Sunday 30 October 2016

Maintenance Update (regulator, planks, hinges, saddle)

Tuesday 25th
Good news … the boiler inspector is happy to proceed with a thinner tube. It must be hydraulically tested at 10 psi above normal maximum working pressure.

Not so good news … Carpo has just discovered that the expansion required to make Skinny fit tightly in the tube plate is slightly more than he anticipated! Phone a friend time again! It may be possible to fit a sleeve or, perhaps better, a ferrule.

Wednesday 26th
Stuart reported: “I lent a bit of a hand this day and also took these photos.”

John G chipping off old bitumen

Gilbert applying Deproma rust proofing paint

Fred applying Top coat gloss black to Chassis

Ray and Bill working inside, preparing and painting internal fittings

Bruce reported: “Yesterday [Wednesday], when we trial fitted the 1.75" tube after modifying the regulator casting I suggested that a 2" tube may go in.  We then did an investigation and found that the 2" tube would probably take up the same position as the 1.75" tube before the regulator rib had been modified.  I said that I would do a simple drawing to see if our assumption was correct and sure enough it showed that it was in an almost identical position.

If I had given it some thought it should have been obvious. The angle of the 1.75" tube was determined by the edge of the hole in the tubeplate and the rib on the regulator. We then removed approx 0.25" from the rib on the regulator, so if a tube 0.25" larger was put in it should take up the same position as the 1.75" tube before modification.

I have been thinking (I did not phone a friend) that if your [Carpo’s] latest plan using a tube that has a pre expanded large end is not viable it may mean removing the regulator to enable us to fit a 2" tube. Would it be possible to remove another quarter of an inch from the regulator rib to allow a 2" tube to go in and then weld up the cut out after the tube is expanded? I think that it is a steel casting.
Clutching at straws perhaps but it would save an awful lot of work.”

So, we are not a lot closer to a solution.

Saturday 29th
As we are not yet in a position to put a new tube back in, folks generally fiddled around with bits & bobs all day!

John T started by cleaning out the floor of the cab. The wooden floor planks slide in metal channels which accumulate coal dust thereby preventing the planks from moving … even when you need to remove them.

David very kindly largely devoted his morning to fitting new hinges to the cabinet that holds the compressor.

Graham cleaned the ends of the two sets of superheater elements that had had to be removed to get at the errant tube.

Bruce spent a lot of time inside the smokebox. He cleaned up the superheater header and the clamps that hold the elements in place, in readiness for them going back … eventually. While working in there, Bruce commented on the blocked tubes (around the bottom, where ash had apparently not been cleared out very well by NYMR staff). We’ll have to clean these out next time.

Gil decided that it was time to ream out another of those fitted bolts that hold the rocking shaft bracket firmly in place. John assisted in doing that, and finally Bruce finished it off.

A new chap, called Mike, joined us. He has experience of playing with locos and enjoys painting! So, he was set on cleaning and painting the smokebox saddle. He finished one half and was thinking of coming back on Sunday to do the other half!

Bruce suggested that the whole of the running boards could do with a fresh coat of paint. They get heavily used, of course. Actually, I think that the Deproma paint has stood up well to be trampled all over in heavy boots.

I’d had four orders for boot scrapers yesterday, so guess what I was doing! Although Sunday is our last public operational day until after Christmas, I decided to re-stock the two cafes. In previous years people have asked for them during the Santa Special period (for obvious reasons!).


Sunday 23 October 2016

Cutting out the failed tube

[see main story below]

The failed tube had to be removed in short sections at the smokebox end.  Each section was about 4 to 6 inches long.  The first section was pushed through by pushing from the firebox end.  This piece was cut off, and the next section pushed through.  This piece was cut off ...........

This photo gives an idea of where the failed tube is.  Two superheater elements have been removed to give better access.  The failed tube is at the top - you can see where water ran down the tubeplate during testing.

These photos show Carpo in the cramped condition of the smokebox, cutting sections off the tube.

The tube had to be cut into more than 30 sections to get it out.

Many thanks to everybody involved.


Maintenance Update (bung, spray, flawed, exam)

Thursday 20th
The tube arrived …
Bruce had asked: How’s it getting here?’ “Not on his car’s roof rack”, said I … but guess what?
I wish I’d had my camera with me !!!
Update from Brian: “Had a call from NYMR, Loco is being picked up this morning could not give an ETA for GWSR.”

Friday 21st
Loco arrived at Toddington at 07.10 (according to Alex). Bruce & I arrived at 09.30. It was a misty day - couldn’t see the hills. Note the empty car park!

