Thursday, 21 April 2016

Maintenance Update (clack, scraper, klinger)

Sunday  17th 
I took my grandson for a ride on the train on Sunday and on the way back from Cheltenham, 2807 ground to a halt … twice … out in the wilds between Gotherington and Greet.  Imagine my concern!  As soon as we arrived at Winchcombe, we went up to the engine and I asked what had happened?  It transpired that one of the crew’s hat flew off on the way down, and they were looking for it on the way back!  Panic over.

Wednesday 20th
Bruce checked the special spanner that he’s making to tighten the top clack valves against the clacks on Foremarke Hall and Dinmore Manor.  Although those on the latter had seen some rough treatment in the past, Bruce’s spanner head does fit them all OK.

It wasn’t practical to check those on 2807, as she was in service.  However, he did manage to clamber under and measure the diameter of the flanges on the water pipe connection between loco and tender. They are bigger than on the drawing (not much of a surprise there): 5” as opposed to 4¾”.

Thereafter, Bruce move on to boot scraper production … as did Steve.

John G started by applying a top coat to the 4 green and 2 black rail chairs in the production line.  He then moved on to tapping the new sleeves for the AWS conduit.  These fittings are a shade tight on the pipe ends, possibly because they are galvanised, which has coated the threads.  So, they needed a tap running through them to make them fit.  At the end of the afternoon, John moved back into boot scraper production, applying black to fresh bottoms.

I messed around with rail chairs, too: needle gunned a couple; wire-brushed a couple; cuts bolts of several chairs.  P-Way had delivered another pile recently - mostly GWR ones.  Some, however, are “ought-ought” chairs for 97½ lb rail, which are really too heavy for boot scrapers.  So, unfortunately I had to dump those in the skip.  I did notice that one GWR chair seemed to have a date in 1900 and a manufacturer of PNB.  I’ll be able to confirm once it’s cleaned up.  This acronym means nothing to me - does it to you?

2807 is resting on Thursday and Friday, and back in service for the weekend.  She is out of use then to the end of April; Thereafter there is no loco roster posted.

On the Issues Log, the following are recorded:

06: Tender and Loco brakes adjusted.  We did that and we logged it as done.
07: Top gauge frame klinger blowing. No adjustment left.  I had noted a fizz from the top valve of the gauge frame when lighting the warming fire last week.
08: Left-hand/right-hand cylinder oil feed tap passing, leaking. Not at full adjustment.  That’s on top of the hydrostatic lubricator; it’s a selector for which condensing coil to use.

Clive [Loco Dept] also mentioned that the centre left drain cock is still leaking steam.  Gilbert thinks the spring might be too weak.  We’ll have to take another look.

Photo courtesy of Steve Price


Sunday, 17 April 2016

Maintenance Update (snow, TPO, BSP, AWS)

Wednesday 13th
With 2807 still in service, there was little to do but boot scrapers (again). There was only Bruce, Gilbert and myself here, today. Gil spent some time searching through drawings. I think he was looking for pipe arrangements twixt loco & tender.

4270 had broken a spring. The new one didn’t quite fit at the ends. There’s a hanger that fits between two forks, and it didn’t quite go in its slot correctly. Bruce lent the guys our large angle-grinder, for them to widen the gap.

Apart from that, we all worked on boot scrapers. I did some painting and finishing; Bruce set about cleaning more rail chairs; and Gil had the privilege of painting bottoms black.

Gil then dashed off and cadged a ride on the footplate down to Cheltenham and back. Bruce & I wrapped up and went home.

Friday 15th
I was on light-up duty. I arrived at Todders just after 3pm, and 2807 still had 15 psi “on the clock” after the Fire & Drive on Thursday. The pre-light-up checks went OK. A couple of mud-hole door nuts were loose (which is commonplace). There’s a fizz from the top of the gauge frame, which we were aware of - the valve needs re-packing. There is also a fizz, gurgle and drip from the blower ring (in the smokebox). This implies that the blower valve is letting steam by, which is surprising because Bruce put a lot of effort into getting the seat near perfect.

It was a tad warm inside the firebox, as I raked out the clinker and ash. Indeed, there was still 10 psi as I lit the fire at 4pm. I tentatively banked up the fire at 6.30 pm, hoping to get a balance of keeping the boiler hot, but not raising steam in the middle of the night.

Saturday 16th
We had a snow storm during the morning, between 7am and 9 am.

And my fire was clearly OK, because 2807 was making her usual storming departure from Todders.

Gilbert spent the morning searching through drawings, particularly looking for anything showing the water connection between loco and tender. Together with Bruce, a butcher’s at other locos on shed simply showed that no two are the same! So, they are aiming to get as close as possible to a fit that would probably enable our loco or tender to connect to another tender/loco (as appropriate).

