Saturday 26 March 2016

Maintenance Update (blow down, AWS, flange, paint)

Wednesday 23rd
Not a lot to do today. Gil has made a short list of things to look at when we’re over a pit … which we were not. The more important thing that we could do was to test-fit the exhaust pipe from the blow-down valve. Blow-downs are only performed when untreated water is used in the boiler, so we have no need to do one at GWSR. But if we go to other railways, we may have to blow out the salt-laden water.

Bruce had fabricated a template thin pipe for Carpo to use as a guide. Carpo has now configured the real pipe to match the template. John G and I tested its fit. It has to meander through various linkages and pipes, and avoid the vacuum cylinder ... and not foul the damper mechanism …

We bolted the flange in place; arranged the pipe in its best position, and marked the pipe and flange. Carpo came and inspected our efforts, and we all decided that it was as good as it could get!

The flange will now be brazed on, and the tail of the pipe will need angling at about 30 degrees to ensure that the exhaust steam is directed into a pit. A jet of water squirting out with 200 psi behind it, and instantly flashing to steam, would be a tad too exciting if it were not directed into a (clean) pit!

Thereafter, John & I played with some conduit, test fitting it on the loco.

We have a few pieces (two long pieces that do appear to be off 2807), but some is missing and others are not from our loco! There’s a ten-foot gap to fill (but I think I know where there is such a length sitting idle); plus the front section that turns under the front of the loco, and a jigsaw at the back. We have a rear section, but it is clearly not from 2807. It has a useful bend to match our frames, but then goes too far backwards, and misses the battery box by almost two feet. However, it can be modified to suit. There’s a pipe comes down from the AWS box in the cab and T’s into the long conduit. The conduit then feeds down into the battery box. So, I think we can complete it!

Mike W joined us at lunchtime, and he cleaned up some of the conduit sections. John spotted where someone had chipped his beloved paintwork, and touched up a few places on the loco. A couple of handles in the cab then received treatment to polish them up and brush off the rust.

Gil, Fred and Bill were working in the siphon van at Winchcombe. There is another pair of doors that they are overhauling. One of the pair is in relatively good condition, but the other … well, it looked to me as though it would be a throw-away job! But they are happy in their work.

Saturday 26th

The weathermen promised rain, particularly for the afternoon, but boot scraper stocks are very low. No option but to soldier on and clean up some rail chairs despite the weather. Actually, there was no serious rain until 3.30, by which time I had cleaned 8 chairs. Black bottoms abound!

Bruce & Gil spent the day playing with the blow-down pipe. Somehow, my markings on the pipe to line the flange up correctly had disappeared. So, it had to be done again. As I was the most flexible of us, I stuck my head down the hole (under the shovel plate in the cab) and marked the flange and pipe again (in a different colour). Bruce brazed the flange in place, and the subsequent test-fit was spot on. There’s not exactly a wealth of room below the cab - photos will perhaps demonstrate:

Bruce fluxing the end

Flange brazed in place

This photo is peering down through the hole in the cab floor, directly below the firehole. See how the pipe has to bend sharp left to avoid the vacuum cylinder.

This one is taken just in front of the cab steps.

Subsequently, the pipe was shortened by about 2” and bent inwards slightly to be sure to eject steam into a pit.

When the boiler is empty, the blow-down valve pipe can be used to fill the boiler, so we needed to cut a bit more off the end, as it almost touched the ground.

On Wednesday, 2807 should be out and over a pit, as she is scheduled to enter service on Thursday 31st. That will give us a (brief) chance to look underneath. There are a couple of minor things that require attention. Gil has made a list, thus:

  • Front damper: cinders had been seen to have fallen through during last week’s trials;
  • Tender nipples: grease does not appear to have been applied to the nipples on the tender for quite some time; *
  • Number plate fixing: it would make life easier if nuts were welded on the inside of the cab, otherwise it’s a two-man job just fitting/removing cabside number plates;
  • Rocking shaft fitted bolt: there’s one left to do;
  • Taper pin in drain cock linkage: the loose pin needs replacing with a new one.
* I believe that we should take responsibility for greasing (and possibly some oiling) of places that are not necessarily common to other locos. The drivers will happily fill up oil pots, on a day-to-day basis, but may not think to grease bearings that maybe only need doing periodically. I believe that we should undertake a routine oil/grease on a monthly basis, because we have experience of knowing what needs doing, where, and how often.


