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Locals Week 2016

We reopen for the summer this coming Sunday (22nd) – and to celebrate we have once again teamed up with our local paper, the Cornish & Devon Post, to run one of our popular Locals Week special offers.

Locals Week runs from Sunday 22nd to Friday 27th May, and to take part simply pick up this week’s copy of ‘The Post’ (issue dated Thursday 19th May) and use the voucher inside to enjoy discounted fares of £6.50 for Adults and £3.25 for Children.

The voucher can only be used once, is not valid with any other special offers, and normal fares of £10.50 Adults and £6.80 Children apply for all those without a voucher – so don’t forget to bring it!

 

Lilian’s Boiler Overhaul – Part 1

Regular visitors will have noticed that Lilian did not make an appearance when we opened at Easter.  Every 10 years or so it is necessary to remove the boiler from a steam locomotive and subject it to a thorough inspection and overhaul.  Lilian’s boiler was last removed for overhaul in the winter of 2007/8.  Therefore although not ‘due’ for another two years, it was decided to bring the overhaul forwards slightly.

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Lilian stood over the pit for the first stage of dismantling – removal of her ashpan!

As soon as Easter was out of the way work started on dismantling Lilian in our yard.  Although many smaller parts could be removed by hand, obviously many parts are too large and heavy to remove by hand.  Here our Unipower tractor with winch becomes indispensable – designed for use in forestry, it has proved very useful for moving and dismantling railway equipment over the past 50 years!

Lilian stripped down to her chassis and boiler

Lilian stripped down to her chassis and boiler

Jonathan busy removing part of the regulator

Jonathan busy removing part of the regulator

Unipower in place ready to lift the boiler

Unipower in place ready to lift the boiler

Up, up and away!

Up, up and away!

Chassis awaiting wheeling back into the museum for storage

Chassis awaiting wheeling back into the museum for storage

With the boiler removed and stood on its side in our yard, a thorough inspection could be undertaken.  The boiler itself is just over 20 years old, and was constructed in house to replace her previous boiler, which dated from 1885 (it had previously been fitted to her sister ‘Winifred’ and we still have it in store).  Initial inspection showed that the barrel and tubes of the boiler remained in good condition, with the tubes suitable for several more years use. However some of the firebox stays required replacing.

New and old regulator rod ends

New and old regulator rod ends

With the boiler removed, the opportunity was taken to give the chassis a thorough clean

With the boiler removed, the opportunity was taken to give the chassis a thorough clean

Boiler on its side in the yard, with Nigel measuring for new firebox stays

Boiler on its side in the yard, with Nigel measuring for new firebox stays

A view inside Lilian's firebox.  Note the missing stays on the left hand side at the bottom.

A view inside Lilian’s firebox. Note the missing stays on the left hand side at the bottom.

Cutting new stay material

Cutting new stay material

 

April Maintenance Well Underway

Have you seen the dramatic pictures on our Facebook page of poor LILIAN?

All will be well, but right now she really is hiding away from her public. And who can blame her. Positive preventive maintenance is essential, particularly when dealing with something as delicate and unique as a steam engine of ‘advanced years’. Therefore once every decade it is necessary to strip each engine down and undertake an overhaul on the boiler, plus any other work that needs doing.  Nigel and the Team have given an assurance that LILIAN will be back to ‘rude health’ by the summer. For those who enjoy the technical details, Charlie has promised a full write up (and video) of all the work being done on Lilian’s boiler, just as soon as it is finished!

Innovation and a ‘Can Do’ attitude are the foundations on which the LSR has built it’s reputation. Also on our Facebook page is a short video of Jonathan doing his MANN thing with a home made tool for plastering the walls of the new museum development. A daunting task to make another part of the old Launceston Gasworks buildings into something where visitors and motor cycle enthusiasts alike can browse and enjoy unique memorabilia. It may not be finished completely by the time you visit,but don’t be put off. We are only a small team and sometimes more pressing scenarios place a higher demand on our time.

If all that was not enough, there is more work afoot on the track. After the mammoth winter maintenance task of relaying there is now the ’tidy up’ of rail, sleepers and assorted hardware, to say nothing about all the labour involved in cutting the overgrown vegetation to manageable sizes so it will not impede the beautiful views along to the Kensey Valley towards New Mills.

