Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Maintenance Update (praise, hose, vacuum, glasses)

Saturday 15th
No one around! I called in at the siphon in Winchcombe - no one there! I went over to Toddington - no one there, either! So, I painted a couple of rail chairs and buzzed off home!

Many people praised the effort put in by the chaps (and chapesses) getting 2807 running for the Supporters’ Day. For example, an email from Alan:
“It is praise time all round - solving the problem and also for pulling out all the stops to get 2807 working on Supporters Day. Well Done to everybody.”

Wednesday 19th
There were seven outstanding issues on 2807’s log:
1: J cocks are stuck. {This dates from July last year. The cocks concerned are from the manifold (aka ‘steam fountain’) to the W-valve. The pipes take steam at full pressure, and if one did happen to burst, the J cocks are the only way to stop steam engulfing the cab}.
22: Oil corks on motion in poor condition. Requires all changing. {What can I say? I would like to think that most drivers would simply have changed them when they take them out to do the oiling up in the morning, rather than putting the crap ones back in!}
23: Steam Test - safety valves blowing at 215-217 psi. {This is Jamie just recording the result}
24: [Vacuum] Reservoir flexible [hose] between engine and tender rubbing on water pipe. Monitor.
25: Gauge frame drain cock leaking by.
26: Vac reservoir slow to build up. Train pipe falling quickly.
27: Middle two [hydrostatic] lubricator glasses dirty.

Bruce tackled issue 24.

The flexible hose has to bend significantly between loco and tender, and was resting on a metal pipe, so the simplest solution was to wrap more rubber around the hose and secure it with copper wire.

Easier than removing a pipe and bending it!

John H and Mike S [both Loco Dept] tackled issue 25. This took more than five minutes! They had to dismantle the bottom cock, but couldn’t get the split pin out! [I hate split pins!] Then they had to remove the handle from the spindle so that they could take it away and machine it. Once refurbished, they reassembled the unit, fitting a fresh Klinger liner.

Bruce and I chewed over issue 26. There are many reasons why the vacuum might have been slow to build - a leak being the most likely! However, unless this recurs you can’t be sure that it is a genuine problem, or a passing problem. To track down a leak is a laborious task that can only be attempted when the loco is in steam and can create the vacuum.

Steve O [Loco Dept] reported and tackled issue 27. He removed the two sight glasses on the hydrostatic lubricator, cleaned them, fitted new sealing rubbers and filled up the glasses.

John G pressed on with wire-brushing and then painting rail chairs. However, there was a crowd of PAC-testing people who invaded our container and caused work to come to a halt.

I had initially called in at Winchcombe, where Gilbert, Fred and Bill were continuing the restoration of our siphon van.

Thereafter, I was completing more boot scrapers and then parcelling up two GWR ones for postal delivery. I’d had two requests by email for boot scrapers - one from Northumberland and one from Swindon.

Cotswold Steam & Wildlife Preservation Corner
The new wild flower garden has had a sprinkling of real soil over it. Berit Aherne has donated some yellow rattle seeds, and I have scattered various seeds from my own garden. On Tuesday it rained, and on Wednesday I hit the stinging nettles and briars with Resolva! Things are looking promising thus far.


Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Maintenance Update (lead, air, tight, bus)

Saturday 8th
We were all feeling a tad despondent at the prospect of having a Class 45 diesel pulling our supporters on Sunday. So, a team of people attacked the leaking mud-hole doors problem, early on Saturday morning.

Alex, Angela, Brian, Bruce, David, Gilbert, Graham, Jamie and JC all played a part - some had bigger parts than others ;-). Starting by investigating the failed seal: was anything obviously wrong with the way they were fitted? Nothing visible. Rather than the usual ‘Bluemax’ gaskets, a lead one was tested. Bruce reckons that it appeared to fit well along the sides, but not at the ends.

Instead of raising steam to test the seal, they used compressed air. This necessitated a wash-out plug being removed and replaced by one with a hole in it, to which an air hose could be fitted. However, there was no adapter around that would couple the two together. So, Bruce and/or David made one! By the time the compressor had managed to raise 10 psi in the boiler, it was clear that air was escaping from the doors. Problem not fixed!