Saturday 19 March 2016

Maintenance Update (grease, valve, clack)

Wednesday 16th
I’d had this great idea to give volunteers, especially the newer ones and those who have helped with 2807 over the winter, a free ride on the footplate. You see, we have race trains this week, and 2807 is on standby (i.e. in light steam). Also, there is nothing happening between about 1pm and 3pm while races are on and our trains are idle. So, I spoke with all of the key people at GWSR and obtained authorisation to operate 2807 between Toddington and Winchcombe. Jeff and Ben volunteered to crew the engine, and we did most of the prep. Roger Tipton [Loco Dept] lit & tended the fire.

Not everything went to plan! There were not many volunteers at Toddington - whether they figured little would be there for them to work on, or whether they were working on race trains/marshalling/etc., I know not. Furthermore, by virtue of assumptions made, no one actually advised the signalmen … so he at Winchcombe knocked off and closed the box!

Nevertheless, half a dozen chaps did get a number of rides up & down the running line at Todders - including the two chaps (Keith & Graham) in the workshop, who only see the light of day when they arrive & go home!

Gil, aided by Phil [Loco Dept], dug through the muck and uncovered the grease points - which look as though they had not been greased for many a month! This raises a concern, that crews may not all be familiar with grease points (or perhaps even oiling points) on all locos that they may be asked to work on. I think that we would be well advised to undertake an all-round greasing once per month, regardless of whether crews have or have not.

Bruce oiled up. He was delighted to see that the pony underkeeps were still full to the brim! He checked the injectors - no leaks; he checked the pep pipe - no leaks; and he was most happy about the clack valve.

John G was painting the chairs in the boot scraper production line. He did get a ride on the loco, but also took an unnecessary walk to Hailes … hoping to video the loco between Todders and Winchcombe … that was before we discovered that Winchcombe box was switched out!

Later, he had another go at polishing the driver-side number plate to get the last bits of varnish off.

We checked the pony wheels, and they have a lovely shiny stripe right round the middle of the tyre (phew!). We checked the rocking shaft and nothing amiss there. The crew applied the tender brakes gently, in order to bed-in the new brake blocks.

During the preparation stage, we tested the steam heating relief valve and that blows at 40 psi, as it should (even though the glass has a red line at 60 psi). Unfortunately, the main safety valve blows at 200 psi instead of 225. We shall have to fix that, because it will confuse the crew if they expect 225 and only get 190 before the valve begins ‘feathering’. There is a very minor steam leak at the tender-side flange of the steam heating connection. It could be the weld, or possibly the gasket.

Alan came and carried out Portable Appliance Testing (on electrical apparatus) during the day. A couple of items failed because of poor cables; and I gave up trying to fix the inspection lamp.

Saturday 19th
We appear to have run out of things to do … so Bruce & Gil tidied up the workbench and table in the TPO. Things had been ‘dumped’ thereupon (as they do) … tins of nuts & bolts; tins liberally coated with oil; oil in a tray with a brush stuck in it; a nut that was going to be used …

Bruce is going to make a spanner to fit the clack’s set screw. These have a square head, and when you tighten them (hard) you tend to use an open-ended spanner and a mallet. But these spring and can also sprain. A ring spanner, however, is not designed to fit a square head; so Bruce will make a ring spanner to fit the square head.

He measured the width of ours (0.82”) and also that on 4290. Guess what …. Anyway, Bruce decided to make the spanner to standard size (11/16”), and (in due course) reduce ours to standard, too!

For those of you who have given up wondering what on earth a “clack” is, here’s a quick intro: It’s purpose is to deliver water into the boiler and not let steam out. The injectors force water up pipes around the boiler and into the clack box which is at the side of the safety valve mounting. The clack valve is circular and sits in a cage in the clack box. Steam pressure holds it down on a seat (that Bruce keeps lapping to get a very close fit). When the injector forces water through, the water passes into the steam space of the boiler and onto a sequence of trays that slope towards the front of the boiler. This allows the water to heat up and also for any air or solids to be released, before it is scattered off the trays into the water towards the front of the barrel, which is the coolest part.

Anyway, it was too cold to play on the loco, so I just painted the boot scrapers!


Saturday 12 March 2016

Maintenance Update (cleaning, heating, slacking, meeting)

Wednesday 9th
Today was the day of the Loco Dept: We had so many helpers, that I barely had time to do anything myself! Four people came (as a group) asking if we had anything for them to do. I set them on cleaning the rods (which were looking a bit grubby, if only because we had oiled them a while back, and they had picked up dirt).

