Saturday, 25 February 2017

SPECIAL EDITION: 5542, We Meet Again

S P E C I A L   

5 5 4 2   E D I T I O N

Some of you may recall that about a year ago 5542, a GWR 4575 Class 2-6-2T "small prairie", left us in the March of 2016. Affectionately known as the Planet's Favourite Prairie, it was a very much loved engine on our friendly line in the Cotswolds. It was an efficient, powerful, and beautiful tank engine which I had never heard a bad word said about - all I spoke to were saddened about its departure last year but as 35006 and 7903 were about to make their comebacks, there was unfortunately not enough work for her to do. At the time of her departure, Ray had written a brief history of the locomotive with various photographs and drawings that you can find here.

As it was approaching a year since the PFP left us, I thought it would be nice to mark the occasion by giving the loco a visit to see how the last year had gone, and to find out about what the future holds in the short term for 5542, which, at the time of last year's "Farewell" blog, did not have anything booked in for 2017.

The Chairman of Locomotive 5542 Limited, John Wood, has kindly put together this small piece summarising 2016 and the hopes for the season to come:

"After a very successful 7 years on the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway we bade a sad farewell to them at the end of March. 5542 has provided them with about 600 days of use both before and after the last 10 year overhaul and has covered over 30000 miles on their tracks. A 150 mile journey west along the M5 found our summer home at the Torbay and Dartmouth railway where we spent the peak season transporting the holidaymakers along the Devon Riviera. Whilst this line is renowned for its steep grades it is not dissimilar to the WSR stretch between Williton and Bishops Lydeard and although we didn’t expect 9 Mk 1 carriages to be the norm the loco performed admirably when put to the test in early April and handled 7 coaches comfortably. 5542 was in action mainly on midweek services Tuesdays to Thursdays but saw more intensive action around the middle of July and most of August. September 8th was our last running day of a very successful first visit to the Torbay and Dartmouth Railway. Our loco covered some 3400 miles in transporting many thousands of holiday makers on the Devon Riviera. We left South Devon in mid-September heading for the WSR for the last of our 4 contracted visits centred on their Autumn Gala. Sunday (16th October) saw 5542 relieved of the normal duties and used to haul the Quantock Belle which on this occasion had Auto 233 added. This gave a group of our friends and supporters the chance to enjoy a day out at Minehead being transported in, and hauled by, our own property for the first time ever. 5542 and 233 are very unlikely to have worked together in B.R. days as Auto gear has only been added to our loco during our ownership. A very enjoyable trip was had and we also enjoyed some very pleasant Autumn sunshine. Upon return to Bishops Lydeard we left the Q.B carriages and set off in full Auto mode for a quick trip to Norton and back. Although this happened in almost total darkness the auto train atmosphere was very nostalgic. Very many thanks to all who helped operate and organise this trip. In late October we planned to retreat to Buckfastleigh to undertake some winter maintenance and other overdue overhaul work. The first rule of Railway Preservation, never state something will happen before it actually has. We were pleased to be able to delay our winter work when we had an 11th hour call from Minehead requesting that we postpone departure to remain as cover during the Christmas period. A number of locomotive problems had occurred and steam locomotive coverage was looking a little thin. We eventually found use on 8 days and were pleased to have been of assistance. 5542 is now quite definitely at the SDR having passed her Annual boiler exam and about to partake in a few days of operation at the SDR Half Term Gala possibly along with 233, then we have just a few more weeks to complete some maintenance work. 

As for work in 2017, we are pleased to be returning once again to the GWSR during the peak season of June to the end of August. We had some discussions about work during the Spring period which unfortunately fell through so the loco will remain at the South Devon Railway until the end of May. This will allow us more time to attack those maintenance tasks that we never quite get around to and perhaps a few additional days of S.D.R. running. With the final figures for 2016 now in, the loco covered 6594 miles on 110 days of use last year. We are now 4 1/2 years and just over 30,000 miles into the current boiler certificate with 5 1/2 years to go. 

We wonder where that time will take us?"

- John Wood, Chairman 

Locomotive 5542 Limited
February 2017

As you will have gathered from the above, 5542 will be joining us for summer 2017 once again! It is a very pleasant surprise and demonstrates that the environment of heritage steam is always changing, sometimes with unexpected results. 