We got ourselves ready, and then Carpo and Bruce tested the theory of getting “Skinny” (the new tube) under the regulator header, through the tube plate, and along the barrel without meeting something on the way.

There’s just about enough flexibility in Skinny to be able to pull it down at the firebox end.

But it does look as though a small amount will have to be ground off the bottom of the regulator header, or possibly a deliberate bend in Skinny to get it to slip between the obstacles?

Before Carpo shunted 2807 into the yard, I noticed what seems to be a shim out of place. This is under the top RHS slide bar. It is not obvious what has happened here. Why has it slid out, and why is it bent downwards?

Carpo took a sample of boiler water for analysis. Bruce & I tackled the smokebox. We removed the spark arrester, and then we could see the full layout within 2807. It looks as though Skinny will pass below the petticoat OK, though at least one of the superheater elements will have to come out to make space.

You can (just) see the bung in the end of the errant tube. Before attempting to remove the bung, Bruce & Carpo demolished the brick arch. Ironic, quoth Carpo, as the arch had survived NYMR perfectly well, despite the alleged issue of it beginning to collapse before it went up there!

Meanwhile, I cleaned out the ash from the smokebox - there was half a dustbin full in there! We then tackled the bungs. Bruce & Carpo were in the firebox undoing the nut on the end. I was in the smokebox watching the nut at that end. My nut wasn’t for turning! Bruce unscrewed rather a lot, and also tapped the rod through, but still my end wouldn’t turn and the bung clung on doggedly. Bruce & I decided to abandon this for today.

The tender had arrived at 11.10, so Carpo and Bruce shunted that into the yard and we coupled up loco and tender. We were a little concerned that the linkages had (once again) suffered at the hands of the uninitiated, though not as badly as last time it went to NYMR. We shall have to construct a template for guiding the three links into their respective holes!

Carpo pressed on during the afternoon, and reported: “This afternoon I removed the bung in the firebox before removing two elements to allow me to remove the bung in the smokebox. I was then able to remove the remains of the tie rods before cleaning out the tube with our drain cleaning pressure washer.

This means that tomorrow we should be able to put 20psi of air over the water and be able to ascertain the whereabouts of the leak. We shall then be able to sit down for a cup of tea and decide the next step!”

Saturday 22nd
A whole host of people turned up to help, today: Brian, Bruce, Gilbert, John T, Steve and myself; plus Phil and Stu from the Loco Dept supported Carpo (who, once again, spent the day inside the smokebox)!

The smokebox had a couple of inches of water in it, but this was probably due to Carpo cleaning out the tubes yesterday before removing the superheater tubes. John baled it out, I believe. As per plan (above), Carpo removed an inspection plug to fit an air hose adapter … except that it was too big! So, a smaller one had to be made: take one plug; drill a hole through it; tap a thread in it, fit air hose connector. However, Carpo inspected the innards and declared that there is no sign of boiler mismanagement - it all looks fine inside there.

Once the air line was attached, pressure was built up to about 20 psi whereupon the spray from the hole in the tube was clearly seen. It was about 6ft in from the firebox end, at a “4 o’clock” angle. So, the next step was to drain the boiler and remove the tube. One of the bungs had already had to be cut out, and now Carpo had to carefully cut the tube at the firebox end; heat and ease the smokebox end. Then Bruce knocked up a rod to help push the tube out, with Phil doing so from within the firebox.

The tube had to come out 6” at a time, because there is not enough room behind & beneath the regulator header to push any more through. It can’t go the other way because the tube widens, and will not pass through the narrower tube hole in the throat plate in the firebox.

Carpo will speak with the boiler inspector on Monday. He will probably want to see the flawed tube and discuss the method of replacing the tube. All being well, we shall be able to fit Skinny, and then have the annual boiler exam during November. Assuming it all goes well, we will then join in on the Santa Specials … keeping a close eye on the other tubes!

In spare moments, John managed to needle-gun a couple of rail chairs, while I finished off the four boot scrapers in the production line and then re-stocked the cafes at Todders and Winchcombe.


Thursday 20 October 2016

Maintenance Update (chuck, tube, valve, header)

Saturday 15th
Re. the leaking tube: Remember the tubes being sponsored, back in 2009? The question has been asked: whose tube is it? Well, it is tube number 5, but I won’t say who sponsored it in case they feel morally obliged to buy a replacement! But if they do …

Carpo has phoned another friend (actually, the boiler expert from Riley’s came here by luck & fortune) and has decided that we shall definitely remove the offending tube and replace it with a narrower one. It will be a challenge getting the old one out and the new one in, but if we don’t try …
Carpo promptly ordered the new tube, and it will be delivered on Thursday.

