Thursday, 10 November 2016

Maintenance Update (slug, wall, annealed, swaged)

Monday 7th
Gil, Bruce and I joined Carpo with a view to finishing off making the new boiler tube. When we looked at the end that we had opened out on Saturday, we decided that it was good, but it wasn’t Carling. So, we cut it off and started again!

This time, Carpo heated a narrower area of tube before we hit it, thus avoiding any deformation above the bit we were trying to open out. Also, we did the hitting on the horizontal, which gave us much better control over the angle of the pipe (90°) against the immovable object (i.e. shed wall).

Checking the wall thickness of the old bit, Carpo declared it good. It does not thin out significantly. In fact, the old end had worked out 30 thou greater diameter than the hole that it has to fit in (which was another good reason for starting again!). Bruce machined down the ‘slug’ so that it was an acceptable fit this time. The new end looks really smart.

Carpo annealed the other end, and we had a cuppa while it cooled. Then we cleaned both ends of the tube and the holes in the two tube plates. Tricky to see what you are doing when it is that high in the firebox.

Well there was no stopping us now, so in went the tube.

You can see how tight it was to get the tube under the superheater header. Some waggling was needed to get it beneath a cross-member at the firebox end, too.

… and out it comes:

Carpo trimmed the ends, and then started swaging.

Swages - below.

It all went very well at the firebox end …

It was more troublesome at the smokebox end, partly because of the confined space, and partly because the swage could have done with being fractionally bigger.

Nevertheless, after some fiddling & persuasion, the front end was done, too.

We started filling the boiler with water and adjourned for a cuppa. Carpo subsequently reported (at 6pm):

“As I write this we finally have a quarter of a glass of water - ideally I would like a full glass before I switch off the tap this evening so hopefully not too long now.

You will be pleased to know that currently all is dry.”

Tuesday 8th
Well, Carpo just couldn’t wait! I popped in during the morning to take a new clock (our old one died)
and some cardboard trays for boot scrapers, and there he was: in the cab, pumping up the pressure!
It was at 70 psi by 11 am and no sign of leaking tubes.

He later reported:
“I am pleased to report that upon inspection this morning there was no sign of any leaks from either
end of the replaced tube or indeed any other tube. I then modified the gauge frame adaptor to
accept a smaller hose to allow connection of the hydraulic pump. However having spoken to Ray Lee we agreed the first course of action was to put in my adaptor plug and use compressed air to take
the boiler up in pressure to see what effect that might have. I am delighted to report that following
two hours under pressure at 100 psi no leaks were seen at all.”

Wednesday 9th
Today was a bit of a waiting game - not a lot we could do until the boiler inspector comes on Thursday. The plan is then to demonstrate no leaks at 100 psi (cold), followed by hastily draining the boiler and removing all inspection plugs and mud-hole doors to enable him to inspect the innards.

Bruce had found a 6 metre length of reinforced hose. We had talked about using flexible hose for cleaning out boiler tubes several times before, and here was a chance to test the theory. Our initial design had been lengths of copper pipe, which worked well except that it is awkward attaching & removing lengths as the pipe goes in & out of the tubes; and some tubes are inaccessible with the rigid pipe.

So, Bruce & I clambered into the smokebox, and I tested the ease of getting the hose into various awkward tubes - no probs! Bruce then checked the attaching of this to the end of our hoover’s hose, and has now gone away to make a small cutting piece to fit in the business end.

Brian & Dixie shinned up a ladder and removed the brass bonnet from the safety valves.

Looking for things to do: One thing that I had noticed, but not got round to doing anything about,
was paint blistering up & down the beading around the cab front.

Clearly, there was a significant rust build-up underneath the beading and it deserved some attention. Brian and Dixie tackled it to begin with. Needle-gunning and then wire-brushing revealed quite a lot of rust. The left-hand side was worst, where the rust had opened up the beading, which was springing loose at the bottom.

A chap who was working on the new wagon kindly did a tack-weld for us, which held the bead steady (but also burnt through the thin cab side panel!). I found a tin of filler … but the hardener had gone AWOL, so Gil pootled off to Winchcombe to borrow some filler from Fred who uses it on the siphon restoration. The chaps then cleaned up the area and applied a first layer of filler.

Meanwhile, I had adjourned to our container to complete more boot scrapers.

Thursday 10th
Bruce arrived first and got everything ready.  Meanwhile, Carpo demonstrated the boiler under pressure to the inspector. This was declared good, and pressure was released, followed by draining the boiler.

