Work in Progress - DRA volunteer activity


This page showcases the activities of the DRA's volunteers. It relies heavily on the contributions of volunteers, especially team leaders. Carriage and Wagon reports are by David Bell unless otherwise stated. Thank you to all our contributors.

Note that there is also coverage of the restoration of brakevan LDS55625 on its dedicated page.

Our content management system's mechanism for limiting file size resulted in the inadvertent loss of reports between sometime in 2015 and April 2018, including vital information on David Bell's 79th birthday cake. We now periodically remove reports into archive pages, as follows:

Archive page 3 Sept 2019 to Dec 2019
Archive page 2 Dec 2018 to Sept 2019
Archive page 1 Apr 2018 to Nov 2018, plus a jumble of earlier, departmental volunteer reports.


Okehampton Station latest


Thanks to Tom Baxter for the following notes.

Up Side/Platform 3 - Main Building:

Buffet and all Toilets now in operation at designated hours - see services page for buffet details.

DRA managed Heritage area:

Heritage Ticket Office. Yet to be fitted out - likely by mid November.

Booking Hall. Yet to be fitted out - same as HTO timescale. Now open during buffet hours and in use as another entrance to station. Actually most direct link from bus stops.

Dartmoor National Park information centre - displays etc. Now operational - open during buffet hours.

DRA Shop - Fitted out and operational. Details on shop page. Not open Wednesdays for time being as some final jobs are being completed.

Heritage Waiting Room. Yet to be fitted out - again likely by mid November.

Down Side/Platform 2 Building:

Museum Room 1. Operational, open when DRA present, so same as shop, but also likely to be open Wednesdays when station team is present.

Museum Room 2. Currently being cleared of stores, then will require some TLC before re-opening as part of Museum. Likely to be early 2023, hopefully before Easter.

Room 2 (Staff Room). DRA refreshment service now finished so temporary counter etc. and catering area has been demolished. Room has had a quick repaint and now on way to becoming new stores, light duty workshop with emphasis on 'light', and staff area.

Room 1 (Former shop). Still some residual book stock to move out. Museum stuff from MR2 being stored. Plus other items, some of which may go to Meldon, others to Up side. May become Museum Room 3 at some point in the future.

Office and Flat area on up Side not yet fitted out. Flat is officially designated as a storage area. So maybe an area we can use for archive storage. It wasn't re-decorated as it was outside the scope of the GWR Contractors brief, so DRA has agreed to do that as a quick fix 'magnolia job', before we fill it with stuff.




Meldon July 27th and Aug 3rd 2022


LMS brakevan 731411 with a temporary replacement roof covering, following storm damage to the original.brPhotographer Geoff HornerbrDate taken 03082022

LMS brakevan 731411 with a temporary replacement roof covering, following storm damage to the original.
Photographer: Geoff Horner
Date taken: 03/08/2022



The fine weather of Wednesday 27 July and 3 August saw a group of volunteers gather at Meldon to undertake some care and maintenance work on our rolling stock there. This included a number of general maintenance tasks on the two carriages and a replacement roof covering to the LMS goods brake van. This has been well battened down and will (we hope!) now withstand the Dartmoor weather.

GH


Meldon, May 18th 2022


The task of moving the Carriage and Wagon tools and equipment is now completed, the final task being the transfer of items previously stored in Lab11 into the former permanent way shed. Last Wednesday, 11 May, was, in a typical Dartmoor way, rained off. However yesterday, 18 May, turned out to be bright but a bit on the breezy side. A reduced group of three of the regular volunteers started on the task of clearing away the vegetation, mostly young trees and bushes that had already started growing again around our rolling stock. This will give clear access and a safe working area for future planned maintenance.

GH


Meldon activity April 6th, 13th and 20th


The work of transferring the DRA tools and equipment from the C&W shed in to the former PW shed continued on the 6th and 13th April C&W days and is now complete except for a few last odds and ends. For those who may be wondering why we have been doing this there are two main reasons. Firstly the quarry owners, Aggregate Industries, have offered and DRA have accepted a licence agreement covering the northern sidings of the former DRCIC yard along with the small loco shed and the former Permanent Way storage shed. This places DRA's access to the quarry site on a formal basis and provides us with a secure workshop close by our rolling stock. The second reason is that the ownership of the former DRCIC Carriage & Wagon shed is at present under discussion between AI and RMS LocoTec with the question as to whether or not the shed will be left on site at Meldon unresolved.

On April 20th work at Meldon was put on hold as all available volunteers were needed at Okehampton station where the work of refurbishing the interiors of the main Platform 3 buildings is about to start. We were asked by GWR if we would assist in clearing out the former buffet as well as making sure that any DRA assets still left on Platform 3 were secured ready to be taken to safe storage in a garage made available to us by one of our local members.

