Sunday, 31 July 2016

Maintenance Update (siphon, files, heads, Dapol)

Sunday 24th
I nipped down to Winchcombe yard to take a couple of photos of the work inside the Siphon. As you can see, it is very much a work-in-progress environment:

Looking one way
Looking the other

The bench outside could do with some new drawers making for it.

Tuesday 26th
I was persuaded to do a warming fire in 2807 because she’s in service on Wednesday. Had to clamber inside the firebox and rake out the ash; ditto the smokebox. Lit a small fire and adjourned to the TPO for a cuppa. Packed lots of things in boxes while I was there, ready for the move. Our 20ft container is due to arrive on 3rd August. I have also found an alternative place as a temporary store (i.e. rather than the second-floor container!). It’s almost 8 pm, and I’ve finally got time for a shower!

Wednesday 27th
I briefly popped in at Winchcombe to discuss potential layout inside the siphon (when it is completed) and to pass on the good news: that I have found us a van in which to store items pending the completion of the siphon. Fred, John G and Alistair were all in painting mode.

At Toddington, Gilbert, Bruce and David were having a good clear out. They were sorting through
tool boxes and selectively ejecting duff equipment. David even took to testing every file on a lump
of metal! A bucket full of duff files subsequently bit the dust!

We had a discussion about the options facing us (re. the 20ft container and the van) and the
majority decision was that the container should be equipped as the workshop and the van as a store.
The container was preferred as a workshop because it will be closer to the loco shed.

I spent the day clearing rubbish out of the van, hoovering up the swarms of dead flies (actually, there
was one live one … plus a very fat spider), and rearranging the remaining contents to maximise

Loco Dept will provide a 240V single-phase power supply to the container. We may well ask them
to equip power points and light inside, for a fee. Our very own Dixie Dean will be busy removing the
wiring from the TPO (as we don’t want to let that go with the vehicle!).

Thursday 28th
I spent a couple more hours tidying up and disinfecting the van in readiness for a move of items for
storage out of the TPO and into here on Saturday.

Saturday 30th
Gil, Bruce, John T, Dixie and I dedicated the entire day to clearing stuff out of the TPO and preparing racking to be moved into the 20ft container.

Earlier this year, we had to buy 300 brush heads for use in boot scrapers - quite a lot of boxes to
move! There was a minimum order, you see. The FLA sales stock consists of quite a few boxes of
second-hand books. We discovered a large number of wagon plates and other railway related items.
Anyone live at house number 44? There’s a nice GWR-style house number open to offers! A couple
of large crates of model railway items were discovered. Dixie took one away to sort through for sale
at the next exhibition. We still have a few boxes of the 00 scale Dapol local coal merchant wagons
that we had specially made some years ago. Tombola prizes were moved, too. There was a pair of
boots, but the soles were obviously made of biodegradable plastic material, and they were all gooey
… Yuk!

Dixie and Gil removed all of the electrics from the TPO. Some of this will be reused in the 20ft
container. Bruce fitted a mortise lock to the van. John & I trudged up & down with trolley loads and
John also visited the skip on several occasions.

Everyone chipped in to clearing shelves and dismantling the shelving. We found lots of “spare” bits
of loco and tender.


Sunday, 24 July 2016

Maintenance Update (container, siphon, digger, sleeper)

Monday 18th
I nipped down to Hunting Butts in search of this elusive wagon. I couldn’t see anything resembling what John G had described. Plenty of undergrowth; got bitten by something; various hazards; bog; and clearly a playground for local yobbos.

Wednesday 20th
2807 is standby loco today and for the rest of the month with the exception of the 23rd, 24th and 27th July when she will be in service. This will give Loco Dept a chance to get 35006 fettled before it forms the backbone of the services in August.

So, we all trouped off to Winchcombe! … but not before we had all gone to Todders first! We all had some reason for calling in there - mine was to deliver several crates suitable for boxing things into ready for the big move. Which reminds me: this is what we are looking forward to …

We are to have a 20ft container for use as a long-term storage facility. Particularly useful when we reach the 10 year overhaul.

