July 22nd, 2015

An Engine Called Isabel

With all of the big toys on the railway, sometimes the smaller ones get overlooked. In 2010, whilst still closed to passenger services, the EOR acquired its first Steam engine for the preservation era; an 0-6-0ST Hawthorne Leslie called “Isabel.”

Isabel in steam

Isabel – during one of her steamings – at Ongar.

Following arrival on the line on March 27 2012, she needed a fair bit of attention to get her working again. Unfortunately, in August that same year, she had to be withdrawn from service, having several faults and in need of a re-tube. Despite having roughly 3 years left of her boiler ticket, it was decided to fully overhaul her and bring her back with a full 10-year certificate. The overhaul was commenced during the Spring of 2014.

The cab and saddle tank were removed and rubbed down, before attention turned to the rest of the loco, which resides at the back of North Weald shed. The boiler was lifted that May, and cleaned in preparation for an inspection to asses the work required.

Isabel's boiler lifted.

The boiler is lifted from the frames, allowing work to progress on Isabel’s overhaul.

The axle boxes were stripped down; a lot of side play was found, far in excess of what is the norm, together with the hornguides, which they sit inside. These are also worn, and will be removed from the frames to receive a little machining, which will make them square and true again. This will be done in-house, using the machinery fitted in the Machine Shop.

During the summer of 2014, the brake rigging crossbeams were straightened, using a new 50 ton press. New buckles were also fitted to the extension arms that run from each crossbeam, to rectify years of wear which have resulted in oval holes. The saddle tank and cab were further rubbed down, and given a primer coat of paint by the mid-week volunteers.

The boiler was then inspected by the EOR Boiler Inspector, and was been given the ok – subject to the following repairs:

  • new lower front tubeplate rivets
  • building up of the lower area on the front tubeplate
  • new crownstay nuts in the firebox
  • building up of the firebox plate under the fire hole door
  • the fusible plug area on the firebox crown sheet.

The backhead radius (shoulders) were to be checked for cracking by Non-Destructive Testing (NDT) ultrasonic testing. This was to be carried out by a specialist contractor; if there was anything found that could be a problem, additional repairs would be needed.

A new set of tyres were sourced and purchased, with the axles being sent off to Riley and Sons for them to be fitted. They were then machined to the correct profile, and returned in July 2015.

Wheelsets depart on lorry.

The driving axles are sent away for fresh tyres to be fitted.

While the wheelsets were away, the boiler received all-new crown stay nuts, which were machined up in-house. Wastage washers were fitted to the crown of the firebox. All the old studs that hold all the boiler fittings – from injectors clacks to the firebox door assembly and ashpan – have now been removed from the boiler and replaced with fresh ones.

Boiler on side for easy access

The boiler is laid to rest on its side, allowing access to the firebox.

Richard removes safety valve studs

The late Richard Goulding removes the safety valve studs.

New crownstay nuts and washers

New crownstay nuts and washers into the firebox crown.

Cab in red oxide

The cab, following a coating of red oxide.

All manner of other work, including inspections of the pistons and descaling of the frames, has also taken place. The boiler has since been sent away to Norfolk for the new tubes to fitted (amongst other jobs), whilst the on-site volunteers continue to work on the frames. It is hoped the boiler will be completed for October, after which a few finishing touches to it can be made, before testing begins.

The boiler cladding, tanks, cabs and frames have now mostly received an initial coat of blue paint. As the engine is slowly reassembled, this will be finished off and lined out, though what scheme exactly is yet to be decided.

Frames in blue

The frames also receive some attention.

Cab in blue

The cab receives its first base coat of blue.

Wheels returned anew.

The returned wheelsets, with thick, new tyres fitted and machined.

Boiler sent away.

The boiler has now been sent away to Norfolk for some of the work required, which will speed up the overhaul.

Overhauling a small loco such as ‘Isabel’ is a great way to learn the workings of a steam engine – and is particularly suited to younger volunteers, and those who would like to progress through the ranks of an engineman. There’s still much work needing to be completed before we will see our little industrial back in action on light services and brake van rides – if you’d like to get involved, you’d be more than welcome. You don’t have to have any skills; just be prepared to ask questions, learn as you go and, most importantly, don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty!

