Saturday, 10 February 2018

Maintenance Update (cleaning, bush, garden, grease)

Wednesday 7th
Quite a full house at Todders, as Fred & Ray had abandoned the siphon and come to see if they could help here. They were set on cleaning the rods on the RHS. Tricky doing the LHS, as they are all off. In fact, John G was painting the backs of these rods. There was such a shine on the gloss black, that my eyeballs got confused, and thought he’d painted the entire rod! But he hadn’t, it was just the reflection. So, Fred & Ray continued cleaning up the wheels, painting the rims and the bosses, in particular. The slide bar hanging bracket had a coat of paint, too.

John G moved on to cleaning and gloss painting the tender rear brake hangers with their new guard irons. Then the gauge frame received a coat of gloss. Finally, John found a boot scraper that needed a top coat (of green, for a change!).

Gil, Bruce and David spent quite some time investigating options for improving the lubrication at the front of the valves. There are several options - this valve rod has sleeves at each end, for example.

The workshop was not able to make new brass bushes for our gradient pins, so Gil has arranged to get them made externally.

Bruce made a start on cleaning the injectors’ internal parts. He also found in our container what appear to be the open-ended alternative style of valve rod covers as seen last time on the 38xx. Why have we got these, I wonder? Did we just “randomly” acquire them? Did someone plan on modifying 2807’s valve rod covers at one time?

David replaced one of the driving wheel axle dust covers and fitted new felts. However, the felts are not large enough, and will drop out when the wheel rotates! So, he’s not happy about the way these (don’t) work, and will cogitate upon it. Another little job was to flatten the gradient pin end caps, which had become dished. I think there might be a need for a spacing washer in the rod forks.

John T pressed out the bush from one of the valve cylinder end covers for inspection. He refitted plate-work on the front running board, in anticipation of feet needing to tread on them on Saturday. After doing these, John decided to needle-gun another four rail chairs, to keep the production line moving.

Saturday 10th Feb
John T was ‘into’ gardening today, beginning by trimming dead leaves from the hellebores in the 2807 Flower Garden. Apart from the small shrubs (hellebores and azaleas) there is a variety of bulbs popping up - snowdrops, daffodils and bluebells in particular.

Later in the day, John, Fred and I played with the poppy. Well, you possibly fit a poppy to your car in November, so why shouldn’t we fit one to 2807? After all, 2807 was working on Armistice Day 1918 and had been hauling coal from South Wales to Warrington (on its way to the fleet anchored at Scapa Flow).

Chaps in the Loco Dept had fabricated a frame, so we tested it all out today. Hardly a streamlined, airsmoothed front end, but hey-ho! I suppose we ought to test it out by going out for a surreptitious run when no one is looking!

Note the strange “face” visible to the right. That is actually the blank reverse of one of those Thomas style faces … so what caused it to reflect light in that weird way? Spooky!

John and Fred spent much of the day cleaning the running boards. Fred managed to find a few loose bolts. However, being round-headed they are a challenge to tighten. Gripping their head firmly in the mole grips is your only hope.

Gilbert had one of the brass bushes for the coupling rod. It seems to be a good fit for the rod, but the old gradient pin was too tight a fit. The new pin has not arrived yet.

Gil & Bruce spent even more time debating the options for improving the lubrication of the front of the valve rods. Will Naylor joined in, with his experience of other locos and modifications he’s seen. I think Gil has enough info now, to go away and detail the options.

Colin from Riley & Son (E) Ltd came down from Bury to examine our boiler with a view to quoting for its overhaul in two years’ time. It was extremely interesting to hear some of his tales over tea break, not to mention his company’s track (pun intended) record. Amusingly, while probing inside the lower centre (throatplate) mud-hole, Colin found three old stays! Two of them look to have been inside there for a very long time! The recent wash-out must have dislodged them.

Colin also had a look at the piece of boiler tube that blew a hole the other year. He said that he’d seen something like it before, and that it may have been caused by a drop of grease falling onto the tube through the steam valve assembly opening during its fitting. This made sense in that it was a tube from a top row and close to the centre. Grease could have created a hot spot, for example, and gradually caused the tube metal to fatigue.

Bruce managed to do a little more cleaning on the injector internals, but was assisting with Colin for much of the morning. The insides of the injector bodies remain to be cleaned.

