Monday 1 October 2018

September 2018 Round-up

In short, more smooth running from No. 2807. That's a summary of the last three months. Topped off with a successful steam test at the start of October. Not quite that simple of course. Apart from the regular boiler washouts, a few other items have been tackled.

We seem to have a recurring problem with leaking clack valves. This means that there's a seepage of steam back towards the injectors. We have two sets of valves, and this means that we always have a set that are off the locomotive and can be worked on. In our team, Bruce in particular is becoming an expert on the clack valves, and has been known to work on other locos' clacks as well as ours.

Another item that we had been monitoring is a leak from the pep pipe. This is the pipe that's used to damp down the coal, to reduce dust. This improves comfort for the crew and reduces the chance of a coal dust explosion. The pipe is sometimes used to help clean the footplate area. In our case, the valve controlling the flow has been leaking. Bruce, again, lapped the valve components and this seems to have resolved the problem for the moment.

The team have also been working on a problem with the ash pan sprinkler system. This is something that was added in to the design of the ash pan and wasn't standard originally. The pipework on the right hand side has broken and leaks water out instead of sprinkling the ash. Because of limited access, and because we're near to the heavy general overhaul, the decision has been made to cut off the pipe and plug the end. This leaves us with the pipework intact on the left hand side, and this still operates to dampen the ash in the ashpan.

Another significant improvement that has been made is to add a standard hose connection to the end of the blowdown valve pipe. This makes it significantly easier to fill the boiler, for example after a boiler washout.

While the hot and dry weather over the summer was very welcome, it did cause problems with lineside fires. These can be caused by sparks from the chimney and from the ash pan. Fortunately we already have spark arrestors that can be fitted into the ash pan damper door apertures, and onto the blast pipe in the smokebox. These are effective in reducing the release of sparks and thereby reduce the chance of lineside fires. Our design for these arrestors has proven itself, and this year we were asked to produce similar ones for 4270.

Meanwhile at Winchcombe our siphon vehicle now has refurbished (but not operational) corridor connections. As the weather starts to deteriorate, work will move back to painting the interior.


Thursday 19 July 2018

Maintenance Update (4270, shackle, gun, crown)

Wednesday 11th
With 2807 in service and 4270 back from its repair work, guess what happened? Bruce stood still too long and was co-opted to work on 4270! Since we are experts at playing with damper doors, Bruce was set on to find out why the front one of 4270’s damper doors would not open. He checked the linkages and they were OK, so it had to be that he door itself had seized. Well, it hasn’t been used for about 9 months, so it was the hinge that had got lockjaw. Some oil and waggling did the trick eventually.

Gil would have been standing there supervising, but it is dangerous standing still … there was a reported issue that 4270’s left-hand injector flange was leaking. It didn’t say which of the four flanges it was, but logic eliminated two of them. So, Gil and Bruce tightened them all anyway.

Gil subsequently showed some visitors around, and later retired to Winchcombe to keep Fred company.

John G and I managed to look very busy indeed, so we didn’t get pulled to work on 4270. I finished off five boot scrapers and then needle-gunned a further three. John was struggling to find space for the boot scraper production line, but managed to prime six green plus three black rail chair tops; four bottoms; and cut the bolts off one that has been ordered with a specific date.

We had some discussion about the charge for refurbishing boot scrapers. Some will be quite faded by now, and we can needle-gun the old paint off, repaint and fit a new brush. The consensus was that we should charge £15 for doing that - which is a bargain! Alternatively, you can have a new brush plus two wedges for £5.

Saturday 14th
2807 was still happily chuffing up & down. Token exchange at Todders:

4270 had a steam test and ran up & down during the afternoon, but not on a service train.

John T and I concentrated on boot scrapers, while Gilbert wandered around in his orange vest. This seems to be a good trick, as no one asks you to help out fixing anything (e.g. on 4270) because you look as if you are doing something important already!

John cut the bolts off 11 chairs; primed 6 tops, and painted 3 black bottoms. I applied enamel paint to 11 chairs and then needle-gunned 4 more (to be painted red).

Wednesday 18th
It had been reported that the coupling on the tender had been wearing the safety split pins. It was as though the shackle had sprung open a shade - can’t see why or how? Anyway, Gilbert and Bruce removed it gave it a press. All OK now.

While there, they checked the brake blocks for wear, but they are all OK.

