Sunday 27 November 2016

Maintenance Update (bone, brass, rock, homework)

Sunday 20th
Carpo “boxed up” the loco (i.e. fitted remaining mud hole doors and inserted all of the washout plugs) and lit a small warming fire: “If all is well tomorrow morning then I shall relight and we shall bring it round slowly”.

Monday 21st
Remember Monday? That was the day that it rained!

I arrived at 9 o’clock as Carpo was making his breakfast. He was happy for me to light the fire, so I went and got changed. On my way to the van, I turned on the water for a cuppa, but when I got to the van, there was water gushing out of the pipe. It looked as though the (hose) pipe had “exploded”, about 8 inches from the tap. “Curious”, I thought. Once inside, I turned on the radiator - no electricity! It took me a while to put two and two together, but it appears that the diesel guys had been shunting on Sunday, and it seemed that they had given “our” van a bit of a bash! That’s what had torn our water supply in half; but also it ripped our mains cable out of its socket; in fact there was no sign of the plug at all (perhaps someone picked it up). So, amid bouts of shovelling coal, I also fixed our water supply; found another blue plug, re-routed our mains cable and fitted the plug. Nevertheless, it was twenty to twelve before I got my elevenses!

The firebox was dry as a bone, so I lit a fire as if it were a warming fire - just on the level, rear part of the grate. Once that was well established, I raked it forward and spread more coal around. Gradually this covered the whole grate area, and it was just a matter of time. This coal (left over from 2807’s trip to Yorkshire) is filthy stuff! The smoke was appallingly black. I wish I’d taken my camera …

As pressure slowly crept up, Carpo kept popping back to check on things. The blow-down valve needed tightening; the gauge frame nuts needed tightening (by hand only); a couple of mud hole doors were leaking steam, and the tender had no water in it. I abandoned ship at 2 pm, by which time there was 120 psi “on the clock”.

Carpo later reported: “so far the steam test has been successful with a high 180lb achieved this afternoon. I would have taken the pressure higher but I need to adjust the safety valves to do this and I didn't fancy doing that this afternoon whilst it was blowing a hoolie!”

Tuesday 22nd
Carpo reported: “You will be pleased to know that 219lb was reached today without any leakage from the replaced tube evident. I would like to check this once she has cooled down but it would appear that we are ready for the inspector next Monday.”

Wednesday 23rd
Following on from the water & electrics fiasco on Monday, it became clear when examining the rails, that “our” van had been shunted at least 20 feet along the track. Presumably, whoever did this had not realised that several vehicles were coupled together? Whether or not, they neglected to check that any of these vehicles was connected to a power supply! The finger points at the Class 26 & 45 group, as their locos are at the head of the line!

Pressure was off (literally) and today felt like it. The hardest working person today was John G, who applied a primer coat to eleven rail chairs! Is this a record?

Bruce checked that the safety valves had been tightened onto the spacers, and then fitted the brass bonnet.

We had three visitors who wanted to take a look at 2807. We’re always pleased to have our supporters pop in for a look and a chat.

I checked the state of the new tube and there was no sign of any leaking from front or back; then I removed the pressure gauge to enable it to be calibrated before the inspector comes on Monday.

Chris [Loco Dept] clambered into the firebox to clear out the ash.

Large chunks of what looks like rock were in the midst of the ash!

Mike [Loco dept] assisted Chris in finally disposing the engine, and Bruce helped by shovelling the ash out of the pit into their barrows.

Gilbert, Brian & Steve had a meeting to progress the plan for the Heavy General Overhaul. At best, we have three years left to run before the inevitable is upon us.

While he was underneath the loco, Bruce spotted a bit of a whoopsie. Our loco is unusual in that the wheels are not entirely independently sprung. Some adjacent pairs of springs are connected by a compensating beam. The purpose is not clear, though it may make the ride smoother over rough track. Well, Bruce spotted that one of the suspension links from spring to beam is a tad bent!