The snow soon melted, and left a few lakes around our TPO, so Bruce & I barrowed heaps of ash round and spread over the low spots.

It was great to have John T back with us, after a painful period of having a trapped nerve. He soon got back into the routine of painting rail chairs, though admitted having forgotten how heavy they are!

I had bought a bag of ¾” BSP connections for the AWS system pipework. They proved to be a tad tight on the old pipes, and though I did clean up the threads on the pipe ends with a die (bottom of photo), the new sleeves all need the tap running through them.

We all agreed that there was little we could do; it was not warm, today, and there is a reasonable stock of boot scrapers, so John & I toddled off; Bruce went to watch 2807 depart (again), and Gil cadged a lift to Winchcombe on her … again!


Saturday, 9 April 2016

Maintenance Update (heating, conduit, block)

Wednesday 6th
With 2807 still in service, there was little to do but boot scrapers. But Bruce did take advantage of the lunch-time lay-over at Toddington, and check out a few things:

We were convinced that no one had set the Mason’s Valve (for steam heating) to a correct pressure. After fitting a new diaphragm within it, it does need testing & setting (which can only be done when in steam). So, Bruce checked that. Sure enough, crews had been ignoring the valve and just turning steam on/up/down using the on/off handle! Bruce set that to roughly 35 psi. The relief valve blows at 40 psi, anyway.

Concerning the audible hum from the pony wheels, Bruce examined the axleboxes - barely warm; underkeeps - not moved & not rubbing on anything; tyres are shiny down the centre (so pony is no longer drifting sideways). What he could see, was faint score lines across the width of the tyres. Almost certainly caused by “chatter” when they were machined. This could well be the cause of the hum. We listened as 2807 passed by, and Bruce reckons that the hum is still there, but fainter than it was. The net conclusion being that no action is necessary. The imperfections in the tyre surface will wear away on their own.

Skip to Saturday: Photo shows the LHS pony wheel. The jitter in the cutting is now clearly visible. It is largely worn away down the centre, which shows that the pony is running centrally now (thank goodness!).

Back to Wednesday: Bruce and I cleaned up 5 rail chairs (including an LMS and an LNER), whose bottoms John G subsequently painted black. John also applied Deproma (primer) to the top of three chairs from last Saturday.

John & I examined the AWS conduit at the front of 2874. We found that the front section is consistent with 2807’s. We don’t have the very front part, between detector shoe and the side conduit, but we were able to make a template from 2874’s. We have a spare piece of conduit that can be bent to shape, so I popped in at Dan (the blacksmith) to see if he can do that for us.

Over lunch, we mused about 2807 possibly being the longest serving GWR loco that is still extant. Running from October 1905 until March 1963 (nearly 58 years), is there any other GWR loco that could have been in service for longer? We thought not! It would have to have been “born” pre-1909 … but it turns out we were not quite right:-

  • 2516: Dean Goods, built at Swindon in March 1897, withdrawn in May 1956 = 59 years!
  • 2818: built December 1905, withdrawn October 1963 = 58 years;
  • 3440: City of Truro, built May 1903, withdrawn June 1948 = only 45 in GWR/BR service;
  • 4003: Lode Star, from 1907 to 1951;
  • 9017: Earl of Berkeley was not actually (re-)built as such until 1938, so that doesn’t count!

Saturday 9th
2807 was out of service so that we could have a play. Bruce & Gil decided to examine the brakes. Those on the loco needed adjusting a little - which they did. The tender then took up the rest of the day! Two problems: The centre LHS brake block was jammed in its hanger, and not free to swing (as it should); the new brake blocks appeared to be scoring the tyres.

Gil ground off some of the heel of the errant brake block, to make it fit freely in its hanger. Our tender has 3 different sorts of hanger, the middle ones (both sides) are narrower than the rest.

There is a visible score line which we thought might have been caused by the new brake blocks not having been profiled to match the tyres. The blocks came square; tyres are not! However, we cannot prove that this is the cause. It would really make sense to ensure that blocks are profiled in future. It is impractical to profile them by hand - using an angle-grinder, for example!

How many people does it take to fix a brake problem?

Meanwhile, I busied myself with boot scraper manufacture most of the day. I did take a butcher’s at the AWS conduit, again.

The curved section ahead of the pony we do not have. I have asked the blacksmith to make us one.

The bit that we do have for connecting to the bell in the cab … is clearly not from 2807! It doesn’t reach.

2807 is now scheduled to be in service Tuesday 12th to Thurs 14th; then Sat & Sun 16/17; and then for the 40s weekend on 23/24th April.


