Friday 26 December 2014

Maintenance Update (chairs, springs, balancing)

Saturday 20th
Maurice received two Christmas cards today.  I took them down to the TPO for him.

Five issues raised by today's driver [AM]:
43: Excessive play in reverser catch.
44: Front damper control handle keeps jamming open.
45: Intermittent vacuum fault; slow to create and sudden dropping of train pipe.
46: Firebox cladding angles inside cab falling off; pop rivets splitting.
47: Safety valves blowing 10 - 20 psi light (or gauge misreading).

Sunday 21st
I noticed that Maurice has taken one of Gilbert's blue latex gloves.  Presumably he's volunteering to get stuck in and help us?

Three times I visited Winchcombe station to deliver boot scrapers to them!  Obviously a Christmas rush.  Once more, I am struggling to produce them at such a rate!  We are putting the price up to £40 next season.

No new issues from today's 2807 crew.

Monday 22nd
Winchcombe station re-stocked yet again!  They have sold 9 boot scrapers over this weekend.

Back at Todders, the shelf was empty, but I was able to finish making six more.  Also I had the delight of painting eight black bottoms.

Email received 7pm from Phil Cummings (Winchcombe Stationmaster): "Just to let you know we have sold out of scrapers."   Aaaaaagh!!!

Tuesday 23rd
8 am dash to Todders to collect the last six boot scrapers; then Tesco with the family; followed by delivering the six boot scrapers to Winchcombe station.  Back home for lunch.  Two hours spent after lunch at Todders applying primer to 8 rail chairs plus cutting 90 wooden wedges (to hold the brushes in the chairs' jaws).

Maurice had not bunged up his entrance - probably assumed no one would be down on a Tuesday. It must have come as a rude awakening when I started up the band-saw.  Poor little chap - I could just picture Maurice with his little paws in his ears !!!

No further issues raised on the loco's record card.

Wednesday 24th
11 am: Seized the opportunity to go for a bike ride via Todders.  It was a bit chill: sticky-out bits got a tad cold. (What???  Nose & ears, of course!).

Applied top coats to: five GWR/BR(W); two anonymouse 1939 black, plus one 1885 MR crimson. Reading one of the FLA's books while supping a coffee, I discovered that GWR did not start to convert from bridge rail to bullhead rail until 1894 - which explains why I have never come across a GWR rail chair dated before 1900.

4 pm: Called in at Winchcombe station to collect boot scraper sales money.

Thursday 25th
Two more issues reported:

48: Pep pipe leaking by handle nut.  [PG]
49: Front driver spring cross-beam at an angle; leading edge of springs at different heights.  Springs appear not to be broken.  [GF]

I grovelled underneath to take a look at the front springs.  It is true that the beam at the front is much higher on the left than on the right.  So much so that the end of the beam is actually hitting the frame. The left-hand front spring is also at an angle rather than horizontal (I suppose it has to be, to make the front beam at an angle!).  Because the front spring and the second spring are connected by a balancing beam, it is hard to know what the effect would be if any one of the adjusters is adjusted.  I wonder what would happen if we just turned round the front left-hand spring?

2807 is now rostered for Friday 26th and Monday/Tuesday 29/30th.  So, winter maintenance can commence on Wednesday 31st.

This will be eight steamings in December.


Saturday 20 December 2014

Maintenance Update (back in business!)

Monday 15th
Gil managed to get through to Tyseley, and was advised that the valves will be ready circa 3.30 on Tuesday.  Gil & I are going up to collect them and get them to Todders by Tuesday night.

I spent a couple of hours applying a top coat to heaps of rail chairs.  I need to get these ready for the coming weekend!

Tuesday 16th
Gil collected me circa 1.30 pm and we headed for Tyseley.  We arrived about 3 pm, but the valves weren't ready!  Bob Meanley entertained us: Gil looking at loco part drawings, me scouring the yard for spare rail chairs.  Finally, Alistair finished fitting the second one, and we were able to take them.. Apparently, they had great trouble drilling holes for the key slots in the ends of the rods, as we had had them hardened.  They broke several drill bits …   :-)

Anyway, we left there at 16:48 and arrived at a deserted Toddington at 6.30 pm.  We put the valves in the shed, each side of the loco ready for the fitters on Wednesday.

Wednesday 17th
When I arrived (after the Tesco run), I was getting into my gear when I discovered that a certain little resident has chewed off my boot lace!  Cheeky little beggar!

A team of seven of us [including John P, Mike W and Pete G from Loco Dept] spent all day (until 7 pm) fitting the valves and their cross-heads and sliders.  The montage depicts various stages of fitting the valves.

