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Spa Valley Railway - Latest News

Discussion in 'Heritage Railways & Centres in the UK' started by matt41312, Jan 15, 2014.

  1. matt41312

    matt41312 Member

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    Everyone seems to be compiling the latest developments from railways around the country, so here is the Spa Valley's version. Any updates from myself will mostly be locomotive based, but I hope my fellow volunteers will contribute other departmental reports. So here goes; hope you like what you read.

    For about 6 weeks now the team had slowly been preparing one of the shed roads to create a better working environment for overhauls. This weekend was the occasion when all the rolling stock was removed and there was a consorted effort to go from one end of the pit to the other, throwing out whatever wasn't needed.

    We were lucky with a good turn out on both days. The team on Saturday made a start at storing all the parts from 'Samson' right up towards the shop consolidated it all into a smaller space, freeing up some wall area for other items. Whilst this was ongoing, Jonnie and I moved items of stock around which culminated in a skip appearing in the shed followed closely by the J94 (68077) being pulled out of the shed on its storage bogies. This was a first as we had never
    towed it with a loco before, but all appeared good.

    This then allowed the vintage carriage to be moved down the shed towards the door, followed by the Wickham. This gave the team a good run at the pit and the associated other areas. Slowly items were moved up and down on a Pway trolley whilst the A Frame gantry was used to lift the heavier items. By close of play Saturday, 'Samson' had been moved, along with 'North Downs', which meant Sunday was
    the turn of the J94.

    Sunday again welcomed a new team. They split in two and whilst the bigger items of the J94 were slowly moved towards the shop end of the shed, the sleeper floor was replaced over the top of Samson's parts, thus freeing up space around 'Sutton'. Slowly the Wickham was moved back into its final resting place and the vintage coach was moved outside for the final run. We were almost there, or so we thought. There was a lot more the J94 in the pit than we thought and it took a bit longer to move.

    By 3PM Ops were getting itchy feet about the shunting required and so started to line-up the locos in order for being placed over the freshly cleared pit. The A Frame was finished with, and the team wheeled this over to 3 road ready to work on Sutton's cylinder block over the coming months. At this point your scribe had to leave, but from what I understand everything was returned to the positions required.

    There's still a bit of finishing off work to be undertaken, but this should not be too much now, and the back of the activity is broken. All being well we can complete it by February but maintenance work on 'Ugly' and 'Spartan' must take priority so we are in the best shape for March. However, what we now have is a totally cleared inside pit on our overhaul road, and very soon we will have all our loco projects (exc Sutton) in one area, which is tidy and clear of
    obstructions.

    So a very productive weekend generally. Elsewhere on site, the commercial team were clearing out the store rooms, whilst others started organising the area above the toilets in the shed. All in all, a very good weekend of mundane but important jobs.
     
  2. nine elms fan

    nine elms fan Part of the furniture

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    Nice to read about a line that seems to keep itself to itself, on my visits to your line i have always come away with a mind of satisfaction and thought what a good day i had there, the real ale days being a particular favorite.
     
  3. 61624

    61624 Part of the furniture

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    Isn't there a "for sale" ad for Spartan in the latest Heritage Railway?
     
  4. Grashopper

    Grashopper Member

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    I have found that a large part of any restoration project involves moving items around and clearing up!
     
  5. jma1009

    jma1009 Well-Known Member

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    thank you matt for that update.

    nice to see the new website now containing an overhaul update and pics of SUTTON's new and machined cylinder block.

    cheers,
    julian
     
  6. matt41312

    matt41312 Member

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    Yes Spartan is up for sale but in the meantime she remains in traffic and under our responsibility.

    Glad you all have had a good experience and like what we have to offer.

    Matt
     
  7. Jonnie

    Jonnie Member

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    To follow on from what Matt has said, some other news/updates that not many are aware of, some S&T related.

    Now most will know Groombridge is destined to become our signaled passing place on the line, the line being divided into one Token worked section (TWW -GBR) and one 'Engine in Steam section' (GBR - ERD), we do now operate two or three trains on special event days with special instructions and personal in place to let this happen. During 2013 we were very lucky to begin the proper design stages for Groombridge, we are very lucky to have a professional signalling designer as a volunteer! With this well underway the mechanical side at Groombridge now requires just two signals being put in place and then the connecting up can commence.