Researching into the comings and goings of locomotives up and down the country rather resembles a large scale version of musical chairs, their movements dictated by a requirement to make money to keep them steaming and to fill voids left by locomotives taken out of service for overhaul. 

7820 Dinmore Manor will be leaving the GWSR for a holiday to the West Somerset Railway, (alongside 7822 Foxcote Manor, normally to be seen at Llangollen) to fill the gap left by 7828 Odney Manor which is out of action for maintenance. Likewise our Merchant Navy 35006 will be going to the Mid Hants Railway for their Summer Gala. This means of course  that now there will be some work for the little prairie tank, supporting 4270 and 2807 during the summer.

I was able to arrange a visit to the South Devon Railway to see the loco - unfortunately due to circumstances beyond my control the only day I could visit happened to be a day that the '42 was not running. Still, it was nice to catch up with Ray Lee of the 5542 group, one of the familiar faces that used to frequent the GWSR along with John Wood while the loco was here.

The day of the visit, 13th February, was a cloudy day with sunny spells, slightly windy, but dry overall. Not a drop of rain in sight - more favourable conditions for what was the SDR's Winter Gala. After my 2.5-hour drive I parked up and made my way along the footbridge, which gave a great view of the station, shed and workshop beyond.  

5542 sits waiting for her turn out
5542 is in the centre, with a simmering GWR 0-6-0PT 6412 on the road next door. Autotrailer 233 is on the left hand side which will be used later in the week for the gala alongside other Autotrailer examples. Note that the winter work is still ongoing on the SDR; the shed roof is in the process of being replaced and there are new sidings being put in, eventually leading to a new carriage and wagon shed. The large shed at the back is a big and extremely well-equipped workshop with tonnes of very specialist equipment. The water tank on the left came from London but was very luckily a GWR-designed example so it fits in well to the area.

From the platform I was unsure of where I should be going to meet Ray, so I was assisted by a very well presented and well spoken young gentleman who was obviously very proud of his role at the SDR. I'm not sure what his role was but he was only too happy to help and we chatted about our respective railways whilst we found a way to get to the shed (the normal path appeared to be obstructed by the P-Way work on the new sidings).

The loco roster for today was a little quieter than on a weekend, as you'd expect - it featured one of their home fleet, 1369, another GWR 0-6-0PT that was built in 1934, and visiting loco L&SWR 2-4-0WT No. 30587, built in 1874 and designed by W. G. Beattie:

L&SWR 2-4-0WT No. 30587
After finding Ray, it transpired that I'd be having a ride out on the footplate of 6412, which was a surprise, in more ways than one.

GWR 0-6-0PT No. 6412

30587 had been failed the day before but had now been fixed, and there was time for a test run before the first train left the platform later that morning. We'd be double-heading with the Beattie engine for one round trip from Buckfastleigh to Totnes and back with a brake van accompanying. 

But before we could go anywhere, a fair amount of shunting had to be done; 5542 had to be moved onto the other road so there was a patient wait until I was invited aboard the 6412, with Giles (driver), and Will (fireman).

See you later, 55!

While aboard the footplate of the 64, what struck me most was the compactness of the back head; I had never been on one of these smaller GWR 0-6-0s before so it came as a surprise. It's all there, but, on a slightly smaller scale compared to the locos we have at the GWSR. I noted that the red line on the pressure gauge was set at about 170, far lower of course in relation to her bigger sisters. 

The compact backhead of 6412
A more arty view, with part of the Autotrailer
equipment mounted in the background

The 64XX class is unique in the world of pannier tank engines as they were all fitted with the apparatus needed to run auto trains. Indeed the SDR has the use of at least two Autotrailers to make use of this feature - one example, 233, is owned by Locomotive 5542 Limited.

With the Beattie attached to the rear and the brake van behind, the roof hatch was opened and we made our way out of the shed and down the 7-mile stretch of line to Totnes, in the beautiful valley of the River Dart, which we follow for most of the journey.

Blue sky visible through the hatch. It was a much nicer day than
what we had been previously having
The River Dart, which the SDR line follows
Will throws some coal in the firebox
When the firebox doors were opened, the compact size of the footplate became more apparent - as you're generally closer to the fire than in a bigger engine, you can certainly feel the heat on the legs! It was incredibly hot, and required strategic shuffling to ensure that you didn't get too toasty. 

The view up front
Only being a relatively short line, it didn't take awfully long before we had reached Totnes. There is a large gate towards the end of the platform which serves as a division between this small, previously branch line, and the mainline.