Work Reports by: Tony Goulding
Work Party Leader

July 22nd, 2015

Diesel Department July 2015 Update

Hello to all our followers. Where to start this time…

£5 Diesel Locomotive Cab rides: Recently, the Railway has increased the use of our home fleet of Diesel Locomotives at the weekends. This has proven to be one of the great successes of this season. To help pay for the additional Diesel fuel bill incurred in running these hundred-ton giants, we have arranged for cab rides with the locomotive driver to take place, for a donation of £5.00 towards the Diesel fuel fund. One Sunday, we actually had a waiting list of passengers wanting to ride on the class 37 locomotive. They all seem to have a fantastic time. To get one of these, speak to and show the diesel driver your valid travel ticket, pay the £5, then enjoy.

Class 37 (D6729)

Since the completion of the class 37 Locomotive Driving cabs refurbishment, the team have been working on the exterior of the Locomotive.

Rust on bodywork

We have been experimenting with different methods of rust spot repairs. Before we started work, the whole loco was surveyed, and least eighty four areas of rust-affected body work were found. (Some very small, some much bigger.)

The cause for most part was internal, with dust and dirt wedging between the external body work skin and the supporting frame work becoming damp. Rusting can also form around gutters that become full of damp debris. There was no real method of rust proofing used on this type of Loco; as it was reckoned to have a design life of about twenty five years when built, rust would not have been an issue. Add a further twenty nine years on to the design life, rust and corrosion is a real ongoing problem. There is a rusted area around one of the gutters, which will need to be re-plated with new metal. This is a highly skilled welding and fabrication job.

Cutting out affected guttering.

…before moving on to cutting out rust on one of the gutters.

Stripping back affected paintwork

Mick cuts back the original Bronze-Green Paint and filler to get at the source of the rust…

Filled in areas

A rust-proof coating, followed and filler is the next stage of the job.

Red oxide on the filled areas.

Graham adds a coat of Red Oxide to help protect the area.
What follows are several sessions of rubbing-down, to create a smooth surface, followed by two thin undercoats and the final top coat application.

The finished job.

The finished job.

We are also carrying out repainting of faded areas such as the yellow fronts and buffer beams etc.

Working on the yellow warning panel

Mick continues his work across the class 37 bodywork, and soon finished up the area on the yellow warning panel.

The class 37 along with the 31 has been working most recent weekends. Both Locos have also been used recently on several occasions for filming work.

The team pose after much hard work, with a fully functional class 37.

Looking ‘cool’ on an otherwise hot day – some of the team pose to show off their handiwork. The loco is in denial about her age, claiming to be 6 years younger than she actually is; the headcode boxes have done well for 54 years, and now have new light fittings. All external lighting has also been rewired, and is now fully functional once again.

Class 25 (25173)

The Class 25 was withdrawn from service some time ago and was transferred to ‘HTRS railway engineers’ (based at the Shackerstone Station on the Battlefield Line)  for body refurbishment and other remedial work. The engineers – Simon and Adrian -have sent us photos of number two cab to give some idea of progress made.

Lightweight cab structure.

Closer up to the sub-floor area, which gives a rough idea of just how the lightweight cabs were built.

Sub-floor of class 25 loco

The rebuilding starts here. On the left is the Drivers desk, and the second man’s position was on the right.
This is all that is left of the sub-floor of number two cab after our external engineers’ started to cut away the wasted metal and clear the rust.

In the photos, the cab floor has been almost completely removed, exposing the metal sub-floor (or what’s left of it.) The Locomotive’s lightweight construction can be clearly seen from the photos. The cab walls were single skin; Diesel Locos were not built to be totally water proof – the trick was to ensue water drains out the bottom of the Loco (clearly not the case with our class 25.) Internally, water pooled on the intersections of the main structure, causing extensive rusting to external panels from the inside. Water also built up under the main cab floor.

Looking at the pictures, it does not look like the engineers have a lot of sub floor framing to weld to. (Interestingly, you can see the small shovel and crowbar the guys had to use to clean the rust and debris from the sub floor.) To right of the pictures, you can see where a large section of the rusted cab wall has been cut out. Whilst we are all looking forward to the loco’s return, it could be some time yet.

Class 31 (31438)

The Class 31 Loco has been in almost daily use since November. She is proving to be a real work horse. At times she is just too good looking; despite being in constant use, she is very clean and polished. Recently, whilst she was sitting in the platform, awaiting her next working, some of our non-railway visitors believed she was a non-working museum piece. Considering she was withdrawn from main line working nineteen years ago, she doesn’t look too bad at all.