It was noticed that the nuts securing the doors were all a bit tight on their studs. In fact, Bruce found that by giving them a gentle (!) tap, he could turn the nut round one more ‘flat’. Could that stiffness have prevented them being tightened fully? Angela and David tackled the doors, cleaning them and running a die down the threads. The lead gasket was replaced with a Bluemax, and the exercise was repeated.

Alex and Graham had decided to clean the loco anyway because, even if no success, 2807 might be rolled out for our supporters to see (or climb over).

Bruce lubricated the threads to help in the tightening. Pressure was raised to over 20 psi, but still there was an escape of air. Pressure was released again and Bruce persuaded each door to fit as snugly as it could by use of a mallet and spanner.

At one point, soapy water was used to try to detect where the leak actually was. Pressure was raised to 20 once more, and the suds now showed no sign of a leak.

4 pm. With all fingers crossed, Jamie replaced the adapted wash-out plug; Graham and Angela lit a warming fire. Jamie took over on the footplate. Brian stayed to assist as required.

6pm: Jamie was building up pressure. No sign of the doors leaking (yet).
6.30: Pressure now approaching 200 psi, and still no sign of leaky mud-holes.
6.45: First safety valve lifted at about 200 psi and the second at 210psi. As part of the steam test, you have to demonstrate that pressure cannot be raised above the ‘red line’ (well, arguably there’s a +5% margin for error). Try as he did, Jamie could not get pressure to go over the 220 line. That’s a pass then! For the sake of checking the point at which each valve lifts, Jamie allowed it to drop and shut off, then raise pressure again to see if the lifting was consistent. Once they had stabilised, he reckoned that they lift at about 215/216 psi.
7.30: We all went home.

Sunday 9th (2807 Supporters’ Day)
Stuart relates: “there were just over 80 supporters attended and had plenty of room in our 2 reserved coaches on the 11.10am train pulled by 2807. The event was held in conjunction with the Classic Bus Rally … 43 buses on show in Toddy car park and I had arranged a 2807 Special bus run to the Broadway Station site … At the end of the day, numerous of our members came up to me and stated that they considered this format to be the best 2807 Supporters day they had attended.”
8.30 pm: Stuart had packed away the stand and, obviously looking for something to do, replaced a decaying step leading up to the van that we use for R&R.

Monday 10th
Stuart again: “Today I was trapped on Toddy car park until 1pm because of all the TV vehicles and the filming of an episode of Father Brown going on around the Station entrance and platform. I did not mind very much because, they were using 2807.”

Wednesday 12th
Gil & Fred (and probably Bill, but if so, he was hiding!) continued work on the siphon van at Winchcombe.

At Todders, we had a relaxing day - watching 2807 run up & down. John G progressed rail chairs in the production line - cleaning, and then painting four tops and three bottoms. Bruce began by tidying up our container, and then sorted through bits of shim with a view to packing out the ‘keys’ (look more like wedges) that prevent the firebox from swinging sideways in the frames.

I boxed up the four boot scrapers that reached the end of the production line, and then took three over to the station café at Winchcombe.

There are only four outstanding issues on 2807’s log:

1: J cocks are stuck. {This dates from July last year. The cocks concerned are from the manifold (aka ‘steam fountain’) to the W-valve. The pipes take steam at full pressure, and if one did happen to burst, the J cocks are the only way to stop steam engulfing the cab}.

22: Oil corks on motion in poor condition. Requires all changing. {What can I say? I would like to think that most drivers would simply have changed them when they take them out to do the oiling up in the morning, rather than putting the crap ones back in!}

23: Steam Test - safety valves blowing at 215-217 psi. {This is Jamie just recording the result}

24: [Vacuum] Reservoir flexible [hose] between engine and tender rubbing on water pipe. Monitor.

2807 is in service all of this week, and Foremarke Hall takes over next week.

I would like to pass on our sincere gratitude for the effort (above & beyond) that numerous people put in over the days leading up to the Supporters’ Day, when it was looking highly likely that 2807 would not be doing the job! I’m sure that I can say on behalf of all of our supporters: an extremely big thank-you for your determination to get 2807 up and running for the day. THANK YOU !!!