1. Each valve rod with its two valve heads was lifted onto the front running board, and inserted into the valve chest from the front.  The heads were liberally coated with thick green steam (aka cylinder) oil.

2. Some persuasion was required to move the valves into their chests, because the rings are purposely a tight fit.  John Pedley is seen here applying wood force to the end of the valve shaft.

3. When the rod reaches the far end (actually the rear cover) it has to be aligned to pass through the central hole (bush).  The carefully modified scaffolding pole is designed to enable one person to raise the shaft and move it up/down & left/right, following the instructions of the person who is peering into the hole in the rear cover to get it lined up.

4. Further persuasion is then required to pass the shaft through the rear bush.  The shaft needs to go a fair distance inwards to enable the front cover to be manipulated into place, there being many studs and bits of running board trying (successfully) to make it difficult.

5. A PTFE-type seal is then fitted round the front cover and it is a two-man job to position it over its studs.

6. When the cover is bolted in position the end cover (a bit like Pinocchio's nose) is fitted over the protruding end of the valve rod.  Just visible above the thumb on the red glove, there is an oiling point.  An oil-gun is needed to force steam oil into this and thence through holes in the bush onto the valve rod.  A five minute job … that took me half-an-hour.  The oil gun was empty.  I filled it.  It didn't work.  There appeared to be a part missing, so I took it apart (guided by John T).  Inside, I found a plunger with a chain & ring on the end (now covered in thick green oil).  Got it sorted, and successfully applied oil to the oiling point on both valve front covers.

7. Meanwhile, the valve rod seals were fitted into the rear covers.

8 & 9. Then the valve rod guide (the big lumpy thing with a pair of nuts in it) had to be raised on shims such that the valve rod cross-head (the shiny thing with a round bit, on top of the spindle guide) lines up with the valve rod centre line.  The rod is tapered, and is held in the cross-head by a tapered key (which is not visible in the photos, as it was the last thing to go in!).  The two nuts are on counter-sunk bolts that have a securing key that has to be slotted into its keyway, underneath.  When the right height is found, the pair of nuts are tightened and split pins pushed through the bolts just above the nuts. ** see Thursday!

The front running boards were refitted plus the curved valve access hatch flaps on both sides.

The LHS valve link (between rocking shaft hanging arm and the valve cross-head) was fitted, leaving the RHS side to be fitted on Thursday.

Thursday 18th
Jamie, Carpo and Danny tackled the remaining tasks.  The loco was gently moved to check that the valve heads don't hit the end covers … they don't!  [Phew!].

** When fitting the RHS valve link, one castellated nut didn't quite match up with the split pin hole.  [I think this was why the nut had been left slightly un-tight, and which Bruce had spotted recently].  Anyway, I assume Carpo inserted a washer and then skimmed a few thou off the nut to get a perfect fit.  Skimming created a burr.  When he tried to clean the thread with a suitable tap, he discovered that the thread was not "standard". I dashed round to Bruce to pick his brains - nothing found.  Bruce came over and joined in trying to figure out what the issue was.  It appears that the thread is just a few thou short of one inch Whitworth standard.  Carpo persuaded the nut to become exactly one inch Whitworth.

Much fiddling to get nuts and split pins aligned at each end of the valve link, and then it was time to test the RHS.

Danny struggled to move the reverser into full forward or full reverse - we decided that this was due to the tightness of the new valve rings.  It loosened up after a while.  It did reveal that the brasses in the rocking shafts are a tad worn !!!

Carpo pulled her forward [not on his own, obviously] to moans & groans from 2807.  Nevertheless, the RHS valves were OK.  So, 2807 was shunted round to Road 8, and Jamie & Danny lit a warming fire.

I snook into the TPO and finished off a few boot scrapers.  Then Bruce & I tidied away half-a-million tools that had migrated out to the shed during the refit.

I saw that Maurice had bunged his door up, again.  It looks as though he might feel more secure with his doorway closed, and then he opens it to pop out for his evening meal.  I must get to work on that mouse-flap!

Friday 19th
Pete Young [Loco Dept] re-lit a fire in the morning, and gradually brought her round to working pressure.  It was after lunch by the time she reached 180 psi.  Meanwhile ….

Gil tackled the oiling of everything (except the hydrostatic lubricator in the cab - Carpo did that).

Having seen the RHS rocking shaft rock when it shouldn't have, yesterday, I attacked it with a 1⅛ inch Whitworth spanner.  Surprisingly, the RHS nuts were already tight (but they're tighter now!).  A couple on the LHS were very loose, though.

