Saturday, 13 January 2018

Maintenance Update (winterisation, hydrostatic, washout, rod)

Wednesday 10th
2807 arrived back safe & sound, if a little mucky! We suspect that she came down the motorway backwards, and all of the road spray covered the inside of the cab. Loco Dept [Pete Y. as shunter] coupled loco & tender and shunted her round to Road 8. Gilbert hosed down the cab, to get rid of much of the filth, then work began on ‘winterisation’.

Bruce tackled the injectors, removing their innards for safekeeping (to avoid risk of frost damage). JC pointed out that there are two outstanding issues on the report (though no issues reported by Llangollen at all), and one of those is the stuck J-cocks (reported in 2015, I think!). So, Bruce had a go at those, assisted by David since he was already in the cab. The right-hand one opens now, but the left one is still struggling hard to resist Bruce’s muscle power.

David decided to have a go at the hydrostatic lubricator. All you have to do is remove the five sight glasses. 😊 Their rubbers do their best to stop the glass from coming out. David beat four of them into submission, and finally managed to break the fifth one. Furthermore, another appeared to have a scratch on the inside of the glass, so that one was rejected. David cleaned up the lubricator and the three glasses, while I located new rubbers and two new glasses.

Photo shows David cleaning, while Bruce is checking the list of ‘winterisation’ tasks. Note that I had removed the two pressure gauges (they are in the green box). I decided to leave the vacuum gauge until I had confirmation that we have the ability to test that.

If you zoom-in, you might see that the gauge frame has been dismantled. This always gets a new glass at washout time.

John T spent the day preparing for work on the right-hand valve. He began with removing the lamp bracket; then removing all of the bolts from the running board panel in front of the valve, then the flap has to come off. The main problem is that all of these bolts are round-headed and can be a challenge to undo. Finally, John removed the cladding pieces and loosened some of the nuts on the front of the valve cover.

John G began by applying a primer coat to four chairs in the boot scraper production line. This gave the rest of us time to remove bits & pieces for John to clean up. Photo shows very shiny gauge frame components ready for me to reassemble. John went on to clean various controls in the cab, getting the filth off of them that had not simply hosed off. Later he gave Gilbert a hand removing washout plugs.

Gil began the day by removing mudhole doors. The trick with these is to screw a large loop into the stud so that the whole thing cannot drop inside the boiler. Well, that works most of the time, but for some of the doors you have to then remove the loop otherwise the stud fights the boiler cladding, and the door will not come out. Ideally, you can tie some string round the stud for safety at this point, but while John T was looking for string, it came out anyway.

Two Loco Dept chaps gave Gil a hand removing washout plugs - Nigel Y and Pete Y. Pete cleaned up the plugs and the mudhole doors too. By end of play, there were two obstinate plugs, and Mark Y [everyone is a Y today!] and Pete had another go. Pete had one of them in his hand as I left.

I disconnected the coil in the cab roof to drain water out. Then there was the gauge frame. Later, I snook away and applied an enamel coat to five chairs towards the end of the production line! Bruce and I helped Clive N [Loco Dept] verify that all equipment that went to Llan did come back! Some items that didn’t go (such as our spanners) were returned to the loco tool box. There does appear to be one scotch (aka chock) missing, that’s all. We both went round checking that everything that needed to be done for ‘winterisation’ had been done (e.g. tender drains open; steam heating valves open and injector drain open).

Saturday 13th
Washout time! Gil volunteered to test the new waterproof gear. It took all morning plus a little after lunch. Lots of the plug-holes are required in order to wash the entire inside of the boiler. There is probably an efficient sequence, but we just started at the back, moved to the front and then finished off at the back again.

When you wash out the front, the water (plus debris) swills down to the lowest point - the firebox end. Maybe we should start at the front?

This was a team effort: Gil was at the sharp end. Bruce was next in line, holding the hose and taking the weight for Gil. David was sometimes laying down peering at the colour of the water as it came out, and sometimes manning the sharp end to give Gil a break. John T was operating the water pump (greatly impressed that it has an electric starter motor). Rob was operating the hose on/off switch.

Communicating the request for on/off was sometimes a challenge, depending on noise level and line of sight. So, at times I was mid-way, giving hand signals!

The grey patch by Gil’s head, covering the top half of the smokebox, is actually one of the many leaks in the hose, spraying a fine mist into the air.

