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2999: Lady of Legend

Discussion in 'Steam Traction' started by Ian White, Oct 31, 2017.

  1. jnc

    jnc Well-Known Member

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    Quite possibly, but that would be a whole new build, wouldn't it? And when the Saint project started, that may have seemed too ambitious. Maybe it'll go on the list once all the others-already-underway are finished... ;-)

    Noel
     
  2. Martin Perry

    Martin Perry Nat Pres stalwart Staff Member Moderator Friend

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    And 2516 ... which is not unlike an Armstrong goods loco ...
    (*Incidentally the frames of 3217 seem to date from 1906)
     
  3. Johnb

    Johnb Nat Pres stalwart

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    No one is complaining about what has been achieved but the problem I see the organisation and in fighting within the GWS. First there was the fiasco with the King then we have Pendennis still sitting in the back of the shed, I went on a photo charter recently and it's still in the same state it was in the last time I was there over a year ago with the GWS saying it was nearly ready. Has the boiler been done? If so the 10 year ticket is being wasted. At the same time there are various other obpverhauls going on with not a lot of progress it appears.

    I may be wrong in the above but as an outsider I see a once great organisation floundering around like a rudderless ship with various factions doing their bit independently oblivious to the bigger picture
     
  4. mdewell

    mdewell Well-Known Member Friend

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    I can see why to an outsider it may appear that way, but . . . There are two main reasons why this happens.
    1) FUNDING: Virtually all funding for such projects are ring-fenced. So progress is often dictated by the available funds and they cannot be transferred between projects. Everyone has their own pet projects and that means that the GWS cannot always progress one thing at a time and therefore end up with several things on the go at the same time (time in this sense typically being several years).
    2) LABOUR: There are only a limited number of volunteer hours available and some of those volunteers are willing to work on whatever needs doing, others will prefer to only work on their favourite project. Again it means that the GWS cannot always progress certain projects as fast as they would like.

    I am sure it's similar at other railways and projects. If you think your favorite project is not progressing fast enough, get your overalls on and get down there.
     
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  5. Johnb

    Johnb Nat Pres stalwart

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    My point was partly that there are too many projects on the the go which can provoke the in fighting I alluded to but the real fear is that if you try and keep too many plates spinning you end up dropping the lot.
     
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  6. std tank

    std tank Part of the furniture

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    Deleted.
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2018
  7. std tank

    std tank Part of the furniture

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    The boiler of Pendennis awaits its out of frames tests. No ticket ticking yet.
     
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  8. ilvaporista

    ilvaporista Part of the furniture

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    Are you sure about that?? The out of frames steam test in November 17 must have been fun..
     
  9. std tank

    std tank Part of the furniture

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    Oops delete time.
     
  10. Mr Valentine

    Mr Valentine Member

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    Yes I know it may seem hard to believe after all these years, but when they say that it's nearly finished, this time they aren't actually fibbing!
     
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  11. Mr Valentine

    Mr Valentine Member

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    Unfortunately, if you apply that approach uncritically, you can end up going too far, which is what has happened. In the 1970's, Drysllwyn Castle was restored from a Barry wreck to mainline condition in about four years. In the 1980's, Nunney was turned out in five. Fast-forward to today, and Pendennis has been under active overhaul for over 17 years. Now, ok, the first two were early Barry departees, so comparisons with a complete but otherwise worn-out engine can only go so far. But, something obviously has changed. Many years ago the loco dept. at Didcot was split into two main groups; maintenance, and restoration. The maintenance group worked on the running fleet, whilst the restoration group worked on the restoration project. There were other privately owned projects on the go, but you get the idea. Over the years that structure changed, and it has resulted in less and less coordination, a problem which has been compounded by the current regime's preference for high-profile projects.

    The bottom line is that they have had to contract out an 0-4-0 saddle tank, something which is essential to run the place, because they didn't have the capability to overhaul it in-house within a sufficient timescale. More than anything else, that should tell you that there needs to be a complete rethink of the department's structure, and of the way in which it is integrated into the GWS, and quite frankly, what its role is. Or to quote Felix Pole; "Whom do you serve?" The self-serving excuses need to stop, and proactive attempts at working out solutions need to start. The C&W dept. show what a small, well organised group can do. (But even there, its success is of its own making, and is not part of a broader society strategy.)

