Monday, 22 February 2016

Ongoing Winter Maintenance

There have been one or two casualties in the steam loco dept lately.   I understand that the oil drip catcher below was a little too tall to be fit for purpose and managed to come off second best during a recent shunting manoeuvre.
Shunter 1:0 Drip Container
 One of the yard hose pipes was busy spraying water everywhere.
Competing with the Stanway Fountain
 It wasn't frost damage as first feared, just one of the joints was rather loose.  It was soon fixed.

There is still a fairly long list of winter maintenance activities taking place on Dinmore Manor at the moment.  Now that her rods are back in place, she was able to be shunted out into the yard and onto a pit. 
Out in the sunshine for the first time in a while
An advantage to being outside was that needle gunning the coal space in the tender could take place... it would have been rather anti-socially loud to have done it in the shed.  Paul and his son Dan took on the task.
Paul (l) needles guns, Dan sweeps up the debris
 Later on, Dan painted rust resistant primer onto the newly needle-gunned section of the tender.  Apparently he took great delight in painting his dad into a corner and was disappointed to find out that Paul could just step out over the back and get off that way. I fear that Dan's pocket money may well be in jeopardy!
Newly primed section of the tender.
 Something that had been noticed, after just two seasons of use is that over-enthusiastic use of the whistle chain on the driver's side of the cab had caused the chain on fireman's side to rise up and clout the cab roof, thereby removing a fair bit of paint.  More primer was applied to the affected area.
Working on the chain gang
 The vac pump has now been fixed, reassembled and is fit for further service.
Mike, next to the newly renovated vacuum pump.
There was still a little tidy up work to be done with the rods, Roger went round inserting split pins in all necessary locations.
Roger taps in a split pin.
 Mark was at work in the firebox fabricating the ash pan sprinkler
I don't think that Mark wanted his picture taking at first...
...but he soon bowed to the inevitability of appearing on this blog.
Piping for the ash pan sprinkler appearing in the firebox
Mark provided the following two photos from the inside of the firebox:
The rocking grate mechanism (photo courtesy of Mark Harding)
One of the pipes, progressing towards an entry hole cut in the ash pan (photo courtesy of Mark Harding)
Being stuck indoors for a while has prevented any cleaning underneath Dinmore Manor for a while.  Fresh from fixing the vacuum pump, Mike took the opportunity whilst it was on a pit to scrape off some of the worst of the accumulated grime.
Mike at work
Meanwhile, 2807 progresses well, the last few items of the valve gear are re-installed:
2807 valve gear reassembly in progress
 Whilst underneath 2807, a disembodied hand installed split pins/lock nuts under the recently reattached pony truck.
Thing at work
 Meanwhile, Ade and Steve were working on fixing a steam leak from one of the piston valves, they were awaiting the arrival of some tools and didn't want to be pictured stood around doing nothing:
They moved so quickly to escape from being photographed, that they were a blur
Needless to say, more cleaning was taking place on 2807 too:
Alex makes 2807's tender shine
35006 is still awaiting the actuating rods for her tender brakes to be machined, so whilst that is taking happening, other tasks are being ticked off the list:
Somewhere under the floor, the boiler keys have been installed
 There is also a troublesome leak from one of the oil feeds.  It is troublesome in as much as the joint that is leaking is nigh on inaccessible.  Somewhere up above, Steve is reaching through a gap in the frames with a spanner, to a location that he can't see. John and Andy advise from the outside as to whether or not he is in the right spot.
Andy (l) and John directing Steve (out of view)
 "Ergonomics" and "Ease of maintenance" are not words or phrases that featured in the lexicons of steam locomotive designers. 

