Mink G Update by D.Phelps – May 2020

It is some time since we last reported on progress on the “G” as it has become known. The sides and ends have been replanked except for the top ones which were promised for November 2019. At that time a late delivery was not a problem as there was plenty of other work to get on with, including making and fitting the doors. Each of the eight doors consist of five vertical planks on the outside secured to twelve horizontal ones on the inside, each of the internal planks being screwed to the external ones using 12 one and three quarter inch by number twelve woodscrews, that’s 1152 holes to be drilled and screws to be fitted, thank goodness for electric screwdrivers! The doors are now made and fitted and make the van look complete, this is unfortunately not the case. We still have to fit the roof canvas, for this we need access all around the roof which is not possible since the van was moved to accommodate contractors working on none DFR related projects. We were hoping that with the onset of good weather we could do the job outside, however COVID 19 put paid to that. Until we can obtain the door heads we cannot fit the door furniture, and until the top planks are available, we cannot fit the fly screens and internal vent plates either, all very frustrating.

Thoughts have now turned to setting up a small wood machine shop so that we are not
so dependant on outside suppliers. The problem here is that there is nowhere on the DFR to set one up, unless we can be a bit imaginative. Initial thoughts were to fit up a shipping container, but when you look around at the spread of these unrailwaylike, unattractive monstrosities, we looked for a more palatable alternative. It occurred to us, that with the imminent transfer of the society’s Collett coach to the DFLG, that here is a space approximately fifty seven feet by nine, so why not in there? As full restoration of the interior is many years away, the plan therefore is to make the coach weatherproof and to repaint the exterior to make it presentable, and install some basic
woodworking machinery. So if anyone knows of, or can supply (cheaply) things like circular saw benches, bandsaws, planers, router tables etc, then please contact the DFLG. As we move toward rebuilding the coaches these things will become essential.

Another problem that needs addressing urgently is the lack of space to do anything. The DFLG has a number of wagons including two GW Opens that are in desperate need of renovation, but nowhere to start the work on site, which is particularly galling as we frequently have to turn down offers of help because we don’t have unskilled tasks [like needle gunning/derusting etc]for the casual jobseeker to do.

We have to remind ourselves from time to time why we are doing all this, apart from
personal satisfaction that is:

  • [1] to provide the DFR with the resources to recreate [A] a GW/WR branch passenger train [B] a GW/WR branch goods train
  • [2] to show later generations the history of these trains and railways as they used to be as well as giving them a pleasant day out.

Also this history should include relevant infrastructure, such as that rather nice GW lattice mast signal at Parkend, a colour light just wouldn’t be right. It is very easy to allow ourselves to be distracted by the need to spend all our time and resources on running and maintaining what we have in front of us and pushing everything else into the background, that is just stagnating and not progressing.

The DFLG has set itself an ambitious and mammoth task, but as everyone knows, the
longest journey starts with the first step, the trick is not to lose sight of the destination. The DFLG has taken the first step to achieve its aims by acquiring the necessary items to enable it to do so. For newly joined members or those who don’t know, these are
Three GW/WR steam engines
Two soon to be three GW coaches
Twelve GW/WR wagons
We have started step 2 by restoring one steam engine soon to be two, and two wagons soon to be three. So you see it is good not to be satisfied with the status quo but to have ambition [a bit of drive helps too] with the forgoing in mind, any contributions large or small in manpower, money or materials to the DFLG Rolling Relics Restorations would be very gratefully accepted [after all, everyone knows how important the 3Rs are].

With thanks to D.Phelps for the text and R.Thacker for the photos.

Spring Maintenance

Update from Norchard

Posted by Dean Forest Locomotive Group on Friday, 10 April 2020

Hear from our CME Paul Sandles in the video above for a quick update from Norchard.

Before the UK went in to lockdown, some photographs were taken of current projects. The photos below show 5541 undergoing some piston maintenance, and the ongoing rebuild of 9681, with her new bunker in place. A mentioned in the last blog post, work is still ongoing in various volunteer’s home workshops to ensure 5541 is ready for the start of the season, whenever that may be.

All photos taken by C.Bayliss in March 2020.

If you would like to get involved with the DFLG, please visit the membership page. We are always looking for new members and will warmly welcome you to Norchard when the ‘green light’ has been received by the UK Government.

Update April 2020

Due to the ongoing Covid-19 global crisis, many heritage railways and locomotive groups find themselves in a difficult position. Planned and ongoing works cannot progress at the rate they usually would, and trains cannot run until certainty on the decline of the situation is sought.

That said, we at the DFLG want to assure our supporters that whilst conventional works cannot take place currently, small jobs are being undertaken by volunteers within the confines of their homes to ensure that as soon as we get the ‘green light’ from the government, we can set about our usual activities on site in as much of a position of strength as possible.

