Author Archive: Charlie O'Mahoney

A Summer Holiday for Velinheli!

This summer our locomotive Velinheli will be leaving us for an extended ‘summer holiday’ at a number of railways and events throughout England and Wales.

Velinheli was built in 1886 for the Dinorwic Quarry at Llanberis in North Wales, and so her summer tour is a way to celebrate in her 130th birthday year. Appropriately she will spend much of the summer based at the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railway in Porthmadog, a short distance from her old home at Dinorwic.  From her base at Porthmadog she will frequently be travelling to visit various other events and railways – including a reunion with some of her ‘stablemates’ from Dinorwic at the Bala Lake Railway – before returning back to us at Launceston in the autumn.

Work is now well underway to de-winterise Velinheli, and will continue for the next month or so to ensure she is in top mechanical condition for her holiday.

The full list of events Velinheli will be attending is still to be confirmed – but we will publish it as soon as possible.  Watch out for the LSR on tour this summer!

 

 

New Season – New Website

Regular visitors will not have failed to notice our website has taken on a new look for the 2016 season.

Our old website was first launched in 2004 and, although it had been modified and refreshed since, the majority of the content and background coding was the same as it was twelve years ago.  It was starting to get a bit tired and so, what started as another ‘refresh’ has resulted in a complete rebuild of the website ‘from the ground up’ – rather like our engine Lilian was subject to fifty years ago this year!

Nearly all the old content and photographs have been transferred over to the new website – plus the complete archive of news back to 2004, which was ‘temporarily’ removed at the last refresh in 2011, is gradually being added back in. A refresh has also given the chance for us to add some new pages detailing more of what you can find here at the LSR.

We hope to keep the News page slightly more up to date than it has been recently as we now have a much easier system for posting news that several of the LSR team can use. Additionally we will have a new series of blogs detailing ‘interesting snippets’ of all things LSR, written by Nigel Parker.  Of course you can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter to keep right up to date!

 

If you spot any missing photos, broken links or spelling errors (there are bound to be some somewhere!) from the website rebuild – let me know.

 

Charlie O’Mahoney

LSR Chief Web Engineer

2016 Winter Track Relaying

Recently we have been busy relaying a 300 yard stretch of track between Launceston and Hunts Crossing – for those a little more familiar with the railway it is the section between the first cattle creep and ‘The Long Straight’. This stretch of track was laid in the early 1980s as the railway was gradually extended, and although subject to occasional maintenance and sleeper replacement since, has not had any major work since it was first laid. After thirty years in use the time had come for a complete rebuild of this section.

Work commenced in December organising the several hundred sleepers required.  Each sleeper was drilled and fixed with a base plate to hold the rail. Fortunately, considering how damp a lot of the winter was, this first piece of work could be largely undertaken inside!

Fitting baseplates to new sleepers

Fitting baseplates to new sleepers

dsc_1861_23890471865_o

Some of the many piles of sleepers which appeared before Christmas, ready for relaying

After Christmas work started in earnest.  New rail was moved from the rail pile in our car park to the stretch of track.  The old trackwork was then dismantled and removed – the old rail will be sold on for further use, whilst any sleepers which are good enough to reuse will be used to replace odd sleepers at Newmills.

Removing new rail from our rail store

Removing new rail from our rail store

New rail starts its journey up the line

New rail starts its journey up the line

Old trackwork still in place, with new rail laid alongside

Old trackwork still in place, with new rail laid alongside

Offloading new rail

Offloading new rail

Removing fishplates, ready for the old track to be lifted

Removing fishplates, ready for the old track to be lifted

 

Once the old track had been cleared, our Fordson tractor levelled the ballast ready for the new sleepers to be laid out.  For this we built a ballast plough which fitted onto the back of the tractor, inspired by our friends at the Bala Lake Railway who had recently built something similar!

Tractor ballast plough under construction

Tractor ballast plough under construction

Tractor fitted with its new ballast plough

Tractor fitted with its new ballast plough

With a level bed, the new sleepers and rail were laid out over the course of several weeks in February – usually only on nice, dry days!

Moving a new section of rail into place on new sleepers

Moving a new section of rail into place on new sleepers

Some of the new track work awaiting final ballasting

Some of the new track work awaiting final ballasting

The work was finished by early March, the last job being to fully ballast and pack the track.

