As promised, 'Kingswood' came back into traffic on 1st February, making its first official outing that afternoon to collect the works train from Avon Riverside – much to the curiosity and amazement of the working party.

Work has now started in earnest on the final drive unit for the Dutch group STIBANS. Some very serious (and insulting) observations on design concepts were prompted when it came to fitting two very fiddley parts in what can only be politely described as an awkward position.

The search for a suitable back-up locomotive for the '07' – albeit for the 2005/2006 season – has now borne fruit in the shape of a hydraulic version of the same loco. Depending on the progress of its repair and restoration, it may even be ready for traffic this year.

Two views of the new diesel hydraulic arriving at Bitton recently.  Photo's - Tony Wray.


Good news mostly, beginning with the fact that Kingswood is slowly approaching completion, with the aim that it should be in traffic by the end of the month.

Work continues on the components for the Dutch group STIBANS. It has been suggested that a number of their members may come over from Holland to view progress (SH : presumably going Dutch!!). Probably the real reason behind such a visit is that they would like to play with Kingswood, which is mechanically very similar to the exWD WWII locomotive they are restoring.

The main focus of attention at the moment is on finding a suitable locomotive to act as standby for the 07 during the summer diesel services and also preparing the 07 for its starring role.

Although the track repairs at Long Marston have been completed, internal politics now seem to have crept into the equation. The net result of this is that Defence Estates are still prevented from granting permission to use the railway system again, in turn thwarting any attempt to move the DMU trailer car to Bitton.

A Reminder to all concerned - the Goods Shed is only for use by working members involved on Company or Heritage Trust Projects, plus those allowed access to machine tools. Anyone else wishing to use the Shed must obtain permission from their Head of Department.

or "how far will gun cleaner fly?"

Looking back through 'Semaphore' it would seem that the last diesel report appeared in the Spring/Summer 2002 edition which leaves me with a number of random thoughts such as what exactly did happen during the intervening twelve months, did I write another report that got to the Editor late so that it missed the print date and appeared on the web site instead. I can't remember, so accept my apologies if I repeat myself.

Ruston Hornsby Class 07 D2994

When I last reported on the antics of D2994 in late 2002, it appeared to be suffering from lubricating oil problems, and the ongoing saga of the fuel pumps. Well by the end of the year it was obvious that the alternative lubricating oil was not to the liking of the engine, which coupled with a faulty oil pressure relief valve and a set of injectors that were not sealing properly and dribbling fuel into the cylinders, all resulted in low or non existent oil pressure when the engine was hot. A replacement set of injectors, attention to the oil pressure relief valve, and two oil changes later and all appeared well again, and with the exception of the fuel pumps and the still smoky exhaust D2994 was ready for the 2003 operating season.

After expending a lot of time, effort, and trouble, the fuel pump saga was eventually drawn to a close when Tom Day Ltd of Keynsham eventually realised where they had gone wrong with the pumps, and returned to fit an overhauled set during the first week of September. To spare their blushes I am not going to say what the mistake was, suffice to say it was something very simple, resulting from a combination of an elderly design of fuel pump, and Paxman's installation, a classic example of the saying "make something obvious and no one notices".

Apart from routine servicing and maintenance the one remaining task is to try and acquire a spare Paxman engine as an insurance policy against anything going wrong with the engine fitted to D2994 - other than that I believe we are fairly well placed for spare parts to keep the 'old lady' going for a long time.

As I am writing this just at the end of the summer timetable, late October, it was interesting to look back at the figures for D2994. For the year to date (31st October) 845 miles run, of which the period end of March to end of June was 216 run, with the following period to end of September accounting for a further 408, with only two very minor faults that did not affect public services.