Gil arrived, and the two of them removed the safety valves and then moved on to removing boiler plugs.

Viz left: Bruce fits spanner to plug; Gil applies brute force to undo it.

I removed mudhole doors.  A wire loop screws into the door’s stud so that the door cannot go
walkabout on its own inside the boiler. Then I helped remove other plugs.

The inspector inspected the inside of the firebox; peered into various holes, and seemed quite pleased with what he saw. So, the next steps are to wash the boiler out; box it up again (i.e. plug the holes) and then do a steam test. But not this week! Saturday is cancelled!


Monday, 7 November 2016

Boiler update - tube fitted

Special update from Roger:
"Today we fitted the new boiler tube and swaged it in place.  Carpo is filling the boiler today, and then on Wednesday we plan on carrying out a hydraulic test. The boiler inspector comes on Friday to do a formal inspection."


Sunday, 6 November 2016

Maintenance Update (cleaning, swaging, heating, chalk)

Monday 31st
I needed to do a test ride on my bike, so I popped over to Todders and applied a primer coat to the chairs that were black-bottomed on Saturday.

Carpo confirmed that South Devon can/will expand a replacement tube for us, and that if it is successful, the tube will be ready for collection on Wednesday.

Wednesday 2nd Nov
No sign of Carpo, so we’re guessing that the tube expansion was successful, and he’s gone to collect it.

Bruce and Gil arrived first, and started work on the hose connections between loco and tender. When we coupled the two together again we had not time to connect the hoses (vacuum, steam heating and water). This was completed around lunchtime, which was fortunate, because Dinmore Manor needed to be over the pit for a mechanical inspection.

Ray had been to Winchcombe to work on the siphon van, but after half an hour no one had turned up, so he decided to come to Todders. So, I set him on needle-gunning rail chairs. I’d had an order for four of the old GWR ones (circa 1894) making into boot scrapers.

John G arrived at the same time. There was by now a line of rail chairs awaiting a top coat, and John happily got stuck in at this. In fact, by end of play, Ray had completed gunning the four GWR chairs and John had slapped black on their bottoms.

Meanwhile, Dixie had arrived. Bruce suggested (over tea break) that we might clean out the tubes as some of them are blocked. I spent the rest of the morning inside the firebox, poking our patent tube-cleaning rod down each tube in turn. Dixie and Bruce were in the cab controlling the hoover (which was attached to the rod). Gil was inside the smokebox watching for ash being cleared (or blown out, depending upon the direction of air flow!).

During the afternoon, this tube cleaning team attacked the tubes from the smokebox end. I gave the tubes a good suck, and thereafter, Bruce & Gil gave them an extra blow. Everyone else went home at this point!

One thing did concern me while in the firebox. There does appear to be a calcium-like deposit beneath a lower tube (see photo), and ash in a couple of the blocked tubes was damp. Does this suggest that another tube is leaking? We’ll only know when we carry out a hydraulic test after fitting the new tube.

If it is another leak, then we are likely to have to replace the whole batch … effectively embarking
upon the 10-year Heavy General Overhaul three years early!

Thursday 3rd
Minor hiccup. Carpo gave “a quick update from my visit to SDR on Wednesday. I have some good
news and some bad news. The bad news is that SDR have put their tube swaging equipment away
and are not at all keen to get it all out again to swage one tube. The good news is that I had a good
chat to Rob le Chevalier about how to do a one off tube swage and I am sure that we will be able to
undertake the work here using the tube that we already have.”

Saturday 5th
Carpo set Bruce on making the swage. It’s a solid lump of steel with a taper to open out the tube’s
end. Here’s Bruce making it (well, you can’t actually see Bruce - use your imagination):

Bruce’s diagram

Steel being cut in the lathe

Shaping up

The finished article

Meanwhile, John T began painting rail chairs in the production line and then moved on to needle-gunning more during the afternoon.

I painted lettering on rail chairs and stained more brushes, ready to assemble some for an order for
four GWR 92 chairs and one 1946 version.

Brian, Gil and Steve spent most of the day in a meeting to discuss how to proceed with the Heavy
General Overhaul; in particular what we ought to be doing now in readiness.

By late afternoon, Carpo decided to have a go at opening up the tube end:

As you can see, it’s a long tube. Mark is holding it upright while Carpo heats up its bottom.

There then followed a sequence of heat, lift, bash - forcing the swage into the tube and gradually opening it out.

The swage was removed and then one final heat and the hot end was sunk into a box of chalk to cool down gradually.