A clean and smart class 31 in service

A recent picture of our Class 31 Loco, looking very clean and shiny. She is proving to be a real maid of all works, from providing electric train heat for our winter passenger trains, right through to the run of the mill – but essential – engineering trains. She has also, with our class 37 Loco, ‘starred’ in some recent filming work.

Class 03 Shunt Locos

Both of our Class 03 shunt locos are in use at North Weald, as depot and Station pilot engines.

Body work and cab of 03170 are in good order, having been refurbished at North Weald. However, while a great deal of work has been completed on 03119’s diesel engine, the bodywork and cab are still on our hit list.

Class 47 (47635)

You may recall that our engineers have spent a great deal of time and money in resolving a number of electrical and electronic faults – they completed repairs only to experience a compressor failure while testing the loco. After examination of the auxiliary machine, a decision has been made that will have to be replaced by a refurbished machine. There is also an issue with water ingress from some of the roof sections; plans are in hand to remedy both faults as funds become available. At the moment, she resides in the back of number two road in the shed to keep her out of the rain.

DEMU Thumper (205205)

The Thumper is use on most passenger workings. Our colleagues in the C and W Department have replaced a broken driving cab emergency door window, after the window spring-operating mechanism ‘self-destructed’, smashing the non-standard size window in the process. The same guys have also repainted most of the luggage compartment walls grey, and roof white. Michael Fisher is in the process of finishing the replacement of one complete wall, and the last few touches to the celling. As previously reported, C and W guys have continued to replace the worst of the passenger seats with new Network Southeast pattern material. They have been using material recovered from the damaged/worn seats to patch others. I am very impressed with the standard that has been achieved.

We have now run out of our stock of Network Southeast material – if you have access to any, please get in touch.

Class 45 (45132)

 The team working on the peak are making excellent progress rebuilding the Locomotive. We are Looking forward to seeing her in service.

Until next time

Chris Travers

Diesel Restoration Group

May 11th, 2015

Class 37 – Cab Restoration Complete!

The diesel renovation team have, at long last, completed the first stage of the class 37 project: Renovation of both cabs.


In the final stage of our work, the team completed repainting and applying transfers; the final piece in the jigsaw was spot-replacement of the number two cab flour covering.

The team started work in October, but have spent quite a lot of time diverted on more pressing work. Special thanks to Jan Ragg (who renovated the crew seats), to Michael (for his hard work keeping the 37 mechanically sound), and to everyone else who lent a hand.

There’s be much attention to detail: Marco has managed to obtain reproduction 1960s  transfers, as well as the required 2015 “Health and Safety” required transfers. Chris Marsack also obtained replacement maker’s plates for the controllers.

Ken puts the finishing touches to a D6729 transfer in the cab.

Ken puts the finishing touches to a D6729 transfer in the cab.

a copy of the original driver's control cover

We have paid much attention to detail; a copy of the original driver’s control cover is fitted.

Historic transfers and completed paintwork.

We have tried to keep our work as historically accurate as possible, with the transfers on the engine room door and the English Electric Logs dating back to the first 1955 modernisation plan Locos! We have also had to include modern “Health and Safety” required transfers. Mick, meanwhile, has clearly made an excellent job of the straight line between the cream and the green. This job proved far harder than we first anticipated.

It should also be noted that new head code light panels have been fabricated, and fitted by our external engineers, so we now have fully lit head and tail lamps at both ends.

The next stage of the project is spot repairs and repaint of the external bodywork, in areas where rust has started to rear its ugly head.

Chris Travers
Diesel Restoration Group

May 8th, 2015

Diesel Department May 2015 Update

In our May blog, I have attempted to give a snapshot of the teamwork required, involving many talented people to not only keep our home Diesel Locomotive fleet maintained and running, but also to strive to constantly improve their general condition.

It also shows how many of our volunteers – skilled or otherwise – are willing to move out of their comfort zone and learn new trades. If you have ever thought you would like to get involved with Railway restoration, be it Locomotive, Carriage and Wagon, railway buildings etc, then why not come down and talk to us, and see what it’s all about. You do not require any special skills – everyone has something to bring to the party, and it’s not just a ‘man thing’, everyone’s welcome.

The Diesel restoration group normally meet on a Thursday around 09.00, but we are flexible. (Other groups meet at different times.) There are also lots of ‘Operating’ volunteering jobs for those interested in ‘running a railway’.

