Monday, 7 March 2016

The 2016 Season Kicks Off

When the C&W blog writer takes a week off to sun himself in the South of France, that's all fine and dandy.  If yours truly takes time off for good behaviour, then it causes a near riot.  Many were the people who reprimanded me for my dereliction of duty last week.  Far from sunning myself in tropical climes, I was out in the fells of the Lake District, enjoying some unseasonably good weather (by which I mean that it didn't rain, and the cloud base was above the fell tops).  I returned home via the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway to enjoy their gala, and discovered an unexpected connection or two with our railway.  For one thing, there were three other members of the steam loco dept up there (who all hid from my camera upon being spotted) and a fourth person, who is not noted for being camera shy:
The S160 approaches Ingrow... the fireman is peering out of the cab...
Cropping in a bit closer... that face looks familiar...
...yes, it was Ben.
It turns out that Ben had been expecting to attend as an owner's rep for Kinlet Hall, until it was deemed out of gauge to make the journey up there.  Ben went along anyway and played with a few toys on the K&WVR.  He was quite taken by the S160.

Friday at Toddington, saw Dinmore Manor taking her annual boiler exam:
Boiler inspector Terry, doing the gauge frame accumulation test. (Photo courtesy of Mike Solloway)
Later on checking inside the smoke box. (Photo courtesy of Mike Solloway)
The weather varied from pleasant sunshine... (Photo courtesy of Mike Solloway) snowing.(Photo courtesy of Mike Solloway)
 With her annual boiler test passed, it was time for a few running in trips up the line to Laverton and back.
On the way back from Laverton, photo courtesy of Mark Harding
Photo courtesy of Mike Solloway
On Saturday morning, I had a meeting to attend (well it's better than working), but being the first day of the season, I thought that I should delegate the task of taking a few photos of the first train departing.  The question was who could I trust with my camera... most people would 'accidentally' drop it in the pit, or tie it to the tracks and run over it with the heaviest loco that was in steam.  Eleanor was the only person around who looked even remotely trustworthy, so my thanks to her for taking the following couple of pictures and most importantly for returning my camera to me (in one piece) later.

Apparently it was Donna's first official cleaning turn.  As luck would have it, she had 5542 for that, which is our smallest and therefore easiest to clean loco... being the first turn out after winter maintenance, it wasn't exactly too grubby in the first place, so a nice easy start for Donna.
Donna, and 5542
5542 gets the season underway in style.
 There was still much to be done in terms of fettling the remainder of our home fleet:
Graham buffs 4270's safety valve bonnet up to a high shine
Neil cleaned the wheels and motion.
 A small wagon has been taken pity on by the steam loco dept and has been given shelter in the David Page shed for a little while now.  I seem to recollect being told that it is a "Starfish", in which case, when fully restored, it will look something like this.
Donna starting to paint the frames of the starfish
 The lifting jacks have returned from being refurbished and are now in the David Page shed awaiting installation on the specially strengthened concrete floor on road 7.
Refurbished lifting jacks.
 Work is progressing smoothly on 35006:
A new deflector plate has arrived
 Connecting up the tender brakes is progressing well
One of the vacuum brake pipes being boiled alive...
...the location on the brake cylinder that it will connect to...
...and the pipe in location.
 The idea was to boil the pipe for a while to make it more malleable, insert it into location and let it cool and set in the shape it is in.  It will have to come off again later to be clamped in place with jubilee clips.

The steam test successfully completed the day before, Dinmore Manor was coming in for a bit more TLC:
David paints the inside of the safety valve bonnet
Tim polished the shiny bits
Roger cleaned the wheels.
Sam (l) and Chris cleaning the outside of the smokebox.
Chris refitting the safety valve bonnet (photo courtesy of Mark Harding)
 The running in on Friday had revealed that the vacuum pump still wasn't quite as it should be.  Closer examination revealed that the spindle had a taper from one end to the other of 20 thousandths of an inch.  Swindon were big on standardisation, so the one from 3850 was nicked and installed in its place.  Dinmore Manor's will be refurbished and will then be fitted to 3850.
Vacuum pump piston and spindle
2807 was undergoing a B exam on Saturday.  This involved Eleanor putting a fire in it, under the supervision of Martin.
Just because she took photos for me earlier, doesn't make her exempt from appearing on the blog
 The B exam involved John getting under the loco and measuring/checking everything that need to be measured/checked.
John underneath 2807
Later in the day, after a quick run up and down siding 1, and disappearing off into platform 1 to take on water, 2807 was declared fit for service.

Whilst we are on the subject of 2807, you may remember that shortly before Christmas, I discovered one of her cabside number plates on the wall of the Steam museum in Swindon.  Brian (who owns the other one) followed up by contacting Steam and reported the following:

"In 2011 they were left a very large donation of GWR "stuff" in a Will. Part of this donation was 70 cab side number plates (inc. 2807) and 6 names plates including three Castles and a Grange. The donation had over 50,000 photos as well as various Swindon works and stock ledgers. This was all privately owned by a gentleman local to Swindon. They do not believe he worked at Swindon but something he had collect for personal interest. They have valued the total donation at over £1/2 million in value. " 

I wish somebody would leave me a lagacy like that.

With Dinmore Manor now largely at the end of its winter maintenance, attention turned to 3850, and removing the damper door linkages and a few bits of the vacuum brake pipework that would still prevent her boiler from being lifted.  I got to remove some of the vacuum brake pipework, including the bit with the pepper pot which limits the amount of vacuum that the ejector can create.
The pepper pot, once I'd removed it and it's pipework from 3850
 The pepper pot needed dismantling, cleaning and checking over to make sure that it was fit for further service
Cover removed
Fully disassembled and about to be cleaned.
 In the absence of a Haynes manual to remind me how it all had to go back together, it was useful to be able to check that I had got it right by looking at the photo above captioned "Cover removed".  Haynes manuals do exist for some steam locos, in fact I have one for King class locomotives, but it is very different in content to those that I've had over the years for various cars and motorbikes, certainly not much help should you happen to be rebuilding one.  I think that there is a bit of a gap in the market there.  If anybody happens to have a Haynes manual or similar (other guides to vehicle repair and maintenance do exist) for rebuilding Collett 2884 class steam locomotives, then please let me know.

Meanwhile, David got on with cleaning various brackets etc that came off of 3850 before giving them a coat of rust inhibiting primer.
David cleans off old flaky paint...
...and primes various small items.
Foremarke Hall has been out of the news for a little while now, but that's going to change in the near future.  Sean and Steve were busy preparing some of the pipe work that will need refitting when she returns from Tyseley.
Sean (l) and Steve.
 And finally, steam locomotive restoration is notorious for the arrival of unexpectedly large bills that land on the doormat with a distinct thump. The recently concluded overhaul of Flying Scotsman has amply reinforced the old adage that "The only way to make a small fortune operating a steam locomotive is to start with a large one".  Perhaps not on the same scale, but dismantling 3850 has thrown up an unexpected failure that will doubtless have a hefty price tag associated with its repair.  There is a large crack in the cylinder block on the fireman's side.  It's a structural part of the casting rather then under steam pressure, but nonetheless, it will need to be rectified.  At the time of writing, it is not known whether or not it can be repaired, or if the casting will need to be replaced.  If it is the replacement option, then it will add a significant amount to that required to return 3850 to steam.
The crack runs vertically for much of the height of the casting

A closer view of the crack in the cylinder casting

1 comment:

  1. I may have been sunning myself but we still kept the blog posts coming. So actually no real time off.