Countdown to Swanage

After over three years tucked up in the comfort of No3 road at Barrow Hill, Sherwood Forester did not want to leave for its seaside holiday and so it put up a determined fight over the four weeks leading up to the Swanage Diesel Gala. There’s nothing like a deadline to focus minds and raise stress levels, but our team of volunteers and the co-operation of Barrow Hill made it all happen.

While work was being finished off on the cabs, bogies and nose ends, electrical tests began on the control circuits to re-commission the overhauled compressor. Unfortunately this was held up due to the battery isolating switch shorting out with much arcing and molten copper splattered on the engine room floor, so this had to be rebuilt. Next problem was the engine started OK but the auxiliary generator refused to supply any output volts, and a change of voltage regulator (AVR) made no difference. With no volts from the auxiliary generator, the electrics were running off the batteries, which were not getting re-charged by the auxiliary generator, so not a good situation to be in. The armature continuity resistance seemed to be all over the place instead of being very low, and we were fearing the generator had lost its magnetism or worse. Fortunately, Chris and Paul from Bowers were on hand and tried the simple thing first – they cleaned up the commutator surface with some emery sticks. Imagine the relief when the engine was started and the auxiliary voltmeter rose to 220V!

After that little scare, the overhauled blower motors were whirring round nicely, but the compressor was still playing dead. Remembering the previous lesson, the armature was wiped clean and brushes given a few flicks, and this did the trick. Finally the vacuum exhauster was switched on, and all the auxiliary machines were back in business. Something to smile about, but not for long…

A few days later, a new electrical fault appeared while testing the power circuits, with the loco refusing to take traction from the end facing the turntable, as if it was trying to stop us driving it out. This proved to be extremely difficult to trace, as we found the cab wiring had been modified from the official wiring diagram. A broken wire in an underfloor conduit was eventually replaced, and amps were once again restored to the power handle.

Having completed the repaint of the bogies and reassembly of the sandboxes, Adam and Jacob moved on to an underframe examination from the pit, checking traction motor and gearcase oil levels, greasing bearings and brakegear. Four brake blocks were considered to be worn and renewed, but one of the brake cylinders was found to have a seized slack adjuster, preventing the block from being changed. This turned into a mini recreation of one of the less appealing jobs from the days of yore at BR depots, as the brake cylinders are bolted inside the bogie frames and weigh about 100kg. Gravity is in your favour when removing a brake cylinder, as long as fingers are out of the way. Bolting a brake cylinder back up requires shoulders made of RSJ and much grunting. Typically, when the old brake cylinder was dragged out, the slack adjuster decided to unseize itself, but it was replaced anyway after all the effort, just to be sure.

Finally the loco was ready to leave the comfort of No 3 road in the roundhouse, and the somewhat nerve wrangling procedure of jacking up the pony wheels was carried out, so that the loco could fit on the turntable. Steel blocks have to be used to transfer the weight on to the remaining wheels, putting extra stress on the leaf springs. The loco was driven as a Co-Co on to the turntable, and everyone was thinking it would be parked up on the exit road in 10 minutes and then time to wash up and head home. But no – the turntable turned about two feet and moved no further, with the drive wheel spinning unable to get any grip. Sand, rubber pads, pinch bars and other forms of persuasion all failed to move the turntable after two hours of frustration. Eventually a block and tackle was slung between Sherwood’s drawhook and another loco, and the turntable started to creep round till it lined up with the exit road. Yet another late finish.

Earlier this year the loco roofs were sent away to be repaired at local engineering firm Victoria Fabrications. The main roof had the large silencer well completely renewed, and the boiler room roof had to be patched. After sand-blasting and spray painting, the roofs were craned back on only to find the bolts holes no longer lined up due to distortion of the framework. One corner of the main roof was sticking up 6in, and could only be pulled down on the inside with a ratchet attached to the engine bedplate. Another day was spent connecting back the silencer to the turbocharger andĀ  bolting down the boiler room roof.

Original roof well for silencer badly corroded and wafer thin

After rebuild at Victoria Fabrication

Three roof panels waiting refitting to Sherwood




The batteries on Sherwood dated back to 1995 and were on their last legs, so two new sets were supplied by Shield’s and swapped over by Shaun, each cell being disconnected and replaced with a new one, 96 times over! The difference in starting was immediate – the engine instantly fires up and almost takes off.

