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.