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.