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’.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 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.
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 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.
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.
Jim’s diagram for the Class 47 governor.
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.
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.
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
Diesel Restoration Group