Loco Dept coaled and watered our tender. We then pushed it up to the loco and (using our unique and not-patented gadget) lined up and connected the outer two links. It was surprising how easy it is to move our tender. Bruce started it with a pinch-bar, but once static friction had been overcome, it was easy for a couple of us to keep it rolling.

One boot scraper sold; one parcelled up for collection on Sunday, and Graham’s one finished ready for his next visit.


Saturday, 3 February 2018

Maintenance Update (vice, studs, lubricator, sleeve)

Wednesday 31st
JP was carrying out a mechanical exam, which turned up a couple of minor issues. The first was that a split pin on one coupling link was not long enough. Now, you might think that it is a five-minute job to replace a split pin, wouldn’t you?

Right! There’s a solid block with a threaded hole through the centre (for the coupling screw) and a protruding bar each side. The only way to get this block in or out of the coupling link is by springing the arms of the link. They are sprung so tight up against the split pin through the bar that the link had to be taken off and put in a vice in order to squeeze the arms together and release the split pin.

After that, David assisted John T to remove the valve covers. The main objective being to press their bushes out and rotate them 180°. This is to even out wear. If GJC had designed it properly, the valve cover would have been able to be rotated, rather than having to press the bush out! But it’s not - there’s a cut-out towards the bottom to accommodate the main cylinder cover.

John T cleaned the threads on the studs (one of which came out - which they sometimes do) and the faces of the covers and valve cylinder ends in readiness for them to be refitted. The covers will remain off for a while so that we can set the timing … which we can’t do until the coupling rods are back on … which won’t be until their new bushes have been fabricated … which should be in two weeks time.

David, meanwhile, was onto another JP defect: There is a dust cover over the felts on each driving axle, bolted to the frames. These covers are cast, and as a result suffer badly. This one has broken into three; plus half of the side part is missing, and one of the bolt holes isn’t round. Gil is getting quotes for a couple of new ones to be cast.

Bruce spent much of the day playing with that awkward left-hand J-cock in the cab. The copper pipes did not appear to fit well into the cock, so Bruce had to remove the pipe and adjust it a little. Then the ends and the nuts & threads all needed cleaning up. However, by end-of-play, Bruce had persuaded it all to go back together.

John G was wielding his paint brush. He gave the gauge frame a second coat of black. Gil then pointed him at the coupling rods, and John painted the reverse side of them black.

This simply helps stop them getting rusty. Then the rail guard irons on the rear tender brake hangers had a coat of black.

Finally, I had been busy on the production line (with four boot scraper orders to fulfil) and John blacked their bottoms.

Saturday 3rd Feb
The first task was to fit the brake hangers back onto the tender. They are heavy, and lifting them upwards to be able to locate the pin did take three of us.

We started with the left hanger. Rob and I were lifting and Bruce was aligning the top hole for the pin to go through. Gil was chief pin pusher. It took quite some effort to align everything, and then Gil managed to start the pin. However, it was difficult to slide the pin in because of the weight of the hanger. Using a wooden block, Gil gave it a hefty whack! “Ping!” What fell off? Rob retrieve the bush from the floor… the pin must have caught on the edge of the bush and the whack had pushed it out.

Needless to say, it took more time and trouble to get the bush back in than it had getting it out! Bruce took the bush away and rounded one edge before he managed to persuade it to go home. It was now tea break time!

After tea, Rob, Bruce and I got the right-hand hanger back in place in no time at all.
John T was cleaning the valve faces and making new gaskets for the sticking-out-bit (see below).

Rob cleaned the “inside” of the connecting rod, removing the grimes and grease so that it can be painted. We only paint the non-visible side because it otherwise doesn’t get cleaned when in service, and may begin to rust. Then Rob moved on to refitting cab pressure gauges and connecting up the condensing coil in the cab roof.

Towards the end of day, Rob was still in the cab, trying to reconnect the pipe from the coil to the hydrostatic lubricator. Would it go on? The angle of the pipe was making it difficult to line up the nut on the pipe with the thread on the lubricator. Gil had a go - he couldn’t do it. I had a go - I couldn’t do it. Bruce had a go - and finally he persuaded it to fit! But he’d had previous practice with his J-cock!

