Not much to report in the last couple of weeks as we have been visited by the Beast from the East with several inches of snow falling in the Forest of Dean and surrounding areas. Before the snow came in we did see a nice bit of sunshine and managed to get some painting done. The container and tank have been painted green to help them blend in with the surrounding woodland, and the entrance barrier has received a rub-down and another coat of paint before new vinyl lettering is applied.
On Sunday 11th March our young volunteer James walked down and captured these photos of the railway and mine under the snow.
Following last week’s successful first move of the Eimco 24, our volunteers have turned their attention to the next project: renewing the section of track between the points outside the mine and the container. This section was laid when the railway was built in the mid-1990s and many of the wooden sleepers have rotted away after years of sitting in wet mud and mine waste. We have already completed a retaining wall to keep the edge of the embankment neat and tidy and to prevent erosion.
The original intent had been to start preparation works first, with track lifting to start the following week but as we had such a good turnout of volunteers, including Pat Clifford on a visit from Devon and Chris Crowley who braved the weather on his bicycle from Cinderford, a start was made and by the end of the day, most of the rails in this section had been lifted. It was questionable as to whether any of the fishplate bolts would come off easily (or at all) after over 20 years with no maintenance but Nick’s ¾”-drive socket set performed admirably, with a long extension bar being used to start the 30mm nuts on the heavy rail section.
At the end of the day, one curved section of track had been removed, and all of the straight rails with two exceptions: the last section which sits on a concrete pad and supports the rails coming out of the container; and the other being a removable track panel with metal sleepers which had been made to allow access by Forestry Commission contractors. These will be moved next time before the digger comes in to carry out the groundwork in preparation for ballast.
Since its arrival in November 2017 the Eimco 24 rocker shovel has been inspected and found to be in excellent mechanical condition, despite its flaky paint and rusty wheels. In January this year, the control levers were freed off with the aid of Nick’s large socket set and a generous spray of WD-40.
On Sunday 3rd February, replacement pneumatic hoses were fitted and temporarily held in place with cable ties. The air motors and runing gear had the oil filled up, and the drive chain was sprayed with WD-40 and given some attention with a hammer to loosen the links.
The temporary track which had previously been used as a loading ramp to the arrival of the Eimco 401 has now been dismantled, in preparation for our next project. The track between the mine points and the container will be completely re-laid with new sleepers and granite ballast. Whilst the track is lifted, the area leading down to the inspection pit will be re-graded and a new set of points will be added to allow access to a second track which will be laid afterwards.
Planning is under way for the next Open Day on 19th & 20th May 2018. We will have our compressor wagon on site. Our resident Eimco 12B rocker shovel will once again be put to work on the open air demonstration line to show how these machines would have worked underground. We are hoping that compressed air locomotive Issing Sid from Statfold Barn Railway will be able to visit again (subject to confirmation).
Resident locomotives Simplex № 21282 and Eimco 401-216 will be operating throughout the weekend, and four battery-electric locomotives will be on display along with a number of different types of wagons. Visitors can also try their hand at panning for gold. Refreshments including home-made cakes will be available.
For a taster of what to expect, you can watch Rob Needham’s YouTube Videos of the September 2017 Event:
Many other attractions can be found around the Forest of Dean, all within a half-hour drive of our site at Lea Bailey. A number of links can be found below.
Following the New Year, our volunteers have returned to work on their projects at Lea Bailey. A recent working party was cancelled due to snow, the following week was wet, and a visit after Christmas was cancelled after two members came down with heavy colds. We are currently carrying out a light restoration on a large tub wagon which had previously been converted to a manrider, possibly at a coal mine, but like many of our items we are unsure of its origin.
The outside had previously been treated with a needle gun and wire wheel before painting with black bitumen, and today’s task was to work on the inside. During the work, we managed to find several old crisp packets and food wrappers, possibly from the miners’ lunch boxes many years ago.