Bruce’s current thought is that the beam is not symmetrical, and we may have fitted it the wrong way round. This end is too long, and hence has pushed & bent the link. Further investigation is required!

Saturday 26th
Bruce brought his homework in to show us. He has made two parts to fit in the ends of the hose that serves as a boiler tube cleaner. One end has “teeth” to gnaw away at any blockages; the other is made to fit onto our hoover hose. This makes it a heck of a lot easier to access the boiler tubes from within the firebox (and even from within the smokebox) to suck (or blow) ash out of the tubes.

John T volunteered to clean more rail chairs. Meanwhile, I slapped an enamel top coat onto those in the production line.

I suddenly remembered the bright red rail chair that we made for the GWSR. This is used at Winchcombe station to show the driver where to stop. It is adapted to take a sign which reads: “Santa stop here”. I’ll drop that down to Winchcombe next week.

The station shop has taken over the last remnants of our bespoke Dapol 00 scale wagons. These were all models of actual wagons from local coal merchants.

Bruce and Gilbert tackled yet another (the second of four) fitted bolt on the LHS rock shaft. This is one of those tasks that slowly moves forward when there’s nothing else to do!

The RHS rock shaft has all four fitted bolts now. The shank of the bolt fits so tightly into the hole that it has to be hammered home. The bolt is inserted from the outside of the frames. In order to be able to hit the bolt head, when various bits of frame get in the way, we have made a special tool. This holds the (yellow) rod in place on the bolt head while the bar is being whacked, thus:-

Bruce points out that it took almost as long to gather together the correct set of tools (especially finding the correct size of expanding reamer; and then the right size spanner to adjust the expansion) as to ream the hole!

Other than that, I put a top coat on the beading around the front edge of the cab, where we had cleaned off rust and tidied it up.

Formal steam test on Monday !!! Warming fire needed on Sunday.


Sunday 20 November 2016

Maintenance Update (plugs, arch, timing, fire)

Saturday 12th
... was cancelled!  However, I took Rowan, my 2-yr old grandson, to Toddington because he loves the trains, and there happened to be a race train this day. I don’t think he was greatly impressed by the loco being black instead of green! He was impressed with the yard shunting, though - buffering up and coupling, plus the diesel shunter then pootling off down the line on its own; and seeing a fork lift truck in action (they are usually sat idle when he sees them). It was a hive of activity - which was great for Rowan.

Of course, there is always a danger that I will get sucked into something when I turn up “off duty”, and today was no exception: the railway had decided to move ex-our TPO, so they also needed the keys to our paint store … which are kept inside the van that we are using!

Wednesday 16th
Today was the day to wash out the boiler. Brian and Gil removed the last two wash-out plugs from within the smokebox, while everything was got ready. John G was in the container, cleaning the old gaskets off the mud hole doors and shining them up a little.

That took care of our remaining two wire brushes! Gil set up the electric version outside, and began cleaning the threads on the wash out plugs.

After lunch the action began for real! Brian was persuaded to clamber onto the loco and insert the hose into each orifice in turn. John G manned the pump and Bruce controlled the tap.

I was inside the container, when there was a sudden downpour! The chaps made a run for it; Brian (who was by now at the chimney end) yelled for someone to hold the ladder (but no one could hear because of the rain!!!); Gil, who was still wire-brushing outside, dived under the platform that used to lead up to the TPO (but now leads nowhere).

Well, if they weren’t wet from the washing out, they were certainly wet now!

After the storm and the washing out, Carpo, Brian and John formed a chain passing fire bars up and into the firebox. The grate is now in place. Four of the (cleaned) mud hole doors had been refitted, and the other four had gaskets fitted in readiness. Still firing on all two cylinders, the intrepid trio proceeded to gather up the superheater tubes and feed these into the smokebox and down their flues. There was no time to fit them, but at least they are in the right place.

Bruce cleaned up the components of the gauge frame ready for that to be refitted on Saturday. The current (!) plan is to complete everything on Saturday and light a warming fire, followed by an informal steam test on Sunday or Monday.