The boiler of 3850 has been almost entirely de-tubed now, however a lot of accumulated scale remained in there.  Pete and myself set to removing it:
In need of a clean out
Pete, removing scale that I had swept up to the scale to the smoke box end
 Once the scale had been removed, there was still the little task of cutting up the remainder of the tubes to be small enough to fit in the scrap metal skip.  It would have taken a fair while with a hacksaw, so we decided to cheat a bit and use the band saw.
Pete, happy that he's not doing it the hard way.
 The larger tubes for the superheater elements took a little longer, but were still cut up fairy quickly.
Setting up for a large tube.
 Needless to say, the weather turned to the usual heavy rain in the afternoon and we had to relocate indoors... electricity and water are not a good combination.
Dry again.
 Mark interrupted at one point to cut up some tubes to length for the ash pan sprinkler.
Ash pan sprinkler pipes being cut
The finished job, a pile of half length large tubes...
...and the corresponding pile of smaller ones.

Monday, 15 February 2016

The Romance of Steam

Events conspired to keep me from Toddington on Saturday, but I was at least able to sneak in for a while on Sunday to have a look and see what had happened.

One of the more butter fingered members of the steam loco dept managed to comprehensively destroy one of the mugs in the mess coach.  Protestations by the culprit that it had simply disintegrated when picked up by the handle were widely disbelieved.
An ex-mug
So it was just as well that a box of new mugs had arrived:
Tea breaks can continue, relief all round!
The workshop has been undergoing something of a revamp recently, much of the machinery has been relocated and new storage has been installed along one of the walls by Tim & Neil.
New storage in the work shop.
4270 has had a superheater element removed, I believe that the one taken out os to be used as a pattern for some replacements.
Superheater element missing, bottom centre...
...and the removed element itself.
2807 is not only back on its pony truck, but has also been moved forward on road 7 onto the indoor pit.
Left to right, 5542, 7820 & 2807.
The driver's side rocker, which was on the work bench last week has been reinstalled:
Back where it belongs
Curiously, although 2807's pony truck is now attached and looks complete, the following items were to be found soaking in oil in the oil store, purporting to be from 2807's pony truck.  Hopefully some kind soul will enlighten me as to why they are here rather than on the loco.
The mystery pony truck lubrication
Meanwhile, Dinmore Manor has shown signs of coming back together, all the coupling rods and connecting rods are now back in place:
Fireman's side...
...and driver's side.
Neither connecting rod has been attached to their cross heads though.
The leading axle boxes that I created the lubrication felts for last week have had their covers replaced.  The ones on the trailing axle have yet to be done.
Axle box cover, back in place.
I also noted that the cylinder cover on the driver's side that Tony and Sam were working on last week has been replaced too.
Cylinder cover back in place.
35006 has been split from her tender to allow the fitting of a new pair of boiler keys, the process wil involve lifting the cab floor.
Separated from its tender
The boiler keys themselves were receiving a bit of attention on Sunday prior to their fitting:
Boiler keys being attended to
 The brake beams on 35006's tender had been fitted for the last time, the actuating rods are away being machined.

Finally, yet more boiler tubes have been removed from 3850, with all of the large tubes now disconnected and the majority of the small ones too.
Weight saving measures in 3850's boiler.
We seem to have run out of room in the scrap metal skip for the removed tubes.
A skip full of old tubes
Few people were about on Sunday, presumably because it was Valentine's Day.  I can only assume that the members of the steam loco dept are all a bunch of diehard romantics at heart and were all treating their better halves to champagne, chocolates and flowers.  If your better half is a volunteer in the steam loco dept, and you didn't get champagne, chocolates & flowers, you may well want to ask some searching questions!

Monday, 8 February 2016

Perfect Weather for Ducks

Saturday was a day of unremitting rain.  Normally on a Saturday, there is a scene not entirely unlike the stereotypical European beach holiday wherein there is a vying for sun loungers by the pool, except in our case it is vying to get your locomotive out of the shed and onto a pit before anybody else does.  On Saturday, it was raining cats and dogs, and a fair few other domestic pets too.  The outdoor pits were eschewed in favour of leaving the locos indoors and crawling underneath them the hard way when necessary.
Snorkel & flippers required if you wanted to use the ash pit
Given the choice of cleaning under either 4270, (safely parked up on the indoor pit on road 7), or cleaning under Dinmore Manor (which wasn't), Eleanor and Paul unsurprisingly chose the luxury of cleaning 4270.
Eleanor cleaning under 4270
 Paul called out "I bet you can't see me!", and he was right, I couldn't, he was lurking somewhere high up in the motion.  He kindly popped back down to have his picture recorded for posterity though.
Paul, captured for posterity
 Mind you, I don't think Paul saw whatever it was that he cleaned with his ear either.
I've heard of keeping your eye on the job, but not your ear.
 Up above, Pete was busy touching up the scratches in 4270's paintwork.
Pete painting
You may remember that last week, 2807's pony truck had been reassembled.  The next job was to relocate it underneath the loco.
How many people does it take to re-wheel a 28XX?
 Not too much later, the job was done
2807... a 2-8-0 once again
 I say "Job done", there is still plenty of pipe work relating to the brakes and steam heating that will need refitting.  

