Mike's RVLR Diary
This is where I plan to diarise the most interesting bits of the month to month happenings at the RVLR.
June 22 Open Day
on 13th June 2022
Remarkably, we had exactly the same number of visitors (123) for the June Open Day as May and yet again, we were lucky with the weather.
Both Powys and Jack were busy all day. Phil has worked hard to get Monty sorted out and it was lovely to see the little engine also running around the track.
The Permanent Way Team attended to the sleepers marked last month, replacing three of them.
The next Open Day will be in August as Powys is off on holiday next month; the Evesham Vale Light Railway (EVLR) is having its Annual Railway Gala on 9th and 10th July and Powys has been invited to attend! Powys is the sister of the EVLR’s Dougal and the little engines will be working together at the Gala.
May 22 Open Day
on 16th May 2022
123 visitors is a new record for one day at RVLR! It’s lovely to be back after 2½ years seeing people enjoying themselves around the railway. Both Powys and Jack were working hard with full trains all day. The sun shone and the garden and grounds looked lovely. Much tea was drunk and cake was eaten making for a very successful Sunday.
The Permanent Way Team painted the metal sleepers and mechanism from the second point area, cut down some overhanging branches and walked the track, marking sleepers that need attention.
April 22 Working Day
on 5th April 2022
8 volunteers and some lovely spring sunshine meant that many jobs were achieved on Sunday. Powys and Jack both passed a steam test (a hot and cold exam) and some local children enjoyed a couple of rides around.
An engine tune-up was carried out on Monty and even though there were some improvements in running, further investigation is required.
The Permanent Way Team painted the metal sleepers and mechanism from the first point area cleared out last month and started on the second point area. Ballast will be added next month and again the sleepers and mechanism will be painted.
The 2 photos this month show the various tasks being performed!
March 22 Working Weekend
on 7th March 2022
Powys and Jack were both in steam on Saturday and had a run around to ascertain their fitness for the coming season. There was a bit of ‘clunking’ from Jack which was quickly rectified.
It was discovered that one of the fire bars was missing in Powys making it (obviously) more difficult to keep the fire in. This was sorted out quickly. In addition, the whistle valve was fouling the cab and permanently open, so the valve operating mechanism was modified.
The clutch and brake pedals had seized on Monty so these were dismantled, freed off and reassembled and are now working well. The brake caliper mounting was re-engineered by Phil to improve braking efficiency. Problems with the carburettor are being investigated and will be fixed in time for the May opening.
The Permanent Way Team cleaned out the first point area in the field where the mud and grass of ages had accumulated. Ballast was added, and next month the metal sleepers and point mechanism will be painted to finish off that area.
February 22 - Working Weekend
on 7th February 2022
Monty is back and it was lovely to see the little engine on the track again on a rather wet Sunday. There are still a few small issues with the clutch and brakes needing adjustment plus a bit of electrical work but all will be done ready for the summer opening. The photo shows Monty with some proud volunteers when the weather had improved somewhat!
The Permanent Way Team dodged the showers and replaced four small rotten sleepers near the field gate at the station end with two new large sleepers. These are much sturdier and will give a smoother ride out of the station area.
December 21 Working Weekend
on 13th December 2021
Monty is back! He was delivered on Sunday looking shiny and new and ready for the new year.
November 21 Working Weekend
on 8th November 2021
Mixed weather this weekend with some rain on Saturday and a stiff breeze both days. All marked sleepers have now been replaced and the next task is to remove, oil and re-attach all the fishplates.
The carriages have been sanded down and are being re-stained (see this month’s photo).
It has been decided that Monty deserves a nice new steel cowling and so this has been ordered. It will be professionally painted and will be ready for next year’s running season.
The painting of Powys is almost complete and all engines have been ‘winterised’. This involves removing the injectors, draining the boilers and taking out the drain-down plugs to allow airflow during the winter. This prevents rust and corrosion.
Many of the volunteers enjoyed an evening out at The Goat in Llanfair on Saturday night – it’s unusual to see the team out of their working clothes!
October 21 Working Weekend
on 4th October 2021
The reassembly of Powys has been completed and the steam test was successful. One or two minor problems are being sorted out but Powys ran well around the track in the autumn sunshine.
No work this month on Jack. And Monty is still awaiting an executive decision on the cowling.
Replacement of worn and damaged sleepers continued and another 25 were done over the weekend. The autumn weather was mixed with some heavy showers on the Saturday but Sunday saw more welcome sunshine. An added bonus for the Permanent Way team was a kingfisher flashing past on the river.
September 21 Working Weekend
on 20th September 2021
Jack is back in steam! The rear axle has been repaired, put back onto the engine and tested. Some of Keith’s friends from the Southern Region Merchant Navy class ‘Clan Line’ visited and had a ride around behind Jack. It was lovely to see a train on the rails after such a quiet year.
Replacement of worn and damaged sleepers continues ready for the 2022 season and around 25 were done over the 2 days of the weekend. The autumn weather was very kind once again.
This month’s photo shows Powys ready for reassembly. The firebox crown has been patched and a new fusible plug fitted. The boiler has been hydrauliced and certified and is being back together again.
July 21 Working Weekend
on 12th July 2021
After some rain in the previous days, we were lucky again with the weather for the July working weekend.
Monty is running fine but needs the brakes bleeding. The little engine will be very useful towing the working wagon for track laying, as we have now started to replace the sleepers on the furthest bend, about as far away from the shed as it’s possible to go!
Reassembly of Powys continues with fire cement being put into the smokebox to seal it. The boiler bands have been polished and put back on and they look great (see photo).