As a consequence of D2994's variable (some would say erratic) performance over the years, the nagging question kept being asked about exactly what the locomotive would haul, and therefore its running speed. This question began to assume greater importance as the year wore on because it became more and more obvious that the revised timetable for 2004 could see some diesel hauled services between Avon Riverside and Oldland. Although for various reasons one or two semi official load tests had taken place during the year, plus the odd heavy shunt, the operation of a gauging train from Bitton to Avon Riverside and return presented an ideal opportunity to see exactly what would happen with the bonus of having the overhauled pumps fitted. From a standing start on the rising gradient at the Meadows bridge, seven coaches plus Lord Robertson (a trailing load of 280 tons on a 1 in 120/1 in 100 gradient), was started and hauled to Bitton at a steady 8 - 10 MPH. The exhaust was as expected visible but with a load like that what can you expect. This performance, plus the mileages covered during the summer, must surely put its past reputation firmly to bed, and be the closest a locomotive has ever come to waving the proverbial two fingers at its critics. 2004 timetable here we come!

WD 70033

As the rebuilt engine for 70031 approached completion the old engine in WD 70031 (Grumpy) was removed and the rebuilt one was substituted so that it could be started up, so with no exhaust system, and an old five gallon oil drum as the fuel tank and on what turned out to be the coldest Sunday in February, the first test run took place. After a few attempts, some Easy Start, polite coaxing, and a few muttered oaths the engine eventually burst into life, which is where the biggest mistake of the afternoon occurred - we did not realise just how cold it was. After dealing with a few minor faults and beginning to think there were deeper seated problems, the penny dropped - it was so cold that despite being on full throttle the engine was only just managing to run at idle, hence our starting problems. Add to this the effects of the thick white exhaust blasting from the end of the exhaust manifold straight into the rear of the cooling fan, only to be forced back and eventually upwards, it wasn't long before Bitton station yard began to assume its own low lying cloud bank.

Whilst all this was going on the inevitable crowd of members and public began to gather, and whilst Trevor Hodge and I braved the clag and dealt with any problems (and tinkered), one member of the public was heard to comment "Cor you're braver than me  - I couldn't do that!" Just to complete the day I wandered in to the car park and made a phone call to Holland to Hans Altena, the leader of the STIBANS WD Loco Project group, and as I was speaking to him I was gradually walking back to the engine, and then said to him "Hans listen to this" and held the phone close to the by now quite sweet sounding engine. The reaction at the other end can be imagined.

Although the cooling system was filled with anti-freeze, and had been topped up with water the previous weekend, the water had not mixed such that when the engine was shut down the water was still frozen solid in the radiator header tank.

To avoid creating any further low lying cloud banks the exhaust system was progressively modified until Grumpy was seen sporting an eight foot length of plastic drain pipe as a vertical exhaust stack.

During the early summer the change speed gear box for WD 70033 along with the one for Army 200 was returned from overhaul, with the one for 70033 being fitted to 70031 (Grumpy), adjusted and prepared for load testing.

Following the last service train on Sunday 6th July 70031, still with plastic drain pipe exhaust, was seen propelling a test train of approx 85 tons southwards out of Bitton station down to the limit of operation where after a few checks the ensemble set sail back to Bitton with Driver Miles at the controls. Up to this point the plastic exhaust had behaved, however from the subsequent comments from the footplate it would appear that as the exhaust heat built up the walls of the pipe were seen to visibly start pulsating and wobbling in and out until it gracefully flopped over to form a squared off "U" shape with neatly folded corners and then got blown off the stub of the exhaust manifold. By this time the engine had well and truly reached working temperature with a virtually clear exhaust and the disappearance of any odd nagging knocks, taps, or rattles. Arrival at Bitton saw both John Miles and Trevor Hodge grinning like a pair of proverbial Cheshire cats, John not having managed to break the engine, and Trevor because his handiwork had withstood the test.

WD 70031 (Army 124)

From the piece above it will be obvious that 70031 (Grumpy) was used as a test bed for the overhauled STIBANS parts, and now this work is completed it was laid up in readiness for the removal of the odd small, and not so small parts to assist the rebuild of ARMY 200, the sale of other parts to support the restoration of a further identical locomotive in the UK, before the remans are exported to Holland to assist STIBANS with the completion of 70033.

