Posted by: wrha | March 24, 2017

Thursday 23rd – Sunday 26th March 2017

* posted as and when, from various sources- editing in progress *


After the torrential rain/snow of Wed night/Thurs morning the Northumbria Rail boys where uncertain they could access the work site, but after encountering a small amount of snow at the border and on Cheviot the roads and the weather where fine and dry.

A bit of a problem on site as a couple of the bags of small ballast had been offloaded into the centre of the running line; however as Jim had kindly left the digger keys available and parked the digger in our carpark the bags where quickly removed to a convenient place, with one bag placed on the P/Way trolley for use in packing the sleepers.

Work continued through the day packing and levelling.

After a later than normal finish the tired team made there way to the hotel for liquid refreshment and a good nights sleep.


An even better start to the day, with blue skies and bright sunshine at sunrise, and continuing throughout the day.

The Permaquip was used to push the trailer of ballast up to the rebuilt panel and the fines were used to pack the sleepers, and then the main ballast was used to fill in.

Andy H had a look at the Ruston 48DS which had an electrical issue yesterday and decided it didn’t want to play. A temporary fix was made with the battery clamps being swapped out and connections secured and she was then available for the rest of the day.

In the meantime Craig O from Northumbria had a look at RB004 to address an issue with the brakes and also an intermittent issue with the cab engine start/stop controls. By close of play all issues were resolved.

Dave S, Baz S and Andy H continued packing and ballasting the running line and by close of play the upgraded section was all packed and ballasted and looking good; a slightly different colour, but we plan to give it a dressing of red ballast after it has been tamped. Attention then turned to the loop line where spent ballast had been piled from the upgraded panel. This was partly screened and used to fill the cribs on the loop line and also fill the 6ft to allow the digger to straddle the lines.

The majority of the rail from the ex Methil panels was moved Northward where it will be graded and collected later using the rail movers. The concrete sleepers were then moved using the digger and stacked ready for the next stage of the upgrade. All safe and locked up by 5:30, with everything prepared for Saturday.


The day dawned bright and very warm, especially when compared with usual Whitrope standards.

A very good turn-out of volunteers, including all of the Fowler boys, with Davy giving them all black hair (the ones who have hair) it was good to see Alan back up and running(well nearly !).

The Ruston 48DS, Permaquip Patrolmen’s, and the Hymac 370 digger were fuelled up. A start was made on organising the tool & pway stores. The smaller dumper was also given a drink and quick service, including inflating a flat tyre, and run up for a little bit.

After lunch there was a planned committee meeting, with lots to discuss for the year ahead.

A few little jobs and tidying where completed around the site, then it was homeward.bound.

Update on Fowler Saturday 25 March 17

Working on the loco : Duncan, Dave, Rod, George & Jim, with Dave Shell as air systems consultant. The loco had its money’s worth today.

Weather:- a beautiful day sunshine and warm. It was very nice to see Alan pay us a visit after his operation.

1 Work continued on sorting the air pipes. The 2 inch train supply pipe was fitted along with all three storage tanks on the offside of the loco. The supply pipe from the compressor to the storage tanks was temporally completed, some additional fittings are needed to make connections easier next week.
2 Dave painted the rear fender (bear with me I’m not a railway man) a lovely shade of red for a change.
3 Dave Shell guided us through the idiosyncrasies of loco braking and train braking, and discovered the loco was at one time equipped with a complete train braking system, but unfortunately major sections of it were removed before we bought it. However it will be possible to upgrade to train braking once finances permit. Although the loco is now not capable of stopping a train pulling the kit kat coach (railway terminology) it is capable of stopping the guards van. We will have a workable system for visitor train rides once the Fowler is complete. (Many thanks Dave).
4 Our mobile compressor was checked over to see if it would run (no fuel). We hope to use it to pressurise the loco air system so checks can be made on pressure levels, brake operation and leak detection.
5 The support plate for the dump valve was modified due to a very slight mal-alignment of the main air supply pipe.
6 The third air pipe shown on the photo that we thought travelled the length of the loco actually links the cross pipe (which carries air to the storage vessels on either side of the loco). Has now been found and fitted. It delivers air from the storage system to the regulator / governor which controls the dump valve. (Well done Duncan).
7 The engine was run again for a short time to splash oil around.
8 Jim has sourced a new voltage regulator for the loco. (Thanks Jim).



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