The problem with Jack has been identified – the main drive pin has moved over time causing the valve gear timing to go out. So Jack has been propped up, the rear axle has been removed and been taken for remedial work.
June 21 Working Weekend
on 6th June 2021
More glorious Montgomeryshire sunshine greeted 10 volunteers.
Monty is running! The mechanical work has been done and some engine cowlings now need to be made. The volunteers are very keen that these should be quick-release for ease of maintenance.
Ian spent the weekend rubbing down Powys (again) ready for repainting (again).
Jack seems to have seized solid and the engine maintenance team were kept busy trying all sorts of things to free it.
Refurbishment of the track near the station has been completed; the laser level ensured the correct angles, rotten sleepers have been replaced and new ballast shovelled in.
The photo (right) shows all engines out in the sunshine, new track shining and (some) volunteers relaxing.
May 21 Working Weekend
on 3rd May 2021
We’re back at last! Everyone was glad to get back to the railway and be able to chat (and eat cake) again in the spring sunshine.
A new car battery was put into Monty and will be tested soon. The bonnet cover needs to be re-fitted, the pipework secured and Monty will be ready to go.
Powys’ boiler had been removed and a new fusible plug has been fitted. The boiler is now back in position and reassembly has begun, as you can see from the photo.
Refurbishment of the track near the station continues (helped by quite a few sheep and lambs). All the track was inspected and a number of sleepers will need replacing. This work will be done during 2021 in time for re-opening of the railway for the 2022 season.
September 20 Working Weekend
on 8th September 2020
Yet again, we were lucky with the autumn weather as sunshine greeted eight volunteers for a weekend of maintenance.
Monty is now back on the rails; the alternator has been repaired and the new sprockets with an improved gear ration have been fitted.
The painting of Powys is progressing at the good pace. The next job is to remove the boiler to fit another fusible plug (re-drilling and re-tapping required).
Refurbishment of the track near the station continues and a gang of four this weekend made for good progress.
In normal circumstances, the weather this weekend would have been perfect for running the trains, taking photos, walking by the river or sitting on the lawn with a cuppa and some home-made cake. We are all hoping that we can open next year, virus and social distancing permitting.
July 20 Working Weekend
on 20th July 2020
Although we are not able to open to the public this year due to the pandemic, we will be spending time getting the railway ready for a full season next year, hopefully.
Eight volunteers were keen to get going again after the enforced break and we continued to refurbish the track and sleepers near the station. We checked the level and gauge and then added more ballast. You can see the result in the photo.
John and Mike L spent the weekend re-installing the chain drive on Monty with new sprockets and an improved gear ratio. There is much confidence that Monty will be running again by the end of the weekend and then it can be used as a work engine for maintenance crews.
Ian will be gloss painting Powys as soon as he has the garage to himself – not for pandemic reasons, but because more volunteers means more dust!
March 20 Working Weekend
on 9th March 2020
Eight volunteers this weekend meant that we got plenty of work done in the spring sunshine. Ian spent all weekend rubbing down the paintwork on Powys ready for gloss painting next week. A special ‘painting tent’ has been erected in the garage to prevent dust from gathering (hopefully). The cylinder valve chest covers and lubricator filters are now back on Powys along with the cold water filler valve. The latter will save us having to take the safety valve off to fill the boiler.
Much time was spent filing a slot in the drive sprocket on Monty. In addition, Monty’s drive has been reassembled and it now has a lower gear ratio to allow it to pull more stock.
We continued to refurbish the track and sleepers near the station. Bernard has mended the dumper truck which made ballasting a lot easier than using a wheelbarrow, as you can imagine.
February 20 Working Weekend
on 3rd February 2020
Volunteers were a bit thin on the ground this weekend but with mild and windy weather we continued to refurbish the track and sleepers near the station. We have probably finished about one third of the work and so will need a concerted effort at this before the first open day in May.
The nuts and bolts on Jack’s steam dome have been replaced.
The rest of the team were preparing the smoke box on Powys ready for painting. Ian has decided that he will do the painting when no-one else is around to stop dust and fingerprints magically appearing on the wet paintwork.
The main cylinder covers on Powys were removed and sent to Loco Works Number 2 (ie. Alec) in Birmingham to have fabrication points added. Alec is also going to fit a water inlet to Powys’ steam dome cover so this will be sent off to his workshop shortly.
John has taken the two new sprockets for Monty home and have done quite a bit of the machining necessary to get them to fit the shafts. That is mainly just enlarging the bores but he also had to cut a keyway in one of them.
January 20 Working Weekend
on 13th January 2020
The weather is still mild and work continues apace on all aspects of the railway. We continued to replace some of the smaller sleepers near the station and redo the track bed. This was hard work as they were covered with years of compacted grass!
A successful hydraulic test was performed on Jack’s boiler and there are no signs of any leakage from the boiler tubes. The threads for the boiler plugs and fusible plugs have been cleaned up as well.
Monty’s drive shaft needs to be sent away for grinding.
New gaskets have been made for the steam chest for both Powys and Jack and Ian has started to rub the paintwork down on Powys for its final top coat of paint.
November 19 Working Weekend
on 3rd November 2019
The sunny November weather brought out all the volunteers this weekend and we had several working parties.
The new fuel tank for Monty has been procured and the next step is to test it for leaks and then connect it up.
The steam chest covers were removed from both Jack and Powys to enable the boilers and tubes to be de-scaled. The motion die-blocks were also taken out of Jack as they need replacing.