Cotswold Steam & Wildlife Preservation Corner
The new wild flower garden has had a sprinkling of real soil over it. Berit Aherne has donated some yellow rattle seeds, and I have scattered various seeds from my own garden. On Tuesday it rained, so things are looking promising.


Thursday, 6 July 2017

Maintenance Update (steam, door, lead, cool)

Saturday 1st
On Friday, Brian & Gilbert were present while the boiler inspection was carried out, after which the boiler was boxed up and filled with water. This takes an age, even when pumping water up through the blow-down valve. Brian & Gil then lit a warming fire, and retired at about 6 pm.

So, this morning there was still 20 psi on the clock when Brian lit a steam-raising fire. Some wisps of steam were visible from a couple of the top mud-hole doors, and Brian continues:
At 40psi we did a final nip up of all the doors, top and bottom, and proceeded to raise steam at 100psi. We still had wisps of steam from the three doors but all agreed to continue with the test.
At 140psi the Fireman’s side back top door seal failed and we started to hear an audible escape of steam. The immediate decision was to halt the test, pull the fire to the back of the firebox, and to gently cool the boiler over the next couple of hours.

The decision was then taken that, when the boiler is cool enough, to remove the four offending doors; clean them; particularly clean the internal surface on the boiler where they seat; fit new seals, and try again. It is possible that the boiler (and water) will be warm enough to light a steam-raising fire and carry out the test during the late afternoon. We would really like 2807 to be in service for 8/9 July, because 9th July is our Supporters' Day, so we would like 2807 to pull the 11:10 train from Toddington with us on it!

Tuesday 4th
Mark Young [Loco Dept] took out the four mud hole doors. He cleaned them and also the inside of the outer firebox wrapper where they meet. He put them all back together (with new seals, of course) and asked the service train crew to pull 2807 out of the shed and light a warming fire. Mark’s view was that these doors do not fit particularly well, and should be replaced at the 10 year overhaul. I popped down at 7 pm, and there was a lovely fire.

Wednesday 5th
Brian was up shortly after dawn had cracked; left home just after 5 am and arrived at Todders for 7.15. I had planned on joining him, but Granddad duties did not go to plan! So, Brian lit a new fire with a view to raising steam gradually throughout the day.

I finally arrived at 10.30, at which time there was about 40 psi and the top front RHS mud hole door was already emitting steam. Bruce came to see how things were going - Daphne, his wife, was unwell so he couldn’t stay long. Various attempts were made at tightening the doors and gradually raising pressure. By lunchtime, things were not looking good. At 140 psi the top left rear door had “popped” and was blowing steam. The top right front was still leaking steam. There was no option - test failed again!

I recalled that we previously had had to use lead seals on some of the mud hole doors (but can’t remember which). After some discussion, it was agreed that 2807 would go back in the shed to cool down. When cool enough, the two doors will be removed and lead gaskets will be fitted to them. Then yet another steam test will be attempted. With luck, this can take place on Saturday. If these seals don’t work, then I’m afraid that our supporters’ day train will be hauled by 4270.

Meanwhile, John T fitted the remaining ferrules (around wash-out plugs) that had been removed to gain access to the plugs and then he bravely stood out in the sun, needle-gunning five rail chairs.

John G, at the other end of the yard, was wire-brushing and painting chairs some black bottoms and some green tops.

Note the three “different” ones that John G had chosen last week - he was fed up with only painting GWR green chairs! So, here we have Midland Railway 1902; Southern Railway 1945, and LNER 1947.

Back to BR(W) and GWR green next week!

Cotswold Steam & Wildlife Preservation Corner
Having sat supping tea watching the wagtails, we noticed them bringing live food to the nest - caterpillars and the like. They showed no interest in the bowl of bird seed that I put for them. After very little research (i.e. Wikipedia) it transpires that wagtails are insectivores! Only in really desperate times would they stoop to eating mere bird seed!

Having acquired some mealworms for them, however, it was evident today that the young have fledged and all buzzed off! So, I got on with digging the CSPL garden (at the side of our container) in readiness for sowing some wild flower seeds.