The brick arch is not yet in place, but two bars have been delivered. These run along each side of the firebox, sitting on five studs, and form a foundation for the bricks of the arch. They need bending to fit the contour of the firebox sides. The fusible plugs have not been changed, either, so there are still a few things to do. The formal steam test is scheduled for 28th, I believe.

Saturday 19th
Here you can see the contour of the firebox side, and how the five studs are spread across the curve.

And here is David test fitting a bar and working out where to apply a bend.

Gilbert is in there, too, but is hiding behind David! By end of play, both bars had been cut to length and bent to fit the sides. They are ready to take the brick arch, but this will not be fitted until after a steam test.

It was a tad cool outside (actually, it was even cooler inside the loco shed!), but John T insisted on cleaning up more rail chairs for us. In doing so, he stumbled upon one with his very own birth date upon it! So, that one is now reserved. Meanwhile, a lady from north of the border has ordered an LMS boot scraper, so John tackled that to start with. I have discovered that boot scrapers are just inside the weight limit accepted by UK Mail, so we can now despatch them country-wide.

Last week I sent one to Kent. In fact, at 09.30 this morning I was handing over a 1946 special order to a couple from Swindon - it’s her father’s year of birth, of course.

Back to Gil & David: they are working on making a gadget to enable the timing of the cylinder valves to be adjusted. It’s nice to get a near-perfect beat. Ours was alright until we inserted fitted bolts into the RHS rock shaft. This stopped it from rocking in the wrong direction, but until then its unintended movement was compensated by the valve setting, resulting in a regular beat … Now it doesn’t budge, we’ve got to adjust the valve!

Bruce seized the chance to sit on top of the boiler once again:

He lapped the steam safety valves (though they barely needed doing, having lasted extremely well since he last did them ages ago). That took Bruce most of the day. Note the comfort blanket under his bottom - there’s a noticeable difference in temperature when the loco is not in steam. 🙂

I pressed on with the leading edges of the cab, which had been filled last week. I sanded this down and applied a primer coat. I don’t expect the top coat to quite match the 10-yr old paint on the rest of the cab, but I’ll do my best.

Finally, I fitted the gauge frame in the cab. So, the remaining holes in the boiler are: four mud hole doors plus a box full of wash-out plugs. Carpo says: “I will however do this [box up] on Sunday (or at least get the bulk of it done) so that I can try and put in a warming fire and steam test on Monday.” He added: “I think the fusible plugs have only done 15 or so steamings so they can stay in for the Santa Specials and we will remove in Jan.”


Thursday 10 November 2016

Maintenance Update (slug, wall, annealed, swaged)

Monday 7th
Gil, Bruce and I joined Carpo with a view to finishing off making the new boiler tube. When we looked at the end that we had opened out on Saturday, we decided that it was good, but it wasn’t Carling. So, we cut it off and started again!

This time, Carpo heated a narrower area of tube before we hit it, thus avoiding any deformation above the bit we were trying to open out. Also, we did the hitting on the horizontal, which gave us much better control over the angle of the pipe (90°) against the immovable object (i.e. shed wall).

Checking the wall thickness of the old bit, Carpo declared it good. It does not thin out significantly. In fact, the old end had worked out 30 thou greater diameter than the hole that it has to fit in (which was another good reason for starting again!). Bruce machined down the ‘slug’ so that it was an acceptable fit this time. The new end looks really smart.

Carpo annealed the other end, and we had a cuppa while it cooled. Then we cleaned both ends of the tube and the holes in the two tube plates. Tricky to see what you are doing when it is that high in the firebox.

Well there was no stopping us now, so in went the tube.

You can see how tight it was to get the tube under the superheater header. Some waggling was needed to get it beneath a cross-member at the firebox end, too.

… and out it comes:

Carpo trimmed the ends, and then started swaging.

Swages - below.

