Brake Blocks & Running Repairs


On Sunday 9th of April I was rostered as ‘Driver 2’ on the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway. On this turn of duty crew ‘2’ look after the loco while crew ‘1’ have their breakfast and lunch breaks then work the last train and dispose of the loco at the end of the day (aka put it to bed for the night). So once the first train of the day has departed you are available for other jobs that might need doing. On this day I assisted Bruce and Richard changing the brake blocks on Chattenden.

Routine Maintenance

The task was done on the large outside pit

The loco was chocked to prevent it moving and then the brake adjusters slackened off, to give a bit move movement the brake rigging was also disconnected from the main brake shaft. Each brake block is held in place with a pin. In this case the pins are retained with a nut, a lock nut and for good measure a split pin. The pins are inserted through holes in the locos main frames and so the brake rigging has to be aligned to get the pins out and then back in again.

You could probably do the job with two people – one to manipulate the brake blocks while the other deals with the pins. However, a third person use useful to push the brake rigging about to get the new blocks into position.

Last but not least the brakes were adjusted and a check made to ensure that all the split pins were fitted and opened out.

Countess Near Brynelin


A couple of days later Countess disgraced herself and set fire to some dry grass at the side of the line near Coppice Lane. It didn’t amount to much and the fire soon burnt its self out.

The next morning while preparing her for traffic I noticed that there was a gap in the spark arrestor. A search for some fireclay to stop up the hole proved fruitless…. and plans were made for some remedial work to be done at lunch time.

A little later on while I was changing into my clean ‘public facing’ overalls someone came into the locker room to say that Countess had been detached from the train for immediate attention and the train would be leaving 15 minutes late.

There was no space on the tracks outside the workshop so she was taken down the main line to the back of the running shed where a portable arc welder could be plugged into the electrical supply.

Tactical Modification

Richard then undertook the sort of tactical modification that would have typical of the late Pasco Rowe and welded a couple of old and reshaped base-plates to the under side of the spark arrestor base. ( NB Base-plates are small plates about  6″ x 8″ x 1/4″ (150mm x 200mm x 6mm) that go between the wooden sleeper and the rail to spread the load over a wider area.)

Positional Welding

The task was done quickly and in the end the train was only delayed by ten minutes.


This entry was posted in Heritage, Llanfair Caereinion, railroad, railway, Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway, Workshops and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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