Posted by: wrha | April 30, 2017

Saturday 29th April 2017

A mainly dull, and overcast day, with occasional sunny spells.

Track Team:

Some work continued on the track work upgrade. The rails have been unclipped and turned out, with a start being made on lifting out the old wooden sleepers – a number of which are life expired.

The Permaquip Patrolmen’s Trolley gets spun round ready to head back North to base.

Concrete sleepers stockpiled ready for use in the track panel

Some of the sleepers, especially the originals with the BR1 style chair and spikes, are life expired and will be disposed of

The sleepers are being checked and identified as which ones can be cascaded for use elsewhere on the site

Some of the old sleepers which have been identified as life expired are removed from the formation

The rails are lifted out of any chairs, and turned to the sides off the sleepers

Fowler Team:

1 The drive shaft coupling bolts from the engine to the gearbox were fitted. (Thanks George).

2 The Westinghouse compressor was compared to a photograph taken by Duncan down at Tamworth using the rule of proportion we got an idea of the size of the flywheel. We also have an idea off the taper on its input shaft. This should enable us to get a rough estimate to have one made. Rod is to contact Tamworth and ask if the lads there would kindly put a rule on their Fowlers compressor flywheel just to ensure we’re close with our dimensions.

3 Plans for the next step in the renovation were discussed with Jim as wiring is now a feature.

4 Jim checked the output of the dynamo, the initial results were not promising 3 volts appeared to be the maximum output, it should be around 30. To be continued.

5 Dave finished painting the air pipes which run under the running board. We’re now clear to re-fit air tanks, sand boxes and the cab steps. Discussions with Tom finalised an internal cab colour of blue, (the only colour we had) it was hoped to be able to paint it green Jims favourite colour, but that’s life, next time Jim.

6 The engine bay was cleared of all miscellaneous items which are not needed at present, and given a general clean up.

7 All fluid levels were checked for correct level and contamination. The cooling water level which has caused concern in the past has been ok for the last couple of top ups and the conclusion is, we have no fluid leak. All the other levels were ok and contamination free. Good to go.

8 Tom ran the engine for us again to allow Jim to take his measurements. The engine was closely inspected, and a couple of minor leaks were detected and attempts made to secure.

9 A general inspection of the drive train of the loco was undertaken to familiarise ourselves with any potential issues that may arise as we move onto the transmission system.

A couple of Nurses from the Shetlands popped in while hiking in the area:

Posted by: wrha | April 25, 2017

Fowler work 22nd April 2017

Working on the loco : George, Rod & Dave. Weather:- mostly sunny but started off cold.

1 We attempted to secure the drive shaft. The bolts for the flexible drive coupling between the engine and gearbox couldn’t be found and we could only source bolts that were not really long enough. However we did manage to align the bolt holes through the coupling. George is to source longer bolts complete with spring washers and nuts, (Thanks George).

2 The alternative Broom & Wade compressor was measured up to see if it would fit in the frame well as a temporary unit, whilst we tried to source a spare flywheel for the Westinghouse. Unfortunately it has a protrusion on the side which will prevent this. So back to having a flywheel made. One of the tee bolts which secure the compressor to the loco frame is missing and George is going to have one made.

3 The taper shaft on the Westinghouse compressor was measured up to try and approximate the angle, this is critical because it carries most of the torque needed to drive it. (It would help the telephone discussion with our potential manufacturer to get an estimate). We will no doubt eventually have to take the compressor to the flywheel manufacturers to let them mate the two parts. A quick flick over of the unit indicated it was pumping air ok and there seems little point in dismantling it until we have a chance to run it and see if there’s a problem.

4 Dave painted the air pipes which run under the running board, as they are now fitted for keeps. He also started to clean up and paint the top rear external cab roof flange.

5 Tom ran the engine for us to splash oil about. This is necessary to keep a lubricant coating on the moving parts. This start stop scenario every week will also push the engine through temperature changes which may highlight possible problems. So far so good, it’s looking less and less likely that a fault will develop.

6 Next week we intend to:-refit the air storage tank on the off-side and continue fitting air pipes providing the parts arrive on time. Fit the coupling bolts. Tidy up the engine compartment as work in that area is nearing completion. Start to look at the electrics.

Posted by: wrha | April 16, 2017

Saturday 15th April 2017

Notes from Baz:

With it being a holiday weekend volunteer numbers were a little down today. Davy says they’re all away bowling their Easter eggs!

The track boys planned to move the pile of concrete sleepers from the loop line to above the third join in the running line, then count up and see how many more were needed to complete the section.

With Jim not available, we were in two minds to “borrow” his digger to speed up the work.

Rod and George kindly assisted us and we soon had eighteen sleepers moved and positioned ready to drop into the next section.

After lunch we used the p-way trolley to move twelve more concrete sleepers from the turning circle up to join the others on the running line; we now have enough to relay the section plus two for the join.

Work will start shortly to unclip and turn out the rail and wood sleepers.

We plan to carefully remove the ballast and use half of it to top up the ballast in the section we have previously laid.

Thanks again to the Fowler boys for their assistance.

Posted by: wrha | April 10, 2017

Saturday 8th April 2017

Just a short update to say that volunteers were on site and some work was undertaken on both the Fowler, and the track.

Posted by: wrha | April 2, 2017

Saturday 1st April 2017

No Fools jokes here…

Weather:- a somewhat damp and rainy morning, brightened up in the afternoon.

On the Pway side the weather prevented much work, but once the rain had stopped the Pandrol clips on the “new” concrete panel were checked with some clips and insulators being renewed.