The track team decided to take out the redundant crossing point just outside the station area and replace the sleepers and track bed. This track was laid in the 1970’s and some of the sleepers had seen better days. The thin rail will also be replaced to match the thicker rail already laid down. This will provide a nice smooth exit from the station next year.
Winter Maintenance 2019/2020
on 8th October 2019
Let’s hope the weather is kind this winter as we have plenty to do:
· Replace 60 sleepers
· Finish repainting Powys
· Design and fit side panels and bonnet to Monty
· Re-varnish the carriages
· Fit a new fuel tank to Monty
· Overhaul and re-paint the engine shed doors
· Do some boiler work on Jack and Powys
· Change the fusible plugs on Jack and Powys
· Design a new ticket office
· Design some new toast-rack carriages
· Overhaul the Y section of track near the station
September and October 19 Open Weekends
on 7th October 2019
The sunny September weather really brought out the visitors and we had 130 people in over the weekend. Despite the sunny and breezy weather for the October weekend, visitor numbers were down so we did some maintenance and sat in the sun eating cake.
John has been working on Powys: he has rebuilt the spare safety valve and whistle valve and they have both been fitted; the displaced safety valve is now being rebuilt; the bearing on the droplink for the reverser gear has been changed and some missing pieces on the keeper plate for the axles have also been fitted.
August 19 Open Weekend
on 6th August 2019
We were very busy right from the start on both days with a total of 160 visitors over the August open weekend. The weather was fine and dry with some interesting clouds for the photographers and Jack and Powys were both working well. We had visits from two groups; on Sunday Ros took 16 members of the Saturday Morning Walking Group on a local ramble followed by tea and cake plus a train ride. And for the 3rd year running members of the Jaguar Enthusiasts' Club Central Region made the 160 mile round trip solely to visit the railway. Cars included a 1968 e-type 2+2 :S2, a 1995 4 litre X300, a 4,2 litre XKR Convertible, a 3.0 litre F-Type Convertible, a 5 litre XKR Convertible, a 2.2 litre X-type Saloon and a F-Pace Portfolio.
There are still a few sand martins hanging around, plus mallards and grey wagtails and I was lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a kingfisher on Sunday afternoon!
July 19 Open Weekend
on 10th July 2019
Firstly, Happy 90th Birthday to matriarch Helena for last month. Many friends and family joined her for the festivities.
There was some fine summer weather this weekend with interesting clouds enhancing the photos of the engines. We had 89 visitors over the 2 days with the two engines working particularly hard on Sunday afternoon. Keith and Bernard were busy straightening out a few kinks on the top bend but otherwise visitors and volunteers alike enjoyed the sun, tea and cake.
Thank you to the mysterious donor of two new guard’s flags (one red, one green) which were christened this weekend.
And finally, WANTED – a volunteer to help us with a Facebook Advertising Campaign to attract more visitors to this gem of a railway. Anyone interested please contact the boss via email@example.com
June 19 Open Weekend
on 4th June 2019
Warm and humid weather allowed the June visitors to sit out on the lawn by the station (see photo) and admire both Jack and Powys working well. Keith had replaced the lagging and cladding on the cylinders on Powys and reconnected and primed the lubricator. Otherwise, the only work that needed to be done this weekend was a bit of remedial ballasting on a small part of the track. Bernard also slackened off some of the fish plates to allow a smoother ride.
The sand martins are still collecting insects for their young and there were several types of beautiful damselflies flying around near the river. A real sign of summer.
May 19 Open Weekend
on 12th May 2019
The first open weekend of 2019 on the 4th and 5th of May saw both Jack and Powys pulling passengers (see photo). Powys was stripped down on the Friday before by Mike, Mark and Bernard ready for the boiler inspector, who came all the way from Winchester. A cold water pressure test was performed which involved taking the pressure to 1.5 times the operating pressure and holding it for 30 minutes. A live steam test was also carried out to test the injectors and safety valves. Both engines passed with flying colours and are fully certificated for the coming season.
Sunny weather greeted visitors on both days although it was a little chilly in the breeze. This didn’t put off the sand martins who were already excavating nests in the bank above the river and could be seen whizzing in and out. Les also reported seeing a flash of blue as a kingfisher flew ahead of him in the afternoon. A rare sight indeed!
March and April 19 Working Weekends
on 8th April 2019
The March and April working weekends were spent connecting up the track, levelling it and then ballasting. We finished the ballasting around 4pm on Sunday 7 April and then called it a day and went in for tea and cake. The weather has been much kinder this year and we have not missed a single working weekend. We’ll still need an extra day before we open to tidy up the track and cut back any errant foliage along the way but otherwise we’re ready to welcome the public again.
Work on Powys has continued apace; the lubricators are on as is all the boiler cladding. We will shortly be doing some trial runs and a boiler inspection will be required before returning to active service.
Jack was given a once-over before the new season and will be ready for 4 May, our first open weekend of 2019. Do come and join us!
February 19 Extra Working Saturday
on 23rd February 2019
Due to the continued mild February weather, Mike decided that it was worth putting in an extra working day and 6 volunteers joined him. The new gauge frame was fitted to Powys along with the regulator valve and the steam test was successfully performed at 100psi, much to everyone’s relief. It was lovely to hear Powys under steam once more and Keith and Mike took a closer look (see photo).
In the meantime, the other volunteers completed the new track panels and then started to connect them to the existing track. We managed to do over half the track thus leaving a few more connections plus some straightening for next weekend.
