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20th June 2023


There has, unfortunately, been a long gap since the previous report so there is now a lot of catching up to be done...

A lot of things have happened during the intervening period but the most notable was the official opening of Corwen Central Station during the weekend of 3/4 June. The station is a real credit to the members of the railway (past and present) who had the vision and engaged in the fundraising, design, construction and commissioning, much of which took place in user-unfriendly weather conditions!

The railway opens to Corwen

Information about the services that our railcars have provided can be found under 'Out and About' below and work that has taken place on the railcars at Llangollen and Butterley can be found under 'Unit-specific work' below.

Out and About

Since the previous report all of the railcar services have been operated by the Wickham class 109 and/or the hybrid class 104/108 in 2- and 4-car combinations.

Following the replacement of its no. 2 gearbox the Wickham class 109 unit was given a test run to (almost) Glyndyfrdwy and back during the evening of 27 May. The gearbox passed with flying colours and the outing provided this rare opportunity for a picture of the unit standing next to the Glyndyfrdwy outer home signal...

Wickham class 109 near Glyndyfrdwy during a test run on 27/05/23

We were pleased to be able to join our colleagues in the Steam and Diesel departments in providing a three-train service to/from Corwen Central during the official opening weekend for the new station on 3/4 June. For that we used the 4-car unit which also provided some Saturday evening trips to transport railway staff and volunteers to/from a celebratory 'do' at Corwen...

4-car Hybrid 104/108 and 109 at Llangollen with an evening special to Corwen on 03/06/23

4-car Class 109 and Hybrid 104/108 at Corwen with an evening special on 03/06/23

4-car Class 109 and Hybrid 104/108 at Corwen with an evening special on 03/06/23

Class 109 driver's eye view from a Corwen-Llangollen evening special at Glyndyfrdwy on 03/06/23

Unit-specific work

Hybrid class 104/108 (50454/56223)

The power car 50454 was given a Fuel Point (FP) exam and some repairs were carried out in trailer 56223 to try to prevent water leaking into the passenger saloon when the header tank for the toilet and washbasin is filled beyond a certain level.

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

A rummage through the stores resulted in the discovery of a number of the original timber beads as well as some of the aluminium ones for the cab...

Class 105: Salvaged timber and aluminium beads

It is not yet clear how many of them will be suitable for re-use but even the ones that are not will provide useful templates for the construction of replacements.

One of the timber beads was found to fit just above the driver's door...

Class 105: Trial fit of a timber bead above the driver's door

A panel in the rear compartment was removed to gain access to the passenger communication (passcom) cable and some thought was given to installing a removable panel to facilitate ease of maintenance in the future...

Class 105: Gaining access to the passcom chain

A curved piece of timber that had been constructed as a "homework" project for the area above the driver's window was trial-fitted prior to being taken away again for minor modification...

Class 105: New timber above the driver's window

Class 108 (51933/54504)

The painting of the roof was completed and the buffer beams were needle-gunned, primed and painted with red gloss...

Class 108: Painting the roof

Class 108: Painted roof on the trailer car

Class 108: Painting the buffer beam

Class 108: Painted buffer beam and restored headcode box on the power car

Wickham Class 109 (50416/56171)

The faulty no.2 gearbox was replaced with a reconditioned one. The process involved removing a section of exhaust pipe and a silencer to gain the necessary access, disconnecting the things that are connected to the gearbox (cardan shafts, air pipes, belts etc.), unfastening the gearbox, lowering it to rail level using a lifting trolley, moving it out of the way, and then doing all of those things in the reverse order with the replacement gearbox...

Class 109: Faulty no. 2 gearbox lowered to rail level

Class 109: Faulty no. 2 gearbox removed

Class 109: Replacement no. 2 gearbox lifted and secured

Class 109: Connecting a cardan shaft to the replacement no. 2 gearbox

Class 109: Connecting air pipes to the replacement no. 2 gearbox

The penultimate step was to fill the gearbox with oil...

Class 109: Filling the replacement no. 2 gearbox with oil

...and the final step was to commission a local photographer to secure the necessary picture for the group's photo album...

Class 109: No. 2 gearbox replacement complete

The unit was then taken on a test run to Glyndyfrdwy and back (see 'Out and About' above) to make sure that the new gearbox performed correctly. It did.

The faulty gearbox joined another one (ex 50528) that had been on the naughty step for a while. Both of them will now be sent away for assessment and hopefully repair...

Two gearboxes on the 'naughty step'

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

The first dark green undercoat has now been applied to the outside of the vehicle...

Class 127: Dark green undercoat

...and green gloss has been applied to the insides of some doors...

Class 127: Green gloss on the inside of a door

Members of the Cravens restoration team kindly broke off from their Cravens duties to produce and trial-fit some wall panels on the secondman's side...

Class 127: Trial fitting of wall panels on the secondman's side

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

At first glance this might look like some point rodding outside a signalbox...

Class 100: Cleaning luggage racks

...but it is, in fact, a luggage rack. Following the discovery that it is almost impossible to reassemble the luggage racks after taking them apart for cleaning, due to the seemingly random positions of the screw holes, it has been decided to use the alternative technique of removing, cleaning and replacing one component at a time. The above picture shows that process in operation.

Unfortunately the 'Curse of the Gloucester' struck again when it was discovered that the luggage racks are almost impossible to install in the vehicle due to the fixing holes in the brackets failing to line up with the fixed bolts in the bodywork. Much lifting up and down of the rack ensued until it was possible to secure some fastenings near the middle prior to working outwards.

Class 100: Installing a luggage rack

The job of fitting beading to the windows continued albeit with a minor distraction that no doubt caused a sinking feeling (in more ways than one?)...

Class 100: Installing beads around a window

Thanks to Allen Chatwood, John Joyce, Graham Parkin, Tez Pickthall and Craig Robertson for supplying the pictures.