🆕 Update(as of 4th July 2019): Money raised so far is £690.00 with thanks to everyone who donated (including a very generous donation from a local business owner). Please keep donating if you are able to do so. Further funds will be used to purchase new traction batteries for the WR8 battery-electric locomotive
We have now had a quote from a supplier for parts required to get our Motor Rail diesel locomotive back into working order following the theft of several engine components during a break-in back in March 2019.
This leaves us with the sum of just over £500 to raise in order to get 21282 running again. The locomotive has been a valuable workhorse for many years, and had the honour of hauling the first train when the Lea Bailey Light Railway Society first started work on the site in 2012.
Volunteers are working hard and investing their own time and money to improve the security of our storage facilities to avoid any repeat visits from thieves and vandals.
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If more money is raised than is needed to purchase the replacement engine parts for 21282, we will put any additional funds towards a full service and repaint of the locomotive once it is running. We are also aiming to purchase a set of traction batteries for the Wingrove & Rogers WR8 battery-electric locomotive owned by the Society.
Disclaimer: Whilst the Lea Bailey Light Railway Society is a not-for-profit organisation, we are not a Registered Charity in the United Kingdom. Your donation will be used at the discretion of the Society’s officers to further the aims of our projects.
Volunteers at a heritage mine railway on the Gloucestershire-Herefordshire border have been left without motive power after thieves broke in and stole parts from two diesel engines.
Lea Bailey Light Railway Society operates the mine and associated railway system at Bailey Level in the Forest of Dean which is also home to several small independent iron and coal mines known as Freemines, operated under an ancient right granted by King Edward I.
A Lister JK6 coupled to a generator set which was stored awaiting restoration has been stripped of several parts but the real blow was the removal of the rocker covers and rockers from the 3-cylinder Deutz engine fitted to Motor Rail locomotive № 21282.
This 58-year old locomotive is known affectionately as “The Simplex” — a nickname derived from its patented two-speed gearbox design — and has been an indispensible workhorse since it arrived at Lea Bailey in 2012.
Wagons containing minerals and waste materials are moved by hand on the underground section of the railway, but a powerful locomotive is needed to shunt heavy loads including the two-ton Eimco 12B rocker shovel loader which is a popular exhibit at the Society’s open days.
Volunteers now have a race against time to source replacement parts to get № 21282 back into working order for the next Open Weekend on 18th & 19th May. Other items that have been taken include the starter battery & leads, coupling pins & chains, air filter, and a number of D-shackles.
Anyone with information is asked to contact firstname.lastname@example.org or report to Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
Since the early days of Lea Bailey Light Railway, our site has been home to a variety of wagons, some of which are more useful than others. Unfortunately as with many of the items preserved here, we don’t know the history of these two wagons — they appear to have been fitted with side hoppers which had subsequently been welded up. One of the pair had been modified by our volunteers by grinding off the weld and freeing off the bolts and had seen some use as a ballast hopper. However due to a combination of the long wheelbase, thin flanges, and the fact these wagons are slightly out of gauge, they are prone to derailment (especially on points) and as such had been taken out of use.
As a temporary measure they had been parked off the end of the running line with the intention of finding a more permanent home. Sadly one wagon had sunk in the mud and the other had been pushed over by some unwelcome visitors. On a dreary day in January the decision was made to move them.
Using a Tirfor winch and a handy beech tree (no shortage of these at Lea Bailey) the downed wagon was slowly pulled upright. The Simplex was used to gently pull it along the ground towards the end of the running line and into a space previously cleared of rocks. With the Stop Board (temporarily) removed and some short pieces of rail in position, a hi-lift jack was used to get all four wheels above the track before gently lowering the wagon and allowing the Simplex to pull it along. The Hudson easy-turnout was pressed into service to place the wagon onto a side track until more volunteers were available to move it somewhere else.
The second wagon was already upright but proved more difficult to move due to being up to its axles in mud. Once the Tirfor had pulled it out the Simplex was once again brought into use to get it close to the running line, with several handy rocks being used to prop the temporary rails up out of the mud. This wagon was carefully taken through the loop and down the new track onto the mine tip before being carefully moved using the traverser onto another piece of temporary track.
