Workshop Week – Part 2

In this instalment:

  • New parts for couplings
  • Ashpan damper door for The Earl
  • Crinoline for 699.01
  • #17 overhaul

Grondana Couplings

Grondana Centre Buffer & Coupling Hook

The Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway is unique in the UK for using Grondana Couplings. These feature a centre buffer with an integrated draw hook. A screw coupling link is used to link the vehicles together. For the shunter they are a very safe design as there is no need to go between the vehicles until after the movement has stopped. This makes them superior to the previously used chopper couplers or the link and pin type couplers used on many items of industrial rolling stock.

NB The W&LLR does have as small number of vehicles with link & pin couplers but they are not in regular use. e.g. The wagon that the #17’s bonnet is currently stored on shown further down this page.

Our original stock of Grondanas came from the now defunct Sierra Leone Government Railway when it closed in the 1970s. The draw hooks on some vehicles are now approaching the scrapping limit and there are no longer any spares available. To overcome this a batch of draw hooks has been cast in steel.

Hook Drawing

Drawing of cast hook and the welded on link retainer

Hook Parts

Hooks and link retainers

Tack Welding Link Retainer 1

Final positioning of link retainer

Tack Welding Link Retainer  3

Tack welding a link retainer into place

Link Retainer Welded On

Finished Grondana draw hook

Ashpan Damper For The Earl

The Earl’s front ashpan damper door was badly warped. This meant that hot cinders could fall onto the track and air was always entering the ashpan providing a primary air source for the fire.

I removed the old door and then ground out welds that held the hinge bar in place.

A new piece of 6mm thick steel plate was cut to size. This was done using a plasma cutter. The business end of this consists of a hand held torch that is supplied with an electrical power source and compressed air. The operator operates a trigger on the torch and after a few seconds an arc appears at the cutting head. The head is placed on the metal to be cut and almost at once you can start to make the cut. The arc heats the metal and the compressed air blows it away.

The recovered hinge bar was welded onto the new door plate and a bracing piece was also welded on to, hopefully, prevent warping.

Heat Buckled Plate From Old Door

Old, warped, door plate.

Refurbished Ashpan Damper Door

Refurbished door ready to be fitted.

Door Open

Refurbished door in place on the front of The Earl’s ashpan.

Progress on 699.01 – Boiler Cladding Crinoline

Railway steam locomotive boilers are lagged to help retain heat. The lagging is covered by the Boiler Cladding which keeps it in place and also protects the boiler from the elements. The cladding is supported by a metal frame called a Crinoline ( as it is reminiscent of the frames used to support Victorian ladies dresses). The crinoline is made out of steel strip some of which has to be bent into a curved shape.

JB and myself were allocated the task of re-bending the strips that go over the firebox section. They had been started but resembled the new pound coins we will be getting soon.

An existing section of crinoline was tack welded to some spare steel strip to make a jig to bend the parts around.

Crinoline Forming Jig for 699.01 Sir Drefaldwyn

This photo shows the jig with a section of the crinoline we were working on clamped to it. This sort activity proves the theory that it is not possible to have to many clamps in your workshop.


The strip to be formed has to be heated and clamped to the jig. I was doing the heating and JB was putting the clamps on.


A clamp has been put on the red hot section of strip. The whole process had to be done twice per strip.

#17 – Diema Diesel Loco

This is not strictly a Workshop Week task but hopefully of interest.

Diema Overhaul

#17 had been suffering from a lack of power. Put simply a good proportion of the horses, that were supposed to be living under the bonnet, had escaped from the Allis-Chalmers prime mover. During 2016 various contractors were invited to come and inspect the machine with a view to undertaking an overhaul.

Diema Bonnet

The bonnet sitting on a wagon outside the Engineering Office

The Torque Converter Has Been Removed

There is now a gaping hole in the engine bay. The Torque Converter has been removed. The bolts that couple the input side to the engine crank shaft and the starter motor pinion can be seen within the bell-housing. In the foreground is the pneumatic actuator that works the clutch. On the right is the cardan shaft that connects the torque converter to the Forward/Reverse gearbox. The huge fuel tank that sits above the cardan shaft has also been removed. The fuel is used for two purposes – the obvious one of powering the engine and the less obvious one of being the torque converter fluid.

Wot  No Turbo ?

The main suspect in the case of the missing horsepower is the Turbo Charger and it also has been removed for servicing. When in place it bolts onto the exhaust manifold between the pipe on the left that connects to the inlet manifold and the pipe on the right that leads to the exhaust pipe.





This entry was posted in electrical, Llanfair Caereinion, Uncategorized, Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway, Workshops. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Workshop Week – Part 2

  1. says:

    Geoff,Many thanks. delboy.

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