Sunday 25 March 2018

Maintenance Update (vacuum, plug, Hall, niggles)

Tuesday 20th
Warming fire required in readiness for a test run on Wednesday.

Wednesday 21st
I’m not sure who lit the steam-raising fire this morning - it could have been Jamie, Chris-1, Chris-2 or even John H. Anyway, there was 60 psi on the clock when I arrived at 10.30. Bruce and Gil were going round all of the oiling-up points. As the loco had been stood idle for months, all of the pots were empty. Hence it took all morning to complete this task.

Note that it takes three people to oil the vacuum pump - one to hold the oil can; one to tip it up, and one to manage the process. 😉

Then disaster!

Plug no.18 was leaking. As pressure rose to 130 psi, there was a major plume emitting from the lower part of the plug. John H declared it a failure, and immediately began to deaden the fire to prevent pressure rising any more.

I find this extremely odd, as 2807 passed her steam test on 2nd March; Mark Y nipped up plugs that were wisping steam on 6th; and today this one is gushing steam dangerously. Has someone removed it and not fitted it back tightly while we were not looking, or what?

While there was pressure, JC ran her up & down a bit to check that there were no complaints from bearings, valves or cylinders. This all went very well - no problems at all.

The problem then was how to get pressure back down! 2807 is well known for holding the heat - maybe she has an efficient firebox/boiler. So, injecting (cold) water helped a little; opening the steam heating and venting it helped … a little; eventually a blow-down had to be undertaken to make room for more water in the boiler! By 4 pm, pressure was down at 15 psi.

Mark came in and replace plug 18 with a new one on Thursday. The hole’s thread needed re-cutting.

There were a few niggles that turned up. The slacking pipe (aka “pep” pipe) dribbles constantly. There was a drip from the condensing coil in the cab roof. The drain cock on the gauge frame doesn’t line up correctly. One of the glasses in the hydrostatic lubricator totally clogged up with oil.

The cock on the pep pipe is going to be replaced with an improved design within a few weeks, so we can ignore that.

Bruce fixed the condensing coil.

Bruce also sucked the oil out of the glass and cleaned that.

John G was here today, too, but it was difficult to know what to do, since it was “all go” and then “all stop!” However, he applied some elbow grease to the coupling rods, cleaning off some rust spots and places where paint had crept round from their backsides.

Apart from playing fireman for a while, I just needle-gunned four chairs.

Saturday 24th
Alex lit a warming fire on Friday, and Ade + Eleanor were crew today. Alex and Gwendolyn did a spot of cleaning (inside the cab had been in an awful state). The glasses on the hydrostatic lubricator kept oiling-up. JC replaced them - apparently some new glasses were not quite to spec.

In due course, steam was raised; the plug behaved, so she went for trip double-heading Foremarke Hall. Gil went along for the ride.

There were a couple of niggles (as usual) - she wouldn’t raise enough vacuum in the reservoir (so Foremarke helped). Bruce tightened the gland on the loco vacuum cylinder, so hopefully that will be OK now. The new rod bearings are working fine - not over-heating or anything.

Here she is heading back into Toddington (Foremarke is at the rear). Ade commented that he hardly needed any more regulator than usual even though there was an extra 125 tons at the back!

Apart from the loco, John T, Rob and I prepared some railwayana for a customer who is building a section of railway in his garden. Rob did a spot of welding, including some for Dinmore Manor. Then we turn our attention to boot scraper production, ending the day with four black bottoms, four angle-ground and one waiting its turn.

Issues logged and outstanding are:
5 Pep pipe leaking, Valve needs seating. {We’re awaiting a new type of valve}
6 Driver side, under cab side, main steam pipe to injector leaking at joint/sleeve.
8 Gauge frame drain-down tap out of line (vertical) when closed.
9 Oil feed pipe to crown on right hand side driver loose. Unable to tighten nut further.
Ditto driver’s side intermediate.
10 Both clack valves passing-by steam.

For those of you who would like to see 2807 in action, she is currently rostered for:
Train 3 on March 30 & 31
April 1 & 2; and then from 19 to 26 inclusive, plus 28 & 29.