Someone reported having difficulty removing the R-clips on the rear damper spark screen, so Bruce drilled out the holes to make the clips easier to pull out.

Reportedly, the oil gun used for lubricating the front of the valve rods was not working. Gil examined  it and found that it had been filled with oil … at the wrong end! There’s an internal bung with a chain attached. To fill the gun, you have to remove the rear cap, pull the bung back with its chain and then fill the gun from the front end. Clearly, someone had simply removed the rear cap and poured oil in! Perhaps instructions need painting on the side of the oil gun?

John G and I continued on the boot scraper production line. Nigel helped John with wire-brushing a couple, then John painted three tops and four bottoms.

It’s a tense time for the Loco Dept, as P&O has broken a spring, and Foremarke Hall is having trouble with its left-hand injector.

[Loco Dept’s equivalent of watching a man dig a hole!]

While these two are out of service, it only leaves 4270 and 2807 operational. Friday is a Fire & Drive - you decide which loco you’d rather be on! Four of you in an enclosed cab in this weather? I think not! So, we are on standby. Foremarke is rostered for Friday, but if the injector is not fixed …

It is imperative that both injectors are working: If you were chuffing up & down and one injector failed, you must have the other one working, otherwise it would be an extremely serious situation. With both injectors failed, you would have to drop or extinguish the fire to avoid melt-down of the firebox crown!

The outstanding issues for 2807 are:
6 - Driver side under cab side - main steam pipe to injector leaking at joint/sleeve. {We can’t touch this while on standby just in case a problem arose fixing it}
48 - J-cock leaking. {Ditto, not allowed to dismantle it today}
49 - Left-hand big end running hot. Oil pot full. Oil level did not change all day.
This is followed by the comment: Clive syringed out & refilled; was hotter than others but oil level dropped slightly.
Subsequently JP reported: Left-hand big end was as cool as a cucumber.


Wednesday 27 June 2018

Maintenance Update (plug, carrot, spark, ash)

Wednesday 20th
The day began with Bruce changing over the top clack valves (that feed water into the boiler). Not happy about the newly fitted ones leaking already, Bruce refurbished the old ones and fitted them back today. (Whenever there’s a chance to clamber over the top of the loco …)

He reckons that the surfaces in the removed ones are not flat - slightly bevelled - which could account  or their inability to stop the backflow.

Remember the broken ash-pan sprinkler pipe? Well, here’s Gilbert sawing through that part that is accessible, with a view to then putting a plug in it.

The sawing was the easy part. Removing the pipe remnant from the elbow joint took most of the day … plus two helpers!

Remember the pep pipe fountain?

Bruce took the pep pipe valve apart today. The bottom half-inch of the “carrot” was shiny, indicating that it was the only part of the valve that was in contact. So, Bruce lapped it in again and fitted a new seal in the top. Hopefully that will fix it.

John G noticed the five rail chairs that had previously been needle-gunned, and knew exactly what to do with them.

John set-to with the angle grinder, removing rough edges and smoothing off the surface. Then out came the wire brush to polish them up. Honestly, you can almost see your face in them by the time he’s finished!

I volunteered to remove the blow-down valve pipe. The plan is to fit a standard fire-hose connector to the end of it, so that the boiler can be filled through it (when cold, of course!) quickly and easily. You are not allowed to remove a mud-hole door, for example, to put water into the boiler. That would be breaching the integrity of the boiler seal, and would necessitate a boiler steam test all over again.

This “five minute job” took from 10.30 am to 3.30 pm.

The problem being that although there is only a single two-bolt joint, it is beneath the cab floor. The near bolt is a doddle to remove. The far one, on the other hand … is beneath yet another pipe’s flange, below the floor panel through which the three damper door operating levers pass!

I finally gained access to the nut; persuaded it that it really did want to come off, and eventually extracted the pipe.

Bruce can now cut its end off and fit the appropriate hose connector … and then I’ll fit the pipe back on again. 😊

Wednesday 27th
2807 had been rostered in service this week, but the increased fire risk put paid to that because she has a reputation for setting things alight! I advised the GWSR that there are spark arresters for the smokebox and for all three dampers, so today’s task was to fit them.