Army 200 Grumpy

During the early summer the change speed gearbox returned from overhaul, and was put into secure storage away from Bitton until such time as the overhaul is commenced. In the meantime the fluid coupling will be removed having been sold to another preservation group. As soon as it is possible to move 200 is will come to Bitton to help complete the WD locomotive project that to an outsider is becoming a Chinese puzzle.


Kingswood returned to Bitton during late 2002 in an effort to clear Long Marston, and to try and push the repaint on towards completion. Progress ,I have to concede, has not been as quick as it could have been, however matters were not helped by some well intentioned but sadly non productive assistance provided one Saturday, that was followed by some further and more damaging assistance in the form of an attempt at sanding down. The time spent correcting these two well intentioned but non productive efforts, combined with the demands of operating turns during the summer months, have meant that progress at times has naturally been very slow. Matters were however made worse by two, thankfully small panels, being damaged by some kind individual managing to flick splashes of Gun Cleaner (for those of you who don't know ,this is a cellulose based cleaner/thinner designed for cleaning out spray guns after use) over them and leaving a series of very dark spots etched into the completed paint, hence my sub-title to this report.

All is not lost though, due to a combination of events at work, I have been able to spend considerably more time in the last two months working on the repaint than I had expected. With any luck the next few weeks should see the repaint complete, then following an oil change and service, 'Kingswood' is back in traffic.

610 Lord Robertson

The good news here is that the Trustees have agreed the financial cover to allow the overhaul to go forward as a rolling programme following the return to traffic of Kingswood.  Exactly how the overhaul will be taken forward, and over what timescale, has yet to be confirmed, but there certainly should be signs of activity in the new year.

Class 108 DMU

At the editor's request I have produced a separate piece covering the DMU and the expected activity over the coming months - this will appear on this website shortly.


Remains untouched with the current Long Marston situation.

Hudswell Clarke D1171

Another of the long term residents of Long Marston that again remains untouched.

NBL 107

Some of you with good memories may recall a rough looking black diesel shunter that appeared at Bitton for a few weeks during November 2002. This locomotive, a 300HP 0-6-0DH, was once part of the large fleet of NBL 0-6-0's used by Richard Thomas and Baldwin Ltd (later GKN) in South Wales, eventually passing to what is now the Vale of Glamorgan Railway and although unserviceable, it was in good condition and repairable when the VoG acquired it. However the effects of vandalism at the Bute Road site in Cardiff, combined with failed attempts at restoration, resulted in its current very sorry condition.

By one of those freak combinations of circumstance, and in exchange for a set of vacuum brake components required by the VoG to complete the system fitted to their Hunslet 0-6-0DM Bill Caddick, 107 passed into my ownership.

I subsequently discovered that 107 is now one of only two remaining North British 0-6-0 diesel shunters and perhaps misguidedly agreed to purchase a 300HP 0-4-0 NBL from another source that was also unserviceable but in much better condition that would act as a donor to support the restoration of 107, and also came with a considerable collection of large spare parts.

Apart from having to move 107 from the VoG, nothing much would have happened until another chance conversation developed into an enquiry from the SRPS who were desperately looking for a spare NBL/MAN engine to complete the overhaul of one of the pair of ex BR NBL shunters formerly located on the East Lancs Railway. To make matters worse these locos had been through the hands of the NCB before being purchased by the East Lancs with the result that the crankshaft and bearings of the engine fitted to the SRPS locomotive were only fit for scrap, the situation being further complicated by the imposition of a completion deadline by the Scottish Museums Service who were providing funding to support the restoration. This in due course led to a request to purchase the engine from 107.

A visit to the VoG by the SRPS confirmed that even allowing for the discovery of a missing connecting rod and piston the exposed crankpin had been well preserved and the crankshaft fitted to 107 was in extremely good condition. From there on, as they would say, the rest is history - 107 departed from the VoG on 7th November destined for the Avon Valley Railway, where the engine was removed on Friday 15th to go to the SRPS at Bo'ness, followed on the Sunday by the front ballast block being put to scrap, to depart again on the 20th to Long Marston where it is currently in store.