I then cleaned the smokebox door and the running boards, assisted by Tim P. [Loco Dept].

We adjourned for lunch, and thereafter came the proof of the pudding.  The reverser is still very hard to heave into full gear.  Carpo eased 2807 forwards as Gil & I watched and listened.  Nothing untoward so far.  There was no steam leak from the LHS front cylinder cover that we had removed to inspect the cylinder bore.  Steam and water was happily dribbling out of all six drain cocks - however, the LHS centre one leaks steam via its little valve rod!  I recall that it was a very loose fit, when I was cleaning the drain cocks out.

Gradually, 2807 increased her distance, up & down the shed Road 8 and all seemed well.  Carpo took the opportunity to do a spot of shunting, as the 55xx is also in service on Saturday, and needed pulling out of the shed.

While they were playing, I snook back into the TPO to finish off more boot scrapers!  Gil came in and took the LHS cylinder front cladding to refit.  I gave him a hand, as it can be a challenge lining up the centre hole on your own.  Then Carpo decided to chuff up and down on Siding One, which gave 2807 a longer run.  Initially, she was coaled, but then she ran up & down several times.  This all helps bed-in the new valve rings, of course.

Anyway … job done!  She's in service over the weekend and up until Christmas Day.  I believe she'll be in service after Christmas for a while, too.


Sunday 14 December 2014

Maintenance Update (bushes, sleeves, gaskets)

Monday 8th
Applied a top coat to the 9 rail chairs that Alistair had primed on Saturday.

Tuesday 9th
I painted the gold lettering on the 9 chairs.  I thought that I better leave the other 15 (the ones with black bottoms) until Wednesday so that we have something to do.  :-)

Wednesday 10th
Bruce & Gil took the front covers off the valve chests.  These need to have new bushes fitted to match the new valve rods.  Gil had had the bushes made, and Bruce set about replacing them.  The first task was to extract the existing bushes; this went easy.  Then, after much measuring of new bush and hole in cover, Bruce attempted to fit the new bush - which is designed as a "press fit".

The fitting of the new bush did not go so smoothly.

Gil came along and he & Bruce attempted "Plan-B" to get it to fit.

This proved ineffective, too.  After picking up the correct new bush, Bruce made it fit relatively easily!!!

Thereafter, Bruce (with occasional assistance from me) cleaned the threads on the studs and the nuts on each cover.

Meanwhile, Gil had begun working on the studs on the valve chest by which these covers are attached.  Mike joined him, and together they cleaned all of the studs, front & back, on both sides during the rest of the day.

I spent most of the day fitting brushes to the 9 completed chairs and applying a primer coat to 7 green, 3 red and 1 black chair before running out of room and of black Deproma paint.  P-Way delivered 30 more chairs for me!

This morning, as a result of constructing his winter quarters, Maurice had left a pile of debris - which I hoovered up!  At some point circa 4 pm he must have slipped out and taken one piece of apple, and although I sat poised with camera for a while, his shyness prevented him from making centre stage today.

Friday 12th
Message from Phil Grange today to say that he had collected our chimney cap and ash pan rake from the NYMR. He will be dropping them into the GWSR at the earliest opportunity.

Saturday 13th
Gil had had new sleeves and bushes made for the rear valve covers, which he brought today.

He, Bruce and David fitted these lovely new and shiny bits into the rear covers.

Bruce made gaskets for the covers.

David & John cleaned and refurbished the nuts and replaced three seized studs for the covers. Jeff Lacey [Loco dept] cleaned the joint faces and oiled the valve liners.  Paul Gosney [Loco Dept] helped Gil fit the covers back on, with some assistance from a lead hammer swung by Neil {Loco Dept].

Bruce also re-fitted the drain pipe from the LHS valve chest to the centre drain cock.

Meanwhile, I began by cleaning off loose paint on the valve cladding, ready for a re-paint.  Then Steve & I pressed on with cleaning rail chairs to try to build up stock before Winter Maintenance diverts all effort onto the loco.

Which brings me to Carpo popping in … he would like 2807 to be back in service next weekend !!!

Geof also popped in to see us.  He has major heart surgery scheduled for Tuesday … those of a religious bent might like to say a prayer for him; the rest of us just wish him a successful outcome, and we look forward to welcoming him back just as soon as he's fit enough to wield a spanner!

Maurice had bunged his doorway up with rubbish again.  I hoovered it up, but Bruce suggested that Maurice might want his door hole bunging up.  After all, he's trying to sleep while we are hammering, needle-gunning and generally making a noise!  We had an idea - why not make him a "mouse-flap" (like a cat flap, but smaller)?  Then he can come-and-go, and it would keep some of the noise out.