Update on Fowler:

Working on the loco: George, Rod & Dave.

Alan payed us a visit again (first enthusiast there today) it’s great to see him doing so well.

1 Some selecting of tools for the Whitrope tool kit during the heavy rain periods, and general tiding up the mk1 coach.

2 A brief inspection of the compressor was undertaken to try to sort the pipework necessary to connect it to the loco air system. We need to source a replacement flywheel ASAP or get one made.

3 Work continued on trial fitting of the air pipes, unfortunately pipe fittings which were ordered last week had some of the components put on back order by the supplier which prevented us from making more progress on the pipework. However the link pipe to the dump valve had the new bits fitted.

4 Dave continued to prepare and undercoat the internal cab roof.

5 Automatic drain valves on the air storage tanks were removed / replaced after being stripped down cleaned, checked and reassembled. Missing valves were robbed off the spare air tanks we had in storage.

6 The cowling around the radiator had the missing bolts replaced.

7 The engine was run again for a short time to splash oil around.

8 We need to order a heavy duty cooling system hose for the lower part of the system as Duncan spotted the current rubber elbow was collapsing under the suction of the water pump thus restricting the return flowrate.

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).


Posted by: wrha | March 19, 2017

Weekend report 18th March

A miserable morning at Whitrope saw a good turn out of bodies and a number of jobs progressed.

The track team continued work on the relaid track panel near the level crossing. A start was made on packing and leveling the sleepers. Work continued on the brake van and some the drains were checked following the recent heavy rail. Peter ended up sitting down on the job, not recommended when you are working on a culvert. He was fine although somewhat soggy!

The Fowler team continued there work with a report on progress below:

Working on the loco : George, Rod, Dave & Duncan

Weather:- rained most of the morning with some heavy downpours but brightened up in the afternoon.

  • Water level in the rad was checked with some loss of water detected, but not much. Again no obvious signs of a leak, other than the top hose bodge we did for the trial run. The suspicion now is maybe there’s no leak at all, just air trapped in the system which is slowly being bled out. Duncan fitted the top hose elbow and new interconnecting pipes, this should eliminate the leak there.
  • Dave painted the underside of running board a lovely black colour. There was black paint everywhere including on Dave.
  • The next longitudinal air supply pipe to the brake cylinders was fitted along with the air pipe across the front of the loco to the opposite cylinder. George must be congratulated for this one, he spotted the missing component we’ve been looking for on and off for the last couple of weeks.
  • We only need to connect the flex air pipes to the brake control in the cab to complete this section of pipework. It would be useful to test this section and we could do this using the portable air compressor as the supply source.
  • We still need to determine where the third air pipe comes from that runs the length of the loco shown on the photo we have. George and Duncan looked for this pipe on two occasions during the day with no luck. We suspect it’s the emergency air supply to the emergency backup tank to control the brakes and gearbox, so the loco can be stopped if a catastrophic air supply failure occurs. A trip down to Tanfield to view their Fowler appears necessary to look there unit over. Duncan is to contact them and arrange a visit in the not too distant future.
  • Whilst looking round for the missing pipe Duncan spotted the ring clamp for the exhaust silencer, which he then fitted.
  • The engine was run again to splash oil around and to test the condition of the batteries, as Jim had detected a leakage current from the stop solenoid last week. There didn’t appear to be a problem, however the batteries were charged on the generator set to refresh them (this was overdue anyway).

Overall a day that started off damp and miserable, but the weather improved as the day went on and good progress was made across the site.

Posted by: wrha | March 16, 2017

Planned workdays:

Advance notice: there is planned to be a “Track & Traction works weekend” 24th -26th March where we will try and progress a few more tasks, and also make plans for future work. Baz & Dave Shell from Northumbria Rail Ltd. should be around to lend a hand. If any members are interested then feel free to message for further details.

Posted by: wrha | March 5, 2017

Saturday 4th March 2017

Today’s work report with words and pictures from Baz Shell and Duncan Thomas:

A wet start, then it just got better and better weather wise, a very good turn out of volunteers with even Mal popping down for a look-see.

The Fowler boys where out in force, including Duncan piping up the loco. Work concentrated on re-running the air pipes. The engine was given a run, Jim has fitted a starter key in the cab, so starting the engine can now be done from the cab. The air system still has a long way to go but steady progress was made.

The track boys, with new boy Mick, got straight down to work clipping up the new section and re-instating the slight curve in the track.

At the end of play the whole section was clipped up and each end fishplates back on, the new pansetter was a big help! Though a lot of folk thought I was taking the Mick (what’s a pansetter? Well now you know! It’s a pway tool used to set sleepers against rail for clipping up)

The Permaquip Patrolmen’s Trolley got some new fuel lines and wiring, and the railbus a check over and a few runs up to the tunnel to top up the batteries. The Permaquip HCT trailer was emptied of old chairs and scrap ready for ballasting works, but the track section should be fully packed and levelled before any ballasting starts!

Posted by: wrha | February 26, 2017

Riccarton Junction – Just a few Lines

In 2003 the family of Kit Milligan kindly allowed WRHA to republish the book Riccarton Junction – Just a few Lines. The copies that were printed at the time have all since sold out and very few come on to the secondhand market.

During 2013 it was decided that for the closure’s 45th anniversary dinner held at Newcastleton a new edition would be created, using a new set of photographs from different photographers and featuring maps of Riccarton.
Although the commemorative editions have now also all sold out we have decided that a new edition would prove popular and so volunteers have been working on the required editing and a run of a third edition has been ordered. This should be with us in the next few weeks so please keep an eye out for it appearing in our webshop at

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