, with supporting roles for the Hunslet diesel and 1091. Please note the GWR charge an entry fee on the Wartime Weekend, but the good news is that the entry charge includes a free ride on the narrow gauge.
Considerable progress has been made on reassembling CHAKA. Virtually everything has now been fitted and the loco will be steamed in the next few days in readiness for the insurance steam test on 25 March. It has a new chimney as the old one was well rotted. JUSTINE and 1091 will also be inspected on the same day.
The Simplex diesel has had new couplings fitted, also air brake pipes. Work is being done in the cab to replace rusty and worn flooring and cladding.
Restoration work on the Wembley carriage continues and working electric lights are now fitted! It had lights when built, worked from an onboard accumulator; now it will be a battery.
At Didbrook Loop, a lot of cutting back of embankment foliage has been carried out, so that our trains can be seen from passing standard gauge trains. Routine track maintenance is ongoing, concentrated on levelling and packing between Didbrook Loop and California Crossing.
Our 2015 running season starts on Easter Sunday 5 April, steam worked, also Easter Monday 6 April.
News about our 16mm garden railway, located at California Crossing station: A double road engine shed has been built and fitted to the 16mm garden railway. The other week the track was re-laid and the layout improved including fitting a tunnel and it is looking rather good. Hope to spend next Sunday doing more track laying and we hope to be ready for the bank holiday weekend. Anybody wanting to come up and help you are more than welcome.