JC kindly shunted us over a pit inside the shed, whereupon it became obvious that the firebox and ashpan had not been emptied since the steam test on the 16th. We are not allowed to empty ash into the shed’s internal pits, so we decided to fit the spark arresters - Bruce tackled those underneath, while I tackled the one in the smokebox.

The “traditional” spark arrester in the smokebox is two-part that clamps around the blast pipe. The original stainless nuts & bolts that we bought for it seem to have gone awol, and have been replaced with ordinary nuts & bolts. Shame! Nevertheless, it took less than an hour to fit this.

The ones that we (i.e. David) designed for the dampers are very easy to fit - they slot into place and each has two R-clips to secure it.

2807 has three damper doors because the ashpan is in two sections, one either side of an axle. The front section has two dampers and the rear just one. There is no space for a damper right at the very back to be able to open.

As I mentioned, Bruce discovered that the ashpan was absolutely full …

So, after lunch we were shunted out over an external pit in order to clean it all out.

I cleaned the grate …

… and Bruce cleaned out the ashpan.

Thanks also go to Eddie and Alex for helping clean out the pit after we’d filled it with soggy ash. 😊

2807 is now rostered to be in service on the next two Saturdays & Sundays.


Saturday 16 June 2018

Maintenance Update (fire, leak, fountain, operational)

Saturday 9th
The busiest people on 2807 today seemed to be the two Johns - Cruxon & Hancock [Loco Dept}.
There were just a couple of plugs left to be fitted, so the hose was hooked up to the blow-down valve and water fed into the boiler while Gil shinned up the ladder (with John T standing on its bottom rung) to fit them. One plug was failed and had to be replaced with a new one. Basically, it fitted too deeply into its hole.

The two Johns lit a fire, but (IMHO) there was not sufficient time to do a steam test. White waiting for some pressure on the gauge, the Johns repacked various glands (the ejector valve, regulator, and blower) and straightened the shut-off tap on the hydrostatic lubricator. It appears that it had suffered a blow - apparently a similar thing happened on Foremarke Hall.

Most of the day, John T and I played with rail chairs - cutting off bolts, grinding their bottoms flat, needle-gunning and finally slapping a bit of paint around.

Not a very exciting day, and by 4 pm there was no sign of any pressure on the ‘clock’, so the three of us poodled off home.

Sunday 10th
Bruce reported: “I arrived at about 9.45 to find that Mike S (dept) and Rob had put a fire in but then found that the paperwork was not complete. During the boiler inspection the stay test had not been done or the results had not been recorded, this put a question mark on the steam test.

It then got worse! There was about 20 psi on the clock and the plugs all seemed OK but there was a small amount of damp around one of the mudhole doors. Mike suggested we nip them up so Rob, wielding spanner, went round them all. Unfortunately, on tightening two of them (rear bottom and bottom right front) the seal blew and water poured out.

This put a stop to any test so the fire was raked down and the boiler topped up to compensate for the leaks. Yes, the injectors worked at 20 psi.”

Wednesday 13th
Mark Y had replaced the two mudhole doors’ seals and was in the process of carrying out the steam test this morning. Sadly, another mudhole door sprang a leak. A couple of washout plugs also appear to have a wisp of steam emanating from them. Steam test abandoned! But she did get up to 200 psi today with no other problems.

Bruce decided that it was judicious to assist MY by working on Dinmore Manor’s washout. Bruce dismantled the (water) gauge frame and cleaned its innards before reassembling it. Then he removed the mudhole doors and cleaned them ready for refitting.

With loco hot and fire in, it was not feasible to attempt any other maintenance. However, I spent a few moments examining the ashpan sprinkler pipe. The pipe has broken on the RHS, so we intend blanking it off. There’s an elbow at which this can be done. The LHS will still work.

Thereafter, the two Johns & I reverted to boot scrapers. The Flag & Whistle had sold six this week.

Bruce was dismayed to discover that the new clacks (that he fitted only a couple of weeks ago) are leaking! Having refurbished the old ones, they are going back on as soon as she’s cool enough! One effect not seen until Saturday was a fountain erupting from the top of the pep pipe cock once pressure had built up. This cock is a constant source of trouble and needs to be replaced with an improved design.

Friday 15th
I arranged with Bruce to spend a short time to drain the boiler and remove four of the mudhole doors yet again. However, Mike S had drained down, so Bruce removed the doors and cleaned them before I’d arrived! Mark refitted them circa 4.30. A warming fire was then lit (circa 11 pm, I understand).