GH


Meldon March 30th 2022


Proof that the sun still shines at MeldonbrPhotographer David BellbrDate taken 30032022

Proof that the sun still shines at Meldon
Photographer: David Bell
Date taken: 30/03/2022



A surprisingly large group turned out, to continue the work of transferring all DRA's tools and equipment from the Carriage and Wagon workshop to the former Permanent Way workshop next door.


Meldon March 16th 2022


Geoff Horner reports that a largish working party assembled at Meldon to board up the broken windows with plywood. This should be more weatherproof than the previous tarpaulin cover, and hopefully of little interest to vandals other than a clean target for even more pointless graffiti.

Team work LMS brake van 731411, Lab 11 aka BSK RDB 975046 and Mk2a FK S13436brPhotographer Geoff HornerbrDate taken 16032022

Team work! LMS brake van 731411, Lab 11 (aka BSK RDB 975046) and Mk2a FK S13436
Photographer: Geoff Horner
Date taken: 16/03/2022



The FKbrPhotographer Geoff HornerbrDate taken 16032022

The FK
Photographer: Geoff Horner
Date taken: 16/03/2022



The interior of Lab 11brPhotographer Geoff HornerbrDate taken 16032022

The interior of Lab 11
Photographer: Geoff Horner
Date taken: 16/03/2022




Meldon visit Feb 23rd 2022


A mixed group of four C&W/SMT volunteers went to the Meldon quarry yard on Wednesday to see how our rolling stock had fared during the recent storm Eunice. The only 'casualty' was the LMS brake van (731411) where the roof covering membrane had been torn loose and was caught up over the protruding stove chimney and hanging down to the ground. We were able to cut this free and trim the membrane back around the chimney so no further damage should be caused.

We were also able to attend to one of the door drop windows to the FK carriage (S13436) which had dropped down, by raising it as far as it would go, inserting a length of timber batten as a wedge and covering over the remaining small gap at the top to prevent any further weather ingress. There was no sign of any further damage.

Photographer Geoff HornerbrDate taken 23022022

Photographer: Geoff Horner
Date taken: 23/02/2022



GH


[That roofing material has come adrift pretty comprehensively. We haven't renewed it in our ownership, and we're just wondering if it is (was) original. If so, it's 80 years old and has survived all sorts of destructive weather, which says a lot for Eunice's ferocity. JK]

A mooch around Meldon, December 15th 2021


Not really 'work' as such, because there wasn't anything useful we could do, but four of us - three stalwart C&W volunteers and the website editor - visited Meldon on Wednesday morning. The vibe was a tad less upbeat than that of Okehampton.

The quarry site was pretty busy. A Network Rail group was working on scrap track, a lorry load of which was just departing as we arrived. How many lorry journeys are needed to remove a 15 mile railway? Elsewhere a well attended RIG Systems exercise was taking place. Aggregate Industries staff were also present.

The various bits of old mining equipment which used to lurk in the undergrowth near the former signing-on point, along with the crane which arrived a few years ago, are now on display in the open area behind the SR building where everyone parks. Let's hope this signals AI's interest in Meldon's quarrying history.

Three of our vehicles have been shunted into a siding at the NE end of the site. After very little attention for the last couple of years, they look a bit down at heel, made worse by the unattractive surroundings, but the work needed to refresh them is mostly cosmetic. The FK has some grafitti and needs work on some windows, rust patches are visible on Lab 11 and the paintwork on the LMS brakevan is starting to peel.

Only two other rail vehicles are visible. The privately owned class 117 centre car 59520 looks pretty sorry for itself, but seems to have been positioned for removal. 10842, the former Wickham trolley which was converted to a trailer after a prang, is parked in front of the workshop doors, piled high with junk which was once used to entertain Polar explorers. The word is it's been sold. It's a nice little project for someone who can source a suitable engine and transmission bits.

We couldn't view the contents of the workshop building, as RMS Locotec have taken it upon themselves to change the locks. We hope our SR brakevan and all our tools are still in there, along with AI's class 08 D4167.

LMS brakevan 731411 at Meldon. Paintwork is starting to peel, especially on the original wood.brPhotographer Jon KelseybrDate taken 15122021

LMS brakevan 731411 at Meldon. Paintwork is starting to peel, especially on the original wood.
Photographer: Jon Kelsey
Date taken: 15/12/2021



Our stock at Meldon. LMS brakevan 731411, Lab11 looking unfamiliar in primer, and the end of the FK, 13436.brPhotographer Jon KelseybrDate taken 15122021

Our stock at Meldon. LMS brakevan 731411, Lab11 looking unfamiliar in primer, and the end of the FK, 13436.
Photographer: Jon Kelsey
Date taken: 15/12/2021



JK


Carriage and Wagon September 8th 2021


A team of volunteers descended on Meldon to put a tarpaulin on the roof of our SR brakevan LDS 55625. Its unfinished roof isn't weatherproof, and there were concerns that it might find itself outside the shed at short notice, exposed to the Dartmoor weather.