It’s not in situ yet. This is where it will go. Unfortunately, the fence underneath the overgrowth needs to be dug up and moved; you can see that the 20ft next to our plot extends somewhat beyond the fence!

We are reliant upon GWSR to do the fence relocation (though happy to help if they wish).

We have been offered a further 20ft of space inside a 40ft container, up here.

The less said about that the better! I’m sure that Health & Safety would go ape if they thought we were going to be climbing up & down a ladder carrying tools and metalwork (or even boot scrapers!) in and out of this container!

If it were April 1st, we would all know that it’s a joke. It’s not.

The workers are revolting, and refuse to go shinning up a ladder to this as a workplace.

For that reason, we are now focussed on working at Winchcombe, hastening the restoration of our siphon van.

As soon as the siphon is complete, we aim to move it to Toddington and utilise it as our place of work; after all, it was originally bought as our support vehicle. When this happens, we shall be able to resume more-or-less normal service.

Winchcombe: Fred, Gil, Bruce & Bill, John G and I were all beavering away inside the siphon. Fred, Bill & Bruce were at the west end. I’m not sure what they were doing, but it sounded like removing old paint or preparing the surface for painting. John & I were at the east end. We sanded the top half of a side panel (including the ends of the louvres) and top racking. Then we slapped cream paint all over it. It was a drippy paint, hence the “all over” bit. I questioned the logic of there being a brown undercoat, and Fred said that it was all they had at the time!

Oh, I forgot Geof! He was there during the morning, too. Ah, and I did see Gil screwing a handle on the outside. But I was too busy even to take a photo.

We adjourned to the Coffee Pot cafĂ© on the station for elevenses and for lunch. Facilities for cleaning paint brushes are a bit limited ... actually, very limited ... non-existent in fact. But we’ll get used to it!

Saturday 23rd
2807 was in service, again. We had been asked (by Loco Dept) to clear the space ready for our 20ft container. So, Gil, Bruce, John T, Fred and I reported for duty. Our first task was to tear down the vegetation that was entwined across the mesh of the fencing, followed by pulling down the fencing. One fence post proved a mite awkward, and we called in Digger Steve from Permanent Way. However, even the digger declined to pull it up, so John applied the angle grinder to it!

With the post out of the way, Steve was able to dig out the ground and level off the surface. Mark Y [Loco dept] assisted, using the JCB bucket to transfer the spoil to the tip. The rest of us fiddled around the edges, and bashed off bits of concrete, to obtain a rectangular base area.

By lunchtime we were happy with what we had achieved. Even one concrete sleeper was roughly in position at the back.

After lunch, we positioned the front concrete sleeper. Much fiddling took place (again) to get the alignment correct and the level correct and the height correct. Several times we adjusted the height, and pushed more ballast beneath the sleeper. I got called Rog the Tamper!

By end of play, we were happy with the base. Only the front and back matter (as you can see from the adjacent container). A power cable will run beneath the containers and up into ours. Finally, I mixed up some concrete to fill the gap between our back sleeper and that protruding from the rear of the adjacent container. The containers are 8 ft wide, but the sleepers are not quite!

2807 is in service on Wednesday (I’m rostered to light up on Tuesday afternoon). However, the following weekend is a diesel gala. I wonder if it might be better for our container to be delivered on the Friday, rather than Saturday???

So, on Wednesday it will be all hands to the siphon again. On Saturday we would probably need someone (or two) at Todders to carry out loco maintenance and/or assist with offloading the container.