Station sign, Totnes
The mainline, as viewed from inside 6412

With the mainline being so close it was a bit of a novelty to see a few modern trains passing us by just beyond the gate; GWR, Cross Country, and an old FGW unit all going through at various points throughout the day. 

The pause at Totnes gave us time to chat and become better acquainted - I was very surprised to hear from our fireman that the driver of 30587, Dave Knowling, has just completed his 62nd year of continuous work with steam locomotives. What a fantastic achievement! Dave is their longest serving driver and today he was at the helm of their oldest visiting locomotive. Here he is with his steed:

Dave Knowling, the SDR's longest serving driver,
with 62 years under his belt
Another feature of the an SDR footplate is the use of soap - not for anything fancy of course, but to keep relatively clean throughout the operating day. A fantastic idea, and, as hot water is conveniently supplied by the pep pipe into a bucket, it's a great way to keep hands and faces clean whilst on the move. Until that is, you run out of soap and when you're sharing a sliver of soap between two footplates, things can get a bit trickier. All this being said though, there's nothing quite like getting filthy dirty, it's proof of a hard days' work!

Playing with trains is good, clean, fun you know.
Glowing coals in 6412's firebox

The stop also allowed the Beattie engine to fill up with water. Only having a 550 gallon tank, means that she had to take on water fairly often.

30587's fireman (l), and Giles, the driver of 6412,
pull the water chute arm into place
"Fill her up!"

Shortly afterwards it was time to head back, trundling along at a modest pace as the small river trickled on by in the opposite direction. There was many a walker along the route, plus photographers and families, most pausing to wave to us as we went by. 

Back at Buckfastleigh I was to have a tour around the shed and the workshop - Ray handed me over to my guide, Mike Webb, but I just had to snap a photo of the 55 before we got started. It's such a shame it wasn't on the roster today.

5542 tucked up ready for the morning

...and I couldn't resist this shot of 6412. She was on her
way back to the shed but the floor was being cleaned with the pep pipe beforehand
The first subject of the tour was sitting just behind 5542, with a warming fire gently pushing out smoke into her chimney and filtering up through to the rafters:

GWR 0-6-0 No. 3205
3205 - Sadly, she is the last remaining loco of her kind - the 2251 Class. Built in 1946, they were the last of the 0-6-0 tender engines to be built in Britain, with a total of 120 examples made. The class was built to replace the ageing locos in Wales that were left over by the Welsh railway companies that were merged into the GWR after the 1923 grouping. As time went on some of the class migrated down into the south west, and 3205 could be found in the Somerset/Dorset area later in life. She was withdrawn from service in 1965 and bought for preservation by the 2251 Fund, whose principal trustee was David Rouse. 3205 arrived at Buckfastleigh for preservation later that year.

Plaque on the side of 3205, in honour of David Rouse

As it says on the plaque, this engine's survival is due to David's involvement - she probably wouldn't be here at all if it were not for this gentleman. I'm sure with the help of the SDR's many willing volunteers she will continue to represent her class for many, many years to come. 

On the road next door to 3205 was her stablemate 3803. A member of the 2884 class, she is one of the sisters of our very own 3850 which is currently under heavy overhaul back at Toddington. 

3803 - One of 3850's sisters, down in the south
3803 was a freight-pulling locomotive, being part of Collett's 2884 class, a development of Churchward's 28XX class which was the first to pull 2000 tons. She spent her life around the GWR network and was based at Tyseley, then Banbury, Southall and Cardiff Canton, while her days were finished at Severn Tunnel Junction. She was withdrawn from service in 1963 and sent to Dai Woodham's scrapyard in Barry, finally being purchased for restoration in 1983. The restoration was completed in 2005 at Buckfastleigh and she spent 2011-2014 on the Battlefield Line, but now she is back here and waiting to be overhauled once again.

4920 Dumbleton Hall

4920 Dumbleton Hall

Visible from the platform, 4920 Dumbleton Hall sits amongst the carriages and Autotrailers. She's looking a bit faded, however there are glimmers of work taking place, as there is a fresh and glossy coat of black and red paint on her front end.