Saturday 17 March 2018

Maintenance Update (Manor, Grange, height, felt)

Several people corrected my assertion last time that No.1 boilers are used on Manor class. They are not, of course. I should have said Grange class. Manors had smaller (no.14) boilers and were not fitted with large ejectors (as far as I am aware) possibly because they were used on secondary lines where traffic was not heavy and the extra “suck” therefore not deemed necessary?

Here’s the large ejector on Foremarke Hall: back half, and front half leading into the smokebox.

Wednesday 14th
Part of the mechanism that operates the drain cocks is held together with a tapered pin. JP reported that the pin is too far into its hole and needs replacing with a longer pin. Gil started on this; removed the old pin and tried to fit a new pin. However, not only was the new pin too long, but it took Bruce to get it back out again. We could not find a suitable tapered pin, so the old one has gone back in for now. {Just look at the filth!}

The hydrostatic lubricator drain pipe in the cab had been rubbing against a floor panel. John G modified the panel and repainted it. Then he made a couple of rubber garters to fit round the pipes to reduce the risk of wear.

John then refitted various ferrules around washout plugs, and Gil found one to fit, too.

Gil oiled the front valve spindles to be sure they are lubricated before the loco moves very far.

Bruce also tackled oiling-up. He started by checking the felts that lubricate the piston rods. These looked good.

Checking the oil in the pots revealed them to be full of water! So, he sucked the water out and refilled the oil pots.

We requested a steam test before being put into service, to check all of the seals and joints are steam-tight. This is currently planned for next Wednesday.

Friday 16th
MY reported to us: “I have heard the loco is sitting at a funny angle, very low on back corner and
high on the opposing front corner. This may simply be the loco is "stuck" from the jacking up that
took place last weekend …”

I was gardening at my daughter’s until 11.00, when I decided to pack up & go home … it’s “The
Races”, isn’t it?! Winchcombe: gridlocked. I could not turn into Castle Street (it’s only wide enough for one car, and there was a queue waiting to come out of it!) So, I thought: ‘Where else can I get a cuppa? Ah-hah! The railway!’ So I managed to turn round and head for Todders, thinking that I’d measure the loco heights while there. When I arrived, our container door was open! Who’s doing what, I thought? It was Rob. He was cleaner on Dinmore, and while waiting for it to come back from Cheltenham, he was cleaning 2807 instead. We measured the height of the running boards, and sure enough, the front is 2” higher on the right-hand side, and at the cab end it is 1” higher. But we had jacked her up on the RHS and let her down slowly. I hope it is just that she’s a bit stuck.

Saturday 17th
It was a tad cool today (viz. icicle on tap).

I began by doing a little gardening, filling in a couple of gaps with alliums and bluebells. Our garden is coming along nicely - various spring bulbs popping up. But, by heck, my fingers froze!

We decided to take a look at this dipping of the frames. Gil & I jacked up the LHS and then let it down. That had some effect, but not a lot. Later in the day, Jeff [Loco Dept] wanted to pull Dinmore and Foremarke out to be coaled. So, I asked him to pull 2807 out, too, and he pulled her down the track a way and then back. It did improve things a little, but (as Bruce pointed out) the front buffer beam is at an angle anyway!

In this photo, I have lined the camera up with the side running boards, and you can see that the buffer beam RHS (as you look at it) is definitely lower. One can only assume that 2807 suffered a heavy shunt at some stage of her final years in BR service.

Bruce carried on making new felt pads for lubricating the LHS piston rod. The new ones are soaking in oil during lunch.

Rob and Alex continued cleaning the rods.

Gil showed Rob where he was to grease the loco underneath.

Finally, we moved the Pecket and Dinmore’s new tender to the end of their road so that P&O has room to sleep tomorrow night.

Pushing the Pecket turned out to be no easy thing. With five of us heaving at it plus three using pinch-bars, it was a struggle to get it to move.

The tender, on the other hand, heavier though it obviously is, moved quite easily with five of us pushing, and no-one on pinch-bars!

For those of you who would like to see 2807 in action, she is rostered for:
Train 3 on March 30 & 31;
 April 1, 2; and then from 17 to 26 inclusive, 28, 29.