Sunday, 17 July 2016

Maintenance Update (spring, skip, gas, wagon)

Wednesday 13th July
Today turned out to be a bit manic. You see, “our” TPO is only a loaned vehicle to enable us to restore the siphon van. The restoration has been taking place at Winchcombe, mainly by Fred, Bill, Geof and Ray. However, the owner of the TPO wants it back … in 4 weeks’ time! So, Gilbert had instructed Fred & Bill to come to Toddington and assist with clearing rubbish out of the TPO. All day, Gil, Fred, Bill and I dug into the “stuff” on and under the shelves. Much useless stuff was marched off down to the skip by Bill. Twice, my boot scraper making kit was seen heading towards the exit !!!

One bit of nostalgia was uncovered:

Sadly, this has now gone onto the pile of loco springs for actual use in due course. Dead paint brushes, empty boxes, filthy old boiler insulation, a huge length of unsuitable rubber hose (probably purchased for vacuum connections), nuts with no threads in, a coach seat bottom (used for laying on, on the ground under the loco) … they all went into the skip.

Amidst all of the chaos, only John G did any actual “work”. Somehow, he managed to cut, thread and paint the next bit of the conduit for the ATC. (The arrow is pointing at it, not at John!)

The item below didn’t go into the skip. But what is it? It has a brass bush; there’s a nut on the left side (as viewed); a sticking-out bit on the other side with a hexagon on the end; and it is stamped “L1 825”. Any guesses?

Saturday 16th
2807 was in service, again.
Only David and I were able to come, today. David spent much of the morning working on the lathe - that is to say, improving its performance: tightening, loosening, fixing; by the end, it was able to carry out a reasonable cut. Nevertheless, at the end of the day, David took away one small component to fix that. There would have been a possibility of a gear cog sliding out of position and making one of those noises that you cringe to hear!

I decided to finish the boot scrapers in the production line. We don’t know what the situation is going to be over the next couple of months, while we vacate the faithful old TPO and become entombed within a 20ft tin box.

Apart from that, we spent the afternoon clearing out more junk; donating welding items to the Loco Dept, and trying to organise material into boxes for moving. David decided that our 3-phase welder was past its prime, and unsalable, so that’s going in the skip (when we can move it - it weighs a ton!). We don’t do gas welding, so that equipment went to the Loco Dept workshop, too.

Following up John G’s remark that we (Cotswold Steam) own an open wagon, I explored the Toddington north headshunt - it’s not there.

Then on the way home, Geof and I scoured the yard at Winchcombe. Not there either. That means it’s in Hunting Butts tunnel! I feared as much.


Saturday, 9 July 2016

Maintenance Update (rivets, wheels, oscillation, conduit)

Wednesday 6th July
Let’s start by looking at the new issues that arose out of the mechanical check and steam test last week:
29: Boiler moves relative to footplate. {This issue we added because it had been spotted; and we played with the wedges last time to fix it}.
30: Bottom right hand superheater element blowing.
31: J cocks stuck. {They usually are!}
32: Left Hand leading brake block on tender loose on wheel when handbrake on. {It’s the new brake blocks - they’ve not all worn in to the same extent. No action will be taken.}
33: Left hand trailing axlebox underkeep bolt loose on tender. Bolt tightened.
34: Balance weight rivets loose on left hand driver / left hand trailing driver; right hand driving wheel. {See below.}
35: Additional weights on right hand & left hand driving wheels loose. {See below.}
36: Loco brake cylinder gland sticking; Tender brakes need adjusting. {We raised this because Bruce noticed it.}

So, Gilbert & I tackled the most serious issue - the leaking superheater element. At first we were not sure if “right hand” meant “as you look at it” (through the smokebox door) or “of the loco” (i.e. “driver’s side”). Carpo confirm that it was as you look at it. We could not see any sign of a leak. However, Carpo insisted that there was, so I belted the nut with a suitable mallet and spanner. One can’t tell if it did any good until steam is raised and the element pressurised.

Bruce investigated the loose rivets.

Sure enough, a couple are loose. Not as many as are loose on 4270, though! Quite how you can tighten these rivets is a challenge! It looks as though we’d have to remove the leaf spring completely to gain access to the back. Then heat the rivet head up, and use a rivet gun to hammer it tight! We opted to defer doing this for … ages!

