205 – Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces
From Chasewater News – Autumn 1997– Part 1
Editorial – Chris Chivers
As this year’s running season is coming to a close we have had the best season for passenger figures this year than in any other season since the Railway was reformed back in late 1985, passing the 1996 figure by the second weekend in September. This has also shown in the increased activity in the buffet, and all praise due to Doreen Edwards and her stalwart helpers in the canteen who have increased the range and quality of food served to the general public and the on-site workers on Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays. The apple cake has become a legend in its own time! Also for this year the number of memberships has increased over last year’s record, and I would like to welcome all the new members who have joined us over the past few months.
During the summer the long awaited start on the extension has commenced, and after a look around the other week I was amazed at the amount of progress that has taken place in such a short space of time. This indicates the strength that the Railway has gained in a few short years, with more volunteers willing to help us in all aspects of the Railway’s operation. The track recovered from British Oxygen at Wolverhampton is already being put into place. The number of workers on the P Way gang continues to grow so that at least a panel of track is being laid each week on the new extension, as well as work being carried out on laying a shunting spur from the shed road to facilitate the release of locomotives from the shed. Considering that this is the running season, when normally the number of working members available for other projects other than running the normal service has always been a bit of a hit and miss affair, shows just how far the Chasewater Railway has come since the early days of the reborn Company.
With membership matters in mind, as of the beginning of September the number of new members as well as members who have renewed, has passed last year’s total. This is taking into consideration the members who are not required to renew until February 1998. Memberships have raised just on the £1000 mark, surpassing last year’s total by over £100. In the two years that I have been dealing with the newsletter and membership administration the circulation numbers of the magazine has gone from approximately 80 copies to 160 issues posted out. This does not take into account the extra copies sold in the shop. An increasing number of non-members are now asking when the next issue of the magazine will be out so that they can purchase a copy. This brings me on to one other point; the magazine is totally reliant on you, the membership. Without your input I cannot produce the magazine on a quarterly basis, either that or the magazine will have to be reduced in size. The more articles I receive, the more varied the contents and therefore the better the read. Please let me have any article which concerns the Railway, especially ongoing projects, either on- or off-site.
As the 1997 season is coming to a close thoughts will be turning to next year and what the future holds for the Railway. With the new Labour Ministers’ controversial approval of the BNRR (M6 Toll) the Railway must be prepared for interesting times ahead. In the light of very few concrete plans for the Railway by the planners, speculation can be the source of what could be a lot of wild rumours. All we can do for the present time is to continue relaying the track through to Three’s Junction (Chasewater Heaths) and then press the Lichfield District Council for further extensions to our lease. The bigger the Railway is, the harder it is for the Council to simply try and dismiss us, or think that we are irrelevant to their future plans for Chasewater. Also, the better the facilities for the general public, the better our standing in the grand scheme of things. Back in 1986 when I joined the Railway, the Company was coming out of a period of stagnation, Brownhills West looked like a scrapyard and the attitude of some of the ex members was little better. Ten years on so much has changed for the better, we still have the odd setbacks but we continue to grow and push forward. Some years ago we were offered some track but we did not have the wherewithal to exploit the offer, but now it is a totally different kettle of fish. With this in mind, further sites are currently being investigated with a view to further track recovery. If we are lucky it should give us sufficient track to finish the extension and possibly go even further towards Church Street.
Finally, congratulations to Margaret and John Duffill on their marriage on August 8th, which provided us with our first ‘Wedding Special’ train on the evening of their wedding.
Loco Shed News
As the season has progressed our steam locomotives have started to show their age with small but niggling problems occurring from time to time. The engine shed is in need of a few extra volunteers to help in essential repair work on the current locomotive department’s backlog of tasks. Also in the wings is the imminent job of giving Asbestos a major overhaul that is required very ten years. It will be some time before Alfred Paget will be ready for steaming, even though work continues on restoring the Neilson at a steady pace. Eventually the perennial problem of funding will loom over the work. Both Paul and Janet Whittaker and the rest of the Neilson team have been doing a great job of actively fund raising, and this will cover a large percentage of the funds needed to carry out the work. Extra help will need to be funded by the Railway to help in completion of the restoration project.
No. 4 Asbestos – As the season has continued more of the steam days have been handed over to the Sentinel. On several occasions Asbestos and Sentinel have been double-headed on revenue earning trains. As winter approaches a decision will have to be made on what work has to be carried out on Asbestos. Its 10-year certificate is due to expire at the start of the season next year, and some major work needs to be carried out to both the boiler, especially round the firebox, and to the motion.
No. 5 Sentinel – The sentinel has performed well on the number of occasions that it has been in service. One or two minor problems are still causing headaches trying to track down the cause. This includes a possible problem with the oil pressure which could be down to a possible obstruction in the pipe to the oil pressure gauge. Also the fire grate could need replacing during the winter months.
No.11 Alfred Paget – The work in restoring Alfred Paget is still moving ahead at a steady pace, even though on the face of it not a lot seems to have been done. The rear spring hangers have been refurbished and replaced, and the valve rod on the one side which was badly worn has been welded back to its correct size. The rod has been turned and the rear bush has been replaced and rebored to the correct diameter. The raffle raised over £200 towards the restoration fund.
S100 – The axle boxes are now receiving attention to bring them to their correct positions in the frames. New shims are being fitted and the brasses are due to be skimmed to make each side of the axle boxes parallel. With the completion of this work, the wheel sets can be painted and brought back into their individual positions ready for re-joining to the frames.
DL7 – With DL7 still out of action, work has started on replacing some of the damaged fittings from the cab, especially the gauges which were broken by our local friendly hooligans. This has involved replacing the broken glass of the faces and having them recalibrated and certificated.
Ruston Hornsby DM 48 – Most of the dismantling work has now taken place with the locomotive down to nothing but a chassis on wheels. The hunt is still on for a replacement engine. Andy Clegg |& Co. are restoring a number of the smaller fittings and fixtures off-site.
Fowler 422015 – This has continued running during the year, working the bulk of the yard shunting duties as well as works trains. A new set of batteries will be needed for the winter period.
DMU – Once again since the last magazine, windows have had to be replaced due to the action of local vandals. Work has started in replacing the damaged panels in 51370 as well as work on the interior. 51412 has been painted green on the Hednesford Road side as well as being partly lined out. Ken Dyde’s diesel maintenance team has carried out further work.
Simplex No.21 – This has now been shunted into 3 road, awaiting the attention of the diesel fitters in getting the engine timing corrected, so that a test running of the engine can be carried out. Once this has been carried out, work can continue on refurbishing the clutch and gearbox.