A big thanks to everyone who supported our locos running at both Classic Transport and 1960’s weekend, which are both events organised by members of the Diesel Group but run for the Railway. Both were a success and we were also very pleased to see D5310 and 6940 performed well on each weekend. 6940 is seen below at Deeside on 4th July, waiting to cross 5199.2015-07-04 11.17.15

Takings were well up at 60’s weekend, despite abysmal weather on the Sunday, which also failed to stop 6940 pulling in a few punters for a bash, as the videos on our Facebook page show! D5310 welcomed a new traction trainee on Saturday, we think he’ll be pretty good at squeezing in to top up the exhausters. Bello! 2015-07-25 15.56.48

Our next running days should be at, believe it or not, the Autumn Steam Gala on 11th-13th of September, which will see D5310 in use. We then have our final running day of the year on Saturday 26th September. Watch this space for news on this!

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A big thank you to all those who supported 6940’s triumphant return to traffic on the 14th of June. The loco performed very well and worked all 3 trips. An air leak developed during the day, which did not hamper things to seriously. A corroded pipe under the rad room was the cause (mild steel pipes in a wet area!) and this has now been replaced. Thanks to Matt Davies and crew giving the bodywork a good clean and polish the previous day, she also looked the part too as Mark Riley’s superb photo of her departing Berwyn shows. Note the newly reopened Chain Bridge in the background, which offers an excellent vantage point not accessible for many years.

6940 Berwyn 14th June Mark Riley July is a good month for sampling the fleet with both Classic Transport (4th & 5th of July) and 1960’s Weekend (25th & 26th July) to look forward to. Both events should hopefully see both 6940 and D5310 in use, one loco each day. Whilst we know folk would like the chance to sample both on the same day we felt it prudent not to overstretch ourselves. Putting one loco out each day is a much more achievable proposition for us and offers some contingency, which we felt was especially important with 6940 only recently back in traffic after so long out of use.

Classic Transport will see 6940 run on Saturday 4th and D5310 on Sunday 5th. The diesel diagram is a 3 trip shuttle between Llangollen (10:15, 12:45 & 14:30) and Glyndyfrdwy (11:05, 13:20 & 15:35) – covering the steepest gradients on the line so there should be plenty of noise. Full timetable here http://www.llangollen-railway.co.uk/…/Classic-Transport-Pub…. The event will also feature GWR 2-6-2T 6199, GWR Pannier 6430 on the beautiful auto-train and a railcar with a classic vehicle rally at Glyndyfrdwy and free vintage bus rides up and down the valley. See you there!

1960’s Weekend will see the usual popular mix of steam, diesel, a railcar, bus rides, live music and Dr Beechings now legendary real ale, lager and cider bar at Llangollen station. The timetable will be confirmed very soon. The 22:30 campers train will be a railcar this year after being 26-hauled for the last 3 years.

Here’s to a successful summer of diesel haulage in the Dee Valley!

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6940 Haulage for June 14th

We are delighted to announce that 6940 is confirmed as fit for traffic following a successful solo test run last night. We now plan to use 6940 on the next scheduled running day on Sunday the 14th June.

This is a brilliant result of which we are all very proud given the numerous challenges the loco has thrown at us over the last 2 years. A massive thank you to all who have lent their support – physical, technical, financial and moral!

Thanks to Pete Coole for grabbing the below photo at Goods Junction before heading off down the line with Mark Smales to check all was well. A quick tweak to black and white and suddenly it’s all gone very 1970’s!

File 06-05-2015 14 02 19

The Story of 6940’s Return

Work has continued apace on the loco since her successful 28th March test run, with our Chairman Mark Smales putting in a lot of hours. The earth fault preventing use of all 6 traction motors was traced to water ingress into a cable junction box under the radiator room. Many thanks to Paul Warren at the Wensleydale Railway for his help with sorting this after he had an identical problem with 37250 after a lengthy period out of use. The errant box is seen below after the cover had been removed. Holes have now been drilled in the cover to allow drainage so we hopefully won’t have to squeeze into this cramped and filthy area again. If you ever wondered what 51 years of accumulated grime looks like then wonder no more, Mark has kindly provided a photo for you!