Then two more chaps came along and asked if the firebox was clean (not that they planned on eating lunch in there, you understand). As it happens, I had raked most of the ash to the back, but elected not to go inside and clear it out … so they did! I lent them my personal tools for lifting fire bars and a hand-rake - if you lift a couple of bars, you can rake the cinders through into the ash pan.

Practically all day, John P had been measuring the play in all of our rods. We had already done some of this ourselves, and we are aware that the big ends are too slack. But we can’t do anything about that until we have a lengthy period out of service to remove rods and measure for new bushes.

Bruce had initially set me on cleaning two of the hydrostatic lubricator glasses that had become clogged with oil; Carpo said to do it without removing the glasses! I think it was just a challenge that he’d set me. It was not easy getting the oil and water out through the top nut and then cleaning the inside of the glass.

John G began his day by applying a primer coat to the 11 rail chairs in the boot scraper production line.

When he’d finished that, I pointed him at the driver-side number plate. I had originally varnished these, but over time the varnish had started peeling off. It looked a mess. So John applied some paint remover to get the remnants of varnish off. It took several applications, though.

Bruce & Gilbert set about fixing some of the minor points that arose from our steaming last Saturday. The fireman-side injector was leaking at both ends (amateur PTFE operative - i.e. me!). While about it, Bruce lapped in the clack valve on the top of that injector, too.

The steam heating ends came back from the workshop.

Something spotted, though not explicitly reported, was that the pep pipe (aka slacking pipe) dribbled constantly. Partly this is due to the top clack not being 100%, and allowing some steam to seep back down the water delivery pipe. Partly it was because the valve on the pipe was not a good fit. Bruce stripped it and discovered that there is a hole through the taper of the tap that should align with a delivery hole in the copper pipe.

He was not convinced that they were in line, and with the tap in situ, was able to scribe through the pipe hole onto the tap. Maybe you can see in the photo that his scribe is not exactly where the hole is!

One wonders how it worked at all!

Saturday 12th
We held a Board Meeting, which consumes time & resource (albeit of necessity). David & Bruce replaced the temporary steam heat connections with these newly delivered ones.

Gilbert was adjusting the brakes on the tender. However, David noticed that the centre, right-hand side shoe was totally jammed in its hanger. It could not swing freely at all. Mike, Bruce and David were all involved in removing the brake shoe - by use of a crowbar and much persuasion. An angle-grinder then encouraged the shoe to fit in its hanger correctly.

John P had noticed a loose taper pin in the mechanism that operates the drain cocks ... the proverbial Brummy Spanner was successful in ensuring it fitted tighter, though Gil has ordered some new ones to do the job properly.

Bruce finished his work on the pep valve. Gil attempted to tighten a nut on one of the horn guide tie-bars (but with little success, I gather).

I continued with boot scraper production, though severely limited by the Board Meeting … two black bottoms!

When Mike ran out of things to do, he cleaned out the smokebox. Its inside was covered in what looks like soot (but is probably a mixture of things such as tar-like deposits, rust and soot! It may look rusty (which it is!) but it’s clean rust!

While the door was open, David noticed that a securing chain had broken. You see the bar across the smokebox? On its left end (as you look at it) there is a securing pin, and this pin has a chain attached, to avoid it falling out and hiding in the ashes within the smokebox … or, worse, taking a trip up the chimney!

By end of play, we were satisfied that the loco is fit to run. In fact, the list of winter jobs on our whiteboard was looking good!

Remaining logged issues:-

We have agreed with the railway that 2807 will undertake some bedding-in runs on Wednesday next, so that we can monitor the pony; the rocking shaft and the tender brakes, in particular, before venturing out on a service train.

As a “Thank You” to the department volunteers (many of them having relatively recently joined) who helped with the work and cleaning on 2807 over the past couple of months, we are offering an opportunity to ride on the footplate between Toddington and Winchcombe on Wednesday during these runs.

2807 is on standby for Race Trains (Tuesday to Friday) and is not scheduled for a service until 31st March.

2807 looks like being at NYMR on service trains from 23rd September; in operation for at least 15 days through October and possibly into November.


Sunday 6 March 2016

Maintenance Update (painting, climbing, steaming, steaming, steaming)

Wednesday 2nd
I had been through the list of outstanding issues from last year, and we have cleared all but four - and they can wait! My hint about needing the pressure gauges to be calibrated (i.e. by dumping them on Carpo’s desk) paid off; they were back in our TPO - done! So, my first task was to fit them back in the cab.

