T&I News 5 2020...

T&I News 5 2020…

Unbelievably, another February half-term is nearly over and we are enjoyed a fairly busy week at the museum, having largely escaped recent storms (other than for some very cold, very windy weather). The gallopers did suffer at the hands of the wind and as a result were not able to operate this week, however they have been tested and await only the alignment of diaries with the formal (external) assessor for fairground rides (under what is called the ADIPS scheme) before they can be put into public operation.

New steps have been fitted as a precaution against damage to those previously fitted, and the centre engine has been tested and staff familiarised with its revised operation.

Rowley Station, with Peckett 2000 this week’s motive power.

Model T Fords

Even though we’ve been using these vehicles for several years, our recent revisions to the site driving policy requires us to demonstrate our familiarity with different vehicles. Matt usually uses the Tourer, whilst I favour the Crewe Tractor. So we carried out an exercise to demonstrate to each other that we are familiar with the type and can competently drive them (especially given their somewhat unconventional controls – when compared with almost all other vehicles!).

Meanwhile, in the newly allocated workshop space for such projects, the Ton Truck is making good progress with the volunteer team, led by John, having completed much of the mechanical restoration of the Model T. This includes adaptations found to be very useful on the Crewe Tractor, ensuring it can be considered as a ‘daily’ vehicle, rather than occasional (as in the case of the Tourer). The Ton Truck will be fitted with a new cab, based on a locally used Ton Truck, and will have a flatbed (or low dropside), with fake load concealing various useful features. It will be allocated to the engineering and steam team when complete. The seat currently fitted is purely a temporary expedient to allow the chassis to be trialled around the museum roads once the present work on the steering is complete.
This is the style of cab we are going to replicate for our Ton Truck, seen in use by a local company in Burnopfield. Note the side window in the cab, the impressive horn and the attractive lettering on the dropside body.

Narrow Gauge Railway

We anticipate an increase in use of the narrow gauge railway in 2021, when No.18 will be under overhaul and therefore the standard gauge operation will be curtailed in the Colliery (as Coffee Pot No.1 is not really suitable for daily operation and its wrought iron valve gear and rods require the locomotive to be operated with a certain degree of care – which can be be assisted by minimising its use as it celebrates its 149th birthday in 2020!).

The plan, therefore, is to see Samson (and Glyder) in more regular operation, for which crew training will take place during this year. Samson is being modified to improve its usability towards this end.

On the infrastructure front, there are a number of challenges for drivers on the narrow gauge, some fun, some less so! One of the areas we have never really been happy with is the severity of the curve into the top yard from the Pockerley direction, with a gentle and sinuous route suddenly veering sharply to the left as it arrives in the yard. As a result of this, the second ex Eastriggs turnout is to be installed as part of a plan to achieve two things – firstly an easing of the curve and secondly a means of providing a headshunt to allow operations to take place within the yard, without risk of rolling stock straying onto the running line or disappearing towards Pockerley or the Sinkers headshunt ends of the triangle. It will also put all of the ‘main’ running lines onto 35lb rail of known origin.

This view shows the plan in development – the turnout is roughly positioned in situ to show where the diverging line will be, replacing the curve to the right of the view and easing the radius of the curve in this location. The right hand track will be replaced with a straight siding, to provide a headshunt for stabling rolling stock and protecting the running lines during shunting operations.
We are currently hosting a local college, whose students are participating in a permanent way course. Several courses are being run through 2020 (and were in 2019), providing a useful supplementary income for us at a time we are spending increasing sums on the track around the museum. Notice the concrete and metal sleepers (not something we have!) and the depth of ballast bed. The students have also carried one or two jobs on our running lines, to assist the maintenance team.


Puffing Billy’s new chimney has arrived from blacksmith Andy Basnett, who has done a fabulous job of creating a new structure whilst making sure it is in keeping with the rest of the locomotive’s appearance.
Note the handmade rivets used in construction. The attachment at the top of the chimney (top right of this image) is not a spark arrestor, but a water arrestor – the locomotive being very wet in operation with gallons of water being exhausted into the chimney (the main cause of the demise of the original, as when mixed with soot it makes for a corrosive cocktail). Thought is being given to retro-fitting cylinder drain cocks, to try to alleviate some of the water carry-over. Meanwhile, the chimney will be painted and fitted, whilst work on the handbrake will continue next week.
The base of the chimney was also repaired at the same time.
Samson’s new front bufferbeam, in cast iron to add tractive weight to the locomotive. An additional piece is to be fitted in the centre to act as a buffing face. This brings it into line with the original locomotive, but we will have to test this for buffer-locking on our severely curved railway.
A view down Samson’s chimney showing the new blower ring and jets, surrounding the blastpipe. The previous blower was a straight pipe and we suspect it used as much steam as it created! Puffing Billy will be fitted with a similar blower ring as part of the present package of work being undertaken. It has a healthy appetite for firebars, caused by particularly hot fires and use of the damper to effectively kill the airflow through the fire (which helps keep the bars cool). The blower will add another variable for crews to use in controlling the steaming rate of the locomotive.