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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Happy New Year Indeed!

We are very pleased to report that D5310 ran well at the Winter Warmer gala. She ran with the Class 104 (a fellow BRCW product)/127 DMU, 7822 and 80072, the latter making for another superb recreation of a Waverley route working with the suburban coaches.

It really was a treat to see and hear her out and about in the Dee Valley again. She is seen tucked behind the crossing gates at Glyndyfrdwy on Friday 30th December, piloting 7822.

Meanwhile, Mark spent part of New Years eve 47 making patches for the radiator top rail and has tacked them into place, ready for the railway’s welder to complete the job. A step closer to a watertight 12LDA28C!

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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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1960’s Weekend & D5310’s Summer Holiday

Thanks to everyone who supported our 1960’s Weekend, which was another very successful event with takings up on last year. Both D5310 and 6940 performed well and the 37is seen ready to depart from Glyndyfrdwy on Sunday 24th July.

2016-07-24 12.52.57

There was little time to recover from the busy weekend on Monday morning, with Allelys due to collect D5310 and transport her to the Spa Valley Railway. A serious shunt was required to clear the reception road, which then had to be repeated when another wagon turned up at short notice to collect a brake van we had just moved out of the way. Nevertheless, the loading was successful:

2016-07-25 18.32.32

and D5310 is now safely on shed at Tunbridge Wells ready for her summer holiday in Kent. Photo courtesy of Jonnie Wesson at the SVR.

D5310 at Spa Valley 26th July

Sample her in action in Kent from next Thursday at the SVR’s superb 4 day diesel gala, where there is an excellent range of Sulzer machines and others to sample:

Spa Valley Gala Ad

And don’t forget our next and final running day of the year at Llangollen on Sunday 25th of September, which will be handled by 6940.

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1960’s Weekend – 23rd & 24th of July

Our 7th 1960’s Weekend will be held on 23rd and 24th of July. D5310 will be out on the Saturday, working the 09:00, 11:15 & 15:10. 6940 will be out on the Sunday, working the 09:00, 12:23 & 16:00. Trains will work to Corwen and run top and tail with steam. The rather superb Class 109 DMU will also be running along with 3 weapons of mass water boiling (5199, 7822 & 80072).

Event Poster

There are free vintage bus rides between Llangollen and Corwen, live music and real ale bar at Llangollen and a large vintage vehicle rally at Glyndyfrdwy, where there is also a cafe and real ale bar. Stuff the Brexit woes, get your flares on and come and enjoy some decent Welsh ale and a bit of thrash. Take a look at this rather fruity bit of footage of 6940 making her way out of Glyndyfrdwy at Classic Transport weekend, filmed by Carl Grocott. 

D5310 has been thoroughly checked after the issues experienced at Classic Transport weekend that led to her last train being cancelled. Nothing untoward has been found. The slack adjusters on the brake blocks have also been notched up and the opportunity taken to give her a good clean ahead of her visit to the Spa Valley Railway. She is seen in the photo below in Llangollen yard on Saturday 16th of July. Thanks to Paul Williams for the photo and George Walker for taking the cleaning job on, along with Mark Smales,

D5310 16th July polished

Finally, here’s an image to stir your soul. No less than 26 years ago last Saturday, our very own 37240 was calling at Kingussie on a sleeper train, covering for a failed 47. Thankfully she’s still working passenger trains surrounded by mountains over a quarter of a century later, albeit in a very different part of the British Isles. Many thanks to Andrew Donelly for allowing us to reproduce this classic phot.

240 Kingussie July 1990

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Classic Transport Weekend

Traction for the upcoming Classic Transport Weekend should be D5310 on Saturday 2nd and 6940 on Sunday 3rd of July. The diesel diagram for both days is a Llangollen-Glyndyfrdwy shuttle departing Llangollen at 10:15, 12:30 & 14:45 (with two steam diagrams also working in this pattern with a 45 minute departure frequency). A DMU is working the western portion of the line on a Glyndyfrdwy to Corwen shuttle. There is a large display of classic buses, lorries and cars at Glyndyfrdwy with free vintage bus rides on offer. All in all an excellent weekend with something for everyone – hope to see you there! The full event timetable can be found on the LR website here:

6940 at Pentrefelin Goods Dock

2013-07-28 14.49.31

Photos by Matt Davies (6940, seen at Llangollen Goods Dock last June and Tez Pickthall (D5310 seen at Deeside on the suburban stock, 28th July 2013).

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