April 22nd, 2014

Diesel Department Update – April 2014

Thanks from the restoration team

Hi and thank you from the team to everyone (and there have been many) who have specifically come down to the Epping and Ongar railway to see and ride on the Thumper (which is one of the oldest examples of preserved UK Diesel main line traction.)
We have had a real mix, from families, former main line drivers, through to hardened enthusiasts.

We have been related lots of stories, such as going to school on the Thumper, or meeting their partners on our actual unit. Over the forty-seven years of the unit’s mainline service, so many stories and so much personal history intertwined with the Thumper.

If you are interested in our Thumper please speak to the crew. We have been giving tours (time permitting), talks and picture opportunities of the engine room and power car cab.

Looking forward to seeing you all.

The Thumper Roars again

I was working in the Thumper engine room when Jim and John – two of our restoration group’s engineers – returned to sort out a reoccurring fault on one of the low voltage control circuits.

Now as I am accepted as a sort of apprentice to the engineers, Jim took me under his wing and outlined what they intended to do.  (It all sounded very complicated.)

Jim was talking very complex ‘stuff’ and pointing at a very large complicated wiring diagram.

I sagely nodded my understanding of the action plan, uttering a few, I hope, appropriate engineering type words at the correct moment. Jim must have been convinced I was up to speed as he let me hold his tools!!!!!!!

You will remember from our last Blog, we rewired 4 H control wire and we managed to gain full power, but we found this was masking another control fault which was causing chattering main power contacts, which in turn caused a problem getting away and also encouraged wheel spin.

Jim and John checking contactors, with temporary ‘jumper’ wiring in place.

Jim and John checking contactors, with temporary ‘jumper’ wiring in place.

Jim and John performed more minor modifications, further rewiring and after a battery of tests traced the fault to a 90 volt control relay on 4 h control circuit. The relay moving parts was found to be badly worn which in turn allowed to low voltage contacts to twist, make and then break causing the main contacts, which the 90 volt circuit controlled, to open and close. (Chattering)

Complicated ‘Stuff’ - John sorts out a wiring issue.

Complicated ‘Stuff’ – John sorts out a wiring issue.

As this type of relay is no longer available, the guys dismantled it; with some adjustments, they managed to take the wear out of the majority of the moving parts but two sections were beyond repair. John disappeared with the defective parts returning about an hour later with replacement parts he had fabricated. The relay was reassembled and refitted, more tests.

All test results positive!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Everything worked correctly, surely not – do the tests again; still good?

I was given the honour of driving the Thumper on the test runs.

For the first time since the Thumper was delivered from the North York Moors railway, we believed she would run without fault.

And she did, leaving North Weald climbing up the steep bank to the M11 bridge where we stopped on one of the steepest sections of the route.

The Thumper was given full power, with a roar she was away without any hesitation; in fact she had to be held back after a few seconds.  A truly historic moment.

After a number of test runs she was still running without issue – no reoccurring faults!!!!

The following day our independent engineer tested the Thumper and once again she was passed for full service.

For me to drive the Thumper on this the first test run where she had fully operated as designed was a very special moment at the end of three years’ work and a huge amount of time given by so many people (and so much money invested) to get the Thumper to this stage of restoration.

The Thumper at Coopersale after completing its first fully successful test run. Just three of the many very talented  people who have put in so many hours, materials and money into restoring the Thumper to its present restored condition:  John (Mechanical Engineer), Michael K  (our engine room project team leader) and Jim (our Electrical Design Engineer.)

The Thumper at Coopersale after completing its first fully successful test run. Just three of the many very talented people who have put in so many hours, materials and money into restoring the Thumper to its present restored condition:
John (Mechanical Engineer), Michael K (our engine room project team leader) and Jim (our Electrical Design Engineer.)

The Engine room project

It is now five months since the team started work in the Thumper engine room. If I was asked to describe the condition of the engine room when we started, I would say if you could imagine a Stone Age man in his cave keeping his cooking fire going for thirty years laying a covering on the walls and roof of hard carbon and add a garnish of oily soot you would just about get the picture.