Moving anything by rail is proving to be more and more difficult due to the paperwork that has to be created to satisfy different parts of the railway bureaucracy. It used to be only axle test certificates that have to be redone every two or three years, in keeping with the frequency of testing in BR days, when of course the loco would have done many thousands of miles. Once again we welcomed Graham who has been testing Sherwood’s axles in preservation for the last 25 years, and still found no hint of a crack on his ultrasonic test gear. Its amazing that he used to drag around a large oscilloscope on a trolley, but now has a hand held box of tricks – next time it will probably be an iphone app. For our trip to Swanage, someone in a far away office decided that Sherwood’s axle bearings were obviously ready to collapse the moment we rolled on to the mainline. These people live in a surreal world of risk assessments, so we were obliged to “mitigate the risk”: a detailed bearing examination procedure was written and then carried out, and then duly recorded on a form. Back in the real world of engineering, all the bearings were pumped through with new grease, a task that took many hours with an air pump. Everyone happy!

The other new paperwork challenge was due to someone in another office deciding that Sherwood must be too big for Network Rail’s tracks, as it seems that any former BR rolling stock is deemed to be too big, unless copious amounts of calculations are done at vast expense. In their surreal world, tunnels and bridges have got smaller since they were built a hundred odd years ago, so trains must also be made smaller. Well an old BR diagram with the relevant dimensions was found, and the problem went away as if the loco had shrunk by magic.

Knowing that everything was being thrown at getting Sherwood and 37057 ready for Swanage, the Fitness to Run Inspector delayed his visit to Bank Holiday Monday, the day before departure. As well as a detailed check of the loco’s wheel profiles, air brake tests were done, and the paperwork for axle tests, pressure vessels and bearing examinations were duly presented. Even at this last minute, Sherwood staged a protest with slow brake cylinder pressures and even slower air pump up time from the 37. Numerous adjustments late into the evening eventually sorted out the problems, and as it turned out, the Class 66 loco hauling the convoy the next morning had no trouble in pumping up the air systems. And if you thought we had it bad, the team on 37057 did not finish till 1-30am after changing a rad fan drive that failed at the last moment!

So after a 3 year overhaul of its engine and restoration work described in these reports, Sherwood headed off on its holiday tour of the south. Most of the work has been done by volunteers, many of whom are new to loco restoration and never saw the Peaks running on BR, so they should all be congratulated on their dedication and determination.


Sherwood finally back on the mainline outside Barrow Hill

What makes it all worthwhile!

Here's looking at you!




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Back to Black

At long last Sherwood’s bogies are nearing completion of the restoration work to needle-gun, chisel and scrape many layers of paint and muck from the side frames and buffer beams. A coat of grey primer-undercoat allowed all the fine detail to be seen and admired by the rivet counters, but a return to the top coat of blackĀ  unfortunately also means a return to obscurity after the hours of hard work. In the pursuit of authenticity, we specified a finish part way between gloss and satin, as we felt that modern gloss paints are just too shiny compared with the old BR oil-based paints. Hopefully we have got it about right and the bogies will blend in nicely once we clean the blue paintwork.

At No 1 end, the traction motor blower has returned from its overhaul at Bowers and refitted inside the nose, having taken the opportunity to tidy up the side grilles and insulation.

Formal exam work has commenced in preparation for the loco’s inspection and journey south to the spring diesel galas at Swanage, Didcot and West Somerset.

Bogie men Adam, Stephen and Jacob flatten down the red oxide, in preparation for grey undercoat

"Works" grey picks out the detail in the side frames

Jonno and Adam spray on the black top coat

Working late into the evening, the buffer beam is sprayed with black

Freshly overhauled blower motor is shoe-horned into No1 nose and reconnected

Blower motor intake fan ready for action inside the nose


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Winter Blues

What to do during the cold winter weekends? Why needle gunning of course, but wrap up well, put on the ear defenders and safety goggles. Sherwood’s bogies have been under sustained attack from the needle gunners these last few weeks, blasting all the old paint and grime back to the bare metal. The buffer beam at No2 end was clearly overdue a descaling, as a small bit of rust around the edges of two small treadplates turned out to be some serious rot around the pony-link covers, all of which had to be re-plated in a number of places.

With a lorry load of auxiliary machines from 33035 being depatched to Bowers, it was decided to send the traction motor blower motor from Sherwood’s No 1 end, which had been making ominous rumbling noises from its bearings. Having removed the motor, the support stand was also extracted after some heat persuasion with the oxy-propane. This revealed some more holes in the floor to keep Carl busy with the welder. The other side of the nose end floor was replated four years ago when the air tanks were removed for testing, so hopefully its all sealed up now for many more years.

Out on the shop floor, a production line has formed of anciliary bits such as sandboxes, blower motor fan housing (snail), sand pipes, all trying not to get mixed up with a similar production lines of parts from 33108 being restored on the next road.