Saturday 16th
Someone (probably Mike S) had lit a fire by the time we arrived. The tender was a tad low on coal but well full of coal dust! So, we spent the first hour shovelling it out into the JCB bucket!

Thereafter, we were largely tending the fire and gently bringing pressure up. Mark Y had managed to find some instructions regarding the fitting of the mudhole door seals. This is the first time we’d seen any guidance from the manufacturer. It looks as though we were not entirely doing things correctly. Firstly, don’t warm the gaskets before fitting because this may start the rubber to cure too soon. Then, don’t tighten the newly fitted doors more than half-a-turn. The guidance then says that some leakage is “not uncommon” during the initial steam raising stage - don’t panic! When everything has cooled down, apply a specific force using a torque wrench.

By mid-afternoon, things were going swimmingly …

The first safety valve lifted at 215 psi; the second at 219 psi. Vacuum was just a tad high. We carried out various scheduled tests: both injectors work fine; gauge frame operates correctly; nothing leaking in the smokebox; whistles both work; and so on. A couple of hissing doors, but according to the guidelines … don’t panic! Mark signed her off as operational. Yippee!!!


Thursday 7 June 2018

Maintenance Update (doors, plugs, pump, gopher)

Saturday 2nd
As forewarned - it was washout day! David and Gilbert spent the morning (and some time after lunch) getting out a selection of washout plugs (as arrows: yellow = in; green = out).

Mud hole door, old seal, bridge & nuts; plus its hole in the background

Draining the boiler through the blow-down valve

David is assisting Gil washing out through the smokebox plug holes, with me holding up the hose for them

John T didn’t manage to get into a picture.  John managed to start cleaning up some plugs before lunch, but thereafter he was in charge of the water pump all afternoon.

Thanks also go to JC and Stuart C [Loco dept] for their assistance - both shunting, and playing with the hose & water tap.

Wednesday 6th
Now we have to put it all back together again! Mark had a good look round - inside & out!

Would you believe that there was still an ancient stay inside the boiler? There was also a blockage in the left side that had to be washed out again. A couple of stay nuts in the firebox will need replacing soon. The ones closes to the firebed burn away, and must be replaced before the stay’s thread gets damaged.

Also, the side double fire bar in which a break had previously been temporarily welded pending delivery of a new one had broken again. New front side bars were fitted.

Yellowness is fresh surface rust!

Bruce mainly concentrated on fitting mud-hole doors.

Gil began refitting washout plugs.

John G acted as general support engineer (aka gopher) and - here is seen cleaning the threads on a washout plug. In spare moments he managed to paint four black bottoms, too.

I began by refitting the (water) gauge frame assembly. Then I snook off to wire-brush three chairs that had been needle-gunned and then abandoned.

P-Way made three deliveries of further rail chairs (predominantly GWR ones) during the day. Most are “through-bolted”, which means that they still have their rusted bolts in situ. Much cutting-off thereof lies ahead!

Later, I assisted Gil by tightening the plus in the cab. Bruce called it a day at 5 pm. I abandoned Gil at 5.30. He was quite keen to get all but the highest of plugs back in their holes to enable the boiler to be  filled ASAP. Mark had hoped to do a steam test on Saturday, but unless someone can finish off the plugs and fill the boiler, there won’t be time to light a warming fire on Friday.

Off-line, I have been having an email exchange with Alan G. who bought a Midland railway boot scraper. We have a few MR rail chairs dating between 1885 and 1901 (plus some 1921 of less excitement). Most have no manufacturer’s name. However, the 1901 has “TBS” which is Taylor Brothers (Sandiacre) Ltd; and the 1899 says “ES&Co”. This latter has me perplexed. There was a company of iron founders called Edward Sheldon & Co during the 19th century, based at Coseley (north of Dudley) who did use the ES&Co logo. However, they appear to have focussed upon domestic ware, in due course being manufacturers of Cannon cookers, for example. Curious!


Wednesday 30 May 2018

Maintenance Update (hose, Edward, pins, Oliver)

Wednesday 23rd
Today’s bit of fun was to change the leaking vacuum hose that was causing issue 23 - reservoir not building up to 23”.

The hose forms a U-bend horizontally, connecting vacuum cylinder (at the bottom) to the driver’s brake valve pipe. In the side-view photo, left, the hose goes away from you and turns back towards you. The yellow is sticky tape that had been applied to the hose as a temporary fix!

