I re-stocked the F&W (Toddington) and Coffee Pot (Winchcombe). As I arrived, there were two black boot scrapers left in the F&W, so I thought that I would retrieve one and take it to Winchcombe. So I loaded the trolley with five. When I had reached the F&W with the trolley, one of those black ones had gone already! So, all 5 went in there. Val (Hoskin) said she'd lost count of how many she's sold.
I had had a call on Saturday to say that the Coffee Pot had run out, so I took 6 to them. That left just two completed boot scrapers in stock.
Gil & Geof had buzzed off to Tysley to talk about our problem with the horn guides and how to fix them. We prefer somewhere with a wheel-drop, otherwise the whole loco would have to be jacked up or lifted by crane to remove the driving wheels. So, that limits the number of places we could go.
I called in at Winchcombe first, and when I arrived at Todders there was no one there! Bruce had signed in, but it transpired that he was working at one of our off-site workshops (i.e. home) facing the second clack valve, which had also been reported as slightly leaking. After returning, Bruce managed to find Carpo and then refit the clack and put the brass bonnet back on.
As I feared (last Thursday) someone had to clean out the blocked smoke tubes today: Me. Well, Mike did offer, but as I was still filthy from making a start on it last Thursday, I volunteered to carry on. Mike acted as safety-man and gopher in the cab while I was inside the firebox. It was still a tad warm in there after Sunday's steaming. I got a 10mm pipe, poked it into the smoke tube and attached a hoover to the end of the pipe. This sucked quiet a bit out, but periodically the pipe would jam, and the only way to clear it was to blow down it! Also, it was so "warm" inside there, that the hoover kept stopping, and I had an enforced tea break while it cooled down. By end of play, we'd got half-a-barrow of ash out of tubes, but there were still 4 blocked (one upper left, three upper right). Since there are 176 smoke tubes (excluding those carrying superheater flues) it hardly makes a big difference to the loco performance, having 5 of them blocked, does it?
As I left, I glanced in the F&W to see that there were only two boot scrapers left !!! I stuck my head through the window (it was open) and told Val that up to Tuesday she'd sold 57 ... plus today's 4 made 61 (i.e. over £1,800). Now I'm in a pickle - not enough boot scrapers to re-stock the F&W.
Spent an hour or so re-stocking the F&W and frantically painting lettering and brush-heads for the remaining 5 boot scrapers that were in progress.
Assembled the 5 in anticipation of needing them to restock on Saturday.
Before the Coffee Pot at Winchcombe station started selling them, we didn't sell many per year. I just picked the file for 2007/8 and we sold 19 that year. Now, we're selling that per month! ... on the other hand, having just done a quick calculation, total sold to date must be over 900.
I was a tad underwhelmed by the positive response to a crie-de-coeur for help in cleaning some rail chairs, as I am now completely out of boot scrapers. In fairness, a few people did respond with valid excuses. So, I set to (on my own) needle-gunning, angle-grinding and wire-brushing rail chairs to set up the boot scraper production line.
David and Gilbert arrived. The loco has priority, so the first 5 minute job for them was to clear a reportedly blocked cylinder drain cock. They removed all six drain cocks; found copious supplies of grot and grit; cleaned them out; and reassembled ... five of them. The rear cover to the sixth just refused to go back on! It appeared that the thread had become filled with some of the grot. Once the threads were cleaned and a new gasket made, David persuaded it to go home (as it were). It was now lunchtime!
After lunch, I happened to mention, regrettably, that Carpo had said that the jumper ring (see attached) was seized. So, the second 5 minute job for David and Gil was to remove the three clasps that hold the ring in place; prize the ring off the blast pipe; clean it all up and replace it, making sure that the ring would now float upwards if ever anyone did open up 2807's regulator wide ... which they don't! **
Well, you know what happens ... the nut on one of the clasps was seized solid and in trying to remove it, David (not knowing his own strength) caused the threaded end of the clasp to snap off! See "whoops" in the photo attached. Gil then searched through our boxes and buckets looking for a stud or a bolt of the same thread size, so that David could weld it onto the clasp. Of all the odd things that we have got, the one we haven't .... After messing about, even asking Tom if he'd got a bolt to match this 7/8" + 25 thou' one that had broken, I think David settled on a near-enough fit.
Well, I left the two of them at half-past-three, with David about to weld together a length of thread and the clasp.
Meanwhile, I had cleaned and prepared 15 rail chairs. Gil found time to paint 11 brushes and 10 bottoms, and I painted the remaining five bottoms. I shall be in at the railway every day this coming week just to get these finished in order to re-stock the Flag & Whistle next weekend!
** The jumper ring sits on top of the blast pipe inside the smokebox. It is held in place by three clasps that allow it to move up & down by about an inch. It's job is to reduce the blast, i.e. the exhaust from the cylinders, if it is too strong. I guess that this is to prevent the engine sucking the entire fire out and up the chimney! As we are not allowed to exceed 25 mph on the railway, I cannot imagine any circumstance in which the regulator would be opened enough to cause an excessive blast ... but, hey-ho!