North Eastern Locomotive Preservation Group

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Junior Volunteers

Admiring the outcome of the hard work done cleaning the Q6 -  April 2016 prior to the lunch time members special

The NELPG Junior Volunteers Scheme provides volunteering opportunities for young members, aged 13 to 16, who are keen to learn more about the operation of NELPG Locomotives. The scheme is focused on introducing young volunteers to the engineering and leadership skills necessary to maintain our locomotives in the 21st century and beyond. Work is often dirty and tiring but also rewarding and enjoyable.

The Junior Volunteers meet once or twice a month on a Saturday. They may also take part in the activities of the North Yorkshire Moors Railway Junior Volunteers and the Sir Nigel Gresley 007 Gang if they have memberships of those 2 Groups.

The location of each NELPG meet may vary depending on the location of NELPG Locomotives at the time; typical locations are Deviation Shed, Grosmont, Hopetown Carriage Works, Darlington and Leeming Bar Station on the Wensleydale Railway.

Safety and Workshop training will be given when joining the group and on an ongoing basis. Junior Volunteers will be expected to bring appropriate workshop clothing including safety footwear and overalls but other safety equipment will be provided as necessary.

Please note that there may be a waiting list for joining the group.

For further details please contact our Junior Volunteers Co-ordinator Bryan Orange.

My Train in the Attic


Matthew Smith writes:

My model train collection is built up of several different train sets and lots of extra track which I have built up over the years.

Layout left - Matthew Smith

At first the sets didn’t used to be utilised very often because we didn’t have a permanent space for it to be laid out but after our house extension there was a small attic space that could be insulated and done up. So my dad and I, over course of a couple months cut and fit insulation and boards to cover the insulation. We also put some carpet down to make a place to sit down and control the loops from.

Layout centre - Matthew Smith

After that I started designing a track layout to create, once we had put the different loops together we set about nailing the loops to the floor. For the next stage of my model railway we are thinking of adding a track loop attached to the wall which can be accessed by a series of ramps. The upper loop will come with a series of siding and junctions to store the surplus of carriages we have.

Layout right - Matthew Smith

I have the Flying Scotsman, the Eurostar high speed passenger train, a western tanker, the Blue Highlander and some smaller engines. My favourite 2 lcomotives are the Flying Scotsman and the Eurostar, which currently needs some new wheel grips because the old one has snapped.

Flying Scotsman - Matthew Smith

Like the rest of the NELPG Juniors I am anxious to get back to Workshop training at the Grosmont MPD again.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 27 January 2021 21:01

There's a Train at the Bottom of my Garden


Article by Finlay Brown.

As a junior volunteer at NELPG and the Thorpe Light Railway, I have been somewhat restricted by the Coronavirus lockdown and I have found that having your own miniature railway in these times has proved invaluable.

1.	The train passing Greenhouse halt with a passenger.

In 2014, my parents and I began volunteering on the 15” gauge Thorpe Light Railway near Barnard Castle and this is probably what inspired me to decide that I wanted a miniature railway in our garden. Before this I wasn’t really aware of railways smaller than 15” gauge which was too large and too expensive for me as I was only ten at the time and pocket money would definitely not cover the costs of constructing a proper narrow gauge railway. However, I began to discover the world of model engineering in gauges of 5” and 7 ¼” from fellow volunteers and various railway magazines which seemed more achievable and far more exciting than my Hornby OO. This was the start of a project which has taken more than five years to accomplish.

2.	The main station has a level crossing and scale crossing gates for passengers.

After much deliberation and many years of looking enviously at various pieces of railway equipment, a member of Thorpe told me that his friend had acquired some 5” gauge track from the Locomotion museum at Shildon, so we promptly set off to investigate. It appeared that the track was an oval but too large to fit in the intended garden so the track in question was left behind a shed. This was too good an opportunity to miss and we returned home with a trailer full of track. Over the next year, I began removing the rusted fishplates and making new ones using our trusty Edwardian hand cranked pillar drill. By this time, my Mum had finally come round to the idea of a railway in the garden and we set about laying the track. It turned out it was too large for our garden as well so the other half of the oval would have to go in the neighbouring field which would require a large embankment to make a reasonable gradient. Through a long winter of hard work with the help of my parents and a tractor, the railway was complete, for now.