The generator was a mass of flaking paint and rust with the engine in a similar condition but with the added delights of oil, diesel and water leaks, which only became evident when we degreased and cleaned the engine. The rear baulk head was covered in oil and slime.

Huge progress in the Thumper engine room - with the roof and bulkheads now top coated, the walls receive the first coat of red oxide paint.

Huge progress in the Thumper engine room – with the roof and bulkheads now top coated, the walls receive the first coat of red oxide paint.

Michael working away in the confined space of the engine room. At this stage the engine room had been cleaned, the engine /generator has been coated with anti rust paint and the roof is painted with red oxide.

Michael working away in the confined space of the engine room. At this stage the engine room had been cleaned, the engine /generator has been coated with anti rust paint and the roof is painted with red oxide.

The walls and roof of the engine room have been cleaned with heavy duty cleaner. (We looked like moon men with our protective equipment.) The Diesel engine and generator have been prepared for undercoating at the moment coated in antirust Paint.

As you will see in the pictures much of the engine room painting has now been completed.

A new exhaust cowl has been fitted around the exhaust outlet pipe to reduce the size of the roof exhaust outlet. It is hoped this will now prevent the exhaust fumes being sucked back in to the engine room by the negative engine room air pressure.

We have also hopefully repaired a minor water leak and a leak on the Diesel supply pipe work.

The Power Car Cab/ guard’s compartment

Almost all the cab repairs have been completed and Ken has almost finished undercoating.

Thumper power car cab is undercoated.

Thumper power car cab is undercoated.

The guard’s compartment grey paint has been completed but the cream paint is on hold until we replace some further pieces of rotten wood. 

The DT Cab

Still lots of work to do.

The Glass fibre coach door repair

Michael F. completed the extensive repairs to the MK1 coach door and it fitted first time without need to adjustment.

This proved to be a highly skilled time consuming job but hopefully Michael high quality work will last many years.

Class 31 Loco

The class 31 with roof removed ready for Blower change. Note the very important part of any engineer's kit in the foreground - a cup of tea!

The class 31 with roof removed ready for Blower change. Note the very important part of any engineer’s kit in the foreground – a cup of tea!

Back in full operating service after number two traction motor blower change, a huge job, removing the roof, main reservoir tank, number two (main) compressor, only then could the engineers get to the blower.

Class 37 Loco

Now back in full service after replacement engine parts were obtained and fitted.

Ready and waiting with an engineering train.

Ready and waiting with an engineering train.

Class 25

The Loco is still out of service pending body rebuilding, but a great deal of remedial electrical work has been completed.

Class 47 Loco

There have been earth faults developing on the lighting and cab heat circuits. The team have been working to resolve this issue.


Class 03 (119)

She is in an advance state of the engine rebuild. Waiting certain engine parts.

Class 03 (170)

Doing an excellent an excellent Job as North Weald Depot pilot.


Until next time,

Chris Travers

Epping Ongar Railway Diesel Restoration Team

April 2nd, 2014

Publicity Report – Lakenheath

The Epping Ongar Railway were invited to the Travel Fair at Lakenheath. We were originally told about the event by Trisha – who organises the King Harold’s Day event at Waltham Abbey – who got the organisers to invite us. We at the publicity team of the Epping Ongar Railway Volunteer Society were excited about the prospect of being at the event because of the potential of publicising to service personnel and their families at the Airbase.

The event took place on Saturday 1st March at the Eagles Landing officer club in their main hall. EORVS had a table next to the Epping Forest District Council tourism table. The EFDC are our partners at other travel events, such as Excursions at Alexandra Palace and the Tourism & Leisure Show at Five Lakes resort near Colchester. We have jointly promoted events in Epping Forest like the church at Waltham Abbey, Royal Gun Powder Mills, Secret Nuclear Bunker and so on, so we are well used to working together.

The event turned out to be successful as most people that came by our tables wanted to know about both Epping Forest attractions and Epping Ongar Railway. Most of the visitors knew about or of Epping – as a lot of the people visit London by coming to Epping to park their vehicles and take the tube from there. This meant that giving directions to Epping was not a problem.

