Monday, 23 January 2017

Paint Your Wagon

After finishing the day job at 2pm and then having a meeting in the Flag and Whistle, I rather hoped I'd not been too late to capture the efforts of the Wednesday Gang. I bumped into Ian C on the way in who thankfully told me that there was still plenty going on. Camera at the ready, I spotted Alex in the oil store cleaning the brushes and thought it would be a good opportunity to catch up with her about the day's activities. She had spent some of the day painting 4270's coal space and was just cleaning out the brushes:

It seems that the valves theme of last week has now shifted to that of painting - specifically, black paint (mostly). That reminds me of a certain Rolling Stones song - all together now for the Steam Dept version...! "I saw a green spring and I want to paint it black...." oh, never mind. 

Work continues on 2807... read on for more!
2807's tender looking shiny and new 
2807 had its own beautiful coat of shiny black (bitumen) paint finished inside the tender and was looking really spectacular under the lights of the David Page Shed! It's a bit of a shame that some of it will eventually be covered with coal and, inevitably, its dust. The 2807 group will have to chain down 2807 in case of any large and very strong magpies flying in to take the shiny object home.

Still, other parts of 2807 received some paint that everyone will be able to see. Other work on the loco today included lapping in the snifter valves on the steam chest (what a great word snifter is), so the team took the opportunity to spruce up the steam pipe cladding.

Steam pipe cladding received a coat of paint...
...on both sides
Not only that but the handrails and the bottom edges of the cab were given a fresh coat of green paint to bring them up to standard. After years of many hands and feet using them the paint starts to wear off so it'll be good to see 2807 starting the 2017 season looking the part. Well done to John G and Brian from the 2807 group who painted all the parts listed. 

Spot the fresh paint!

On the opposite side of the shed, I found Clive S and Barry L grinding down the rivets on the floor of the Starfish wagon.

Clive on the daily grind
Do you ever find that sometimes, life just grinds you down? 

I found Dave A just behind the wagon and he and Alex proceeded to show me the work they'd done on the various parts of it. They'd all previously received their green anti-corrosion paint and most of the parts had been painted today by them in, yes, you guessed it - black. 

Wagon parts looking good!

Alex shows me their work on the buffers.
I was specifically asked by Dave A to pay special attention to, and highlight the fact, that the buffer parts had been lovingly placed on a sheet of plywood to protect the new floor in the shed. Still not quite finished as wintering the locos had to take priority, the floor will be sealed and painted later in the year. I can assure you however that this paint will most definitely not be black!

In further 2807 news supplied by Roger M from earlier in the day, there was some other work being done on the tender - this time not involving a paintbrush! The drawbar's thread needed to be inspected for quality and it was giving everyone a headache as the nut on the end was proving difficult to remove. Access to this part was via a removable panel in the tender which can be found at the bottom of the coal chute. 
Troublesome pin, troublesome key, troublesome nut.
It was just one of those days.
Photo by Roger Molesworth

The nut is held in place with a key through the bar which stops it from undoing and coming off. The key then has a split pin through it to stop it from falling out. The first job was to remove the split pin - this is a job I normally like to do, especially when it's going well! It's particularly nice when there's number of pins to remove and you end up with a nice little pile of tired pins to show for your work. The less fun part is when the split pin refuses to come out, no matter how much you go in with a hammer and a punch. This is the situation that Roger and Bruce were faced with - it took them an hour to remove the pin and even after that, the key would not come out. Even if the key was able to come out, the next conundrum was how on earth were they going to get a spanner on the nut? There was no room to access the nut from underneath, and it left Bruce and Roger scratching their heads as to how it was fitted in the first place. The only option would be to remove the vacuum cylinder. After  John P inspected parts of the thread that were visible, it was agreed that it looked sound and will have to be a task tackled during the 10-year overhaul.

Bruce and Brian had also climbed up to the top and removed the clack valves, which Bruce has taken for homework. I'm not sure what the homework involves, we shall have to wait and see. 

Roger, Bruce and John T held an impromptu discussion on how to make the coupling up of loco and tender foolproof. After several ideas were suggested, John set about making a wooden prototype:

Photo by Roger Molesworth

"The idea is to fit a gadget to hold the three links on the tender at the correct height and in line with their holes in the loco.  Thus ensuring that they engage instead of bashing the drag box; and the securing pins in the cab can be dropped through their holes instead of down the side of the links (which causes them to get bent when going round a curve)."

After a quick test, the wooden gadget which is yet to be named (link stays perhaps?) was deemed a success with only minor modification needed. It will be removed after the loco and tender are coupled, and, as Roger suggested, it's probably not a good idea for the final version to be made of wood as it might find its way into a loco's firebox! 

Toddington Signal Box on a Frosty Morning (Sat 21st January)
(Photo by Andrew Beale)
According to an email sent out by John C, the management team have been delighted with the turnout of volunteers on both Wednesdays and Saturdays. On Saturday I was unable to make it in but I wish I had been able to - January as we all know can be a very cold month, with freezing temperatures, and on that day it was no exception. There a very high number of attendees on Saturday, at least in the mid twenties, if not more. Overall there was a real team effort, he said, with not a word about the cold. It is a great achievement to have so many turn up on such a cold day but there is no time to rest on one's laurels! There is still lots of work to do before March and next week I plan on getting stuck in myself - I'll be getting my overalls on and hopefully getting my hands dirty for the first time in a while.

One of Saturday's jobs included fixing the 50-ton hydraulic press in the DP Shed, which took Paul, Roger M and Cliff 4 hours to do. As soon as it was finished, the 2807 group were using it to straighten the main drag link. It appears it had become bent because the securing pin had dropped down the side of the link at some time, instead of through the hole, meaning that when the loco went around a corner, it became bent - hence yesterday's wooden modification to keep the links straight and true. In order to further stop the pin jamming down the side, Bruce cut two 'ears' from a length of pipe which David then welded onto the sides of the link, like so: 

Photo by Roger Molesworth

This extra tweak will mean that the link cannot be pushed far enough across for the securing pin to miss the hole.

The first step to straighten the link is to first apply heat, and then let the press do its job and take out the bend in the link.

Applying heat
(Photo by Roger Molesworth)

Now anyone working on 2807 will enjoy trouble-free loco and tender coupling-up for many years to come!

Elsewhere in the Steam Dept, 35006 was receiving some attention in anticipation of her cold boiler exam. Thanks to Andrew Beale for filling me in on the day's activities. 

35006 sitting in the cold winter sun.
(Photo by Andrew Beale)
Photo by Andrew Beale

Her grate was being cleaned and tubes being swept. It's a big job, what with it being such an enormous locomotive. Jobs like this require suitable tools and a long bendy broom is an essential piece of kit to get the job done.

Jonathan demonstrates that you can still lie down and get the task done!
He's doing a 'grate' job.
(Photo by Andrew Beale)

I have also been informed that there was more rubbing down being done on Dinmore Manor's new tender, and ongoing winter maintenance continued on 7903 and Dinmore. I'm unsure as to what stage Dinmore's new tender is at - I shall make that one of next week's tasks. 

2017 Season Countdown:
4-5 March, BLUE timetable 


  1. All looking absolutely wonderful. On target for the season start? Also, the Starfish P Way open is looking good as well. Regards, Paul.

    1. I'm sure we are, especially if we can get as many hands on deck as possible! Yes the Starfish is coming along - I remember doing some de-rusting on it when it hadn't been here for long and it has come a very long way. I popped in today and the sides were up and it looked fantastic. Looking a lot less green in every sense of the word as time goes on.

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