As official team photographer, I couldn’t possibly get too involved with this, of course. 😊

Actually, I had boot scraper tasks to do: we sold three today; plus I took one more away to be couriered to its new owner.

The loco was then shunted back into the shed and the loco & tender parted. This will enable the tender to be pulled out, emptied of coal and given a clean plus a bitumen paint without disturbing the loco. Despite the fact that it was already 3 pm, we made a start on removing the left leading coupling rod that needs new bushes.

Rob at end of con rod

Con rod off …

… and parked

The leading coupling rod to be removed

End of (lots of) play for today!


Saturday, 6 January 2018

Maintenance Update (Llangollen, BBC, LED, maintenance)

Llangollen Report
Rich Smith posted a video on the Unofficial Llangollen Railway Facebook Group showing 2807 double-heading 5199 on the last day of the year.

Chester Joey posted two videos:

Graham Bondi sent some of his photos of 2807 on 30th December:

Available on BBC iPlayer is Father Brown episode 3 of series 6 “The Kembleford Dragon”. The opening 15 seconds show 2807 crossing Stanway viaduct.

(The content of external web sites linked to from this blog is not the responsibility of CSP Ltd.)

Just to demonstrate that someone in our group is doing some work while 2807 is away, Fred sends this photo of the inside of the siphon van, and says:

“Here is a photo of the siphon lighting system as finished by Ray, Gilbert and me. The LED driver compartment is an old wooden lamp box adapted to suit.

It is on the RHS above the corridor end door. The new consumer unit is on the LHS. Also visible in the pic is a 2807? shovel and the state of the flooring.

On the bench are bits of an outside cover for the incoming mains cable made from lead sheet with steel edge fixing strips prepared by Ray and ready for painting (the steel bits).”

Saturday 6th
A small amount of rail chair cleaning & painting took place, but it was mighty cold outside!

It looks likely that 2807 will be delivered to Toddington on Tuesday, but not shunted into the shed
until Wednesday. We are unlikely to achieve much on Wednesday, if she keeps moving about! Then it seems that the Loco Dept might carry out a boiler wash on Saturday next. This is likely to be over an outside pit, which will prevent us from starting the critical job of removing the coupling rod. Also, we’d get a bit wet trying to do any work on the loco! We’ll have to play it by ear, but worst case scenario is that we will not be able to begin any serious winter maintenance jobs until Wednesday 17 January.


Saturday, 30 December 2017

Maintenance Update (snow, skating, castor, winter)

Llangollen Report
Robert Bettley-Smith posted these on the Unofficial Llangollen Railway Facebook Group: “Santa Specials are getting ready for their day: Friday 22 December 2017. But less snow than when I was rostered on them last time!”

Saturday 23rd
The first GWSR train pulls into Broadway station!

See this on YouTube

Congratulations to P-Way Dept on their splendid achievement! Supported (in a small way) by boot scraper sales (they receive £5 for each one sold).

Sunday 24th
Busy afternoon: Message from Café on Winchcombe station - they’d only two boot scrapers left! So, I dashed off to Todders to pick up four to restock them. But as I was carrying them from car to café, they sold two more! Back to Todders … decided to pick up two plus two more (just on case). Sure enough, back at the café they had only two left again! Selling faster than hot mince pies.

Monday 25th
Four of us lit up two locos ready for Boxing Day services.

Wednesday 27th
Heavy snowfall plus power outage at Toddington caused the railway to close … and I couldn’t get the car out of my road because no grip on compacted snow.

Thursday 28th
Railway still closed because the car park was like a skating rink!

Saturday 30th
Those of us who failed to avoid Andrew Marshall ended up cleaning the bits of spring gear that we had helped the P&O guys remove recently.

Bruce managed to do a little more prep work on the guard irons that we hope to fit to the tender.

The most important task of the day was to repair a broken wheel on the radiator in the van. Bruce had modified a castor to suit, and is here drilling out the broken one.

I had two boot scraper orders to progress, so I managed to avoid P&O cleaning, too!

Timetable of events
2807 should be leaving Llangollen on Monday 8th Jan and arriving back at Todders on Tuesday 9th.  Winter maintenance commences then, and she has to be fit for service by end of February.


Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Maintenance Update (hanger, tie, thumb, challenge)

Llangollen Report
No news … must be good news.

Wednesday 20th
Following on from our help to the P&O Group, our team got stuck in beneath their loco again.