Whilst we were there, the CCT (94691) and Ferryvan (DB889022) departed on a low loader. Apparently the former Meldon buffet coach (69310) had left earlier.

Meldon yard wasn't looking at its best.

The CW team putting a tarpaulin on LDS 55625brPhotographer David BellbrDate taken 08092021

The C&W team putting a tarpaulin on LDS 55625
Photographer: David Bell
Date taken: 08/09/2021



JK



Station Maintenance June 2021


The main SMT activity in recent weeks has been the clearance of platform 3 and (re) management of our storage areas for the ongoing works starting very shortly on the up side station building and platform 3. This has involved moving quite a lot of stuff around but we seem to have got there more or less on schedule. What we don't need for the next few months is hopefully stored safely and other items we do still need are accessible on the down side. Although we may still get caught out somewhere.

Despite this, painting of the down side has continued. Mainly the canopy underneath and on the ends and also on footbridge sides. The lamp posts on platform 3 are now down and we have nearly retrieved all the fittings. There are some yet to get subject to site access via the NR compound.

For the last 2 Wednesdays of the month we had visits by NR Materials Recovery trains topped and tailed by Colas class 70s. (See also Seen At The Railway). On the 30th 70811 came to join us at our afternoon tea break along with two of its drivers during their crew change.

70811 comes to tea.brPhotographer Tom BaxterbrDate taken 30062021

70811 comes to tea.
Photographer: Tom Baxter
Date taken: 30/06/2021




Station Maintenance May 5th 2021


Platform 1 white edging being refreshedbrPhotographer Dave EllisbrDate taken 05052021

Platform 1 white edging being refreshed
Photographer: Dave Ellis
Date taken: 05/05/2021




Station Maintenance April 21st 2021


A warm sunny day. Well, most of the time. Lots of Network Rail activity, including the mid-morning departure of 56302 propelling over 1000 tons of concrete sleepers down the line. A volunteer turnout in double figures. All of which added up to an interesting day with plenty of buzz and lots of work done.

There's never any shortage of painting; today's was the platform 2 fence, and the lean-to building on platform 3. Another group worked on the refurbishment of platform 2's under-canopy lights, whilst others were gardening or clearing vegetation in the empty bay siding. Some storage space has become available, and a start was made on relocating the stuff stored in the museum and getting it ready for the public. A couple of pics:

Various volunteer activities taking place on Platform 2. In the foreground, a rake of Network Rail's KRA sleeper carrying wagons.brPhotographer Jon KelseybrDate taken 21042021

Various volunteer activities taking place on Platform 2. In the foreground, a rake of Network Rail's KRA sleeper carrying wagons.
Photographer: Jon Kelsey
Date taken: 21/04/2021



It's difficult to get used to the image of the empty bay siding. Hopefully we won't have to.brPhotographer Jon KelseybrDate taken 21042021

It's difficult to get used to the image of the empty bay siding. Hopefully we won't have to.
Photographer: Jon Kelsey
Date taken: 21/04/2021



JK

Station Maintenance November/December 2020


A couple of photos of recent activity:

Okehampton Station entrance looking very tidy following a bit of leaf clearance.brPhotographer Jon KelseybrDate taken 28112020

Okehampton Station entrance looking very tidy following a bit of leaf clearance.
Photographer: Jon Kelsey
Date taken: 28/11/2020



The Station Maintenance Team at work applying a non-slip surface to the Okehampton Station footbridge.brPhotographer Tony HillbrDate taken 09122020

The Station Maintenance Team at work applying a non-slip surface to the Okehampton Station footbridge.
Photographer: Tony Hill
Date taken: 09/12/2020



Station Maintenance November 11th 2020


The excitement of the day was the departure on a lowloader of one the Quattro Roadrailers from the Network Rail compound in the carpark. Otherwise the day was fairly normal with Geoff and Alan painting benches, doors, doorways and drain covers. Paul worked on the platform 2 canopy lights and got all three working.


Carriage and Wagon October 15th 2020


A very welcome fine sunny day for six members of C&W who gathered at Meldon. This enabled us to undertake the planned application of the grey undercoat to our Lab11 carriage. By the end of the day the south side was completed and a start made on the north side.

The fine weather also enabled to get on with removing the graffiti to the side of the FK. All had been successfully cleaned off by the end of the day.

Our usual correspondent being unwell this report has been prepared by a junior understudy. We wish David a quick recovery and seeing him take up his camera and keyboard soon.