Gil and Bruce played around exploring possible options regarding the lubrication of the front of the valve spindles. On a 28xx there is no lubrication - well, it relies entirely upon the oil that is emulsified within the steam. So, the rod and the bush wears, which is why we just rotated the bushes on 2807.

The method on the later 2884 series had an oil pot feeding a sleeve. This necessitates a pressure seal in the valve cover (else pressure in the sleeve would blast the oil back out!).

If we were to do this, we would have to modify the curved plate to clear the sleeve, as well as fit an oil pot.

Would this upset the purists? Would they cough up for replacing the valve rods if we don’t do this?


Saturday, 27 January 2018

Maintenance Update (measuring, welding, willing, lighting)

Wednesday 24th
Bruce brought his homework in. The tricky pin that was supposed to prevent the ring from turning in the gradient pin turned out to be trickier than expected. When Bruce made a replacement pin to fit the original hole (O), he discovered that the hole was not in line with the corresponding hole (H) in the gradient pin. No wonder the old pin did not work. So, Bruce had to drill a new hole (N) for a new pin. Now it does work!

Surprising though it may seem, John T (henceforth known as John-Le-Measurer), Bruce, Gil and David spent all morning and some of the afternoon measuring again! Gil was quite keen that the measurement that he gives to Andrew for machining new bushes are absolutely complete and correct.

John G began by cleaning up the covers for the ends of the valve rods. After stripping the remains of paint that was beneath the grime, John repainted them both.

David removed the glasses from the gauge frame for John to clean and repaint. It was showing its age - I imagine that the heat and steam attack the inside more than the outside.

Loco department chaps set-to, applying bitumen paint to the coal bunker on the tender.

Clive also organised a gang plus the fork-lift to get the spare springs and fire bars off the back of the tender. We normally send spares away when 2807 goes visiting. They are heavy beggars to get up & down from the tender!

Then Clive, Jeff, Pete, et al., gave me a hand to remove the rear brake hangers. I cleaned up their bottoms ready for welding on rail guards. You can see what a pretty rough fabrication they were to begin with!

From the re-measuring, Bruce discovered that the front left gradient pin (the one where the wheel hub has an unexplained recess) was longer than it should have been. Not that that was the cause for the recess. Bruce moved on to refit the J-cock, but could not persuade the pipe connections to line up! He gave up in the end and will retry on Saturday.

At the end of the day, P-Way delivered two 8ft lengths of rail for a customer. Stefan is turning his garden into a railway museum! He’s extending his track now - probably got the idea from GWSR extending to Broadway!

Saturday 27th
Rob was keen to get inside the firebox, so he and Alistair removed all of the fire bars to gain access to the foundation ring rivets. They then cleaned the surface around the rivets and first row of stay nuts. Then they applied a coat of heat-resistant paint. This product can cope with up to 750°, and they said that you could still see traces of that which was applied last year.

Steve assisted Rob in getting the bars back in, later in the day when the paint was dry. They then discovered that one of the side double-bars had a fracture. Clive will order us a replacement.

Stuart [Loco Dept] finished applying bitumen to the tender;

Meanwhile, Steve repelled all boarders …… while preparing the rear section for bitumen.

John T cleaned up the gauge frame, de-rusting the innards, in particular. The components then had a coat of black Deproma, and the glasses had a wipe over.

While in the mood, John went on to clean various other bits that we had recently taken off the loco.

Finally, he re-fitted the vacuum gauge in the cab. It was not safe to fit the pressure gauges, because Bruce has not fixed his J-cock yet!

Bruce spent most of the day working on the guard irons. It took a while to carefully fettle the ends of the brake hangers such that their radii matched that of the newly fabricated guard irons.

Once they were a good fit, Rob (having a break from being inside the firebox) welded the holding bracket onto the hangers.

Gil & I (independently) seemed to spend time organising people. Gil discovered that the new bush material dropped straight through the end of the rod, so needs to procure a larger diameter piece. He has set in motion the fabrication of a smaller bush.

Fred finished fitting the LED lighting inside the siphon van at Winchcombe, and then joined us for lunch. Having an additional pair of willing hands, I set him on painting brushes in readiness for more boot scrapers.