Left is Rob; right is Bruce, and Gilbert is under there somewhere! That’s Andrew (red arrow) representing the P&O Group.

Here’s Rob removing a spring hanger. There are two cotter pins in each hanger - one at the top and one at the bottom. The P&O guys had helpfully removed the bottom cotter … it’s the top one that needs to come out!

With the top one out, the hanger drops down and out. Then there is a plate on top of the spring to be removed.

Rob again, in a relatively spacious area, removing another hanger.

With both hangers out, the spring has to be rotated (bottom pulled towards Rob) to release the yoke at the point of suspension. Then the spring comes crashing down! Once all six springs are off, the horn ties have to be released. This needs four nuts undoing (thankfully, they had all been loosened by P&O guys beforehand). However, the horn tie is a tad heavy, and also come crashing down. Rob’s thumb can vouch for that!

There’s not a lot of room under there! Fitting these all back together when the underkeep pads have been replaced is going to be a challenge. It will have to be done over a pit; otherwise these lumps are just too heavy to lift back from this position.

By end of play, we had all six springs off and four of the six horn ties. It was a shame, because I thought we’d got them all off, but Rob & I started in the middle; moved to the front, then forgot about the back ones … doh! 😒


Saturday, 16 December 2017

Maintenance Update (chuffed, butcher, P&O, hundred)

Llangollen Report
The following photos were taken on the weekend of 9/10 December by Paul Evans.

Paul says: “I'm more than happy to let you copy whatever you like. She's a fantastic locomotive; I keep saying to people that she's a pretty engine. My dad was a former fireman on the line for British Railways Western Region at Croes Newydd engine shed and I've got involved this year in the shed and on the footplate. … I'm on the footplate on 23rd, 31st Dec and 1st Jan. I do love your Loco and on the autumn steam gala with Sir Keith Parkes slipping and sliding, she just waltzed out of the station and made it look so easy. Thank you and I’m chuffed to bits that you will use the photos”.

Wednesday 13th
The planned mega-clip by P-Way was cancelled due to snow. Our working day had been cancelled because of the P-Way mega-clip day …

… but I had two boot scraper deliveries to make anyway. But before that, as I was doing my shopping, I noticed a pile of a dozen cardboard trays put out for the recycling men outside the butcher’s. So I “lifted” some (literally), because they are exactly what we use to protect the boot scrapers. Toby, the butcher, spotted me helping myself and yelled, “I’ll bring the rest, Rog!” So, he very kindly carried those that I couldn’t round to my house. Hence, I spent the morning in our van, cutting them all to size. You can hardly get in the van, now!

Friday - Loco Dept Management Meeting
2807 absolutely must be ready for service by end of February

Saturday 16th
We spent most of the day helping with P&O, whose axleboxes need some work doing on them. This requires the whole loco being lifted on the jacks and wheels dropped. To get at the axleboxes, you have to remove the springs, otherwise you can’t remove the horn ties to drop the underkeeps …

It took all day to get the hydraulic lifting gear into the right place… 😏

During the afternoon, John T snook off to play with our new needle gun!

The Flag & Whistle sold two more boot scrapers, making their total sales this year up to one hundred! The staff were suitably rewarded.

Gilbert pinned up his wish list of things to do in the 7 week winter maintenance period. 😓

Llan say that 2807 is scheduled to be in service:
December: 16 & 17, 22-24 and 30 & 31.
Reids are booked to collect her on January 8th to return to Todders on 9th.


Saturday, 9 December 2017

Maintenance Update (wedges, plates, frozen, coffee)

Wednesday 6th
Our new needle gun arrived on Monday, so I have marked it as “2807”. However, it didn’t get used today. I had to fit a connector to it (which I purloined from another air tool that we never ever use) but …… it was a tad quiet in our group, as Bruce took the day off (birthday) and John G took the day off (out with his son). This gave me the opportunity to do some wood cutting. From a H&S perspective, I will not use our band saw if there are people walking in & out. Also, it is not sensible to use it when there is wet paint around! So, today was ideal.

I had acquired a large (desk top sized) piece of hardwood from which to make wedges. It was too big to handle safely, so initially I sawed it in half. Then I cut a straight edge because it had been broken when removed - I don’t know where from; I found it in a skip!).

Then I could cut strips 20mm x 12mm (sorry to have to use mms); chop these into 9mm lengths, and then turned each piece into two wedges.