Nick has also been working on the WR5. The battery box has been removed and work has started on removing the parts necessary to separate the frames from the running gear. This will allow a full internal inspection of the final drive and hopefully a repair to allow the locomotive to run again. Whilst it is stripped down we can also think about rubbing down parts and repainting them when the weather is a bit more favourable.
Due to the heavy snow which fell in and around the Forest of Dean from the early hours on 10th December 2017, our usual Sunday working party was cancelled. Local bus operator Stagecoach West suspended all services in the area, and the narrow roads we use to access the site were untreated and there was a risk of getting our cars stuck. We hope to pay a visit in the next few days when the roads are a little better but before all the snow has melted. Meanwhile here are some photos from the archives, taken by Rob Needham in January 2013.
🌳 One disadvantage of having a railway on the edge of the Forest of Dean, is that every year the track gets covered in leaves. As well as making the track slippery for locomotives, the leaves form layers which trap moisture and can cause our wooden sleepers to rot prematurely. Shifting all of these leaves by hand would be an almost never-ending task and it would not be possible to get them out from every nook and cranny in the ballast.
Since obtaining the wagon-mounted compressor (formerly at Statfold Barn Railway), we have mainly used it to power our Eimco 12B rocker shovel and 401 locomotive. Using some standard fittings and length of copper pipe, Nick has made a blower gun which has come in handy for several of our restoration projects by removing dust, grit and detritus from locomotives and wagons alike. With Ben on 21282 providing the motive power and Richard wielding the pointy end, we were able to clear the running line, loop and long siding in about half an hour. Our young volunteer James was able to clear a large pile from outside the shed using a wheelbarrow whilst Nick worked on the controller of the WR8.
⌨ Following a little bit of tinkering behind the scenes, this website has moved to a new address using the new .fod.uk web domain to reflect our location in the Forest of Dean. Everything else should remain exactly the same — so if you spot any errors please inform the Webmaster.
The Eimco 24 is a larger version of our Eimco 12B rocker shovel which has been restored to working order at Lea Bailey Light Railway. This particular example has been stored outside for several years and is in need of restoration. Other than the operator’s platform and guard rail, the machine is complete. The air hoses and steel cables will need to be replaced with new ones and the bucket drive chain will require some work to free it off. Until our volunteers have had a chance to look closely at the condition of all the mechanical parts this Eimco 24 will remain as a static exhibit.
One interesting fact about our particular machine (which bears the number 45299) is that it has been converted to right-hand drive; most Eimco rocker shovels being built as left-hand drive models. We believe this was so that it could work with another machine in a wide tunnel to allow the two operators to work side-by-side.
Some time ago, the Lea Bailey Light Railway arranged a wagon exchange. One of the Hudson u-skip wagons stored at Clearwell Caves was swapped with Brian Faulkner (owner of a private 2-foot gauge railway nearby) for a v-skip to be used at Lea Bailey. The tipper had seen better days, and in early 2016 a replacement skip was sourced from Alan Keef Ltd. and fitted as part of our Winter Works programme. The old skip was stored with the hope that it could be repaired and re-used in the future, along with the spare pedestals that came with the new skip.
Richard Dixon is another of our members who has his own 2-foot gauge railway, and had a Hudson skip chassis that he had purchased as part of a job lot and was surplus to his requirements. This was purchased by the society and stored awaiting repairs. Recently, it was decided to assemble the kit of parts into an operational wagon. Some new bolts were obtained and Nick fitted the pedestals to the wagon chassis and after a liberal application of oil to the wheel bearings it was propelled around the track to the mine entrance where the spare skip was in storage.
With the help of some old sleepers, the tipper body was rolled onto the chassis, and we now have another useful wagon in the fleet. We are planning to clean it up with a wire wheel and apply some black bitumen paint in order to protect it from further deterioration, and eventually the rusted parts of the chassis and skip will have some welding done. Another wagon being prepared for painting is the converted coal tub manrider, which was swept out by our new young volunteer James. We are also planning to clean up and paint some of the structures on site such as the shed, container and tank, so new members and volunteers are always welcome.