This post sweeps up a few different themes, that reflect recent progress and look ahead to the forthcoming Beamish Steam Gala… As a result, there is quite a bit to cover this time.
Below: David Bickerdike has been working on his Beamish-based Aveling steam roller over the winter, including manufacturing and fitting the boiler cladding. He tested the engine at the weekend and here are a couple of photos showing it during the brief period of summer-like weather we experienced last week!
Below: I had forgotten to feature the Austin K8 in an earlier post. The vehicle team have inspected it and carried out some adjustments and repairs, resulting in a rather nice vehicle to drive. We will be restricting its use, to keep it nice, but it will be out and about at the Steam Gala next month. It is shown here making full use of the vehicle lift in the workshop.
Below: In order to increase our engineering capacity, and reduce the need to use contract crane-hire or HIABs for some work, we have purchased two new A-frame gantries, with electric-hoists. These are seen after arrival, in the tram depot where they will be based. Their first use will be assisting with work on Gateshead 10, but principally they will be most useful for lifting boilers from frames (starting with Steam Elephant next year). They are tall, and so procedures for use in the vicinity of the tramway overhead wiring also form part of the commissioning work. They will usually be located to the rear of the depot but visitors may be able to see them in use from time to time. They will supplement the portable pits that are currently under construction for us, to vastly improve the engineering facilities at Foulrbridge. A new partition wall between workshops also forms part of this phase of improvement works, to reduce draughts, prevent pedestrian ‘traffic’ and also prepare for a future phase of development which should see a dedicated enclosed space for heavy engineering, to the rear of the depot building.
Below: In the vehicle workshop, the two replica buses are being inspected in readiness for a return to regular use from the 11th April. The Pit Village road is being resurfaced early next week and this will allow us to reinstate the Colliery Bus service. The two Daimlers will be accordingly withdrawn from regular use, to be ‘saved’ for the 1950s bus route, high days and holidays and other occasions where their capacity is so useful.
Here is the D-Type replica over the pit for inspection.
Below: Part of the inspection work this time includes draining the fuel tank and flushing the fuel system (changing filters etc.) as from today we are now no longer able to use red diesel in any of our site-only based vehicles, with the exception of the farm tractors. Obviously this represents yet another increase in operational costs for us (in a week where coal has become very difficult to obtain and only at double the price of the last batch we recently purchased). Energy costs (the increase of) are a big risk to operational costs, and this will have an impact on the operation in due course. It is probably fair to say that given the increases we are seeing in fuel prices, and that domestic consumption is about to experience, a day-trip to Beamish may be seen as a more discretionary activity – though the annual pass of course offers very good value at the end of the journey. The drained red diesel is being harvested for use lighting rags for steam locomotives around the museum.
Below: The two big Daimlers and Sheffield 264 sitting outside the depots. It occurred to me that the Darlington livery is not so far removed from Sheffield’s 1960s colours, and so we have a look-alike of a Rotherham/Sheffield gathering here. Darlington 4 is scheduled to leave us shortly for the repairs covered in a previous post, while as mentioned above, both vehicles will see less use now that the Tramway and Colliery Bus services are being fully reinstated.
Darlington Pease Family Town Coach
Below: The coach has been placed on loan to Head of Steam Museum in Darlington, the town in which it was both built and operated. It was moved on Tuesday, and subsequently placed into the museum at North Road. It will form part of the display there for the foreseeable future. More information on the coach can be found in the link below.
Mutual Improvement Classes
Every year we carry out staff training with the transport team, using the old railway term of MIC. These aim to improve knowledge, train on anything new or unfamiliar, and review incidents or accidents (not necessarily here) for learning and better understanding of the operations as a whole. Primarily classroom based, this year the outdoor exercise centred around protection of worksites, using designated signage that has been made for the purpose.
Below: Here Newcastle 114 approaches a stop board (the rear of which is visible, located between the rails), having previously entered a section signed as containing a potential hazard for crews to be aware of . In the second view, participants gather as if they were carrying out work on the track, before relinquishing their worksite, and reinstating operation through the area.
Below: A nice view of 716 as it passes through the proceedings.
Beamish Steam Gala
Preparations for the steam gala continue, with the small team working on the final arrangements for the event in a fortnight.
Below: The main load for the trailer haulage display is being prepared, with Alex Sharphouse loading his Ruston dragline onto the trailer. Since these pictures, the dragline has been repainted and so will appear with a variety of engines (in various combinations) on the road at Beamish throughout the event on the 9/10 April.
Below: 1928 Fowler B6 Atlas is booked for the event and will work with fellow Norman E. Box machine Talisman (and the trailer) during the event.
Below: We look forward to seeing this 1926 Garrett steam wagon, ex Devon County Council, alongside Peter Pan, which also worked for Devon County Council.
Below: Here is a gallery with some images of exhibits that are booked in for the event – which should number around 50 in total, alongside the museum’s own collections.