It was interesting to note that although 107 was built in 1959 the date of manufacture shown on the engine build plate gave a date of 1962, which would imply that like other NBL diesel users GKN also experienced troubles with this particular turbocharged variant of the NBL/MAN engine fitted to 107 and were forced to fit a new engine after a period of only about three years service, that also appears to have failed not too long afterwards.

For the time being 107 and its donor will remain in store, and as looks increasingly probable may pass to the SRPS who have expressed an interest in taking the locomotive on as one of their own projects.

Summer 2004

One of the reasons behind the questions about D2994's true abilities were the initial thoughts about a feature of the planned 2004, and possibly 2005/2006, summer timetable - the use of diesel haulage on a series of Saturday services between Oldland and Avon Riverside, until such time as the DMU is available. Whilst there are no problems with D2994 ambling along with two or three coaches, the question has been asked about a back up locomotive in the event of a failure or other problems. Whilst 'Kingswood' is also capable of doing the job it will be a little bit slower and less forgiving of any poor driving due to its mechanical transmission and the jolts and bumps that will then inevitably be felt in the train from any rough or mis-judged gear changes. In view of these concerns the Trustees have asked what alternative locomotives (if any) may be available for the summer periods to act as back up and to possibly keep 'Kingswood' for works train duties. At present there are two options being considered, one an ex Oxfordshire Ironstone Company trip working locomotive, a Sentinel 0-4-0DH geared for 30 MPH - in effect 'Lord Robertson' cut in two; or alternatively one of the Ruston hydraulic 0-6-0s of a similar design to D2994. At present the Sentinel appears to be the favourite, but until its restoration is complete and can be put through its paces it is not possible to make any firm comments, and then the final decision rests with the Trustees.


The flat 4.5V battery used in the Bardic lamp is now only available from one supplier in bulk quantities, usually batches of 100, which leaves no alternative but to purchase one of the genuine Bardic replacement adaptor trays to take three 1.5V batteries (U2's?) from one of two suppliers at what appears to be an exceptionally high price.

By chance I have learnt about an alternative adaptor tray that whilst it is not perfect is more than adequate for the job and is available from Maplin Electronics under their title "Battery cassette" Item No. YU28F retailing for approx £2 each.

Physically fitting the cassette is not a problem (simply force a lump of foam rubber in to the lamp body with it to stop it rattling around) however the problem comes with the connections. It was suggested soldering to the cassette but a very hot iron is needed and even then the plastic deforms or even melts very easily, which only leaves the option of using a pair of 6BA nuts and bolts and terminal tags.

If anyone considers following this route and wants to have a look at one of the trays first, I have one fitted to a Bardic, and could probably be persuaded to do the conversion.

Also in my collection of bits and pieces I have a few odd Bardic spare parts.

John Payne.



or do you want to buy a Goat?

The sub title is a genuine question, but first of all some of you may be wondering why the last report appeared in the Winter 2000 edition of Ground Signal with a brief note by our editor in the Spring/Summer edition of Semaphore concerning D2994 disgracing itself on the day of the HRA visit in January.

The Sunday following the HRA visit found me lying on a trolley in the A&E Dept of Bath Royal United Hospital being told "you won't be going anywhere tonight sir, we are just waiting for a bed for you, and should be operating on your knee tomorrow". This piece of information posed a few logistical problems, not least of which was how do you assist a contractor who is coming from Chesterfield in a few days time to try and resolve a fuel pump problem? Answer  -you talk very nicely to the nurses and hijack the ward phone when no one is looking. After a week in hospital, and a good two months wearing a splint I was back in action.

Ruston Hornsby Class 07 D2994

Well it had to happen, the previous evening's charter turn went off without a hitch, but as soon as some serious work was demanded for the HRA AGM visit on Sunday 28th January 2001 the quantities of fuel being drawn from the tank had so much suspended rubbish in it the new primary fuel filter simply did its job and clogged solid starving the engine of fuel. A filter element change later in the day resolved the problem, leaving only the fuel pump problems to resolve that I initially found myself trying to manage from a hospital bed. The visit did not prove successful, with the consequence that the problem rumbled on until mid September when a further set of pumps were fitted that appear to cured the problem.

