Dorothea’s Day Out

Dorothea spent today ‘top and tailing’ trains as part of her running-in process. In total Dorothea was used on four of the passenger trains with Lilian.

Dorothea still requires a little more work to complete her – namely completion of her air brake equipment and lining out of her paintwork. It is currently expected that she will next be steamed when she is finished, which we hope will be a little later this year.

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July News from the Workshops

Recent work has focused on continuing to finish Dorothea for her entry into passenger service this summer. A new two-cylinder compressor has been fitted under her footplate – though Dorothea could have been fitted with an air pump similar to that mounted next to Lilian’s smokebox, it was felt this would spoil her ‘original’ looks. As can be seen from the photograph though, it is a tight fit getting the compressor under the footplate floor!

Dorothea’s compressor, click for larger view
Lilian has also had some remidial work undertaken to her safety valves with some new parts manufactured and fitted. Some of the original parts which still remain, such as the safety valve arms, were tested for cracks with penetrative dye in order to satisfy our boiler inspector that they were still safe for use. Happily no problems were encountered and Lilian’s boiler has been passed for another year of use.

Following a longer than expected wait, Velinheli’s new boiler tubes will be arriving shortly and will be fitted. Hopefully she will return to steam before the end of this season.

The majority of the machinery used in our workshops is over sixty years old, but although old is maintained in good working order and all regularly used, although perhaps used a little less often than when they were supplied new to industry six or more decades ago! The video below shows one of our notable machines, a 1940s Hendey lathe, in action boring some wheels for local company Southern Miniature Railways.

July News from the Workshops

dcompressor

Recent work has focused on continuing to finish Dorothea for her entry into passenger service this summer. A new two-cylinder compressor has been fitted under her footplate – though Dorothea could have been fitted with an air pump similar to that mounted next to Lilian’s smokebox, it was felt this would spoil her ‘original’ looks. As can be seen from the photograph though, it is a tight fit getting the compressor under the footplate floor!

Lilian has also had some remidial work undertaken to her safety valves with some new parts manufactured and fitted. Some of the original parts which still remain, such as the safety valve arms, were tested for cracks with penetrative dye in order to satisfy our boiler inspector that they were still safe for use. Happily no problems were encountered and Lilian’s boiler has been passed for another year of use.

Following a longer than expected wait, Velinheli’s new boiler tubes will be arriving shortly and will be fitted. Hopefully she will return to steam before the end of this season.

The majority of the machinery used in our workshops is over sixty years old, but although old is maintained in good working order and all regularly used, although perhaps used a little less often than when they were supplied new to industry six or more decades ago! The video below shows one of our notable machines, a 1940s Hendey lathe, in action boring some wheels for local company Southern Miniature Railways.


‘Fairratt’ – a new modern steam locomotive project

James Evans, owner of our resident steam locomotive ‘Velinheli’ and founder/design coordinator of the LYD Project, has recently announced, in an article published in the Welsh Highland Railway Society’s magazine, a proposal to construct an exciting new narrow gauge steam locomotive. Unlike LYD which as a ‘replica’ had to be kept within the original leading dimensions and detailed appearance, the objective of the new project is to create a locomotive specifically for anticipated future requirements of the rebuilt Welsh Highland Railway, with particular focus on fuel efficiency, clean combustion, high reliability and low maintenance costs.

Whilst the NGG16 Garratts currently in use on the WHR are more than adequate for current operations, and indeed the Welsh Highland revival would not have taken place without their availability, they are themselves museum pieces and expensive to rebuild, operate and maintain. A ‘built for purpose’ design would incorporate the best modern materials and technology, so that maximum performance could be achieved from a relatively small and simple locomotive, which would consequently be financially viable to build, and run in service. This would still be a substantial machine: an 0-6-4-0T. weighing 37.5 tons in working order.

The key concept is to combine all the best and very different features of the WHR Garratts and the Fairlie locomotives of the sister Ffestiniog Railway, involving the removal of all ‘dead weight’ (carrying axles and separate boiler cradle), with all wheels driven and transmitting maximum tractive effort. The main features from each design are as follows:

Main features from the Fairlie design:

  1. All wheels driving (no dead weight)
  2. Simple bogie articulation (coach-like ride)
  3. Boiler/tank assembly forms mainframe (weight saving)
  4. Clear sight lines for crew (safety)
  5. Good bore/stroke ratio (efficiency)
  6. Separate regulators (slipping control)

Main Features from the Garratt design:

  1. Single ended, short, large diameter boiler (free steaming, cheaper to make/maintain)
  2. Walk through cab (crew comfort and safety)
  3. Outside frames to power bogies (stability, reduced axle box stresses)
  4. Outside valve gear and springs (serviceability)
  5. Piston valves (reduced friction)
  6. Reasonable superheat (fuel and water saving, without increased maintenance)
  7. Compensated suspension (reduced track damage).