Saturday, 1 July 2017

Maintenance Update (hook, collar, ring, wagtail)

Saturday 24th
It was a Thomas weekend, so I was on Granddad duty on Saturday. However, Bruce & Gilbert did go to Todders. Bruce had formed a hex head on the stud upon which the fire-hole door operating mechanism hinges, so he reassembled the mechanism and fitted that. Even so, it was difficult persuading the stud to screw in tightly because the thread is quite well worn. It did work in the end, though.

Gil sorted through the tool boxes. Various random bits headed for the skip, and the rest were cleaned. He found a small hook in there, which later led to some discussion about hooks fitted to the cab roof. I had been squirreling away one such hook for 8 years, and produced it on Wednesday. The one Gil found was nothing like this one!

While doing my Granddad things at Winchcombe station, I bumped into Bill. He was working on the siphon restoration along with Fred. Gil abandoned Todders and joined them during the afternoon.

Wednesday 28th
Following an HRA (Heritage Railway Association) edict, Bruce replaced his (vastly superior) safety valve adjusters with the “standard” GWR spacer collars again! He then fitted the brass bonnet over the top. JP was carrying out a mechanical exam on 2807 and kept ear-holing Bruce. Fortunately, JP had got a couple of [Loco Dept] helpers, who seemed to be fixing anything that JP found amiss.

Gil spent the morning with Graham, who is drawing up the new ash pan. They had a look at our existing one and also the original one from the 38xx that is in the yard.

John G got on with painting the rail chairs, and later applied a second coat to the fire iron holder on the tender (the one that David had recently refitted).

I had been “volunteered” to take an inventory of the machines in the workshop and examine the existing list of authorised users. Rod [workshop manager] helped by explaining about many of the machines - some of which are not even wired up. I am, of course, way out of my depth when faced with a large lump of metal, covered in knobs, buttons, handles, wheels, twiddley bits (and no instructions)!


Of course, our main worry recently has been the apparent crack appearing in the foundation ring.
This is just visible through the mud-hole door at the front bottom left of the boiler throat plate.

You may have to enlarge the photo (below) to be able to see it!

The inspector is coming on Friday. Brian and Gil will be here to speak with him at the time.

Friday 30th
Inspector arrived along with Steve Underhill (Tyseley boiler chap). The latter says there is grooving, but nothing to worry about! Phew!

Gil & Brian filled the boiler (someone must have fitted the mud-hole doors first, of course 😊 ) and then lit a warming fire. Steam test on Saturday.

Cotswold Steam & Wildlife Preservation Corner
We have been watching a pair of pied wagtails but they are notoriously difficult to photograph.

Vis., I almost captured one about to enter the sandbox. However, it was too quick for my camera, hence is just a blur!

Notice how the vegetation has recovered and speedily thrust up a new flower.


Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Maintenance Update (crack, fire, wedges, stud)

Saturday 17th
Bad news following the washout on Wednesday: Carpo is concerned that there are signs of a crack in one corner of the foundation ring. This was the reason that Foremarke Hall was failed - that loco seems to have a leak from a foundation ring rivet that could imply a crack. However, on 2807 there is no sign of a water leak. A second opinion on Thursday suggested that there was grooving, but no crack; a third opinion said that there is a small crack. Nevertheless, we now have to await an inspection from the GWSR’s insurance chappie before we can proceed. If he says there’s a crack that needs fixing, it’s “game over” for 2807 and we’re straight into 10 year overhaul (early)! He could demand an NDT on the area, which would be a further delay and continued uncertainty. Not good.

It was a rather warm day (!), so we appreciated the loco being inside the shed. David began with reassembling the gauge frame. This has to be dismantled at each washout; the glass and rubbers are changed, and the throughways into the boiler checked for clear.

Bruce had recently discovered that the support for the fire irons was loose. It was only secured with a single bolt anyway, so Bruce applied a forceful spanner … “crack!” The bolt went into a nut that was tack-welded onto the underside of the platework. I say “was” - not knowing his own strength, Bruce had broken the weld!

