Posted by: wrha | May 11, 2018

Whitrope 5th May

 An update on recent works undertaken at Whitrope. The Northumbrian Rail boys have been up and carried out repairs and service on RB004 so the unit is now available for service again this year.

Work is progressing on the brake van, although it is currently shunted down the bottom of the line which does not make it very convenient. The team working on the Fowler have made excellent progress in recent weeks. The air system is coming together and most of the pipe runs have now been completed and tested. The air system now operates the brakes and gear selection. The major news is that the Fowler has moved under it’s own power for the first time since it’s arrival at Whitrope. A great deal of work still needs to be done, but hopefully we will be undertaking a large shunt to free the Fowler from the current captivity at the end of the stock siding.

The exhibition coaches have been re-worked again for the new season and are looking very impressive.

Work is progressing on a number of fronts with members on site every Saturday so please feel free to pop in and say hello, you will always receive a warm welcome.

Posted by: wrha | February 27, 2018

Saturday 24th February

A long overdue update on the activities up at Whitrope. Work has continued through the winter on a number of projects, including the Fowler, the brake van, track-work and the coaches.

The Fowler has seen steady progress made with a number of jobs now being complete. The recent work has focused on the air system with a large number of components either stripped down and refurbished or in some cases new components fitted. The sandboxes have all been re-fitted and have been tested. The brake cylinders have been refurbished and are now in the process of being tested and adjusted ready for use. Work has also been undertaken on the lubricating system with new wicks fitted to the oil dash pots. These have now been filled with oil and the levels are being monitored. Along with a number of other ongoing jobs good progress is being made on the Fowler with the aim of hopefully having the air system complete some time in the next couple of months.

Work has also progressed on the brake van, with Davie working on the metal work on the side duckets. New metal work has welded on and these have now been primed ready for painting. Elsewhere the woodwork is being repaired and as the weather allows painting has started. The buffers have all been replaced as the ones fitted when it arrived were unfit for use.

Progress has also been made in the exhibition coaches cleaning and preparing them for the upcoming season, hopefully as the weather improves the pace of work can step up.

Elsewhere on site further work has been done on the track-work, which I will report on more fully in the later update.

Posted by: wrha | October 25, 2017

October 21st

October 21st was a dull and slightly damp day, but far better than what had been forecast. First thing in the morning, before work started, the association gratefully accepted the gift of a mini bus from WRHA member Jim Edwards. Bill Renwick received the keys and documents on behalf of the association.

The track team again co-opted Davey to assist in clipping up the last few sleepers of the latest track panel to be built at the southern end of the site.
In the afternoon the voids under suspended sleepers were packed and a test stock movement was carried out – all well.

Davey, being released from the tasks of track work, returned to the continued refurbishment of the 20 ton break van.

Rod and George continued work on the temporarily fitted air pump on the Fowler in an attempt to work out the dimensions of the still-to-be-made pulley. This was independently checked and confirmed.

Posted by: wrha | October 1, 2017

Saturday 31st September 2017

A bright sunny morning travelling up, then the Whitrope Weather Gods took over and “real” rain took over most of the day, sod’s law the sun shines at home time !

A quick catch-up is in order as the editor has been rather busy importing more Swedish Super Models !

We have dug and position another concrete block at the crossing for the post that supports the gates that we hope to place there, this one was a bit more difficult as it was close to the culvert and drains that converge at this point from the formation, hillside and car park road, so space was tight, we will construct a cat ch-pit here when time allows.

The track boys then turned there attention to the trackwork at the turning circle beside the big cutting.

We constructed a while ago a temporary section of sixty foot trackwork  coupled to the running line but with “wide spaced sleepers” this section was taken up and reconstructed with regular spacing, thus extending our running line close to our limit of the present lease.

There could be room for two more panels, of sixty foot lengths, but at present we need to move several lengths of rail that have been stored in this area for quite a while and are in danger of getting buried.

It is interesting to note that this section of the formation was the subject of quite a considerable land -slip a few years ago and was “rebuilt” by the Forestry Commission to allow road access for timber removal.