Sunday 11 March 2018

Maintenance Update (ejector, injector, split, valve)

Last week’s conundrum
Several people (Gil, Andy B, John G, Stu F, Peter T) commented on the hole in the smokebox. The short answer is that it is for a large (4-cone) ejector.

The long answer is: 2807 has a Standard No.1 boiler and hence a standard smokebox to fit. This type of boiler is also used on certain passenger locos (Hall and Manor in particular). Passenger stock is vacuum fitted for braking, whereas in GWR days, most freight wagons were not. Passenger locos therefore had to create enough vacuum quickly enough to cause all the brakes to be pulled off on every coach. Freight trains probably only had brakes on the engine. This was no big deal, because they would rarely go above 30 mph. In the passenger loco cab, the small ejector (used just to maintain vacuum when stationary) was supplemented by a large ejector which could create vacuum much more rapidly. The steam used in creating the vacuum is exhausted into the smokebox via a pipe that runs alongside the boiler, below the handrail. Inside the Smokebox, the exhaust from the ejector is connected into the blower ring.

Two theories emerge: Our boiler (numbered 8270) had previously been used on Toddington Grange, Highnam Grange and Bostock Hall. Therefore, there would have been a large ejector and hence the hole would have been used for the ejector pipe (assuming the same smokebox was retained). Also, it is likely that Swindon would have made all smokeboxes for No.1 boilers with a hole, in anticipation of the boiler/smokebox being used on a passenger loco at some stage in its lifetime.

Tuesday 6th March
Mark Y spent time going round the plugs and mudhole doors, nipping them up for us.

Wednesday 7th
* Steam Feed to RH Injector leak (Collar joint)
The pipe from cab to injector is an awkward beggar to get out. Bruce and Nigel are in the cab with a huge spanner; Gil and John G are removing the nuts at the injector end.

The collar is towards the bottom of the pipe. Gil & John cleaned up the pipe but could see no sign of a leak. Gil is working out how to seal the pipe and make an adapter such that we can pressurise it (with air) and look for a leak. Gil found a drawing of the top nut from which to make an adapter.

John P finished his mechanical exam of our loco, and found a couple of missing split pins; a loose bolt, and a loose rivet on a die block.

Regarding the groan from the cylinder when 2807 was last shunted, by pushing the reverser into full forward, it opened up the exhaust steam port on the LHS valve, so it was possible to dribble oil down the port into the cylinder. Later, as 2807 was shunted up & down prior to going back into the shed, there was no further groaning … and rusty oil dripped out of the drain cocks!

* Back Safety Valve lifts at 220 psi
We decided to take no immediate action, as it is sensible to wait until she is properly in service before verifying the pressure at which a valve lifts. Experience has shown that it varies.

* Weld broken on smokebox door handle (inner handle for dart).
Someone removed the handle and took it away to be welded. Last seen in a queue awaiting its turn.

* LHS J-cock leaking.
Bruce tightened up the J-cock. He’ll monitor it when in service to see exactly where the steam is leaking from (or if he has fixed it).

I fixed the exploded tyre on the grotty trolley. Even this wasn’t easy - as I removed the wheel to
start work on it, several ball bearings made a run for it! Only found one.

Saturday 10th
Missing split pin from a spring was deemed a “red card”. A bar passes through the top of the spring connecting it to the axlebox (white arrow, right). The split pin passes through sideways to prevent the rod from rotating or dropping out.

It is a challenge to reach, and even more of a challenge to extract the bar. We could not simply push another split pin through - the bar had rotated! To release the bar, we had to jack up the loco frames sufficient that there was room to extract it; then jack up the spring to take the force off the bar. Believe it or not, doing this took Gil, Bruce, John T and me all morning! After lunch we then searched for a new split pin that was the right diameter and the right length. Bruce cut a slot in the end of the bar, parallel to the split pin hole, such that we can see it to line up the holes. Most of this task involved me laying on the ground between the frames; Bruce lying on the ground outside the frames; Gil kneeling down, and John trotting to & fro with tools!