Saturday, 2 April 2016

Maintenance Update (valves, damper, hum)

Wednesday 30th
Graham B [Loco Dept] volunteered to raise & tend 2807’s fire. I thought it was to be a warming fire, but Carpo wanted to set the safety valves to something closer to 225 psi than the 200 at which they have been lifting. So, late afternoon, there was considerable noise, as the valves were lifted followed by Carpo tightening them down; then they lifted again and he tightened them down; etc. Finally, they are now set to lift at 222 psi (though they do ‘feather’ from about 210 psi).

Carpo removed the spacers from the safety valves. They will need reducing to match the actual settings.

During the calmer periods, Graham was assisted by Alex [Loco Dept] in cleaning various parts - the tender, while I was fiddling with it!

Gil started by removing the panel on the side of the reversing lever frame, to see how easy it is to access the nuts that hold the number plate on (on the driver’s side). It’s easy!

Then Gil & I looked at the tender grease nipples, which had caused some concern. I removed all six nipples; cleaned them, and refitted them. In doing so, I discovered that the driver-side rear one had stripped its thread, and cannot be tightened. As a short-term solution, I wrapped some PTFE around the thread. Still not tight, but will have to do for now. The alternative is to drill & re-tap the hole to a larger size and either fit a sleeve or an adapter to bring it back to standard size.

John G began by applying a top coat to the 8 rail chairs that I had cleaned last Saturday (and subsequently applied a primer coat on Monday). I moved on to cleaning 3 more chairs, as the F&W had sold 5 boot scrapers over Easter. By the end of play, John had painted 5 green, 3 crimson and 3 black bottoms.

I had acquired a tad more conduit, and during the afternoon, John G persuaded John H [Loco dept] to apply some heat to the seized connections. This was 100% successful, and all of the sections are separated and the sleeves & nuts freed.

Gil clambered underneath (we’re over a pit) and checked the front damper, that he had noticed cinders falling from last week. The damper closes properly. It would have been open when in use, and you can’t stop cinders dropping out then. Whilst below, Gil checked the taper pin in the drain cock mechanism. David had well and truly persuaded that to stay in place … and it has. He also looked at the water connection twixt loco & tender, as we have a “proper” connection (as opposed to a plain pipe) that we shall fit when time permits. Finally, back up on top, Gil noticed that a patch of bitumen had been worn off the back section of the tender, possibly through coal falling onto it, so he patched that up.

No 5542 has performed her last duty of its present contract for the GWR today. She’ll be collected on Sunday evening.

Thursday 31st
Some of us just couldn’t keep away!

2807 approaching Winchcombe station

Rolling into Platform 1 at Winchcombe

“Right Away” and 2807 eases away from Winchcombe station beneath Greet road bridge

Friday 1st April
I was out for a bike ride (touched 45.7 mph down Snowshill!) and passed through Didbrook. There is a blacksmith, here, who has made a couple of brackets for the AWS conduit, so I picked them up. Didbrook is close to where Hailes Halt will be built later this year.

When 2807 first came into service, we had a full set of fireman’s irons made by this blacksmith. They must have been well made because several of them have mysteriously disappeared!

Anyway, his name is Dan Prendergast:
0798 308 1708; or 01 242 621 290.

Saturday 2nd
Not a great deal to do, with 2807 not standing still for long. However, on Wednesday, John G had heard a hum that sounded as though it might be coming from the pony truck. It was reported quite independently, that a “squeal” appeared to come from the pony. So, as 2807 pulled away from Toddington this morning, Bruce, Gil & I all stood listening intently. No squeal, though Bruce detected a hum. We listened again the next time, and even Neil (signalman) heard the hum. It sounds almost like a harmonic caused by marks or dips on the wheels. Curious! Hopefully it will cure itself. Brian visited us, and so went on the footplate to see if he could find out any more about the hum. Negative - but there was nothing warm that shouldn’t be.

Gil & Bruce had a butcher’s under various tenders to see how they had arranged their water connections twixt loco & tender. All different! We have the connectors, so will replace our straight-fit pipe ends with a correct one.

Gil buzzed off to Winchcombe, and Bruce decided to look at other locos’ clacks. He’s making a special spanner to fit the square nuts; one that can be whacked to tighten them. Guess what … here are the sizes of the across-flats of the nuts:

2807: 0.820 inch
5542: 0.835
7820: 0.750
7903: 0.745
4270: 0.687

So Bruce has decided to make one for ¾” and then reduce those on 2807 to match. That way, his spanner will at least fit three engines!

I played with boot scrapers, again.

2807 is now in service this weekend plus Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of next week. Nothing is rostered beyond that yet.

On Monday 4th April P&O is scheduled to run up & down between Toddington and Winchcombe (provided someone remembers to tell the Winchcombe signalman!) for running-in trials.