Sunday 27 August 2017

Maintenance Update (pressure, primer, nature, rabbits)

Wednesday 23rd
2807 was in service yesterday, and so there was little for us to do. Bruce spoke with today’s crew to try to find out how well he had machined the spacers on the safety valves. He had calculated that they should lift at 220 or 221 psi. The crew didn’t seem to be sure, but thought it was between 218 and 220. Obviously it couldn’t be far off the “red line” (225 psi) otherwise they would have noticed!

Bruce was disappointed to see that, despite having lapped-in the slacking (aka “pep”) pipe valve, there is still a dribble from the pipe. This implies that a clack valve is leaking steam, slightly(1).

Gilbert joined us for a while, but then went off to represent us at John Cocks’ funeral. While here, he and Bruce had a rummage in our box of non-ferrous spares looking for bits of cylinder pressure-release valves. JC is planning on ordering a quantity of springs for them, but has neither drawing nor spare one to work from.

Ken Shuard popped in for a natter and a cuppa at elevenses time. It’s nice to have a visitor (especially when there’s not a lot to do).

John G wire-brushed the three rail chairs that I had previously needle-gunned. Bruce ground off a bolt that was protruding from the underside of the LNWR chair and then applied primer coat to a couple of tops, while John blacked up some bottoms.

I’d had an emailed order for a 1947 boot scraper, so I clambered over the pile of chairs at Winchcombe, and found two: February and November 1947. Back at Todders, I discovered that in amongst those that I had painted recently, there were also a January and December 1947! The customer has gone for the latter - it being the final month & year of the GWR. So, I finished off 10 boot scrapers and then re-stocked the two cafes.

Saturday 26th
I popped down early to organise some boot scrapers in the production line. I had decided to take the day off and go train spotting with my Grandson, Rowan.

I had sorted out which required painting in what colour; painted silver lettering on the black LNWR boot scraper; wrapped up a December 1947 GWR one for an emailed order, and was just about to skive off, when Bruce arrived. Before I had chance to escape, John T arrived. Then as I was trying to escape, Gilbert arrived!

John reports: “Bruce and John T worked on boot scrapers today, whilst 2807 was in service. Bruce painted undercoat on 3 in the container, and top coated 4 in the van. John needle-gunned 5 chairs, which now await further wire brushing and painting (in the container).

Both Bruce and John each cut bolts off 2 chairs.

Bruce was also asking our engine crews about the safety valve lifting pressures whenever 2807 returned to Toddington. He needs to be sure of the current lifting pressure before adjusting the safety valve spacers.

John brought in some plants, a sort of yellow flowered rudbeckia, for our Nature Conservation Area.”

Bloomin’ rabbits dug up and ate the grasses that I had planted!

General consensus is that the safety valves are lifting at around 218 - 220 psi, and the crew cannot get pressure higher than 220. There is a question about the nominal maximum pressure (225 psi): Is that the point at which the valves lift, or should they lift before this such that the pressure does not go above it?

I spoke with Paul G, who was driving today, and he said that she is running beautifully. That’s Paul walking back with the single-line token at Winchcombe.

(1) A well-rehearsed saying of mine is: “Seek perfection and you are sure to be disappointed”.


Saturday 19 August 2017

Maintenance Update (panic, balance, corks, dummy)

Wednesday 16th
Minor panic this morning when Stuart noticed that I had got the wrong date in the AGM notification! We had asked for 9th September, but that day was already booked, and we had to settle for the 30th September. I had already drafted the calling notice but then forgot to change the date! 140 letters now need sending out to correct the date!

Down at Todders, John G was quite taken aback when he opened up the container to see 15 rail chairs in various states of undress. He and Steve P spent most of the day slapping primer paint on their tops. By end of play, there were 9 in green, 3 in crimson and 1 in black, plus 2 for which there was no room left on the bench!

Bruce began by caulking the balance weights on the driving wheels. These seem to work loose over time - not very loose, but moveable. So, he’s tried caulking from a different angle in the hopes that their weight throws them outwards, hence he caulked them on the inner edges. He pulled Steve away from rail chairs to paint over the caulking plus other knocked-off spots on the wheels.

Bruce also tackled the slacking (aka “pep”) pipe, which had been noticed (though not reported) as leaking. Removing the innards, he lapped the tapered core into body and fitted new packing.

Alex seemed to spend the entire day in the pit beneath the loco, cleaning everything within reach. She promised to come back later in the week and carry on, using a stepladder to get up higher!

A coal delivery arrived during the morning, and Bruce and I assisted by opening gates and moving cones. We were impressed at this enormous lorry being capable of doing a U-turn in the car park (albeit leaving rubber on the road surface and redistributing some ballast between the rails of the loading line).

