Monday 2 December 2019

Important decision on boiler overhaul work

Cotswold Steam Preservation Ltd has been planning the heavy overhaul of GWR steam locomotive No. 2807 for a number of years.

It had already been decided to withdraw 2807 at the end of the 2019 season at the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway.  The final two days of operation for a number of years wil be 31st December 2019 and 1st january 2020.

The reason for withdrawing the locomotive is to carry out a heavy overhaul, something that is required for all steam locomotives in order to ensure the safety of the pressure vessel, the boiler.

The boiler work is normally the most important task carried out during the overhaul.  It is not work that can be carried out by the volunteer team because it requires specialist skills.  It is important to select a suitable contractor to carry out the work.

Taking into consideration the availability of a 'slot' in the contractors schedule, the quality of work carried out by the contractor on behalf of other locomotive owners, the cost, and other considerations, it has been decided to contract Riley & Son (E) Ltd of Heywood, Lancashire.

The work to remove the boiler from the frames will be the top priority once 2807 is withdrawn.  It is hoped that the boiler will be transported to Riley & Son around mid-2020.


Wednesday 20 November 2019

Important decision on 10-year overhaul

As 2807 approaches time for the 10-year overhaul, decisions have to be made regarding when to withdraw the loco from service, and how best to contract out the overhaul works which cannot be completed by the volunteer team.

The previous post spelled out the withdrawal options.  The Cotswold Steam Preservation Ltd Board has decided to withdraw 2807 following the last Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway (GWSR) operating day of the 2019 season.  This means that Tuesday 31st December 2019 and Wednesday 1st January 2020 will be 2807's final days in service for a number of years.

It is expected that 2807 will be rostered as Steam1 on 31st December (departs Toddington 10am heading for Cheltenham) and Steam2 on 1st January (departs Toddington 10:30am heading towards Broadway).  You can check the roster here and the calendar and timetables here.

This decision was taken in conjunction with the GWSR to ensure that the railway has an opportunity to plan its operations around the withdrawal.

Decisions regarding the contracting out of works are ongoing.  The decision regarding the boiler works will be made by the end of the year.


Wednesday 30 October 2019

September 2019 Round-up

Despite being nearly due a 10-year overhaul, reliability continues to be good and there's very little to report, except for a regular boiler washout. So let's move straight on to the overhaul.

Way back in March 2010, when we were frantically trying to get 2807 operating as quickly as possible, one of the tasks completed was a hydraulic test of the boiler. Ten years on from this, and the boiler certificate will expire on 10th March 2020. This is the event that triggers the 10-year overhaul for all steam locomotives. Unless of course there is some sort of major failure before, or the boiler inspectors grant an extension for a period of time.

So what do we do about this? At a high level, the options are:
1) When the annual boiler examination is due in November of this year, we decide not to have the examination but to start the overhaul instead.
2) At the end of the 2019 operating season at the GWSR we withdraw 2807 and start the overhaul
3) At the end of the boiler certificate in March 2020 we start the overhaul.
4) At the end of the boiler certificate in March 2020 we request an additional examination to find out whether an extension to the certificate is possible.

Each of these options has a long list of pros and cons which I won't go into here, but Cotswold Steam Preservation Ltd won't be making any decisions without first consulting with the GWSR. We need to make sure that our plans for 2807's overhaul fit in with GWSR's plans for operating the railway. We also need to select a company to carry out the work on the boiler, and to join a queue of other boilers waiting for attention. If there is a 'gap' in the queue then that might influence our choice of option, and which company will carry out the boiler work.

All of which means that right now I can't tell you which of these options (or maybe one we haven't thought of yet) we will be going with.

Once an option is chosen, we will work with the GWSR to see if there is the possibility of a farewell event for 2807.  Details will be made available as soon as possible.

So quite a few unknowns at the moment, which is a little unnerving. And we can add to the unknowns because until we start dismantling the locomotive we won't know the condition of some of the parts. If any are worse than expected then this may mean that we have to carry out more work, meaning additional time and expense to complete the overhaul.

This is why, in addition to income from steaming fees, we've carried on with our fundraising activities without a break. I'm sure you will have seen us represented at events at the GWSR, and you'll know from reports in previous editions of the Cornishman that there are a number of ways that you can help us financially to make sure that 2807 is overhauled and back in operation as quickly as possible.

There are a number of ways that you can help and some of these are detailed on this web site.  One of the most popular is to become a shareholder.

Meanwhile we still have our siphon van at Winchcombe. This becomes vitally important to us now because there will be a lot of parts removed from 2807 shortly, and we need somewhere secure to store them. The siphon will be used for this, but needs some more work to make it ready. This includes ensuring that the storage shelving is in good condition and suitable for the heavier items. This work is underway now and should be completed in time, whichever option we decide upon.

The year 2020 is going to be an important one for us, with lots to sort out and decisions to be made. We'll keep you informed as much as possible via these round-ups.

Sunday 18 August 2019

June 2019 Round-up

No. 2807 started the 2019 season well, if a few weeks late. But on April 7th she was failed with a hot coupling rod bearing. The team got to work, and after removing the connecting rod and the offending coupling rod, discovered that the lubricating oil passage was blocked. This of course meant insufficient oil reaching the bearing surfaces, hence the hot bearing.