February 19 Working Weekend
on 4th February 2019
After a little snow in the week, the dry weather during the first weekend of February enabled 6 volunteers and Evan and his JCB to get all the ballast down and rolled flat on the Saturday, leaving the Sunday team to put the new track panels on top. Mike’s numbering system and Evan’s JCB really helped to get this done by lunchtime but then we discovered that we were about 6 panels short (as Mike had included some curved ones in the original calculation – we need straight ones!). We built up 2 panels in the afternoon sunshine accompanied by buzzards and a red kite. Next month will see us make another 4 panels, lay them on the track bed and connect them up (weather permitting).
I don’t want to speak too soon, but we are currently ahead of schedule on this winter’s track work……..
Powys: The boiler water level gauge had been repaired but it was pressure tested at the weekend and found to be leaking. It was decided that further repair could not be done safely and a new pair of valves would be ordered. All the necessary measurements were taken and Mike would find a suitable supplier. On the 5th February, Mike announced that he had found a suitable supplier at a reasonable cost and would be purchasing a new pair.
The lubricator has been overhauled by Mark and was re-fitted to Powys. The lubricator is operated by an arm from the clevis on the valve rod but the shouldered bolt to connect it has disappeared. John said he would make another in time for the next working weekend. An intermediate working day will probably need to be organised before March to progress Powys as there is a lot more to do before it is ready for the 2019 season.
Jack: It was noticed that Jack’s handbrake cable needs to be raised to prevent it snagging on points etc.
Monty: Monty needs a new fuel tank and Mike is currently in search of a plastic replacement.
January 19 Working Weekend
on 7th January 2019
The mild weather encouraged the huge total of 12 volunteers to come out for the first Working Weekend of 2019 to work off all that Chrismas pud. Consequently we managed to complete about 20 track panels (see photo) and are well on the way to the 30 new ones that are required.
If the weather continues to be kind in early February for the next Working Weekend, we will be ballasting the new track bed. Evan will bring a side-tipping digger and a Hy-mac which will mean that the only human intervention will be raking and levelling the ballast. This will make life a lot easier!
Powys: the plumbing work continues; all the cold water feeds to the injectors are finished and the steam pipework is being refitted on the boiler. A steam test is planned for next month, fingers crossed.
December 18 Working Weekend
on 4th December 2018
Saturday 1st December dawned wet but mild and Evan Watkins and his son Evan were employed to dig out 165m of trench where we had lifted the old rails. Mike had set up the laser in the middle of the track bed which made it easy to ensure a gradual 1:200 level throughout. Sunday was largely dry and, despite the mud, good progress was made and the whole track bed was dug out by 4.30 pm. This means that next month, weather permitting, we can start to ballast.
During November, the car park area near the station entrance was re-surfaced which has improved the drainage and will make it better (and drier) for visitors next season.
Powys: Keith and John spent the weekend making and fitting the injector pipes. Mark has completed the refurbishment of the mechanical lubricator and this will be re-fitted in January.
Monty and Jack: Both engines are enjoying a rest this month.
Winter 2018/9 Programme of Work
on 6th November 2018
Current plans are as follows:
- Carry on with rebuilding Powys with the aim to complete by the first open day in May 2019
Lift the last 200m of track in front of the gate before the station and put down 20 track panels (consisting of 300 sleepers)
Finish re-varnishing the carriages
Recover the bogies from the old carriages which Jack Woodroffe made and start a new steel-frame toast-rack style carriage.This will allow a seat to be removed to accommodate a wheelchair.
We’ll be using Monty and a flatbed track to hold the tools and track panels (to save the volunteers’ energy)
As you can see, we have a lot of work to complete so do come and join our friendly volunteer team – there are always bacon butties, hot tea and home-made cake!
November 18 Working Weekend
on 5th November 2018
The first working weekend of this winter was dry and mild which enabled us to progress well. On Saturday, the remainder of the oldest rail (200m of it) was lifted to be renewed. With machinery on site and Bernard having removed the fish plates beforehand, this job only took an afternoon and we were able to survey to track bed on Sunday. This revealed a smooth gradient so no problems are envisaged (!).
240 sleepers were delivered earlier in the week and the Sunday group made up the first track panel. Only 25 to go.
Colin from the Barn Well Hill railway came to pick up the spare rail on Saturday.
Powys: Keith and John spent the weekend bending and fitting the steam and water pipes and injectors. The sealing plates around the blast pipe in the smoke box have been refractory cemented in.
October 18 Open Weekend
on 5th October 2018
The weather for the last open weekend in 2018 was better than forecast and it was dry, bright and breezy. A warming cup of tea in the conservatory was particularly welcome on Saturday due to the north-easterly.
Monty: Monty is awaiting a bonnet and the leak in the petrol tank needs fixing.
Powys: The volunteers are currently manufacturing the plates to seal the smoke box around the blast pipe and snifting valve. Next month the rest of the copper pipes will be fitted. A whole new gauge glass frame will need to be ordered as the original is now showing its age at 40!
Jack: Jack has performed wonderfully all season and will now have a well-deserved rest during the winter.
September 18 Open Weekend
on 5th September 2018
We were blessed with more hot and dry weather at the beginning of September. Many people had been to the Welshpool and Llanfair railway Steam Gala before coming to RVLR and there were just under 200 visitors over the weekend, which made for 2 busy running days.
Carl and Pat brought their garden railway equipment from Grimsby and set this up in the garden, much to the delight of children young and old.
Powys: The boiler was pressure-tested and the repairs to the motion and reverser shaft were finished.
Jack: Injectors were cleaned again.
