Sunday, 30 June 2013

Maintenance Update

John M & John T were needling & brushing rail chairs as I arrived. I got on with painting the lettering on those that I had painted earlier in the week. Bruce arrived and joined in. It was all hands to the boot scrapers - much to my appreciation!

There was nothing to do on the loco. We appear to have given up trying to unblock the 4 remaining tubes. Geof appeared, briefly, and I believe he is trying to acquire something to help with tube clearing. However, Carpo was extremely reluctant to apply the compressed air or water jet. As I might have mentioned before, whatever goes into a blocked tube tends to come back out again - use your imagination!

By end of play, the chaps had prepared 16 chairs - all cleaned and with painted bottoms. We had also tidied up the stock of rail chairs to make it easier to chose appropriate ones - I even found an SR one!

Just as I was leaving Ken Harber showed up with a friend, Bill. Ken used to be part of the team in the days when Star Wars Part IV was being filmed. I took Ken & Bill to see 2807 in the shed. Bill was suitably impressed, clearly having had his ear bent on numerous occasions by Ken!

I fitted brushes to 10 in readiness for restocking for the weekend. It rained.

Fitted new shaft to pickaxe - P-Way needed one to dig up the shed floor looking for rail chairs. Not for me, I hasten to add, they are about to pull up the track on roads 8 & 9 in order to concrete the floor. The sleepers and chairs are buried under ballast!

I called in at Winchcombe to re-stock the cafe. They had sold 3 boot scrapers. Then I popped in to C&W to collect some wedges (that Eddie makes for us), and finally picked up 6 rail chairs to take to Todders.

David was first to arrive at Todd. Discovering that there was nothing to do on the loco, he began cleaning rail chairs! I spotted that the F&W had sold 3, so took 3 more down to them, and then I set to, painting the ones from Wednesday.

After lunch, David took a look at two wheels that have been donated to the railway. They would fit the two trolleys (one of which has an under-sized solid tyre on one wheel, and the other has an under-sized wheel on one corner). He found some steel plate, cut it to size and took it home (along with one of the wheels) to make a centre part that fits on the trolley axle.

We called it a day, at 2.15. On the way out, I noticed that the F&W had already sold half of the boot scrapers (again!). So, after having a clean up & cuppa at home, I cycled back to Todders, and took the last two completed boot scrapers into the F&W. We've now got a good number in the production line, so I should be able to build up some stock by next weekend!

Next steamings of 2807 are scheduled for Sunday 7th July and onwards during that week. It's our Supporters' Special on the following Sunday.

Diesel fans might be interested to know that the "Peak" (45.149) will undertake a proving test run from Todders to Cheltenham on Tuesday, after normal services - departing Todd approx 6 pm.



Sunday, 23 June 2013

Maintenance Update

I re-stocked the F&W (Toddington) and Coffee Pot (Winchcombe).  As I arrived, there were two black boot scrapers left in the F&W, so I thought that I would retrieve one and take it to Winchcombe.  So I loaded the trolley with five.  When I had reached the F&W with the trolley, one of those black ones had gone already!  So, all 5 went in there.  Val (Hoskin) said she'd lost count of how many she's sold.

I had had a call on Saturday to say that the Coffee Pot had run out, so I took 6 to them.  That left just two completed boot scrapers in stock.

Gil & Geof had buzzed off to Tysley to talk about our problem with the horn guides and how to fix them.  We prefer somewhere with a wheel-drop, otherwise the whole loco would have to be jacked up or lifted by crane to remove the driving wheels.  So, that limits the number of places we could go.

I called in at Winchcombe first, and when I arrived at Todders there was no one there!  Bruce had signed in, but it transpired that he was working at one of our off-site workshops (i.e. home) facing the second clack valve, which had also been reported as slightly leaking.  After returning, Bruce managed to find Carpo and then refit the clack and put the brass bonnet back on.

As I feared (last Thursday) someone had to clean out the blocked smoke tubes today:  Me.  Well, Mike did offer, but as I was still filthy from making a start on it last Thursday, I volunteered to carry on.  Mike acted as safety-man and gopher in the cab while I was inside the firebox.  It was still a tad warm in there after Sunday's steaming.  I got a 10mm pipe, poked it into the smoke tube and attached a hoover to the end of the pipe.  This sucked quiet a bit out, but periodically the pipe would jam, and the only way to clear it was to blow down it!  Also, it was so "warm" inside there, that the hoover kept stopping, and I had an enforced tea break while it cooled down.  By end of play, we'd got half-a-barrow of ash out of tubes, but there were still 4 blocked (one upper left, three upper right).  Since there are 176 smoke tubes (excluding those carrying superheater flues) it hardly makes a big difference to the loco performance, having 5 of them blocked, does it?

