With a busy July of running now complete, it’s time to start looking forward to our season finale in September.

We will have a B timetable running day on Saturday 9th of September, traction will be D5310.

It’s then all hands to the fuel pump for our Diesel Weekend on Saturday 23rd & Sunday 24th September. This will include the full public debut of Class 47 1566 in BR Blue, working her first full day in traffic for over 5 years.

We are busy putting the final touches to the timetable but can confirm planned attractions are:

Traction: D5310, 6940 & the return of a very shiny BR blue 1566. 08195 is pencilled-in for shunter shuttles and a Sunday morning PLEG charter.
DMU: The ever-loud Class 104

5″ gauge miniature railway on platform 2 at Llangollen courtesy of WDSME. Traction should be a 27 and 47. New track and traction red pens at the ready!

A beer train should run on Saturday evening.

The timetable should be available soon and will hopefully include some proper length trains and a DMU drag. Please note all locos, workings and attractions are subject to the usual caveats of availability, operational constraints and b*sterd bad luck. Your understanding is much appreciated as it’s a while since we’ve done an event like this!

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1960’s Weekend – Two Locos Out

Thanks to all who came along for a ride-out at our 8th (and currently final in its current guise with Diesel Group members as organisers) 1960’s Weekend. Due to a shortage of steam locos, we ended up with a request for both D5310 and 6940 to be in use on both days. Although confident, this would be OK, as usual it ended up being a challenge!

2 of 6940’s bogie brake cylinder seals needed urgent replacement before the event. They had been passing air for a while but failed completely when the loco was used for shunting just over a week before the event. Hasty enquiries resulted in a supplier in Sheffield being able to assist us, although it was a close run thing – they arrived at 15:30 on the day before the event. Fortunately they fitted like a dream and did the job perfectly. We just gained a few less/grey/both hairs in the process! She is seen below running round at Llangollen on Sunday 23rd.

D5310 had air problems of her own when she was used on the Tuesday before the event to shunt at Glyndyfrdwy. Both the brake feed cut off and train brake valve at No 1 end began passing air badly. Both were removed, stripped and cleaned on the Friday before the event. Fortunately we had a good turn out of working members for this day and, despite it being very last minute and working in the most awful rainy conditions, both locos passed FTR at around 4pm and then headed straight into shunting work to prepare stock for the event. She is seen below getting the ECS to River Sidings underway on the evening of Sunday 23rd July. Doesn’t she look the part on those subs!

After all this very damp drama, the weekend itself went largely without a hitch. This was the first time we have fielded two fleet members on the same day for nearly 4 years – the last time being the September 2013 Diesel Day. It was a great sight to see our locos crossing one another on service trains, as George Walker’s photo below shows occurring at Glyndyfrdwy, also on Sunday 23rd:

After a busy July, it’s now time to look forward to our Diesel Weekend on September 23rd & 24th. We are confident of being able to field D5310, 6940 & 1566 and a railcar. We are planning interesting workings, a miniature railway and an evening beer train. More details will be provided soon – keep checking back.

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1566 – a Vision in Blue & 6940 – Classic Transport Weekend

We are delighted to announce that 1566’s paintwork is complete, including numbers and logos. She moved out of Llangollen shed under her own power on Friday 16th June and is seen here at Pentrefelin for her first outdoor photo in her new colours and 1970’s pre-TOPs guise. Whilst we are aware of a few minor details being not quite 70’s (like the NRN aerials), we are sure you will agree that the end result is pretty spot on!

1566 is truly resplendent and the Group are delighted with the results. Great care was taken to achieve a good paint finish. The final two coats of BR blue were mixed with varnish and light flatting of the paint was carried out before the application of the final coat. This has a resulted in a mirror-like finish.

Photo by Mark Smales, who has invested many hundreds of hours into the locomotive’s overhaul and done the lion’s share of the work. He is quite rightly proud of what has been achieved.

