Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Great news on the steam test

Some excellent news today.  Gilbert reports:

"The boiler Inspector carried out his hot examination at working temperatures this morning and has passed the loco for another 12 months of operation.

Safety Valves were tested, the firebox interior was scrutinised, and the smokebox interior was examined. No faults were identified."


Saturday, 19 August 2017

Maintenance Update (panic, balance, corks, dummy)

Wednesday 16th
Minor panic this morning when Stuart noticed that I had got the wrong date in the AGM notification! We had asked for 9th September, but that day was already booked, and we had to settle for the 30th September. I had already drafted the calling notice but then forgot to change the date! 140 letters now need sending out to correct the date!

Down at Todders, John G was quite taken aback when he opened up the container to see 15 rail chairs in various states of undress. He and Steve P spent most of the day slapping primer paint on their tops. By end of play, there were 9 in green, 3 in crimson and 1 in black, plus 2 for which there was no room left on the bench!

Bruce began by caulking the balance weights on the driving wheels. These seem to work loose over time - not very loose, but moveable. So, he’s tried caulking from a different angle in the hopes that their weight throws them outwards, hence he caulked them on the inner edges. He pulled Steve away from rail chairs to paint over the caulking plus other knocked-off spots on the wheels.

Bruce also tackled the slacking (aka “pep”) pipe, which had been noticed (though not reported) as leaking. Removing the innards, he lapped the tapered core into body and fitted new packing.

Alex seemed to spend the entire day in the pit beneath the loco, cleaning everything within reach. She promised to come back later in the week and carry on, using a stepladder to get up higher!

A coal delivery arrived during the morning, and Bruce and I assisted by opening gates and moving cones. We were impressed at this enormous lorry being capable of doing a U-turn in the car park (albeit leaving rubber on the road surface and redistributing some ballast between the rails of the loading line).

I did needle-gun three more rail chairs, and spent some time investigating the outstanding issues:

Issue 1 was the stuck J-cocks. We had decided to take no action on that, so I signed that one off.

Issue 22 said, “Oil corks on motion in pour [sic] condition …”. I checked them all and found them all to be in satisfactory condition. Therefore, someone may have changed them all and just not signed the issue off. So I did.

Issue 26 said, “Vac reservoir slow to build up. Train pipe falling quickly”. Discussing possible causes with Bruce, we felt that the symptoms might point to a fault in the train pipe connections, rather than on the loco. Furthermore, the rubber seals in the vacuum hose ends have been replaced recently, and that could have fixed the problem. So, we signed this issue off with the proviso that the situation be monitored and reported back.

Saturday 19th
I was first to arrive at Todders and moved an ordered boot scraper down to the Flag & Whistle. Then most of those chairs undercoated by John & Steve had to be moved up into the van, because the container is very dusty and makes a mess of the top coat. I was almost last to arrive at Todders, too, except that Bruce popped in for elevenses! It is still bowls season, though not for much longer. After he departed, I simply slapped enamel top coats on one MR (crimson lake), one LNWR (black), three BR(W) and about five GWR rail chairs. The rest will have to wait!

2807 is rostered to be in service on: 22nd - 28th & 30th August; 2, 3, 8 - 10 & 12 - 15 September.

There was just one complete boot scraper on the shelf, which I took to Winchcombe for the Coffee Pot café. Whilst there, I decided to call in at our siphon van to see how the chaps are getting on with its restoration. What did I find?

Empty! No one there either! That’s a dummy at the far end (seriously!).


Saturday, 12 August 2017

Maintenance Update (spanners, strip, burst, drill)

Wednesday 9th
There was a distinct air of dampness during the morning. Nevertheless, Bruce & Gil stayed dry in the shed; John G stayed dry in the container, and I was dry inside the van. Fred was probably dry, too, but he was at Winchcombe.

Last Saturday, I began putting yellow insulating tape around some of our spanners. This is just an attempt to identify which are ours, as equipment is being “shared” more and more frequently. I completed one drawer of AF spanners. Today, Gilbert began the next drawer - Whitworth spanners.

Which links me to the next photo: We have had need of a spanner to fit the safety valves. Indeed, I strongly suspect that we had one once! Gilbert has been looking out for a second-hand one at car boot sales, but baulked at the price of £12. Well, it was time to bite the bullet, and Bruce gave me the necessary data; I searched the Internet; Bruce verified that I had found the right thing, and £34.90 later, we have a new 7/8” Whitworth ring spanner:

The second item in the photo is the thin strip of steel bought by Bruce for the fire hole door runner. Much debate took place over how to prevent the doors from escaping from their top runner and jamming. Several people added their tuppence worth, but what finally swung it was a comment from John H that he’d fitted a strip inside a bottom runner on Erlestoke Manor six years ago, and it is still working fine!