End of Another Year

The curtain has fallen on our public opening for this year, with our last trains running for the school half term week this week.

Many visitors from near and far took the opportunity to take a last ride along the railway this year. All four of our steam locomotives saw use over the week. Once again we teamed up with our local paper, the Cornish & Devon Post, for a Locals’ Week special offer discount, which, as always, proved very popular with residents of Launceston and the surrounding area.

We are now closed until Easter 2016. However there is no time to rest as we launch straight into a busy winter of maintenance: jobs lined up for this winter include some track relaying, reroofing of our main engine shed/workshop ‘Toad Hall’, overhaul of Lilian’s boiler and – if there’s time – completion of our diesel railcar. Watch this space!

Perseverance Puffs to Newmills

Enthusiasts often ask about the quirky vertical boilered locomotive ‘Perseverance’ which lives here and is on display during the season.

Perseverance is the result of a challenge set by its owner Chris Parmenter – to build a working narrow gauge steam locomotive for under £1000. With many modifications made from the locomotive as it was first completed, the budget has been exceeded, but it has still been a project significantly cheaper than building a new, conventional locomotive.

With no equipment fitted for train brakes, Perseverance is only used for occasional private steamings, normally when the railway is closed to the public. With our main season over and the last few days of the glorious Indian Summer forecast, it was time to get Perseverance out and go for a run…:

That’s All Folks – For Now!

We have now come to the end of another busy season, with Lilian seeing us out on our final day, Friday 25th. In addition to the trains, the Friday also saw a MacMillan Coffee Morning in our café, with a range of extra tasty cakes baked by our café stalwart Louise raising over £260 for MacMillan Cancer Relief.

The end of season always sees a few interesting moves as we put all the engines and carriages away – if you’ve ever wondered if we use the track on our platform or through the museum, these photos will show you!

Click for larger view Click for larger view Click for larger view Click for larger view Click for larger view

We now have a few weeks closed, but will be straight into the engineering and maintenance work required to keep a busy steam railway running. There will be one more opportunity to visit us this year, as trains will be running again at the end of October for the School Half Term Week, more details soon!

Armed Robbery from Shop

31st August

Sadly yesterday (Sunday 30th) afternoon at approximately 4.10pm we were subject to an armed robbery from our shop.

Fortunately no one at the railway was hurt but we are obviously shocked that it has happened.

Shortly after the incident a police officer was assaulted on the nearby ‘Zig Zag’ path when they tried to apprehend a man.

The thief was a white male in his 40s-50s, approximately 5’8″ high. If anyone saw someone acting suspiciously in the area around the Railway or the Zig Zag path, or has any other information which would help the police enquiry, please do report it to the police.

Update:The police now have a suspect in custody. We would like to thank all those who have been in touch to offer their support – locally, nationally and even internationally.

We remain open as normal.

Summer Update

Summer Update

30th August 2015

Trains have now been running six days a week for the past two months, and we are all busy ‘keeping the show on the road’!

All four of our Hunslet steam locomotives have seen regular use this summer. As usual Lilian and Covertcoat have had the majority of use, with Velinheli and Dorothea having one day out each every week.

Click for larger view Click for larger view Click for larger view

Although the main focus has been running trains, we have progressed on two projects. The first, and most noticeable for our passengers, is the lineside clearance using the new tree shear attachment for our digger. Focusing on the section of railway known as ‘The Long Straight’, clearing out a lot of the younger, less mature trees along the line side. We think the effort is worth it as it has opened up the view significantly, and we will be continuing to clear further stretches of the lineside through the winter and during next year.

Click for larger view Click for larger view

The second project is our diesel railcar, which has been under construction for a number of years. Construction paused a year ago as other projects took priority, but work has now started on finishing the railcar’s bodywork. It is hoped that regular work on the railcar will now continue until it is finished, potentially as early as next year.

To finish this month’s round up, here are a few more photos of our engines in action this summer!

Click for larger view Click for larger view Click for larger view
Click for larger view Click for larger view
Click for larger view

June Update

June Update

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.

New air pump fitted to Covertcoat, click for larger view

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.

Our painting Mann busy repainting the Plynlimon carriage, click for larger view

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.

Jonathan busy at work refurbishing the overhead platform wagon, click for larger view Finished tree shear awaiting testing, click for larger view

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!

Covertcoat waits to bring another load of passengers back from Newmills on a sunny June day, click for larger view