It all went very well at the firebox end …

It was more troublesome at the smokebox end, partly because of the confined space, and partly because the swage could have done with being fractionally bigger.

Nevertheless, after some fiddling & persuasion, the front end was done, too.

We started filling the boiler with water and adjourned for a cuppa. Carpo subsequently reported (at 6pm):

“As I write this we finally have a quarter of a glass of water - ideally I would like a full glass before I switch off the tap this evening so hopefully not too long now.

You will be pleased to know that currently all is dry.”

Tuesday 8th
Well, Carpo just couldn’t wait! I popped in during the morning to take a new clock (our old one died)
and some cardboard trays for boot scrapers, and there he was: in the cab, pumping up the pressure!
It was at 70 psi by 11 am and no sign of leaking tubes.

He later reported:
“I am pleased to report that upon inspection this morning there was no sign of any leaks from either
end of the replaced tube or indeed any other tube. I then modified the gauge frame adaptor to
accept a smaller hose to allow connection of the hydraulic pump. However having spoken to Ray Lee we agreed the first course of action was to put in my adaptor plug and use compressed air to take
the boiler up in pressure to see what effect that might have. I am delighted to report that following
two hours under pressure at 100 psi no leaks were seen at all.”

Wednesday 9th
Today was a bit of a waiting game - not a lot we could do until the boiler inspector comes on Thursday. The plan is then to demonstrate no leaks at 100 psi (cold), followed by hastily draining the boiler and removing all inspection plugs and mud-hole doors to enable him to inspect the innards.

Bruce had found a 6 metre length of reinforced hose. We had talked about using flexible hose for cleaning out boiler tubes several times before, and here was a chance to test the theory. Our initial design had been lengths of copper pipe, which worked well except that it is awkward attaching & removing lengths as the pipe goes in & out of the tubes; and some tubes are inaccessible with the rigid pipe.

So, Bruce & I clambered into the smokebox, and I tested the ease of getting the hose into various awkward tubes - no probs! Bruce then checked the attaching of this to the end of our hoover’s hose, and has now gone away to make a small cutting piece to fit in the business end.

Brian & Dixie shinned up a ladder and removed the brass bonnet from the safety valves.

Looking for things to do: One thing that I had noticed, but not got round to doing anything about,
was paint blistering up & down the beading around the cab front.

Clearly, there was a significant rust build-up underneath the beading and it deserved some attention. Brian and Dixie tackled it to begin with. Needle-gunning and then wire-brushing revealed quite a lot of rust. The left-hand side was worst, where the rust had opened up the beading, which was springing loose at the bottom.

A chap who was working on the new wagon kindly did a tack-weld for us, which held the bead steady (but also burnt through the thin cab side panel!). I found a tin of filler … but the hardener had gone AWOL, so Gil pootled off to Winchcombe to borrow some filler from Fred who uses it on the siphon restoration. The chaps then cleaned up the area and applied a first layer of filler.

Meanwhile, I had adjourned to our container to complete more boot scrapers.

Thursday 10th
Bruce arrived first and got everything ready.  Meanwhile, Carpo demonstrated the boiler under pressure to the inspector. This was declared good, and pressure was released, followed by draining the boiler.

Gil arrived, and the two of them removed the safety valves and then moved on to removing boiler plugs.

Viz left: Bruce fits spanner to plug; Gil applies brute force to undo it.

I removed mudhole doors.  A wire loop screws into the door’s stud so that the door cannot go
walkabout on its own inside the boiler. Then I helped remove other plugs.

The inspector inspected the inside of the firebox; peered into various holes, and seemed quite pleased with what he saw. So, the next steps are to wash the boiler out; box it up again (i.e. plug the holes) and then do a steam test. But not this week! Saturday is cancelled!


Monday 7 November 2016

Boiler update - tube fitted

Special update from Roger:
"Today we fitted the new boiler tube and swaged it in place.  Carpo is filling the boiler today, and then on Wednesday we plan on carrying out a hydraulic test. The boiler inspector comes on Friday to do a formal inspection."