I’d had an email order for a boot scraper, originally saying, “I was looking to get one of your upcycled boot scrapers - ideally with 1948 date.” After an email exchange with GWSR (rather than me) she added, “I think Southern would be great - any colour is fine.” I replied that SR rail chairs are rarer than hens’ teeth around here, so I would go in search of 1948. Today, P-Way were working down by the head-shunt, so I popped along for a butcher’s. Blow me, there on a pallet of chairs was an SR albeit from 1923! So, I advised the lady of my find, but she replied, “I'd ideally prefer the year, rather than the region.” Back to searching through the pile of chairs!

Oh, and embarrassment of all embarrassments: Graham came along hoping to collect his 1949 boot scraper. I’d forgotten that he’d ordered one … and had sold it to someone else! 😞


Sunday, 21 January 2018

Maintenance Update (rod, backside, sticks, bushes)

Wednesday 17th
By far the major activity today was (attempting) to get the front coupling rod off. Sounds easy enough.  However, a quick observe will show that it is joined to the next rod. And …

... although we had high hopes of disconnecting that second rod; allowing it to drop, and then removing the front one … all the best laid plans … !!!

X marks the spot where the trouble began. When attempting to undo the nut, the whole pin rotated. There is supposed to be a locking pin at the back that prevents it from rotating. Something was amiss!

Despite some valiant attempts at clamping the thing to stop it from turning, no luck. As it is at the back, there was little we could do. It meant removing the second coupling rod ... and the third … and the fourth!

All of the others behaved impeccably. But in order to stop the errant one from turning, David had to weld a bar onto its backside. Then it could be held and the nut could be turned on its thread. Then, of course, David had to grind off the weld to make good the back.

The method of securing these things is quite an art. The grub screw C is supposed to prevent the bush from turning. A small projection B is supposed to fit into a hole and thereby lock the back ring against the main pin. Finally, a lug A on the bolt slots into the back plate to prevent the bolt from turning. Which failed in our case? B did not do its job. In fact, I think its diameter was too large for it to fit into its hole! It did look the worse for wear, so I drilled it out.

Bruce said that he can make a new one that fits. So, pretty much all day there was Gil, Bruce, David, John T and I heaving rods around.

John T’s first job was as Apprentice Measurer. He was recording all of the dimensions for manufacturing new bushes … apart from the one that was too large for his measuring stick.

John G was involved at times, mainly as gopher. But while nobody was looking, he removed the vacuum gauge from within the cab, as all three gauges are to be calibrated on Friday.

During the week, there was an order for a Midland Railway boot scraper, so I did the needle-gunning first thing, and then John G finished it off by wire-brushing and then blacking its bottom. Having got all of the equipment out, I decided to do an LNWR chair as well. At the end of the day, I just had time to paint the lettering on an LMS chair that is also ordered.

Once the rods were (all) off, we could see another problem. The front coupling rod has been rubbing against the wheel boss.

There is an outer wear pattern (A) that also shows signs of rust on the leading section. Then there is a recess (B) in the wheel boss. This has not been worn away by the rod; it must have been there right from when we first fitted the rods. We need to seek advice about this - what is it for and what do we do about it?

Saturday 20th
Much measuring in the shed.

John, Gil and David are all applying their measuring sticks to almost everything. Necessary, of course, for getting the new bushes made to the correct sizes. Bruce was doing his measuring behind the camera.

Gil sought advice, and we now know what to do about the machined recess in the wheel boss. No idea why it is there, though.

Ah the sweet smell of hydraulic fluid!

It took a while to find suitable lumps of metal to fit the bush diameter. It was a squeeze getting the trolley down between Dinmore’s tender and the side of the shed. However, once we’d positioned everything, pushing the bush out went like a dream.

Then we had to turn the rod around to press out the other bush … but not enough room to turn, jammed as we were twixt tender and wall. So, we decided to move the tender along and make more room.

Behind the tender was a beautiful lamp post under restoration. This had to move first!

It was all hands to the post, as it was rather heavy - especially at the end that was full of concrete! We managed to move it along, and in doing so freed up a trolley.

Rob and I put our backs into getting the tender rolling (after finding out that putting your back up against 2807’s buffer beam was a tad painful due to the overhang of the front running board). Someone was manning a pinch-bar, too. When Bruce yelled out to stop, we pointed out that Rob & I had no brakes!

Two bushes out


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.