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
Posted by: wrha | February 4, 2017

Saturday 4th February 2017

Baz Shell reports:

In true Whitrope style up the hill it was snowing, cold, and very wet.

Some preventative maintenance was carried out on the Permaquip to return it to service; the tracklaying gear was then loaded onto the trailer, with plans being to position the other rail into place on the first panel of the running line. This was done and it has been temporarily clipped and bolted up, but the weather was truly against us, so it was pack the gear away, have a cup of tea and planning chat, and head off back home.

Sod’s law that once over the hill, the sun was shining and the birds where singing!

The Fowler boys must get a different weather forcast to the track boys as they stayed at home in the dry and warm.

Posted by: wrha | January 28, 2017

Weekend of 28/29th January 2017

Track work (notes from Baz Shell):

Dress code for this Saturday was waterproofs and wellies as it was a very dull and wet day, with real rain between the showers.

But the weather didn’t deter our volunteers who were keen to battle on and complete the first section of the “running” line with concrete sleepers.

Jim quickly got our trusty digger cranked up and run up to the work site, but we had a “failure” with the Permaquip which was suffering from flat batteries, the altenator drive belt has been suspect for a while, so we decided to leave it and other small faults until we could have a full day working on it.

Work cracked on at a good pace, because it was pee-ing down, all the sleepers were in position and by the end of play one section of rail was seated and clipped in place.

Well done the track boys!

Not to be deterred by the weather the Fowler boys where again onsite sorting a few faults and the loco ran up for a good long period, there are still a few niggles to address.

Traction (Notes from Duncan Thomas):

1. Main jobs of the day was to check over the engine after last weekend’s running and start work on the air system.

2. The engine appeared fine, although it had lost a large amount of water from the cooling system, about 10lts.

3. The cooling system was topped up and a good check made for any obvious leaks, none were detected so the engine was started.

4. The engine ran fine and again had a couple of periods of running through the day.

5. The engine throttle control was connected up to the cab controls and now operate fine from the cab.

6. A small quantity of oil was drained from the sump for inspection. The good news is the oil appeared fine with no evidence of water contamination.

7. A fuel leak on the feed into the fuel filters from the lift pump was repaired and the leak fixed.

8. George and Davie managed to get a number of the air pipes refitted, although progress was a little slow as we appear to be missing some lengths of pipework, so a fair amount of time was spent hunting the missing pipework.

9. A number of the regular volunteers were on site and were really pleased to see the engine running as they missed it last weekend.

10. Jim reported he is making progress with sourcing parts for the electrical system, so hopefully work can start in this area soon.

Overall steady progress made. Next week, work will continue to find why the water level had dropped, with the continuous rain today it was impossible to see if things were leaking, or if it was just water dripping off the loco. Work on the air system will continue.

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