August 18 Open Weekend
on 2nd August 2018
With 85 visitors on Saturday and 96 on Sunday, the railway was buzzing in the hot sunshine. People were thankful for the shade of the gazebo and marquee to have their tea and cake, and Piers’ display of an American Army Signals Unit just after D-Day (including authentic WW2 music) added extra interest.
The Jaguar Enthusiast Club (Central region) brought an XJ6, an X300, an XK8 and an XK140 along on Saturday and on Sunday, the car park was graced by a 1938 Austin Ruby 7.
Monty: The handbrake has been stripped, reset and welded back into position.
Powys: All the copper pipes are being replaced. The smokebox has been drilled and fitted and the motion has been reassembled. The boiler is back in position and has been hydraulically tested. Later on Sunday, the crowds were treated to the sight of Powys hitched up to the back of Jack’s train (complete with Ken and Bernard astride) to test the running. All went well except for the gradient pin working loose, so the thread retainer was tightened. The engineers were pleased with the progress.
Jack: Injectors have been cleaned and replaced and, according to Ian, were “working better than ever”.
June Open Weekend
on 21st June 2018
We had 78 visitors over the weekend and yet again the sun shone. The sand martins were very busy hunting for insects affording good views from the train.
Work continues apace on Powys with the steam pipes back on for connection to the smoke box. The valves in the steam fountain have been refurbished and the smoke box was re-attached to the boiler. The A frame has been extremely useful for this task and many visitors were interested to watch the ongoing work. Powys’ chassis is back on its wheels and rolling again.
Monty is running but awaiting a bonnet engine cover and a new fuel tank.
The problem with the blower on Jack last month was traced to a leak in the blast pipe and a new pipe has been fitted. The drivers reported that this has really improved running. The injectors have also been cleaned. Again !!!
May Open Weekend
on 20th June 2018
Almost 80 visitors were greeted by glorious sunshine and 25 degree temperatures for the first open weekend of 2018. The site is looking lovely with all the new tree growth, especially near the river where the blackthorn is a lovely foamy white.
While the visitors enjoyed tea and cakes on the lawn, some of the volunteers were busy with Powys which has been re-wheeled and the motion refitted. New eccentric arms are being made as one was found to be cracked. The reversing gear and die blocks have been realigned. Powys’ boiler was leaking but this has been repaired and has been certified by a boiler inspector.
We were running Jack all weekend, but the blower wasn’t working properly and was deadening the fire. The drivers decided to run with the blower off which provided better draught to the engine. This will need to be looked at before the next open weekend but did not diminish the enjoyment of the adults and children in the Montgomeryshire sunshine.
March/April Working Weekends
on 4th May 2018
The planned working weekend for the 3rd and 4th of March was scuppered by heavy snow and replaced by the weekend of 24/25 March. We then met again on 7/8 April as planned with Sunday 8th being particularly springlike.
Mark has been reassembling the motion on Powys and John is taking the reversing gear shaft back to his workshop for some machining work to lengthen it. There was great excitement on Sunday as Powys’ boiler returned from Highbridge where it was being welded by a coded welder. The A frame was put to good use as you can see from the photo. Ian continues with the top coat painting and has been doing this work outside in a dust-free atmosphere. Unfortunately, as soon as he had finished, a fly landed on the new paintwork.
The panelling for Monty has been ordered.
A successful steam test was carried out on Jack, the injectors have been cleaned and replaced and Jack is now ready for the 2018 season.
Some rotten sleepers were replaced on the permanent way near the station and all the track has been checked. The lambs are a delight and the trees along the river are in bud. Do come and join us for the first open weekend of 2018 on 5/6 May.
February 2018 Working Weekend
on 18th February 2018
Glorious spring sunshine on Sunday 4th greeted 10 volunteers.
Jack’s injectors have been serviced and are back at the railway ready to be refitted.
Powys’ ‘mislaid’ injectors have been found in the safe place they had been put.
The large job of repainting continues; the cab has had a second coat of primer and the tanks have had two undercoats. The March working weekend will be spent putting on some glossy top coat. The cylinders have been refitted and the valve gear repainted. Alec is working on the new steam brake.
Meanwhile back in Birmingham work continues on Powys' boiler. There ahould be more news on progress next month.
To save the volunteers’ legs, Monty was pressed into service to take people and tools onto the track to cut back some trees which were overhanging the permanent way. Some energetic driving by John meant that the new A frame was deployed to put the last carriage back onto the rails (see photo). All is now well and the track is ready for the 2018 season.
January 18 Working Weekend
on 30th January 2018
A small band of 5 volunteers tackled the jobs this weekend. Jack’s injectors have been removed and taken off-site for their annual service. Our main focus is getting Powys ready for the 2018 running season and work continued on the repaint. The valve gear has been removed off-site for repainting and some minor engineering works. The cab has been stripped, filled and sanded and the first coat of primer has been applied. The same treatment has been given to the side tanks. The axles have had their second coat of primer. The boiler cladding and dome have had their first coat of black undercoat and this has transformed them. Three volunteers managed to brush past the dome while it was still wet and so this will need rubbing down again in places (Ian has threatened to ban all from the workshop when he top coats the dome). And we re-designed the station layout (again).