Whilst undercover a number of mechanical issues that came to light on the 7th May test run have been repaired and fettled, including refurbishing a hydraulic roof vent actuator, adjustment to the speeder valve at number 1 end and fixing a large air leak. All being well, 1566 should now be ready to undertake a further loaded test run on the 8th July, working with D5310. This should pave the way for her formal relaunch to traffic at our Diesel Weekend on September 23rd & 24th.

6940 – Classic Transport Weekend

6940 worked another successful 3 trip running day on June 17th in spectacularly hot weather. She is seen here at Llangollen station with Pete Edwards in the chair. Yes, she is looking a bit tatty – the river side of our fleet all take a proper beating from the weather, so attention to her bodywork is planned as soon as we can – but D5310 is next in the queue.


6940 also experienced a shut-down in Berwyn tunnel on her last trip, but was checked, re-started and soon on her way without any of the drama encountered a few years ago when she was failed in the tunnel after developing a fuel leak. We suspect either a water or oil pressure sensor cut in due to the combination of the 1 in 80 gradient and high temperatures, but will check her over carefully before her next workings. She does use a fair bit of oil these days, another thing that will need attention soon.

Nevertheless, 6940 is due to work BOTH days of Classic Transport Weekend on 1st & 2nd of July, the timetable is here:

6940 should work 3 full trips – 2 to Corwen, inclyding a short layover at Carrog to allow top-and-tail working to Corwen and one trip to Glynyfrdwy. With over 150 classic cars, vintage buses (the latter of which you can ride on) and lorries it looks set to be another excellent event.

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Summer Running Day Traction Allocation

Traction diagrams for D5310 & 6940 in June & July are as follows:

Saturday 17th June, B timetable.
Classic Transport Weekend, 1st & 2nd July –  Timetable TBC but usually a Llan-Glyn shuttle service, where there is a large classic car and bus display.
1960’s Weekend, 22nd or 23rd July – TBC dependent on crew roster.

Photo by Tez Pickthall at Carrog on May 7th 2017.

Sunday 8th July, B timetable.
1960’s Weekend, 22nd or 23rd July – TBC dependent on crew roster.

Thanks to George Walker for the photo of D5310 after a clean on 9th June 2017.

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Saturday 10th June Running Day – D5310 & Paint Progressing on 47

Class 26 D5310 will handle our Saturday June 10th running day, working the 10 12:15 and 14:30 trains from Llangollen. This is a B timetable. The Type 2 recently worked a successful 3 trip driver experience day on May 20th and all appeared well.

Excellent progress continues to be made with 1566’s paint job, with the bodysides now nearly finished. It won’t be too long until we are ready for logos and numbers! But will it be 1566 or 47449 – keep coming back for a look!

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May 7th Running Day & 1566 Undercover

A big thank you to everyone who supported our running day on Sunday May 7th. We had wonderful weather, a good turn out of passengers and 6940 was on fine form as this linked video 2017-05-07 15.52.1 along with Carl Grocott’s Youtube video and my photo below all show. The headcode and headboard were for Pete Edwards, one of our Group stalwarts who was celebrating a landmark birthday with a chartered coach. These are a great way of celebrating a special occasion, with catering available if required. Please enquire with the team at Llangollen station if you are interested!

It was also brilliant to be joined by 1566 for the last train of the day for a further loaded test run. She is seen from 6940’s second man’s side leaving Berwyn with a characteristic 12LDA exhaust plume.

1566 made it to Corwen on time but the run was challenging and brought some further problems to light on the Type 4.  A leak from the hydrostatic oil system needs attention, as does one of the compressors, which was struggling to maintain air pressure. Some further minor fuel leaks were repaired on the run. However, this is what test runs are all about and we are confident these won’t stop her returning to traffic at the Gala. Carl Grocott’s excellent shot shows her opening up after Bonwm crossing, headed for Corwen with a public train for the first time in both Llangollen Railway and Class 47 history!

The train was hauled back to Llangollen by 6940 and 1566 ran straight off the train into the shed for painting to begin. Photo by (a very happy) Mark Smales.

Our next running day is Saturday 10th June and it will be D5310’s turn for a trip out. We hope for the same incredible weather and to see a few or of our fans of smaller Sulzers in attendance!