Diesel Gala

The team spent several enjoyable days cleaning the Locos and performing spot repairs, in readiness for the recent Diesel gala, which proved a big success. The locos now look clean and shiny.

Diesel Cab Rides

Don’t forget, normally you can ride in the cab of one of our Main Line diesel locomotives or the DEMU Thumper for only £5.00. Just talk to the driver.

First Great Western 08 Shunt Loco

We had a rare chance, on a preserved railway, to compare our own restoration work directly with a main line equipped Loco which had just received a major overhaul.

This 08 loco has similar issues as our main line locos with a highly modified cab, lot of additional air pipes, electrical conduit and water pipes crossing the cab. We have always attempted to achieve a main works standard and our work, whilst not perfect, compared well with the standard achieved on the 08 loco cab and external body work (which pleased the team.)

It has been many years since Chris last drove a main line registered 08 shunt loco, and he clearly  is enjoying the experience. The cab is a good illustration of how difficult it is to restore the paint finish, with multiple pipes etc. running around the cab.

It has been many years since Chris last drove a main line registered 08 shunt loco, and he clearly is enjoying the experience. The cab is a good illustration of how difficult it is to restore the paint finish, with multiple pipes etc. running around the cab.


The 08 Loco running round the Thumper at Ongar during the Diesel Gala. Some of the modifications can be seen on the Loco that allow to make trips in to Paddington.

Class 37

After some weeks with the team diverted to other duties, we are now coming to the final stage of the cab restoration of the class 37. We had a ‘big push’ this week to complete the odd jobs still outstanding. At one stage, four of us attempting to work on different jobs made for cramped working conditions in the cab!

We have, for the most part, stopped spot rubbing down, after spotting odd paint blemishes, as they are ‘Historic’ paint blemishes that we had earlier left as part of the Loco’s history.

Our restoration brief was  to restore the cab, but our work had to respect that the loco has been in service for more than fifty years, and is still very much a working machine; the cab should, to an extent, retain some ‘wear and tear’ (or as we called it, a “knocked around look”!)

I spent the morning making up and fitting the new draught proofing skirt around the driver’s desk, spending many hours hunting around for similar material (a type of black ‘Leather Cloth’) to that donated for use in number one cab. In the end I found a good match.

Chris fits skirting

Chris fitting the new draught- proof ‘skirt’ to number two driving cab.

Mick spent most of the day finishing the straight lines between the green and cream on the rear bulk head covers, and then surveying the locomotive exterior. As the Loco is over fifty years old and the bulk head panels are off a later build loco, and have been modified (with a big hammer) to fit, you can’t measure or use a spirit level; Mick had to apply the masking tape in a very time consuming – manner by eye.

Ken spent the day painting air and vacuum pipes white. Graham specialises in all the odd colours – such as orange pipe work, grey AWS, black Driver’s desks etc.

Painted cab

Graham painting the AWS equipment grey. In this picture you can also see the repaired roof sections, refurbished crew seats, the refitted roof vent, and not forgetting, the cab’s complete repaint.

A start was made in applying transfers. We have obtained a supply of replica engine room warning transfers, which date back to the introduction of diesel locomotives.

The team have started to plan the next stage of the restoration – spot exterior repairs of the 37 bodywork. Graham and Mick have been surveying the work required; from their notes, it is clear the team will not be running out of work any time soon!

Mick surveys bodywork

Mick is now surveying the exterior bodywork, looking for areas in need of attention.

Our external engineers have fabricated new head code boxes, (you may have noticed the change of head codes) and we now have full frontal lighting. I was impressed with the standard of the work and it’s a shame it is out of sight .

For the most part, the recent work we carried out to seal the roof seems to be effective.

Smart class 37 in service

Our very clean and polished Class 37, waiting in the sun for it’s next turn as part of a top and tail Epping Forest service.

During the recent 150 year celebration gala, after a steam engine failed, the class 37 (which was standby loco) was pressed in to service as a replacement Locomotive.


During the two day diesel gala, all the locos performed well, with the exception of 03170, which was top and tailing a three coach train with our other 03 loco. Suddenly, it decided to have a mind of its own, and operate the emergency brakes via the DSD system. This fault was later traced to a defective air valve within the DSD system.

The two 03s on a top and tailed service at Epping Forest, our new limit of operations.

The two 03s on a top and tailed service at Epping Forest, our new limit of operations.

