Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Maintenance Update (chairs, clearances, brakes, cladding)

Thursday 19th
The sun shone (but there was a cold northerly wind) and I went for a bike ride up some hills (because I'm training for doing the British Heart Foundation sponsored ride in May) and found myself at Toddington!  So, I made a cuppa, fed Maurice and applied a primer coat of paint to the eight rail chairs we'd cleaned on Wednesday.

Saturday 21st
It was the volunteer fair day at GWSR, which clearly frightened off our chaps [Bruce is let off because he has a valid excused-duty-permit as his wife, Daphne, has slipped a disc].  John and I spent a leisurely day chipping grease off rail chairs and cleaning them up.

By end of play, I had applied top coats to the eight; John beat three chairs into submission all on his own, and then between us we de-greased a further seven.

Monday 23rd
Ever had a nightmare about trying to get somewhere and everything was determined to stop you?  It's called trying to get to Tewkesbury!

Got there eventually.  Visited many roads (some several times) that I didn't know even existed! Picked up some Deproma paint and  returned to Todders.  Picked out the lettering (in silver/gold according to chair colour) on the chairs that were approaching the end of the production line.

Wednesday 25th
Today had a kind of gentle feel to it.  The sun shone, which helped.  Gil spent the entire day measuring clearances on the loco and tender, ably assisted by Bill.

After attempting to find out where the bit of cladding went, and discovering that because of the thickness of the new brake blocks, it won't fit anymore, John G entertained himself by polishing all the brass and copper in the cab.

I finished off the boot scrapers, fitting their brushes and boxing them up.  Then having discovered that John's cladding can't be fitted for two reasons: (i) the thick brake block, and (ii) the upper half is missing …. I went in search of the missing pieces!  Eventually found them, hidden under a box. Finally, I cleaned up three more rail chairs.

Over at Winchcombe, Fred was working on the siphon van; Geoff was doing some painting there, too, for a while; Ray might have been there (but as I wasn't, I don't know for sure!).


Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Maintenance Update (injector, weight, first train, freight charter)

Wednesday 11th
Bruce expanded upon the fun he'd had with the vacuum gauge calibration.  From the photo, you can see that the calibration was performed with the gauges horizontal.  Guess what happened when the gauges were set vertical (as they are in the cab)?  The reading was different!  It appears that the gauges need to be calibrated in the orientation in which they operate!  So, Bruce had to do it all over again.  He had to set the pepper box first and then calibrate the gauge against this, while holding the gauge vertical.  He's explained to Neil (owner of the equipment) and asked if a suitable set of connections can be devised to set everything vertical for the calibration.  Today, Bruce noted that the vacuum gauge can get to 26 ins in the train pipe, using the ejector; but when running and using the vacuum pump, the gauge sits at 25/23 as it should.

Today, however, Bruce had a play with the injectors.  He checked the steam cone in the RHS; there seemed to be a dribble of water (possibly condensed steam) trickling out at times.  The back cover of the LHS still leaks.  Bruce suspects that he didn't put enough PTFE on the thread to fill the run-out against the nut end.  He noticed, too, that there is a steam leak on a braised sleeve on the LHS injector feed pipe - which explains why I got steam through the floor & into the cab last week.  He also tightened up some of the balance weights in the driving wheels, which had become loose.

John G was wandering around with black paint & brush.  It started off as a minor task: to paint the two steel pipes that feed down to the injectors.  However, once seen with paint, he was soon directed towards many a small chip in the paintwork and which he proceeded to patch up.

Gil was determined to weigh the loco, but from time to time, people kept driving it away!  In fact, both he and John G managed to get a ride round to the coal & water for a top-up.  Bill was also assisting in the weighing - manning the pump and pencil.  You have to weigh one wheel at a time, by raising it a couple of thou' off the rail.

The weather was predicted to be cloudy and rain starting at about 1 pm, so I decided to clean a few rail chairs outside to begin with.  I chose a couple of gunge-covered ones (someone has to do them eventually!) and managed to clean just five before 3pm.  The rain didn't come; nevertheless, I moved inside and boxed up last week's completed boot scrapers before carrying out the bottom-blacking ritual on today's five.

