The last public trains for this year ran on the busy 'Steam Up' weekend of 20 and 21 October, with 'Chaka', 1091 and 'Tourska' all working. The weather was excellent which helped make the event a success.
1091's final steaming before expiration of its ten year boiler life was on 24 November during a visit by the 16mm 'Military Modellers' group. The railway is keen to host more small groups who wish to hire the line and a loco – steam or diesel - for a few hours 'hands on' railway experience. We will post more information here in the New Year.
The track maintenance programme is underway with a goodly number of sleepers replaced on the running lines and fishplate oiling being carried out.
Work has started on timber replacement on California Crossing Signal Box, which is showing its age in places. More woodworking is in evidence on the Trecwn brake van, which is receiving replacement paneling as necessary ahead of a repaint.
We are midway through the 2018 season and once again have used three steam locos on various running days – CHAKA, TOURSKA and 1091. TOURSKA was in action for the busy and very hot Classic Bus Rally day on 8 July. 1091 is currently away at Apedale for the World War One commemoration activities, whilst CHAKA recently returned from a successful appearance at the Hunslet 125 celebrations held on the Festiniog and Welsh Highland Railways at Porthmadog.
Chaka at Porthmadog (Photo M. Wilsden).
Offsite, repairs on JUSTINE's boiler is progressing well. The acquisition of a small piece of appropriately certified copper plate will enable further work to be done.
On the diesel front, the Simplex suffered failure of its starter motor over the Thomas weekend in June. The motor was beyond economic repair, but a search on the internet found a reconditioned one at a good price. This has now been fitted, with the loco bursting into life at the first press of the starter button. Well done to all involved. The Hunslet was pressed into service while the Simplex was out of action and worked passenger trains on 1 July.
The Wembley carriage is now looking immaculate after another coat of paint and other finishing touches were applied earlier this year. A launch ceremony will be held in August for invited guests to have a first ride in it. Thanks to everyone who has helped in any way to get the very worthwhile project to this stage in a relatively short time – it was March 2011 when the carriage body arrived at Toddington in a totally derelict condition.
The Wembley coach looking good in the sun. (Photo M. Ranieri).
The lineside clearance gang have been busier than ever this season with everything seeming to grow higher and faster in the prevailing sultry summer conditions.
A couple of new volunteers have helped on running days, on ticket office and guard duties, but a bigger squad of people is still needed so the stalwarts can have a day or two off!