I did needle-gun three more rail chairs, and spent some time investigating the outstanding issues:

Issue 1 was the stuck J-cocks. We had decided to take no action on that, so I signed that one off.

Issue 22 said, “Oil corks on motion in pour [sic] condition …”. I checked them all and found them all to be in satisfactory condition. Therefore, someone may have changed them all and just not signed the issue off. So I did.

Issue 26 said, “Vac reservoir slow to build up. Train pipe falling quickly”. Discussing possible causes with Bruce, we felt that the symptoms might point to a fault in the train pipe connections, rather than on the loco. Furthermore, the rubber seals in the vacuum hose ends have been replaced recently, and that could have fixed the problem. So, we signed this issue off with the proviso that the situation be monitored and reported back.

Saturday 19th
I was first to arrive at Todders and moved an ordered boot scraper down to the Flag & Whistle. Then most of those chairs undercoated by John & Steve had to be moved up into the van, because the container is very dusty and makes a mess of the top coat. I was almost last to arrive at Todders, too, except that Bruce popped in for elevenses! It is still bowls season, though not for much longer. After he departed, I simply slapped enamel top coats on one MR (crimson lake), one LNWR (black), three BR(W) and about five GWR rail chairs. The rest will have to wait!

2807 is rostered to be in service on: 22nd - 28th & 30th August; 2, 3, 8 - 10 & 12 - 15 September.

There was just one complete boot scraper on the shelf, which I took to Winchcombe for the Coffee Pot café. Whilst there, I decided to call in at our siphon van to see how the chaps are getting on with its restoration. What did I find?

Empty! No one there either! That’s a dummy at the far end (seriously!).


Saturday 12 August 2017

Maintenance Update (spanners, strip, burst, drill)

Wednesday 9th
There was a distinct air of dampness during the morning. Nevertheless, Bruce & Gil stayed dry in the shed; John G stayed dry in the container, and I was dry inside the van. Fred was probably dry, too, but he was at Winchcombe.

Last Saturday, I began putting yellow insulating tape around some of our spanners. This is just an attempt to identify which are ours, as equipment is being “shared” more and more frequently. I completed one drawer of AF spanners. Today, Gilbert began the next drawer - Whitworth spanners.

Which links me to the next photo: We have had need of a spanner to fit the safety valves. Indeed, I strongly suspect that we had one once! Gilbert has been looking out for a second-hand one at car boot sales, but baulked at the price of £12. Well, it was time to bite the bullet, and Bruce gave me the necessary data; I searched the Internet; Bruce verified that I had found the right thing, and £34.90 later, we have a new 7/8” Whitworth ring spanner:

The second item in the photo is the thin strip of steel bought by Bruce for the fire hole door runner. Much debate took place over how to prevent the doors from escaping from their top runner and jamming. Several people added their tuppence worth, but what finally swung it was a comment from John H that he’d fitted a strip inside a bottom runner on Erlestoke Manor six years ago, and it is still working fine!

The strip slid into the bottom runner beautifully. Would it stay in place? Would dust get beneath it, causing it to lift and jam the doors? John said “No” to the latter; and it was decided to bend one end over to prevent the strip from going walkabout, yet retaining the ability to be pulled clear if necessary.

The bending did not go to plan! The strip broke. So, it ended up being welded back together again. 😊

John G applied a top coat to the three chairs in the production line, and then wire-brushed a further three. When the rain stopped, I needle-gunned four chairs. Only four, I hear you say. Ah, well, I was not impressed with the power of the needle gun - it barely tickled against my hand instead of boring a hole in it. After fiddling about with it for a while to no avail, I took the gun apart. The problem then became obvious: The piston inside the gun had bifurcated into a head and a shaft. In effect, the head was going nowhere while the shaft fragment just bounced joyfully around inside on its own. Luckily, I found a spare head and effected a repair. It did occur to me that John T might have been playing with a duff tool for months!

Friday 11th
A quick dash to Todders to paint the lettering on a black rail chair for an emailed order that is to be collected tomorrow!

Saturday 12th
David, John T and I all arrived at the same time. John decided that he would needle-gun more chairs, so I chose to do the wire-brushing thereof. David asked what there was to do on the loco, and the answer was “nothing”.

As far as I could remember, the only outstanding issue on the log is that of the stuck J-cocks.

We had discussed this issue on Wednesday. We believe that their only use is to shut off live steam (at boiler pressure) in the event of a pipe bursting (red arrows) between the manifold and the W-valve (yellow arrow).

Bruce suspects that someone has, in the past, tightened the nuts on the base of these cocks to stop them from leaking. Now they won’t move at all.

We think that the probability of these pipes bursting is extremely low. If the pipe did burst, you may not want to lean over a jet of steam and reach up to these cocks to turn one off. So we decided to take no action.

