Email from Clive re. last report: "Sorry, can't take the credit for the primer on the roof as it was Eleanor our new volunteer - she also assisted with the polishing."
Sorry, Eleanor! [Not that she receives our news, but maybe Clive can pass it on!]
Collected wire brushes (rotary, to fit drill) and new needles, and took them to Todders. Stu was there, painting rail chairs for me! I fitted new needles into the needle gun and threw away the old ones - no point in keeping them, as their heads are so worn that it isn't long before they hurtle out of the gun like a lance, on a mission of their own …
Stu had touched up the number on the front buffer beam. We both had a butcher's at the footprints on my lovely new red rear buffers. It went through my mind to re-paint & apply a notice: "This red paint is made from blood. To avoid the next coat being made from your blood, please keep off it!"
2807 was over the pit, which gave me an opportunity to finish off playing with the left-hand (front) damper operating lever. There is some adjustment on the rod that runs from beneath the cab to the damper door. As the complaint had been that it was hard to raise the lever and thence close the door, I had lengthened the adjustment. However, that made things worse … because the long rod was trying to push the door further open than was easy to achieve. So, today I shortened the rod … and the lever can now be easily operated.
Bruce was still trying to make time to design the route for the pipe from the new blow-down valve. While observing the gaps between rods, pipes, stretchers and damper levers through which the 2" diameter pipe might pass, I happened to spot that the newly modified sanding rod was just clipping the steam heat pipe when sanding gear was being turn on/off. So, I removed the rod, and John & I assisted Bruce in applying a bit of force in a suitable spot, sufficient to keep the rod away from the steam heating pipe.
I had headed for the smokebox, armed with nuts, bolts & washers, to secure the petticoat. However, Jonathan [Loco Dept] had perversely volunteered to test a new "flue-brush" that was intended to run through flue tubes and clean their sides. This it did, but as the length (up to 15 ft) is achieved by screwing rods together as the brush goes in, a side effect became apparent. The brush could only be turned clockwise, else the rods might come apart inside the tubes - which would be fun then to get out! But in turning this way, it was tightening all of the joins between rods … to the point where Jonathan couldn't undo the rods again when he pulled them out!
Dixie climbed up and painted the cab roof. This had been patched and now needed an overall coat of matt black. Once seen with a brush in your hand, you get diverted to painting anything else that needs it … in Dixie's case this was the brake rigging. I believe he also helped Jonathan, who was struggling a bit with this flue brush idea!
The brake rigging consumed most of Gil's day, plus much of John's and some of Ingo's. Gil & Ingo ended up helping Bruce with the blow-down pipe, while John whiled away some time cleaning grease-covered GWR rail chairs, and also emptied our rubbish bin (a select few of us attend to the domestic necessities!).
Yes, Bruce finally found time to sort out a path for the blow-down pipe. He began with a thin wire, attempting to fashion it into a suitable shape that avoids the obstacles twixt valve and pit.
This was not 100% effective, so we ended up "sacrificing" one of the copper pipes that we had used to unblock tubes last week. This being 22mm OD, at least it was more realistic than thin wire! This task then occupied Bruce (plus Gil for a while) under the loco, and me & Ingo in the cab. It was a case of test and bend … test and bend … until we reached a shape that seems to fit the bill.
Ingo had re-fitted the cab AWS warning bell, and also the petticoat (while Jonathan was having a cuppa). He cleaned up the mini-heaps of sand that I had created when fitting and testing the sanding rod (there still being some sand in the sand boxes!).
Clive and Ade [Loco Dept] had an inspect of the tender insides. Clive clambered in and reported that there was much grot on the floor - some white deposit and some flakes of paint; the front section was still wet; the lower half was in better condition than the upper half, which had lost much of its paint.
It was decided that the inside needs a coating of Deproma (anti-rust paint) and maybe some bitumen if time permits. Gil tried to remove the "plug" in the bottom of the tender, and let out some more water, but couldn't get the plug out.
Just time to paint the lettering on the 12 rail chairs, in preparation for the railway's opening on 7 March.
David spent the entire day working on the brake rods. Much of the intent was to maintain the strength in the ends of the rods, they having been drilled and bushed. So, David was welding the bushes in place and also adding more weld to the outer edge of some that Bruce felt were a shade thinner than he'd like.
I spent the morning inside the tender tank. It has stood up to its 4-years of use quite well. However, the paint on the inside had almost entirely flaked off! The primer was still good, though. The "ceiling" (i.e. the underside of the top plates) was well rusted. In just one section of the tank, I wire-brushed sides & ceiling and then applied Deproma anti-rust paint to the rust patches.
Bruce popped in to see how we were getting on - and it was at this point that I learned about the "plug" not having been pulled. With Bruce acting as gopher, I crawled under the tender, but it was impossible to safely remove the plug without the risk of it falling down and breaking my arm … so I didn't. It's a bit heavier than your average bath plug.
Later I finished off the 12 boot scrapers and made more wooden wedges for future use. Finally, as David finished his welding, I painted the ends of his rods.
Clive removed the "plug" from the bottom of the tender and then he and Howard [both of Loco dept] blasted the tender insides with the pressure hose. Loads of grot came off (mostly paint). The primer beneath is generally good. There's no time to do anything else (e.g. paint or bitumen) so that will have to wait until end of season. Clive refitted the plug and added some water to test its seal.
Gil, Dixie and [new] David worked all day on the brake rigging. It transpired that they could not refit two of the rods without removing the brake shoes! Bit of a bind. All of the RHS is now done (rods & shoes all on) but there is one left to do: LHS rear rod. It's end needs tweaking to make it fit the fork of the next rod.
John G continued with his ferrules - painting a couple (and accidentally painting the workbench top) and putting a cunning code on each one so that they can be fitted back into their correct holes next time ! … if you can work out the code. :-)
Bruce assisted the brake gang during the morning but then persuaded John to help hoover out the boiler tubes. On Saturday, Jonathan pushed a flue brush through the tubes and in doing so managed to block a couple of them. The brush was a very tight fit, so it took soot off the tubes sides and pushed it down … but in a couple of cases built up the deposits sufficient to create a blockage. So, Bruce & John blew through them all, which worked fine (apart from the one that really was blocked, whence Bruce got the blow-back!).
I was on Granddad duty in the morning and again at school home time. As a result, all I achieved was fitting the vacuum gauge back in the cab and cleaning 4 rail chairs. Not even time to paint their bottoms!
Carpo fitted the mud-hole doors, so we are nearly ready for steaming. Here's the current plan:
Saturday = finish brakes and check the tender plug for leaks. Probably fill the tender with coal & water.
Wednesday 4th = Light a warming fire.
Thurs 5th = carry out general testing (set steam valves to pressure, perhaps; check everything works)
Friday 6th = formal steam test.
Monday 9th = fit brick arch and light a warming fire.
Tues 10 - Fri 13 = light steam - in use as standby loco.
Sat & Sun = in service.