Class 31

The 31 is still in everyday use. Apart from receiving normal maintenance, she has operated without issue. To give you an idea of the scale of the diesel engine sumps on our English electric Locomotives, when I recently performed a service check on the 31, to top up the sump (which was not on minimum), I put in 14 full standard-gallon watering cans worth of sump oil.

Class 47

This Locomotive has been in ill health for some time. She is a very complex and much modified machine, and as fast as the team cleared one fault, another materialised.

Jim (one of our very clever electrical engineers) along with John (another clever mechanical engineer) have been working as part of a small team to get on top of the issues. Jim has put pen to paper to tell the simplified story of the past nine months of our class 47’s life…

“Last year, 47635 would frequently fail to take traction power, and was lacking power when operating. The Sulzer 12 cylinder engine has a mechanical governor, which does many things as can be seen in the attached diagram. The vane motor, that is shown on the diagram, controls the field of the main generator using a power module containing thyristors – a semiconductor device that converts AC to DC. Investigations indicated that the drive from the vane motor to variable transformer, which feeds the power module, was badly worn and had probably disengaged. This was easily fixed by reversing a pin. Problems persisted however, and 47635 failed towards the end of the Autumn Diesel Gala.

Expert assistance was brought in, and it was found that the diaphragm in the speed control cylinder had failed. The speed control cylinder is an air cylinder operated by the driver’s power controller. The whole governor assembly had to be removed and sent away for repair.

This was returned at the beginning of this year and refitted, but a number of additional problems were identified. The first problem was that the repaired governor would drive the vane motor round to the full load position on engine start up, preventing 47635 from moving (unless something was shorted out). The second problem was that metal was found in the engine lubricating oil due to a worn cam follower on the camshaft.

The first problem was fixed by re-positioning a lever in the governor, and the second by replacing the cam follower.

Lack of power remained a problem and this was eventually traced to a couple of faults within the thyristor power module, the inside of which is shown in the attached photo. A module was borrowed and 47635 was finally fixed and performed well at the Spring Diesel Gala. We have now managed to repair the original power module ourselves and 47635 is now back in service using this module. Unfortunately a compressor motor has now failed, but she completed all her booked duties on the diesel gala without any further problems.

This 'thyristor' power control module was cutting edge technology in 1975, when it was fitted to the locomotive as part of a modification. But in 2015, Jim had a hard  search using the web to find the obsolete replacement components required.

This ‘thyristor’ power control module was cutting edge technology in 1975, when it was fitted to the locomotive as part of a modification. But in 2015, Jim had a hard search using the web to find the obsolete replacement components required.

Jim's diagram for the Class 47 governor.

Jim’s diagram for the Class 47 governor.

Jim Packman”

Thumper DEMU

Work on this unit is progressing well, with the new internal roof of the baggage compartment in place, with the exception of the fillet pieces which will be fitted once the work on the walls is complete. Michael Fisher, who is the lead on this job, is now in the process of removing and replacing the baggage compartment wall that makes up the wooden internal walls on the second man’s side of the power car. There was rot caused by a roof leaking over many years – this has been traced and sealed.

The whole of the wooden wall required replaceming - including the metal sub-support structure. Michael start to methodically remove the old wooden plank walls.

The whole of the wooden wall required replaceming – including the metal sub-support structure. Michael start to methodically remove the old wooden plank walls.

Our colleagues in the carriage and wagon group, who are our specialists in seating repairs, are making progress in replacing or repairing the Thumper’s passenger seats; the crew seats were reupholstered by Jan Ragg as part of our cab refurbishment.

It is the intention to replace all the passenger upholstery with new Network Southeast pattern material, when funds become available. But (and it is a big ‘but’) because Network Southeast material is non-standard design, the cost is eye watering – double that of standard material!

C & W department have a small stock of Network Southeast material, which they are using to recover the worst seats, then using any recoverable material to patch repair the other seating. If you are aware of a surplus stock of Network Southeast pattern material, please get in touch.

Spot-repaired fabric

The C&W team are making spot repairs, utilising salvaged material from upholstery being replaced throughout the unit.

On the Thumper Diesel engine front, recent exhaust bellows repairs have worked well. However, while I was driving the unit in service, I noticed a additional ‘Diesel Engine knock’ and called in the skilled engineers.

The unit was briefly taken out of service, and the fault was traced to number one cylinder head tappet rocker. The rocker had accumulated extra wear allowing certain sideways movement. The engineers tell me that she is ok to run but will be monitored; another planned job on the heavy maintenance list when she is next stopped.