4920 looking good from the front

Dumbleton Hall is one of the earlier examples of Collett's 'Hall' class of locos. Built in 1929, her shed history included Old Oak Common, Oxford, Cardiff, Reading, Taunton and Plymouth. This old girl was the longest serving Hall class locomotive, outliving the rest of her class by 2 years. On withdrawal in 1965 she had covered 1,396,966 miles and like most of the GWR locos was sent to Dai Woodham's. She was purchased in 1974 by the Dumbleton Hall Preservation Society and now carries the accolade of being the oldest Hall class in preservation. She had worked on the Paignton and Dartmouth Railway in the 90s, now she is awaiting an overhaul.

I am reliably informed that 4920 has visited the GWSR in the past but I would dearly love this loco to visit again at some point in the future, as the real Dumbleton Hall is only 5.2 miles away from Toddington and I think it would look fabulous on our tracks!

Autotrailer 233
I also clasped eyes on Autotrailer 233 - it's beautifully restored and well kept. Mike explained to me how they work, as although I'd heard of them before, I had no idea how they worked or why they were required. 

Next stop was a tour around the large and well-equipped workshop. Unfortunately for obvious reasons, photography was not allowed, apart from up on the public viewing space which offers a generous view over much of the left hand side of the workshop. 

1420 and a Prairie in the background

The Prairie is estimated to be finished in April. On the bottom right of the photo, if my memory serves me correctly, is an original 19th Century wheel turning lathe. It works at 6.5 revolutions a minute, depending on the wheel size, and it can take a day and a half to finish a single pair, depending on how much work is involved. The workshop also features a wheel drop, a 100-ton hydraulic press, Gibson ring rolling machine, re-tyring equipment, and an 8-foot vertical boring machine, amongst others.

In the museum, the most fascinating exhibit for me was 'Tiny', a broad gauge engine built for the SDR in 1868, with its history on a little brass plaque.

Tiny's history
It is incredible to think that Tiny is the only original broad gauge locomotive left in the world. Other broad gauge locos you may see being exhibited elsewhere are all replicas or recreations - some with more original parts than others. 

To conclude, the SDR was a beautiful line with a unique set of locomotives and well worth a visit if you've not been before.

It's a shame the 5542 was not running, but, I don't think that really matters as we will all be seeing a certain little plucky Prairie scampering up and down between Toddington and Cheltenham this summer!

Finally I will leave you with an improved and more vibrant version of the artwork I made last year for 5542's departure after many years here on the GWSR - this time though she's on her way back! 

Monday, 20 February 2017

Is Your Loco Warm Enough?

Just a short one this week as I've been working on a 'Special Edition' post that will be published on Saturday morning... keep your eyes peeled for that one, you may have heard the news already but if you haven't then consider yourself in the know! Because of this special post I asked Chris to do the honours again on Wednesday - Thank you! Normal service will be resumed next week.

Work today seemed to be going on in various areas around the David Page shed and was in part due to the wet day and the need to keep dry. One of the valve spindles from 4270 has been taken out for some cleaning and can be seen receiving attention on the bench by Ian and Roger who are giving it some care and attention to remove a build up of this crust which if left could have affected the smooth movement of the valve in the cylinder and could have lead to a failure. The very reason we need to have some annual service time during the closed season.

Roger and Ian on 4270's valve spindles
Meanwhile on the left hand cylinder casing of 2807, work was progressing on the cladding to replace with new insulation strips. These being glued in place prior to the cladding being refitted. Cladding in the past i.e. pre-heritage era, would have been with Asbestos and now we know the associated
hazards with that and use this modern alternative. 

2807 is being wrapped up warm!
Whilst I was away the outer cladding had been replaced and believe this was carried out by Bruce. On the other side, Clive can be seen tightening up the bolts on the front of the cylinder which have been chalked up to indicate the correct order to ensure it is not stressed, and an even pull is applied - this provides a good seating on the face. Interestingly you can also see a gauge device protruding from the valve chest which aids the timing for the cylinder.

Clive tightens up the bolts on the front of one of the cylinders
on 2807
The timing device as fitted
(Photo by Roger Molesworth)
The timing gadget is fitted onto the two cylinder valves so that the timing of the loco can be observed and worked on. As the valve moves, a needle attached to the end of the valve rod slides two sleeves apart (arrowed), eventually marking the end positions of travel. As for the next stage of this process we will have to wait and see!

35006, whilst not yet ready to go out on the line, was receiving some well earned TLC by Alex who took the opportunity to give the cladding a wash with some soapy water to remove some of the dust and grime that has built up whilst out of serviceAlex also got the Brasso out on Thursday and it is sparkling! 