The external appearance of the ‘Fairratt’ would be traditional and to the highest standards of finish.

Although the project is not currently backed by the WHR, which is currently focused on fundraising to finish the railway’s infrastructure and provide more passenger carriages, James has been very pleased to receive considerable encouragement and advice from several leading steam locomotive engineers, who agree that steam’s unique features combined with modern design should ensure that it has an exciting future.

Inside Velinheli’s boiler

Work has continued recently on Velinheli’s boiler, which had been stripped down for it’s ten yearly inspection by our boiler inspector. Happily the boiler inspector has passed Velinheli’s boiler barrel for another ten years of service. New boiler tubes have been ordered and will be delivered and fitted in the next few weeks, following which the boiler will be hydraulically tested. With no tubes currently fitted in the boiler, the opportunity was taken to photograph the inside of the barrel – a rarely seen view of the Quarry Hunslet locomotives we use.

June 2012 News

The trackwork on the café curve has been completed in time for our summer season with a new concrete surface where the original tarmac surface had been removed to raise the curve. The curve itself was raised 3½” in one place!

The driveshaft which connects the engine to the alternator on the railcar has been subject to some modification recently to overcome the effects of torsional oscillation. The engine cradle has been modified, and a new larger flywheel for the engine is currently being machined.

Both Lilian and Covertcoat have been used in the first week of our summer season. Although Covertcoat has run with no problems, Lilian has had two minor mechanical problems. The first was the discovery of a crack in one of her wrought iron coupling rods. When the rod was inspected with penetrative dye, it was found that, although invisible to the naked eye, a previous crack had been repaired poorly at Penrhyn Quarry by inserting rivets into the coupling rod. Both the ‘new’ crack and the old Penrhyn crack have been repaired. The second problem encountered was a hot running axlebox; however following some attention to the lubrication system the axlebox should run cool and Lilian will be back in service next week.

May 2012 News

The Jubilee Line Fun Day, held on the 21st April to raise funds for Launceston’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations, was a great success with over £2,500 being raised. Hundreds of local residents to take a train ride to Newmills Farm Park where there was a wide variety of entertainment on offer. Trains were so full we had to run a few more trains to cope with the demand – originally we had planned to run four trains, but ended up running seven!

The alternator for our new diesel railcar has been delivered and fitted into place. It will shortly be wired to the power bogie, and control gear added at each end of the railcar.

The new air compressor for Dorothea has been tested succesfully and will be fitted shortly. Although a compressor could be fitted next to Dorothea’s smokebox, as has been done with Lilian, it was felt that this would spoil Dorothea’s original experience, and so the compressor is being mounted under her footplate – as has already been succesfully acheived on Velinheli. Work has also continued recently on finishing Dorothea’s cab roof, which was only temporarily attached for her appearances at Easter.

Visitors to the railway may have noticed we have a sharply curving section of track outside our café, which connects our main running shed to the museum and workshop. Over the years this section of track has gradually subsided, until there was a very pronounced adverse camber. To correct this the tarmac surrounding the track has been removed, the track jacked up to remove the adverse camber and then concrete inserted into the voids under the sleepers.

Builders digging foundations for some new apartments being built at the end of our lane have recently discovered a few remains of the medieval St Catherine’s Chapel. Fortunately they were happy to donate the few pieces of cut stone that were found to us, and we hope that they will be able to be publically displayed in the near future.

Dorothea steams for the first time in public!

Dorothea was steamed in public for the first time today – and hauled her first ever public passenger trains.

Dorothea worked in the Dorothea Slate Quarry in North Wales until 1942, when she was withdrawn from service. Her rusting remains were rescued from the quarry in 1970 by enthusiast Dave Walker, who sold her to Kay Bowman of the LSR in 1989. Since then Kay has carried out a painstaking restoration of Dorothea to working order – a task considered impossible by many experts!

Although Dorothea’s restoration is not quite finished, it was decided to steam her and use her to double head some of the Easter Sunday passenger trains with Lilian. Dorothea performed well, and was used on five passenger trains – it is thought that the 25 miles she covered today is the furthest she has ever run in one day!

The photographs and video below show Dorothea throughout the day. Her next passenger trains will be in the summer once her final remaining components, such as cab windows and air brake equipment, have been fitted.