Nov/Dec Working Weekends 2017
on 28th December 2017
We made good progress over the weekends with the repainting of Powys. The frames have had two coats of undercoat and the buffer beams are ready for red undercoat. The wheels have had two coats of chassis black. The running plates and tank top panels have been stripped, prepped and painted with grey primer. The connecting rods have been grey primed. The side tanks and cab have been sanded and filled ready for painting. The boiler cladding, stumpy dome and cylinder covers, have all now had a coat of primer. For those who are interested in these things we are using Craftmaster paints. While we had the paint brushes out Piers was tasked with painting JACKS’ firebox back plate with heat resistant paint. We are looking forward to much of the same in January 2018. While on the subject of 2018 may I take this opportunity to wish you all a very happy and steamy 2018.
October Working Weekend 2017
on 27th December 2017
This was a busy weekend of maintenance with much work done on both Powys and Monty. We were glad to be in the sheds as the weather is turning colder. Powys is being completely re-painted while the boiler is off site having a new smokebox fitted. The chassis is currently being stripped ready to received two coats of high build primer. Powys’ side tanks were suffering some corrosion and this was removed using a pneumatic powered needle gun. A couple of patches of corrosion have been found to go all the way through and have been patched and welded. Powys’ wheels are also being painted. Monty is now running sweetly and a new radiator fan was fitted with a thermostatic switch so that the fan is not running permanently. The new horn is very effective. The carriages got their first overhaul of the winter and the roofs received a coat of paint. Richard delivered an A frame which will be used to move the heavier pieces of railway equipment that ageing bodies can no longer move easily.
We have recently revamped the master plan for the next 10 years and changed our vision from impossibility to near-impossibility. We will be concentrating on working on all 3 engines this winter with a view to getting all the rolling stock fit for next season. Powys may be a bit of challenge but the other 2 will be ready.
2017 Visitor Season
on 26th December 2017
We had a good visitor season in 2017 although visitor numbers were slightly down on last year. A number of clubs visited including the Jaguar Enthusiasts' Club (Central Region) who brought 9 cars from a 1960 Jaguar XK150 to 2 e-types, 2 XJS, 2 Mk2 and others from 1971 to 2017.
We also welcomed Abermule primary school. It was great to see all the children and their parents enjoying riding on the steam trains and talking to the drivers.
The Narrow Gauge Railway Society visited on Friday 2nd June and according to their News Letter report had a really enjoyable visit to the railway.
Just a reminder that the railway is open for private steaming days on the Fridays before an open weekend in the summer with prior arrangement so bring your club along for a day out.
May and June Working Weekends 2013
on 10th June 2013
During May and June we continued working on the new coach, ballasting the new section of track and completing several small jobs on the locos and some essential maintenance on the old track. We have stripped down Jack's wayward injector and having given it a good clean it now works fine. As you can see form this months photo we have also carried out some much needed tea drinking practice. Away from the railway progress is being made on the detailed drawings for the first of the new turnouts that we need to construct for the lower extension. This also involves designing some new point levers. I will post drawings on the web site when they are finalised.
April 2013 Open Weekend
on 15th April 2013
We had a really great weekend. Excellent weather and a really good attendance. Jack and Powys had to have a test steam on the Friday before the Open Weekend so that the boiler inspector could issue boiler certificates for both locos. They both passed with flying colours. The new track section was completed on time in spite of last months terrible weather and everyone agreed that the run along side the river is now really good. One of Jack's injectors started to play up on the Sunday so we will need to carry out some maintenance on it before the July Open Weekend.
March 2013 Working Weekend
on 1st April 2013
Jan and Feb 2013 Working Weekends
on 10th March 2013
November December 2012
on 4th January 2013
Working Weekend 27th 28th October 2012
on 13th November 2012
Working Weekend 6th 7th October 2012
on 12th November 2012
Open Weekend September 2012
on 12th September 2012
What a fantastic weekend we have just had. The sun shone, record numbers of people attended, we took more money than we have ever done before on an Open Weekend and we had a visit from a 1950's Midland Red Bus. Fabulous.
There was of course the odd problem but things wouldn't have seemed right if something hadn't gone wrong. After running well all day Saturday we lost a pin from Powys's valve gear during Sunday afternoon and had to press Monty in to service to help out with the service. Unfortunatley we couldn't find the missing pin so Powys's valve gear has been placed on the winter jobs list. A piece of "Farmers Friend" was employed to hold part of the valve gear off the ground so that Powys could be returned to the shed. After a couple of runs Monty too decided not to play and as a result running, for the last few trains, was restricted to Jack only.
Can I please say a very big thank you to all the volunteers who turned out to help run the railway over the weekend. It was a big effort and everyone had a great time.
Working Weekend 4th 5th August 2012
on 16th August 2012
Excellent progress was made on the ballasting of the new section of track. On Saturday with the aid of Karl's Manitou, Ian, Steve, Dawn and myself started to work our way through 75 tons of ballast while Les, Ray and David formed a spot sleepering party to replace several rotting sleepers close to the station. On Sunday Ian, Les, Ray and myself carried on with the ballasting work. As you can see from the photo the finished replacement trackwork is looking really good and you certainly notice a difference when riding over it. We have managed to persuade Les that there is still a speed restriction applied to the new track despite his best efforts to have it removed !!! Tricia kept up her usual excellent standards of catering throughout the weekend and kept us all supplied with plenty of tea and cakes. Thanks to all who turned out to help it really is much appreciated. It will soon be our September Open Weekend, the main one of our year and I hope to see as many of you as possible over the two days.The next batch of 300 sleepers has been delivered and spikes and fishbolts have been ordered for the next 200m of replacement track.