I was asked, with the all the bangs and rattles that this type of English Electric ‘Thumper’ diesel engine normally makes, how did I know there was a fault? The truth is you just get used to the sound of the engine. and pick up on any unusual noises.

Until next time

Chris Travers
Diesel Restoration Group

April 1st, 2015

Diesel Department March 2015 Update

A lot has happened since our last blog:

205 Thumper DEMU

As part of the winter shut down maintenance, a split exhaust bellows, located between the fixed exhaust pipe and the turbo charger, was changed by Michael and Neil. It was quite a big job but well planned and completed within a day.

The failed exhaust bellow.

The failed exhaust bellow.

The new and old parts for the exhaust bellows.

The new and old exhaust bellows.

Repaired exhaust

The engine exhaust, back in full working order.

03 Shunter 03170

The locomotive’s Dynamo was found to be defective, and a decision was made to replace it with a more modern alternator. It was clear a fair amount of redesign, re wiring and fabrication of parts was required to fit the chosen high-output alternator on to a nineteen fifties design of Gardner diesel engine. At the same time, a new electronic rev counter was also to be fitted.

A mock up wooden pattern was produced prior to fabricating to finished metal parts to check all fitted correctly. The new alternator output (which has a built rectifier and control unit) is almost three times that of the old dynamo.

Alternator fixing kit

Doug, our own electrical design engineer, fits a wooden-pattern fixing kit for the new alternator. Based on this design, a new metal fixing kit will be fabricated.

Fitting the alternator

John, one of our highly skilled mechanical engineers, fits the new alternator with the fixing kit he fabricated. The Alternator has test wiring in place prior to complete rewiring of the charge circuit.

Class 47

Both our own and external engineering staff have spent many hours working on the complex load regulator system which was defective. The loco was being tested as I wrote this blog – the indications were good. The team seem to have gotten on top of the problem.

Class 37

We have made lots of progress, with many strands of work progressing. We have performed work to seal a leaking roof section above the battery box, remedial work on battery has taken place, new frontal light equipment is being fitted along with new wiring as well as other repairs.

There was a major problem in number one cab, being the driver’s desk rubber-mounting strips perishing with age, allowing the desk to fall out of its mounting. This proved a very difficult job to not only repair, but source the replacement industrial glazing strip.

After much hunting about, we managed to source the glazing strip and the special tool required to fit the rubber strip which holds the main strip in place. The glazing strip had to be specially ordered, thus proving to be rather expensive.

The real problem came refitting the desk, with the air pipe and electrical connections that had to be partly dismantled to be able to twist the desk at an angle to allow the rubber strip in place.

I was really struggling with this job. Luckily, one of our external engineers, Simon, and Michael Fisher – our own top engineer – were to hand, both having experience with this type of industrial glazing strip fitting.

After a further two hours, lots of dismantling, brute force, and washing up liquid being applied to the glazing strip (as lubrication), accompanied by a lot of cursing, the final section of glazing strip went into place. Just the small task of refitting and adjusting the parts we removed from the desk and final checking of electrical and air connections, which all proved good.

You will see from the photo, the desk, with its three coats of shiny black paint and the new draught proof skirting around the base of the desk, looks very smart. In fact, thanks to the teams hard work, the desk probably has not looked this smart since the loco was new.

Cab pre-refurb

No.1 cab prior to refurbishment.

Completed No.1 cab

Completed No.1 cab, with new draught-proof skirting around the driver’s desk.

Class 31

The Class 31 has been a real workhorse during the close season, having been in almost daily use on engineering trains. With have put lots of resources in to work to upgrading the track as we get ready to extend our passenger service past Coopersale into Epping Forest. The 31 has also been in use on the vegetation clearance train.

Until next time

Chris Travers
Diesel Restoration Group

31438 in the forest

31438 with an engineer’s train in the forest.

March 9th, 2015

Carriage & Wagon Update – March 2014

This diary covers the period from the end of Christmas running, to the February 2015 half term. The rake-of-focus consisted of the Carmine and Cream BSO 9140, the MK1 TSO 4925, and the MK1 TSO E4809. The carriages each had different issues; the bulk of these were in the Carmine and Cream BSO.

The upholstery was far beyond its best before date and looked scruffy. There were 2 leaking windows which also affected the condition of the wall panels below them; the luggage/bar area was also in poor condition, and the floor coverings in the 2 passenger vestibules and the luggage compartment corridor required replacement.