The plan now is to trim up the ends; clean up the tube plates; cut the tube to length, and then fit it. We shall then carry out a hydraulic test and if all goes well, the boiler inspector will be satisfied and we shall all breathe a sigh of relief!

So, don’t uncross those fingers yet!


Sunday, 30 October 2016

Maintenance Update (regulator, planks, hinges, saddle)

Tuesday 25th
Good news … the boiler inspector is happy to proceed with a thinner tube. It must be hydraulically tested at 10 psi above normal maximum working pressure.

Not so good news … Carpo has just discovered that the expansion required to make Skinny fit tightly in the tube plate is slightly more than he anticipated! Phone a friend time again! It may be possible to fit a sleeve or, perhaps better, a ferrule.

Wednesday 26th
Stuart reported: “I lent a bit of a hand this day and also took these photos.”

John G chipping off old bitumen

Gilbert applying Deproma rust proofing paint

Fred applying Top coat gloss black to Chassis

Ray and Bill working inside, preparing and painting internal fittings

Bruce reported: “Yesterday [Wednesday], when we trial fitted the 1.75" tube after modifying the regulator casting I suggested that a 2" tube may go in.  We then did an investigation and found that the 2" tube would probably take up the same position as the 1.75" tube before the regulator rib had been modified.  I said that I would do a simple drawing to see if our assumption was correct and sure enough it showed that it was in an almost identical position.

If I had given it some thought it should have been obvious. The angle of the 1.75" tube was determined by the edge of the hole in the tubeplate and the rib on the regulator. We then removed approx 0.25" from the rib on the regulator, so if a tube 0.25" larger was put in it should take up the same position as the 1.75" tube before modification.

I have been thinking (I did not phone a friend) that if your [Carpo’s] latest plan using a tube that has a pre expanded large end is not viable it may mean removing the regulator to enable us to fit a 2" tube. Would it be possible to remove another quarter of an inch from the regulator rib to allow a 2" tube to go in and then weld up the cut out after the tube is expanded? I think that it is a steel casting.
Clutching at straws perhaps but it would save an awful lot of work.”

So, we are not a lot closer to a solution.

Saturday 29th
As we are not yet in a position to put a new tube back in, folks generally fiddled around with bits & bobs all day!

John T started by cleaning out the floor of the cab. The wooden floor planks slide in metal channels which accumulate coal dust thereby preventing the planks from moving … even when you need to remove them.

David very kindly largely devoted his morning to fitting new hinges to the cabinet that holds the compressor.

Graham cleaned the ends of the two sets of superheater elements that had had to be removed to get at the errant tube.

Bruce spent a lot of time inside the smokebox. He cleaned up the superheater header and the clamps that hold the elements in place, in readiness for them going back … eventually. While working in there, Bruce commented on the blocked tubes (around the bottom, where ash had apparently not been cleared out very well by NYMR staff). We’ll have to clean these out next time.

Gil decided that it was time to ream out another of those fitted bolts that hold the rocking shaft bracket firmly in place. John assisted in doing that, and finally Bruce finished it off.

A new chap, called Mike, joined us. He has experience of playing with locos and enjoys painting! So, he was set on cleaning and painting the smokebox saddle. He finished one half and was thinking of coming back on Sunday to do the other half!

Bruce suggested that the whole of the running boards could do with a fresh coat of paint. They get heavily used, of course. Actually, I think that the Deproma paint has stood up well to be trampled all over in heavy boots.

I’d had four orders for boot scrapers yesterday, so guess what I was doing! Although Sunday is our last public operational day until after Christmas, I decided to re-stock the two cafes. In previous years people have asked for them during the Santa Special period (for obvious reasons!).


Sunday, 23 October 2016

Cutting out the failed tube

[see main story below]

The failed tube had to be removed in short sections at the smokebox end.  Each section was about 4 to 6 inches long.  The first section was pushed through by pushing from the firebox end.  This piece was cut off, and the next section pushed through.  This piece was cut off ...........

This photo gives an idea of where the failed tube is.  Two superheater elements have been removed to give better access.  The failed tube is at the top - you can see where water ran down the tubeplate during testing.

These photos show Carpo in the cramped condition of the smokebox, cutting sections off the tube.

The tube had to be cut into more than 30 sections to get it out.

Many thanks to everybody involved.


Maintenance Update (bung, spray, flawed, exam)

Thursday 20th
The tube arrived …
Bruce had asked: How’s it getting here?’ “Not on his car’s roof rack”, said I … but guess what?
I wish I’d had my camera with me !!!
Update from Brian: “Had a call from NYMR, Loco is being picked up this morning could not give an ETA for GWSR.”

