Monday, 1 December 2014

Chocolate and Cream Steam

Saturday, although strictly speaking not yet December or even technically winter heralded the start of the Santa specials.  Only one loco was in steam, the "Planet's Favourite Prairie", 5542.  The Santa Specials consist of an empty coaching stock move to Cheltenham Race Course, and a number of shuttles to and from Winchcombe The North Pole taking eager young passengers to visit Santa and his elves before returning to Toddington at the end of the day with the empty coaches.  It was a cold and fairly clear morning, ideal for steam photography:
The PFP heads off for a rendezvous with the chap in the red suit.
 Those ideal conditions combined with the fact that the big railway was playing host to pair of black fives and later on an A4, combined to keep a few of the steam loco dept members elsewhere.  Names have been noted and they are all now on Santa's "naughty list".

The recently laid concrete in the David Page shed has already received a first coat of protective paint, it was time for a second one.
Previously primed and shiny
 Clive took on the task of doing the top coat.  Several people nearby were disappointed that he didn't manage to paint himself into a corner.
Clive, not quite painted in.

Due to the recent spell of poor weather, Dinmore Manor has been shunted into the shed for the completion of a number of tasks, swapping places with the soon to be installed water crane.  Needless to say, as soon as 7820 was under covers, the sun decided to come out to play after all.
Water crane basking in the sun
 Work has continued apace on 35006, I received this photo during the week showing the insertion of the second of the three steam pipes into the smoke box.  It's not fitted yet, but it has passed its hydraulic test.

Two out of three ain't bad.  Photo courtesy of Andy Beale

The third steam pipe had arrived by Saturday and has been hydraulically tested too.

Third steam pipe

As ever, progress was being made on Foremarke Hall.  Somebody has been putting primer on the buffer beams
Ok, so they only managed half, but it's a start.
 Chris was to be found putting a coat of primer on the tender. 
Chris wielding a paint brush
 I noticed that Formarke Halls' rods had received a coat of black on the inside faces:
Black rods
 It was not all good news though.  2807 has managed to break a valve piston ring.  The potential for causing significant damage to the cylinder bores and possibly pistons exists in these circumstances.  She needed to be examined to ascertain the damage.

2807 feeling rather sorry for herself
Cylinder cover removed
Piston valve removed
Piston valve cylinder
 The good news is that the pistons and cylinder bores were free of obvious scoring however several bits of the ring were found in places where they didn't want to be.
Bruce displays the evidence.
Later on, Gil was to be found inserting feeler gauges in various places to determine whether or not everything was still in tolerance.
Gil being eaten by the cylinder
Gil, Jeff and Bruce carrying on with the job.
At the current point in time, it's not clear how long 2807 will remain out of action.  She was due to run a Fire and Drive on Thursday, but there is no hope of that. Dinmore Manor is the first standby loco, which is a bit unfortunate as she still has her rockers and various other bits dismantled.  The upshot was that two weeks worth of planned work now needed to be completed before Thursday.  It was all hands to the pumps on Saturday to get her ready in time.
Martin gave the brass parts a good going over, bringing them up to a high shine
The smoke box was down for a bit of a repaint.  Tony and myself cleaned it several times with white spirit before the painting could start
Tony cleaning the smoke box door
 There were also a few positioning lugs still welded onto the smoke box door ring that had been required to get it positioned correctly when installed.  The tacks of weld needed grinding off and the tabs removing before painting could proceed.
One of the surplus to requirement tabs
 Mark got busy with an angle grinder to remove them.
Mark making sparks fly.
 Yours truly put on some heat resistant black paint onto the smoke box.  You'll note that I left a bit unpainted near where the rockers were to be refitted to save somebody getting wet paint on themselves.  It looked quite nice when still wet, but dried to an ugly shade of matt grey. The job will need to be revisited at some point, until then, the smoke box will need to be treated to a 50:50 mix of diesel and motion oil when cleaned to make it look acceptable.
Before it dried and still looked good.
 Better news is that there is now a storm sheet available for Dinmore Manor.  It will only provide limited protection from the elements, but when running tender first into a wintry gale, the crews will be very thankful for it all the same.  
Storm sheet, kit of parts
Mike, Mark & Mark trial fitting the storm sheet.
The storm sheet looks rather bright and shiny, but will hopefully weather fairly quickly.
The rockers and newly machined bearings turned up at lunch time on Saturday and after a little last minute fettling were ready to be fitted.
Preparation of the rockers
Newly machined bearings
 The valve extension rods had previously been painted black, GWR practice was for them to be polished steel, so I found myself removing paint.
Job half done
 After a check to make sure the new bearings fitted where they were supposed to, it was time to start fitting the rockers
Will checks that this one fits its end cap
 The rockers were hoisted into the air and manoeuvred into place
Raising a rocker
Manoeuvring it into place
 By the close of play, the fireman's side had been finished, the driver's side partially done, the Wednesday gang are lined up to finish the job off.  Fingers crossed for Thursday.

Elsewhere, a missing bit of cladding by the boiler's throat plate was being manufactured and fitted
Cutting the cladding to size.
Kenneth trial fits it.
 Up in the cab, Len was busy refitting parts of the backhead cladding that been removed during the recent boiler washout.
Len at work.
The safety valve cover was refitted too, the usual tomfoolery took place of course:
Safety Valve Man.  Photo courtesy of Mike Solloway
There was a bit of a nice sunset going on and poor old 2874 was looking a bit forlorn, I decided to catch it for posterity anyway.  From this angle you can't tell that she is effectively a Barry wreck, albeit one with a bright future ahead of her.
2874 admiring the sunset
 And finally.  Every year I complain to anybody that will listen (and quite a few that won't) that I never get bought an advent calendar.  This year, my protestations have not gone unheeded and a very kind soul has presented me with this.  It has chocolate in every possible compartment, even in place of the coal and water.

Chocolate and cream steam
The wheel arrangement isn't quite a mogul as there are no coupling rods, so technically it's a 2-2-2-2T. The copper capped chimney is a nice touch, but nothing else suggests GWR, in fact the cow catcher on the front suggests some sort of foreign loco.  Snowmen as footplate crew is probably not a good idea, they'd be puddles on the floor long before the destination is reached.  Still, I'm not one to look a gift horse in the mouth. Thank you very much to the kind person concerned!

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