    Already there is talk that when 6023's ticket runs out in 18 months, it'll be 'fast-tracked.' It may be an unpleasant pill to swallow, but given the current situation, is this really a good idea? Sadly I can see such an announcement being made on the back of a successful launch of the Saint.

    Oh yes, the Saint. What was this thread about again...?
     
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  12. Jimc

    Jimc Part of the furniture

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    The thing is, does it really matter in the long term whether a restoration/rebuild takes 5 years or 50? Your grandchildren won't care. What matters most of all is that nothing is deteriorating badly - like certain locomotives on other lines which were once in running order and have been left out in the rain to rot.
     
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  13. Mr Valentine

    Mr Valentine Member

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    On an individual basis, no, but when long-term restorations start having an impact on day-to-day operations, then I think it is a problem.

    I should add, that if a museum closes down because of its day-to-day failings, then that will obviously have long-term consequences for its artefacts; loss of covered accommodation, for instance.

    It's definitely a balancing act!
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2018
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  14. toplight

    toplight Well-Known Member

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    How does the number of regular active volunteers and their Engineering/restoration skills level compare now at Didcot with back in the 1970s/80s ?
     
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  15. Mr Valentine

    Mr Valentine Member

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    A good question, and one for which I don't have a definite answer. (I became involved in 2000.) The current loco dept. as a whole isn't short of volunteers. I do suspect however that the number of skilled people is fewer. It is of course difficult to make comparisons, because there were fewer projects back then. You might find that you could actually 'recreate' the same sort of team that restored 5051/5029, if you pooled everyone. (Yes, that's easier said than done...) I think back in the day people were probably putting in more regular hours as well. Nowadays groups tend to have an official working party every other Saturday, although there are always those people who do additional days, the County group being one who have tried to increase the hours put in. Having a group working one day a fortnight is not going to yield the same results as working both days every weekend, plus a midweek evening.

    I'm not saying people should have the hours they work dictated to them, but you do need to work around the constraints of your available workforce, and manage them so that they contribute in the most effective way. If you plan projects/objectives with no reference to what you're actually capable of doing, you'll come unstuck. (See Operation Barbarossa...)

    I do think it's important to keep a tab on how many volunteers you have, and what their skill levels are, particularly with a larger department. Otherwise the bottom of your skillset could fall out, and you wouldn't know until you suddenly found your department unable do certain things.
     
  16. Spamcan81

    Spamcan81 Nat Pres stalwart

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    Sadly you’re not the only organiser excluded these days.
     
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  17. Spamcan81

    Spamcan81 Nat Pres stalwart

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    I know of the politics behind the exclusion of Martin and other charter organisers and it’s nothing that they’ve done but simply that the GWS has decided to exclude all but one organiser.
     
  18. ross

    ross Well-Known Member

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    I think the whole country, especially the heritage sector, suffers from a lack of practical skills. Back in the 70's, about 1 in 5, in Reading, Slough, Acton, Southall, worked in light/medium engineering. Now it is about 1 in 250. Even finding people with the ability+inclination+enthusiasm+time to spend a day wire brushing a rusty buffer beam is getting difficult.

    Round here, the national trust is using volunteers to rebuild neglected dry stone walls. Watching a couple of retired accountants trying to lift a single stone whilst a couple of other, less strong volunteers look on is painful. Those who might be more able tend to be preoccupied with selfish pursuits like paying their mortgages.

    You can't compare enthusiast productivity“then” with “now”
     
  19. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

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    My personal view is that there is a time and a place for the necessary debate about the future.

    It would be nice to just enjoy the present though for a little bit and to congratulate the team on producing a working Saint.
     
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  20. DragonHandler

    DragonHandler Well-Known Member

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    I agree, it must be terribly disheartening for the team who, having worked so hard over so many years, find that the fruits of their labour is greeted with comments like "Meh, so what, why did you bother?"

    I say well done and congratulations on turning out a beautiful looking loco. I look forward to going to Didcot to see it in action.
     

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