3.	Items like the level crossing gates at the main station and signs add to the atmosphere of the railway.

This then left the question of rolling stock. I was told by another member at Thorpe that a small 5” gauge electric shunter was for sale at an auction soon, so my Dad and I agreed how much we were both willing to contribute to this investment and he set off for the auction while I had to go to school. I admit that it was hard to pay attention to the lessons that day but thankfully, after I rushed home, a locomotive was waiting. This was a Maxitrak Coronation based on a British Railways 0-4-0 diesel shunter. I have since had some electrical issues with this so I decided to take out all of the electrics and replace them with new versions despite the fact I am a steam engine enthusiast and electrics are confusing. This was soon followed by a pair of rather worn bogies acquired from another friend, which I quickly put a piece of plywood on top of and set off on my railway although as I was to find, there was much work still to complete.

4.	 Passing the pond on the 1 in 65 descending gradient to the main station.

In late 2018, I noticed that the grass from the lawn was advancing across the ballast leaving the track bed looking unsightly so (track laying attempt two) over another long and cold winter of 2018 – 19, my Mum and I painstakingly added a brick lining to the edge of the track formation. This, as with most aspects of building a railway, was a long and laborious process but has proved well worth the effort. However, during 2019, I noticed that the track laid on small steel sleepers was sinking into the ballast so (track laying attempt three) I removed every track panel and drilled two holes, again with the old hand powered pillar drill, in each sleeper to allow a larger wooden version to be screwed on. I am pleased to report that now in early 2020, the track is complete and has stopped sinking.

5.	My Lynton and Barnstaple wagon without seats and running boards can act effectively as a goods wagon.

Another problem was the carriage; an unstable piece of plywood on some worn bogies was not the solution to a functioning railway so I began designing a model of a 2’ gauge Lynton and Barnstaple Railway 8 ton bogie wagon which could have removable seats and function well as a sturdy passenger carriage. In late 2018, this was sent to yet another friend for welding of the main frames and returned in early 2019 ready for me to make the underframe, floor and body. This all went together relatively quickly and this wagon has proved a useful, reliable and attractive item of rolling stock.

6.	The train paused on the long embankment in the field side of the loop.

And now, in 2020, I have a complete working railway, which given the current stay at home situation is rather useful for personal sanity. I still have many plans for improving the railway; probably the most pressing is the construction of a steam locomotive as diesels and electrics are not my thing. Now that I have a good quality lathe, I have decided to make an Alice class Quarry Hunslet along with some more models of 2’ gauge rolling stock. I have found that the key to the success and completion of my railway has been down to the generosity and guidance of fellow railway volunteers, to whom I am very grateful and emphasises the importance of keeping our hobby alive despite current restrictions.

7. Climbing the long 1 in 105 gradient along the embankment. Behind is the wind turbine which contributes to filling the locomotive battery.

Last Updated on Monday, 07 September 2020 14:53

The beginning of a Hobby


by Tom Readman

Part 1 – ‘The beginning of a hobby and a 5-inch gauge Wagon’.

I think I was about 4 years old when I got my first breath of steam in my lungs from a steam loco, and I don't think it has ever left me! With countless happy hours sat in front a the TV watching Thomas the Tank engine, trips up into the loft to my granddads model railway, and of course, and happy memories of trips to the NYMR, I think the love of steam and railways entered my blood and will remain there forever! Of course, as a 4-5-year-old, I didn’t understand how engines or railways worked, but they looked good, and they were big machines that looked interesting. I never even dreamt that one day I would have the chance to volunteer on them.

I started as a NYMR Junior Volunteer (JV) in April of 2016 and apart from having great fun, I started to gain an insight into how it all worked. It was about a year later when I joined NELPG as a JV and joined the SNG '007 gang' JV group. As I progressed and learnt more, I began to attend the NELPG JV winter working parties. It was here, along with on the OTHER NYMR JVs and in the Sir Nigel Gresley 007 Gang where I learnt a lot from extremely good, helpful and knowledgeable people.

