Wednesday, 19 December 2012

the big steam test!

Today saw the steam test part of the annual boiler certificate. All was lit at about 11am and the boiler slowly raised to steam by about 1pm. Safety valves were adjusted until just lifting at 50psi as the pressure slowly crept upwards. After throwing lots of wood on and opening up the fire the pressure was increased to ensure the safety valves were set to keep up.

At 2.30pm the inspector arrived and had a look around, was happy that everything was good for another year so job done! And whilst we were at it rather than waste all that heat some spuds went in the firebox for our lunch!

Hope to see you on New Year's Day for the steam up where the West Huntspill Model Engineers will be running a steam loco on their 5" gauge portable railway being set up at the museum! Perfect for the kids and parents alike!

Monday, 10 December 2012

blocked pipe

This weekend saw the review of the wood burner in the tea room. Although the chimney never drew particularly well, it had got so bad it wasn't even worth lighting!

After removing the twin wall flue a visual inspection of the link pipe made out of 4" pipe, it was clear where the problem was. The pipe running horizontally had become completely blocked with soot and carbon deposits. After a good deal of scraping and cleaning out the fire was lit and an improvement seen immediately. Stainless flue put back and the fire was truly roaring!

Should be good to go for the New Year's Day steaming!

Wednesday, 28 November 2012


Due to the recent rain the Somerset Levels has seen large scale flooding not seen in a few years. Although it is expected that certain moors flood during heavy rainfall and that alternative flood zones are available should they fill up, the speed in which these areas flooded was unprecedented. Even at the museum water levels in the Westonzoyland Engine Rhyne are abnormally high even with the 50 tonnes per minute Diesel engine running adjacent to our steam engine. A view below shows the 100 tonne per minute Appold centrifugal pump at the base of the Easton Amos steam drainage machine nearly under water, where this is usually dry.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

facilities extension 'the film'

we dont just take still images! our resident film director Alan has made this little snapshot of the past few days work on the groundworks of the new extension... enjoy!

re-filling holes!

Two days spent digging holes for the new Facilities Extension was quickly reversed in 15 minutes by filling them back in with Concrete! On Tuesday a delivery of 6m3 of Gen3 Concrete was delivered by S.Morris of Taunton. Much to our delight the operator managed to make it wet enough for the majority of the concrete to flow around the whole length of the foundation with only about 4/5 barrow loads being needed to be moved by hand.

Metal levelling pegs were inserted in the bottom of the footing before pouring. The left over 0.3m3 was used to pour a base for the path from the level crossing. Due to the rain it was decided to spread this out to allow for a top finish of paving slabs at some point rather than battle to tamp it smooth and level.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

another hole!

Whilst the digger was on site this weekend Graham one of our newer members made sure we dug him a hole to build a tank for the deep well pump he has been steadily restoring. Ok its not exactly a perfect straight sided hole but better to get this far with a digger and then finish by hand than to dig the whole thing by hand!

Facilities Extension...The Grand Start!

After 4-5 years of discussions of one sort or another, a successful planning application and a building control submission later we have started building work on the Facilities Extension at the museum! The extension is about 50m2 and will house public toilets including disabled, volunteer toilets and shower room, extension to the Tea Room and a Mess Room for volunteers.

One mini digger later hired from Yeovil Hire Centre for a very reasonable rate and a dumper truck borrowed from a nearby developer the over site and footings were completed this weekend! On Tuesday we will be pouring a Gen3 concrete mix for the foundations amounting to about 6m3 being supplied by S.Morris for another great rate. Watch this space, things should really take off now!

Tuesday, 6 November 2012


SIAS members kindly came together again today to work on the lock gates. Since the delivery of gravel some of our members spread about 50% of the gravel around but SIAS members have finished spreading the last of it.

What a difference it makes and is a great start to presenting the flood gates and we hope to carry on working with SIAS to complete interpretation boards.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

a tin shed...

Harold has started on a new project. Having taken inspiration from an exhibit seen at the Internal Fire Museum he has started by building a base and one side. It is to contain our spare lister d petrol engine and a lister household pump. See the picture of the example at the internal fire as this is the easiest way of explaining what will be achieved!


Today the stone/gravel was delivered for the Lockgate display. The lorry weighing in at 26 tonnes gently reversed on to the grass and tipped the load (16 tonnes) onto a sheet ready for dispersing either by hand or with a mini digger when one is to be on site soon for other work.

If you have a spare shovel come along on a Sunday and give a hand!

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

lock gates

Having kindly received a grant from Somerset Industrial Archeological Society (SIAS) and with help from some of their members we set about putting gravel boards and weed suppressant around the Langport Lock Gates situated at the entrance to the museum. 

14mm limestone chippings have been ordered to be spread around next week to improve the look and maintenance of the gates. We then hope to produce an interpretation board to help visitors understand their use within the River Parrett.