Main access is through the cab floor below the shovel plate. Bruce & Gil undid the clamp on the upper connection, but the lower one would not undo. I joined in and thrust a hacksaw through the side access and showed the clamp’s bolt who was boss!

When we attempted to bend a new hose into U-form, it kinked in the middle, destroying the profile of the internal metal wire. We had to bung up one end of a second new hose and fill it with boiling water to soften the rubber. Then we could gradually form the U-bend using anything to hand of a suitable diameter! It was still a challenge getting the hose onto the pipe ends, lying prone across the cab floor, but Bruce & I succeeded eventually.

Bruce also fixed issue 21 - the leaking condensing coil union. He’d been on the footplate last week and was shown exactly where the leak was. So, he dismantled the two unions, cleaned them, fettled one a little and reassembled it. It seems that one nut was being interfered with by the flared end of the pipe.

Gil tackled issue25 in which a driver had felt that the regulator was stiffer than usual. Gil greased the slide and oiled the plunger. It all seems to work absolutely fine.

Responding to a plea from Alex, John G spent the day working on King Edward II, getting it fit to view.

The pannier had arrived, and half of the Loco Dept seemed to be inside the smokebox (or watching from outside), where there was clearly water dripping from where it shouldn’t!

John P was beneath our loco, where there were some nuts & bolts that had worked loose. It had been reported that the rear frame stretcher was loose. It was yet another challenge getting a spanner onto these nuts, as they are bolting an angle to the frames and stretcher. The positioning of the bolt holes could have been better - staggered, for instance - because one set of nuts was interfering with the adjacent ones! All tucked away in a corner and with pipe work in the way.

It is pretty grotty under there - not only are the frames covered in oily muck, but you are standing in ash all of the time when the ashpan has just been emptied [again, thanks to Loco Dept chaps].

Saturday 26th
Gala: work day cancelled. Peter Todd took a couple of photos, though:-

Wednesday 30th
Today we were supposed to be preparing 2807 for her washout (scheduled for Saturday). Gil & Bruce liaised with MY to determine what has to be done - there’s a new document covering the boiler washout process - 9 pages thereof! They then commenced: Bruce opened the blow-down valve to let water out, and opened the blower valve to let air in; Gil began removing specific washout plugs, and spent the whole day doing this. Bruce then removed the upper mud hole doors.

John G and I decided to tackle the issue of two split pins missing from the tender spring hangers.

The hanger pins through which the split pins pass and secure, would not rotate with the weight of the tender on them. Having to release the weight on the springs necessitated jacking the tender up. Finding packing pieces (off-cuts of sleeper) for beneath the jacks all takes time. Once we had relieved sufficient weight, one of the hanger pins was able to be turned. We had to do this in order to line up the holes in the hanger ends and that in the hanger pin in order to get the split pin through. I measured the split pin diameter of the other end of the spring and acquired two new pins to fit. However, they didn’t fit! Try as we could, the holes would not line up sufficiently for the split pins to pass through! We adjourned for lunch!

After lunch there was a fire drill. [Something of a first, methinks.] Then JG found a couple of rail chairs in need of a primer coat on their tops, and took time out to do that before joining Gilbert at removing washout plugs.

Bruce joined me and we attacked the spring hangers once more. The outcome was that the poor alignment of holes had led to the original split pins being sheared off. We found the end of one still in situ in the second hanger pin. There was nothing for it but to extract the hanger pins and sort them out. The first photo shows the end of the spring through which the hanger pin passes. In the second photo, Bruce is demonstrating where the split pin passes through the hanger link. The third photo shows the corresponding hanger pin. Note the groove along the length of the hanger pin. This was caused by the end of the spring (arrowed) wearing into the pin. It also explained why the pin would not rotate. Unfortunately, the end of the spring should be completely encasing the pin (full circle) - it had fractured and part of it has broken off!

We filed off the roughness on both pins and drilled slightly larger holes. It is fair to say that assembling them was by far the easiest task of the day! A touch of graphite grease, and all went together happily. We shall have to replace the spring, even though this particular break does not appear to present a danger in any way.

By now, it was 4 pm and it had taken the whole day to fit two split pins !!!

Here’s Olly reversing up to the shed at the end of the day.