Sunday 6 November 2016

Maintenance Update (cleaning, swaging, heating, chalk)

Monday 31st
I needed to do a test ride on my bike, so I popped over to Todders and applied a primer coat to the chairs that were black-bottomed on Saturday.

Carpo confirmed that South Devon can/will expand a replacement tube for us, and that if it is successful, the tube will be ready for collection on Wednesday.

Wednesday 2nd Nov
No sign of Carpo, so we’re guessing that the tube expansion was successful, and he’s gone to collect it.

Bruce and Gil arrived first, and started work on the hose connections between loco and tender. When we coupled the two together again we had not time to connect the hoses (vacuum, steam heating and water). This was completed around lunchtime, which was fortunate, because Dinmore Manor needed to be over the pit for a mechanical inspection.

Ray had been to Winchcombe to work on the siphon van, but after half an hour no one had turned up, so he decided to come to Todders. So, I set him on needle-gunning rail chairs. I’d had an order for four of the old GWR ones (circa 1894) making into boot scrapers.

John G arrived at the same time. There was by now a line of rail chairs awaiting a top coat, and John happily got stuck in at this. In fact, by end of play, Ray had completed gunning the four GWR chairs and John had slapped black on their bottoms.

Meanwhile, Dixie had arrived. Bruce suggested (over tea break) that we might clean out the tubes as some of them are blocked. I spent the rest of the morning inside the firebox, poking our patent tube-cleaning rod down each tube in turn. Dixie and Bruce were in the cab controlling the hoover (which was attached to the rod). Gil was inside the smokebox watching for ash being cleared (or blown out, depending upon the direction of air flow!).

During the afternoon, this tube cleaning team attacked the tubes from the smokebox end. I gave the tubes a good suck, and thereafter, Bruce & Gil gave them an extra blow. Everyone else went home at this point!

One thing did concern me while in the firebox. There does appear to be a calcium-like deposit beneath a lower tube (see photo), and ash in a couple of the blocked tubes was damp. Does this suggest that another tube is leaking? We’ll only know when we carry out a hydraulic test after fitting the new tube.

If it is another leak, then we are likely to have to replace the whole batch … effectively embarking
upon the 10-year Heavy General Overhaul three years early!

Thursday 3rd
Minor hiccup. Carpo gave “a quick update from my visit to SDR on Wednesday. I have some good
news and some bad news. The bad news is that SDR have put their tube swaging equipment away
and are not at all keen to get it all out again to swage one tube. The good news is that I had a good
chat to Rob le Chevalier about how to do a one off tube swage and I am sure that we will be able to
undertake the work here using the tube that we already have.”

Saturday 5th
Carpo set Bruce on making the swage. It’s a solid lump of steel with a taper to open out the tube’s
end. Here’s Bruce making it (well, you can’t actually see Bruce - use your imagination):

Bruce’s diagram

Steel being cut in the lathe

Shaping up

The finished article

Meanwhile, John T began painting rail chairs in the production line and then moved on to needle-gunning more during the afternoon.

I painted lettering on rail chairs and stained more brushes, ready to assemble some for an order for
four GWR 92 chairs and one 1946 version.

Brian, Gil and Steve spent most of the day in a meeting to discuss how to proceed with the Heavy
General Overhaul; in particular what we ought to be doing now in readiness.

By late afternoon, Carpo decided to have a go at opening up the tube end:

As you can see, it’s a long tube. Mark is holding it upright while Carpo heats up its bottom.

There then followed a sequence of heat, lift, bash - forcing the swage into the tube and gradually opening it out.

The swage was removed and then one final heat and the hot end was sunk into a box of chalk to cool down gradually.

The plan now is to trim up the ends; clean up the tube plates; cut the tube to length, and then fit it. We shall then carry out a hydraulic test and if all goes well, the boiler inspector will be satisfied and we shall all breathe a sigh of relief!

So, don’t uncross those fingers yet!