Watch this space for images of chippings and boards! Many thanks to the SIAS members that attended today to help out and make the job much quicker than previously anticipated.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

spoil removal

Our neighbour has more or less completed removing the pile of rubble/soil from the area of ground at the back of the wiggly shed. We will tidy up further when we have a mini digger on site in the next couple of months. Once cleared we can keep the grass mown and begin to make plans for a new exhibition hall.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

deep wells look out

After refurbishing most of the components of the Lister Deep Well pump a trial fitting together is taking place in the exhibition hall to be able to work out whether it is all there and its final dimensions so we can design a well for it to sit over! Hopefully with a 2/3HP electric motor it should pump water like the smaller version that will be next door to it.

Monday, 17 September 2012

going mining

Yesterday we picked up a pair of 2ft gauge mining chassis. These are ex. Lynton & Barnstable railway and were purchased from there by a member of the Purbeck Mineral & Mining Museum based at Norden Park & Ride (fascinating museum due to open next year some time see These chassis were surplus to requirements and the member has donated them to us for use on the WZLR. 

Most of the wheels turn and feature bearings in the hubs with a fixed axle. As yet we are still to formulate a plan for there use, but watch this space...!

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Steaming up...

A reminder that we are in steam this coming Sunday the 2nd of September and the following Sunday for the Heritage Open Days event. See the website for more info

T2 & T3

Having completed a successful casting of a smaller sleeper a second was produced from the other half bag of cement. These have both been installed on the railway alongside the first bulkier version. Test sleeper 2&3 will be monitored over the coming months but we are confident that they will perform.

Hopefully a clear out of the traverser shed will give us some dry space to cast further sleepers in batches of up to 10 at a time. These will be stock piled in readiness for relaying sections of the main line.

Monday, 20 August 2012

external works

Having completed the one concrete sleeper we have trialled another to reduce the amount of cement needed. This meant reducing volume so we took the chamfer off the outer edges and reduced the depth by 30mm. It now means we can produce 2 sleepers from one 25kb bag of cement instead of just the one. It is shown below just out of the mold still drying.

Also on site the pile of hardcore is slowing disappearing as our kind neighbour has found a use for it and is using his JCB to move it away. Hopefully we will have a clear and level site for us to be able to consider new exhibition hall buildings.

the engineering continues...

Graham one of our newer members (although he has now nearly worked his magic on more engines than many of the longer standing members) has been sorting out our latest acquisition, a Lister Deep Well Pump. This pump is the second in our collection with the first running via. an electric motor beside the waterwheel. However this Deep Well Pump is much bigger! It will stand at nearly 6 and half feet tall and when operating a pump in a well would require a 6hp engine.

It is going to be installed between the existing deep well pump and the water wheel. With only 18 inches of pump on the bottom we hope to only need a 3hp electric motor to run it. Another item for those non-steam open days!

Snodland Winch

The Snodland Winch (a nickname based on its working location in Kent) or Clarke Chapman Diagonal Winch was last used for lifting equipment from boreholes. It is a very powerful winch with two speeds and a foot operated brake. For quick reversing it is fitted with Stephenson's Link valve gear.

After being installed in the Wiggly Shed the winch was only fixed to 2 large sleepers. When running it had a tendency to jump around a bit! Having fitted some shuttering around the outside and a good few mixes of concrete it now runs very smoothly. It was however in need of a repaint and so Harold has been busy painting away and is currently showing up all the other engines in that exhibition!

river contractors train

With some further improvements to the design of the new fixed couplings on the WZLR a set has been fabricated for the Piling Winch Truck. This piece of kit cam from the Water Board and was possibly built by them. It is based around a Hudson truck with the axle boxes spread apart to give a longer wheel base. The Ransomes Piling Winch that is attached to the top would have connected to the pile block via a rope running over a portable tripod with pully. The whole arrangement would have been moved along the bank on jubilee type rails to aid the repair of river banks.

Here we are running it with the new drop side wagon and the Simplex Locomotive. Now the couplings are sorted we hope to get a fuel tank sorted for it and run it on as many open days as possible.

Monday, 13 August 2012

casting concrete

With the railway sleepers rotting away before our eyes and the hope that we would like to upgrade the railway to a better standard, it has pushed us into some experimentation! 

Having seen another railway produce there own sleepers fit for passenger running, we thought we would try the same. After knocking up a mold from some scrap plywood, welding some rebar to threaded bar we were ready to cast.

To make the concrete we opted for a nice strong mix 3:1 ballast:cement with added glass fibre reinforcement. Having poured the mix into the mold it was vibrated to remove any trapped air using a rather rough running Briggs and Stratton engine! 

Left to set for a week it was released from the mold, transported to the museum and fitted in replacement of a particularly rotten timber sleeper. This will remain here for a bit to test its strength and ensure it doesn't crack with continued use and high loads. Even the colour hasn't turned out to be too bad as the ballast used comes from an area of red rock (quantocks?) which gives a more earthy colour than some which give a very light grey.