Saturday 25 March 2017

Maintenance Update (axle, weight, damper, tender)

Monday 20th
As the weather was pretty grim, I spent the day in the dry - inside the shed at Toddington, painting the left & right running boards.

Wednesday 22nd
When 2807 goes to Didcot (April 10th) she has to be towed over Network rail tracks. They insist on all axles being sonically tested, so they arranged for a chap to come and do that. He has reported that all axles passed the test. The photo shows Pete G [Loco Dept] fitting the axlebox covers back on.

John G initially painted three black bottoms, but then volunteered to finish off painting the front running board. Just look at the shine on it! After that, he went round touching up anything and everything black.

There was much discussion about the springs, and it was decided not to change the tender spring. So, Bruce & I began by tightening the RHS tender springs to try to balance up the weight. The last reading from last time had 19.9 tons on the left hand side and only 13.1 tons on the right. We
screwed the adjusters up on all three springs, but it didn’t seem to make a great deal of difference -
but it did defy logic! Jeff L [Loco Dept] shunted us to & fro, and we weighed the loco again and the
tender three times. We decided to give up!

Later on, Brian & I played games on the weighing machine. We put 112lb weights on the RHS (red)
and they registered 45 kilos. We put the same weights on the LHS (blue) and they registered 50
kilos. Eventually, we discovered that a slight sideways movement on the short length of rail that
does the weighing caused a 5 kilo change. Whether this represents a fixed 5 kilos, or a percentage
7% of whatever weight, goodness only knows!

Brian started cleaning the tender RHS. Pete Y [Loco Dept] and I continued with that, but didn’t get
as far as applying wax polish.

John P [Loco Dept] was carrying out a mechanical inspection (while the loco was stationary) and had
pointed out a taper pin securing part of the drain cock actuation mechanism could do with being
replaced. Bruce attended to that.

Gil, Brian and Steve had a meeting to progress planning issues for the Heavy General Overhaul.

Saturday 25th
David tackled the rear damper door, which was not closing fully. Even if it had closed, it was so distorted that it would let tons of air through! It’s quite heavy, and particularly awkward to remove. So, David was assisted by Gilbert and also Bruce from time to time.

The hinges have got spacers behind them, and new spacers were made to assist the closing. However, the door continued to refuse to close because the top edge was so bent. It’s the heat that does it. David had to grind off quite slice from the top edge.

They won in the end, but it took all day to do the one damper door. Two more to go!

John T began the day with repairing some of the insulation around part of the steam heating pipe. Unfortunately, these pipes beneath the loco tend to be used to stand on (rather useful when the loco is parked over a pit, for example). So, the insulation, which comes as a tape, gets worn and eventually breaks. So, John was replacing a section. To hold it in place, he stripped the copper earthing wire from some cable and used that to secure the ends of the tape.

Thereafter, John nobly volunteered to needle-gun rail chairs to get the boot scraper production line going again.

Dixie turned up, though principally for paperwork reasons. However, while here, he slapped some paint on the four chairs that were in the production line. I applied a primer to three tops, which dried in the glorious sunshine.

Bruce spent all morning worrying about the tender weight distribution. The tender seems to be level to within a few milligrommets. Bruce argued that increasing the weight on one spring raises the tender at that point, which causes the water to move its centre of gravity away from that point thereby increasing the weight on the opposite side! After tea break, his brain hurt and he disappeared into the workshop!

Loco Dept chaps cleaned the cinders from the grate and discovered that two fire bars had welded themselves together with clinker.

I wire-brushed rail chairs after John had gunned them with needles, in an attempt to avoid waxing the RHS of the tender. As Bruce said, “I don’t spend this much effort on my car!” Finally, I relented (i.e. ran out of chairs to clean) and waxed the top section. The bottom section looks quite smart, so I don’t know if someone had waxed that already? Certainly, at one point during the morning there was a Loco Dept chap standing on the running board cleaning the boiler barrel.

By end of play, one damper door fixed; six chairs needled; lots of black bottoms; three green tops.

We understand that 2807 will be on display in the car park during the Recruitment Fair next
weekend: 1st & 2nd April.


Saturday 18 March 2017

Maintenance Update (board, handbrake, weight, spring)

Wednesday 15th
For several days, I have been selecting photos and preparing them for a total refresh of our display board that stands in the car park at Todders. I took it down there today, but forgot to take the silicone sealant!