Working Weekend 7th 8th July
on 11th July 2012
Monday 18th June 2012
on 21st June 2012
Ian, John and myself spent a really useful day fitting a new radiator to Monty and working on the new carriage. As you can see from the photo we are nearly ready to put the roof on. The roof will be covered in canvas which is "glued" to the timber with a matt black paint. In the passed we have used a Farrow and Ball traditional oil based paint but new EU regulations have persuaded Farrow and Ball to discontinue the use of oil in their paints and we are now looking for an alternative supply.
If anyone knows of a manufacturer of a traditional oil based paint that is available in Matt Black then please drop me a quick email (firstname.lastname@example.org) I would be most grateful. We have removed Powys's smoke box door so that we can make a new one. The original has become very thin over the years and is no longer airtight. The original is now on Alec James workbench ready to have a new one drawn up and made.
Open Weekend June 2012
on 4th June 2012
PLEG visit May 2012
on 28th May 2012
On Saturday 26th May 2012 we hosted a visit from PLEG. The Preserved Locomotive Enthusiasts Group. www.pleg.org.uk
Amongst its activities the society organises visits to railways and trips behind non steam locomotives that are rarely available for passenger carrying. In our case the interest was in Monty as in recent years Monty has not been used to pull passanger carrying trains and has only been used for the permanent way and maintenance train. We were a little doubtful as to wether or not Monty was still man enough for the task but after a really thorough overhaul by John, our new self styled Monty "aficionado" we felt that we could accommodate the requested visit. Jack was on standby just in case but all went well and Monty performed excellently.
Working Weekend 5th 6th May
on 8th May 2012
Well we had a better turnout than I was originally expecting. Karl, Pat, John, Ian and myself on Saturday and Ian, John and myself on Sunday.
Most of the time was spent working on the next new coach as it was felt that due to all the rain we have had recently it would have been folly to take heavy machinery on to the land.
Excellent progress was made (once we had sorted some of my earlier mistakes). We managed to assemble the whole of the non door side of the coach and fix it to the chassis.
In between working weekends John has been carrying out sterling work on Monty and nearly all the maintenance work has now been completed. Just the clutch to sort out and Monty will be fully restored to running condition again.
Open Day April 2012
on 7th May 2012
The overall attendance was slightly disappointing but this is the first time we have held an open day over the Easter Weekend and I suppose it will take time for the word to spread. We had more visitors on the Sunday than the Saturday so maybe next year we should consider opening on the Sunday and Monday instead. It was really good to see several friends and family members and overall we had a very good fun weekend.
Thanks go to all the volunteers who helped run the railway over the weekend and to get it ready in advance. Your help is really very much appreciated.
If anyone has any photos of the Open Weekend that they would like to share then please send them to me and we will get a gallery created and put on the web site.
There are some great photos and videos on our Facebook Page.
We had a couple of minor derailments with one of the four wheeled coaches. This was discovered to be due to a section of track having gone out of gauge. This was quickly repaired by the permanent way crew. While the repairs were being carried we operated with one engine at either end of the coaches so that at no time were the coaches being pushed by the locomotive. A first for the RVLR I think.
The whistle valve on Powys has been leaking slightly for some time. On Saturday the valve was leaking more than usual and towards the end of Powys’s first run the boiler pressure dropped to a very low level and the engine had not got enough steam pressure to get up the bank in to the station. The decision was taken to withdraw Powys from service, drop the fire and try to repair the whistle valve in time for Sunday running. Once the whistle valve had been removed it became clear that the problem was a ball bearing not seating properly in the valve. After a good clean we managed to get it to seal, but not consistently, so we decided to run Powys on the Sunday without a whistle. This proved to be successful but we do need to get Powys’s whistle valve properly overhauled before we steam again. I think a quick visit to Mr. James is called for !!!
Monday 2nd April
on 4th April 2012
Well we are nearly there.
Had an excellent day on Monday. Ian, John and myself managed to make up the last track panel, move the remaining track panels in to place and join up the remaining new track panels so that the whole new length of track is fishplated up. We did have a few problems getting some of the fishplates to sit neatly in to the rail web but the skilled use of the angle grinder by John soon sorted the problem. So for the second time I went home with hands covered in permanent way grease. Boy does that stuff stick to skin !!! So just the stepped fishplates to make and then everything will be joined up. It will be touch and go for Saturday but being as we have Friday this week to work on it I think we should make it. Open days Saturday and Sunday. Should be fun if it doesn't snow !!
Working Weekend 24th 25th March
on 26th March 2012
Well what a great weekend we just had, great weather and loads of progress. A great turnout, Steve, Dawn, Karl, Ian, John and myself on Saturday. John, Ian, Bob and myself Sunday. We hired in the mini-digger and the Manitou again and really got stuck in. We managed to finish all the digging out, lay the rest of the geo textile and move and level about 45 tons of stone on Saturday which completed the new track bed over the complete 200 metres that we are replacing. On Sunday we laid all but 3 of the completed track panels in position and fishplated 7 of them. So we are close to having a complete loop again and I'm very grateful to all those who responded to our shout for help!!! I really am very grateful. So all we to do now is build one more track panel, lay the last 4 panels and connect everything up. To that end we will be working Monday 2nd April to try and get finished. We used the new P-Way Lubricant for the first time and I must say it seems to be very good if not somewhat messy.
Update 23rd March
on 23rd March 2012
Update 14th March 2021
on 14th March 2012
Les, Ian and myself had a very productive day on Monday and we managed to move and lay about 30 tons of ballast. Only another 45 tons to go !! We are fighting a bit of a rearguard action now in an effort to be ready for our Easter Open Days. We are going to hold some extra working days on 19th, 24th and 25th March and 2nd April. Hopefully we will get a good turnout and get everything finished. We have to make up another 6 track panels, lay the rest of the vapour barrier and ballast. Position the track panels and connect them all up. We also need to check the timing on Powys and get Monty serviced. Should be fun. Also a great day today as the new lathe and miller have been delivered.