A bit of a stretch. Paul  and Ron making a start on Lab 11.brPhotographer Geoff HornerbrDate taken 15102020

A bit of a stretch. Paul and Ron making a start on Lab 11.
Photographer: Geoff Horner
Date taken: 15/10/2020


Well under way with the south side of Lab 11.brPhotographer Geoff HornerbrDate taken 15102020

Well under way with the south side of Lab 11.
Photographer: Geoff Horner
Date taken: 15/10/2020


South side finished.brPhotographer Geoff HornerbrDate taken 15102020

South side finished.
Photographer: Geoff Horner
Date taken: 15/10/2020


Cracking on with the graffiti on the FK.brPhotographer Geoff HornerbrDate taken 15102020

Cracking on with the graffiti on the FK.
Photographer: Geoff Horner
Date taken: 15/10/2020


FinishedbrPhotographer Geoff HornerbrDate taken 15102020

Finished
Photographer: Geoff Horner
Date taken: 15/10/2020



GH


Station Maintenance October 14th 2020


The 14th was pretty similar to the 7th - continuing painting the outside of the P2 building - but with the addition of Alan smartening up the green bits, and Ron working on some electrical fittings.

At last a use for one of those coaches. The Station Maintenance team at work painting the platform 2 building wall and awning supports.brPhotographer Tom BaxterbrDate taken 14102020

At last a use for one of those coaches. The Station Maintenance team at work painting the platform 2 building wall and awning supports.
Photographer: Tom Baxter
Date taken: 14/10/2020



JK


Station Maintenance October 7th 2020


Geoff, Paul, Tom and Jon in attendance. The major task at the moment is the painting of the outside walls of the platform 2 building, along with the attached concrete supports for the platform awning. It hasn't had any attention within anyone's memory, so cleaning it took a while, and the roughcast finish is very slow to paint. Even though the original looked suspiciously like magnolia, Tom assures us that the white we're applying is the correct colour; it will take him a while to fix it if he's wrong. As most of it is under the awning, it's not a bad wet weather job, and could be finished in a couple of weeks, whereupon it will look pretty striking and will warrant a photo or two.

A coat of paint was also splashed on the upside running in board, doubling its structural strength.

For the avoidance of doubt, the DRCIC rolling stock was still there. It will seem strange to work on the platform without a rake of shabby, insanitary Mk2 coaches for a backcloth. One day.

JK


Carriage & Wagon Thursday September 17th 2020


A perfect fine, late summer day, ideal for outside work, greeted 6 C&W team members at Meldon.

Three members concentrated their efforts all day sanding down and applying filler here and there on the North side of Lab11, by way of the staging; whilst Geoff patch primed the South side. We have one 110volt sander and this was run off the dual voltage small generator. Until the future becomes clear we are limited to using cordless tools as we are no longer permitted to use our 240v tools.

Meanwhile Alan disappeared within the FK carriage and did some serious hammer work on something by the sound of it, followed by some painting. Other jobs included topping up Lab11 fuel tank from cans and fitting a replacement electric wall heater in the saloon.

The LMS brake van was checked. It is still parked at the visitor's site. Apart from it now standing knee deep in weeds and grass, all was well. Thanks to the weeding and grass cutting mentioned a couple of weeks ago, we can now see that Lab11 is actually standing on rails!

DB


Station Maintenance Wednesday September 9th


Alan and Geoff soldiered on with painting the entrance gates and fencing, on platforms 2 and 3 respectively. When eventually the station re-opens to the public, it will look very impressive and welcoming.

The rest of the team - Tom, Paul and Jon - went on a jolly to Meldon to retrieve the scaffold platform, so that the renovated Platform 1/2 sign could be re-erected. Unfortunately, although the sign itself looks OK, once it was up it was clear that something is out of square in the mounting hardware, exacerbated by a non-vertical, tapered post and a non-horizontal platform surface. It will have to be re-addressed at some point.

The refurbished platform number sign, taken from an angle which disguises the mounting problem.brPhotographer Jon KelseybrDate taken 09092020

The refurbished platform number sign, taken from an angle which disguises the mounting problem.
Photographer: Jon Kelsey
Date taken: 09/09/2020



A couple of shots taken in the yard at Meldon:

When, or if, the administration sale is completed, someone will get a very tidy class 205 Thumper, nicely refinished by DRSA's volunteers.brPhotographer Jon KelseybrDate taken 09092020

When, or if, the administration sale is completed, someone will get a very tidy class 205 Thumper, nicely refinished by DRSA's volunteers.
Photographer: Jon Kelsey
Date taken: 09/09/2020



Photographer Jon KelseybrDate taken 09092020

Photographer: Jon Kelsey
Date taken: 09/09/2020



JK


Station Maintenance Wednesday September 2nd


A team of 4 today, in the circumstances cautious of starting anything too substantial, but keeping the flag flying. The refurbished platform 1/2 sign is ready to put up, but we chickened out pending arrival of the Meldon scaffold tower. Tom took a breather from counting nuts and bolts to wander around with a camera, capturing the team members working, or at least seeming to.