David arrived bright and early. He spent the entire day welding! There was one small nut on John T’s valve cladding that needed tacking in place, but that was trivial compared to making the bracket for the handbrake column. Bruce had already cut a steel bar and set angles in it ready for welding. However, there is a bit of trial-and-error to ensure that the bend does line up with the collar on the column. Much welding, checking and grinding took place as David welded up the cuts. Then the second piece of bar (needed to gain the correct height) was welded onto the tender tank surface.

Once the angle was completed, that bar was tack-welded onto the collar around the brake column. In order to weld it properly, the collar had to be removed. This necessitated the whole brake shaft being taken out (upwards), which meant undoing things down below, too! This kept Bruce & David occupied all day, but the job is finished at last.

You recall that gadget John T (et al.) made for aligning the links between loco and tender when coupling them up, well I painted instructions on how to use it in bright yellow. One can but hope …

Gilbert has been keen to have the loco and tender weighed, particularly since we turned the compensating beam the right way round on the rear springs!

There’s a set of pressure pads built into the rails over one of the shed roads. Then these record the weight on each side of an axle - in kilograms. It’s clear that our loco is heavier on the LHS than the right, but I’ll await Gilbert’s deliberations before reporting on the findings.

Anyway, Ben had fun shunting the wheels into the central position, aided by JC’s hand signals (not always ones from the manual). Lots of people watched. Mike S recorded the weights for the Loco Dept’s record.

Once the loco (and specifically the tender) was stationary again, I continued polishing the tender side. Lee joined in, and by end of play we had completed the one side. I hope Didcot run 2807 the right way round or else no one will see the one side that we have cleaned!

Gilbert was unable to muster his own, or anyone else’s, strength to play with the damper door. It needs removing and some packing fitting behind one of the hinges. It almost shuts …

Saturday 18th
There were a couple of minor jobs to get out of the way first. Bruce & John T assisted me in erecting the revamped display board in the car park at Toddington. John then fitted the remaining one piece of cylinder valve cladding. This took him more than the five minutes that one expects, because the cladding, which fits on the front of the valve chest, flatly refused to go behind the inspection flap on the front running board. In fact, John had to take that off before he could persuade the cladding that this was a nice place to be! Then he had to fit it back on again, of course.

Meanwhile, I happened to notice how badly chipped the tender buffer beam had become. So, I intended touching up the chips … but ended up painting the entire beam!

The main task of the day, however, was adjusting springs and weighing the loco and tender.

As you may be able to judge, the nuts on the spring hangers put up a good fight. Whilst there was room by the tender to get a long lever onto the spanner, this was not possible in the pit under the loco.

Our thanks definitely go to Phil G. [Loco Dept] for driving the shunter and for heaving on the spanner.

It is extremely tricky to get each wheel to stop dead on the centre line on the weighing pads, as the reaction time of shunter, driver and brakes seemed to be different for each wheel. Nevertheless, we weighed, adjusted and shunted three times (not necessarily in that order) until we were all fairly well whacked! There are some anomalies, inevitably, that caused Bruce to go round with a spirit level seeking explanations. In fact, somehow we appeared to have made the loco ¾ ton lighter by end of play … and the left-hand side of the loco seems to be 2.9 tons heavier than the right; while the left-hand side of the tender seems to be 6.8 tons heavier than the right! Also, the LH pony wheel is taking 3.9 tons whereas the RH wheel is taking 3.6 tons. How can that be, since the tender is fairly symmetrical (and no coal on at the moment) and there is no way of changing the pony truck’s weight distribution?

However, it did reveal a probable “tired” spring at the right-hand front of the tender. We don’t know yet (a) if we have a spare tender spring; and (b) whether we have time to fit it before the trip to Didcot.

Carpo reviewed the end results and did suggest that there is a suspicion that the weighing mechanism has got a bias to the left of about 7%. Great! When 2807 comes back from Didcot, we’ll turn her round and re-weigh. We can then take an average!

While all of this was going on, John T had retired to the boot scraper production facility, and was needle-gunning rail chairs.

Painting the running boards is now top of the priority list. The right-hand side of the tender tank would greatly benefit from a clean & wax polish. The cab sides would also benefit greatly from a clean & wax polish, too. All of this in two working days???