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The air system was the next task. A passing combined brake valve was replaced in number 1 end with a spare from our stores. The spare was not in the best of health either, so was subject to a full strip and overhaul before fitting to the loco. It appears to be fine, which is a relief seeing as we had rebuilt the desk around it before testing it in anger! The loco had also been struggling to make and hold adequate air pressure for some time before her forced withdrawal in 2014 and was declared a failure in summer 2013 when the large compressor overheated and cut out.

For some time we suspected the large Westinghouse compressor had a fault as it was passing air through the oil dipstick and only making around 110psi. Like most BR locos, 37’s have two compressors – a lower duty original fitted when the loco was built, and a second, larger one fitted by BR for use with air-braked trains later in their working lives. Both live in the cramped environment of the Number 1 nose end, stacked on top of one another and very difficult to get to for anything other than oil top up. The photo below shows the smaller compressor – which sits under the larger one. It’s not actually possible to get a photo of both unless you stand on your head or lie on the nose end floor. Neither are recommended!

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The large compressor was lifted out using the crane on Mark’s recently overhauled Unimog for inspection on 10th April. The cylinder heads were carefully removed and the valves inspected, which were the first- suspected culprit. Apart from some accumulated dirt they were fine. Back to the drawing board then!

The next gambit were faulty piston rings in the high pressure cylinder, something we hoped wouldn’t be a problem as they are now very hard things to come by. A strip down confirmed this to be the case, with the bottom of the 3 sealing rings damaged on the high pressure piston, as Mark’s photo below shows. The challenge was now to source replacement rings – and a challenge it certainly was!

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A number of potential suppliers were approached who were helpful but could not supply us with off the shelf parts. Having new rings made would need a lot of money, take a lot of time and need full a drawing, none of which we had to hand! We were extremely grateful to the Northampton Type 2 Group, who kindly offered us the loan of a spare Westinghouse 3CV50 compressor – it turns out the same type was used on the Class 27 as well as 37. However, identifying whether the faulty compressor was indeed a 3CV50 proved a challenge. The loco’s original BR documentation only specified the 3CV50 compressor, which is the low duty original and a 3 cylinder unit. The faulty one had two cylinders and no obvious model number on it! After scraping the paint off the maker’s plate, it was finally found to be a Westinghouse 2EC38B. We were learning a lot but not fixing the problem!

The breakthrough came when Mark tracked down some suitable rings from, wait for it, Estonia! God bless the Internet. They were sold as suitable for Westinghouse lorry compressors but the dimensions looked spot on for our 2EC38B large loco compressor. And spot on they proved to be! After fitting the rings, reassembling the high pressure stage and refitting the compressor to the loco it made the correct air pressure straight away! The nose end was given a good clean, as were both cabs. It was then everything crossed for a test run on May 5th, which was passed with flying colours. Big grins all round! (photo by Pete Coole)

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All that’s needed now is a fettle of the bodywork if we can find a dry day to apply polish!

A brilliant result of which we are all very proud given the numerous challenges the loco has thrown at us over the last 2 years. A massive thank you to all who have lent their support – physical, technical, financial and moral!

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6940 Back in Business

2015 Seminar It’s been quite a week for the Group, culminating in a very successful first running day of 2015 on March 28th. As well as another flawless performance from D5310, 6940 made a welcome return to traffic after bogie repairs, hauling her first train for 18 months and breaking new ground for the class in the process by working back from Corwen on the last train of the day. Thanks to Joe Wellsteed for snapping a lot of happy faces with the “Beast of Berwyn” after safe arrival back at Llangollen. She is also seen below at Carrog, with the Class 104 DMU in the background on a driver experience.2015-03-28 16.18.30 (2)                                                   Much work has been undertaken over the Winter to repair the damaged liner plates on number 2 end bogie, culminating in a working day on Wednesday 25th March where the 37 was started after a deep battery charge and careful preparation. D5310 also received some maintenance and preparation for the year ahead this week, with oil, battery water and grease levels attended to along with a clean and some much-needed new windscreen wipers. Tom Shilliam is seen below attending to the driver’s windscreen wiper on No 2 end.2015-03-25 13.38.28