John G was keen to slap black paint on things, so I pointed him at various items in the cab that were in need of smartening up … if it’s black and shiny (in the photo above), John had painted it!

Even the fireman’s seat got a licking …

 … as did the driver-side steps.

At some later time, John gave me a hand to move our display board (which I was about to re-install out in the car park) only to spot a bubble in the varnish on its back side. It seems that damp had penetrated and caused it to blister, so I cleaned it up a bit and John slapped paint on that, too.

Bruce was back up at the brass bonnet, again. He wasn’t happy about the way it doesn’t fit well over the pipe cladding. The application of a “Birmingham screwdriver” improved the fit.

Thereafter, Bruce was doing “little bits” - preparing for the steam heating connections to be fitted (they’re still in the workshop), for instance; and fabricating gaskets. He’d also noticed a “missing” wick in an oil pot - but discovered that it had been pulled out of its feeder tube and had disapeared into the oil! It seems that someone had pulled all wicks out of their tubes - presumably to prevent unnecessary dripping of oil. These all needed refitting, of course.

As there was nothing outstanding to do, Gil & Dixie tackled the next fitted bolt on the RHS rocking shaft bracket. Together, they completed this within the day: Dixie on the outside and Gil in-between the frames.

It keeps Gil fit climbing in & out.

Mike W joined us, and he was set on cleaning that bridge section underneath, and painting it red.

John P [Loco Dept] carried out a mechanical inspection and spotted that the front springs were a bit odd. We suspect that the jacking up of the loco to remove/replace the pony truck had caused the hanger to slip out of position. Bruce was able to fix that (possibly with the same “screwdriver”?).

At last, I was able to get back to manufacturing boot scrapers! I needle-gunned six rail chairs, but didn’t move on to wire-brushing them because of the weather: H&S says we’re not allowed to use electricity in the rain. Either ways, it was solid rain … and it kept dropping down my neck … and it was a tad cold.

Saturday 5th
I busied myself with boot scraper preparation, as the season starts today!

Carpo had lit {got someone to light?} a warming fire on Friday, and Martin Ryan [Loco Dept] was tending the steam-raising fire when I arrived. John P [Loco Dept] wanted to complete the “B exam” that he started on Wednesday. I think it took him all day (but not continuously).

Bruce & Gil used JC’s old steam heating connections so that we could couple up the tender pipes to the loco, and by end of day had tested the pressure relief valve, which now blows (correctly) at 40 psi. Our new connections are still in the workshop, but almost completed.

After tea-break, they helped me to erect our display board in the car park. This proved a less trivial task than expected, because one bolt was extremely reluctant to go back into its hole. Bruce did some filing, which fixed it!

B&G spent the rest of the morning pouring oil in relevant orifices. Talking of which, one of the glasses in the hydrostatic lubricator, that I had fitted with much difficulty, had filled up with oil. So, I got called in to remove it, clean it and refit it. Then back to the boot scrapering.

Martin, Andy B and Eleanor [all Loco Dept] brought 2807 up to steam gently, until by mid-afternoon she was building up pressure. We looked around for leaks, etc., and carried out some preliminary checks. The tender brakes were not working very well, because the vacuum was pulling the piston so high in the cylinder, it was close to its limit. Remember that the Loco Dept chaps had fitted new brake blocks, so it is only a matter of adjustment.

Bruce’s newly-made pipe for the condensing coil is looking good; the copper feed to the pep pipe that had become religious was now steam-tight. So, Carpo authorised a chuff up & down.

B&G both had a play with that Big Red Handle. Some minor things were spotted during this testing: both injector bodies leak (we obviously didn’t put enough PTFE on the seals); there’s a loose tapered pin in part of the drain cock linkages; there may be a steam leak from the centre or front drain cock on the RHS. The new £38 bolts on the rocking shaft have done their job - no sign of movement at all.
I finished the day by painting black bottoms once more - eleven in all.

Some rusty bits here for John G to tackle on Weds.

Fire’s looking good.

Pressure building nicely.

Steam drifting from snifting valve.

… and off she goes!

Heading for the hills.

And making her own clouds!

2807 is not scheduled to be in service until 31st March. However, she is the standby loco for Race Week, 16th to 19th March. One must not wish ill upon other locos, of course …