Seasons Greetings & Happy New Year!

Apologies for the lack of updates to the site since the summer. Our Facebook page has been updated regularly, but our website has been somewhat neglected. A new year’s resolution is to keep it more regularly updated in 2017!

There has been a lot going on in the Group since the summer! Let’s start with the most important and pressing news. We have more 2017 operating dates and are delighted to welcome the return of a DIESEL GALA on 23rd and 24th of September. Click here for details of 2017 dates.

Also, the imminent Winter Warmer Gala on 30th and 31st of December will feature D5310 on a DMU drag – the first time this has occurred on the railway for some time. Full event gen is here. D5310 will work 3 trips, dragging the Class 104 & 127 units on the 10:15 ex Llan, which will both be running to provide train heat. She will then work a trip with GWR Manor 7882 and Prairie 5199 This is a great event, with plenty of atmosphere, as my phot from the 2015 event shows (D5310 at Carrog on a parcels train).

It is no mean feat that D5310 is able to take part in the Winter Warmer event. As widely reported elsewhere, the Type 2 had a challenging time during her summer and autumn visit to the Spa Valley Railway, suffering from several unconnected problems that caused failure. A defective speed switch, failure of two of the new battery cells and an air leak on the governor that caused very low power all caused headaches for the Spa Valley team looking after her and resulted in several days of lost running. With the loco such a long way from Llangollen, we could only offer remote support and advice. We were therefore very grateful to Jonnie Wesson and the rest of the team for their persistence, patience and hard work that fixed these problems and saw D5310 eventually perform well on several running days in September. This included spending the day with Peppa Pig!

Several members of the group then attended the SVR Autumn Diesel Gala on the 21st to 23rd of October. Unfortunately D5310’s unlucky streak in Kent was to continue, this time in a far more serious manner. Whilst working the last train of the day back from Groombridge, top and tailed with a Class 33, the busbar on No 4 traction motor overload relay failed whilst the locomotive was under power. The relay failed catastrophically, causing a small fire in the electrical cubicle, which was promptly extinguished by the crew using a CO2 bottle. This undoubtedly limited the damage to just the relay and supporting Paxolin boards and could easily have been far more serious. Unfortunately, as the sudden failure of the bus bar occurred whilst the engine was under power, the generator suffered a minor flashover between the brush boxes. As a result the locomotive was immediately failed and unable to take part in the rest of the gala. She returned to Llangollen the following week for a full assessment. At this point the Group suspected the failure of the relay may have been caused by a flashover on No 4 traction motor, so this along with the damaged cubicle and generator caused much concern for the locomotive’s future.

This was the damage to the overload relay. Not a sight any loco owner wishes to see!

Fortunately, she was not as seriously damaged as first feared. Following careful testing, we found that the traction motor was not the cause of the failure and was undamaged. The traction motor bus bar is riveted into the overload relay within the Paxolin board. These rivets can fail due to fatigue, vibration and pressure from the Paxolin swelling by slowly taking up moisture over many years. Mechanical failure of the bus bar was therefore the cause of the failure – and the sudden loss of continuity saw around 800A of traction current head back to the generator and cause the flash over across the brush boxes.

Through testing, cleaning and repairs to the electrical cubicle and specialist cleaning of the generator have been all carried out. Pete Edwards has put in a lot of time and hard work to this and we received a lot of help and advice from Bowers Electrical and other loco owners. With repairs and cleaning complete, further static testing all checked out as OK. We couldn’t quite believe we were then able to start and test the loco on December 12th. She initially wouldn’t take power, which we were delighted to find was only the result of both AWS switches being in the off position! With this sorted, she moved under her own power and shunted the yard at Llangollen with no problems. She will now take part in the Winter Warmer Event, bringing a most eventful and challenging year for our little type 2 to a hopefully positive close. The LDG would like to thank everyone who has assisted us in getting D5310 running again so quickly, especially Ken Joy for supplying the replacement relay and boards, Matt Stoddon for arranging their dispatch, Dave Hesketh and the team at Bowers Electrical and finally the Spa Valley loco crew – Jonnie Wesson, Dale West and Jools Hill. Their prompt and careful action when the failure occurred almost certainly prevented the damage being more serious. Preservation is a challenging hobby, but working with great and generous people like those mentioned above make also make it a humbling. Thank you Gents!

Aside from all the drama with D5310, steady progress continues to be made with 1566, the headline being she was started and moved under her own power for the first time in 4 years on 11th of September after being reunited with a superbly overhauled roof, exhaust silencer and systematic examination and testing of her electrical equipment. This was the result of a lot of hard work by the Group, especially our Chairman Mark Smales.

Here is the repaired roof, waiting to be craned up onto the loco. Much new  metal has been welded in to repair corrosion damage. Although much of it can’t be seen when on the loco, it is very important to the loco’s water tightness and structural integrity. Previous quick repairs by both BR and ourselves have now been replaced with work that should be good for another 50 years or so – they will outlive us all!


After proving everything was working OK, the 47 was drained down to prepare for the final major repair needed to get her back into traffic – the cooler group. We were hoping an in-situ repair would sort this, but the leak persisted so a strip down was required. As suspected, there was some impressive corrosion to the element header rail, we were trying to seal fresh air! Some specialist welding will now be needed, but this should finally see the cooling system fully watertight and leave us with final bodywork fettling and completion of the repaint to do in 2017.

We hope to have 1566 back in traffic in 2017 – certainly in time for our Autumn Diesel Gala and possibly earlier than that – depending on how 6940 and D5310 behave!

Drained down for winter at the time of writing, but largely OK, 6940 ran far later into the season than usual this year following D5310’s failure. She worked all our summer season trains and driver experiences without too many issues, although air use continues to be a problem. One big contributor to this was worn bogie brake cylinders, which were leaking a lot of air when applied. Two of the worst offenders were removed for rapid repair in late October and successfully reunited with the loco in time for a Guard’s training day on the 19th of November. This certainly improved things, but more need remedial action next year. The Guard’s training day was a great success and 6940 performed well, despite freezing conditions. The photo below shows her shunting the yard at Carrog, making for a scene that is very evocative of a 1970’s engineering possession in either Scotland or the Cambrian!

A very happy new year to all our supporters. We look forward to providing you with more EE and Sulzer entertainment in the wonderful Dee Valley in 2017!

Best wishes

Tez Pickthall

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