Paul made a start on tidying up the platform 3 running in board. In such an exposed position in the Okehampton climate its woodwork has a tough life.brPhotographer Tom BaxterbrDate taken 02092020

Paul made a start on tidying up the platform 3 running in board. In such an exposed position in the Okehampton climate its woodwork has a tough life.
Photographer: Tom Baxter
Date taken: 02/09/2020



It's a pleasure to see Geoff back as a regular member of the Wednesday team, after a couple of difficult years.brPhotographer Tom BaxterbrDate taken 02092020

It's a pleasure to see Geoff back as a regular member of the Wednesday team, after a couple of difficult years.
Photographer: Tom Baxter
Date taken: 02/09/2020



The website editor painting a sign, with a miraculously clean paintbrush. The train now standing in platform 2 ...brPhotographer Tom BaxterbrDate taken 02092020

The website editor painting a sign, with a miraculously clean paintbrush. "The train now standing in platform 2 ..."
Photographer: Tom Baxter
Date taken: 02/09/2020



Fred the assistant website editor head-butted some of Geoff's painting and carried a go-faster stripe on his forehead for the rest of the day.brPhotographer Tom BaxterbrDate taken 02092020

Fred the assistant website editor head-butted some of Geoff's painting and carried a go-faster stripe on his forehead for the rest of the day.
Photographer: Tom Baxter
Date taken: 02/09/2020



JK


Station Maintenance Saturday August 22nd and Wednesday August 26th


Saturday saw work on unblocking Platform 3 drains, with C&W help, as well as continuing fence painting and gardening. Yet more fence painting took place on Wednesday, on both the Platform 2 and Platform 3 entrances. Work also took place on the Platform 1/2 sign, and rearranging the temporary tool store in the museum to make it a bit easier to find stuff.

On Thursday several of the C&W team members showed up at Meldon, only to be thwarted by the weather.

David and Tom celebrating unblocking one of Platform 3's drainsbrPhotographer Tony HillbrDate taken 22082020

David and Tom celebrating unblocking one of Platform 3's drains
Photographer: Tony Hill
Date taken: 22/08/2020



The Platform 2 entrance area is now looking very smart, thanks to the efforts of Alan, Geoff and David.brPhotographer Jon KelseybrDate taken 26082020

The Platform 2 entrance area is now looking very smart, thanks to the efforts of Alan, Geoff and David.
Photographer: Jon Kelsey
Date taken: 26/08/2020



Sadly the goods shed is no longer part of the railway, but it still enhances the Platform 2 scene.brPhotographer Jon KelseybrDate taken 26082020

Sadly the goods shed is no longer part of the railway, but it still enhances the Platform 2 scene.
Photographer: Jon Kelsey
Date taken: 26/08/2020




Station Maintenance August 5th and 8th


Station Maintenance is split between Wednesdays and Saturdays, for the convenience of the volunteers. On Wednesday, Geoff was painting the endless platform 2 fencing, Paul was brush cutting around the station road entrance, and Jon was hacking at the rotten platform 1&2 sign. On Saturday Alan continued the painting effort. Our thanks to Tony for a couple of photos taken on the Saturday.

Stalwart volunteer Alan painting the fencing and notice case at the Okehampton station downside entrance, with Tom observing.brPhotographer Tony HillbrDate taken 08082020

Stalwart volunteer Alan painting the fencing and notice case at the Okehampton station downside entrance, with Tom observing.
Photographer: Tony Hill
Date taken: 08/08/2020



 A very tidy and cared for station approach road thanks to vegetation cutting and clearance by Paul.brPhotographer Tony HillbrDate taken 08082020

A very tidy and cared for station approach road thanks to vegetation cutting and clearance by Paul.
Photographer: Tony Hill
Date taken: 08/08/2020



Carriage and Wagon August 6th 2020


Work under way to rejuvenate Lab11's paintwork.brPhotographer Tony HillbrDate taken 06082020

Work under way to rejuvenate Lab11's paintwork.
Photographer: Tony Hill
Date taken: 06/08/2020



Fine intermittent drizzle met the C&W members as they assembled first thing. Luckily it was not enough to deter us and after lunch we were treated to some sunshine.

An attempt to top-up the LAB11 diesel fuel tank from cans was frustrated as the rotary hand pump had seized up. Undeterred, the usual C&W prowess in such matters overcame the problem with a 10mm spanner, a few suggestions from a team of three, dismantling it, cleaning up the components and reassembling them. Fuelling was delayed by a mere 30 minutes!

Work continued filling-in and rubbing down on the South side of LAB11 whilst sanding progressed on the North side, after staging had been erected. Later in the day the heavy steel staging, which had lain semi-derelict nearby, was moved with difficulty closer to the North side of the coach and can now be used to complete the preparation of that side.