But Bruce did notice that the small balancing lead weights were also loose. He was able to caulk these up. They do work loose with use.

It was Bruce who spotted that the piston in the vacuum cylinder does not fall down under its own weight, which implies that the gland is too tight. So Bruce reported it as an issue, and then loosened the gland a tad.

He also noticed that the tender brakes could do with adjusting again, as the new brake blocks wear in. Something that we spotted was that the brake blocks do not fit the wheel rims very closely. Whilst the blocks touch in the centre, they leave a gap at the edge.

It was as though the radius of the block is larger than the radius of the wheel! The blocks are marked 4ft 1½ inches; back to the drawings: well, according to our drawing, the tender wheels should be four foot one-and-a-half inches. Not convinced, I armed myself with a measuring stick and headed back out to the tender. Guess what? Well, Bruce & David checked on Saturday, and they are 3ft 11 ins!

No wonder the brake blocks don’t fit as snug as a bug! This is due to tyre wear, of course; but they are not ready for scrapping yet! 

Gilbert adjusted the slack on the tender brake system.

Apart from all of this, I painted some rail chairs and drained water out of our compressor (something
that gets forgotten until the compressor struggles!).

Saturday 9th
We had a Board Meeting, which took me, Gil & John G away from work all day. However, Bruce and David managed to do a couple of jobs.

Both whistles have now been lapped and fitted with new springs. David welded up a piece of
conduit that runs down from cab to running board. Bruce was told that the reverser rod (from lever
to links) oscillates up & down during motion - we had a complaint last year that the driver could not 
get into full-forward.

We determined that the reason was that the end of the slot in the rod hit up against the roller that’s inside the support mid-way bracket. So, we took the roller out! That worked, except that there is now scope for the whole rod to oscillate up & down. So, Bruce put the roller back in. Wait for the obvious complaint! To fix it properly means repositioning that support bracket, moving it forward by about ½ inch - which is a pain, because of drilling holes through the running board and welding up the old holes.

I finally found out “which” J-cocks: The ones in the cab on top of the steam fountain …

Here’s a J-cock :-

 … and here’s the welded & painted conduit:-

Guess what? Someone had a spot of trouble with P&O. As I understand it, while trying to set the
wheels at the correct position for the driver to oil up on the next day, a bit too much regulator was
applied, and not enough braking power available … so, P&O went through the shed door (without
opening it) and came to within inches of saying “Hello” to 2807.

Due to the fact that the doors won’t open until they are mended, we couldn’t move 2807 out of the
shed and over a pit, so that David was (yet again) unable to fix the damper door’s spark arrester.


Oh, and it looks as though 2807 will depart for the NYMR on 12th September; returning mid-
November. So, it will not be down here for our AGM (though the option of holding our AGM in
Pickering was mentioned!).


Sunday, 3 July 2016

Maintenance Update (wedge, shim, arrester, washer)

Wednesday 29th June
Pleased to see 7903 Foremarke Hall on the head of today’s train (rather than 2807!). In fact, 7903
and P&O are rostered for the week and weekend. Carpo did remind us that 2807 is on standby still
and hence must be left in a state fit to run.

Gil decided that we should investigate the apparent sideways rocking of the boiler, which is visible in
the cab when chuffing along. Suspicion was that the wedges that hold the firebox steady have
worked loose.

OK, so where are these wedges? … below cab floor level to the rear of the firebox, between firebox
and loco frames. By removing a floor plate in the corner (1), it was possible to see the wedge (2). It
couldn’t be lifted because it was obstructed by the corner cladding piece (3). There are four visible
bolts fixing this cladding to the backhead cladding. With these removed … it wouldn’t budge! There
is a fifth bolt (4) beneath the floor plate through which the damper levers (5) pass. The levers each
have a handle … which has to be removed before the floor plate can be lifted over the levers. Also,
to remove the bolts retaining the floor panel necessitates getting a spanner underneath on the nut
(6). That’s not hard - you just have to remove the shovel plate (7).

