Thanks go to Mr Robbins of Cleobury who has kindly donated a fully restored platform barrow to the station. He restored the barrow, which included making new wooden wheels, and the restoration was completed by Bob Timmins who lettered it G.W.R. Cleobury Town. I have not seen a barrow of this unusual design before.
On a less happy note, the railway has been the victim of a theft and a break-in. The donation boxes belonging to the Station Fund and to the 813 Fund were broken into and robbed. Fortunately 'the Friends' box was empty and was not seriously damaged before the culprit realised this - we empty our box on a daily basis.
The second incident was the break-in and burglary in the secure compound where our storage shed is situated. Initially a car and van in the neighbouring Harriers Garage were broken into and a Sat Nav stolen. Then a van in our compound was broken into and rummaged through but there was nothing of value to be stolen. Our storage shed was the victim of an attempted break-in, but the burglar used a wrought iron bar in the attempt which being of a soft metal bent and proved to be useless. He also broke into the Special Events Storage Shed but found nothing of value to him (or her). There is evidence that the culprit has been using the compound as a 'doss'.
I reported the matter to the police and stated that I had recovered some 'swag' which had been left and would be a good source of finger prints. However the crime did not warrant investigation and only with persistence did the policeman agree to bring the matter to the attention of the Duty Officer.
We have a crime number for insurance purpose, but that seems to be an end to it. Who says crime doesn't pay?
As a deterrent Steve has installed a professional sophisticated burglar alarm system which is very noisy. Hopefully, if there is a further break-in to the compound this will put the burglar off breaking into our storage shed. Although there is little inside of resale value - no new shiny tools for example - there is a potential for serious damage to the contents which is our greatest concern.
A recent addition to the site is a large compound in the car park to house a number of containers, toilets and a mess room for the 'Northern Belle' a super swish modern Pullman train which is to be housed on the railway. Unfortunately quite a number of car park spaces have been lost which will inconvenience intending passengers on busy days and while additional diesel locomotives and modern carriages are not to everybody's taste (certainly not to mine) the rental of siding space will bring in much needed revenue to the S.V.R.
Another bonus will be improved drainage at the entrance of the compound which at present floods and makes the gateway impassable after heavy rain. Additionally improved lighting will be installed around the Diesel Shed and along the access road to the Diesel and Carriage Sheds. I am hoping that the lighting on this roadway will be of a suitable GWR type, perhaps similar to the lamps along the path between the station and the car park, particularly as it is in station limits and needs to retain a heritage look.
Scammell Mechanical Horse
At long last our little Mechanical Horse is alive and back in action again. In the summer we decided to attempt to start the engine with a temporary re-used head gasket and little compression. This proved to be a failure, but with expert help from the Mechanical Horse Club the timing was accurately set, the spark checked but still it refused to start.
The consensus was that despite low compression the carburettor could be the main culprit. Steve took the carburettor off and immersed it in potent degreaser which we had been saving for such an eventuality. This removed all the external gunge, so Steve began the process of cleaning the internals. He said that after dismantling over 30 individual parts he began to appreciate the purely mechanical design solution enabling fuel and air to be precisely mixed in all three modes of engine running - start, tick-over and normal driving. Each had its own set of jets, airways and fuel ducts. These passageways had to be scrupulously clean in order to obtain reliable performance.
But how to remove the debris and corrosion deposits without damaging the precise dimensions of the orifices?
The answer was ultrasonic cleaning. The various parts were loaded in a basket and immersed in a hot cleaning fluid. This is agitated by high frequency sound and cavitation bubbles release dirt from all the little cavities and crevices.
Steve reassembled the carburettor with new gaskets from brown paper just like the originals, and says he was relieved that on completion no bits were left over!
When the carburettor was removed it had no air intake filter fitted - it never had! But as the carburettor is more or less in line with the front wheel, it is vulnerable to any dirt and debris being thrown up at 'speed'. So, a simple metal gauze was fitted to the air intake to keep the worst of the muck out.
Steve refitted the carburettor, and while the rest of the team were having a cuppa in the Porters' Cabin, he couldn't resist switching on and giving the starting handle a spin. It started! - First time in years. Nobody noticed a cloud of smoke billowing from the open doors of the Storage Shed and the euphoric moment only lasted for a few seconds. The engine stopped and all further attempts to start it failed.
In the knowledge that the engine could run, the next stage was to fit the new head gasket prior to filling the radiator. Once all was ready a second attempt to start the engine was made, but a displaced high tension lead in the Magneto fouled the rotor arm, breaking it and damaging the lead.
We had a spare rotor arm but decided that any attempt to dismantle the magneto to replace the lead could cause its magnets to weaken without the use of a special 'keep'.
At this point it was decided to have the magneto properly repaired and serviced by an expert and Bob knew such a person...
So we had to wait a few weeks while our job was 'slotted in' to his busy timetable, but in the event the repair proved to be beneficial as not only was the magneto in need of a good clean and service (it hadn't been used since the 1950's) but the automatic advance and retard mechanism had seized solid which was probably the reason the engine would start but not continue to run. This fault would have been very hard to diagnose and would have left us guessing with no obvious way forward.
Once back together and with water in the radiator and fuel in the tank, a few turns on the handle - and off she went. A triumphant drive the length of the car park was followed by Bob doing some skilful driving getting the unit back in the tight access to the storage shed. Bob was voted as the 'regular driver'.
A couple of weeks later he drove the unit triumphantly over to its new home in the Bus Garage where he coupled it up to its flat bed trailer. Job done.
The issue now is what to do with it. Where it is parked it cannot easily be seen by the public. The unit can not meet modern construction and use regulations and as such isn't road legal. At present the best option is to display it in the car park on high days and holidays. Our original plan to have it on public display together with the Thornycroft and the drays in the former G.W.R Road Motors Depot that stood in our car park at Kidderminster was thwarted by its demolition.
Perhaps the Scammell would make a good display at the Engine House with the container as a load on the flatbed trailer. It would demonstrate the railway's door-to-door delivery service, the World's first successful articulated lorry and the start of containerisation all in one exhibit.
The intention in the mean time is to start the lorry from time to time to keep it in operational condition and display it on the car park when there are special events. However it is a shame that we are not road legal as driving the unit and trailer on the road would be quite an experience and sure to turn a few heads.