The fuel pump work, combined with an incident with the deadman's system, resulted in D2994 retreating to the Goods Shed again for further attention including the fitting of a traction ammeter and its associated shunt recovered from a scrapped industrial diesel electric shunting locomotive. Over the Christmas period we all began to think that D2994 was beginning to behave itself, but having given us all a false feeling of confidence, a little episode during the Easter period shattered the illusion when coming up from the south under load the engine oil pressure dropped to virtually zero with the oil appearing to break down and loose its viscosity. Perhaps when this one is resolved D2994 will at last behave itself

WD 70033

The past twelve months have seen steady progress towards completion of the engine for 70033, however this has not been without some frustration as it became very obvious that although we were building up an engine based on a good and known crankcase assembly, the parts we were recovering from the Stibans engine had in fact been previously recovered from not one but two engines, all helping to confirm the theory that 70033 itself had been rebuilt from two locomotives in Belgium by its last industrial owner.

The change speed gear box was sent away during the summer for specialist overhaul, but was subsequently found to be incomplete. The problem was eventually overcome by the arrival of a second (and complete) gearbox from Holland which was delivered to the contractor earlier this year, along with the gearbox from Army 200.

WD 70031 (Army 124)

Once the test run for Stibans was completed 70031 was only laid up for a short period before the engine and bonnet were prepared for removal, and the "theft" of the odd small part to assist the engine rebuild for 70031, or used to confirm the layout of certain parts (we had forgotten what went where!)

Army 200 'Grumpy'

During the late summer the change speed gearbox was removed ready for overhaul.


The repaint has continued to make steady if slow progress with everything except the cab doors rubbed down, undercoated and filled, with some final painting begun - that was until circumstances changed dramatically at Long Marston. With Yorkshire Engine Co being placed into liquidation during the late summer of 2001, all work on 'Kingswood' and any other project has ceased until such time as space is released in another building, possibly by the DMU being moved away, as it is very difficult to legitimately carry out any work at the present time.

610 'Lord Robertson'

At the start of the Christmas period the straight air brake system began to fail to retain pressure in the cylinders when a brake application was made. The upshot of this discovery was that one of the brake cylinder piston seals was found to be "blowing by" which turned in to one of those situations where the joys of diesel locomotive preservation comes home to roost. The brake equipment on all Sentinel diesels is of German design, manufactured to imperial dimensions in the UK by a company that withdrew from the rail products market in the early seventies, and then subsequently disappeared, with in the case of 610, the added complication that the brake cylinders are 14" diameter, where any other Sentinel (and the majority of other industrial diesels) are fitted with 12" diameter cylinders.

After a lot of searching, four unidentified 14" piston seals were located by a supplier, one of which was obtained on approval just in case it might happen to be the right type. It was the right type and the cylinder was repaired, with the other three being very rapidly acquired for stock.

Once the current troubles with D2994 are finally resolved it will be the turn of 610 for overhaul as soon as finance becomes available.


No change with the current Long Marston situation.

Class 108 DMU

At the time of writing there is a slight possibility the power car may be moving to another railway - for a period of up to two years on a repair and operate arrangement, whilst the trailer car, which is in the worst condition, moves to Bitton for overhaul.

With the current dismantling of class 117 units by Angel Trains, the opportunity has arisen to acquire the last outstanding spares required for the DMU, a pair of spare engines plus one or two other small bits and pieces.

Hudswell Clarke D1171

Another of the long term residents of Long Marston, the ex PBA, Princes Wharf, and BFL Filton

Hudswell, may possibly be on the move to the Vale of Glamorgan Railway where, if negotiations

go to plan it will be restored to operational condition, and used for a period of up to five years.


Although they admitted they expected the offer to be turned down, during the course of last year Stibans made the AVR the offer of a 'Goat'. Not the destructive four legged variety, but a small outside framed NS 0-4-0 diesel shunting locomotive of a type once found at nearly every wayside station, where it would be used by the resident shunting staff to position wagons for loading and unloading once the local pick-up freight had departed for the day. Although fitted with a fully enclosed cab, the driving controls are also duplicated on each side of the locomotive so that they can be driven by one man (the shunter) riding on a wide footboard fitted along the lower edge of each frame member. What HM Railway Inspectorate would have said if it had appeared at Bitton is best left to the imagination!