I can say from the opening at 10am till about 2pm it was very busy and, up until 4pm, it was less busy though we still had a steady flow of visitors. The organisers of Lakenheath have a system where visitors take a green sheet of A5 paper, called a Green Passport, to exhibitor’s tables where they are then given a stamp. Visitors get their passport stamped at each table until they are full. The passports are then posted in a bin where they will go into a raffle prize draw – the EOR donated a family ticket for the draw. The passport will ensure people visit your tables and take leaflets while getting their cards stamped.

We were competing with a whole host of events which gives a wide variety of choice for the personnel and families to visit, and I’m sure Epping Forest must offer a good variety of interesting places to visits.

I must, on behalf of the Epping Ongar Railway,  thank Sue at Waltham Abbey Tourist Information Centre, Trisha of Waltham Abbey King Harold’s Day event and the rest of EFDC team for the organisation, and help of the events like Excursions, Tourism & Leisure Show and Lakenheath. I think our working together helps strengthen our ties on promoting. This makes Epping Forest an exciting place to visit.

Eddie, Ron, Jeff, Roger & John

Epping Ongar Railway Publicity Team

March 7th, 2014

Carriage & Wagon Update – March 2014


The past few weeks have seen a lot of progress with this coach, as it is required ASAP to put back into the working rake. The Group have now resolved the problems of window leaks and, given the volume of rain experienced, the windows have been successfully tested. The Group have now commenced rebuilding the interior of the Epping end of the carriage.

Painting the new ceiling.

George and Colin giving the ceiling a smart new coat of paint. 

Installing new panels

Dave and Geoff installing the new panels.

Coating re-instated panels with teak oil.

All panels have been installed, stained and are receiving several coats of teak oil. Dave H is in the lower foreground applying another coat.


The group have also worked hard on the type 117 DMU. It was decided that the Epping end coach seats were the be removed and sent away for re-upholstering. They have now been removed and stored in the Guards section of the carriage – unfortunately this has revealed the poor condition of the floor covering below the seats. It has therefore been decided to replace the floor covering. Many of the wooden steps into the coach need to be replaced. The sole-bars behind the steps have also corroded. The corrosion has been removed and primed ready for the whole sole-bar to be repainted.

Removing the old floor.

Colin hard at work removing the old floor covering, a demanding task.

30% of the floor

1 section of the coach floor covering removed, about 30% of the total floor area.

Trims remvoed

The trim around the maintenance traps have also been removed by Derek.

Priming the sole-bars.

Paul is seen priming the corroded areas of the sole-bar. He will continue with applying a top coat in the near future.

Dick Savill


February 18th, 2014

Diesel Department Update – February 2014

DEMU ‘Thumper’

The team  are making positive but slow progress. Our current project is to bring the cabs, guard’s compartment and engine room up to a similar standard to our class 31. The crew seats have returned after being reupholstered by the excellent Jan Rag. They are now covered in the correct Network southeast material to match the exterior paintwork.

Work is progressing well in the power car cab, engine room and guards compartment. There is a vast amount of work to complete in the Driving trailer cab.

Thumper Trials and tribulations:

There is a big ‘however’, Just before the New year running  a control system fault reoccurred resulting in traction power could only be obtained in notch one.

Over the Mince pie/ New year workings the DEMU was hauled by our class 31 and at times the class 37.

Preparing Epping and Ongar ‘Super power’ Class 31 and 37 top and tailing the Thumper DEMU on New Year mince pie specials.

Preparing Epping and Ongar ‘Super power’ Class 31 and 37 top and tailing the Thumper DEMU on New Year mince pie specials.

Jim, our Electrical design engineer, gave the problem great thought and suggested a fix. It was believed there was an intermittent fault on H4 control wire.

Does this mean anything to you, me neither!!!!

A couple of the restoration team assisted one of our electrical engineers to rewired H4 control wire. When described the job sounded so simple but, being a 57 year old train, it proved not to be the case! But that is all part of the challenge.

We had to run a new cable from the main control cubicle in the Driver’s cab on the power car through the engine room, under the coach to the under slung reverser unit. (A big box full of moving electrical parts under the coach.)