The MK1 TSO 4925 had suffered ingress of water into the Ongar end vestibule which had flooded the light fittings and collapsed the ceiling. The leak was sealed and the ceiling refitted.

The MK1 TSO, E4809, had some broken glass in the sliding windows; the quarter lights either side of these were replaced.

Carmine and Cream BSO 9140

Upholstery comparison

The contrast between the new upholstery on the left, with the dull, faded upholstery on the right.

Seat replacement

Preparation for the newly upholstered seats and backs to be fitted.


Re-assembling the chairs after the newly upholstered seats had been fitted. Note the headrest have been dyed to improve their appearance.

The 2 windows nearest the Epping end of the carriage were leaking, thus damaging the wall panels. The windows are single glazed glass, which are non standard for this carriage. It was decided to fit the standard double glazed windows for these 2, and as time and finances permit, work through the carriage until all are replaced.

Glass removal mishap

During the removal of the single glazed window, a slight mishap occurred…

New window fitted

A new double glazed window fitted.


Sanding down luggage compartment

George and Colin sanding the luggage compartment.

Teak oiled bar

With the luggage compartment fully painted, the bar was stained and teak oiled.

Companion seats fitted.

Compartment complete and companion seats fitted.

MK1 TSO 4925

A leak in the roof fabric lead to water ingress in the Ongar end vestibule. Unfortunately no images were taken, but the external leak was fixed.

Removed ceiling and fixtures

This image shows the removed ceiling and light fittings.

Ceiling finished; job done.

The finished ceiling complete with lights refitted.

MK1 TSO E4809

Damaged sliding windows removed

The damaged quarter-lights and sliding windows were removed, and panels fitted to protect against the weather.

New sliding windows

New sliding windows and quarter-lights fitted.

Dick Savill

Carriage & Wagon Group

January 13th, 2015

Diesel Department January 2015 Update

Happy New Year to you all. Special thanks to everyone who has been following our blog for the past two years or so, and also to everyone who came up over Christmas and the New year – thanks for your support.

Our Hero 31 438

The real hero over Christmas and the new year workings was our Class 31 438 Locomotive.

She worked all the Santa special and then the loco-hauled Mince Pie specials over the new year, with only one minor fault developing, that being number one end ETS supply monitoring bulb which blew on her last booked trip of the season.

She worked at the Epping end of top and tailed trains, which for the most part is on the steep uphill 1 in 60 gradients. She was hauling five coaches, plus either the Prairie tank 4141 or, after the steam engine failed, 37029 (D6729), a total all-up weight of 370 tons whilst also supplying ETH to heat the train. She was running at full power for a good part of each journey.

It used to be British Rail policy never to let the Diesel engines of main line locomotives get cold when shut down, the reason being that their diesel engines were extremely hard to start if the engine block became very cold. It also caused issues with some types of English Electric Engines throwing oil out of the exhaust. When I worked at Stratford, I was booked on duty on a number of Christmas’, solely to start all the engines of the locomotives on the depot and let them run for a couple of hours, then shut them down again.

In the month of December the 31 engine block never had the chance to get cold,it started at the touch of the button and ran sweetly, like she was back on the main line. Clearly, all the contacts and relays also befitted from being in constant use, warm and dry. Her exhaust was clean and no oil was getting by the oil control rings.

I believe the reliability of the 31 reflects the excellent work performed by the engineers of both the mid Norfolk railway, our own Epping Ongar railway, and the restoration team in the high quality of the rebuilding of the Diesel Engine and restoration of the locomotive from scrap condition carried out over recent years.

D6729 Rescue Loco

Our standby engine, the class 37 029, was also pressed in to service, when part of the rocking grate of 4141 broke as she was shunting out of the shed for her days duties, immediately before Christmas. A fairly straightforward repair for our skilled steam engineers – if you have the parts to hand, sadly we had to order them in.

Santa Specials and Mince Pie/New Year Specials

I drove a number of Santa Specials and Mince Pie trains, and I also helped with some of the many jobs required to operate these special services. I was just a very small cog in the small army of volunteers it takes to run these trains in an efficient manner. It proved to be a very enjoyable experience – I personally loved the snow machines on North Weald Platform. If you were very good, you could get your picture taken with Santa in a real (well, sort of) snow storm.

The last loco-hauled service of 2014 arrives at North Weald, with the signalman ready to take the token.

The last loco-hauled service of the season arrives at North Weald, with the signalman ready to take the token.

