The 2014 running season has now finished and the GVLR volunteers are now turning their hands to this winters maintenance and engineering projects!
The station building at Butterley Park, which was erected second hand, in the late 1980's was showing it's age. The external cladding of the building was life expired, so the Wednesday gang have spent the autumn, completely replacing and then painting, the cladding.
20/28 Simplex 4w DM8667 / 41 "Tubby", which arrived from the Museum of Army Transport at Beverly in East Yorkshire in 2005, with an airbrake system, that was incompatible with the GVLR's passenger stock, has had a new airbrake system installed. "Tubby" will now be able to operate short passenger trains on the GVLR. A new oil filter system will installed on this loco to replace the bypass filter setup currently installed.
After a quarterly track inspection, 9 life expired sleepers, were replaced in the Country Park, adjacent to Jubilee Wood. To improve passenger views, lineside vegetation clearance continues and the occasional works train is run to remove the accumulated vegetation.
As usual, the passenger manriders have been moved into the Running Shed for the winter. First stop for manrider No.6 was over the pit. During track inspections, it was noted that some of the fishplates were being worn on the top edge, this was found to be due manrider No.6 having a pair of wheels, on the same axle, with flanges to deep. The manrider was lifted at one end and the offending wheelset removed. The two wheels were removed from the axle and skimmed to the correct depth on the lathe. Everything is now back together and the problem solved.
The long term restoration of OK 7529 (1914) is ongoing, the boiler is on a flat wagon and the frames are upside down on the floor, so the underside can be worked on.
The two passenger hauling Simplexes will receive annual exams over the winter months, to prepare them for the 2015 passenger carrying season.
Another historic artefact now being interpreted, is a small Hudson manufactured 2 ft gauge turntable, ex the Derbyshire Silica Firebrick Company (now DSF Refractories & Minerals Ltd) located at Friden.
The factory once had an extensive internal and external narrow gauge system for moving factory raw, finished and waste products around the extensive premises. For further information type "Friden Brickworks" in to your favourite web search engine.
The turntable can now be seen from a GVLR journey as the train passes through Brand's Sidings where the turntable forms the frontispiece of a mining adit re-creation.
The scene has now been finished off, with a backdrop of an adit entrance, with two mine tubs standing on rails waiting to enter the adit.
The NG Station Building, was sourced secondhand in the formative years of the GVLR. It has now been standing for over 25 years on it's present site. The ravages of time have taken their tole on the fabric of the building, especially the external shipboard cladding.
A start was made in September to completely reclad the building in new shipboard cladding and also renew any framing, which had deteriorated. By the first week of October, the trackside of the building had been completely reclad and work will continue on the rest of the building.
The weekend of Sat 16th & Sun 17th August 2014, saw the inaugural running of the former Ashover Light Railway's Coach No.4 at the GVLR. Hauled by visiting steam loco, WDLR Baldwin 4-6-0T No 778, owned by the Greensands Museum Railway Trust. Also in the consist is a WW1 "D" class bogie wagon loaned from the Leighton Buzzard Narrow Gauge Railway. This enactment is a re-creation of a classic scene from the ALR for the period 1925 to 1936.
With the less than a month to go, before the Railex weekend, which will see Coach No.4 paired with a visiting Baldwin loco, the final work is being undertaken. The majority of the effort, is painting the coach to the expected standard, which involves long hours of fiddly work.
Lettering has also been applied to the nameboard. Further test runs down the line have taken place, to confirm all is well, with all aspects of the coach, in readiness for it's first public outing in nearly 80 years.
Whist the final push was being undertaken on the bogies, work has continued on the coach body. Slats for the walking areas of the coach, have been sourced, sanded, varnished and screwed to the floor.
In parallel, the long process of painting the coach to the expected standard, has continued, with rubbing down and paining, being repeated, as the paint system is built up.
A start has also been made on fitting the sliding vestibule doors and it is expected a start on fitting the seating will be made in the near future.
The last two months has seen our engineers, concentrating on finishing the rebuilding of the two WW 1 bogies, that Ashover Coach No.4 is to ride on.
In addition to refurbishment, a full air-braking system to modern standards, has been designed and fitted to each bogie, including interlocking with the handbrake.
The bogies were then tested, including repeated air brake applications and releases. After being passed off by the engineering department, they were then stripped down into their constituent parts, which over the next fortnight were painted and reassembled. After a final small modification and further brake testing, they were then swapped with the accommodation bogies that the coach has sat on since it's arrival.