At the NELPG winter work parties, I participated in the workshop training (combined with work on the locos undergoing winter maintenance at the time) that I found another thing that I enjoy- machining and making things! At first, I didn't think the workshops and lathes were for me and in fact found them quite confusing at times! All talk of 'thous' and lathe terminology baffled me at first, but with a set of incredibly good tutors (whom all had masses of invaluable knowledge and skills) allowed me the chance to learn and progress within the workshop environment as well as on the locos too.

Eventually, with an idea of how things work in machining, my granddad and I invested on a milling machine and a lathe – to be restored- to begin setting up a workshop. The restoration of the Myford ML7 late taught me more and more about lathes and the engineering behind it all. In view of machining something, we invested in another ML7 lathe (one that worked!) to machine parts that the other lathe needed.

Having learnt more and more from the 3 groups mentioned above (who also how to use various hand tools and other engineering applications-not to mention being safe in the workshop), I began venturing into new projects to broaden my knowledge further. After around 6 months of nagging at my Granddad about the desire for a 5-inch gauge live steam loco, and with experienced advice from experienced people, it was decided to start somewhere a little less challenging but well worth the build...

On Christmas day, as a surprise present, I opened, and envelope given to me by my grandparents. To my delight, it was the drawings for a 5-inch gauge 7 plank wagon! I was over the moon! This is what I had been waiting for! All I needed to do now was source the materials needed and start building. Unbeknown to me, my grandparents had one last surprise rolled up their sleeves... My Grandparents appeared with this box, which again set my mind wondering as to what it may be! With great excitement, I opened the box... what is it going to be? And I never expected to find what I did... a 5-inch gauge 7 plank wagon kit! If the drawings were the icing on the cake, this was hundreds of glanced cherries on top! Work started with the drawings being carefully studied and the frames constructed in a homemade jig to ensure squareness. The build continues after Christmas with hours spent figuring things out and making parts to the drawings. After a year passed, the wagon was really beginning to take shape, the chassis was now a rolling chassis and other parts like working brake gear was being constructed along with working sprung buffers.

Part 2 – ‘The Wigwag and a new family member.’

I skip a little ahead now to the Christmas of 2019. Work on the wagon was really taking shape then and it looked like a proper wagon! Many fittings had been made, castings for the door assembly cleaned up and the under frame complete. The under frame now sported working buffers, working coupling hooks that I made myself (Thanks to Bryan Orange for allowing me the 3-inch length pieces of the 3/16 steel plate found lying next to the vice in Dev Shed!!!) These also had the chain fitted and were sprung as per the drawing. The body was also well underway by this point and the planks were cut to size, drilled and fitted to the body using the strapping kit provided in the kit. Many hours on a Saturday evening were whiled away fitting the planks systematically whilst listening to some great tunes from the 60s or 50s!

Tr Waggon - Tom Readman

The work I do in the workshop at home tends to be a mixture of jobs, a bit of all allsorts really ranging from little spinning tops I made from brass, parts to restore other items, helping the construction of a steel mallet for the NELPG ‘JV workshop training program and various other miscellaneous items just to name a few! However, there is and has been a few main projects over the years and that I’m working on currently. Other than the wagon, I’m working on a small stationary engine called 'A wig wag wobbler engine'! This engine was a recommendation by one of the NELPG JV supervisors and a superb engineer, when asked my granddad, he recommended a small stationary engine as a good project form me to benefit from and have fun making it – essentially not something to challenging, but not something too hard. This is a small single cylinder, single acting, stationary engine that was found on YouTube, where you can download the drawings free of charge. We bought materials enough to get us started making a few of the main components. The base was made from black mild steel and was milled square, had 2 clearance holes drilled and the holes counter bored to allow the heads of the set screws to sit down and not sick up. Work then turned to the Aluminium Column with careful marking out and drilling of two holes for the crankshaft and the pivot point -these had to be perfectly in line to allow smooth running of the engine - and were reamed ready to take a bushing. With two holes drilled and tapped in the bottom, the base and the column were fitted together for the first time 0 and I’m pleased to say, they fit well!

The cylinder was made from a solid aluminium block with a hole drilled off centre. The block was milled to create a stepped effect and was carefully set up in the lathe (been careful not to mark the surface) and machined to be a 15 mm bore. The port face is one of the next jobs to be done on this part with the inlet and exhaust ports to be made. A piston was machined to fit. A cylinder cover has also been finished and will be fitted when the engine is assembled.