Alex manoeuvres the broom to give every inch of 35006 a good scrub
We always need to keep cleaning our Locos as we do pride ourselves for the general clean turnout on operating days and this needs some initial cleaning to give the cleaner a head start in the morning.

It's not only 2807 that's having insulation installed - some time is being spent keeping the draughts out of the cab in 4270, making sure that the crew keep relatively warm as well! The following few pictures show a new cover being fabricated for the side of the reverser on 4270, which until now has been open and a bit windy for the driver when out running, especially during the colder months. 

Offering up the piece for a test fit
John, Mike and Chris provided the steel plate and cleaned off the metal sheet, which as per our recycling bent, was recovered from the metal skip! Below, Joe is seen mig welding up the side flange in an unoccupied area of the shed which is well shielded by adjacent locos whilst other volunteers are having a tea break.

Joe welds up the side flange for 4270's reverser cover

A key moment in the restoration of the GWR ballast wagon, is the fitting of the last rivet, not so much as a golden rivet but a cherry red one! A small group of volunteers have completely restored and fabricated parts for this hundred year old wagon. 

Clive heats up the rivet...
...which is then taken by Dave, ensuring it doesn't cool too much...
...and inserted into the hole, while the rest of the crew appear to look on
in wonderment at this beautifully glowing object...
...and finally the pneumatic hammer is applied by Ian to create and head and seal the
rivet in place.
Ian, Clive, Dave, Bob, Bas and Tom have now completed this part and I bet are very proud of the restoration to date.

Roger T was kind enough to send me some photos from Saturday 18th when a small amount of work was taking place on 2874. Roger was tasked with needle-gunning and wire-brushing the firebox - the paint that was put on years ago has done its job very well. It has protected it brilliantly from the elements and it wasn't very easy to remove!

Needle-gunned, wire-brushed and ready to paint
Now painted with corrosion-inhibiting paint

Meanwhile, Angela was inside the firebox:
1, 2, 3, 4... have we nearly finished yet?
Angela was cutting a slot in the end of each of the boiler stays thereby also cutting the stay nut in half so it can easily be removed with a hammer and chisel. Roger tells me she cut 60 of the stays on Saturday - how many are left? 

There is an extremely long way to go but perfection takes time and I'm sure 2874 will look wonderful when finished.

In 2807 news from Saturday, Roger M spent the whole day inside 2807's firebox, treating various nuts in what would normally be sat in the fire bed to a coat of heat resistant paint, rated up to 750 degrees celsius. Meanwhile, Bruce spent most of his day making new felts for the piston rod lubricators. He happened to find a tin that was the same diameter as the rods which proved a handy template to cut out the new felts. The top felts have curved lower surfaces to fit around the rods and they're held in place with a metal cover.

New piston rod lubricator felts
The lower felt is just a strip that fits inside the bottom part - above you can see some of the felts sitting in oil ready for fitting.

Last week I was burning the midnight oil and forgot my little addition of a countdown to the new season. I'm back on form now and you can find it down the bottom of the page as always.

As a bit of fun, Roger M has produced this backhead parts naming quiz - how many can you name?

2807 backhead parts naming quiz
Lastly, I leave you with a little joke - OK, it's a bad one (really bad), but it came out of having a lack of a suitable caption and I didn't expect a response. However, Alf, one of the Blog readers came up trumps with an answer and it was so perfect and unexpected it deserved a mention.

What did the safety valve bonnet say to the pressure washer...?
...You have to be good under pressure to work here!

2017 Season Countdown:
4-5 March, BLUE timetable 

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

A Blog of Two Halves

This week I asked Blog Companion Chris to help me out with photographs and a report for the activities of the Wednesday Gang. Here is what he had to say...

During the "closed season" we often get on with tasks that may have been left over, as we always seem to be too busy keeping our fleet up and running for all our visitors to enjoy.

So it was interesting to catch up with the modifications to our newish wash out pump. This is an Ex Fire Service Fire Fighting pump which according to the technical papers supplied, is a light weight version! Having to move this around to our locos was not so easy thus Roger, Tom and Andy came to the rescue (non-fire related I hasten to say) and mounted the pump on a trolley frame. Whilst doing so they have provided a nice hose locker to keep
all the wash out parts together.