Friday 13th
I popped down to apply green Deproma primer to the five chairs' tops.  The TPO was so quiet you could hear the paint stick.  Apart from the sound of a fly frantically bashing its head against the fluorescent tube, and Maurice rearranging his bedroom, there was nothing!  Maurice did stick his head out at 3.30 to see who had come, but he reversed back inside again.  2807 was simmering quietly in the yard, obviously not having been required to be called into action on race trains.

Saturday 14th
Everyone had decided to take the day off - that is, apart from Fred and Gil, who were at Winchcombe working on the siphon van.  One side looks immaculate.  The other side is what they are working on!

I slapped a top coat on the five chairs, but that's all.  I watched 2807 as she pulled her first train of the year out of Todders (see photo).  Later, I took the family for a ride behind her.  Tony Coombes was having a cab ride on that trip.  Minor last-minute panic when I was told that he needed a pass from the Station Master, and Tony had to sign it in person.  Sorry, Tony.  No one said beforehand!

Sunday 15th
Just nipped down for an hour to do the lettering on the chairs.

Monday 16th
Popped in at Winchcombe to see 2807 arrive for the freight charter (see photos).  The weather was not kind.

Later, I fitted brushes to the chairs; prepared a further 9 brushes; and carried out a model wagon stock check (we've still got 361 to sell).

The issues list for 2015:
There are 4 issues carried forward from last year, renumbered as:
1. Fizz from rivets bottom left back firebox;
2. LH cross-head slide bar warm & using lots of oil;
3. Vacuum fault - slow to create & sudden drop in train pipe;
4. Puff of steam from air valve when ejector turned on.

We can just watch (1); (2) has possible gone away; We might have accidentally fixed (3); and (4) needs the brake valve removing and lapping.

One new (well, one issue with two points):
5. Regulator suffering from lack of oil. J-cocks on smokebox leaking.

Wednesday 18th
Discussion about (5) today: Bruce suspects that the loco having stood for four days in steam but going nowhere, the regulator would have been shut (obviously) and knowing that there is always a dribble of steam passing everywhere, it is feasible that a small amount passed by the regulator valve and cleaned off the oil that we had put on there.  With the J-cocks leaking (as they always do) they would allow the oil in the steam to escape through the point of lowest pressure - the leak.  Hence, the regulator valve has not been receiving its due lubrication.

On Monday, Clive noticed that one brick in the arch had sunk (though not fallen out), so he, Gilbert, David and Jeff Lacey worked on the arch (not all at the same time, I suspect … though it is quite spacious in the firebox).  The brick was jacked up and a slip was inserted in the gap twixt it and its adjacent one.  They all came together nicely this time.

Gil then continued to examine every nut & bolt on the loco (against a checklist) and measured clearances.

I set John G on cleaning up a piece of … ah, this week's quiz: what are the black things, and where do they go?

Once armed with a tin of paint and a brush, John gets the urge … and touched up cladding, running board /frame sides, smokebox dart & hinges, lamp brackets and steps (that Gil duly stepped upon).

Having run out of black things to paint, John began polishing brass and copper in the cab.  [Methinks the crew will need sunglasses!]

Bill and I cleaned rail chairs all day, completing 8 by home-time.  Bill had the honour of painting their bottoms.

I lingered on, fitted a new wire brush to the drill (having totally worn out the previous one, today); tightening up the needle-gun that had worked loose; and fixing a lamp that had been thrown away!

Whilst doing these, I heard a noise in the roof.  Above our kitchen area, there is a cavity in which the original water tank was situated, and various pipes pass through there.  There is a rather insecure trapdoor in it, and I could hear tiny footsteps and the trapdoor visibly wobbled!  The footsteps crossed the ceiling and ran down the wall … to Maurice's hole!  I sat, poised with camera, but he spotted me and wouldn't come out.  :-(

2807 is next in service Friday  27 March, Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday following.


