Monday, 5 January 2015

Hanging Links

That the regular passenger timetable has come to an end for the 2014 season, doesn't mean that the steam loco dept can hibernate the winter months away, re-emerging from our slumbers when Spring arrives.  If anything, the Winter is our busiest time, with maintenance work planned on all of our operational locos.

Currently work is continuing on Dinmore Manor's tender, Ian has been hard at work replacing the wasted away drag box, and the frame alignment has been checked.

Dinmore Manor's own (as opposed to the Dukedog's) tender frames.
Work has also been taking place on the remaining parts of the tender at DMLL's own private site.  The tender tank has been placed on stands for the trial fitting of the sump, whilst new brake block rubbing pads have been machined and the brake adjuster pull rods have been re-bushed.  The next three photos all courtesy of Richard Icke.
Brake adjuster pull rods with new bushes
Tender tank raised for trial sump fitting
New brake block rubbing pads
As far as the rest of the loco is concerned, there was more work to be done on that.  Given that it was raining quite hard on Saturday, I was more than a little bit pleased to discover that Dinmore Manor was safely tucked up in the David Page shed, along with most of the rest of our locos.  Sadly, most wanted ashing out, so we dragged them out onto the pits and of course, into the rain.
Mark in the 04, shunting perfectly dry locos out into the rain.
Once the grate and ash pan were completely clean, we moved Dinmore Manor back into the shed where it was nice and dry.  The plan now, was to remove the hanging links and re-bush them.  This involved removing more of the dreaded split pins and punching out some taper pins, thereby allowing the hanging links to be removed.  Sounds easy doesn't it!  Well as it turned out, the split pins were fairly accessible and did come out surprisingly easily.
Split pin and lock nuts removed before I even had chance to take a photo
The thinner of the taper pins came out fairly easily too, the thicker ones took rather more encouragement.  The problem was that there was very little room to swing a hammer, never mind swing a cat.
Hanging link with one taper pin still in place
Martin and I who had been working on this gave up for lunch.  When you're not over the pit, your means of accessing the area between the frames are limited.  Finding a gap between the wheels and sliding in on your belly is one option or on some locos like Dinmore Manor, there is just about enough room to slide in between the boiler and the running plate.  Martin was able to extricate himself rather more elegantly than I could, I must have really overdone the turkey and Christmas pud this year.  Rest assured though dear reader that not a single sprout passed my lips.
Martin elegantly slides out from in between the frames of Dinmore Manor
5542 and 2807 were still outside on the pits and being winterised, which basically meant removing all water from within the locos to prevent it freezing and bursting pipes etc.
Draining the boiler of 2807
 Yours truly ended up removing the gauge frame from 2807.  It was quite a while since last I'd done one, so it was all good practice.
2807's gauge frame during removal
Ade, Cliff and Sean set about winterising 5542.
Sean indicating that he'd like 2 sugars in his tea, Ade carries a big pipe to encourage quick service.
Mark meanwhile got in between the frames of Dinmore Manor to give the last of the taper pins a stern talking to with an angle grinder.  That gave a bit more room to swing a hammer, though still not enough for a cat.
Mark grinding some angles
The 35006 team are no fools, they kept their loco dry in the shed all day.  They were working on fitting the tender brake rigging
Brake rigging receiving attention
Sometime,not long before dusk, when 5542 and 2807 had been winterised, most of the people who had been working on that stopped for a bit of a chin wag.  I joined them briefly and Tim remarked that it would make a great blog photo, all these people stood around doing nothing.  I was able to inform him that he was too late, the photo was already safely in my camera.
How many to change a light bulb?
The hanging links had finally succumbed to Mark's attentions with the angle grinder and big hammer and were now to be found resting on the running plate.  The bad news that the bushes in the brackets that secure the hanging links also needed replacing.  Next stop was to remove the brackets.
Hanging link successfully removed
The hanging link brackets were both held in place by five things, four of which were nuts and the fifth one was some supernatural force, more usually employed by wizards in middle-earth to smite hapless non-magical beings.  This fifth force proved to be greatly superior to the other four.  By the time we called it a day, we had decided that some sort of puller would need to be made to overcome the effects of the fifth force.
Nuts removed, but still won't budge
Excellent progress has been made towards returning Foremarke Hall to steam.  The boiler is still at Tyseley and is I understand coming on well.  The rolling chassis is in the David Page shed and much has happened over the Christmas period:

John (7903 loco manager) came up with the following when asked about recent progress:
"These pictures show the repaired exhaust pipe assembly being refitted to 7903. This is a major step forward in the overhaul program as it is a large piece of work as good as completed with only a few minor odds and ends to finish. for giving up one of their festive days to help with this. The whole assembly slid in remarkably easy and with 18 off 3/4inch whit bolts per flange it took some while to get them all tight. Dan & Aaron had been especially chosen as they were able to wriggle under the bogie frames then squeeze the top half of themselves into the exhaust box to push the smokebox saddle securing bolts back up through the assembly from underneath. My thanks has to go to Steve Foster, Phil Grange, John Hancock, Steve Jones, Aaron Smith and Dan Wigg

The next big refit is the motion which is painted and ready to go in, this includes two brand new expansion links. Progress is going well very well at Toddington with both the frames and the tender as the overhaul plan needs all three components, including the boiler, to be finished at the same time. We shall be visiting Tysley in the New Year to review their time scales and to ensure we are all on program.

Our thanks to Adrian Grimmett of LA Services for the repair work to the Exhaust pipe assembly."

Pictures by Phil Grange and John Cruxon.

In the short few days since John provided that quote, the new expansion links mentioned have been fitted.
Photo courtesy of Phil Grange
Photo courtesy of Phil Grange
 The cross heads were removed from the piston rods by Phil and Andy and the felt pads have been renewed in the top and bottom and then refitted to the slide bars.
Cross head refitted, photo courtesy of Phil Grange

And more plumbing has been taking place, the pep pipe receiving new pipe work on Saturday.
John bending pipes to shape...
...before fitting them to the loco.
And finally, the 8F, 8274 has enjoyed a very successful visit to the Great Central Railway (North) and I have received the following pictures of her hauling the Santa Specials. These photos of 8274 at work on the GCR(N) all appear courtesy of John Bagshaw and Craig Simmons.


  1. Ray you obviously weren't trying hard enough on Saturday to get the hanging link brackets off. Either that or the hammer was too small. On Wednesday in under an hour both brackets off the loco ready for cleaning up and despatching for attention. The Wednesday lads succeed again!!!!

  2. It seems that the Wednesday gang can call upon even more brute force and ignorance than the Saturday gang :-)