The strip slid into the bottom runner beautifully. Would it stay in place? Would dust get beneath it, causing it to lift and jam the doors? John said “No” to the latter; and it was decided to bend one end over to prevent the strip from going walkabout, yet retaining the ability to be pulled clear if necessary.

The bending did not go to plan! The strip broke. So, it ended up being welded back together again. 😊

John G applied a top coat to the three chairs in the production line, and then wire-brushed a further three. When the rain stopped, I needle-gunned four chairs. Only four, I hear you say. Ah, well, I was not impressed with the power of the needle gun - it barely tickled against my hand instead of boring a hole in it. After fiddling about with it for a while to no avail, I took the gun apart. The problem then became obvious: The piston inside the gun had bifurcated into a head and a shaft. In effect, the head was going nowhere while the shaft fragment just bounced joyfully around inside on its own. Luckily, I found a spare head and effected a repair. It did occur to me that John T might have been playing with a duff tool for months!

Friday 11th
A quick dash to Todders to paint the lettering on a black rail chair for an emailed order that is to be collected tomorrow!

Saturday 12th
David, John T and I all arrived at the same time. John decided that he would needle-gun more chairs, so I chose to do the wire-brushing thereof. David asked what there was to do on the loco, and the answer was “nothing”.

As far as I could remember, the only outstanding issue on the log is that of the stuck J-cocks.

We had discussed this issue on Wednesday. We believe that their only use is to shut off live steam (at boiler pressure) in the event of a pipe bursting (red arrows) between the manifold and the W-valve (yellow arrow).

Bruce suspects that someone has, in the past, tightened the nuts on the base of these cocks to stop them from leaking. Now they won’t move at all.

We think that the probability of these pipes bursting is extremely low. If the pipe did burst, you may not want to lean over a jet of steam and reach up to these cocks to turn one off. So we decided to take no action.

As is often the case, you can find something to do! David decided that the pillar drill was in need of some attention. The power cable has always been loose - there ought to be some sort of clasp at the point where the cable goes into the drill casing. So David made one! It was impossible to get at the inside of the drill casing, where ideally a nut would secure the fitment, so he devised a plate to bolt onto the outside and clasp the brass bit on the cable end.

Then (wearing his Health & Safety hat … not the one in the photo) he decided that the cover on the top of the drill was worse than useless! After considering how to improve it, David decided to throw it away and make a better one. So he’s taken measurements away with him to tackle it off-site. Finally, of the three handles (that operate the drill) only one has a knob on the end. So, David has taken away one handle (plus knob) to see if he can get two more knobs to fit.

End of play for today!


Saturday, 5 August 2017

Maintenance Update (TPO, hydrostatic, valves, firehole)

Friday 28 July
Photo received from Brian showing “our” TPO finally leaving Toddington.

We had a loan agreement for the use of the TPO as a storage facility and workshop. So, it came as something of a surprise when we received notice from the owner, as the board minutes of 9th July 2016 say: “A letter was received from Andrew Goodman (AG) and circulated to all Board members offering the opportunity to purchase the TPO (Post Office Stowage Vehicle) or to vacate it by 31st July 2016.” It was “all hands to the TPO” in order to clear out everything - and find somewhere for it all!

And so, the TPO has sat in sidings at Toddington for almost a full year before it was finally taken away.

Saturday 29th
It was a diesel gala, hence 2807 was accessible. However, I was on crossing monitor duty and Bruce had a bowls match, so our chaps were thin on the ground. As John T reports:

“Gil and John T worked on sorting Defect Report 28, concerning an intermittent fault on the hydrostatic lubricator, where the glass 3rd from left sometimes wasn't feeding oil. Firstly the end plugs on the oil supply gallery were removed and the gallery rodded - it was clear. Then the reported glass, seals, and adjusting valve were removed and examined. The packing in the adjusting valve gland seemed suspect. It was removed and 3 staggered rings of 1/8" packing inserted. The glass was cleaned and the unit boxed up.

Later, Gil was in the office archiving drawings, whilst John did a little needle gunning. Only 3 chairs cleaned, because of getting the repaired hand back into use! … (and the dreadful state of 2 of the chairs).”

[Note: John has had some tendon issues in his fingers, which has now received attention; but obviously one always has to be careful to allow a repair to heal in its own good time!]

Stuart was manning a stall inside the diesel shed.

Wednesday 2nd
The current GWSR regime insists that 2807’s safety valves should blow at 225, and not 215. So, Bruce removed the spacers and took them home to machine a few more thou off.

He was back later to refit them. He spends a lot of time up on the top of our engine!

Meanwhile, John G was applying a top coat to 7 chairs and black bottoms to John T’s three from Saturday. He also escorted a couple of chaps around the yard - which is good PR for the railway.

Over at Winchcombe there was a hive of activity in the siphon van:

Bill painting!

Fred & Gilbert putting finishing touches.