Then came the news that we are needed on Tuesday as standby loco! The usual last-minute panic ensued. Valve covers needed fitting; running boards putting back; the injector pipe refitting …

Valves at 3pm

3.30 pm

4.45 pm

Gil, John and I attacked the valves: fitting the covers, then the “nose”, then the cladding. Followed by the running boards, inspection flaps and lamp irons.

Meanwhile, Gil abandoned me and John to help Bruce. John also helped them by making a joint (aka gasket) for the end of the injector pipe. It was decided to ignore the leak, as it was not that serious, so Bruce annealed a copper joint for the top end. As John and I departed after completing our work, Bruce and Gil were still desperately trying to persuade the injector pipe to go back where it came from. Since Gil took it out, he ought to know how to get it back … without taking the entire cab apart.

At 11.25 pm, Gil reported:
“The RH Injector steam supply pipe has been re-instated. It still requires testing to determine the extent of reported leakage. The brake valve exhaust pipe has been put back in place and the cylinder drain cock linkage re-connected.

It is recommended that a steam test be carried out to check the integrity of the newly made joints and check the condition of the injector steam pipe.”

For those of you who would like to see 2807 in action, she is rostered for:
(Train 3 on:) March 30 & 31; April 1, 2; then from 17 to 26 inclusive, 28, 29.


Saturday 3 March 2018

Maintenance Update (hoses, snowing, inside, test)

Wednesday 28th
In case you have forgotten already, it was a tad cold. Minus three at start of play. Nevertheless, we had 2807 hauled outside. First of all, it was necessary to squeeze up the loco and tender in order to connect the main drag link. P&O came in handy as a buffer stop! Then we rolled over a pit so that we could connect the hoses between loco and tender. While that was going on, Clive was filling the boiler, initially via the blow-down valve (which is a large orifice), but at times via the injectors (which only have a 10 mm hole).

Mostly, there was Bruce and myself underneath pushing on hoses and doing up nuts, with John T acting as gopher and Gil chipping in. All of this took until lunchtime - partly because of the cold, and partly because the clamps and the nuts didn’t always want to play ball!

By 1.30 pm, the view from our van looked like this:

… and the view inside the shed looked like this!

Yes, not only was it snowing outside, but it was also snowing inside. So the consensus was to call it a day. There was no enthusiasm to light a warming fire for a steam test on Thursday, as the forecast for Thursday was worse than for today.

By the way, I was wondering why there’s a patched-up hole in 2807’s smokebox. It is as if something either was there, or might have been there in another life. Anyone know what it was intended for?

Outside, on RHS of smokebox.

Inside the smokebox.

Thursday 1st March
After a Herculean effort by Mark Young, Mike Solloway, Clive Norton, Chris Smith and Dan Wigg and the BES insurance inspector they managed to get 7820, 7903, and 35006 through their annual steam exams today.

Friday 2nd
Apparently, having warmed things up already, Mark carried out a steam test on 2807 on Friday. The following defects are reported for our attention:-

(1) Top row LHS plugs wisping steam
(2) Slight seepage from mudhole doors: Front & back middle (Bottom), LHS Top Rear
(3) Steam Feed to RH Injector leak (Collar joint)
(4) Back Safety Valve lifts at 220 psi
(5) Weld broken on smokebox door handle (inner handle for dart).

Bearing in mind the appalling conditions (Winchcombe was cut off for most of the day) this was well above and beyond the call of duty.

Saturday 3rd
Only three people arrived at the railway today, and we all left at 11.30. Apart from rabbit tracks, mine were the only footprints leading round to our van! I applied an enamel top coat to six rail chairs and then decided enough was enough! The side door to the loco shed had not been closed (due to a build up of snow), so I freed that and closed it.

Thank goodness for traction control! It was a struggle getting out of the car park. Stanway Hill was closed. There were large drifts on the road between Winchcombe and Toddington, though passable as one lane at the worst point. The road from Toddington towards Tewkesbury was closed due to a fallen tree.

For those of you who would like to see 2807 in action, she is rostered for:
March 30 & 31; April 1, 2, 17 to 26 inclusive, 28, 29.