Roger, Tom, and Andy looking very proud of their work
You may recall a few Blogs ago that the Steam Pressure Washer had an unfortunate accident and one of its wheels fell off. I managed to catch up with the washer and can now report that a new wheel has been fitted whilst it was in the "pits" for a quick wheel change. Just to the side of the washer is the safety valve bonnet from 4270 which has been temporarily removed to allow access to the valves and a bit of polishing I expect to produce a nice shine.

What did the safety valve bonnet say to the pressure washer...?

Our workshop volunteers have been busy working on the roof structure for Broadway Station and part of this is cutting numerous components to complete a truss.

Bandsaw at work
Above, a bandsaw is cutting angle iron to length and as can be seen some of the cut lengths are stacked on the floor ready to be welded and then riveted together. 

Neal is checking that he has enough before he passes them on to the
painting and riveting crews

Neal shows where on the truss the small angle parts will be going -
Two by two on each side
The truss is based on our existing Toddington Station roof design and I thought a view of this would help show and explain in a picture better than my report!

Here's one that was made quite a bit earlier

Whilst walking around the shed I spied Martin hiding in the smoke box of 4270 or so I thought, but he assured me that he was busy helping clean the boiler tubes which need a good washing out too.

Martin hiding cleaning the boiler tubes
Washing out the tubes ensures that the boiler can work at maximum efficiency to turn all that heat into steam and ensure the fireman's efforts are rewarded. Martin was one end of the team, as in the Firebox, Peter was applying a pressure lance and rodding out any remaining stubborn build up on the inside of the tubes.

Meanwhile on 35006 I caught up with another one of our volunteers giving a spring clean (or is that be a winter clean?) to the footplate area. I did think of my efforts to brush all the dirt under the carpet at home but here having no such luxury it seemed that this may end up under the floor boards!

Chris cleaning up the footplate of 35006

Finally, Peter was getting to grips with the technical issues of a routine weekly and monthly service and trying to find all those hidden greasing points and fluid levels which need to be check off and confirmed as all good.

Bedtime reading perhaps? Peter reads the manual for the JCB

Until next time.


Thanks, Chris - I will look forward to your next instalment! On Saturday I returned to my blogging duties and found that the Gang was a bit thin on the ground this week - a bit like the snow we had in the morning! The snow had all but gone by lunchtime and it very cold and wet indeed. There was still plenty to do and those that were in were certainly getting on with it.

As it was gone lunchtime by the time I visited I had missed most of the fun but Clive N kindly filled me in on the day's activities. 

Jeff I and John C were making a cover for the reverser on 4270 - it also had passed its boiler inspection today and it is soon to have its steam test, as will 3 of the other locos, 35006, 2807 and 7903 Foremarke Hall, all to be taking place during the beginning of March. This will mean a great many warming fires to be lit!

After Clive's kind update I went to see what else was occurring in the DP Shed.

Bob finishing up on the Fly Press
Bob M was on the Fly Press, bending a mystery piece of metal for one of the locos. Perhaps it was something to do with 4270?

Mystery Part Under the Protractor

We then spent a few minutes discussing the pros and cons of new and old technology where presses are concerned - the fly press, as it doesn't use any fluid, won't ever have any leaks. Nor will it need servicing. But of course it will never be a match for the more powerful hydraulic press. There is many an entertaining video on the Internet featuring hydraulic presses and various inanimate 'victims' but I'll let you find those out for yourself.  

New and Old: There's always a place and a use for older machinery on a heritage railway

Today though, the most activity could be found on 35006; with it having such a large footplate area, it's very easy to have many people comfortably working, still with plenty of space to move. Today was no exception - I found John, Jonathan P, Angela, and one of our new volunteers, Yue H, all busy with various footplate jobs that needed attending to. As you can imagine it was a very social occasion, with the opportunity for a good natter whilst working. 

The loco was tucked away in one of the back corners of the shed, but a work light helped to shed some light on the subject, which also made for some challenging interesting photography at the same time.

A good few of the fixtures and fittings on 35006 are unpainted, and over the winter months these parts had gained a bit of a tarnish as it hasn't been used. Yue had the job of removing the very light coating of rust from the reverser using abrasive paper and then giving it a final coat of oil to preserve the appearance.

Yue cleaning the reverser
A work in progress - looking good!
Meanwhile, Angela and Jonathan P were busy on the regulator - they had removed the packing earlier on, and were concentrating on rubbing down the inner surfaces so new packing could be inserted at a later time. It had a little bit of a steam leak so with a bit of luck it should help to seal it and solve the problem.