Then came a long flywheel – or at least a solid brass block to make it from! This was started at the start of lockdown. As you can see in the photos, this was machined into a round and had a centre hole drilled to allow for a mandrel to be employed in the next machining stage. The mandrel allowed me to machine the whole of the outside diameter and machine the inside recess with a special lathe tool that I adapted for the job and with various different lathe tools to do different parts of the operation and to give the best surface finish. With one side completely machined, the flywheel was them flipped on the mandrel, clocked in and the rear recess was machined to be equal to the other side (for a balanced flywheel) and polished up to make it look shiny! After chamfering, it was taken off the mandrel, cleaned up and posed for the camera and is now in storage awaiting the completion of the engine. The crank has been started; this will be machined in a similar fashion to that of the flywheel.

A New Family member!!!

During the lockdown, in April, Granddad and I acquired a 5-inch gauge loco in the form of a 2F dock tank! This loco need finishing and comes with a boiler, rolling frames (that need valve gear and lots of other work to complete them) and parts for it. After much checking over, to make sure the frames were in good condition, they were found to be what I believe is sound. In time to come, the cylinders will be fully machined to the drawings with pistons made to fit and fitted to the frames. A start has already been made of making the brass components for the missing axle pump. This is now ready for assembly as a blank (like the one the previous owner had made) and the relevant work to be done to it to make it complete.

 The new family member - Tom Readman

Finally, I now move onto the most recent mini project I have undertaken – making the buffers for said loco. This work involves machining a shoulder on one end of a stainless-steel rod and a recess in a round slice of stainless steel. The pair are joined together by silver soldering. Machining then takes place which takes the bar (the stem) down to the correct diameter and length to fit the buffer housing and to be a sliding fit in the housing, which they now all are. A final polish just about finishes the job, with only a simple task of drilling a hole down the centre to remove the weight. This phase of the ‘buffers’ project is now – I am glad to say – has been started.

Buffers - Tom Readman

This buffers project is not finished yet, however, but is getting there! They are yet to have their heads mushroomed (a start was made on the 27th June 2020 – the date I’m am writing, by making the shallow step pattern of 2-4-6-8-10 degrees steps that form the dome shape. These will be polished out to allow a smooth, nice dome shape) and the outsides made oval. A keyway to stop the buffers rotating in their housings will see the buffers completed. I’m hoping to finish this project in the near future.

Bufferes - the old to the new - Tom Readman


Saturday 16th February 2019


Although there was no Q6/J27 working party at Deviation Shed yesterday, Bryan Orange reports that a sunny and warm spring day was enjoyed by those who attended the JV workshop session. Andy Lowes and Arthur Jenkins were on workshop teaching duties with Juniors Luke, Scott, Tom Readman, Fin, Will, Alex, Oliver and Matt, and Bryan in attendance.

After a hurried cup of tea made by Andy, the Juniors were split into 2 parties - one was in the MPD workshop and the other in the Dev Shed workshop. Hacksaws and files ground relentlessly as did whirring lathes. Unfortunately the demand for lathe and expert adult exceeded supply but at least 4 of the Juniors are well towards the finishing line with their Tool Makers Clamp manufacture. Thanks to Arthur and Andy for their support during the day.

In the afternoon, Nigel Hall popped in to gather some of his gear and a chat. 4 Juniors tidied up and cleaned the running plate of the Q6 as there wasn’t any workshop work they could do due to limited lathe access.

NYMR services were running for half term, so a chance to see 80136 and the DMU on passenger duties, and the Grosmont Station buffet was open for food. The J27 was reserve engine and stood steamless in the yard all day.

Gordon Wells had purchased platform 110 volt splitters at a silly price in a sale and has donated one to the Group. It has been left on the Deviation Shed workshop bench and should be useful for teeing off the 110 volt sockets in the pit.

The next Juniors workshop session is on Saturday March 9th, and a reminder that the next Q6/J27 working party will be this Wednesday, 20 February.


A day at Carnforth


Finn cleaning the outside of the RHS Sands box casing - Tom Noble

Tom Houseman cleaning frame areas behind RHS Sand Box - Tom Noble

Tom, Finn and Ed having a well earned rest on the K1 - Tom Noble

Ed test fitting new LHS Clack Box cap - Tom Noble

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