With all of these bits & pieces removed, this bolt (4) could be removed … however, the cladding
wouldn’t budge! It is wedged in behind the backhead cladding, but there is also an angle down the
front of the cab holding it in place, so it would have to slide upwards and outwards at the same time.
This was difficult because the ferrules around the washout plugs (8) prevented the cladding moving.
So, the ferrules had to come off. Finally, with much levering of screwdrivers (and the occasional
curse) out came the cladding piece. With access to the wedge, it was clearly loose. Bruce estimated that there was 1/8 inch gap. We gained access to the wedge on the right-hand side, and this was loose too, but by no means as loose as the left one. These don’t have to be hammered in very hard, as the boiler needs to move as it expands/contracts, but they should be tight.

Someone mentioned to Bruce that it is possible for the stretcher between the frames to fracture, which would cause the boiler to move sideways when the loco is in motion. Yours truly slid under the loco (it was not over a pit!) and examined the stretcher - no problems, there.

Back in the cab, it was time to extract the wedge for a close inspection … but we couldn’t get it out because it hit the floor plate support frame (9). After attempting to undo the frame nuts & bolts, and finding this an impossible task … angle grinder required!

With the frame cut away, finally, the wedge was extracted!

The decision was taken that a shim would be welded onto the wedge to fill the 1/8 inch gap. Gil & Bruce did the measuring, cutting and filing; John P [Loco Dept] welded it in place. Having just cut the floor plate frame, I shortened it a tad such that the wedge can now be removed/inserted more easily (!), and John P welded that back together for us.

As 2807 is still acting as standby loco, we had to leave it serviceable, which meant putting everything back together … except that time marched on, and the cladding didn’t get put back on!

While all of this was going on, John G was having a relaxing day applying paint to the tops of 11 boot scrapers.

Saturday 2 July
Carpo had performed a washout on 2807’s boiler. Apparently it had a fair amount of sludge - probably due to being filled at Winchcombe (which is not treated water). He took the opportunity to inspect the foundation ring (which is situated just below the fire bars in the firebox. There is still some of the heat-resistant silver paint on the rivets, and they all look in good condition.

When I arrived, 2807 already had smoke emanating from her chimney. “Blow!” I said [or some such]. I had a lighting-up training to give, and ours is the only loco in a fit state. Also, David was coming today to carry out some work on the dampers, which will not be possible.

David had brought the damper door spark arrester down, which he had modified at home. There is a box-shape within the mesh, and this used to get jammed up with ash, preventing its removal to clean out the ash! So, the Mk II version has a sloping box-section that should avoid getting jammed. He couldn’t fit it, of course, because of red hot cinders constantly or randomly dropping into the ashpan (and hence potentially out of the open damper door … onto him). Bruce demonstrates [left] the locating holes; it is because you have to lift the mesh off the lugs that caused the square box-section to jam with ash.

Bruce & Gilbert aided by David fitted the corner cladding back in the cab. Gil then decided to buzz off to Winchcombe and work on the siphon van restoration.

Phil Grange [Loco Dept] was carrying out an “A Exam” on 2807 after the washout. A couple of other guys were cleaning various bits, and Gil had shown one where & how to apply grease.

Mostly minor tasks followed. Bruce stamped “2807” on a couple of new spanners. David played with our lathe in an attempt to improve its quality of operation. He took a piece home to fix. Bruce & David decided that the levers operating the firehole doors needed better washers to reduce the play in the linkage.

I managed to give Roger T a light-up training session, though some of the checks were not possible to do with a fire in the firebox - it’s a tad too warm to stick your head in and inspect it. Thereafter, Roger T and Clive N [Loco Dept] changed the oil in the tender underkeeps.

Mostly, I finished off a few boot scrapers. We ran through the list of outstanding issues, but there was nothing else that we could do today.

We are very grateful for the help that the Loco Dept chaps give us.