It was rebuilt not quite to the original formation plans and this is now causing us a few problems with track re


It is essential we keep both road and rail access at this point.

Elsewhere on site work continues on the Fowler loco, and the Methil guards van which is looking good.

The compressor and the air system on the Fowler seems to be a problem at the moment, hopefully these can be sort in the next few weeks.

A welcome visitor to Whitrope on Sat. Was  Tony Cormac who came up with the other portable generator on the back of his wagon.

Tony has been giving the genny a “good looking at” but with pieces missing he was unabled to test it in working mode.



Posted by: wrha | September 3, 2017

2nd September 2017

Once the sun had burned through the mist it was a beautiful autumn day,  with warm sunshine.

With Jim on baby sitting duties he was just available for requests!

The remaining track boys decided to level and pack the track down beside what we call the “turning circle” before it was used as a stock pile area.

Because the guards van and the Ruston where standing on the running line the Permaquip could not be used as our works train, so it was time to awake “Samson” the large Benford 4×4 40TT dumper to convey our tools.

After Jim had breathed on it, the gear was transported to the work area.

We had planned to use the portable generator and the hand tamper, again after a request for Jim to “look” at it!

Both bits of plant worked perfectly so we set to levelling, packing and tamping, and the results look good, THEN like good plant men we stopped for lunch and stopped the generator and refuelled it, of course after lunch it refused all offers to restart it and Jim had left the site.

We continued to pack and level the remaining trackwork until home time.

Rod and George continued to work on the Fowler, which was fuelled and run for a period.

Davy used his moulding skills with filler on the guards van window which is looking good.

Alan and Bill where working on the museum display coach.

Jim had been onsite last weekend and had dug a hole where the support block for the first of the crossing gate posts go and had placed the first block (only three more mate !)

Another good day with all round progress being made.

We celebrated Rod’s birthday in style with cake and candle(s) (one as there was not room for 79!).



Posted by: wrha | August 22, 2017

Saturday 19th August 2017

Another sunshine and showers day, but some longer good spells of warm sunshine today.

With just a panel and a half of trackwork to ballast, Jim had his “Hymac” hat on early this morning and scraped the compound of all remaining ballast into a heap ready to load.

The “Wee” Ruston was once again in charge of the ballast trailer, but was not to well it’s self this morning with fuel starvation once again the problem.

We had plan to fit a new alternator belt to the Permaquip and give all the electrics and battries a good looking at.

Once we had worked out a better access route to the alternator it was still a hard shift as all the nuts and bolts securing and tensioning it was chewed up from past attempts! A cutting disc on the angle grinder solved the problems, first checking that we had all required replacements.

The Ruston was very poorly by this time, so to continue ballasting work the Permaquip was once again pressed into service now it’s electrics where in full working order.

At the end of play the trackwork from the crossing to the tunnel gate had been roughly ballasted, well done chaps.

Davy and Tom continued there good work on the guards van (once Davy had sorted the blue plugs from the yellow !)

Posted by: wrha | August 6, 2017

Saturday 5th August 2017

Sunshine and showers was the weather deal of the day, with very heavy showers mixed in.
The Ruston was designated motive power for the ballasting today as the Permaquip has a few problems still.
The trackboys spent most of the day loading and using all the remaining ballast in the compound, we think another twenty ton should see the formation roughly ballasted from the crossing to the tunnel gate.
We then hope to turn our attention to the crossing, excavating the foundations for the crossing gate supports and getting them in place before the winter.

Davy and Tom continued their good work on the guards van and it is starting to take shape, with one side window welded up and primed.
Peter continued to paint the air tanks on the Fowler, whilst George had a frustrating day trying to extract the bolts from the cab dash board with an impact driver which refused to impact !

Some general tidying up around the site was carried out between the showers.

Posted by: wrha | July 9, 2017

Saturday 8th July 2017

Report from today’s activities:

A very good day by Whitrope standards; wall to wall sunshine with a slight breeze to cool down our volunteers, with a lot of good work carried out.

The track boys were out bright and early clipping up the inside rail.