    Related to this is Eridge Station, there are two island platforms for those unaware and we occupy two of the platform faces (Technically 3&4 however now known as 2&3) however we only use part of Platform 3 due to a public right of way from the car park. Since opening to Eridge in 2011 it has been an aim of ours to install a run-round loop here to make our operation easier, especially midweek. Part of the project requires the installation of a Swing Bridge over what will become our Run Round Loop due to the public access from the car park which wasn't there when Platform 3 (4) existed in full. This project took two major steps forward in 2013 with the signing off of the signalling design by our Independent Competent Person and also securing the future location of Brockenhurst Swing Bridge. We are very grateful to Network Rail for allowing us to take on this essential item once its decommissioned in the Spring of this year. Whilst it isn't obvious on the ground that anything is happening behind the scenes it most certainly is!

    Other developments over the past year have been the success of our High Weald Belle Dining train, this was launched in March last year and has grown from strength to strength. As such it is now in our short term aim to acquire a vehicle suitable to create a kitchen car from enabling us to bring our dining service completely in house a example of dining where we've not done it before was on on New Year's Eve, this was a major success and also a first for us so will be repeated in years to come.

    Jonnie
     
  8. Pesmo

    Pesmo Member

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  9. 61624

    61624 Part of the furniture

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    Didn't there used to be one of these at Malton on the Scarborough-York line?
     
  10. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    Presumably there is interlocking so that the bridge has to be locked clear before the signals are cleared?

    Tom
     
  11. Jonnie

    Jonnie Member

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    It's a small signalling set up which will control two signals, the set of points we'll be installing and a release/bridge lock. All off a four lever GF. The GF being used for this however currently controls Groombridge West Crossover & the Ashurst Spur Sidings so requires GBR to reach a stage where we can decommission it. Although if anyone has a spare 4/5 lever Ground Frame just lying around I could get it put to good use!
     
  12. Jonnie

    Jonnie Member

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    Last September whilst on a Driver Experience course, Unique Oxted DEMU 1317 (unique because it's the only un-refurbished DEMU in it's complete original form still in existence) suffered an unfortunate Turbo failure, the Turbo was removed from the Unit at the beginning of January and was dispatched yesterday to a contractor in Newcastle for repairs to be carried out. Once repaired the Turbo will be re-united with 1317 ASAP with the return to traffic planned for Saturday 15th March.

    During this period out of traffic the Engine Room has had a thorough clean and repaint by one of our dedicated volunteers and it looks stunning, work has also taken place in the Trailer coaches cab to replace the ceiling. The Centre Car for 1317 has been discussed at length recently and a plan is underway to allow its return to service, hopefully for 2015 which is the 30th Anniversary since the lines closure, 1317 being used on the last services over the route on July 6th 1985.
     
  13. matt41312

    matt41312 Member

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    Engineering Blog Spot - 25th & 26th January

    All in all we had a very productive weekend!!!

    Saturday there were three members present. Keith set to work on removing Ugly's whistle which despite numerous attempts to seal, still leaks steam and water. We are going to pass it over to our workshop crew to look at it and see if some new fittings can be manufactured. Once this was off, Keith then slackened off the safety valves, which needs new gaskets making.

    Out in the yard, the remaining two individuals started sorting the TKh chassis which requires some work prior to movement on to a new home. It was evident it needed a lot of work and fortunately we were assisted by a friendly 360 operator to lift the heavier components.
    By the end of the afternoon, the chassis was pretty much ready for transport, hopefully within a few weeks.

    Elsewhere our Drewry 'Southerham' was receiving attention and having the fluid fly wheel emptied.

    Sunday was an early start, with work commencing before 9AM. First job on the cards was to re-fit 'Spartans' side tank which was removed back in August for some minor boiler work to be undertaken. The tank was readied for lifting, by hooking the chains up
    to the new gantry outside the shed. Spartan had spent last night outside in the rain in readiness for this work so that once the tank was hoisted in the air, she was gingerly pushed into position and the tank lowered down. The whole job was done in a controlled manner and wrapped up by 11, after which the tank was secured and the loco moved out the way so that the Class 10 could be positioned for attention to it's side rods.

    The big attention of Sunday's activities was the first Jinty work party, and it made a considerable impact to the loco's stripdown. At one point there were 8-9 people working on the engine, either in the cab, on top of the boiler or in the stores. By close of play tonight, the cab was completely stripped of all it's fittings, the boiler cladding was being removed and everything was cleaned, labelled up and safely stored until its turn comes for repair/refurbishment.

    Lastly one of our guys was busy preparing Samson for it's forthcoming life outside in the sidings. This involved the fitting of covers over the entire cylinder block, to protect the bores as best possible. These were cut out at his work last week and the block is now sealed as good as possible. We will shortly purchase a tarpaulin to wrap around it too.

    That pretty much wraps up this week's report. Next week we are back on Spartan and Ugly getting them ready for their dry boiler exams which we are scheduling for Saturday 8th Feb. There's still a lot of work to do before that day so any help next weekend will be much appreciated. We will all be in on Sunday.