After laying under the train for half the day running and securing the new control wire (not to be recommended at North Weald in February ) the old cable was disconnected and the new one connected.

Fingers crossed… run the tests… Hold breath… No change – the fault persisted.

Much gnashing of teeth!

After close examination and a lot more thought we found that wire H4 continued beyond the apparent terminal another meter inside a very complex wiring loom.

A further short length of wiring was cut in and a further tests made… Test seems o.k… everyone looking at me – as a Driver, I have been given permission from our engineer to power test the unit. Notch one, looking good; notch two, even better; three – four; fantastic!!!!! She took traction power in every notch without dropping out.

Running test were undertaken and she behaved, taking full power.

Furthers test were made next day by another of our engineers, as an independent person, checking our teams work before the Thumper was allowed back in service.

She passed without problem. I have to say I did get a bit of a buzz out of assisting (In a minor role) to clear this persistent control fault.

Coach Doors:

We have experienced a problem caused mainly through age with glass fibre type doors fitted to certain  MK 1 coaching stock.

Glass fibre doors were made in a mould with a hard wood reinforcing frame with additional metal reinforcing at key points. Over many years of use and repeated slamming, the glass fibre frame tends to split allowing water to ingress. The water rots and swells both the hard wood and metal reinforcing frames and causes the fibre glass frame to split further.

Michal Fisher striping glass fibre type door to component parts , working out best methods of restoration.

Michal Fisher striping glass fibre type door to component parts , working out best methods of restoration.

Our team of skilled engineers have performed many effective spot repairs on this type of door but to cut down on-going repairs, the railway were looking for a long term solution.

Michael Fisher, our team’s highly skilled craftsman, was asked to investigate and suggest a way of rebuilding the doors.

Michael has removed the test door from the coach and completely stripped it to its component parts for examination. He is in the process of cutting out the damaged areas of framing, replacing with new hard wood and fabricating new metal framing as required then remoulding with glass fibre and final reshaping, making good to a high standard.

In a similar manner to class 31 doors, working out a fix (research and development) is very time consuming and highly skilled job but he is making excellent progress.

Class 47 Loco:

This loco has been in use for a recent night photo shoot. A small team lead by Sean has started work renovating number two cab – a very difficult job as there are so many pipes and curves. The cab has started to look very good with the first under coat on and dry.

Class 47 cab showing the damage that damp caused to the paintwork. The paint was removed back to bare metal.

Class 47 cab showing the damage that damp caused to the paintwork. The paint was stripped back to bare metal.

Class 31:

This Locomotive undergoing preventive maintenance. Number two traction motor blower motor has started to whine which indicates a bearing is wearing. The blower has to be taken out for refurbishment. It is rather inaccessible, being mounted in the electrical compartment below number two compressor and one of the very large main reservoirs tanks. The roof panel will also need lifting off. Quite a large job; our staff have started stripping out equipment to give access to the blower motor, which will then have to be sent away for refurbishment as they are not readily available ‘off the shelf.’

Class 25:

Awaiting body rebuilding, however some smaller repairs are on-going.

Class 37:

While working over New Year an engine fault reoccurred. At the moment she has been stripped down by our external engineers but is now awaiting further non-standard spare parts. Hopefully they will soon be sourced and she will be back in service.

03 Locos:

03 170 is the main stay of North Weald depot, in constant use, possibly completing more work than any other loco.

03 119. Very good news – extensive work has started rebuilding this locomotives Gardner Diesel engine. We are fortunate to have a volunteer who has expert Gardner engine knowledge.

Until next time.


Chris Travers


February 16th, 2014

Carriage & Wagon Update – February 2014

Since Christmas 2013, the Group has had a carried out a varied range of activities. Prior to it being included in a rake of carriages for the Half Term holiday services, the Carmine and Cream BSO needed remedial work; Carriage MK1 TSO 5005 was also prepared to have its seats re-installed. This work has been temporarily stopped, as the carriage has to have its brakes modified to vacuum operation, and one of the carriage ends needs to be welded. The Type 117 DMU work has progressed to a point where the engines need to be tested for correct operation; flooring is to be laid in the drivers’ cabs, and the seats installed. Work is progressing well on the TSO M5316, and we have commenced rebuilding the Epping end interior. The windows are now watertight and we have commenced manufacturing new wall panels.