Friday 21st
Loco arrived at Toddington at 07.10 (according to Alex). Bruce & I arrived at 09.30. It was a misty day - couldn’t see the hills. Note the empty car park!

We got ourselves ready, and then Carpo and Bruce tested the theory of getting “Skinny” (the new tube) under the regulator header, through the tube plate, and along the barrel without meeting something on the way.

There’s just about enough flexibility in Skinny to be able to pull it down at the firebox end.

But it does look as though a small amount will have to be ground off the bottom of the regulator header, or possibly a deliberate bend in Skinny to get it to slip between the obstacles?

Before Carpo shunted 2807 into the yard, I noticed what seems to be a shim out of place. This is under the top RHS slide bar. It is not obvious what has happened here. Why has it slid out, and why is it bent downwards?

Carpo took a sample of boiler water for analysis. Bruce & I tackled the smokebox. We removed the spark arrester, and then we could see the full layout within 2807. It looks as though Skinny will pass below the petticoat OK, though at least one of the superheater elements will have to come out to make space.

You can (just) see the bung in the end of the errant tube. Before attempting to remove the bung, Bruce & Carpo demolished the brick arch. Ironic, quoth Carpo, as the arch had survived NYMR perfectly well, despite the alleged issue of it beginning to collapse before it went up there!

Meanwhile, I cleaned out the ash from the smokebox - there was half a dustbin full in there! We then tackled the bungs. Bruce & Carpo were in the firebox undoing the nut on the end. I was in the smokebox watching the nut at that end. My nut wasn’t for turning! Bruce unscrewed rather a lot, and also tapped the rod through, but still my end wouldn’t turn and the bung clung on doggedly. Bruce & I decided to abandon this for today.

The tender had arrived at 11.10, so Carpo and Bruce shunted that into the yard and we coupled up loco and tender. We were a little concerned that the linkages had (once again) suffered at the hands of the uninitiated, though not as badly as last time it went to NYMR. We shall have to construct a template for guiding the three links into their respective holes!

Carpo pressed on during the afternoon, and reported: “This afternoon I removed the bung in the firebox before removing two elements to allow me to remove the bung in the smokebox. I was then able to remove the remains of the tie rods before cleaning out the tube with our drain cleaning pressure washer.

This means that tomorrow we should be able to put 20psi of air over the water and be able to ascertain the whereabouts of the leak. We shall then be able to sit down for a cup of tea and decide the next step!”

Saturday 22nd
A whole host of people turned up to help, today: Brian, Bruce, Gilbert, John T, Steve and myself; plus Phil and Stu from the Loco Dept supported Carpo (who, once again, spent the day inside the smokebox)!

The smokebox had a couple of inches of water in it, but this was probably due to Carpo cleaning out the tubes yesterday before removing the superheater tubes. John baled it out, I believe. As per plan (above), Carpo removed an inspection plug to fit an air hose adapter … except that it was too big! So, a smaller one had to be made: take one plug; drill a hole through it; tap a thread in it, fit air hose connector. However, Carpo inspected the innards and declared that there is no sign of boiler mismanagement - it all looks fine inside there.

Once the air line was attached, pressure was built up to about 20 psi whereupon the spray from the hole in the tube was clearly seen. It was about 6ft in from the firebox end, at a “4 o’clock” angle. So, the next step was to drain the boiler and remove the tube. One of the bungs had already had to be cut out, and now Carpo had to carefully cut the tube at the firebox end; heat and ease the smokebox end. Then Bruce knocked up a rod to help push the tube out, with Phil doing so from within the firebox.

The tube had to come out 6” at a time, because there is not enough room behind & beneath the regulator header to push any more through. It can’t go the other way because the tube widens, and will not pass through the narrower tube hole in the throat plate in the firebox.

Carpo will speak with the boiler inspector on Monday. He will probably want to see the flawed tube and discuss the method of replacing the tube. All being well, we shall be able to fit Skinny, and then have the annual boiler exam during November. Assuming it all goes well, we will then join in on the Santa Specials … keeping a close eye on the other tubes!

In spare moments, John managed to needle-gun a couple of rail chairs, while I finished off the four boot scrapers in the production line and then re-stocked the cafes at Todders and Winchcombe.


