25th June 2015
After a busy Locals’ Week and then Half Term week at the end of May, we have settled into our regular June pattern of running trains only three days a week, which gives us time in the rest of the week to make sure any outstanding maintenance jobs are completed in time for the start of the main season in July. The following is just a sample of the jobs underway over the last few months!
At Easter it became apparant that Lilan was feeling a little poorly around the slide valve chest on her cylinders. This area was last thoroughly looked at when she was restored from scrap forty nine years ago and so those repairs have lasted well! The 1960s repairs were also completed in a workshop with very limited facilities; for example, with no milling machine a new port face plate fitted to her left hand cylinder was cut out by chain drilling and then filing by hand. Sufficient repairs have now taken place to ensure Lilian runs well through the summer this year, but it is possible that the cylinders will be looked at again this winter when Lilian’s boiler is lifted off for a major overhaul.
Covertcoat has also seen some work recently. For over a decade she has had a twin cylinder steam engine with belt drive to a compressor fitted on her footplate to provide air for the train brakes. This has now been replaced by an air pump fitted in front of her cab. This pump is one of a number built by the Talyllyn Railway; the design is based on the pump designed, built and fitted to Lilian by owner Nigel Bowman, but with a number of modifications made to the design by the Talyllyn Railway after they took on production of the pumps. This particular pump was delivered several years ago and was originally intended to be fitted to our locomotive Dorothea, but it was felt this would spoil the aim to restore Dorothea to original appearance. Therefore after some time in store, the pump has now been fitted to Covertcoat. Initial trials when fitted proved that the performance of the pump ‘off the shelf’ was disappointing, and consequently a number of modifications were made to the Talyllyn designed parts of the pump. Performance of the pump is now much improved, and it is more efficient than the previous setup on Covertcoat for compressing air for the train brakes. We are happy to provide details of the modifications made to the pump to other railways using the Talyllyn built pumps.
The Plynlimon carriage has had a periodic examination and light overhaul. The air braking system has been completely overhauled and the outside of the carriage repainted.
This time of year is always busy cutting back the trees and vegetation at the side of the railway. Regular readers of the website will know that we started construction a tree shear to fit on our JCB digger. Following a few modifications after an unsuccesful first test in April, the shear has now been succesfully tested (see video below) and is now in use clearing some of the saplings and younger trees alongside parts of the railway. Our overhead platform wagon, which is used to safely access higher tree branches for cutting, has also been refurbished following the deterioration of its plywood floor.
From this Sunday (28th) we will be running trains every day except Saturdays right through until the end of September. All four of our Hunslet steam locomotives are in working order and will be taking turns to haul trains over the next few months. We hope you can come and visit us for a train ride soon!