A welcome working visit was made by committee member Tony who, together with Geoff, did some useful weed and brushwood removal around the coach working area to eliminate tripping and stumbling.

The drilling of the holes in the SR brake van buffer oak plates was finally completed, exhausting 3 rechargeable batteries in the process. An ongoing light duty for your correspondent has been to fit "boot proof" plugs and trailing sockets to various power leads and wind them onto serviceable reels and formers. This has been completed.

Preparation work on the North side of Lab 11. Looks like David is about to get a soaking from John.brPhotographer Tony HillbrDate taken 06082020

Preparation work on the North side of Lab 11. Looks like David is about to get a soaking from John.
Photographer: Tony Hill
Date taken: 06/08/2020



General view of the Carriage and Wagon site and workshop at MeldonbrPhotographer Tony HillbrDate taken 06082020

General view of the Carriage and Wagon site and workshop at Meldon
Photographer: Tony Hill
Date taken: 06/08/2020



Carriage and Wagon July 30th 2020


A beautiful cloudless day greeted the members of the C&W group at Meldon who were able to take coffee and lunch "al fresco" for a change. Work continued sanding down the South side of LAB11, in addition to some painting on the FK coach underframe and drilling out holes for the bolts on the SR brake van oak buffer plates.

It has been decided that LAB11 will be given the usual coat of primer where remedial work and rust removal has been carried out, then receive protective coats of non-water based grey undercoat and topcoat; unless we can get it under cover first before winter arrives.

A check was made of the ex LMS brake van which had been left by DRCIC in an exposed position close to the visitor's site. We were pleased to find it in good condition.



Station Maintenance July 29th 2020


A regular Wednesday team of half a dozen SMT volunteers is crystallising. After his health problems of the last couple of years, we welcome Geoff's regular attendance. He teamed up with Alan and David to continue the 'Forth Bridge' painting of the fencing around the platform 2 entrance. Meanwhile Paul attacked the vegetation around the main entrance with the brush cutter, and Jon continued bodging rotten woodwork on the platform 1/2 sign. Tom supervised.

At the moment, hardly a day goes by without someone 'official' rocking up to look at some aspect of Okehampton Station. It's all very interesting. Today it was two blokes who said they were from the administrators, and very charming and friendly they were too.


Carriage and Wagon July 23rd 2020


An eager group of C&W members met in the open air at Meldon, being denied the use of the workshop until the Dartmoor Railway CIC administrator gives permission to enter. Access to the quarry has now been kindly renewed by the owners. The day's work was concentrated on LAB11. Staging was erected and work started stripping and rubbing down the external paintwork. The aim being to give the coach a protective coat of sorts until cover is available, which at the rate things are going, may be a long time! Unfortunately the weather turned against us shortly after lunch, so the staging was dismantled and everything packed back into Lab11 - and we all went home.

Having stripped the lettering and lining off the South side of Lab11, staging was erected.brPhotographer David BellbrDate taken 23072020

Having stripped the lettering and lining off the South side of Lab11, staging was erected.
Photographer: David Bell
Date taken: 23/07/2020



Not to be forgotten, oak plates for the SR brake van West end buffers were marked out and fashioned by the end of the day.brPhotographer John CoxonbrDate taken 23072020

Not to be forgotten, oak plates for the SR brake van West end buffers were marked out and fashioned by the end of the day.
Photographer: John Coxon
Date taken: 23/07/2020



Station Maintenance July 22nd 2020


A cautious restart has been made on regular maintenance sessions at Okehampton station, with a 6 person group in attendance today. Most of the effort went into repair and repainting of the disabled entrance to platform 2, and its surrounding fencing. Sorting and relocation of the tools and materials formerly stored in the GUV and CCT continued, and work started on refurbishing the platform 1/2 number board. The day was punctuated by an encouraging visit from a Network Rail employee carrying out a drone survey of the line.

Paul and Geoff at work at the Platform 2 entrance.brPhotographer Jon KelseybrDate taken 22072020

Paul and Geoff at work at the Platform 2 entrance.
Photographer: Jon Kelsey
Date taken: 22/07/2020




Carriage & Wagon May 15th 2020


If only. However, we did visit Meldon for a short time, and can report that there's no sign of any damage, or vandalism.


Carriage & Wagon March 12th 2020


Ten members of the C&W team met at a wet and windy site. Undeterred, work started in different directions. The damaged West end roller shutter had worked loose during the past few weeks of gales, so Ron Kirby and John Coxon worked out how to fix it before the end of the day; and the next gale! Other members worked on, in and around the SR brake van.