Thursday 3rd
Two emailed requests for GWR boot scrapers plus a phone call from the Coffee Pot café (only one boot scraper left!). So, a trip to Todders was necessary and I took the remaining two boot scrapers (an LNWR in black and a BR in crimson) over to the café. It was an ideal time to cut more wedges, too, as I avoid using the bandsaw when other people are trotting about!

Saturday 5th
Boot scrapers were my priority, as I had a gentleman coming to pick up his ordered GWR one, and both cafes were down to only 3 each. So, I completed the 8 that John G had been working on and then applied primer coat to the three that John T had previously cleaned up. I then restocked the cafes. That LNWR one had gone already!

Gilbert wandered down, having discovered that he was on his own at Winchcombe. When Bruce arrived, the two of them played around on the engine. Bruce had made a 37 mm shim to slide behind one of the wedges that prevent the boiler from moving sideways. Although it chose not to slide in immediately, judicious use of the copper mallet persuaded it to go home!

The two of them spent much of the day investigating the firehole doors, which have a tendency to stick. Partially dismantling the mechanism, they discovered that the doors could slip out of the top runner, especially if the handle was pulled towards you while opening them. A solution was devised whereby a thin piece of metal (3½ mm deep and about 16 mm wide) would be inserted into the lower runner, thereby raising the doors. Gilbert was tasked with finding one during the week!

Cotswold Steam & Wildlife Preservation Garden.
There are tiny seedlings popping up in the garden! Not sure what they are, but hopefully they are from some of the seeds that I have scattered.

I scattered some poppy seeds there today, and some seeds from a variety of cranesbill that happily grows between the bricks on my driveway.

There are hundreds of varieties, but this photo (from Wikimedia, seemingly by an Alves Gaspar) is a close representation of my one.

Oh, and the three or four shoots of bramble that are sneaking through the soil got a shot from the Resolva gun!


Thursday, 27 July 2017

Maintenance Update (trip, hook, trip, PAT)

Saturday 22nd
2807 was in service, so there was little for us to do. I had planned on needle-gunning rail chairs before the rain set in. However ….

Bruce & I arrived to discover that there was no electricity to the van, and the floor was rather wet. The wet could have been the fridge defrosting, of course. Eventually, we obtained the key to the distribution box and discovered that the trip had tripped. It insisted on tripping, regardless of which items were plugged in and switched on. Basically, this supplies power to our fridge, microwave, kettle and light. So, Bruce grovelled around under & behind the table, only to discover that the four-way socket was sopping wet! He took it apart to dry it, but discovered that it was “past its sell-by date” and decided to replace it completely. He zoomed off and obtained a replacement from Screwfix, and we fitted the new one and tidied up the cabling to everything. All was hunky-dory.

I managed to needle-gun and wire-brush four rail chairs in between showers. The heaviest shower, at midday, demonstrated exactly why the socket was wet - rain was being driven through a window that was ajar! This time, though, Bruce had fitted the new socket onto the wall, so it remained perfectly dry.

Well, that is almost all that we achieved for the day! Gil did divert away from the siphon restoration and call in at Todders with a view to making a hook for holding siphon doors open. This proved too difficult without having a furnace to hand.

Wednesday 26th
With 2807 being in service and the weather being drizzly, there was little enthusiasm to do much! The most productive was John G, who painted the tops of seven rail chairs. I applied a top coat to just two. Bruce made a shim for one of the wedges that stabilise the boiler between the frames. The wedges wear a bit, as the expansion and contraction of the boiler moves them to and fro by about half an inch. Brian was here, too. Gil & Fred passed through on their way to Winchcombe.

I had called in at Winchcombe on the way to Todders (and hence missed Gil & Fred). The café had sold a couple of boot scrapers; Bill was taking a tea break (sat outside the café). He was saying how they are running out of things to do on the siphon - it must be nearing completion!

I called in there on my way home, but the siphon was deserted - everybody had buzzed off!
It is looking good, though.

We discussed many things at Todders (over cups of tea) during the day. Brian has been in discussion with Llangollen with a view to 2807 paying them a visit from October to early January. If you saw the list of locos lined up for Old Oak Common’s open day in September, you will have seen 2807 and Foremarke Hall both on the list. GWSR cannot release both locos for a weekend, and although 2807 would be more sensible as it would add variety (i.e. rather than them having two Halls) it seems that this view is not shared universally.

Brian & Bruce decided to take a well-deserved trip behind 2807, while John finished the last rail chair, and I packed up ready to leave.

However, just as I had locked up, the PAT (Portable Appliance Test) team arrived! So, I opened up again to give them access to the fridge, kettle, toaster, microwave, radiators and vacuum cleaner. The toaster failed and was condemned. The kettle got knocked over, spilling water over my boots. They changed the plug on the fridge; otherwise all was well.

I don’t know what you think, but 2807 running with a red lamp on the front just looks plain wrong to me! It looks as though it’s going backwards.

2807 is due for a rest during August, so there may be more things to report then.


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).