Once the warmer weather arrives, we are hoping to clean up and paint this wagon and display it on our mine tip, similar to the wagons on display at Clearwell Caves which are visible to drivers and passengers in vehicles passing by on the nearby road.
Most of the Heritage Railways in the UK have a period during the winter when they carry out maintenance, and ours is no exception, although we don’t have any scheduled passenger services to suspend during this time. During our last public Open Weekend in September 2016 one of our wagons developed a fault with the wheels siezing up, and had been upturned at the lineside awaiting investigation. Two volunteers, Nick and Richard, waved their magic spanners over the axles and fitted some new grease-nipples to the sealed axle and bearings, before adding some fresh grease and turning the wheels by hand until they rotated freely. Once rolled over right-way-up and re-railed with the help of Nick’s hi-lift jack, the wagon was given a run up and down the line with the Simplex and can now be pushed along easily by one person.
During the restoration to working order of the Eimco 401 compressed-air locomotive, one minor fault that needed ironing out was the ride height of the front wheelset. Each axlebox has two coil springs which give a small amount of up and down movement over uneven track. However, after its original working life and several years of sitting out of use the springs have lost some of their resilience. Ideally we would replace them with a brand new set but we don’t appear to have an Eimco dealership down in Cinderford, and working to a budget a brand new set would use up valuable funds. Add to this the time taken to manufacture a custom set of springs, and the necessity to have the locomotive stored in its stripped-down state, the most elegant solution was to fit spring spacers — a tried and tested modification used by many 4×4 off road vehicle owners to increase ride height.
Four pieces were cut from the end of a length of round bar and de-burred using a file before being inserted into the spring pockets. Nick’s hi-lift jack once again proving useful in getting the chassis of the locomotive to a suitable height for the job. The new batch of wooden chocks can be spotted in several of the photographs, with their custom paint job provided by a garden colour shade called Pick ‘n’ Mix which makes them easy to spot in the green of the Forest or the grey of the stone ballast.
Work on excavating the old mine tip continues, with several more loads of large rocks being moved to the end of the line using the WR8 battery-electric locomotive “Murphy” and 4-wheeled flat wagon. The remainder consisting of smaller stones and dust is being moved using a Hudson v-skip wagon and tipped next to the passing loop to extend the embankment which will allow an additional set of points to be installed. This in turn will allow a permanent track to be laid onto the top of the mine tip once the temporary track is no longer in use.
During our recent September Open Weekend, our volunteers took the opportunity to work on the temporary track which extends on to the top of the old mine tip. With four locomotives in operation (Simplex, Lister rail-truck, WR8 and Eimco 401) there was plenty of activity for our visitors to see, including the first public run of the Eimco compressed-air locomotive. Saturday was the busiest day in terms of visitors due to the Steam Up at Alan Keef Ltd. in Lea, and much of the day was taken up with running trains in various configurations and with driver-training on the Simplex for new members.
Sunday was a quieter day and allowed more time for working on the railway, which nevertheless provided a number of interesting activities for our visitors to watch. It also allowed Rob, our resident photographer, to come out from behind the sales stand and take some footage (mainly video in this case) of the goings-on. With a higher-than-usual number of active volunteers on site, the Hudson v-skip was quickly loaded with rocks and transported to the far end of the line, where a second temporary track was laid, accessed by a new addition called an easy-turnout. Manufactured by Hudson, it is made from pressed steel and fits on top of the rails, allowing a wagon to ride up and balance itself over the central pivot, before being turned by hand and lowered onto another track at almost any angle — in our case 90° to the main line.
With the rockpile substantially reduced, there was space for another pair of rails to be added. Once laid and tested the wagon was refilled and emptied several times with the haulage being shared between all four locomotives, including the Simplex which is the heaviest currently on site.
On the following weekend we changed our usual working day from Sunday to Saturday, partly to allow a visit to The Brewery Tap afterwards to discuss the previous Open Weekend and to discuss plans for the next one (13th & 14th May 2017). Our volunteers split into two teams with one group shovelling silt out of the shed into a U-skip and hauling it off to be tipped using the WR8 battery-electric locomotive, with the other group loading rocks into the V-skip and using the Simplex. Two separate tip sites (one on either side of the main line) were accessed using the portable turntable.
Two videos were produced at the Open Weekend, the first from Saturday 17th September and the second from Sunday 18th. Both were filmed by Rob Needham.