Monday, 9 March 2015

Maintenance Update (warming, vacuum, leak, arch)

Wednesday 4th
Recap: A warming fire was lit by Loco dept chaps.

Thursday 5th
No pressure on the 'clock' this morning; Carpo lit a new warming fire. I arrived about lunchtime, but there was nothing that I could do on the loco, so I just pressed on making boot scrapers and then went home again.

I returned to Todders just before 5pm to assist Carpo in preliminary testing.  There was 60 psi on the clock by this time, and once the fire was burning across the whole grate, with blower assisting, it was a gradual increase up to around 100 psi.  When she's warmed up, it takes relatively little time to raise pressure from 100 to 200 psi.

Carpo had toddled round finding the occasional loose nut, but on the whole all looked well.  So, he carried out a few checks.  The first safety valve blew at 210 psi and the second one blew at 220.  Maximum pressure is 225, and despite a valiant effort with the blower, Carpo could not persuade her to go over 225 - which is good!

The steam heating valve (Mason's valve) must have been fiddled with over winter, because it let the pressure in the train heating pipe go too high.  The pressure relief valve blew at 45 psi; the normal value on GWSR stock is 40 psi [the limit in GWR/BR days was 60 psi].  So, that will need tweaking to get the right pressure.

Creating a vacuum turned out to be mildly amusing - she happily took vacuum up to 28 ins in the train pipe and 24 in the vacuum cylinder … it should be 25/23 !!!  There's a little "pepper pot" valve that clearly needs adjusting!  There was also a very slight leak in the train pipe; nothing serious.

There is a significant steam leak from the LHS injector body.  It looked to me as though it is from the rear cover.  But it was dark by this time, and difficult to be certain.  Steam came up into the cab (through the floor and through the door)!

Anyway, Carpo was happy, and decided to run up & down a bit, to test the new regulator valve and the new brake blocks.  There was a tremendous clang as we moved off - sounded like a pipe had fallen off!  Carpo braked immediately, of course, and I got down to investigate.  It appears to have been a length of pipe that is used to extend a spanner when hard-tightening nuts (or undoing tight nuts).  It must have been on the underside somewhere, balanced on something. Phew!

Ah - that demonstrated that the brakes work, anyway!  :-))

After a short poodle round the yard & Road 1, Carpo reckoned that the regulator was a tad stiff, but was reacting exactly how a GWR loco should.  He commented that "she's a completely different beast, now".  Beast, indeed!  The brakes work fine.  So, we adjourned at 6.30 pm.

Friday 6th
Carpo lit a full fire at 7 am and I arrived at 8.30.  At that stage, there was 60 psi on the clock.  Once the fire had taken hold (it was a bit slow at the front) pressure soon rose up to blowing-off by 9.30.  Bob Garnet, the Insurance inspector, was expected at 10 am. That gave us a short while in which to do a final check.  Today's amusement was when attempting to create pressure in the train heating pipe, there was a cloud of steam at the front!  The front (and back) valves were open!  :-)

I found a minor leak in the heating pipe connection between loco & tender - the clasp was not tightened.  Soon fixed that.

I had another look at the LHS injector.  Steam definitely seems to come from somewhere at the back - probably the back cover.

Bob arrived (with his wife/fireman, Jill).  He had a good look round, of course, and came up with two items to address:
1. LHS safety valve has a joint leaking.  Needs fixing before the steam cuts the seat.
2. LHS (fireman side) slight leak of steam from a superheater element in the smokebox.  Needs tightening up.

And that was it!  Carpo commented that 2807 is in the best state that she has ever been in!

Bob departed and we left 2807 to cool down … she was still eager to blow off, and took quite some calming!

Saturday 7th
I re-stocked the F&W with boot scrapers and loaded my car to do the Coffee Pot, and planned on just working on assembling more boot scrapers, but …. I ran out of parcel tape for their boxes!