David took a look and decided that it was a challenge too far to remove the plate and re-weld the nut, so he made a baseplate and tapped it with two holes. He welded this plate in position and bolted the support in place. An altogether more satisfactory solution.

John T began by needle-gunning a rail chair that John G had selected for processing. It was a tad warm for spending the entire day out in the sun, so after completing the one, John adjourned for other things.

Notably, John, Gilbert and I reattached the chain-link fencing to the post that I had concreted in last time. This is just a small section of fence adjacent to our container, but next to the gate into the yard. So, it is very visible to the public, and the undergrowth had become overgrowth which presented a challenge in retrieving the fencing. It took the three of us quite a while to adjust the chain-link and fix it to the post. The end result looks presentable and provides a suitable corner for the Toddington Gardening Section to plant up a small flower bed!

John returned to the needle-gunning and finished a second chair.

Some chairs are in such a state. This 19th century GWR chair, for example, can only have been submerged in mud. I chipped off the clay and stones before it was even fit for being needle-gunned!

Gilbert had complained that when the loco was in motion the back of the boiler was moving sideways. The firebox is not fixed at the back because of expansion. Therefore, there are two wedges (one either side) between firebox and frames to prevent sideways motion. David, Bruce and Gilbert all had an investigate and fiddled with the wedges. The wedges are loose when it is cold. Bruce calculated the expansion when at operating temperature (somewhere in the range 105 - 125 thou’). It is impossible to get both wedges out (without lifting the boiler) and the result is that no action will be taken.

The photo is taken pointing downwards in the corner of the cab, at the side of the reversing lever, with floor panel removed.

Bruce removed the pep (aka “slacking”) pipe valve. As you can see, it is a taper fit. There is a feed from each injector to the rubber hose which can be used for damping down coal dust; washing the cab floor, or (as in my trainspotting days) squirting scalding hot water at lineside children!

As the cab was already full of bodies doing things, Bruce deferred the lapping-in of the valve until next time .… but he couldn’t resist the chance to clamber up onto the boiler again and move the brass bonnet along a bit!

Wednesday 21st
Gilbert tackled the issue that says that one of the glasses on the hydrostatic lubricator was leaking oil. He replaced the seal for that glass. JP was carrying out an “A” exam (mechanical) on our loco, so Gil kept an eye on him!

Bruce finished off the lapping of the pep pipe valve, and refitted that. Then he removed the stud on the fire-hole door mechanism that keeps working loose. His plan is to make a hexagonal end to it such that it can be tightened with a spanner (as opposed to using molegrips).

John G was in painting mode as usual. He wire-brushed the three chairs that John T had needlegunned on Saturday, and then painted their bottoms. While wielding a brush, Bruce pointed him at the new bracket that David had made to fix the tool support.

I had inadvertently volunteered to make an inventory of the machines in the GWSR workshop so that we know who is authorised to use what, and perhaps find out how frequently some of the kit is used.

After lunch, we continued to tidy up the parcel of ground adjacent to our container. I identified a sleeper in the yard which was exactly the right size to use as an edge to the ground, preventing the soil (“soil” you call it!) from falling against the container. Clive manned the fork-lift and positioned the sleeper for us. All it needs now is for the grass/twitch and bramble roots to be dug out, and the gardening group can pretty it up!

Cotswold Steam & Wildlife Preservation Corner
We have seen a pair of pied wagtails diving into the sandbox on 2874. I have sat for minutes, camera at the ready on two occasions! Finally today, with John and Bruce watching too, I was able to get a shot of one of the wagtails pacing up & down the running board before deciding that it was safe to dive into the sandbox hole.

There are now two bowls - food and water - on the running board to save them having to fly off in search.


Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Maintenance Update (guards, wet, valve, gauge)

Hayles Abbey Halt
For those of you who are not volunteers at the GWSR, you might like to know that as of 6th June 2017 Hayles Abbey Halt is open for passengers as a request stop. For 2017 the only trains allowed to stop there (except where special arrangements have been made) are DMUs up to three cars in length (and the steam auto train when it’s here … which it isn’t, now).

Wednesday 7th
First of all, I must apologise to David S for not crediting him on the photos of the drain cocks last time. Mea culpa.