Angela working on the regulator

The loco's draw hook (unpainted) and rods were also getting rubbed down and having oil applied to them by Dan W. Similar to the reverser, they had become a little rusty. They are all shining now and personally I quite like the plain finish, although most, if not all, of our other locos feature black painted draw hooks. 

I'm hooked on the finish!

Dan making a good job of polishing up 35006's rods

John was tasked with cleaning out the threads on the canopy. There are quite a few overhead bolts on 35006's canopy and I'm sure his arms would have been suffering in the end!

John cleans out the threads on 35006's canopy
35006's stablemate 7820 gets some attention of her own  -
her nameplate is being lovingly polished
On the subject of the Starfish- I was informed that it was there in the shed all along (it was actually behind me) and aside from 3 rivets and a coat of paint it is complete.

It's behind you! The Starfish was always there, it turns out

Outside in the yard, Ray and Eleanor were busy taking out the boiler stays on 3850's boiler - once again I was too late for any photos but I am reliably informed that the nuts are not easy to remove. I'm sure many of you will have seen inside a boiler and there have got to be hundreds of nuts inside - it's going to take a lot of hard work and cups of tea to get through that, I'm sure. 

The 2807 Group had another busy week themselves - on Wednesday 8th February, it was found that the cylinders had worn differently on each side - this is something that is not easily explainable, so perhaps we will find out more about it another time.

Brian and Gilbert removed the right hand cylinder covers and subsequently cleaned all of the studs and ran dies down them, and of course the nuts had a tap run through them as well. The final job was to fit PTFE seals to the two covers, and then it was a team effort to put the covers back on. Gilbert manned the pulley, Brian applied and brawn - and Alex kindly supplied the encouragement. 

The paintbrush was put to work once again - the inside of the cylinder cladding received a nice coat of black paint from John G. The outside, as well as the running boards, will get a coat of their own at a later date. 

The gadget for guiding the loco/tender links into their correct holes is now finished! It even comes with a handle, made from a length of fencing sourced from the skip. Recycling at its best.

Link Alignment Gadget
(Photo by Roger Molesworth)

Saturday meant new brake blocks for the loco - the best way to do this was to put it over a pit so the complete mechanism that connects all the brakes together could be undone. It was an opportunity to couple the loco and tender together and finally test out John T et al's new gadget. It's reported that it worked well but instructions will be needed for those not familiar with it.

It conspired that the new blocks were a little too wide at the pivot point, so they need to have a small amount machined off each one. With this, the loco was pushed back into the shed. 

Another big task for Saturday was to replace the left hand rocking shaft and connect up the valve, now that Bruce had finished fitting the offset pin into the shaft. The rocking shaft is heavy - a two-man lift - and getting it up onto the running board was a job in itself. 

The rocking shaft is finally on the running board ready for installation
(Photo by Roger Molesworth)

Bruce cleaned up and oiled the brass shells - these sit at an incline of about sixty degrees. The outer arm of the rocking shaft (black, in the photos) had to pass down through a slot in the running board. Once this was done the shells had to be clasped around the shaft whilst two willing volunteers used a bar through the centre to manoeuvre the shaft into its saddle.

Photo by Roger Molesworth
Once this was done, the top cover went on and was bolted down, ensuring that there was some movement still retained. The final part for this stage was to fit the oil pot on the top.

Fitting the oil pot
(Photo by Roger Molesworth)

The assembly as shown in the BR "Black Book"

The next part of the job was to fit the valve link (6) between the rocking shaft (outer black arm) and the valve spindle crosshead (3). The taper pin had to be inserted in the rocker shaft end, which meant some rotating to get it into the right place. 

At the other end, the valve spindle crosshead (3) was refitted and connected up to the valve spindle (2) - although valve (1) needed to be pushed forward to allow this to happen. Now, the outside motion is complete!

Back inside the frames, the rocking shaft arm (red) needed to be connected to the intermediate valve rod ˆthat joins the rocking shaft to the die block (21) in the expansion link (22).  So Roger volunteered to go in the frames whilst John T manned the reverser in the cab, and someone else on the outside pushed the valve further forwards, sufficient for the rod and the arm to mate. Finished! Here is what it looks like from the outside:

Photo by Roger Molesworth