News for the New Year – All the Best for 2016!

All the very best for 2016 from the LDG to all our supporters. 2015 was a pretty good year for us, with 6940 back in business, D5310 continuing to be a solid and dependable machine and considerable progress made on 1566 since getting the Type 4 undercover in October. 2016 looks set to be another exciting year – especially with the prospect of having 3 locos available – provided funds can be raised to purchase an eye-watering 3 sets of batteries – which are required for all 3 locos!

Friday 2nd & Saturday 3rd January 2016 – The Winter Warmer Gala.
Featuring D5310, solo, double-headed and top-and-tail with the resident steam fleet. Trains will run to Corwen and the Type 2 will work a parcels train, offering something different to photograph. Limited passenger accommodation is available on the parcels train. The timetable can be found here.

2016 Running Dates
Full event details can be found here but here are summary dates for your diary:

  • Diesel Running Days will be held on 5th June & 25th September, which will see 3 trips operated on each day alongside a steam-hauled service. Traction to be confirmed, diesel loco works the 10:00, 12;15 & 14:30 services from Llangollen.
  • Classic Transport Weekend: 2nd & 3rd July
  • 1960’s Weekend: 23rd & 24th July

D1556 Overhaul Progress
Steady progress has been made on the loco’s bodywork since she moved into the shed in October. Regular working parties have been getting stuck in. As at 1st of January, the locomotive’s bodysides and cabs have been fully sanded down, filled and undercoated. Some new metal patches have also been welded in, dressed and filled to repair corrosion damage. The removable section of the roof has been lifted to allow repairs to be carried out. The fronts ends are looking particularly exciting – with the halogen headlights removed and headcode windows reinstated at both ends, including the flat end that resulted from collision damage repairs at Crewe Works many years ago. Mark Smales’s photo of the reinstated headcode window in the flat end, complete with original trim speaks for itself:2015-12-31 13.19.15

Of course there is a still a long way to go, with the bodywork, power unit and the all-important new set of batteries. However, the Group are hopeful of returning the loco to traffic at some point in the next year or two, resplendent in BR blue and running as 1566 with original front ends including headcode blinds. If you can assist, either with manpower or finances (batteries and paint will run into a hefty four figure sum!) then do get in touch. ALL help is welcomed!

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D1566 Goes Undercover

We are delighted to announce that overhaul work on D1566 has resumed and the locomotive has moved into Llangollen shed for the winter to allow more rapid progress to be made. We are very grateful to the LR Engineering Team for making room for this large machine in a very busy works. Many thanks to Pete Edwards for the photo, taken Saturday 16th October.

2015-10-10 16.39.38

Work had already begun in earnest, with bodywork preparation ready for repainting underway. Tom Shilliam is seen below sanding down a cab roof. Thanks to Paul Williams for the photo.
D1556 bodywork pre

The locomotive will carry late 60’s/early 70’s pre-TOPs rail blue livery, running as 1566 – matching Class 37 6940. To whet your appetite here she is a little later in the rail blue era working through Hereford with the northbound 20.00hrs Cardiff-Crewe Postal train in 1983. Photo courtesy of Jamerail. We intend to turn the clock slightly further back and may reinstate headcode windows and blinds if time allows.

47449 Hereford

The work will however need to go much further than bodywork and paint. The top end power unit overhaul requires completion, although all the components required to get the Sulzer 12LDA28C water tight again have been sourced. The engine bay roof will be removed soon in order to allow repairs to corrosion of the framework. New rolled sections have been sourced and will require welding in, possibly by a specialist contractor.

Most importantly we also need to source a new of batteries – a major expenditure currently beyond our means. We would welcome support with raising funds or indeed any other aspect of the overhaul if you want to get your hands dirty – please get in touch and we will be happy to discuss how you can help!

D5310 – signing off 2015 in fine style!

A final footnote – thanks to those who supported D5310’s last running day of the year on the 26th of September. She celebrated the 6th anniversary of her passenger debut at Llangollen in style;  all went well and we had super weather, bringing our 2015 running season to a satisfying close. Rhys Evans’s photo of her at Llan on Saturday makes for an interesting comparison of her at ‘Embra’ back in the 80’s. Many thanks to Guy Middleton for providing this great shot. Guy scratched 010 for haulage back when he took this photo and was then very pleased to be reunited with her at the weekend to rack up a few more miles.

D5310 26th Sept 2015  D5310 Embra Guy Middleton

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6 Years on and it’s still a 26 on the 26th!

BRCW Type 2 D5310 will mark the 6th anniversary of her first public working on the Llangollen Railway by being the booked diesel traction on the 26th September, our last running day of the year. Whilst we are unable to field two locos on this occasion, we hope to be able to do so next year. The 26 will work alongside a DMU and work the 10:40, 13:00 and 15:10 Llan trains and the 11:25, 13:50 and 16:00 from Corwen. Simon Searle’s photo below shows her arrival at Llangollen back in September 2009.

Si Searle - 26010 in the evening sunshine [Desktop Resolution]

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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…/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!

2015-04-06 14.19.57

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!

2015-05-02 13.23.26

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!


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)

2015-05-05 17.34.01

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.

2015-01-03 14.17.59

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

2015-01-03 13.15.41

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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