Finally, spare a thought for the three engines staying behind when VELINHELI goes off on her grand summer tour. Elsewhere you will find details of her proposed stopovers, but we know she will be a very good ambassador for the LSR, and we hope to enjoy many picture postings of the other railways she will be visiting.  

PS. And ‘Thankyou’ to all our followers on Facebook and Twitter. Every day we now see the number growing, so please keep ‘Sharing’ and keep adding ‘comment’. It really is appreciated.

Velinheli on Tour

This summer our locomotive Velinheli will be touring England and Wales, visiting a number of different railways and events.

 

We are now able to confirm the full list of events in her diary:

  • 20th – 22nd May: Fawley Hill Vintage Extravaganza
  • 12th-13th August: Shrewsbury Flower Show
  • 18th-21st August: Southport Flower Show
  • 26th – 29th August: Bala Lake Railway Steam Gala
  • 9th-11th September: Welsh Highland Railway Superpower: Welsh Highland Great & Small III
  • And finally 23rd-28th October: a triumphant return home to Launceston for the October half term week!

Between the events at Fawley Hill and Shrewsbury, and during September, she will be based at the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways and in regular use for various activities such as footplate rides at Porthmadog Harbour station.

The list of events may be subject to changes or additions through the summer – to keep right up to date with Velinheli’s tour make sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter.  If you see Velinheli out and about we’d love to see you photos on social media too!

Easter 2016 at the LSR

Friday 1st April was the last day of running for the Easter week, and there will now not be any more trains rolling up the Kensey Valley until the main season starts towards the end of May. Despite Easter being over before the end of March, and a deluge of rain on Easter Saturday after such a promising start the day before, many old friends and new visitors came to enjoy a ride up the valley behind one of our Victorian steam locomotives. COVERTCOAT and DOROTHEA were in regular use over Easter and drew great admiration from visitors. Many visitors also sought out VELINHELI before she is off on her travels around the country this summer.

The start of the season is always a little like returning to school after the summer holiday, as members of the ‘railway family’ return after a winter away. Both Louise and co. in the café and Shirley in the shop have had an interesting week, and great as well to see the two Bobs and Debbie back in action with green flag, whistle and ticket clippers!

During the next seven weeks the tempo of activity will not diminish. More work will be done both on the line and within the new museum complex. Importantly LILIAN will now be undergoing an extensive overhaul of her boiler before we reopen for the main summer season.  Watch this space for updates as they unfold.

Our two Easter engines, Dorothea & Covertcoat, bask in the sunshine

Our two Easter engines, Dorothea & Covertcoat, bask in the sunshine

Dorothea waits at the end of one of the rare sunny days we had at Easter

Dorothea waits at the end of one of the rare sunny days we had at Easter

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

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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.

Welcome to 2016 at the LSR

When the Railway re-opens for the new season on Friday 25th March, few passengers will realise that they are travelling on rails that originated from one of the most secret underground railways in the UK. During the winter an extensive partial track relaying programme has been completed, and to undertake this task the Management Team have created some unique new tools to help complete the operation of implementing new sleepers, base plates and steel rails.

The ‘Underground secret railway Project’ was one of many created at strategic UK locations since 1900 for the safe and secure storing of materials and equipment for all the Military Services. Some of these hidden underground rural sites are now obsolete and have been dismantled or ‘mothballed’. Nigel Bowman, LSR Managing Director, realised the opportunity and significance to bring some national history to the heritage railway tourist project that would otherwise have been forever lost.

With the Victorian and Edwardian rolling stock once again in pristine condition, all will be ready to receive local people, railway enthusiasts and visitors for what is planned to be an exciting 2016.

The arrival this year of more ‘heritage’ exhibits has also encouraged the creation of a second museum for additional memorabilia. This is now nearing completion and adjoins the Station Terminus. Free entry is included with your ticket or family pass.

We have a new, refreshed website coming soon with lots more details of our extensive winter maintenance programme - watch this space! You can also follow the railway on Facebook and Twitter for regular updates too.