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

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Gala Announcement No. 1, Winter Maintenance Continues

Firstly, I hope you all enjoy the photos from this week. On the last blog I didn't bring my SLR and had to rely on my mobile phone - something I won't be doing again (aspect ratio of the photos made for terrible viewing, I thought). Back to the SLR this week thankfully. 

The first item on the agenda for this week's blog is, as you may have gathered from the title, an announcement regarding the first visiting loco at this year's Cotswold Festival of Steam. The theme for this year is 'Work Horses of Steam' - celebrating the unsung heroes that kept the country's economy going. 

Some artwork for this year's Gala
Ray, although hanging up his blogging hat at the beginning of the year, is still a fireman on our line and is a part of the Gala Committee (along with several other of our volunteers). Organising one is not an easy task but they play an enormous part in the success of the railway and have contributed to the record-breaking years of late. I am sure it will be a massive success as always.

He has very kindly written a few words and supplied some beautiful photos of the first visiting loco - you may have heard about it already from various sources, but if you haven't - here it is:

Ex-LMS 'Black Five' 4-6-0 no. 45305

The first of our visiting locos for the 2017 Cotswold festival of Steam gala (subtitled Workhorses of Steam) has been announced in the form of Black Five, 45305, which comes to us by kind permission of the Great Central Railway and the 5305 Locomotive Association. 
Black Fives were designed by Sir William Stanier during his tenure as CME at the LMS Railway and were intended as a mixed traffic, go anywhere, do anything 4-6-0. In a production run lasting from 1934 until 1951 (by then under BR), a total of 842 were built which could be found operating on all parts of the railway network after nationalisation. They remained active on the railway network until the final day of BR steam, indeed three out of four of the locomotives used on the final BR standard gauge steam train (the fifteen guinea special) on August 11th 1968 were black fives. 
45305 was built in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in 1936 and spent most of her working life in the north west of England, finishing up at Lostock Hall. She was originally scheduled to haul the fifteen guinea special however a failed brick arch shortly beforehand saw her sidelined in favour of 45110, which worked the first and final legs of the tour. Things looked bleak for 45305 after that, as she was sold to Draper’s scrapyard. Most scrapyards of the time cheerfully took to converting incoming steam locos to razor blades in short order, but Albert Draper took the view that he should save at least one for posterity, so 45305, unlike the other 742 steam locos that had entered the yard was saved and is even now still owned by the Draper family. 45305 has enjoyed a number of stints on the mainline during a busy preservation life, and when not on the mainline, can usually be found working on the Great Central Railway.
45305 at Kinchley Lane during the GCR's recent Winter Gala
45305 on shed at Loughborough on the GCR
45305 crossing Arten Gill viaduct on the Settle and Carlisle line
The sometimes carried nameplate
Keep your eyes peeled for future announcements in the coming months!

If you'd like to re-visit the main Gala reports of old you can find them below (Day 1 just for reference):

Back to the home locos, the 2807 Group were busy once again on Wednesday. Bruce was up on top of the boiler refitting the clack valves as he had machined them. He was very pleased at how they remained steam tight after the previous machining, a couple of years back. 
Bruce fitting the brass bonnet back over the clacks.
(Photo by Roger Molesworth)
Bruce also measured the new pin for the rocking shaft and checked the dimensions of the taper within the rocking arm. The tapers must match exactly.

Meanwhile, John T continued with his gadget for lining up the 3 drag links. It appears that the middle link sits slightly higher than the rest so the gadget needs some further fettling!  

Brian was tasked with re-fitting the two eccentric rods between the frames. Later, John assisted him in removing the LHS front cylinder cover so they can check the internal condition for wear. To get the cylinder cover off means removing the cylinder cladding, which necessitates removing the rear section of cladding, too! Luckily, it didn’t mean removing the valve cladding because that means having to remove the valve rod lubricator... Roger remarked, did Churchward ever work in the loco department, or just in the design shop?

Brian demonstrates how to remove the cylinder cladding
(Photo by Roger Molesworth)
Cladding removed, the piston can now be seen
(Photo by Roger Molesworth)
The piston head was right at the front of the cylinder, which meant you couldn't measure the internal dimensions or check for wear. So, Brian found a pinch-bar, and Roger M utilised a piece of wood, so together they could push the loco backwards a couple of feet. Fortunately it all looks good inside the cylinder.    