Other jobs are taking place on 2807 as well as the attention to the pony truck.  A pin in one of the rockers has been replaced, the original being too worn for further service.
Replacement pin in situ, the old one to the left.
More tubes have been removed from 3850 since last week
Taking the tube
 Martin has moved up a gear when it comes to slicing up the removed tubes to a size that will fit the scrap metal skip.  Last week he was using an angle grinder with a cutting disc, this week he was using an electric band saw.  Who knows what he will be using next week.

Cutting old tubes the easy way
Dinmore Manor was receiving some TLC on Saturday too.  It was deemed rather too anti-social to continue needle gunning the tender space indoors, so Neil and Alex put a second coat of bitumastic paint on the bits of the tender coal space which had already been prepared.
Neil (l) and Alex.
 GWR locos typically come fitted with vacuum pumps to maintain the vacuum and prevent the brakes coming on whilst the loco is in motion.  The vacuum pump operates at both ends of its stroke, but Dinmore Manor's only appeared to be doing half the job.
The culprit, one of the glands was in rather more pieces than it should have been
It should have been wrapped around the vac pump rod, but wasn't.
A replacement has already been sourced and fitted.

Dinmore Manor has been running without flange lubricators thus far, Ian was given the brief to fabricate and fit some.
It involved some cutting...
...and welding
 Part of his brief was that the flange lubricators should be as inconspicuous as possible, so they got tucked away, largely out of sight under the running plate.
Inconspicuous flange lubricator
 Another modification for this season will be the fitting of an ash pan sprinkler:
Dan, underneath Dinmore Manor, cutting holes for the ash pan sprinkler feed pipes.
 A slight steam leak has been noticed on one of the cylinders, new sealing rings were being manufactured to cure the problem.
Tony (l) and Sam trial fitting the sealing rings on the cylinder cover...
...and later on holding them in place with jointing compound
 Just to prove that I occasionally do more than wander around the place taking photos of other people at work, I spent a fair while underneath Dinmore Manor, manufacturing new lubrication felts and wicks for some of the axle boxes:
All it needs now is some oil and the cover refitting
I was informed by Gil of the 2807 group who has just had some made for 2807's pony truck axle boxes, that getting these made commercially costs £65 each, plus the dreaded VAT (What value does VAT add exactly?).  The fours sets that I turned up will have saved a few bob.  My rates are extremely reasonable and my invoice is in the post.

 Work has been carrying on underneath 35006, the tender brakes being the recipient of most of the attention.
Jeff, having just crawled under the tender the hard way
The brake beams in place
 All the brake beams have been trial fitted, though I believe that some will need to be removed again for further machining.  The actuating rods have yet to be fitted.  All in all, she is well on the way to being ready to haul our service trains.  I have it on good authority that barring any unforeseen eventuality, she will be running during the "Cotswold Festival of Steam" gala on the 28th - 30th of  May.  We are hoping the details of the gala will be able to be brought to you in the near future.

And finally, the Heritage Railway Association had its annual awards ceremony on Saturday evening.  The 35006 group was presented with the John Coiley Award for Locomotive Restoration 2015.
Photo courtesy of John McMillan
Congratulations to the 35006 group and to everybody who has has been involved in this magnificent restoration project.  Needless to say, everybody in the Steam Locomotive Dept is eagerly awaiting the day that she enters traffic.