John T arrived first, and riveted the two trim angle pieces that had come lose from either side of the backhead.  He then turned his attention to the front cladding from the cylinders, which we had purposely left off until the steam test, so that we could verify that the cylinder covers were on tightly.  They were.  So, John, with Fred, replaced the two pieces of front cladding.  Later, he cut out some tiny gaskets for Bruce, who was playing with the "pepper box" (vacuum relief valve).  John's final task of the day was helping me lift the brass bonnet onto the top of the loco.  Needless to say, we put it on the wrong way round initially, so Fred brought the paint, and there is now an "F" on the inside of the bonnet!

Fred spent some time sorting out the new batch of fire bricks for the brick arch.  They are letter-coded, and a plan shows which goes where.  They are now on the floor in some sort of order.

Bruce attended to the leaking injector.  He removed the back cover (where the leak was) and cleaned it up.  There was some sort of crud around the outside.  We couldn't be sure what it had been - maybe something used as a seal? … that obviously didn't work.  He then worked on the vacuum system.  He dismantled and cleaned the "pepper box" valve, and then borrowed Neil's pump plus a calibrated vacuum gauge, and had a play with ours.  You know that the train pipe side registered 28 (inches of mercury) on Thursday … well, it was wrong.  It took a while to lift off the needle; in fact, Bruce had to run up a part on the lathe for an extractor, in order to get the needle off.  After much playing, he finally got the pepper box, the calibrated gauge and our gauge to all be happy at 25 ins.  However, he ran out of time, so the vacuum cylinder side has got to wait until Monday.

Clive, Ade and another chap (unfortunately, I didn't see who) [Loco Dept] very kindly cleaned out the grate and emptied the ash pan.

During all of this activity, Gil was wandering round oiling things and measuring things (specifically the tyres - but they haven't worn noticeably).

Monday 9th
Gil & John T, aided by Clive & Ben [Loco Dept], fitted the new brick arch.  Several bricks had to be "modified" to fit round studs, etc., and along the centre line there needs to be wedges to stop the arch from succumbing to the effects of gravity.  Anyway, it all worked in the end, and a warming fire was lit.

Bruce calibrated the vacuum cylinder side of the vacuum gauge, and fitted that back in the cab - kind of essential when the loco could be called into service if one of the rostered locos should fail over the next few days [it's Race Week, for those of you who live miles away].

Gil says that Wednesday's job is to weigh the loco.  Who's got the scales???


Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Maintenance Update (cladding, waxing, painting, filling)

Saturday 28th
The last brake rod was fitted by Gil, John T and possibly Bruce and/or David gave them encouragement! John had to grind a bit off one end to make it fit; thereafter he made sure split pins were all in place.

Gil went on to adjust the brakes on the tender - I saw him & Mike having fun with the bottle screw adjuster: there's a "left-hand" thread on one end ….. ;-))

It was good to see Bill Venton rejoin our group after several years away (partly in Devon and partly working on Broadway station).  His first task was to fill the new blow-down valve exhaust pipe with sand.  This is to avoid kinks in the pipe when it is bent to shape.  Then we broke him in gently by giving him chair-cleaning to do.  Gil had brought a new needle-gun, which worked a treat.  I think we managed about 7 chairs by end of play.  John spent the afternoon chipping lumps of greasy gunge off some more chairs and had the honour of painting 7 bottoms.  Bill painted the final four bottoms.

Bill said that if we had a 1935 chair he'd have it - so all three of us went in search.  We'd scrape away the crud from the date panel … find a 5 at the end, and frantically work away at the rest of it, only to discover it was 1925 !!!

David was in the cab.  He'd made some new catches for the reverser - an issue had been raised that the reverser lever rattled about a bit when the loco was in motion.  Whether by design or age, the little catch that holds the reverser at each notch seems to be tapered in every possible direction.  So, David has made some to fit exactly.  He tested each one, and now Gil has taken them away to be hardened.

After lunch, David decided to fit the cladding to the rear of the valve cylinders.  I know what a challenge this is (having done it several times) … made slightly worse by not being able to find the studs or bolts; they were not in the standard Safe Place!  I think that he & Gil managed to find them in the end, but such is the task (e.g. you have to remove an oil pot before you can fit the cladding in place) that by end of play, David had only done one side!