After a lot of shoving and heaving the stove was lifted back on board and cleaned up ready for a coat or two of stove paint. A suitable sheet of steel was "procured" for sizing then fitting under it. The tricky bit will be to reinstall the chimney and make it rain proof.

Phil Hull having returned after a break of a few weeks spent the day removing more corroded-in bolts on the brake van Eastern steel clad platform, much to the relief of John Coxon. Having done all the work last week, he left his giant angle grinder in Phil's care and gleefully scuttled off elsewhere.

Unfortunately yours truly forgot to bring his, all singing and dancing, electric jigsaw, so that cutting out the first oak slab for the buffer took ages using the workshop model available. The other buffer beam (West end North side) area and steel plate were chipped clean and made ready for a coat of primer next week.

Meanwhile Nigel Green gave the North side of the brake van main frame a long awaited first coat of gloss black paint whilst Geoff Horner chipped away at the running gear North side East end.

Nigel gives the North mainframe a coat of gloss. Note part of broken broken buffer spring.brPhotographer David BellbrDate taken 12032020

Nigel gives the North mainframe a coat of gloss. Note part of broken broken buffer spring.
Photographer: David Bell
Date taken: 12/03/2020


Patrick takes a breather before shuffling the stove into the cabin.brPhotographer David BellbrDate taken 12032020

Patrick takes a breather before shuffling the stove into the cabin.
Photographer: David Bell
Date taken: 12/03/2020


Phil surrounded by a selection of his finest tools, attacks yet another corroded-in bolt.brPhotographer David BellbrDate taken 12032020

Phil surrounded by a selection of his finest tools, attacks yet another corroded-in bolt.
Photographer: David Bell
Date taken: 12/03/2020


Geoff watches as the first buffer slab is cut to size.brPhotographer David BellbrDate taken 12032020

Geoff watches as the first buffer slab is cut to size.
Photographer: David Bell
Date taken: 12/03/2020


Right hand side of buffer beam  etc primed and the left hand side ready for priming. Both parts of broken spring visible. Could this be the last of the surprises that the brake van has to offer ..brPhotographer David BellbrDate taken 12032020

Right hand side of buffer beam etc primed and the left hand side ready for priming. Both parts of broken spring visible. Could this be the last of the surprises that the brake van has to offer ..
Photographer: David Bell
Date taken: 12/03/2020




Station Maintenance March 11th 2020


The day's highlight was a visit from Geoff Brooks. Poor Geoff has had more than his share of health problems recently, and it was good to see him looking quite well. He is hoping to get back to light volunteering duties in the near future.

It looks as if the five month monsoon season could finally be approaching an end, and we were able to do some outside jobs in reasonable comfort. Several of the large signs around the station are looking pretty ropey, having reached a stage of deterioration where if we don't repaint them now we'll be repairing wood rot in a year's time. The first of these to be tackled is the Platform 1/2 sign. It put up a stubborn fight, but was eventually removed and is now drying out in the CCT ready for refurbishment.

The most visible job was the removal of those ghastly, pointless, and (typically) unfinished gates erected at the four platform ends last year. They will now yield useful repair material for the station fences. It felt like an exorcism.

Of course, it may all be pointless, as we wait for politics and commerce to put an end to the uncertainty about the railway's future. But the feeling within the team is that it's better to do something than nothing, and anything we do now gives us a head start if things work out in our favour. No doubt the C&W team has a similar outlook.

Carriage & Wagon March 5th 2020


A small team of C&W volunteers assembled at Meldon, having driven through flooded roads after an overnight downpour. Further refuelling of the LAB11 generator took place using Jerry cans and the very useful portable hand pump. Work was then concentrated on the SR brake van. The Southern buffer flange, plate and mounting at the West end were given a final clean-up and a coat of primer. Little time remained and the oak plate will be cut out and fitted next week.

Meanwhile at the Eastern end, some bolts holding the steel platform to the mainframe were removed, in an attempt to reduce the buckling of the plate, caused by corrosion between it and the main frame. This required grinding out the bolt heads, cutting into the remains and drilling the countersunk edges out before punching the bolts through. This involved a lot of flying sparks, brute force with club hammer and punch, plus a lot of noise. The job had been put off for a year or so as being either 'too difficult' or 'can it be avoided?'. The next step will be to clear out the accumulation of heavy corrosion, then clamp the plate down and fit replacement bolts. However ...

