19th December 2010

I have just got home after a weekend with 5199. I can confirm she has now returned to service, and is to work all the remaining CVR trains for 2010.

Despite all this bad weather, I still risked the drive down to Cheddleton on Saturday night from my mum’s. However, after being tipped off by Will who was already at CVR, the couple of feet of snow that had built up around my car in Southport disappeared once I reached the M58. Then the roads were all clear all the way to Cheddleton!

5199 worked all of Saturday’s (18th Dec) Santa Specials, as 44767 now requires a washout. In the evening she then hauled an 8 coach dining train, equating to nearly 300tonnes! After the dining train finished she was needed to keep the coaches warm overnight to stop them freezing, and as Will (along with Tony Wooliscroft) were rostered for the dining train they were lucky enough to be rostered to keep her warm overnight. I was then booked to relieve Will at 6am, but I decided to come down and meet up with Will in the evening.

Come 6am the temperature had plummeted to -14. The previous evening a leak had been noticed below the gauge glass, which had worsened overnight and so now she was not in a fit state to operate trains. We needed to get her onto the pit anyway to clean the fire, and so it was decided to try and fix the leak at the same time. However with the temperature being so low she had become frozen to the rails! After using steam from the drains we were then able to get her onto shed where myself, Mark Stratton and Kev Homer now set about to get her ready for the first Santa at 10am.

We were able to trace the leak to a knackered bush in the gauge but there were no spares on site, so a phonecall to Greg Wilson was made who went and located one and then came down to fix the fault himself (all before 8am on a Sunday!). Meanwhile, whilst cleaning the fire we discovered that a couple of firebars had fallen through, and so this meant removing the fire and allowing her to cool before climbing into the firebox to replace them before we could relight the fire.

This was all done, but it took time and we were late off shed. Before running the Santa train we needed to shunt the 2 dining coaches into the bay platform, which increased our delay, but finally at 10:40 we were ready for the first departure. She handled the 6 coach train with ease, and all the passengers who braved the weather were understanding of the delays.

There is still some work that needs to be completed on 5199 to fully finish what we began in July. The drive bracket and pump to retaining valve pipe for the vacuum pump needs re-fitting as it has been repaired following it not working fully prior to her failure in the summer. Her paint could also do with a touch-up as it does look worn after over 7 years service. However, all in time as at the moment we are just glad to have her working again. The attached pictures certainly make it worthwhile.

Jon Kerr


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