While Helping With A Santa Special…

A six year old girl put me in my place.

She told me she was very excited as she had been ‘very good ‘and she hoped Santa would bring her a nice present (confirmed by mum).

I told her I was also very excited as Santa had told me’ if I was also very good when driving the train I might also get a present’.

She replied ‘I should not be so silly, old people don’t get presents from Santa’.

Know your place Chris!

The passengers disembark from the Santa Special at NW, braving the ‘Snow Storm machine’. Even the local deer joined in the spirit of Christmas, with many spotted throughout the Santa season - on one day, a large group was seen in the field behind the North Weald Signal Box.

The passengers disembark from the Santa Special at NW, braving the ‘Snow Storm machine’. Even the local deer joined in the spirit of Christmas, with many spotted throughout the Santa season – on one day, a large group was seen in the field behind the North Weald Signal Box.

Restoration Team

The Class 37 Project

Most of the team were diverted to other duties over the Christmas period with the 37 as the standby locomotive, however we are now back and hard at work. The time off has given us a chance to obtain some of the spare parts for various repairs. Number one and two cabs have been rubbed down and certain repairs have been completed; number one has been primed (as required) then undercoated. It has been rubbed down again then received the first top coat of green, up to waist level, and cream ceiling etc. More spot rubbing down will be required then further to coats will be applied.

Graham applying the first of the Green Top coats in Number one cab of the Class 37. This top coat will be rubbed down once hardened.

Graham applying the first of the Green Top coats in Number one cab of the Class 37. This top coat will be rubbed down once hardened.

The 37 cab has proved to be very difficult to sand down, due to the amount of conduit and other pipework fitted around the cab. There are also hard mounting fixing points for additional safety equipment, fitted later in her working life, which were then taken off when the Loco was removed from the main line. It reminds me of the famous Lloyds inside-out building in London, where all the pipes and services are on the outside or surface mounted. It has been hard to get our fingers in to many places to sand, let alone a small mouse sander.

Mick applies the first green top coat. You can see by his expression and his jumper, Mick has been struggling to get to some of the very awkward places in a Class 37 cab.

Mick applies the first green top coat. You can see by his expression and his jumper, Mick has been struggling to get to some of the very awkward places in a Class 37 cab.

The first top coat of Cream and Green paint. The top coat will be checked in different lights, and spot rubbed down as required. New ‘1960s Period’  transfers - and a few modern examples - are being obtained. The modern transfers are to comply with today's health and safety requirements.

The first top coat of Cream and Green paint. The top coat will be checked in different lights, and spot rubbed down as required. New ‘1960s Period’ transfers – and a few modern examples – are being obtained. The modern transfers are to comply with today’s health and safety requirements.

Repairs to the cab seats have now been completed by the very skilled Jan Ragg; as Eric Morecombe used to say ‘You can’t see the joints’! Fantastic job.

Jan – you will note that all the seats are covered with plastic to keep the paint off the seats. ‘We don’t mess with Jan!’

The highly-skilled Jan Rag completing ‘invisible repairs’ to the class 37 Cab seats, using scrap material recovered from the Thumper's driver's seats.

The highly-skilled Jan Rag completing ‘invisible repairs’ to the class 37 Cab seats, using scrap material recovered from the Thumper’s driver’s seats.

There is still a very long way to go with the cab and other work required as a part of the class 37 restoration project, but we can now see some real progress.


Our class 47 is still stopped awaiting spares.


The side rods have now all been re-fitted with new bearings, and she is back in service on light duties, running-in the bearings. She is shortly to be released back to full traffic.


Performing sterling duty as the depot pilot at NW.

Thumper DEMU 205205

She has now completed 2014 season with the highest mileage of any of our traction units. We have found some more leaks in the roof which have been sealed. Work continues on the internal roof of the baggage compartment in between other jobs.

The Thumper hardat work at the end of the season - looks like everyone's off for a mince pie.

The Thumper hard at work at the end of the season – looks like everyone’s off for a mince pie.

There are a number of jobs scheduled on the Thumper diesel engine during the shut-down period.

Until Next Time

Chris Travers

Diesel Restoration Group

This may look like a scene from 35 years ago, but it was, in fact, the last operating day of the season - January 15 - which saw the trains being prepared for service in freezing fog.

This may look like a scene from 35 years ago, but it was, in fact, the last operating day of the season – January 15 – which saw the trains being prepared for service in freezing fog.