Monday 8 December 2014

Maintenance Update (brass, chairs, links)

Thursday 4th
I had to pop down first thing to collect a boot scraper for an order.  When I arrived home, there was a telephone order for another one !

Then, I popped down last thing to paint the lettering on the four almost-completed boot scrapers (two of which are already ordered).  The F&W had sold 4 since the weekend, so I restocked them, which left just two completed boot scrapers on the shelf!

Fred called in, having made today a pseudo-Wednesday.  He and Ray had been working on the siphon restoration at Winchcombe.  While Fred and I were nattering, Maurice nipped out and grabbed his biscuit.  Fred volunteered to help with boot scraper manufacture on Saturday.

Friday 5th
I just popped down to finish off the four boot scrapers (two of which are already ordered).  JC called in because he's lost one of his vacuum reservoir connectors, and wondered if he had given Gilbert two by mistake.  There was some confusion because (I discovered later) Gil had left it sitting on the cab steps!!!  ….and it wasn't there now!  … but on Saturday, there it was with the other brass bits!!
How did that happen?  (photo shows brass connectors: water, steam heat & vacuum between loco and tender).  Bruce spotted it on Wednesday, and took it into the TPO for safety.

Feeling that Maurice was not receiving the best of diets, I decided to take him one grape and three chocolate raisins, for a change.  I took an apple (for me) and cut off a small bit just in case Maurice likes apple.  Does he like apple !!!  While JC was here, Maurice nipped out and snaffled the piece of apple!  As this appeared to be his preferred of the options, I put down two more pieces, and sure enough - they vanished PDQ!

Saturday 6th
I began the day by selecting some 16 rail chairs at Winchcombe, and leaving a pile of 10 for Fred to pick up, while I took 6 in my car over to Toddington.  It was so cold, that the chairs were welded to the ground, and when I prised them up and lifted them into the barrow, my glove became welded to the chairs too, much to the amusement of the P.Way chaps!  Fred had a trailer, so could carry more.

John and Alistair has responded to my plea for help making boot scrapers, and when I arrived at Todders, Alistair had already volunteered to do painting (as he's had recent experience at home) and John was attacking the chairs with the needle gun.  The gun was clearly not up to its usual self, struggling to beat the rust.  We discovered the problem - ice in the air line!

Fred had also responded to my plea, and when he arrived with his 10 chairs, he & I took over from John on cleaning rail chairs - Fred doing the wire-brushing and me doing the needle-gunning.

Alistair began by applying the primer coat to the 9 chairs that I had been working on since Wednesday.  Then he turned to the chairs that Fred & I were cleaning - Alistair having the pleasure of painting their bottoms.  As we couldn't keep up with his painting speed, Alistair also sanded and painted 10 brushes.

John, meanwhile, was supervising Gil in carrying out measurements on the valve slide mechanism, having discovered that his first set of results (last week) were inconsistent.  The two of them then tightened the LHS cylinder front cover.  They cleaned the two valve connecting links  and inserted the offset pins.

By end of play, we boot scraper team had finished up with 9 primed in green and a further 15 with black bottoms - a fantastic achievement!  I was truly grateful to Alistair, Fred and John for coming to my rescue.

Call me a tease, but following Maurice's obvious liking for apple, I put down the core of my one from lunchtime - let's see him drag that into his home !!!

Sunday 7th
I did pop in, but only to restock the Winchcombe station café.

Hopefully, the valve piston rings will be completed this week, and we can reassemble the loco.


Thursday 4 December 2014

Maintenance Update (Tyseley, valves, white metal, drain cocks)

Thursday 27th
David reports:
"I visited Tyseley today to take the valve crossheads for fitting to the new valve spindles. After cleaning these, and other items, yesterday we discovered that the white metal on one of the crossheads was coming away from the top surface. The crossheads were slid into the slide-way assemblies and were found to be extremely sloppy.

It was therefore decided to take both parts to Tyseley for advice, but that no action would be taken by them until Gilbert had spoken to them.

On showing Alastair the assemblies he agreed they were quite loose fitting, but said they could not remedy it at this stage as they did not know the exact position of the valve spindle bore in the crossheads relative to the position of the assembly when fitted to the main slidebars. He also thought that the wear on the slidebar brasses was much more on one side than the other, indicating a possible misalignment. He added that this might have contributed to the wear on the valve spindles. The assemblies may well also need some new brasses as well as white metal. The white metal on the lower surfaces, besides being rather full of cheese-like holes, was satisfactory.