And smoke from 6940’s exhausts was a most welcome sight after a long absence:                2015-03-25 15.12.12 A fault with a sticking Oil Pressure Switch (OPS) contactor on the 37 prevented the loco from running for a sustained period, but this was resolved early on the 28th March running day, allowing the rest of the locomotive and it’s systems to be thoroughly examined. Heroic efforts by Mark Smales, Pete Edwards, Iain Ross and Paul Williams saw a number of issues associated with a lengthy period out of use resolved to the point where 6490 was able to double-head the last train of the day with D5310. This was the view to be had from D5310 at Llangollen on the 15:10 – windows full of nose! 2015-03-28 14.58.24                                      6940 successfully completed a return trip, running round at Carrog to haul the train back from Corwen. In doing this she made history for the class, being the first EE Type 3 to work West of Bonwm and haul a train away from Cowen. Although this is very encouraging news and better progress than we could have hoped for after such a long time out of traffic, there are still some issues to sort. An earth fault required 2 traction motors to be isolated, which will require further investigation and there were also several other minor problems which require attention. Nevertheless, the Group are hopeful that 6940 will be able to run again this year. We would like to thank everyone who supported our running day and will provide a further on 6940 in due course. In the meantime here’s a very retro-themed view of our TWO operational locomotives (that feels great to say!) at Llangollen in 2015. File 29-03-2015 00 35 27

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Spring Preparations

A working day was held on Saturday 21st February in readiness for our first timetabled running day of the year on Saturday 28th March. This will see D5310 in use alongside a DMU.

Bogie repairs have been completed on 6940 but these require testing by operating the loco under its own power light engine. The type 3 has been de-winterised and prepared for starting.  Thanks to Pete Coole for the photo below showing this work in progress on the 21st of February.

6940 21st Feb - P Coole

An attempt to start the loco is planned as soon as possible when the weather is a little warmer and the batteries can receive a thorough, deep charge. Once the loco is started it is likely there will be one or two other little niggles to attend to after a year out of traffic. With a little more to do and the repairs still to be fully tested, we are not yet in a position to confirm whether 6940 will be able to run this year. Materials have also been obtained in readiness to replace the roof panels in No.2 end cab.

D5310 worked a special engineers train at 15:00 on the 24th of February, to deliver the 80 tonne crane in readiness for track laying for the narrow gauge demonstration line as part of the upcoming “Steel, Steam & Stars IV” mega steam gala in early March. After delivering the crane, the type 2 worked a 16:30 return unfitted freight from Glyndyfrdwy Engineers Siding – River Sidings with engineers wagons and 2 guards vans. She likes to be kept busy!

Finally, D1566 was inspected on the 21st and its protective tarpaulins checked and re-secured. Although stored, the locomotive has not been forgotten about and the overhaul will be resumed as soon as time and resources allow. Photo by Pete Coole.

D1566 21s Feb - P Coole

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Happy New Year

A very happy new year to all our supporters and a big thank you to all those who supported an excellent Winter Warmer Gala – the turn out was very impressive despite the cold and, at times, wet weather. D5310 performed impeccably all weekend on a range of workings and proudly worked the first diesel-hauled passengers train from Corwen, working top-and-tail with steam locos. She is seen below on Saturday 3rd January with a short train including the two superb suburban coaches and GWR 2-6-2T N 5199 on the down end of the train.

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The 26 also looked superb at work on the impressively long parcels train:

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D5310 then worked a special volunteer’s train into Corwen for the first time on the following weekend – another historic first for both the loco and diesel traction in the Dee Valley.

We are now just 8 weeks away from our first running day of 2015 on Saturday 28th March. We hope to be able to announce some positive news about 6940 before this, but need to carry out further work and testing once the risk of frost has subsided and we can run the Type 3 up. For now, assume another fine day out with D5310 and a DMU.

Finally, please note our 23rd of May running day has been changed to the 2nd of May – please update your “diary of thrash”.

 

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Seasons Greetings & Winter Warmer Gala

The LDG would like to wish all our supporters a very merry Christmas and look forward to seeing you again in 2015 – our Running Dates page is now updated with everything going on next year. Here’s our own little Christmas Card scene back in March 2013 when the Dee Valley was cut off and our Spring (yes, Spring!) Diesel Day had to be cancelled.

Snowy 6940

Seeing as the image features 6940, it’s reminded me to mentioned that, as I type, a small team are working on 6940’s bogie at Pentrefelin Carriage Works. We hope to provide some good news about getting the “Beast O’Berwyn” back doing what we all know and love in the new year. Finger’s crossed!