Working Weekend 3rd 4th March
on 7th March 2012
Well we had a great weekend in spite of the weather forecast. At one time it did look as if rain would stop play but fortunately the "railway gods" smiled on us and we managed to get a lot done.
A good turnout made a big difference with Ian, David, Andy, Jezz, Jack and myself on Saturday with Bob joining us all on Sunday. Thanks go to all of you who turned up. Tricia, as usual, provided the snacks and Jack ate most of them !!
Over the course of the weekend we managed to finish the digging out of the trackbed, we moved all the completed track panels off the station platform and put them alongside the track bed ready for laying, we put down the ballast and vapour barrier for 4 lengths of track and put three of them into position. Pretty impressive you must agree.
All this was made possible with the hire of a mini-digger and telehandler from our local man. Thanks Karl.
We have recently purchased the fish bolts we need to join up all the track we are laying and some permanent way grease to lubricate the fishplates with before they are bolted up. This should help to ease possible buckling of the rail due to heat expansion in the summer (if of course we have one this year).
In spite of this great progress we are still behind with our program so it looks as if an extra working weekend will be needed. This will be on the 24th 25th March. I look foward to seeing as many of you as possible then. Thanks for now.
February Working Weekend
on 6th February 2012
Well due to the terrible weather forecast the turnout was
understandably low. Well when I say low, Ian and I on Saturday and just me on
Sunday. The weather forecasters got it wrong for SY21 and we had a relatively
fine weekend. We made good progress with the new track panels and we now have
14 of the required 20 built.
Working Weekend 14th 15th January 2012
on 17th January 2012
Well Saturday brought quite a cool start to the day, very frosty. This weekend we started to make up the 20 30ft track panels that we will need to replace the 200m of track that we removed before Xmas. We started by making up a jig for drilling the holes for the spikes. We decided to make the jig for pilot holes so that the hole size in the jig would be less likely to distort with use. This proved to work quite well. Ian made up the jig. My attempt was a disaster. We started by drilling up 14 sleepers for the first length. We laid these out on the station platform so that we had a firm level (well nearly level) base to work from. The sleepers were space out with 500mm between each and then we leveled the ends to give approximately 250mm at each end of the rail to the first sleeper. Once we had checked that the whole thing was square, by comparing diagonal measurements, the panel was spiked up. Over the weekend we managed to make up three complete panels. Stack all the new sleepers on the platfrom ready for use. Pre-drill about half of the 300 sleepers and sort all the rail we need for the 20 lengths we are going to make. We had to rely on Carl again with his Manitou to lift the rail and help sort it as our Fergie is not really suited to this heavy work. One thing we learnt for sure is that we will have to organise some extra working days if we are going to run at Easter with a complete railway. Thanks to David and Ian for their help and Tricia again for the excellent catering.
Working Weekend 10th 11th December
on 12th December 2011
We had a very productive weekend in spite of the Welsh weather's best efforts on Sunday morning.
The remaining 70m of track scheduled for replacement this winter was lifted. We then removed all the old sleepers from the rail together with the 130m we lifted in November and then the whole lot was loaded on to the dumper and then moved and stacked ready for sale.
The old sleepers were then tipped ready for burning and spike salvage. Thanks to Keith, James (ace dumper driver), Ian and David for all their help. We nearly got the job done on Saturday but were thwarted by the "curse of the flat battery" and so had to finish off Sunday morning once the dumper decided it wanted to play. We had just got the rail stacked when a prospective rail purchaser arrived, great timing.
Bob and I then spent Sunday afternoon looking at the timing on Powys which had been reported as "out" during our last running weekend. So a very productive weekend and thanks go to everyone who helped and a special thanks goes to Tricia for keeping the flow of tea, coffee and bacon sarnies going.
on 28th November 2011
The rail we purchased from the RHDR was delivered on Saturday together with fishplates and some wheel sets. Karl came down with his Manitou and unloaded the rail. It wasn't the easiest job we have done this year as the rail which in the main was in 30ft lengths was blowing about a bit in a rather stiff breeze.
We had to take a fence down to get the machine through in to the paddock where the rail was stacked. Still, we managed it, and without a misshap.
Jezz and I then spent a very rewarding hour and a half with a Snap On impact wrench and removed all the rest of the fishplates from the rail that is being lifted and replaced this winter.
Thanks to Karl for the loan of a great tool. I want one!!
Working Weekend 12th 13th November 2011
on 14th November 2011
We had a very productive first weekend. Karl brought his mini-digger down mid-morning and by the time Andy and Jezz arrived we were all ready to go.
Over the course of the weekend we managed to remove the bolts from 130m of track, this was very hard work and we need to find a better way of doing this. Fish Plate removal proved to be a major bottle neck. We tried cracking off the nuts with a cold chisel, we tried over tensioning with a socket on a long bar, we tried removing the nuts with sockets and spanners. While all methods achieved some success the process was slow and very hard work.
The old track bed was dug out using the mini-digger. This proved tricky at first but once we had sorted out the right bucket it proved to be very successful. We pegged out the gradient profile from data gathered with a level and staff. The gradient is 1 in 200.
My thanks to everyone who helped with a very succesful weekend. Andy, Jezz, Simon, Jack and crew.