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6940 for Sunday 7th May

6940 will work our first timetabled running day of the year on Sunday 7th May. The 37 will work the 10:40, 1pm and 15:10 trains from Llangollen and work through to Corwen. Photo by Mark Riley in June 2015. Let’s hope for similar weather and an enjoyable day in of 12CVST thunder in the Dee Valley. The usual excellent refreshments will be available from the Station café at Llagollen and Carrog Station tearooms. Thrash, tea, bacon butties and cake – could it get any better?

The loco was successfully put through a fitness-to-run exam on the evening of Tuesday 25th April. This is seen underway in the photo below. There were enough working members present to allow work to continue on 1566, which had developed another water leak after its test run. Some elderly jubilee clips rusted through on a hose, a fairly simple problem to sort. We were also fairly sure the 47 was low on power and a check of the control air pressure with the power controllers fully open at both ends showed we were right – barely half the pressure required was reaching the governor. The fault was soon found – an air leak from the power cut-off valve, which we have replaced with a spare. Full power was immediately returned and we look forward to seeing her loading up properly on her next run.

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No April fool – 1566 is back!

We are very pleased to report that 1566 made a successful test run to Corwen and back on Tuesday 11th April, breaking new ground for the class in the process. 6940 came along too as insurance and for a post-winter storage test, drawing the 47 back from Corwen to Carrog. All appears well with the 37 after de-winterising on the 1st of April.

1566 isn’t quite 100% water-tight, with an annoying but minor water leak coming from somewhere on top of the engine that we can’t quite pinpoint as yet. A couple of minor fuel leaks also require rectification – but that’s what a test run is all about. Otherwise, all appeared well and the exhaust was pretty clear once the turbo had cleared its lungs.

Ian Macerwright captured this photo of 1566 and delighted group members at Berwyn. We all enjoyed listening to the Dee Valley reverberate to the sound of a Sulzer 12LDA28C for the first time in nearly 5 years.

The next stage is to get 1566 under cover for a few weeks so we can complete the bodywork and painting. We are still on target for a re-launch to traffic at our diesel gala on 23rd and 24th of September.

6940’s No2 end interior cab roof repairs are now also completed, which has considerably improved the appearance and hopefully got the cab watertight again.  The two contrasting front end designs are seen nose-to-nose at Goods Junction with air brake pipes connected awaiting the test run.

Loco Condition & Repaints
The Group are all too aware of the increasingly poor external condition of both 6940 and D5310 and a repainting plan for both locos after 1566’s completion has been submitted to the Llangollen Railway management. This is very much dependent on being granted undercover access, something at a considerable premium on the railway at the moment. Hopefully space can be made to accommodate us and allow the appearance of both locos to be improved and their bodywork protected. The plan is for D5310 to retain BR green livery and for 6940 to join her in these colours. For the latter part of the 2017 season we plan to give D5310 full yellow ends to both temporarily tidy her up and also provide some photographic interest.

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1566 – Another Successful Test Run

After having to unfortunately cancel 1566’s loaded test run due to the discovery of more water leaks from several places on both A & B bank cooler groups, our Chairman Mark Smales has worked very hard to repair them. 3 elements have been blanked off (we don’t need 100% cooling for preservation running). A few Group members went over to help Mark finish this work off this evening. After refilling the coolant system, we successfully started 1566 and let her warm through. Things looked much improved, with only a minor leak remaining so we decided to undertake a short mainline test run after all and headed into Llangollen station.

It was brilliant to see a ’47’ back by the river for the first time in nearly 5 years. There are still plenty of jobs to finish on 1566, but this is another step forward and we hope to undertake a loaded test run to Glyndyfrdwy and back on Tuesday 11th of April. A visit to the paint shop is now planned for late spring or early summer. As BR once said…..we are getting there!

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Spring Update

The Group have enjoyed a busy and positive start to 2017, with D5310 seeing regular use and 1566 nearly ready for a “mainline” test run. 6940 will soon be de-winterised as we look forward to our main operating season starting on Sunday 7th of May. 6940 should be working this A timetable diagram (10.40, 13.00 & 15.10 from Llan and all trains working to Corwen). Planning is also well underway for our diesel gala on 23rd & 24th of September.