Adam probes some dark crevices with his needle gun

Corrosion hidden behind the pony link covers and treadplate

Coat of red oxide applied after needle-gunning

Stephen spraying red oxide on No 1 bogie

Sliding out the blower motor from No1 end

Don warms up the seized mounting bolts for the motor stand

A large space left after removal of blower motor and stand

Rotten floor plate chopped out

Now replated and coated in primer




Rusty snail waits attention while the motor is away being overhauled

Sandbox and Snail (sounds like a pub name!)




New insulation fitted to nose end

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Motor Mania

The PDLG made its traditional festive visit to Bowers Electrical today, to view the latest casualties from diesel preservation, and progress with our own projects.

The generator from 33035 has been dismantled and the armature placed on roller stands. From this picture, you can see the ETH section on the right has the banding removed to reveal the blown coil. The glass bandings are on the floor. The coils will have to be carefully prised out of the slots in the armature, and then it will be transferred to the clean room for rewinding.

Also inspected was the first of the Metro-Vick traction motors to be dismantled for D5705. Even though it hasn’t seen an amp for around 40 years, it was in remarkably good condition, and the bearings appear to be in excellent state – which is fortunate as they are a non-standard size and new ones would probably cost a four figure sum to manufacture! Hopefully the other two motors are in a similar condition.

Back to Crompton-Parkinson, the overhauled traction motors for Kozzy’s 26007 were waiting to be despatched back to Barrow Hill, and a triple pump was in the process of being overhauled for 33108.

There were a lot of English Electric motors and generators in for repair, but some of the pictures are too horrific to show here.

Many thanks to Dave and his team at Bowers for their sterling work keeping up with the ever increasing demand from the preservation world. It should be no surprise when BR used to overhaul motors every 3-5 years, that there is an increasing failure rate in preservation as insulation finally gives up the ghost after 20-30 years of freezing winters and standing outside in the damp.

Generator after craning out of 33035 at Barrow Hill

After arrivanl at Bowers. The armature is supported at the free end by adjustable rods

The field frame after armature removal. Still in good condition since its overhaul last year.

Close up of the temporary repair to the blown coil - filled with resin putty, the whole lot now to be extracted and rewound with new coils

Metro-Vick motor frame after removal of armature

Field coils and cable connections look in good condition

Metro-Vick armature

Roller bearing for armature, still running free

Overhauled CP motors for 26007 waiting despatch

26007 and its bogies waiting the return of the motors at Barrow Hill

Triple pump motor for 33108 being reassembled


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Spotlight on Sherwood

Since our return from the Nene Valley Railway diesel gala, the spotlight has shifted back to Sherwood, and the result of the last few weeks of progress now sees the loco up and running again after its 3 year engine overhaul. We originally thought it would take about 18 months, but as usual there have been distractions along the way. Anyway, it is finally coming together for 2015.

The engine assembly was completed with all coolant and oil pipework fitted, and the valve tappets set up. The inlet manifolds and exhausts were left off for a test start and the triple pump run for about 20minutes to circulate the oil and check the pressure was holding. With finger on the engine-room start button and the rack held open, the engine turned over a couple of times and it fired up – obviously keen to get back in business, deafening the bystanders with the exhausts blasting straight out the top of the cylinder heads! It was pleasing to see the exhausts quickly cleared and the engine was running smoothly. Even more reassuring was no sign of water leaks from the liner seals and transition bushes, but a few external leaks from pipe joints that needed tightening.

Over the following weeks the inlets and exhausts were refitted, and two troublesome water drain valves stripped and re-seated to stop leaks, as the engine will soon be filled with expensive anti-freeze.

Carl has spent many weeks meticulously rebuilding the headcode box mechanisms for No 2 end. These have a complicated gear shift to wind each blind, and the whole lot easily seizes up with corrosion and lack of use. The mechanisms have been fitted into the housings and the fronts re-glazed after removing the domino dots. Finally a tangle of wiring was sorted into order thanks to a wiring diagram and the front of the loco was illuminated in time for Christmas.

Jacob and Reuben came to the rescue of one of those jobs that was started and left unfinished for the last two years. The noise of needle-gunning in the roundhouse is not popular at weekends, so some hours were put in mid-week to strip one side of No2 bogie of 50 years of paint and crud. Three more sides and two ends to go…


Lowering one of the exhaust pipe sections on to the heads

Checking the oil circulation round the rockers with engine running

All the vital signs reading good on the instrument panel

Its winter so we are working in the dark again - needle-gunning the bogie side

Jacob spraying a coat of red oxide to keep the rust at bay

Matching bogies and nameplate?

Fixing the Christmas lights!