Thursday, 20 October 2016

Maintenance Update (chuck, tube, valve, header)

Saturday 15th
Re. the leaking tube: Remember the tubes being sponsored, back in 2009? The question has been asked: whose tube is it? Well, it is tube number 5, but I won’t say who sponsored it in case they feel morally obliged to buy a replacement! But if they do …

Carpo has phoned another friend (actually, the boiler expert from Riley’s came here by luck & fortune) and has decided that we shall definitely remove the offending tube and replace it with a narrower one. It will be a challenge getting the old one out and the new one in, but if we don’t try …
Carpo promptly ordered the new tube, and it will be delivered on Thursday.

Bruce tested the new dustpan and brush.

He’d bought a new chuck for the pillar drill (because the old one was no longer going round in circles) and so he fitted that.

During the morning Bruce also painted the bottoms of the four rail chairs in the boot scraper production line:

The paint dried in the sunshine, and I applied a green primer coat to them during the afternoon. In the morning I was making wooden wedges that hold the brush in place on boot scrapers.

We decided to point 2807 northwards when she returns, not because she will be missing Yorkshire, but because she has been facing south for over two years. It might even out any wear that happens over time.

When the new narrow tube arrives, Carpo plans to test out the feasibility of fitting it without removing the regulator header, by trialling it on 2874. If it works, then that’s what we do on 2807. If it doesn’t work? Then Plan B will be required!

Sunday 16th
Andy Bryne was up North keeping an eye on 2807, and will watch over her while they pack her up to
come home. He sent the following photos:

2807 at Levisham
Grosmont viewed from 2807’s cab
2807 at Grosmont

NYMR staff in wartime dress

Andy also reported:
“The NYMR should provide us with any snag list but one thing that didn't work yesterday was the
steam heat mason's valve; it rotated but nothing happened apparently.”

Ah, well it wouldn’t! You can turn the top of the valve to your heart’s content, but unless you turn the steam on, nothing will happen!

The wheel on the top of the Mason’s valve adjusts the drop in pressure from boiler level (225 psi) down to coach level (typically 40 to 60 psi).

You do need to open the steam valve first! Normally, you don’t dare touch the Mason’s valve - they have a reputation … Ah, well, we’ll sort it out when she’s back.

Wednesday 19th
I popped in to Winchcombe first, to get signatures on 100 Club winners’ cheques.

Fred, Bill and Ray were working on the siphon. Ray had spotted an apparently loose board, and was removing it as I was there. He discovered that the two screws in the bottom of the wood were not doing a lot … one had gone into a gap, and the other into some wood that was decayed!

Over at Toddington, Gil, Bruce and John G were generally deciding what to do. The electrics in the yard are being upgraded, which meant we had no power down by the van or for the compressor. The latter meant that rail chair needle-gunning could not take place; the former meant finding a socket that did have power so that we could have a cup of tea!

Gil and John went over to Winchcombe, where they could be doing something useful on the siphon restoration.

I applied a top coat to the four chairs in the production line.

There was some discussion about how to proceed when 2807 returns on Thursday, but there can be no simple plan. There are a number of steps to carry out, and depending on the results, what the next step will be can only then be determined.

If the trial fit of the slimmer tube in 2874 works (i.e. we can get it in successfully) then we shall move towards doing it on 2807. If we can’t get the new tube in, then there are three options: (i) leave the plugs in 2807 and run to end of year to see if more tubes blow; (ii) grind a small piece off the bottom of the regulator header if that will be sufficient to get the new tube in; (iii) take the regulator header off completely!

Options (ii) and (iii) mean getting the errant tube out, before which we can hydraulically pressurise the boiler and inspect the tube to see where, and how much water is leaking. Then it has to come out: option (ii) a bit at a time because of space limitation; option (iii) possibly in one piece.

Then things depend upon what we find by inspecting (a) the errant tube; and (b) the other tubes. If the leak appears to be a one-off caused by some intrusion in the metal, we fit the slim tube. If there is any other visible cause for concern, then it could be we replace the lot - do a 10-year overhaul of the boiler, in fact. Indeed, if at the end of it all, another tube does decide to blow in service, then the whole set of tubes has to be considered suspect anyway, and full replacement will follow.

2807 was due back on Thursday. “Slim”, the new tube, is also due to arrive on Thursday. However, this from Andy Bryne this evening:

“I was informed by the NYMR P-Way staff that the low loaders would not be arriving until tomorrow (Thursday) although everything was ready for loading at the NYMR end. So I guess 2807 may not be back at the GWSR until Friday. “

I’ll keep you posted with progress. Meanwhile, keep your fingers crossed!