Priming in progress. By the end of the day the buffer, flange etc. were completed.brPhotographer David BellbrDate taken 05032020

Priming in progress. By the end of the day the buffer, flange etc. were completed.
Photographer: David Bell
Date taken: 05/03/2020


Countersunk bolt heads being ground away by John. Note the buckled plate.brPhotographer David BellbrDate taken 05032020

Countersunk bolt heads being ground away by John. Note the buckled plate.
Photographer: David Bell
Date taken: 05/03/2020


Drilling out the edges of the countersunk bolt heads. Patrick assisted, between bouts of rubbing down woodwork filler, whilst Geoff watches with interest.brPhotographer David BellbrDate taken 05032020

Drilling out the edges of the countersunk bolt heads. Patrick assisted, between bouts of rubbing down woodwork filler, whilst Geoff watches with interest.
Photographer: David Bell
Date taken: 05/03/2020



Carriage & Wagon February 27th 2020


A bright brisk day greeted a small C&W team of 4 at Meldon. However, spirits were high with the prospect of gaining entry to the workshop again, after being locked out for over a month. Various tasks were undertaken sorting and securing moveable DRSA equipment and tidying up after what seemed a hasty exit by the DRCIC staff a couple of weeks ago.

After the LAB11 generator was topped up by jerrycan, work restarted on rust chipping on the buffer beam at the West end of the SR brake van. Enough progress was made to be able to prime the metalwork and cut out and fit an oak pad on one buffer position next week. Meanwhile the redundant coaching stock was examined to see if a section of metal moulding could be salvaged to replace an area on the end of LAB11. Urgent external work needed on the latter is being hampered by the lack of covered workshop space in which to park it.

Departure at the end of the day was delayed by finding that the LAB11 Yale door lock was jammed. Dismantling and a touch of 'expert fiddling' solved the problem in true C&W style.


Carriage & Wagon February 20th 2020


Despite strong winds and rain a small group of C&W volunteers turned up at Meldon. They were, yet again, unable to gain entry to the workshop as the keys are still unavailable thanks to the administration process. However, enthusiasm undaunted, the small team worked on the interior of DRSA's S13436 Mk2 FK carriage, easing the sliding doors and the communications cord system.

How it's supposed to be. The FK in the sunshine at Meldon. A little while ago.

How it's supposed to be. The FK in the sunshine at Meldon. A little while ago.



Station Maintenance February 12th 2020


The Station Maintenance team was in action today, with five of us in attendance at one point. It was eerily quiet. Much of the work was security related in one way or another, and some explanatory signs were put up for the public. Stalwart Alan Harris scrubbed a winter's worth of damp and mildew from the disabled toilet, leaving it gleaming.

Green shoots of recovery on Okehampton StationbrPhotographer Jon KelseybrDate taken 12022020

Green shoots of recovery on Okehampton Station?
Photographer: Jon Kelsey
Date taken: 12/02/2020



Carriage & Wagon January 16th 2020


The C&W team was met by a howling gale and driving rain at Okehampton station, only to find it far worse on arrival at Meldon, resulting in being treated to sudden spells of rocking in Lab11 during the coffee and lunch breaks. Nevertheless, quite a lot of work was done in the "well aired" workshop. Despite the promised shunt being postponed again and thus the Thumper power car not out-shopped, a team of the fittest and most determined members, undaunted by working in a confined space, removed both damaged buffers at the West end of the SR brake van LDS55625; without damage to themselves. This time they used a length of staging frame placed crosswise and built-up with planks and blocks. The determination and ingenuity of the C&W team is limitless!

The buffer on the North side was found to have a broken spring which, from the signs of heavy corrosion at the break, occurred in the dim and distant past. As stated previously LDS55625 is full of surprises.

Other members continued with fitting internal woodwork trim to the cabin and filling-in on the exterior cladding. The first topcoat of gloss black on the Southern mainframe was completed whilst more zinc based primer was applied to metal work above this area by the remaining 2 members. Undeterred by the elements two staunch members worked across in the visitor's site at the viaduct. During lunch the weather seemed to have worsened, and so afterwards - we all went home!

Ron loosens off the nuts on the North side buffer.brPhotographer Geoff HornerbrDate taken 16012020

Ron loosens off the nuts on the North side buffer.
Photographer: Geoff Horner
Date taken: 16/01/2020



South side buffer showing heavy corrosion after removal.brPhotographer Geoff HornerbrDate taken 16012020

South side buffer showing heavy corrosion after removal.
Photographer: Geoff Horner
Date taken: 16/01/2020



Carriage & Wagon January 9th 2020


A full turnout of the C&W team met in good spirits despite recent news of the DR sale by BARS. Various jobs on the rolling stock under cover were completed, including top coating the mainframe on the SR brake van LDS55625 on the South side and finishing off rust and paint removal on the buffer beam at the West end. Work continued fitting out interior woodwork on the cabin and painting. As is his custom our local hero spent the morning on the visitors area.

A long, heavy deluge of rain forced us to take an extended lunch taken in LAB11 and the opportunity was taken to discuss in what form our future activity would likely be, either in our support role or something more ambitious. Hopefully a shunt next week will out-shop the Thumper power car, park the LMS brake van and the class 08 under cover, thus providing plenty of work for willing hands; including removing the buffers on the SR brake van.