He said that to effectively rework the sliding surfaces would require us to refit the slides to the main slidebars and put a wire centrally through the valve ports and measure accurately the offsets in both vertical and horizontal directions. We agreed at this stage I would return the slidebar assemblies to Toddington and probably, for the moment, leave well alone and bear this in mind for the future.

He commented that much of the work had been done on the valves and they will soon be ready for reassembly. He took the crossheads for assembly to the valve spindles."

I called in at Todders to pick up 6 boot scrapers in order to restock the Winchcombe trolley on Friday morning.

Friday 28th
Winchcombe restocked.

Saturday 29th
David returned the valve slide bars.  These need measure in situ to determine if the valve cross-head runs at the correct height for the valve rods.

David spent most of the day cutting the seat of the steam valve inside the ejector (in the cab).  John was helping by applying pressure to the cutter as David turned it.  Bruce commented on the groans coming from within the cab, and was not sure if it was the cutter or David!

Gil & Bruce removed the LHS cylinder cover to examine its innards.  Fortunately, no damage was evident.  Gil measured the internal diameter (on various axes) and determined that there had been normal wear, though we didn't know whether that is recent or not without checking against previous measurements.

Gil later reported: " the condition of the cylinder was fine. There were no scratches or grooves but it was seen that there was not a lot of lubrication in the cylinder. It was noted that there was significant clearance between the piston and the cylinder wall. Whilst the cylinder was accessible, the clearance was checked and found to be in the order of 0.175 which is within acceptable limits.

Dependent upon the readings at the time, it is anticipated that at the end of the 2015 season, we will have to give consideration to renewal of the pistons because of excessive clearance between the piston and cylinder wall. At the same time measurements were taken of the cylinder bores. When evaluated the readings were found to be inconsistent with previous results and will require re-checking during the winter shutdown."

Bruce spent some time measuring the valve cover, because these need to have new bushes fitted.  The style of ours doesn't seem to match either of the patterns for which we have diagrams (nothing new there!).  Consequently, Bruce has drawn up how ours actually is, and will then work out what needs to be done to get the new bushes to fit and make up to the "standard sized" valve rods.

I was conspicuous by my absence (except that I was there just after 9 am to feed Maurice, check boot scraper stock, as I have had three email enquiries, and restock the F&W; and again just after 3 pm to make sure the chaps were not slacking … and they weren't!).

Sunday 30th
I decided that the boot scraper stock is so low that I just had to make a start cleaning some more rail chairs.  I managed four during the morning.  When I got home, there was a message from Winchcombe station - they had only one boot scraper left!  A hasty lunch was followed by a second trip to Todders to pick up five more to take to Winchcombe station!

Carpo shunted 2807 into the shed (Road 8) - nice to be in the dry!

Monday 1st December
Two more orders!  Spent an hour just applying a primer coat to the four tops.

Last week, the F&W sold 8 boot scrapers.  On Friday, I put 6 in the Coffee Pot - by Sunday lunchtime, there was only one left !!

Tuesday 2nd
Another order!  Spent an hour applying a top coat.

Wednesday 3rd
Bruce has spent two-and-a-half days working on drawings for our valve covers and their bushes. Sometimes I wonder if there is truly such a thing as "Swindon Standard"; or maybe there was in GWR days, but it all fell apart under BR?  Anyway, Bruce & Gil pored over Bruce's final design plus instructions for the manufacture of the bushes and an additional sleeve (to return the hole to the correct diameter!).  They took the old bushes out, and Gil took the two rear valve covers off to get them brought up to spec.  He's using a local machine shop.

The LHS centre drain cock pipe that was blocked had been soaking in diesel for a week, and Bruce & Gil managed to clear it out, today.

There was a thought that possibly the valve had not been opening sufficiently, as all three are operated by the same rod.  So, Bruce modified the lever by adding a bit of "packing".  Someone welded it on (not sure who) for us, and Bruce refitted the rod.

The pipe was tested in situ using water, and that flowed happily, so then a good squirt of oil was injected into the valve's steam chest.

Finally, the short outlet pipe appeared to have been "inadvertently modified" (e.g. by clouting something), and Bruce managed to open its end out such that it almost looks circular again.

Meanwhile, I spent the entire day cleaning up rail chairs in a desperate attempt to get some stock available for the demand.  Well, I say "all day", I started by hoovering-up after Maurice, who had been playing with some polystyrene over night and left little white balls of it all over the floor!  Nine chairs are now sitting, black bottoms up, in the TPO.