Saturday 11 March 2017

Maintenance Update (wet, fire, taps, spirit)

Monday 6th
After the weekend running, the list of outstanding issues reads thus - the first two being brought forward; numbers 3 to 5 had been cleared before the weekend:

1 [PG]: J cocks are stuck {reported July 2016, but we never found out which J cocks!}
2 [JC]: LH front & rear top mud hole door & RH door top blowing {Reported December 2016}
6 [PG]: RH piston rod gland blowing.
7 [PG]: Safety valves lift at 215 psi.
8 [PG]: Top front LH mud hole door weeping {= duplicate of issue 2}.
9 [PG]:Top front RH mud hole door weeping {= duplicate of issue 2}.
10 [PG]: Right fire hole door pivot pin loose causing doors to jam.
11 [PG]: Rear damper not shutting.

Wednesday 8th
Brian was keen to get wet, and was at Todders before dawn getting himself ready! Gilbert is in his supervisory role. Brian spent all morning beneath the loco, getting seven-years’ of clag from under the running boards, between the frames and everywhere below there! He found things painted red he’d thought were painted black!

Loco Dept chaps tidied up the coal space, which seemed mainly to contain coal dust! With the aid of Pete G and the JCB, this was cleared out.

John G tackled the rail chairs in the boot scraper production line, applying a primer coat to their tops. I fitted brushes to those that were fully painted.

I decided to tackle issue 10. The handle that operates the fire hole doors pivots at the bottom (yellow arrows) and the linkages operate the doors via studs on the doors (blue arrows). Once I had removed the grime from the pivot pins, it was indeed clear that both were loose.

I cleaned up the pins, while Brian cleaned the handles. It all went back together again nicely, and at that point I could see why the issue said that the doors jammed - the fireman (or lighterupper) had not fitted the baffle plate correctly in the fire hole. It had slid below the protection ring (that should be beneath it, and upon which the baffle plate rests) and hence was protruding slightly at the corner!

Brian moved me out of the way, so that he could steam clean the entire cab!

Gilbert inspected the damper door problem, but decided it was too much to take on today. He then decided to tackle issue 6, removing various bits that get in the way of removing the gland cover. An extra strip of packing should do the trick! This was then completed by end of play.

We were advised to drain the axle boxes to make sure any water in there was cleared out. When he’d run out of things to steam clean, Brian, along with John G, went round them all draining and then topping them up again.

During the whole day, John G was playing a support role to everyone and anyone. He was trotting to
& fro for me (fetching spanners, etc), guiding Pete in the JCB and later I saw him being runner for

Just as we were wrapping up, JC [Loco Dept] said, “Roger, are you busy?” I got roped in to supervise Alex in lighting a warming fire in the Manor. It is out on Fire & Drive on Thursday. Starting at 4.30 meant a quick dash for a meal at 5.30, while Alex kept an eye on the fire; then I arrived back at 6.30 to relieve her to go for her meal!

Saturday 11th
Bruce spent the day working on the bracket to support the brake column. He’s cut a bar such that it can be welded up into the curve-shaped neck to reach the collar on the brake pillar. It took him quite some time to get the angle right. Then there will be two bolts to hold the bracket onto a base plate which will be welded onto the tender tank top. Had we got any suitable bolts? No, but we have now, as Bruce cut more thread on a couple. They will need shortening, too, but it is now well on the way to being made.

One things leads to another, and Bruce ended up sorting out taps, dies and drills to suit the bolt holes!

Gilbert, Graham and a new recruit to Loco Dept, Lee, were all playing with the rear damper door that won’t close fully. They managed to get the door off, which is not easy because of its weight and position. Then using a cold press, they did manage to straighten up one side, but the other proved a bend too far. The image is end-on so that you can see the curve caused purely by the heat down in the ash pan. In the end, they had to resort to heat to get this straightened, at which point John T joined in ... with a lighter!

Most of the day, though, John was fitting the cladding pieces around the valve chests. Here he is with a front piece. The bolts that hold it together have nuts welded onto the back of the panel and inevitably one has come off!

Two new recruits from the Loco Dept spent all day cleaning the running boards.

I spent most of the day polishing the tender. White spirit took the surface grime off (but then needed wiping off, itself!). T-Cut took off some of the bloom, though it did consume vast quantities of elbow grease. The residue also has to be wiped off. Finally, a go with the wax polish did show some improvement. But I gave up after doing half of one side. Wimp or what?! Can you tell where I’d been? I bloomin’ hope so!


Sunday 5 March 2017

Maintenance Update (shoes, chain, rostered, ashpan)

Wednesday 1st March
A frantic attempt at getting everything ready was mainly led by the Loco Dept. Clive had mustered a
gang of six chaps to tackle the fitting of loco brake shoes. We know that it is awkward and heavy
work, but it does help if the shoes fit! They had already been sent back for machining because the
knuckle was too broad to fit inside the hangers, and now we discovered that the knuckle was also
too deep and the shoes fouled one thing or another! By end of play, there was still one left to fit.

