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18th July 2023


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.

It seems that deliveries of spare parts share a behavioural characteristic with buses because, having gone for quite some time without any, we received three during the weekend of 8/9 July. First up was a delivery of two overhauled buffers - the one that we swapped off 50528 recently, plus another that was swapped some years ago.

Secondly we received a consignment of 'R20' brake blocks that will suit the 108 cars. The following picture shows an example of new versus used...

New and used brake blocks

We also received some parts for the gangways of the Cravens and Gloucester trailers (56456 and 56097 respectively) in the shape of sixteen pivot bolts and twenty one eye bolts. The pivot bolts are new...

Gangway pivot bolts

...unlike the eye bolts which were re-bushed from the original thirty two where it was sensible to do so...

Gangway eye bolts

The balance will have to be made new, after which the swivels that support the gangway faceplate will be tackled - the more complex of the assorted items.

Out and About

Since the previous report all of the timetabled railcar services have been operated by the class 108 with, or without, the Wickham class 109 to keep it company. Last Sunday, the class 108 was also used for a Driver Experience return tip to Carrog - one that, rather unusually, took place during the evening.

All services were fault free except on 13th July when the Wickham's no. 1 engine shut down due to low coolant and, rather surprisingly, refused to restart after the coolant had been topped up. That happened during the first trip to Corwen while the unit was working with the class 108 as a 4-car so, after the train got back to Llangollen, it was placed on the naughty step at the (Pentrefelin) depot and the class 108 did the other two trips by itself. Later that same day it was discovered that the fuel rack on the Wickham's no. 1 engine had got stuck in the closed position and the problem was rectified.

Unit-specific work

Class 104 vehicle 50528

This vehicle, which has been orphaned for a while, was recently used as part of a training session for group members to practise their television newsreading skills :-) ...

Class 104: Replacing a window

Seriously, one of the windows had developed a crack and needed replacing. The replacement seemed to be going well, even allowing for the fact that the rebate on the wood to accept the glass was rather larger than necessary (presumably to cope with the original style of sealant which was quite a thick strip) and some rubber packing had to be used to properly clamp the glass to the body. However, as the last barrel nuts were being tightened, the glass cracked! It turns out that the body wasn't entirely flat in that area and glass doesn't bend very far without complaining. Another sheet of glass thus required! The bodywork was straightened out with some persuading tools, ready for next time.

Class 104: Replacing a window

Class 104: Crack glass++

Hybrid Class 104/108 (50454/56223)

56223 was given its annual 'B' exam during the weekend of 8/9 July. The exams on trailer cars are much less involved than those on power cars due to the lack of engines and transmission components. Nevertheless, there were various things that needed to be attended to including adjusting the brakes, discouraging the driver's windscreen wiper from wiping the window surround as well as the windscreen itself, and recovering the driver's armrest which had worn through to the foam. The following picture shows the 'before' for the armrest; we don't have an 'after' one so that will need to be left to the imagination of the readers.

Class 108 56223: Driver's armrest in need of repair

Class 108 (51933/54504)

While coupling the unit to the Wickham class 109 to form a 4-car in readiness for the next service one of the vacuum brake hoses split and had to be replaced. The following picture shows the two vacuum brake hoses near the centre of the unit as well as the various other things that have to be coupled. In total there are eight connections to be made (drawhook, two vacuum hoses, a compressed air hose and four electrical jumper connections).

Class 108: Hoses etc. for multiple working

The following picture shows the hose with the split on the left and the new one on the right...

Class 108: Faulty and new vacuum hoses

Wickham Class 109 (50416/56171)

As already reported in 'Out-and-about' above, the Wickham had a brief spell on the naughty step on Thursday 13 July after its no. 1 engine shut down due to low coolant (expected behaviour) but then refused to restart after the coolant had been topped up (unexpected behaviour). It turned out that the fuel rack had got stuck in the closed position - something that one of our engineers was able to diagnose and fix later the same day.

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

There has been a remarkable transformation in the external appearance of this vehicle following the application of some green gloss...

Class 127: Green and glossy!

Class 127: Green and glossy!

In order for the painting of the roof to be tackled with some light on the subject, members of our 'electrical department' have installed five additional LED strip lights in that neck of the woods.

Thanks to John Joyce and Graham Parkin for supplying the pictures.

4th July 2023


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.

A shunt around of the railcars during the weekend of 25/26 June resulted in an opportunity to take this picture of Pentrefelin Yard masquerading as a DMU depot...