With 2807 yet again in service, Bruce Gil & I ran out of things to do. John G, however, got stuck in to wire-brushing the rail chairs that John T had needle-gunned last weekend. By end of play, he had also painted their bottoms!

The “Manor” was off on its travels, and BG&I took the opportunity to watch as the tender was winched up onto the lorry. We are interested to see how close the guard irons come to the rails when it begins to climb the ramp.

As you can see, they come close. Bruce estimated that the one on the far side of the photo was only ½” above the rail. I tried to argue that if the tender was the other way round (i.e. pulled up “forwards”) the guard irons would be even closer … but B&G were not convinced.

Bruce had his prototype for our guard iron, and went round other locos to see how theirs were fitted. However, on the way back into the yard, he had commented about the tatty fence that had been pulled up when our container had arrived. The fence had never been put back. Now it is covered in brambles! So, spurred on by Bruce, Gil & I decided to do something about it. We found the fence post; prepared it for reuse, and then dug a hole to plant it in. This took most of the afternoon, as the ground is compacted and stony. We were even struggling to remove what turned out to be a bolt from a rail chair complete with its fixing plate. However, by end of play the hole was deep enough and we have a plan for setting it in concrete and reinstating the wire fencing.

Cotswold Steam & Wildlife Preservation Corner
We have seen a pair of pied wagtails taking nesting material into the sandbox on the rusting hulk of 2874. If they truly are nesting, then their nest is deep within the sandbox; you certainly can’t see it
from up on the chassis, or even by lowering a camera inside to take a photo. This would keep their family well-and-truly dry, of course. I will try to capture them in pixels, but they are cautious and wary of being seen entering.

The gales and heavy rain on Monday took their toll on the more exposed part of the garden. As you can see, the hypochoeris glabra (“cat’s ear”) flower succumbed, though the plant probably appreciated the rain. The basal leaves look healthy enough.

Saturday 10th
Everyone apart from Gilbert was busy elsewhere, so he chopped down some of the undergrowth next to the fence and left a bag of postcrete for us to concrete the post in place. Then he went for a ride on the footplate!

Wednesday 14th
Thomas arrived; 1450 + Chaffinch were readied for departure. For 2807 it was boiler washout day:

Brian assisted Bruce to begin with, and then assisted with shunting locos around; but once 2807 was out over the pit he was on the wet end of the hose! Carpo was on the dry end.

Bruce spent much of the day on top of the boiler - which was hot, but not because of steam, it was just the sun beating down on it. Following the reported leaking of water from the pep (“slacking”) pipe, Bruce suspected the top clack was leaking. He removed it and replaced the Taylor Ring inside. He suspects that the clack had not been tightened sufficiently onto the ring, which may have caused a leak. So, he decided to tighten the RHS clack .. and broke the spanner in doing so!

Thereafter, Bruce removed the spacers on the safety valves (blue arrow) and replaced them with his “adjustable solution” of nut (yellow) and locknut (green). He has deliberately set the valves to a slightly lower pressure as they can be adjusted correctly during the steam test (Friday).

John G was wielding his paintbrush again, applying the primer/undercoat to the six rail chairs in the container. He said he’s getting fed up with painting green ones, so one is now black and one red! I’m sure I saw him painting the skip at one point, too!

I concreted in the fence post; restocked the Flag & Whistle with boot scrapers, and then took a look at a reported loose stud on the firehole door mechanism. The stud is a tad loose in its seat, and there is no shoulder to tighten up against, so I was a bit perplexed as to how to better secure it. After discussion, it was decided to just tighten it as before using mole-grips.

Bruce removed the (water) gauge frame to clean it, and then we all mucked in at cleaning the mudhole doors and washout plugs. Carpo wants to get 2807 serviceable again quickly, because there is a shortage of working locos. Foremarke Hall has been failed, which only leaves P&O, 4270 and 2807. This is generally the minimum requirement for operating a two-train timetable (i.e. with one loco as standby).