Bruce tested the new dustpan and brush.

He’d bought a new chuck for the pillar drill (because the old one was no longer going round in circles) and so he fitted that.

During the morning Bruce also painted the bottoms of the four rail chairs in the boot scraper production line:

The paint dried in the sunshine, and I applied a green primer coat to them during the afternoon. In the morning I was making wooden wedges that hold the brush in place on boot scrapers.

We decided to point 2807 northwards when she returns, not because she will be missing Yorkshire, but because she has been facing south for over two years. It might even out any wear that happens over time.

When the new narrow tube arrives, Carpo plans to test out the feasibility of fitting it without removing the regulator header, by trialling it on 2874. If it works, then that’s what we do on 2807. If it doesn’t work? Then Plan B will be required!

Sunday 16th
Andy Bryne was up North keeping an eye on 2807, and will watch over her while they pack her up to
come home. He sent the following photos:

2807 at Levisham
Grosmont viewed from 2807’s cab
2807 at Grosmont

NYMR staff in wartime dress

Andy also reported:
“The NYMR should provide us with any snag list but one thing that didn't work yesterday was the
steam heat mason's valve; it rotated but nothing happened apparently.”

Ah, well it wouldn’t! You can turn the top of the valve to your heart’s content, but unless you turn the steam on, nothing will happen!

The wheel on the top of the Mason’s valve adjusts the drop in pressure from boiler level (225 psi) down to coach level (typically 40 to 60 psi).

You do need to open the steam valve first! Normally, you don’t dare touch the Mason’s valve - they have a reputation … Ah, well, we’ll sort it out when she’s back.

Wednesday 19th
I popped in to Winchcombe first, to get signatures on 100 Club winners’ cheques.

Fred, Bill and Ray were working on the siphon. Ray had spotted an apparently loose board, and was removing it as I was there. He discovered that the two screws in the bottom of the wood were not doing a lot … one had gone into a gap, and the other into some wood that was decayed!

Over at Toddington, Gil, Bruce and John G were generally deciding what to do. The electrics in the yard are being upgraded, which meant we had no power down by the van or for the compressor. The latter meant that rail chair needle-gunning could not take place; the former meant finding a socket that did have power so that we could have a cup of tea!

Gil and John went over to Winchcombe, where they could be doing something useful on the siphon restoration.

I applied a top coat to the four chairs in the production line.

There was some discussion about how to proceed when 2807 returns on Thursday, but there can be no simple plan. There are a number of steps to carry out, and depending on the results, what the next step will be can only then be determined.

If the trial fit of the slimmer tube in 2874 works (i.e. we can get it in successfully) then we shall move towards doing it on 2807. If we can’t get the new tube in, then there are three options: (i) leave the plugs in 2807 and run to end of year to see if more tubes blow; (ii) grind a small piece off the bottom of the regulator header if that will be sufficient to get the new tube in; (iii) take the regulator header off completely!

Options (ii) and (iii) mean getting the errant tube out, before which we can hydraulically pressurise the boiler and inspect the tube to see where, and how much water is leaking. Then it has to come out: option (ii) a bit at a time because of space limitation; option (iii) possibly in one piece.

Then things depend upon what we find by inspecting (a) the errant tube; and (b) the other tubes. If the leak appears to be a one-off caused by some intrusion in the metal, we fit the slim tube. If there is any other visible cause for concern, then it could be we replace the lot - do a 10-year overhaul of the boiler, in fact. Indeed, if at the end of it all, another tube does decide to blow in service, then the whole set of tubes has to be considered suspect anyway, and full replacement will follow.

2807 was due back on Thursday. “Slim”, the new tube, is also due to arrive on Thursday. However, this from Andy Bryne this evening:

“I was informed by the NYMR P-Way staff that the low loaders would not be arriving until tomorrow (Thursday) although everything was ready for loading at the NYMR end. So I guess 2807 may not be back at the GWSR until Friday. “

I’ll keep you posted with progress. Meanwhile, keep your fingers crossed!


Wednesday 12 October 2016

Maintenance Update (tube, leak, header, petticoat)

Wednesday 5th
Bad news from Yorkshire: A boiler tube sprang a leak and 2807 was declared failed.

But then a fix was thought of: bung up each end of the tube with a tapered plug, and run a bar through end-to-end such that the plugs are firmly wedged in, and held together. The update from Brian on Monday went like this:

“Further update from NYMR is the fix looks fine this morning and the loco is cooling after the test yesterday and still has 20lbs on the clock at 9am.

