Popped down to spread a morsel of paint on the LHS number plate while no one else was around to create a dust or stick their blue latex glove to it. ;-))
Gil & I examined the front damper linkage, which allegedly sticks open (or did once!). There is nothing visible that prevents the damper from closing or the operating lever from working. I did lengthen the operating rod by 1/2" which might make it easier to use (from the cab).
John finished off the fitting of the con rods by inserting split pins into the gudgeon pins. We hadn't got any suitable split pins last Wednesday. Then he tackled another issue on the list of complaints - that the centre lower lamp bracket on the tender is pointing downwards. Yes it is - by about a ten degree angle. I can't help but feel that the statement that 'you have to be standing in the pit to see if the lamp is lit' might be a slight exaggeration.
David pressed on with his sanding lever by-pass (much welding and adjusting to get the bypass in the right spot).
Gil & I then moved on to the front springs that appear to be out of alignment. It is difficult to know where to jack the loco up to relieve the pressure on the spring (because of the line of inter-connected leaf springs!). However, what I did spot was that the leaves in the front RHS spring have moved (left) horizontally in their clasp [see photo]. This should not be possible! I believe that there is a pin running vertically through the centres of the leaves, but hidden from view by the clasp. Is it missing? Has it sheared off?
During the week, Bruce had bought four 1.5 metre lengths of 22mm copper pipe to use for clearing blocked boiler tubes. You use them a bit like a chimney sweep's brush, fixing another on as you need one to push further into the tube. So, the cutter (photo last time) goes on the end on the first pipe, which is then inserted into the tube from within the firebox. To the other end of the copper pipe is attached the hoover! This sucks muck out of the blocked tube (you can hear it rattling along the pipe) as you push it further in. If you can't clear the blockage with one length of pipe, you add another … and so on. Experience showed that this works beautifully (most of the time). If the cutter gets jammed with a large piece of clinker (which it did several times) you can either blow down the pipe (by mouth or hoover) or withdraw the pipe and unblock it by hand. You can tell when the tube is blocked and when it becomes free by the sound of the air being sucked into the tube. It did require Bruce to be in the firebox with me, and John was operating the hoover outside (David took over when John had to leave). In fact, much of the dust was so fine that it blew through the filter in the hoover, and there was a liberal layer of fine ash all over the cab (and John) when we'd finished! Nevertheless, the scheme worked, and all of the tubes are now clear. The dustbin between Roads 6 & 5 is, however, literally half-full of ash! [Thanks go to Ray O'Hara for the photos]
Meanwhile, we could hear much bashing at the front end. Despite Gil having the assistance of Andy Webber [Loco Dept] and Mike, they only managed to free one end of the spring. There's a large split pin in the compensating arm (attached to the rear of this spring) that absolutely refuses to come out, apparently. So, at 5 pm they gave up.
I painted David's by-pass. Looked at the spring. Couldn't see what the problem was - just pull out two split pins and the spring will drop off .. in fact, just remove the one in the middle hanger and it should drop off !
I had a couple of hours spare, so popped down to take a look at the spring that was causing so much hassle. The front part had been disconnected. The split pin in the rear was refusing to budge. The centre pin was in place. So, I removed the centre pin, dropped the spring, and swung it round to gain better access to the errant rear split pin. Yes, it did not want to come out! So, I hacked it off. I could then bash it out, whereupon the whole spring dropped.
A spring is a 3-man lift (minimum), so I was tempted to just leave it where it was (on top of some boards across the pit). However, a couple of helpful chaps lent a hand … to no avail! One of them had a broken wrist, so we weren't entirely a 3-man team! They toddled off, spring still on the boards. Meanwhile, I figured that the spring could be tipped on its side & persuaded to be slid out sideways ahead of the wheel onto the concrete apron … which I managed to do. Mark Y [Loco Dept] passed by and lent a hand to put the spring on a trolley and wheel it off for refurbishment. The new spring was relatively easy to slide back under the loco and onto the planks, more-or-less in position for fitting. However, I ran out of spare time and left it for Wednesday.
News from Brian:
"Not heard officially from the GWSR but 2807 is booked for a photo charter on Monday 16th March. She will have worked the race trains from 10-13 March so will need good clean on weekend 14-15 March"
I couldn't get to Todders before noon, so the morning report is a bit sketchy. I gather that Gil led the entire team in attempting to fit the spring. Today's team (at that point) consisted of Gil, Bruce, John T and new recruit John H. Whilst they had managed to fit the front and the back, they were unable to raise the centre of the spring high enough to fit the retaining pin.
Bruce gave me a hand in preparing to enter the Cave of Doom, once more: the new brick arch had arrived, so I needed to tidy up the remaining fire cement that was stuck around the firebox sides. It is used to fill in the spaces between bricks and firebox walls … and it was not keen on coming off!
Lunch called. Gil and/or Bruce sought advice from Loco Dept chaps, who said that they way to fit the spring was to fit the centre retaining pin first!
After lunch, I continued to chisel away at the cement, and once that was off, I slapped some heat-resistant paint on the stay ends in the area of the brick arch.
Mike arrived at lunch time, and got the task of fitting David's sanding lever rod (the one with the by-pass).
Bruce fitted the GWR-style blow-down valve, so that we can now see exactly where the exhaust pipe has to go (it was the reason for the by-pass). While doing so, we noticed that two damper rods had become crossed-over! We fixed that, which enabled me to then test if I had successfully fixed the issue of the front damper sometimes sticking open. … Not to my satisfaction, I hadn't!
Back in the pit, the spring team had now removed the connections at each end of the spring; raised the spring to the necessary height, and fitted the centre pin. When the front end was connected, they couldn't raise the rear end to connect it. After some discussion of the possible options, Bruce said, 'Why not undo the nut on the other end of the compensating beam (that links this spring to the adjacent one), which will lower that end of the beam and raise the front end?' We did. It worked. However, it was now past 5 pm and both Johns had gone home. Bruce had to leave, too, so work was suspended. So, once again, the spring has been left for another day.
Family commitments will keep me away from Todders until next Wednesday, so I shall rely upon Bruce to keep us all informed of progress on Saturday!