Pentrefelin Yard masquerading as a DMU depot on 25/06/23

Out and About

Since the previous report all of the railcar services have been operated by the Wickham class 109 and the class 108, either singly or in multiple, except on 22nd June when the Wickham teamed up with the hybrid class 104/108 unit.

Highlights during the period were the relaunch of the class 108 following the shotblasting, repairs and repainting of its roofs, and the part that we played in the Classic Transport event last weekend (1st/2nd July).

The class 108 made its debut with its resplendent roofs (including complete sets of vents and rivets) on Wednesday 28 June when it worked as a 4-car with the Wickham class 109 unit. The footbridge at Llangollen Station provided a convenient vantage point for the driver to obtain some pictures of the finished product...

Class 108 with freshly-painted roofs at Llangollen Station on 28/06/23

Class 108 with freshly-painted roofs at Llangollen Station on 28/06/23

It seems that the dazzling reflection from the roof even brought out people from a neighbouring property! :-)

The colours of the roofs of the class 108 (the two vehicles nearest the camera) and the Wickham class 109 (the two vehicles furthest away) are ostensibly the same colour according, at least, to the labels on the tins even though they look different in the picture. Inspection at various locations, coupled with the customary sharp intakes of breath, revealed that the main difference is that the class 108 roofs are still glossy whereas a year's worth of Welsh weather has turned gloss into matt on the Wickham ones.

Last weekend (1-2 July) saw the Classic Transport event with three trains (steam-hauled, Diesel-hauled and railcar) running each day and almost rubbing noses with other types of classic transport (cars, buses, tractors, lorries, motorbikes etc.) at Glyndyfrdwy...

A line of classic buses at Glyndyfrdwy

On the Saturday the class 108 ran by itself but the Wickham class 109 joined it on the Sunday in order to provide more seats and hence rather more elbow room for the passengers.

The following pictures show the 4-car combination at Glyndyfrdwy...

4-car class 108+109 arriving at Glyndyfrdwy on 02/07/23

4-car class 108+109 leaving Glyndyfrdwy on 02/07/23

4-car class 109+108 arriving at Glyndyfrdwy on 02/07/23

In the above picture the driver had just grabbed the single line token for the Glyndyfrdwy-Carrog section from the lineside post. That is usually preceded by the throwing of the Llangollen Goods Junction-Glyndyfrdwy token on to a corresponding post but, with pilotman working in operation for that section during the weekend, the driver had clearly filed that task under "too difficult" and chosen instead to allow the token (the hi-vis person sitting in the secondman's seat) to alight at the platform and make his own way to the signalbox! :-)

We are always pleased when people show an interest in our railcars and it is unusual for a journey to take place without at least one passenger asking questions about the history and/or the technical detail of the unit in which they are travelling. As crew members we are happy to engage in conversation during the station stops but, given that we often find ourselves pushed for time when we are approached by several people, we are now able to point people at some A5 information sheets that are carried in dispensers in all of the guard's compartments. Those sheets provide a brief history of the railcar and the answers to the most frequently asked questions. They can be read by passengers during the journey or taken away for bedtime reading.

One of our drivers chatting to someone at Corwen on 02/07/23

Unit-specific work

Class 108 (51933/54504)

The unit was dragged out of the shed on Saturday 24/06/23 following the repairs to, and repainting of, its roofs. A considerable amount of time was then spent hosing it down, touching up paint and removing remnants of masking tape from the time when it was sheeted up. Inside the unit a team of people toiled away with brushes, mops, vacuum cleaners, cloths, window spray etc. to tackle the 'fallout', the amount of which was large, and some of which had found its way into surprising locations. However, by the close of play the interior was looking very respectable once more.

The following picture shows the unit out in the sunshine, coupled to the Wickham and ready for the next service on Wednesday 28/07/23 ...

Class 108 with its freshly-painted roofs at Pentrefelin on 25/06/23

Wickham Class 109 (50416/56171)

The unit was given an 'A' exam which turned up a few bits and pieces. A damaged 'hockeystick' on one of the seats was repaired, the toilet light needed a new bulb (but the old one put up quite a fight when trying to remove it), some door trim was reattached, and a wiper blade on the trailer was split so needed replacing...

Class 109: Old and new wiper blades

The adjustment of the brakes provides an excuse to use a large hammer...

Class 109: Adjusting the brakes

The windows also got cleaned inside to remove the assorted fingerprints.

Thanks to John Joyce, Mike Martin, Graham Parkin and Martin Plumb for supplying the pictures.