Fun and Frolics in February!
Our 2017 operating season has actually already begun. Following on from D5310’s successful contribution to the Winter Warmer on New Year’s Eve, the 26 has been out on public service trains twice, covering for unavailable steam locomotives. This included the prestigious, albeit very short notice, haulage of the first train of the Llangollen Railway 2017 season on Saturday February 11th, following a minor fault with GWR Prairie 2-6-2T No 5199. The Group were already engaged in a working day in the yard, so had people available to prepare and crew D5310 for the first trip of the day whilst 7822 “Foxcote Manor” was put into steam. The Manor then took over for the second and third trips. The 26 performed soundly, other than not being able to heat the train on a dull and, at times, snowy day. She is seen below at Carrog with the snowy hills in the background.

Excellent progress was also made on February 11th with getting 1566’s coolant system reassembled. The repaired top rail was refitted using the Unimog and then welded back into place by Andy Maxwell and his impressive portable welder – a petrol electric aiding a diesel electric!

With the top rail back in place, the radiator elements were all cleaned and reinstalled. Despite cold, dark and wet conditions we managed to get them all back in (some went in easier than others as the photo shows below!). We also got the roof hatches fully reconnected to their hinges and hydraulic lines for the movable ventilation slats.

Another team were working on 6940’s No 2 end cab roof, where a long-standing but minor water leak from the roof ventilator has damaged the wood paneling. This may sound like a minor job compared to what we normally find ourselves dealing with but, in true English Electric style, has proved to be neither the quick or simple job we expected. So much for old kit being simple! Thanks to George Walker for the photo.

1566 Moving Again
A couple of weeks later on the 25th of February, Mark Smales filled up 1566’s coolant circuit with water, successfully started her up and then got the loco moving under her own power again. There are still some issues to sort, but this is not surprising after spending nearly 5 years out of traffic. We are now carefully working through these. An example is tracing an issue with fuel supply to a melted fuel return pipe under the engine room floor and replacing it.

With the pipe replaced the loco undertook another successful short light engine run to Pentrefelin Goods Dock and back on the 12th of March, thanks to Matt Davies for the photo.

Later this spring or maybe early summer we hope to move 1566 under cover again, get the bodywork re-fettled after 18 months outside in undercoat and then apply 70’s era BR blue livery. We aren’t quite sure whether to go for pre-TOPS 1566 or post-TOPS 47449 – so wait and see. We aim to formally relaunch our largest and most powerful locomotive to traffic at our diesel gala on 23rd and 24th of September. Bring it on!

Steam Gala Intrusions 
D5310 was in use again at the “Along Birkenhead Lines” steam gala, picking up the spare loco diagram on Friday 3rd March, again in place of 5199 which had been promoted to cover for Black Five 44737, which wasn’t quite ready in time for the first day of the gala after winter overhaul. She was sorted for the next day, so the gala returned to a 100% steam affair. She is seen below gently rolling into a rather dull and damp Berwyn on the 3rd of March, thanks to Mike Martin for the photo.

Andy Maxwell also captured this interesting shot of D5310 sat alongside 6960 “Raveningham Hall” at Carrog. The modified Hall was visiting us from the Gloucestershire and Warwickshire Railway for the gala.

Rumours of D5310 acquiring a copper-capped exhaust port are fiercely denied. 😉

Diesel Weekend – 23rd & 24th of September
Planning is well underway for our first diesel weekend for 4 years later this year. Whilst no visiting locomotive is planned, we are hoping to make full use of the home fleet and re-launch 1566 to traffic. Plenty of operational interest should be expected, along with some authentic sights, sounds, smells and tastes from the 1970’s. Travellers Fare may be making a brief return to a Mk1 buffet and we hope to have some double headed trains, a DMU drag and an evening “Beerex”. More gen as it becomes confirmed!

In the meantime, we look forward to welcoming our supporters to our 7th May running day – see you soon for some Dee Valley thunder!

Cheers, Tez P.

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