With the coach now sitting on it's new bogies, flexible air pipes will be fitted, to connect the bogie air brake cylinders to the already installed air brake system already installed on the coach. This includes an air reservoir, distributor, pipework and flexible coupling hoses at each coach end.
A short video of the one year project, to rebuild the ex Berry Hill Footbridge, that used to cross the oval of track that was used once a year for the Miners Gala.
The West Shed will be holding a 1940's weekend on the 7th and 8th of June 2014. LMS Coronation Pacific No. 46233 "Duchess of Sutherland" will be hauling trains on the std gauge.
On the GVLR, our passenger trains will be diesel hauled by Motorail Simplex 60S 364 "Campbells Brick Works". A special demonstration ammunitions train, of MOD explosives vans, hauled by two of our 1940's locomotives, alternating with the passenger service. Our station building will also be suitably transformed into wartime condition to tie in with the event.
The GVLR regrets that passengers are not allowed to travel on the goods trains due to railway regulations.
The first, second and last goods trips will shuttle between Butterley Park and Brands Sidings. The third and fourth will run the full length of the line.
Trains will depart
Butterley Park station at:
12.15 Goods Shuttle
12.55 Goods Shuttle
13.40 Goods Full Line
14.35 Goods Full Line
15.55 Goods Shuttle
Protection of the main running line from Brands North Sidings, is by way of a crossover, operated from the ground frame. Brands South Sidings protection, is afforded by a padlocked stopblock, the key of which is on the mainline token.
To improve operating safety, Charles has decided to install, a trap point in the Brands South Sidings connection, linked to the ground frame.
A short radius point was dug out of the undergrowth and hauled up on to a wagon, so it could be worked on. The first job was to dose the rusted parts in oil, so that they could be freed off. The blades were then removed, so new holes could be drilled as the Coal Board method of operation and locking, was not suitable for our purpose.
Work on the point, to bring it up to operating standard has now finished. The permanent way team, have now dug out the ballast, where the new point is to be installed and laid the new point sleepers under the track, ready to take the new trap point. It is intended to take an engineering possession, in early May, after the steam loco, has fulfilled its planned duties over the BH weekend.
Work to restore Ashover Coach No.4 has been ongoing, for 6 years, but after a concentrated effort over the Winter there is now light at the end of the tunnel. The restoration team, is now working to a target of August 2014, so that the coach can be paired up with Baldwin 4-6-0T No 778, which is to visit the MR-B as part of the Midland Railex weekend on August 16th - 17th.
After fitting the side panelling attention turned to the roof canvas, which was glued down in April. The inside has, received numerous coats of paint.
Before the roof canvas was applied, electric cables for the internal lights were laid on the wooden roof. The light fittings, have now been fitted and wired up. Power is provided from a battery under one of the seats and power the 12volt LED bulbs, so battery drain, should be low.
The first months of 2014, have seen a concerted effort, to complete the rebuilding of the a pair of bogies, so they can be fitted under Ashover Coach No. 4.
Steve Rice, has manufactured and fitted the brakegear too the bogies. Eddie then machined new centre pivots, first he welded two lumps of metal together. The assemblies were then machined on the lathe. They were completed, by the fitting of a grease nipple to each of them.
The centre pivots were then fitted and welded on top of the bogies. The stabilisers that were fitted on either side of the bogies, were removed with the aid of an angle grinder, as they were not adjustable.
One bogie was then trial fitted under the Ashover Coach, to ascertain what height the new adjustable side bearers, needed to be manufactured to. Adjustment is by way of shims and the final clearance will be 1/32ins each side.
The ex Berry Hill Footbridge, is now all but completed, apart from a last coat of paint. The last two months has seen a concentrated push to complete the project before the start of the 2014 running season.
After the arrival of the steel for the handrails and sides, the bridge team, set up a production line, to drill and paint the kit of parts in the railway's Running Shed.
Early in March the kit of parts, plus the steps and bridge floor sections were all loaded on to the works train and moved to the bridge site. Installation then proceeded quite rapidly. Most parts fitted first time, but as expected, with using an old bridge frame, which had received a few knocks over the years, one or two parts needed slight adjustment.
A large plate of thin steel was sourced, so that a smokeplate could be made for the bridge. Five of the team spent a few hours one Saturday curving the 2 edges on the MRT's bending machine. After painting and fabrication of fixing plates, the smokeplate was attached to the bridge in late March.
Further painting work is required on the bridge, when better weather arrives. The bridge is already being used and enjoyed by walkers and locals alike, who usually pause a while on the top to enjoy the views.