Sunday, 4 June 2017

Maintenance Update (gala, siphon, nut, slot)

Saturday 27th at Gotherington

Monday 29th at Winchcombe

Wednesday 31st at Toddington.
John G spent the day applying top coats to the 7 rail chairs in the boot scraper production line. He said, “I would have painted more but there weren’t any”. So, he made it stretch out.

Gilbert delivered nuts & bolts of the new tender rear rail guards. Bruce spent much of the day sorting through nuts and reamers. The nuts are for the new plan for adjustable steam valves, and the reamers for the rail guards.

I messed around, completing three boot scrapers and then restocking the two cafes. They had sold seven over the weekend (4 at Winchcombe and 3 at Todders). Then I took four boxes of books (left over from the FLA sales stall) to Broadway to donate to the station group. I had been squirreling away two large enamel signs that we had been given, several years ago. These went up to Broadway for the station, too.

Bruce checked: No additional issues raised over the weekend. 2807 is rostered for 6 consecutive days’ running, starting on Tuesday. Then she will be due for a boiler washout.

Saturday 3rd at Winchcombe.
I called in to get a signature, so seized the opportunity to show you that work really is continuing on the restoration of our siphon van:

Fred, cleaning a brake mechanism

Bill, sanding the subframe

Gilbert, hiding!

Saturday 3rd at Toddington.
I was on Granddad duty during the morning, so I missed Bruce, who popped in for a chat with David about his rail guard iron design. David had mainly come to get his work permit signed. However, he happened to notice that the drain cock operating lever in the cab was loose. The pillar supporting the lever was the problem - a simple tighten of the nuts, you would think? Four hours later …

You see, the pillar is bolted through chequer plates on the cab floor. So, you have to lift up at least one floor panel to get at the nuts underneath. To do that, you have to take the operating lever apart (because the floor panel won’t come up over the lever).

One of the loose nuts was rounded, and proved impossible to tighten properly. It is a struggle getting a spanner under there anyway, so David decided that to do the job properly, the nuts ought to be welded on underneath (and then it is a simple job to tighten the bolt from above).

Two floor panels had to come up to start with. The underneath of these panels was covered in thick ‘gunk’, consisting of oil, coal and dust in a consistency that no doubt protected them from rust, but … Some cleaning thereof was called for.

Eventually, David successfully welded one nut onto a subframe under the panels. To do that necessitated running a bolt through to hold the nut in place while welding it. In welding the second nut, however, some weld spattered onto the protruding bolt’s thread, and David couldn’t get the bolt out again afterwards. Out came the angle-grinder!

While groping in the grime under the floor, David discovered that another bolt in an adjacent panel had no nut on it at all! So, to do the job properly, he decided to weld a nut in place there. In due course, all of the panels were lifted; cleaned; checked for secure fixings, and finally put back together again. Well, the one through which the vertical rod transmits the drain cock operation down to the linkages below the floor didn’t quite fit! The slot for the rod was tight up against the side of the rod, and one of the bolt holes didn’t exactly match where the newly-welded nut resides. The angle-grinder came into play once more to widen the slot, and the bolt hole was “moved” sideways slightly (which meant that the bolt now needed a washer fitting).

Elsewhere, after moving all of the painted rail chairs from the container into the “paint shop” for lettering to be applied, John T kept himself amused for the day, needle-gunning six more rail chairs.


Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Maintenance Update (ashpan, valves, rescue, heat)

Wednesday 17th
Gilbert and Brian arrived and then went off to speak with Graham, who is drawing up the plans for the next ashpan. The current one we had made with hopper doors - sounded a good idea at the time: makes it easy to drop the ash out at the end of the day. It didn’t work; that is to say, it caused more trouble than it was worth and eventually we welded in another floor over the top of it. Also, in practice we overcame a difficulty in raking out ash from the rear section by lowering the floor of that part, thus enabling a rake to get inside and be operated more easily.

When they came back, Gilbert volunteered to clamber inside the firebox to verify some internal dimensions applicable to the ash pan.

The weather today was rain … all day. With 2807 in the shed, Bruce was able to work on the safety valve spacers. The valves lift at about 210 psi instead of the expected 225. Speaking with Carpo, he pointed out that the boiler is pressed for 225 psi which actually means that the pressure must never exceed 225 - it doesn’t mean that she blows off at 225. In fact, it is probably best for the safety valves to lift at about 220 psi. Then even with the blower on and a roaring fire, the valves should prevent pressure rising above 225.