As is often the case, you can find something to do! David decided that the pillar drill was in need of some attention. The power cable has always been loose - there ought to be some sort of clasp at the point where the cable goes into the drill casing. So David made one! It was impossible to get at the inside of the drill casing, where ideally a nut would secure the fitment, so he devised a plate to bolt onto the outside and clasp the brass bit on the cable end.

Then (wearing his Health & Safety hat … not the one in the photo) he decided that the cover on the top of the drill was worse than useless! After considering how to improve it, David decided to throw it away and make a better one. So he’s taken measurements away with him to tackle it off-site. Finally, of the three handles (that operate the drill) only one has a knob on the end. So, David has taken away one handle (plus knob) to see if he can get two more knobs to fit.

End of play for today!


Saturday 5 August 2017

Maintenance Update (TPO, hydrostatic, valves, firehole)

Friday 28 July
Photo received from Brian showing “our” TPO finally leaving Toddington.

We had a loan agreement for the use of the TPO as a storage facility and workshop. So, it came as something of a surprise when we received notice from the owner, as the board minutes of 9th July 2016 say: “A letter was received from Andrew Goodman (AG) and circulated to all Board members offering the opportunity to purchase the TPO (Post Office Stowage Vehicle) or to vacate it by 31st July 2016.” It was “all hands to the TPO” in order to clear out everything - and find somewhere for it all!

And so, the TPO has sat in sidings at Toddington for almost a full year before it was finally taken away.

Saturday 29th
It was a diesel gala, hence 2807 was accessible. However, I was on crossing monitor duty and Bruce had a bowls match, so our chaps were thin on the ground. As John T reports:

“Gil and John T worked on sorting Defect Report 28, concerning an intermittent fault on the hydrostatic lubricator, where the glass 3rd from left sometimes wasn't feeding oil. Firstly the end plugs on the oil supply gallery were removed and the gallery rodded - it was clear. Then the reported glass, seals, and adjusting valve were removed and examined. The packing in the adjusting valve gland seemed suspect. It was removed and 3 staggered rings of 1/8" packing inserted. The glass was cleaned and the unit boxed up.

Later, Gil was in the office archiving drawings, whilst John did a little needle gunning. Only 3 chairs cleaned, because of getting the repaired hand back into use! … (and the dreadful state of 2 of the chairs).”

[Note: John has had some tendon issues in his fingers, which has now received attention; but obviously one always has to be careful to allow a repair to heal in its own good time!]

Stuart was manning a stall inside the diesel shed.

Wednesday 2nd
The current GWSR regime insists that 2807’s safety valves should blow at 225, and not 215. So, Bruce removed the spacers and took them home to machine a few more thou off.

He was back later to refit them. He spends a lot of time up on the top of our engine!

Meanwhile, John G was applying a top coat to 7 chairs and black bottoms to John T’s three from Saturday. He also escorted a couple of chaps around the yard - which is good PR for the railway.

Over at Winchcombe there was a hive of activity in the siphon van:

Bill painting!

Fred & Gilbert putting finishing touches.

Thursday 3rd
Two emailed requests for GWR boot scrapers plus a phone call from the Coffee Pot café (only one boot scraper left!). So, a trip to Todders was necessary and I took the remaining two boot scrapers (an LNWR in black and a BR in crimson) over to the café. It was an ideal time to cut more wedges, too, as I avoid using the bandsaw when other people are trotting about!

Saturday 5th
Boot scrapers were my priority, as I had a gentleman coming to pick up his ordered GWR one, and both cafes were down to only 3 each. So, I completed the 8 that John G had been working on and then applied primer coat to the three that John T had previously cleaned up. I then restocked the cafes. That LNWR one had gone already!

Gilbert wandered down, having discovered that he was on his own at Winchcombe. When Bruce arrived, the two of them played around on the engine. Bruce had made a 37 mm shim to slide behind one of the wedges that prevent the boiler from moving sideways. Although it chose not to slide in immediately, judicious use of the copper mallet persuaded it to go home!

The two of them spent much of the day investigating the firehole doors, which have a tendency to stick. Partially dismantling the mechanism, they discovered that the doors could slip out of the top runner, especially if the handle was pulled towards you while opening them. A solution was devised whereby a thin piece of metal (3½ mm deep and about 16 mm wide) would be inserted into the lower runner, thereby raising the doors. Gilbert was tasked with finding one during the week!

Cotswold Steam & Wildlife Preservation Garden.
There are tiny seedlings popping up in the garden! Not sure what they are, but hopefully they are from some of the seeds that I have scattered.

I scattered some poppy seeds there today, and some seeds from a variety of cranesbill that happily grows between the bricks on my driveway.

There are hundreds of varieties, but this photo (from Wikimedia, seemingly by an Alves Gaspar) is a close representation of my one.

Oh, and the three or four shoots of bramble that are sneaking through the soil got a shot from the Resolva gun!