Three months after the Berry Hill footbridge frame was installed, it has now become possible to get a decent picture of it, without one side being in shade.
This has been made possible by a scheme to improve the drainage of Jubilee Wood, which adjoins our track bed for around 500 metres. Presently there is a small drainage channel on the wood side of the boundary fence but, after heavy rain, it cannot cope. The situation is not helped by frequent silting up, so water eventually overtops the bank or stagnates and seeps through thus causing problems for the GVLR formation.
With the help of the MR-B Country Park gang, who co-incidentally have just tidied up and hedge laid an area on the opposite side of our track, a 3 metre wide strip of woodland is being cleared south of our running line. This will allow for a new wider and deeper drainage channel to be dug for the full length of the Jubilee Wood boundary. It will also allow in more daylight, help to keep the formation drier, and make the area around a picnic bench and our new bridge, more open and inviting.
Even though it may appear that there has been no progress on the footbridge, a great deal has been happening behind the scenes. After details of standards for footbridge steps and handrails were acquired, full plans were drawn up, from which a list of parts needed was then collated.
In mid January, some of the required steel work arrived on site. A start has been made on cutting the material to size and drilling the holes required as part of the preparations for the fabrication of the footbridge handrails.
Work continues on the restoration of Ashover Coach No. 4. As can be seen from the photograph, matchboard is being affixed to the side of the coach.
The roof canvas has been laid out on top of the coach. After a suitable time, to allow the material to relax, it will be glued to the roof and then painted.
Most of the seats and backs have been manufactured, they are now receiving coasts of varnish, before being installed in the interior of the coach. Work is also continuing on the bogies the coach will run on.
The frame of the ex Berry Hill Footbridge was installed, during October, on 4 concrete bases, that had been cast over the previous 3 months.
The Footbridge, was recovered from Berry Hill Park, Mansfield, as part of the "Miners Gala Railway" we were gifted in the early 90's.
The finished Footbridge, will provide a safe walking route from Jubilee Wood, over the NG running line, into the Country Park.
The Footbridge frame was moved in three sections by NG train and then lifted by a caterpillar tracked vehicle, which had followed behind the works train, straddling the track.
The frame is now being painted, after which steps, decking and sides will be added, before the bridge can be opened to the public.
Another busy month at the GVLR, with passenger trains operated on 25 days during the month. All four foundation pads for the "Berry Hill" footbridge have now been cast. Work on the last pad started before 8am on a running day, so that the pour could be completed before the start of passenger trains.
Over one memorable weekend, the MR-B site was packed with modellers, who were attending the Railex Model Railway show. Half the Running Shed was emptied of stock, so a number of Narrow Gauge model railway layouts could be set up. Including -Woolacombe Bay-, which had been brought over from France.
At the end of the month it was "Jinty's Big Weekend" on the big railway. As part of the show in the arena, the NG turned out "Tubby" complete with face and hauling 2 Fauld wagons, to help with recovering Mrs. Kindlys provisions, which the errant Jinty had made off with.
The bridge in the Country Park has been a long cherished ambition. It's time has come!
The digging of the bridge footings in the Country Park heralds the re-creation / restoration and re-use of the former Berry Hill footbridge.
This bridge had a previous life at Berry Hill Park, Mansfield, Nottinghamshire. For many years it spanned a circle of narrow gauge track which saw use once a year as part of the entertainment of, and enjoyment for, visitors participating in the National Union of Mine Workers' Annual Gala.
Shortly after the cessation of this annual event, the entire train set (track, bridge, loco, manriders and tunnel -the latter "garaged" the loco and coaches when not in use) was gifted in to the care of the Midland Railway Trust.
In the past most railway workshops had a resident cat, but the GVLR has gone one better, as a dragon has now setup home in the GVLR Running Shed.
The as yet un-named dragon, gave our CME , Eddie Draper, the fright of his life, when he came to open the smokebox door, to clean the tubes of 0-4-2 IST "Joan"
"I nearly ended up in the pit" said Eddie, after the shock of the dragon jumping out of the smokebox at him. "Well at least we wount have any trouble with security" he quiped after picking himself up.
Resident steam locomotive 0-4-2 IST "Joan", previously known as "Pearl 2" has been repainted from it's former Red, to Dark Blue.
The repainting was carried out during March/April 2010 in the GVLR Running Shed. After lining out the plates were refitted
The loco will be used on GVLR Steam Footplate Experience days. For full details of a day to remember, driving and firing this loco, please see our Steam Footplate Experience Days page