The plan is not to use the loco until the NYMR War Event 14/15/16 Oct.”

So, what went wrong, and is this the start of a trend? Well, we don’t yet know. Much discussion took place at Todders on Weds and subsequently by email. Broadly, the decision was taken to let 2807 carry on with the holey tube plugged until either: another tube goes, or January arrives.

If another tube does go (before January) then she will be stopped, taken out of service and …

If she runs until January with no further tube problem, then …

… we’ll take the errant tube out and investigate what might have been the cause. The other tubes will be inspected (as far as is possible through the inspection and mud hole doors). The action then depends upon the recommendation from GWSR’s Boiler Responsible Person (i.e. Carpo). We might just replace the one tube; or we might end up taking 2807 out of service and replacing all tubes. In fact, if it came to the latter, it would in effect become the 10-year overhaul of the boiler.

Anyway, at Todders on Wednesday, there was only Bruce and myself. We spent some time discussing the options with Carpo. Apart from that, we changed a 13 amp plug on the compressor for a blue 16 amp plug because the compressor is now in a cabinet outside (as opposed to being inside the 20ft container). We considered how to improve the hinges on the cabinet door. I painted lettering on the boot scrapers in the production line. Then we went home.

Friday 7th
I nipped down to Todders to fit brushes to the boot scrapers. We then have some ready to re-stock the cafes on Sunday.

Carpo had been concerned that the tube that has gone is in the most awkward of positions - top centre, behind the regulator header. To replace it would mean removing most of the innards of the smokebox! But the he came up with a cunning plan:

“I have undertaken some research into my idea by exercising the 'phone a friend' option. …

In normal GWR practice a 2" tube is swaged down at the firebox end so that it will fit the 1 13/16" hole in the copper tubeplate. The tube is fed in from the smokebox end and then expanded with suitable tube expanders at both ends. We cannot do this in this instance unless onerously we remove the regulator header.

My idea was to obtain a 1 13/16" tube (which is therefore the right size for the firebox end) which when fed into the 2" hole in the smokebox tubeplate should allow us enough wriggle room to feed the tube in without having to remove the regulator header. Once in position there should be enough room to get a suitable expander in to expand the tube at both ends. If we can do it then this will be much the preferred option from safety point of view rather than continuing to run with bungs. I would suggest that once the engine has returned from NYMR we should undertake this work without delay as we are talking about 2 or 3 days work to accomplish the task and then the engine can run on the Santa's to see what happens next (hopefully nothing!).

Finally I must point out that if having removed the leaking tube we find upon inspection, for whatever reason, the game is up we will still have to take the boiler out of service for overhaul.”

Photo from NYMR showing the leak from inside the firebox

Wednesday 12th
Bruce and John G are discussed how on earth you get the tube in/out without having to remove the regulator header.

The tube is not able to be withdrawn - it does not quite clear the bottom of the header.

Carpo’s plan is to pull it out as far as it will come and then cut the end off; repeat until all is out!

A close eye will be needed to find the leak, and assess what the cause was, without cutting through the leak point.

Bruce arrived first (or maybe John T did?), and was soon ear holed by Nigel BH. Someone had questioned his electrical installation in our container. Nigel was not amused. He confirmed that the installation complies 100% with all appropriate standards, and that none of the equipment that we use in the container requires a 16 amp (blue) plug.

John G and I arrived, and we discussed the difficulty of extracting the duff boiler tube. We really don’t want to take out everything in the smokebox. The following photo (from 2010) shows the superheater and the regulator header in position (but note that there is no chimney, petticoat, etc., etc. at this stage of 2807’s rebuild).

So, at least one superheater tube will have to be removed, anyway!

John G decided that he’d be more productive at Winchcombe, working on the siphon van restoration.

John T had already got stuck in to needle-gunning rail chairs.

Bruce had bought a quality adjustable spanner, which led me to slap a smidgeon of yellow paint on this and the spanners from 2807’s toolbox (just to identify them as ours).

At various points, we all joined in the rail chair preparations, though only cleaned five by end of play.

Bruce, however, decided that it was time to fix the handle on the pillar drill so that it pointed to the correct picture. Turning the lever downwards has always caused the drill to rotate clockwise (the right direction for drilling holes!), but in this position it pointed to the diagram of the drill rotating anti-clockwise (backwards). So, he took the lever and switch apart; fiddled with it; managed to rotate the switch, and reassembled it. The lever now goes upwards to drill holes!