On Saturday there was quite a variety of jobs being undertaken, with most locos having jobs on their own individual to-do lists getting ticked off as we slowly steam ahead towards the new season. Broadway canopy is still ticking along, with long lengths of steel gracing a large area of the David Page shed awaiting final painting. I have just realised I hadn't seen the Starfish Wagon while taking these photos - either it's moved and I didn't spot it or it's already been moved to Winchcombe to join the rest of the freight wagons. I'll find out next week and report back.
Parts of Broadway Canopy

Even more parts for Broadway Canopy!
You can follow progress on this and the rest of the Broadway Station build by following the link here. While we are on the subject of Broadway I'd just like to mention that during the last week, the Broadway Last Mile share offer just passed the £1,000,000 mark which is fantastic news for all involved. Hopefully it will continue so we can reach the target of £1.25m before the deadline at the end of April.

It was a beautiful sunny day, and not too cold - not bad for February and quite a change from the wet and windy weather from earlier in the week. Dinmore and Foremarke were basking in the sunlight that was streaming through the open shutters of the DP shed.

Is it too early to sunbathe?

Keith at work and enjoying the sunshine

I found Keith busy grinding away the paint on Dinmore Manor's running board and buffer beam. Some paint on the beam had chipped off when the running board panels were removed - so, the only thing for it was to sand it all down to get rid of any more flaking paint and to make the transition between old and new paint a little less obvious. It was also a good opportunity to tidy up some other areas on the buffer beam that need attention.

Flaking Paint on a Buffer
Sanded Buffer Beam
Down to the side of Dinmore, the outside of the boiler was getting a good clean, courtesy of Alex. Judging by some of the noises I heard from under the loco, I gather that somebody else was getting an unexpected shower as well. Still, look on the bright side - it would have reduced the amount of dirt that went home with them at the end of the day!

Dinmore Manor Having a Bath

Next door I found Phil G and Stephen J hiding inside Foremarke Hall's smokebox. It wasn't long until they came out and I found that the loco was having new boiler washout plugs fitted.

Stephen on his way out

Phil (l) and Stephen discussing washout plugs

Work continues on valve head assemblies - this time it was one of Dinmore's on the bench, being taken apart, cleaned up and inspected.

Angela at work on one end of the valve head assembly
The other half is disassembled

Dinmore's new tender had just had a new set of leaf springs fitted by Ray and Eleanor. Unfortunately I was too late to capture any photos of the fitting but anyway, here we have it:

New spring on the new tender

There were some very interesting things going on with 2807 - Gilbert and John T were measuring the left hand cylinder bore, with a natty little internal aluminium micrometer, of a type which I've not seen before - I must have led a sheltered life.  

Very nice little internal micrometer. It has various attachments
according to the range of measurements you're taking
John T taking the measurements
While working inside the cylinder you can really see the
need for the lamp at the rear so you can actually see what you're doing!

Inside the cylinder. Very clean
The good news for the 2807 group is there had not been a great amount of wear since it was last measured. Bruce played with the new pin and the rocking shaft, ensuring that the parallel section of the pin is parallel and ditto the hole in the rocking shaft arm, which Bruce had to ream out a little. He can’t finish the pin/arm fit because the tapered reamer is away for sharpening. Bruce then cleaned up the injector innards ready to be fitted back in their bodies.

Pete replacing the packing in the left hand cylinder gland
(Photo by Roger Molesworth)
Pete replaced the packing in the LHS cylinder gland. He was also in a hurry to get into the firebox to remove/replace the fire bars but by the time he got round to it it was later than he thought. Doesn't time fly when you're having fun?

One of 2807 Group's regular volunteers has been suffering with some aches and pains lately but he has still been able to help out with various jobs this week such as instigating the start of 2807's mechanical inspection and other little jobs to assist the others. We all sincerely hope you feel a bit better soon, Gilbert.

2017 Season Countdown:
4-5 March, BLUE timetable 

Just a quick note - there may or may not be an entry for next week due to the upheaval that is having new carpets fitted. It will likely be a little late. Meanwhile if you're on social media you can follow the GWSR on various platforms to get a broad fix of everything GWSR until things return to 'normal'.