Bruce has calculated that one psi difference is the equivalent of about 3.5 thou’ on the spacers. So, he has taken them off to shave 5 psi’s worth off. We can see what the difference is when she’s next in steam.

Bruce has also modified his design for the guard irons on the back of the tender. The new design has a two-part guard that bolts together. This has the advantage that the lower section can be replaced if, for example, when the tyres wear the guard iron becomes too close to the rails. Carpo gave his blessing to the revised design, so Bruce will now purchase the materials.

I spent most of the day applying the enamel top coat to the boot scrapers in production.

The biggest laugh of the day came from Roy [Loco Dept], who I had been training for fire-lighting. Often you have to clamber into the firebox and get the ash out by lifting a couple of fire bars and raking the ash through into the ash pan. I made a hook for sliding between bars and lifting them up. Roy had found a length of material to make himself one, and he popped in at coffee time to verify that it was suitable. When he departed, he turned the handle on the outside of the van’s door. When we came to leave, we couldn’t get out! The door is of the type with a handle only on the outside. To turn it, you have to lower the window (using a leather strap) and reach outside. However, the windows have been screwed up and can’t be opened! There was no way to open the door or to access the handle to turn it! We were stuck inside! I had to ‘phone a friend’ and ask him to rescue us!!!

Saturday 20th
2807 was next to be in service at the gala (27th - 29th May). However, the connections on Dinmore Manor’s new tender had not been completed in time, and P&O was failed, which left just Foremarke Hall and 2807 to hold the fort over the weekend!

Bill valiantly soldiered on with the restoration of the siphon van at Winchcombe. He was applying bitumen paint to one of the bogies - all on his own! I was on crossing duty at Winchcombe station, but Bruce and John T turned up and were working at Toddington. It was a real ale weekend, and there is a great reluctance to work ... not because of the beer available, but the fact that you have to park in the field and walk down to the yard on event days!

John immediately set-to needle-gunning more rail chairs; Bruce began by investigating remaining issues. Later, Bruce moved on to wire-brushing the chairs and John painted their bottoms.

Graham, on 2807’s footplate, reported that the safety valves are lifting at just before 215 psi. This is with the spacers removed (to be shaved a little) but retaining nuts in their former positions.

Towards the end of the day, the driver found Bruce and gave him a rubber seal, and asked him to fit it in the front steam heating hose. Bruce had a go, but it was not trivial; he ran out of time.

Monday 22nd
P&O had been fixed and was having a warming fire lit in anticipation of a steam test on Tuesday. Dinmore Manor was back in one piece and being prepared for service this week.

Wednesday 24th
Having shaved off 17 thou, Bruce began by fitting the spacers back onto the safety valves. They are only in temporarily, but the nuts on the top of the spindles are the important ones. If the valves lift at or about 220 psi, they will be fitted fully.

Bruce had another idea - why not replace these spacers with a pair of nuts? Adjusting spacers is a fiddle, and if you shave too much off, then you have to make new ones. There is enough thread on the spindles to accommodate a pair of nuts (locking nuts), and these would be a lot easier to adjust.

Job done, Bruce returned to the steam heating hose. He made a small scraper tool to get the remnants of the old one out of the ridge, and then with the help of several people, Alex (I believe) finally managed to get the new one in place.

Meanwhile, John G was working on the boot scraper production line, applying a first coat to the tops of those that John T & Bruce prepared on Saturday. At the other end of the production line, I was applying gold to the lettering and fitting brushes.

There was the one new issue reported (and cleared):
19: Steam heat bag [i.e. hose] on loco is missing the rubber seal. [q.v.]
Bruce cleared issue 7 which reported safety valves lifting at 215 psi (instead of 225).

Finally, the Cotswold Steam & Wildlife Preservation Group ended the afternoon with a session of rabbit spotting.

This weekend is Gala Weekend. 2807 is due to be in service. Parking is on the field, again. Some of us are on duty elsewhere, so I think we all deserve the day off!