Friday, 18 January 2013

Instructed in the ways of righteousness

A week ago Sunday, your intrepid correspondent was busy learning the rudiments of locomotive anatomy, fascinating stuff, but not exactly the sort of thing that sets fire to the pages of a blog.  After that, I took a peek in the shed to see if there was anything going on that I could help out with.  It seems that most of the working parties are active on a Saturday, so whilst there was plenty of evidence of locomotives in varying states of disassembly, there was little actively going on.  Ian Carpenter however was looking for someone to help with the cosmetic restoration of a small 0-4-0ST that he intends to use as a 'gate guardian'.  He had been spending some time on the wheels stripping off the rust and applying new paint.  The next task on his list was to strip the paint off of the coupling rods, so I spent the rest of the afternoon with an angle grinder removing red paint.  Quite a satisfying job in the end when the paint had been removed revealing nice shiny steel underneath.
Shiny con rods
Unfortunately the angle grinder seemed to transfer most of the red paint from the con rods onto my overalls, I had to wash them by hand before I could risk putting them in the washing machine when I got home.  

Having established that the weekend part of the winter maintenance programme was taking place on Saturdays rather than Sundays, I turned up last Saturday to see what needed doing.  First off was cleaning out the firebox of Foremarke Hall which consisted of removing all bar a few of the firebars then brushing  off the accumulated soot from the firebox walls & roof.  I managed to get quite grubby in there, in fact if I didn't know better I'd have thought that I'd cleaned it using myself rather than a brush. When I emerged from the firebox, I was likened to a 'Black & White Minstrel', whatever one of those is..... long before my time :-)   Needless to say I was hot foot across to the mess coach afterwards to wash the soot & grime off before anybody could get a camera out and demand that I include a photo on these pages.
It was rather dusty in the firebox
You could have eaten your dinner off of it by the time I had finished
A group of people were doing something interesting to the valve gear of 2807.  I should have collared one of them to find out exactly what they were up to, but I'm afraid that I didn't.  I would have done, but John Cruxon interrupted my journalistic instincts and playfully berated me for wasting time taking photos.  Apparently you just can't get the staff anymore. 
Doing something interesting to the valve gear of 2807
John Cruxon cracking the whip
Speaking of 2807, it  was due for a boiler washout.  Ian Carpenter is the GWSR's 'Boiler responsible person' and after draining the boiler of water was to be found extracting the mud hole doors.
Ian Carpenter at work
Oops, he's spotted me
No he wasn't looking for Peter Pan, Wendy and the lost boys.  The hook is actually a cunning tool which threads into the spindle attached to the mud hole door so that if it is accidentally dropped, it doesn't fall right down inside the boiler between the firebox & the outer wrapper.  My penance for taking his photo was to assist him for the rest of the day with the boiler washout, and to be "instructed in the ways of righteousness".  In this case, the "ways of righteousness" included dismantling the gauge frame, removing the ferrules around some of the washout plugs that were blocking access for the removal tool and finally cleaning up the mud hole doors & washout plugs using a bench grinder.  We started with the gauge frame.  "Now imagine that you're running along the track and the gauge glass breaks, what are you going to do?"  Just in case I couldn't imagine what a broken gauge glass would look like, he helpfully assisted by smashing it with a tommy bar that he happened to have in his hand.  I didn't have the heart to tell him that the locomotive anatomy lecture by Steve Oddy the week before had included a strip down & reassembly of a gauge frame, but I quickly shut the gauge frame down (pointless as the boiler was empty, but I was getting into the role playing aspect of this) and started slackening off the relevant nuts and removing the glass etc.  "Now what are you going to do with the broken glass?".  I had been going to put the broken glass tidily on the warming plate along with the rest of the bits that I'd removed, but no apparently it was supposed to be thrown into the bucket of water kept on the fireman's side of the footplate.  This came as a bit of a surprise to me as only the week before, Steve Oddy had said that the primary purpose of the bucket of water was for first aid, should you get burnt on the footplate, you have a source of cold water to douse the affected parts with.  The prospect of getting burnt on the footplate and then finding yourself applying broken glass to the wound is frankly not an appealing one.  I'll be taking up the idea with the management that all locos should have corridor tenders fitted and fully trained young and attractive nurses on hand in the leading coach ready to assist in case of medical emergencies on the footplate.  In the event of no actual medical emergencies taking place, the nurses could always make themselves useful by fetching cups of tea & bacon butties.  Of course knowing my luck I'd still manage to burn myself whilst running tender first.
The now dismantled gauge frame
Whilst transporting arm fulls of washout plugs from the workshop where I'd been cleaning them, to the boiler shed, I bumped into Ben. 

Now ordinarily I'd have said something about his hat or the fact that he appears to be parked on double yellow lines however as he is now the roster clerk, I'll have to start being nice to him so I won't mention either.  Instead I did as he bidded and grabbed a photo of the walkway that he, Clive and Sean had just constructed from the pits to the wood store.
The new path to the wood store
I have to say this is a marvelous bit of work.  Before this pathway was in place, you either had to try to bump a wheelbarrow load of wood across the tracks, losing half of it in the process or just give up and cradle as much wood as you could in your arms and carry it. In the process you'd probably find out the hard way that much of the wood not only has sharp splinters but also many nails sticking out.  Now you'll be able to fill up a wheel barrow and propel it with ease over to the locos waiting to be lit up on the pits.  All we need to do now is to make sure that nobody parks any rolling stock on the tracks across the walkway.

Other things that happened during the day that I noticed in passing, was Andrew cleaning up the end of the cylinder casings of Foremarke Hall, the drain cocks having already been removed by Paul Gosney.  Somebody had also applied a nice coat of paint to one of the cylinder end covers too.
Foremarke Hall's newly painted cylinder end cover
Andrew cleaning up one of Foremarke Hall's cylinders

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