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Gala Delight

It has been a short but intensive summer for 33035, starting with the Keighley & Worth Valley Diesel Gala, four Saturdays working the Wirksworth-Duffield service, and rounding off with another delightful visit to the Nene Valley Railway. Three years ago Sherwood Forester took part in the Nene Valley Railway Diesel Gala and returned home to Barrow Hill for its overhaul. 33035 has followed in its footsteps and is now delivered safely back at Barrow Hill after a smooth ride back on the mainline courtesy of DCR. Assuming no more phone calls, the loco will be wintering at Barrow Hill and receiving further maintenance work, which will be reported here in the coming months.

Farewell to the NVR as today's consist waits the RA for the Fletton branch connection to the ECML

View from the cab running into Peterborough

Speed maintained at a steady 60mph

Back home at Barrow Hill

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Ready to Face the Music

Recent visitors to Barrow Hill Roundhouse will have been surprised to find it has almost been emptied out, leaving just five locos huddled together in one corner. All the other roads have been boarded over and the turntable pit filled with a steel frame to provide the base for the Jools Holland concert this coming Saturday (13th). While all this has been going on, work on Sherwood has continued unabated.

The new box headcodes have been away for zinc plating to provide long term protection against corrosion that was the weakness of the original design. British Railways realised this part way through the build and changed the design to mounting the boxes inside the nose, no longer needing the central section for end doors. Sherwood later had the boxes completely removed and the nose end modified to the plain marker light design, which remained until it was withdrawn. After preservation by the PDLG, the nose ends were modified back to the original design using boxes salvaged from 45053 and 45036. The new boxes will look identical, but with improved sealing and weather proofing.

Carl has also refitted the various brackets and grabrails to the nose end, applied two coats of undercoat and one coat of yellow warning gloss, to make the loco presentable for this Saturday’s concert and the Barrow Hill Model Rail Live Event on 27-28th September.

Meanwhile down in the engine room, the spanner gang have almost completed assembly of the top of the engine. The rockers have been fitted and connected up to the pushrods, and the valve tappets set with feeler gauges. Oil pipes are being refitted with new copper seals, and the replacement heat exchanger being prepared after its pressure test. Outside, the batteries have been inspected, topped up and cleaned, so this is a sign that we are not far away from pressing the start button!

Headcode box frames after zinc plating, ready for etch primer

Carl checks out the boxes in position

A coat of blue gloss for the nose crown

Starting to look the part again with a coat of gloss yellow

Setting the valve tappet clearance with feeler gauges

The tappets are set with each piston at top dead centre, shown on the timing marks, following the firing order as the engine is carefully barred round.

Tappet clearance is adjusted and locked with the screw thread on the push rods

Jacob and Stephen cleaning up batteries on B-side of the loco

Mick cleaning up yet another oil pipe while Adam blows out the heat exchanger tubes with his long tool


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Under Pressure

With various summer distractions including a long weekend away for 33035 at the K&WVR Gala, progress with Sherwood has been steady, and is now picking up again. All twelve cylinder heads have been fitted and torque tightened down. The top water rails connecting the heads were bolted on, and blanking plates made up, so that the block could be filled with water and pressure tested. Normal running pressure is 20psi, so the system was tested up to 30psi just to make sure.

It is best to pressure test at this stage, before connecting up the rest of the pipework and exhausts. One head sprung a leak from a transition bush, so this was lifted off and found not to have seated correctly. After refitting, the system was tested again and proved to be water tight all round. The next stage will be fitting the rocker gear and setting the tappets.

Carl has returned to manufacture two new headcode boxes for No 2 end. The old ones can only be described as rust held together with paint, but they are serving as patterns and the internal mechanisms are being restored. One is ex 45053 and the other 45036, so bits of them live on!

Torque tightening cylinder head nuts - method 1 with two torque multipliers in tandem

Method No 2 with original "Sweeney" special Sulzer tool

Each pair of nuts are tightened one division at a time up to 5 divisions, or 105 degrees from paint mark on head

Air inlet manifolds stripped down and repainted

After 50 years of British weather, its time to retire the old headcode boxes

First stage in fabricating new box

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Oily Interlude

This year’s B-exam on 33035 concluded with an oil and filter change. Two barrels of oil were ordered up, and a new set of filters delivered. The Class 33s do not have a sump drain, as this was removed long ago by the Southern, and so the old oil had to be pumped out from the engine crankcase. It was definitely time to change the oil, as there was an accumulation of sludge in the bottom of the sump, which had to be mopped out and cleaned with a couple of buckets of diesel. The filters were also filthy, but fortunately there were no signs of metallic bits that could indicate bearing problems. Continue reading

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On With Their Heads

12 cylinder heads have waited patiently for 8 months since they were overhauled, but now their time has come. After much preparation of the top of the cylinder block, cleaning and repainting of various pipes, the heads are being reunited with the engine. Continue reading

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