    Matt
     
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  14. This is just an idle question about the Spa Valley, please don't all leap on me...

    Are there any hopes, dreams or ideals at the SVR to perhaps one day extend beyond Eridge, past Redgate Mill and towards Rotherfield?

    (1. I know that the railway has an awful lot of work to do to consolidate its current status with the Eridge extension, like the signalling and runround loop previously mentioned.
    2. I know that Rotherfield station is in private occupation, the embankment is gone beyond the B2100 bridge at Town Row and it would be impossible to get beyond Argos Hill anyway...)

    But with those caveats in mind, with the former double-track formation potentially allowing a second track to run alongside NR between Eridge and Redgate Mill Junction, are their any ambitions in that direction, one day?

    As an 'ex-pat' who grew up in the area, who was very familiar with the northern end of the Cuckoo Line (and who mourns the loss of the Harvest Moon, the Bicycle Arms and all those pubs I used to frequent!), I'm just interested?

    I was on the final train and fully intend to return to my roots and do one of the driver experiences on 1317 for my (cough)th birthday in a few years :)
     
  15. burmister

    burmister Member

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    I sometimes hear this wish/dream expressed in the mess room. Thankfully most of my fellow volunteers seem to realise that we have quite enough on our plate now and coming up in the future without any bigger millstone that a further distance of running next to Network Rail would put on us, let alone the extra operating and maintenance costs of running to a destination with no obvious visitor attraction or reason to travel to connected with it.

    Brian
     
  16. Jonnie

    Jonnie Member

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    It's never really been discussed by the Board, the feeling now is to improve on what we have rather than extend further. Such as finishing 1317, Eridge Run-Round, Groombridge Signalling, Kitchen Car and Topham to name but a few.
    My own personal opinion is what benefits would it bring to us? Rotherfield is a rather small village with nothing much there for the average tourist to see or do.
     
  17. John Petley

    John Petley Part of the furniture

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    Also Rotherfield & Mark Cross station is situated between the two villages. It's a lovely quiet spot, but as a destination, it offers precisely nothing for any visitors. To make the extension worthwhile, it would have to get to Mayfield, which is a charming village well worth visiting and an ideal terminus, but this would require a new formation virtually all the way from Argos Hill onwards and a new station site. (although the main station building is till intact, although looking in need of a bit of TLC) Would there be any change of out £30 million? Even with volunteer labour I doubt it. The Bluebell's clearance of Imberhorne Cutting would seem a doddle in comparison. I must admit, as a Southern/LBSCR fan, who lived in East Sussex for over 30 years, the Cuckoo Line would be absolutely my No. 1 favouite closed line in the entire country to see reopened. In my (admittedly biased) opinion, it ran through the most glorious stretch of countryside in the world. I would rather see it reopened than the S&D, Waverley Route. Meon Valley or Meldon-Tavistock-Bere Alston, but it will take a most extraordinary set of circumstances and a huge amount of money for even a small section of it ever to see trains running again. Never say never, but I'm not holding my breath.
     
  18. Just playing Devil's Advocate here, but if that's true of anywhere it's surely true of Eridge station? Never was there a more archetypal 'station in in the middle of nowhere'!

    I used to love catching the train to Uckfield from there in the early 1980s, because it was so quiet. Just the clunk of signals and throb of 3Hs and 3Ds (they were never 'Thumpers' in my day), if you ignored the sound of the A26. In the days well before it was singled.

    ... and somewhat higher then the Mayfield bypass, which destroyed the trackbed. This would only add to the complete unfeasibility of getting anywhere beyond Rotherfield (& Mark Cross, if you want to be pedantic. Town Row if you want to be really pedantic ;-) Although describing Mark Cross as a 'village' is somewhat optimistic, methinks!)

    No, anywhere beyond Rotherfield is pie in the sky. £30m? And the rest!

    But on the many occasions I walked the stretch from Redgate Mill to Rotherfield, the trackbed was pretty much clear, which is why I idly asked the question. I'm just interested, that's all.
     
  19. Jonnie

    Jonnie Member

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    It may be true at Eridge however it gives us a mainline line thus custom from London and Uckfield etc. The station is also just off the A26 with a very large carpark so anyone travelling from the coast doesn't have to negotiate Tunbridge Wells if they wish to visit us.

    We'll worry about the big list of things before extending anywhere else, even then there'll be a rather long section between Groombridge and Rotherfield. Some probably forget that the society was only formed in 1987 and we've only been operating trains (to Cold Bath Bridge) since December 1996 and then Groombridge in 1997.
     
  20. simon

    simon Resident of Nat Pres

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    Isn't the real long term plan to turn right at Groombridge and head for East Grinstead to meet the Bluebell coming the other way.:)
     
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