The shoes are too heavy to lift by hand, so a pair of jacks is used to slide the shoe up around the
wheel. Then when one shoe was in position, the top shoulder was wedged between hanger and
wheel - so tight that it had to be hammered to get it free! It was agreed that we would grind off all
top shoulders (as marked in white on the above photo, and being done in the 3rd photo.

Then, at least, the shoe would go up around the wheel and the knuckle would almost go into the
hanger … but not quite! Out it came again; this time for some to be ground off the back of the knuckle. Sadly, this occurred more than once on more than one shoe! Then it was discovered that the securing pin would not fit in the front RHS hanger because the gland housing of the piston was fouling that! Bruce ground a chamfer on part of the pin’s head to alleviate that problem.

Look how tight the top of the shoe is against the hanger pivot

Every shoe needed some adjustment with an angle-grinder. Either they are not the right pattern for a 28xx loco, or our loco is just not “Swindon standard”.

Our sincerest thanks go to: Clive (of course) plus Roger Brindley, Fred Yardy, Martin Clark, Mike Perry, Richard Winstanley and Pete Gutteridge.

Bruce, Brian and Gil were all involved with the brakes.

There were people doing other things, too - Bruce, for example, fitted a new chain to the sandbox lid(s).

Brian and I pushed the loco along to move rods out of the way for fitting RHS shoes.

John G largely spent the day painting rail chairs, but then polished some of the brassware in the cab.

Brian and Bruce cleaned out the toolboxes on the loco and did some tidying up.

Brian, Bruce, Gil and I got underneath and reconnected the brake linkages. There’s a bottle screw under there for adjusting them. It takes two people to wield King Dick and turn the nuts on it.

Thursday 2nd
Fred Yardy [Loco Dept] and I lit a warming fire. Once this had taken hold, we refitted the curved
covers in front of the valves. Then I noticed how the boiler barrel was covered in a rusty deposit.
Presumably, all of the necessary angle-grinding had created a sandstorm of metal particles that all
turned bright orange over night! In the final half hour, I washed this off the LHS of the boiler and the
running boards, but couldn’t clamber up on top to complete the job properly before running out of

Friday 3rd
Brian reports:
“I was in at 05:45 after leaving London at 04:00 to light up 2807. We brought her into steam very slowly and only lifted the safety valves at 13:00. Clive Norton(Driver) with Me (fireman) and owners rep (Bruce) then spent a few hours trundling up and down testing, and braking in, the new brake blocks as well as looking for any issues following winter maintenance.

I am very very pleased to say that at 16:30 this afternoon 2807 was signed off as “Fit to Operate” and rostered as the loco to open the 2017 season at the GWSR. FANTASTIC!

Other good news today was 4270, 7903 and 35006 also completed their annual boiler exams.

John Pedley has found a couple of issues for us to address and these will be on the loco fault sheets for us to review, this is nothing that stops the loco operating.

It was also great to see Roger M with his grandson [Rowan], and even better to give them a little footplate ride.”

I had commented to the chaps that the bottom of the ashpan is deformed badly, which Bruce backed up with:
“Further to Roger’s comments, I think that we should survey the whole ashpan as well as the damper doors to determine what needs to be done. As well as distortion of the ashpan the damper doors don't shut properly.

Yesterday, (Thursday) Brian and I experienced firsthand how bad they are. After fitting the final brake block Brian and I, assisted by Angela, [Loco Dept] had to reconnect the right side brake linkage which is underneath the ashpan. The problem was that Brian had already got the fire going well, so we ran the gauntlet by dodging the hot coals falling from the rear damper door, but we managed.

Later, we ran up and down the siding to start bedding the brakes in but this resulted in the left side brakes needing to be adjusted again, so under we go again, dodging the hot coals once more.
The outcome was a hole in my coat and a burn on my neck and a hole in Brian’s coat. I think that this illustrates that something needs to be done, probably before we go to Didcot.”

Saturday 4th
2807 was in service, as hoped.

Gilbert was spying upon Mark Young as he took measurements concerning Dinmore Manor’s valve timing. Then he went for a ride behind 2807.

I gave lighting-up training to Andrew & John Bartlett [Loco Dept]; painted a few chairs, and looked after some visitors.

2807 looked and sounded pretty good to me!