As I left, I glanced in the F&W to see that there were only two boot scrapers left !!!  I stuck my head through the window (it was open) and told Val that up to Tuesday she'd sold 57 ... plus today's 4 made 61 (i.e. over £1,800).  Now I'm in a pickle - not enough boot scrapers to re-stock the F&W.

Spent an hour or so re-stocking the F&W and frantically painting lettering and brush-heads for the remaining 5 boot scrapers that were in progress.

Assembled the 5 in anticipation of needing them to restock on Saturday.

Before the Coffee Pot at Winchcombe station started selling them, we didn't sell many per year.  I just picked the file for 2007/8 and we sold 19 that year.  Now, we're selling that per month!  ... on the other hand, having just done a quick calculation, total sold to date must be over 900.

I was a tad underwhelmed by the positive response to a crie-de-coeur for help in cleaning some rail chairs, as I am now completely out of boot scrapers.  In fairness, a few people did respond with valid excuses.  So, I set to (on my own) needle-gunning, angle-grinding and wire-brushing rail chairs to set up the boot scraper production line.

David and Gilbert arrived.  The loco has priority, so the first 5 minute job for them was to clear a reportedly blocked cylinder drain cock.  They removed all six drain cocks; found copious supplies of grot and grit; cleaned them out; and reassembled ... five of them.  The rear cover to the sixth just refused to go back on!  It appeared that the thread had become filled with some of the grot.  Once the threads were cleaned and a new gasket made,  David persuaded it to go home (as it were).  It was now lunchtime!

After lunch, I happened to mention, regrettably, that Carpo had said that the jumper ring (see attached) was seized.  So, the second 5 minute job for David and Gil was to remove the three clasps that hold the ring in place; prize the ring off the blast pipe; clean it all up and replace it, making sure that the ring would now float upwards if ever anyone did open up 2807's regulator wide ... which they don't! **

Well, you know what happens ... the nut on one of the clasps was seized solid and in trying to remove it, David (not knowing his own strength) caused the threaded end of the clasp to snap off!  See "whoops" in the photo attached.  Gil then searched through our boxes and buckets looking for a stud or a bolt of the same thread size, so that David could weld it onto the clasp.  Of all the odd things that we have got, the one we haven't ....  After messing about, even asking Tom if he'd got a bolt to match this 7/8" + 25 thou' one that had broken, I think David settled on a near-enough fit.

Well, I left the two of them at half-past-three, with David about to weld together a length of thread and the clasp.

Meanwhile, I had cleaned and prepared 15 rail chairs.  Gil found time to paint 11 brushes and 10 bottoms, and I painted the remaining five bottoms.  I shall be in at the railway every day this coming week just to get these finished in order to re-stock the Flag & Whistle next weekend!


** The jumper ring sits on top of the blast pipe inside the smokebox.  It is held in place by three clasps that allow it to move up & down by about an inch.  It's job is to reduce the blast, i.e. the exhaust from the cylinders, if it is too strong.  I guess that this is to prevent the engine sucking the entire fire out and up the chimney!  As we are not allowed to exceed 25 mph on the railway, I cannot imagine any circumstance in which the regulator would be opened enough to cause an excessive blast ... but, hey-ho!

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Maintenance Update

On Thursday, I'd got roped in to lighting a warming fire so that Carpo could do a steam test on Friday, because they wanted 2807 in service on Sunday!

So, I toddled along at 2.30, expecting to be about 2 hours lighting up, with possible waiting periods (for fire to "brew" before shovelling more coal on) during which I might do some boot scrapering.
"Ah, there you are, Roger," said Carpo.  "I've got a job for you!"  Not a good sign, I thought.  And I was right!

There were some blocked tubes.  Carpo's idea was to suck the ash out using a hoover.  Firstly, it needed two extension cables to get 240V to the engine.  Then Henry (the hoover) needed his nose removing before he would go through the fire hole.  So, there I am inside the firebox, shoving the hoover hose into the boiler tubes.  By chance, the hose was a very good fit.  Well, it is a bit of a struggle, because you have to lean on top of the brick arch to reach and bung the hose in the tube, and your head is only inches away from the "stalactites" hanging from the crown.  Anyway, to cut a long story short - it didn't work!