By the end of Wednesday the 10th, the oil passage was unblocked, and the rods refitted. On Saturday the 13th, 2807 was supposed to double-head with 4270 to make sure all was well. But unfortunately 4270 was failed with a broken spring so 2807 took the service train alone. The run was successful and the bearing temperature was normal.

Some of the drivers had reported that the brake vacuum was sticking at 19in of mercury, when it should be reaching 21 in. The suspicion was that the vacuum piston rod had become worn to the extent that the glands were not sealing. Measurement of the rod diameter found a difference of 40 thou along its length. This can be looked at during the heavy general overhaul next year, but for now the gland was tightened, and the brakes were adjusted so that the vacuum piston rod does not have to move as far.

Towards the end of April there were reports of a cracked spring. At the next opportunity this was replaced before it broke, because a broken spring triggers a loco failure (as for 4270 earlier). The crack was very small and so our thanks to the drivers who spotted it.

There were the usual array of minor issues to resolve, many involving valves that were not sealing and needed lapping-in. A washout was completed just before the steam gala, along with fitting our spark arrestor equipment.

And our 'workshop' received some attention. The workshop is actually an old shipping container. This is the GWSR's preferred option for providing working space. Loose rust was removed from the roof and a coat of bitumen paint applied.

In between times, the team have had to work hard at the boot scraper production line because so far this year, on average, one has been sold for every railway operating day.

Since our team works twice a week, sometimes we need to complete two or three (or more) at a time just to keep up with sales.

(for more information on our boot scrapers, visit our shop


Saturday 30 March 2019

March 2019 Round-up

So I went and said “there's no reason to think that 2807 won't be ready for the start of the 2019 running season”. What on earth was I thinking. I forgot the golden rule. Whatever you plan to do on a steam locomotive, it won't go according to plan. And the end result? No. 2807 ran her first services this year on March 23rd. Which actually isn't that bad because the season only started two weeks earlier. But it did mean we missed the Cheltenham Festival race trains this year.

During January the valve cylinder liners were re-bored. This work was carried out by Tyseley, and they did a similar job on Dinmore Manor at the same time. This is work that was to be part of the heavy general in a year or so, meaning it won't now need to be done as part of that overhaul. Of course one implication is that some of the valve parts need to be replaced to suit the new cylinder dimensions.

C=cutter, S=screw thread

The reason for the slight delay to the start of our season was not so much the amount of work, but the availability of parts. Or rather, the non-availability of parts. Mainly the new piston rings and parts for the valve assemblies. The problem seems to have been that Tyseley couldn't get hold of the correct grade of material and so they couldn't manufacture the parts. The main cylinder piston rings were collected from Tyseley mid-February, and the valve parts on 8th March.

Main piston re-fitted with new rings

Valve piston rings

While waiting for these to come through, the team worked on the injectors, cab fittings, clack valves, whistles, drain cocks, and more. And between times, painting loco, tender, and of course boot scrapers.

It was very pleasing though that after working on so much around the pistons and valve gear, plus the other parts, 2807 went on a test run to Cheltenham and back on Friday the 22nd and was declared fit to run service trains the next day. So that bit did go very much according to plan, just a few weeks adrift of the intended timescale.

I also want to mention that Stuart will be running our “2807 Grand Draw” again this year. Tickets are £1 each and will be available from him either at railway events or direct (email First prize is cash equivalent to 28.7% of the value of tickets sold, second is a bespoke conversion of a Hornby GWR 28xx into No. 2807, plus a number of other prizes. The draw will take place on Tuesday 12th November.


Tuesday 1 January 2019

December 2018 Round-up

Well there's good news and not so good news. The good news is that 2807 hauled the train for the Armistice Centenary event at the railway on the 18th November. The event was universally well received and we are proud that 2807 was able to play her part. The significance of 2807 to the event is that during WWI she hauled “Jellicoe Specials”, the coal trains running from South Wales to the Grand Fleet at Scapa Flow. For the occasion a massive poppy was attached to 2807's smokebox.

But just a week later, the not so good news. Just to remind us all that running steam locomotives is difficult and unpredictable, 2807 was failed on the 25th November. The symptom was a very unusual exhaust beat and lack of power. The first thought was a broken valve ring. After taking out both of the valve spindles, it was clear that none of the rings were broken.

So what was the problem? The next assessment was a lack of lubrication to the valve cylinders, causing deposits between the rings. The lubrication system was thoroughly examined and adjusted. After much cleaning, the valves were refitted. By this time it was 5th December. A test was carried out the following day.

But the problem was still there. A few days later a number of people had come to the same conclusion. That it was probably a piston ring (not valve piston ring) that had broken. As this has happened to 2807 before we know of a relatively easy test. The remnants of the ring usually end up in the body of the drain cock. And sure enough, it was full of bits of ring. What this meant was that 2807 was out for the remainder of the season.

While the valves were out, the valve cylinders were measured. The wear is sufficient to need a re-bore. So over the winter we'll re-bore the valve cylinders, re-cut the (main) piston head grooves, and fit new rings to all. While this is a significant piece of work, it was planned in for the 10-year heavy general overhaul anyway, and so all we're actually doing is bringing this forward. Our sincere thanks to the numerous people in the steam loco dept. who helped during this period.

This means that we have a busy few months ahead, but there's no reason to think that 2807 won't be ready for the start of the 2019 running season.