NS SIK 206 pictured on 21/4/2001.  Photo - Kees Moayt.

NS SIK 345 hauling C12 6478 at Blerick Museum Depot, 15/6/2001.  Photo - Kees Moayt.

John Payne.


Ruston Hornsby Class 07 D2994

BR Class 07 No. D2994 at Field Grove.  Photo - Andy Beale.

The Buffet window test the ultimate trial for the- new exhaust system came sooner than expected when D2994 was paired up with the 1F for the Hertfordshire Railtour visit on November 11th, with the result that only favourable comments were made about the effectiveness of the new exhaust system. Following this brief exposure D2994 has now retreated back into the goods shed so that Andy can put the finishing touches to the paintwork in readiness for a limited return to traffic initially as stand-by locomotive, and then taking a more active role over the later part of the Christmas timetable, to be followed by a formal return to traffic planned to coincide with the HRA Annual General Meeting visit scheduled for Sunday 28th January 2001.

One minor modification that was not originally planned was the fitting of an ether cold starting system, rather than relying as we have done previously on a can of aerosol easy start. The consequences of damaging the new paintwork, combined with the risk of dripping oil from the air cleaners when removing them to use the can of easy start was just too much to even contemplate.

WD 70033

Having tried, and failed, in our attempt to free the two seized pistons from their respective cylinder blocks, there is now no alternative but to resort to persuasion (brute force) to remove them complete with liners and start again. The rebuild of the engine is now becoming a much simpler task due to the confirmed availability of the Gardner engine parts from John Antell. In a similar manner, there were fears about the internal condition of the final drive unit, however when this was opened for inspection, apart from some very minor damage, the overall condition was very good.

Saturday 7th October saw three members of Stibans, Hans, Kees, and Raymond, visit Bitton to see at first hand the internal condition of the final drive from 70033, the condition of 70031, and to gain some feeling of what 70033 will be like when it is folly restored. The reasons for viewing 70031 were not fully appreciated until the photographs were produced of 70033 showing just how heavily modified it was at the end of its working life with the addition of many significant modifications inside the cab besides the more obvious structural changes to the cab roof and bonnet side panels.

WD 70031 (Army 124)

The visit by Stibans, referred-to above, meant that 70031 was briefly, albeit not without some difficulty, revived for one day and taken to Oldland and back to enable the group to see, hear, and gain some feeling of what WD 70033 will be like when it is fully restored and returned to traffic.

Following the visit 70031 was returned to the yard and laid up pending partial dismantling and export to Holland in the new year.


The repaint continues to make steady if slow progress with everything except the cab doors rubbed down, undercoated and filled in preparation for final painting.

610 Lord Robertson

With the imminent return of D2994 to traffic, to be followed by the return of Kingswood, 610 will very shortly be withdrawn from traffic for the long overdue and promised overhaul, however by chance a recent article written by Roger Bagnall concerning military locomotive names appearing in the Industrial Railway Journal has provided the answer to one mystery that has surrounded 610 ever since it arrived at Bitton. The reason for the inclusion of a piece of galvanise & water pipe as part of the handrail at the No.2 end has been the subject of much speculation over the years - obviously the result of an accident, but where and when? The photograph in this journal gives the answer. Taken in August 1965 on the Longmoor Military Railway the details on the back of the photograph simply state "Collision damage with coach 03031".

Collision Damage with Coach AD 03031 - August 1965, Longmoor Military Railway.  
- R Bagnall.


All remaining bonnet panels have been sand blasted and primed.

Class 108 DMU

Although not finally confirmed, there are proposals being floated to move the trailer car to Bitton for restoration in the early part of 2001, to be followed later in the year by the power car following completion of the various outstanding mechanical repairs.

John Payne.

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This page last updated by Tony Wray on 27/3/2004.