Winter Warmer
The timetable for the Winter Warmer Gala is now confirmed and available to download here. It’s looking like another belter, with D5310 in use alongside the steam and DMU fleet. Train will be running to Corwen, including D5310 working some services back from the new station top-and-tailed with a steam locomotive. A parcels train will also be running, which the 26 will take a turn at hauling. Running will go on into the night with a real ale bar available. The event will offer some welcome action at this usually quiet time of year in the heritage railway calendar.

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November Working Day

A most productive working day was completed on Saturday 29th of November, with 5 Group members turning out. A warm welcome to recent recruits Chris and Ian too, who enjoyed a change from the signal box and Corwen extension!

Stripping of the steps and horn ties on 6940’s errant bogie is well underway. Two of the wheelsets are now ready for dropping, one to go. It is hoped to be able to lift the bogie, drop the wheelsets and repair the liners in-situ, with the aim of completing this work early in the new year. With a bit of luck this could see 6940 back in traffic for the springtime but this is very much provisional. Further updates will follow.
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Pete and Ian can be seen watching Mark gently persuading the horn tie bolts off with a little heat from the gas axe. We were tempted to keep going but it soon passed!
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D5310 was also carefully examined and successfully started. With an FTR exam complete, a quick to run to Pentrefelin goods dock and back was completed with no problems. With a wagon already in the dock for unloading, a nice little works-train cameo presented itself, complete with a crew appearing desperate to escape for a brew!
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The Type 2 was then screwed down in River sidings and left to run for an hour to warm everything through and put some charge into the batteries, which are starting to get a little tired but did not stop the engine starting despite the loco being sat idle for a few weeks with no trickle charge.
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All ready for the Winter Warmer on 2nd & 3rd January – wrap up warm and see you there! Watch this space for updates on the timetable.

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Looking back and ahead

A big thank you to everyone who has supported the LDG this year, especially those who have travelled to North Wales to sample D5310 on her numerous running days. All have run smoothly and met advertised commitments, with just one or two minor niggles with the DSD brake feed cut off valve at No 1 end, which thankfully did not result in any delay to services. The Type 2 celebrated her 5th anniversary of arriving at Llangollen on 26th September – and what a superb and dependable addition to our fleet she has been.

2014-05-26 11.12.49 The Group are pleased to confirm our running dates for 2015 as follows:

Friday 2nd and Saturday 3rd of January – Winter Warmer Gala. Anything goes – sample limited haulage with D5310 (due to no train heat) and see the loco working a parcels train into the night. Should be very atmospheric and provide some great photo opportunities – like this: 20140204-213420.jpg

STOP PRESS – this event may offer the first chance to sample diesel haulage to the new Corwen station! Bring your red pen!

4 Trip Running Days + DMU. All expected to be D5310, but watch this space! Saturday 28th March, 23rd May, 14th June &  26th September. STOP PRESS – Trains should also be running to Corwen – new track for diesel haulage!

1960’s Weekend – 25th & 26th July. Diesel diagram on both days, likely to include Saturday night campers train and real ale train. Steam, DMU, vintage vehicle rally, bus rides, live music and real ale festival – the usual excellent and popular mix!

Classic Transport Weekend – 4th & 5th of July Diesel diagram on both days, superb vintage bus and car display and bus rides. Further dates may be added. Driver experiences also available in June & September. Please contact the Railway’s General Office for details – 01978 860979 / llangollen.railway@btinternet.com

6940 The power unit and coolant circuit have been drained with neat antifreeze added to the oil cooler and water pumps in readiness for winter. After careful examination of the number 2 end bogie, the Group hope to lift 6940 using jacks in the new year with a view to dropping the wheelsets and attempting to repair the defective liner plates in-situ. We are hopeful this may allow the locomotive to return to traffic – further updates will follow in due course. We are determined to get the Beast o’ Berwyn back doing what she does best! 2014-03-02 14.57.00

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03162 – CANCELLATION

Regrettably we have to announce that 03162 will not now be running at our Autumn Diesel Day later this month due to operational reasons. Apologies for this extremely disappointing news and for any inconvenience caused.

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