Andy Smith [P-Way] popped in to see how his boot scraper is coming along. I applied its top coat today.

Meanwhile, over at Winchcombe Ray was making metal plates for use on some door parts where the wood has been nibbled away by a bolt.

The plates will protect the wood and enable the bolt to hold the door pieces together.

Gil & Fred were there, too, but I didn’t see what they were up to!

Saturday 9th
Rob, Bruce and I were in attendance, but decided not to do a lot, as it was somewhat cool. The water supply to ‘our’ van was frozen solid. Apart from a slow progression of rail chairs towards becoming boot scrapers, Bruce had an investigate into how to repair one of the castors on our heater. See: jobs are thin on the ground, so little things get attended to!

Fred & Gil joined us for elevenses. It’s warmer in our van than in their siphon.

Rob managed some painting, but was then called off to be induced (seems to be done in several stages these days). Luckily this was at lunchtime, so he snook off with a hot coffee in his hands. Probably the envy of the rest of the group of newies.

Bruce & I decided that neither of us would be here on Wednesday, so we cancelled Wednesday.
Bruce left, and I finished off a couple of things before departing. Rob had finished his session by then, and there was no point in starting anything new, so …

I thought I’d call in at Winchcombe station to see if they were displaying boot scrapers. They would have been, but they’d sold them all! Apparently, a lady had driven 50 miles to buy one today …luckily the staff suggested she ring the Flag & Whistle, which she did. They did have some.

Not liking to leave a bare shelf, I turn around and headed back to Todders and extracted eight boot scrapers from the van: two for the Flag & Whistle, and six for Winchcombe station. Lynn got quite excited because her Flag & Whistle has now sold 98 this year! She reckoned that she would have made the 100 by nightfall. I didn’t wait to see, but I may well pop in tomorrow (snow permitting) to see if she has made the ton.

Brian has received info from Llan to say that 2807 is scheduled to be in service:
December: 2 & 3, 9 & 10, 16 & 17, 22-24 and 30 & 31.
Reids are booked to collect her on January 8th to return to Todders on 9th.


Saturday, 2 December 2017

Maintenance Update (gun, invaded, challenge, weeds)

Wednesday 29th
The Steam Loco Dept has bought a new needle gun … so we just had to try it out! In fairness, we had been debating about ours, as it does struggle to do the job (and it was cheap!).

You can see how much bigger theirs is, and also it is insulated such that using it is vibration-free. I have to say, it does have a bit of a kick in it when it starts up! It certainly does a good job. See how it demolished the rust on the 1957 rail chair. I’ve left the pile of rust so you can see. And notice the shine on the metal. Hardly need to wire-brush it afterwards (doing Bruce out of a job!).

Bruce, John G and I were invaded by the siphon team at lunchtime. They just came, used our facilities and then buzzed off again!

L-to-R: John G, Bruce, Bill, Ray and Fred’s foot

News from Fred about the siphon van
Fred, Bill, Ray and Gil were all working on the Siphon, once more. It sounds as though they have practically finished the electrics, but not yet installed the LED lights.

They had a bit of a challenge on one metal bracket on the corner of one door: two bolts refused to behave.

Saturday 2nd
Rob, John T, Bruce and I struggled in the cold and damp! John began with some gardening. He’d brought a couple of hellebores for our nature corner. He also tidied up some dead stems. It’s beginning to look like a garden … including what John called weeds! OK, they are weeds, but only when you don’t want them in your flower bed. They’ll have yellow flowers next spring. Every bit of colour helps!

John got to try out the new departmental needle gun. Rob missed out, as he was off to watch a rugby match in the afternoon. We were rained off after lunch, anyway.

Brian has received info from Llan to say that 2807 is scheduled to be in service.  December: 2 & 3, 9 & 10, 16 & 17, 22-24 and 30 & 31.  Reids are booked to collect her on January 8th to return to Todders.

See what a grey sky it was today! No one was still working inside our siphon van by 3 pm.


Thursday, 30 November 2017

Anticipated Llangollen operational dates

We're expecting 2807 to be in operation at Llangollen on these dates:

Santa Specials on 2/12, 3/12, 9/12, 10/12, 16/12, 17/12, 22/12, 23/12 and 24/12

Winter Warmer Specials on 30/12 and 31/12

As always, subject to availability.