Balancing and piston works have taken place on Prairie No.5541 to ensure it is ready for when we return. Fundraising continues to help support recent acquisition 9682. There is plenty still happening and we look forward to getting back to work on our list of projects when it is safe to do so.

See you soon.

9682 Fundraising Update

In December 2018, the DFLG purchased BR 57xx Pannier Tank No 9682, and moved it shortly afterwards to its new home at Norchard on the Dean Forest Railway.

In order to see this fitting locomotive steam again, we need funding. Please check this page for latest updates and appeals.

9682 in the sun at Norchard – 29th Feb 2020 – J.Watkins

Following the news that the lubricator casting has been purchased and is progressing well, we are pleased to launch our second fundraising appeal for our new Pannier!

Progress Update – September 2019

DFLG members have been making great strides on the various projects current underway. Most notably, the GWR Mink G is coming together nicely, while the restoration of BR Pannier no. 9681 continues to make progress with the locomotive being re-wheeled in June.

We are always keen to recruit new volunteers to help us achieve our aims, with the restoration of our two Pannier locomotives a particular highlight. While relevant skills are handy, we can train you up as long as you can bring some enthusiasm. If you’re interested in joining an ambitious and high-achieving team, get in touch!

9682 Fundraising Update

The new lubricator casting has recently turned up from the foundry. It is seen pictured with all the spare lubricator parts the Group acquired some time ago. This casting will be machined up and the kit of parts will be completed and assembled. Many thanks to all of those who have donated so far!

In addition to lubricator we’ve also bought a safety valve base, clack valve pedestal and injector water valve elbow. We’re slowly replacing all the missing parts with your help, in readiness for the locomotives overhaul. Our next big fundraising appeal will be for the locomotive’s brake valve. Stay posted and keep donating to the appeal if you can.

Pannier no. 9682 Arrives at Norchard!

On Sunday 14th April 2019, the Dean Forest Locomotive Group’s latest acquisition arrived at our DFR headquarters at Norchard station. Appropriately hauled by ex-GWR ‘Small Prairie’ no. 5541, BR Pannier no. 9682 was gently transported from Lydney Junction along with the Toad brake van which was purchased together with the locomotive.

Since purchase from the Great Western Railway Preservation Group in Southall last year, arranging the transport of no. 9682 has been a long, drawn-out process due to issues with land access. Thanks to our tireless volunteers who have worked hard to overcome this issue!

No. 9682 will now be stored for a short period of time until sister loco no. 9681 returns to steam, with a target date of early 2020. Once ’81 is complete, ’82 will be subject to a similar, comprehensive overhaul. In the mean time, required parts will be sourced ready for work to begin next year.

If you would like to help us on this exciting project, we always welcome new volunteers at our Norchard base in the Forest of Dean. Alternatively, donations are certainly welcome! As a Charitable Incorporated Organisation, all donations are eligible for Gift Aid (allowing us to claim an extra 25% of your donation from the tax man!)

Please enjoy a selection of images from the stock move on Sunday evening below.

DFLG Purchase Pannier no. 9682

After significant discussions the DFLG has purchased BR(W) Pannier Tank No. 9682 from the GWR Preservation Group Ltd. based at Southall.  Also included in the deal is a Great Western Toad Brake Van which will complement our existing stock of non-passenger vehicles.

A team of members have been busy getting No.9682, which is currently dismantled, ready to move to Norchard, where it will join class mate No. 9681 whose overhaul is progressing well and will return to service in 2019.

As reported in the railway press, most of the steam fittings with a street value of £35,000 are missing leaving the DFLG the task of sourcing or even manufacturing new ones.  If anyone can help with this task, please contact us.

The DFLG is initiating a fund-raising campaign and invites you to donate to this project by sending a donation to the DFLG, Norchard Station, Lydney, Glos. GL15 4ET.  If you would like to help further with the project and become a member of the Group please download a membership form from the website (see below). The Group is a registered charity No.1164847 so you may gift aid your donation and membership, if you do please download one from the website (below).

The Pannier Class locomotive is ideally suited to the scenic and challenging Dean Forest Railway and the thought of twoengines consecutively numbered from the same class regularly working together in preservation is eagerly awaited.

Membership Form – download here

Gift Aid Form – download here

Copyright Peter Skuce

Paying Our Respects

On Sunday 11th November, the Dean Forest Locomotive Group paid its respects to our fallen soldiers by participating in the Remembrance Parade through Lydney. Adorned with a large poppy, Small Prairie no. 5541 signalled the beginning and end of the two-minute silence, before hauling the service train for the rest of the day.