Carpo decided that, as there were just 5 blocked tubes now, one top left plus four top right, he would allow 2807 to run on Sunday (obviously desperate!) and she'd have to stand down for the tubes to be cleared using an air lance.  The latter blasts air at the blockage, forcing the ash back out of the blocked tube right into the face of the lance operator.  I think I'll be late going down on Wednesday!  :-))

So, Neil shunted me down to the water tower to fill up the boiler.  I'd done the standard checks (that all holes were suitably plugged).  Carpo & I rigged up the (fire) hoses and connected it all to 2807's injector.  Now, the water from this huge hose goes into the injector, which has a 10mm (3/8 inch) hole in it.  Hence filling up was not exactly speedy.  I went and got some wood and some oily rags.  Laid a fire.  Had a cup of tea.  painted a boot scraper.  Checked if any water was visible in the glass - nope!  Had another cup of tea.  Made a note to bring some milk tomorrow.  Pottered around a bit.  Decided that, as it was teatime (in theory) I was allowed some chocky biscuits ... and another cup of tea.  Gave some biscuit to the pet mouse.  (S)he wouldn't touch the "ordinary" biscuit, last week!  Only likes chocolate ones.

By 10 to 7, some water was at last visible - enough to risk lighting the fire.  Final check that no plugs were leaking - one was, so Carpo had to apply a spanner to it (I'm not allowed to!).  Lit the fire.  Watched the water level rise to 2/3 full, then turned the hose off and disconnected it.  Once the fire had taken hold, I banked it up .. possibly a bit too much, I thought, because the dreadfully slack coal seemed to put 3/4 of the fire out!  Anyway, there were still two flames, so I thought: "That's it for me!"  Finally knocking off at 7.30.

I passed by on Friday morning - with the milk.  Carpo was not sounding happy, but that was none of my business!  Nothing to do with me, so keep out of it!  Touched up the boot scraper that I'd painted yesterday, now that I could see it better in daylight.

I had a phone call from Fred on Saturday evening.  He, Bruce, Gil & Geof were down during the day.  I didn't find out what they did, though!  Message from Winchcombe station cafe: sold out of boot scrapers.

Sunday was classic car day at Todders.  I popped in out of curiosity.  2807 was backing onto the rake of grotty maroon coaches.  I think Foremarke was preparing for the dining train.  Carpo passed by and said "Hello" - fortunately nothing else!



Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Maintenance Update

By the time I arrived on Saturday (10 o'clock) Geof, Gil & David had already got the tender brake shoes off.  I offered to help, but they were coping well on their own, so I joined John and worked on replenishing our boot scraper stock ... which is down to zero!  There were 17 sold last weekend, and I put our last 3 into the Flag & Whistle this morning .. at which point, Val came running out waving a cheque from another one sold!  By the end of play, John had prepared 10 chairs, and I had painted 7 tops, 9 bottoms and 19 brushes.

Bruce popped in during the morning with his "homework".  He'd skimmed the seat of a leaking LH clack valve.

Tonya (new recruit) had cleaned various things in the cab during the morning, and joined us for a cuppa.

5 of the 6 brake blocks were replaced, but the 6th is the one where the block had been offset from centre (and featured in a photo a couple of weeks back).  The hanger's supporting bracket was removed and it was found that the hole was oval, and considerably larger than the pin going through it!  This is now in the workshop to be machined and bushed to suit the existing pin.

David struggled to pull the actuating lever from the W-valve, which was clearly a press-fit, and it shouldn't be!  He reamed the hole in the lever to make it a slide fit.  In any case, there is a taper pin to secure the lever in place.  David then replaced the gland packing (which had been reported as leaking steam).

Another leak (this time vacuum) turned out to be a piece of pipe near the "pepper pot".  The end of it was supposed to have been brazed onto the pipe ... but either it wasn't, or it didn't work! 

Bruce has made a new fitting which needs to be welded onto the pipe.  See 2nd photo - the old fitting is above and the new below.  And on Wednesday, Bruce finished it off in readiness.

John cleaned a further 10 rail chairs; P-Way delivered another load for us; and I painted & fitted brushes, replenishing our stock.

Fred was at Winchcombe working on the siphon restoration .. possibly with Ray?

Brian has circulated this bit about removing 2885 from Moor Street station:


Saturday, 1 June 2013

Cotswold Steam Celebration Days 3 and 4 - the videos

And again, as promised, the videos of days 3 and 4.

Note that No. 2807 was reserve loco on day 2.

Day 3

Day 4