Bruce tackled the issue about the slacking pipe (AKA "pep" pipe) cock leaking. He lapped in the taper of the tap and refitted it all.  We can only test when we have some pressure, of course.  Having worked out how to fit the blow-down valve exhaust pipe without the need for the cab floor panels to be removed, Bruce bolted them down again, and then fitted the handles to the damper levers - again, you can only remove the floor panel by first removing the three damper lever handles!  Whilst in the cab, Bruce noticed that the condenser coil had not been connected up - it was disconnected in order to drain water from it over winter.

The final job for the day was to use Neil's [Loco Dept.] vacuum pump to test the brakes. Gil, Bruce and probably Mike were involved in this.  All seemed to go well.  Bruce detected a minor leak in one vacuum cylinder and tightened its gland.

The Loco Dept. is deserving of a big thank-you, as several people were crawling up/over our loco: Clive appeared to be cleaning the top of the smokebox & chimney; Eleanor was making sure he didn't fall off; Clive, Eleanor and someone else (I didn't see who) threw out all of our fire bars and fitted brand spanking new ones; Stuart, Paul & Mike were applying wax polish to the lettering on the tender; and Carpo refitted the mud-hole doors.  So, I'd like to pass on our thanks & gratitude to all of the Loco Dept. guys for their much appreciated assistance.

Sunday 1st March
Message from Toddington station shop: "I thought your supporters may be interested to know that I have just secured, for GWSR, a batch of the last available Hornby models of 2807 these will be available from the Toddington shop within the next week or so".

Monday 2nd
Deproma primer coat applied to tops of 11 chairs.

Recently discovered who the "P&P" are who manufactured some of the rail chairs: Pease & Partners Ltd., Tees Iron Works, Cargo Fleet, Middlesbrough. Formed in 1882  …  after nationalisation, the lack of prospects for a foundry heavily committed to chair making, and in the face of developments at Horwich, helped swing the balance from reinvestment in congruent businesses to orderly liquidation; wound down from 1955 and finally liquidated in 1959.

Tuesday 3rd
Enamel coat applied to the eleven chairs. Restocked Maurice's food bowl.

Wednesday 4th
Fred and Ray were roped in to help with cleaning, having to abandon their play with the siphon van restoration work!  Ray was particularly proud of the shine he got on 2807's con rods.  Fred went round washing everything below the running board, and then cleaned up a few places where wax had not been polished enough on the boiler and tender!

Bruce & I spent the day trying to fit the cladding to the rear of the valve chests.  David had previously found this a challenge, the situation not being helped by the various letters on the insides being ambiguous: R = rear or right? L = left or lower?  So, what's R+L mean?  Each cladding section consists of three pieces: an upper semi-circle; a lower semi-circle and a half-round outer edging section.  You can only fit the lower semi-circle by removing the oil pot.  The two semi-circles have to be fitted first, then the outer edge piece can be fitted.  Then the oil pot will not fit back in without its delivery pipe being removed.  On Bruce's side (RHS) the delivery pipe was out of alignment and wouldn't then go through the hole in its guide …. on several occasions an angle-grinder was called for …. and finally Bruce used the lathe to prune 1/8" off the spacers that position the guide.

John G finished colour coding his ferrules and fitting them.  While doing so, he noticed that some paintwork on the backhead (in the cab) was flaking off, so he cleaned all of that off and repainted it.  Thereafter, he joined the cleaning team.

Bill went round the loco and tender oiling and greasing everything that looked as though it should be (apart from the two oil pots that were causing Bruce & me grief).

Somebody had filled the boiler with water (probably Carpo, as he was later seen fitting one of the higher mud-hole doors back in place), and later Peter filled the tender with sufficient water to enable a warming fire to be lit.

Gil was wandering around all day looking for loose nuts, missing split pins, etc.  He took delight in pointing out a loose nut he'd found on the front buffer beam (which is actually a dummy - it's just there to fill the hole!!!).

Finally, Bruce noticed that some of the balance weights in the driving wheels had worked loose.  He's promised to caulk them next time!