Andy and Jim then set about reinstating the “curve” in the trackwork, while the cess rail was positioned, plated and clipped up.

Several sleepers required packing with pea gravel to properly seat them (the track will be levelled and tamped at a later date.)

With the running line connected back up we then had a test run up to the tunnel with the Permaquip Patrolmen’s Trolley and trailer to empty the trailer of ballast onto the 60ft length of new wood sleepers.

A well deserved lunch break, then Jim brought the digger down to the compound to load the ballast so we could continue to ballast the section beside the tunnel.

All went well until the digger said “enough” and blew a hydraulic hose in the most inaccessible place, then just to round things off, the Pemaquip refused to start.

The Permaquip was quickly sorted, but the digger resulted in much head scratching. We think some of the hoses could be thirty years old.

Again the fowler boys were continuing the good work, along with the guards van work.

At the end of the day, we had a proving run along the track with the Ruston 48DS and the guards van, which also ensured the axle bearings got a turn, and enabled access to the sides for welding work.

Posted by: wrha | July 2, 2017

Saturday 1st July 2017

A mixed day weather wise, but pleasant working conditions with no midges about.

Some bad news met our volunteers in the morning; the vandals had been back, and Jim’s digger has once again been damaged. The vandals had broken the windscreen and side windows of the cab, the rear window had been damaged on another visit. This senseless vandalism is very upsetting to all of our volunteers as the digger is an essential and very useful piece of kit.

The Track boys would like to say a big thank you to the guy from down under who helped out a couple of weeks ago, this act of support restores our faith. G’Day Mate, if you’re reading this; bonza, good on ya!

After we sorted out our trusty digger, work commenced replacing the last of the concrete sleepers in the second section of the running line, this was done plus we took the opportunity to place two concrete sleepers into section three of the running line. It is open to discussion to whether we continue to the summit post with concrete sleepers, we have the material. We may get an answer at the forthcoming committee meeting scheduled for Sat the 22nd 1p.m. at Whitrope.

After lunch we lifted and positioned the inner length of rail, refitted the fishplates at each joint, and using the pansetter we started to clip up with Pandrol 401a clips.
We then lifted the cess rail roughly into position, but by this time it was time to clear up, pack away the tools and make secure the site.

The Fowler boys where onsite working on the locomotive; with the last of the sand boxes fitted and piped in. The air tanks are receiving a coat of white to denote they are part of a compressed air system. The train pipe has now been fully clamped to the solebar. A start was made to inspect the lubricators on the connecting rods. Water has got into the oil chambers due to broken springs within the lubricator. Tom is going to try to source a company in Carlisle to wind up new springs with an extra coil to increase the sealing pressure of the lub cap. This water ingress could result in removal of the connecting rods to check for rust damage to the bearing surfaces.

Tom any Davy where working on the guards van which is looking good, with new metal work being let into the guard’s viewing boxes.

Joe was attacking the weed problem with his trusty strimmer.



Posted by: wrha | May 14, 2017

Saturday 13th May 2017

A wet, very foggy morning met our small gang of track workers this morning, with more midges than volunteers about.Before lunch a breeze got up, but the light drizzle persisted blowing away the midges and cooling down the perspiring volunteers.

Jim soon had our trusty digger fuelled and run up to the work site to lift and move both the wood sleepers and the concrete.

The old wood sleepers where lifted and stacked on the p-way troll along with the old spikes and chairs and they joined the growing pile in the compound. Some may have a fourth life somewhere but not on the running line.

The new sleepers fitted with pan11s where lifted out and where stacked again on the p-way trolley for easy transportation further up the running line to replace life expired old sleepers.

After lunch the concrete sleepers where placed on the loop line handy and ready to lift across to be placed into the running line at the next session, probably the May Bank Holiday W/end.

Alan, Bill, Tom and Peter where onsite, but wisely decided not to brave the weather outside.

Access to the brake van is difficult at the moment, but it is hoped to park it beside the platform for easier access and power supply.

This Fowler Boys where conspicuous by there absent, they get a different weather forecast to us.

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