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17th May 2023

Out and About

The Wickham class 109 and the hybrid blue/green class 104/108 units have provided the railcar 'A' and 'B' timetable passenger services since the previous report.

The running was largely trouble free although a member of staff who travelled on the Wickham on Friday 12 May, and just happened to sit above the no. 2 transmission, reported an unusual pulsing whining noise. As luck would have it, one of our engineers was working at Pentrefelin so he was able to ride on the unit, listen to the noise, and diagnose a problem with the innards of the no. 2 gearbox.

Given that the noise could not be heard by the driver, there was no hint of a problem in the performance, and the typical passenger could hardly be expected to recognise it as something untoward, we are not sure when the fault first occurred. The good news is that the Wickham was able to complete the day's services and has now been booked in for a gearbox replacement.

On Tuesday 16 May the hybrid unit worked a special test/gauging train to the new Corwen Central Station that is due to open at the beginning of June. The following pictures show a passenger's eye view of the approach to Corwen and the unit standing at the station that is situated on an embankment...

The approach to Corwen Central Station viewed from 50454

Hybrid class 104/108 at Corwen Central Station

Hybrid class 104/108 at Corwen Central Station


After the hard graft needed to carry out an FP exam in unseasonably warm weather what better way to cool off than to drench each other with cold water while ostensibly washing the outside of the units? ...

Hybrid class 104/108: Washing the outside

Note to self: Don't try that in the winter!

The Wickham class 109 and the hybrid blue/green class 104/108 unit were both given the treatment and looked much better for it...

Class 109 and Hybrid class 104/108 after being washed

Work that has taken place on our railcars at Llangollen and Butterley since the previous report can be found in the 'Unit-specific work' section below.

Unit-specific work

Cravens class 105 trailer car no. 56456 (undergoing restoration at Llangollen)

Some step boards were painted...

Class 105: Painted stepboards

... and then the puzzle of 'Which passcom chain goes where?' was started. That involved a considerable amount of head scratching by an increasing number of people (up to five at one stage apparently)...

Class 105: Conflab

... before a (cunning) plan was devised and a start made on its implementation...

Class 105: Installing passcom chains

Class 105: Installing passcom chains

Class 105: Installing passcom chains

'Passcom' is short for 'Passenger communication' and refers to the system that enables passengers to stop the train in an emergency.

Class 108 (51933/54504)

Class 108: Power car roof in grey undercoat

The picture shows the power car roof in grey undercoat. Since it was taken the first 'top' coat has been applied and most of the trailer car roof has been sanded in readiness for painting.

Wickham Class 109 (50416/56171)

As mentioned in 'Out and About' (above) something is not quite right inside the no. 2 gearbox. The solution will be to replace the gearbox so a reconditioned one was dragged out of the store ...

Class 109: Re-conditioned gearbox to replace the no. 2 gearbox

... and steam-cleaned in readiness for the swap at a later date...

Class 109: Steam-cleaning a reconditioned gearbox

It is to be hoped that it will work because there will clearly be no chance of making a warranty claim...

Class 109: Reconditioned gearbox label

Unlike the no. 1 gearbox, which is reasonably accessible, the no. 2 one is surrounded by various items of equipment so the best way of extracting it, and installing the replacement, has still to be determined. A case of 'Answers on a postcard please'?

Some careful planning resulted in the requirement for a mileage-based Fuel Point (FP) exam coinciding with a working party at Pentrefelin last weekend (13/14 May). The FP exam is the least onerous of the exams that we carry out but can, nevertheless, keep a team of two or three people occupied for half a day even if nothing untoward is discovered. On this occasion the no. 1 exhauster belts failed their inspection and had to be replaced. An exhauster is a device that extracts air from the vacuum brake system in order to create a partial vacuum and it is belt-driven from the input side of the corresponding gearbox.

Class 109: No. 1 exhauster belts

Class 109: No. 1 exhauster belts being adjusted after replacement

Class 127 vehicle no. 51618 (undergoing bodywork repairs at Llangollen)

The top halves of the insides of the doors have been given a coat of grey gloss...

Class 127: Grey gloss on the top halves of the doors

The door shuts are now being prepared for painting. At some point in the past the woodwork had been cut back to allow access to the door hinge securing nuts, and then some small metal plates had been crudely screwed over the resulting holes. Those have now been filled in but, with so many doors and three hinges per door, it was a lot of holes to fill - not quite as many as the Beatles led us to believe had appeared in Blackburn, Lancashire but it no doubt seemed like that for the person doing the work. Now he knows how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall!

Gloucester class 100 51118/56097 (undergoing restoration at the Midland Railway, Butterley)

Class 100: New workbench

No - we haven't decided to change tack and recreate the erstwhile General Manager's Saloon with its boardroom table. One of the group members has given his dining table a retirement job as a (posh) workbench and shortly after it had been commissioned in its new home it was put to good use. The above picture shows a water seal strip being fitted to a window frame. This was done to the remaining window frames for the first class section and they were then fitted...

Class 100: Window frames fitted in 1st class

As has been noted several times already, the restorations of the class 105 Cravens trailer at Llangollen and the class 100 Gloucester trailer at Butterley have reached the stage at which similar jobs (e.g. wall panels, window frames, passcom etc.) are being done in parallel. The class 105 section above described some scratching of heads to determine how to install the passcom chains and here is the result of the corresponding head scratching at Butterley with a passcom box finally in place...

Class 100: Passcom box in place

The job of reassembling a dismantled luggage rack turned into a time-consuming puzzle because every piece appears to have the holes in slightly different positions. Several hours were spent fitting pieces together, taking them apart again, trying different pieces etc. until the point was reached at which the round bar could be given a trial fitting on the studs...

Class 100: Trial fitting part of a reassembled luggage rack

It was then discovered that the square bar would put up a similar fight due to the seemingly random positions of its holes. Readers will not be surprised to learn that it has been decided to clean the other luggage racks without dismantling them!

Thanks to Allen Chatwood, George Jones, John Joyce, Andy Lowe, Mike Martin, Graham Parkin and Martin Plumb for supplying the pictures.