This image shows the window being re-installed after sealing with silicone. It also shows the damage caused by water ingress.

Repairs made to one of the carriage windows.

Repairs made to one of the carriage windows.

The new panels manufactured and installed, painted, and the seats re-installed.

MK1 TSO 5005

Although we have now suspended work on this carriage, some work had already been carried out.

Bob Stewart fixing a seat side.

Bob Stewart fixing a seat side.


The guards’ section has been completely redecorated, and is now complete. The following images show the redecoration of the walls and floor:

Class 117 DMU Guards’ Compartment painted floor.

In the Epping end cab, new flooring has been cut to size; however, due to cold weather affecting the adhesive, it has not yet been completed.


Installation work has now commenced at the Epping end of the coach. The end of the coach is being stained, prior to varnishing. To the left is the first of the side panels to be constructed and installed. There are also several others in the workshop, awaiting installation.

Other work includes maintenance of the door lock; Geoff is seen repairing the lock.

Finally, an amazing construction was made to hold a ceiling trim in place, whilst the adhesive set. This proved to be completely successful and the tower was removed from the carriage afterwards.

Richard Savill

February 7th, 2014

The Carriage Cleaning Team

The Cleaning Team meets on Wednesdays, generally at North Weald. We clean the carriages that have been in use the previous weekend, and light maintenance is also undertaken, to keep the carriages presentable. On-board Hallowe’en and Santa Special decorating of the carriages is also done by the cleaning crew, but we don’t decorate the Stations.

Carriage Cleaner

A small but important task nonetheless – one of the team cleans the tables in preparation for the next day of services.

The cleaning consists of vacuuming seats and floors, mopping of non-carpet floors, cleaning tables with anti-bacterial spray, and cleaning windows, both inside and out – depending on crew numbers and weather. This leaves the sets ready for the next weekend of working.

It is not glamorous, but is essential for the efficient running of our Railway, presenting a clean and attractive experience for our passengers.

January 30th, 2014

Publicity hits the Road!

Publicity and promotion for 2014 is now up and running. Our leaflets have already been handed out on the Santa Specials in December, and during January members have taken them for distribution in clubs, local libraries and other venues. This means we are already ahead of the game compared with last year, with more of this year’s leaflets being available.

On January 25, We attended the Excursions Show at Alexandra Palace, and were part of the “Visit Epping Forest” Tourism Taskforce Team. Our job was to promote places to visit in our area of South West Essex. The team consisted of people from Waltham Abbey Tourist Information Centre, Royal Gun Powder Mills and the Epping Ongar Railway.

We highlighted everything in the area, and encouraged tour operators, tour groups and coach operators to consider this part of South West Essex as ideal for visits by their clients. We talked in detail about the the places of interest we have in the area, including Waltham Abbey, Royal Gun Powder Mills, Secret Nuclear Bunker, North Weald Airfield Museum, our Railway (of course!) and many more.

2014-01-25 11.12.27

We also made an impromptu visit to the Thameslink Program two-day show at Excel Centre Docklands; this was the first chance to see the new trains being built for the Thameslink Program. They had a two coach mock up on display, where you could walk round and look at the design, both internally and externally. Testing of the trains has already started and the first trains should start rolling on an experimental basis on the Thameslink Route by 2016. The target launch date is 2018.

2014-01-29 18.26.32

The new thameslink trains on show.

Whilst we were there, we took the opportunity to speak to people about the Epping Ongar Railway. This publicises and spreads the word about the Railway – our publicity target is to get the EOR onto peoples’ lips like the Bluebell, Severn Valley, etc.  Despite a lot of promotion of TV, Radio, Railway press and publicity visits, we  often find many people haven’t heard of us, or don’t know we are now up and running again; this tells us we have to look at as many opportunities for promotion as we possibly can, to inform the general public about the Railway and, of course, to encourage them to come and visit and ride with us!

Eddie Veckranges