Tuesday, 14 February 2017

A Blog of Two Halves

This week I asked Blog Companion Chris to help me out with photographs and a report for the activities of the Wednesday Gang. Here is what he had to say...

During the "closed season" we often get on with tasks that may have been left over, as we always seem to be too busy keeping our fleet up and running for all our visitors to enjoy.

So it was interesting to catch up with the modifications to our newish wash out pump. This is an Ex Fire Service Fire Fighting pump which according to the technical papers supplied, is a light weight version! Having to move this around to our locos was not so easy thus Roger, Tom and Andy came to the rescue (non-fire related I hasten to say) and mounted the pump on a trolley frame. Whilst doing so they have provided a nice hose locker to keep
all the wash out parts together.

Roger, Tom, and Andy looking very proud of their work
You may recall a few Blogs ago that the Steam Pressure Washer had an unfortunate accident and one of its wheels fell off. I managed to catch up with the washer and can now report that a new wheel has been fitted whilst it was in the "pits" for a quick wheel change. Just to the side of the washer is the safety valve bonnet from 4270 which has been temporarily removed to allow access to the valves and a bit of polishing I expect to produce a nice shine.

What did the safety valve bonnet say to the pressure washer...?

Our workshop volunteers have been busy working on the roof structure for Broadway Station and part of this is cutting numerous components to complete a truss.

Bandsaw at work
Above, a bandsaw is cutting angle iron to length and as can be seen some of the cut lengths are stacked on the floor ready to be welded and then riveted together. 

Neal is checking that he has enough before he passes them on to the
painting and riveting crews

Neal shows where on the truss the small angle parts will be going -
Two by two on each side
The truss is based on our existing Toddington Station roof design and I thought a view of this would help show and explain in a picture better than my report!

Here's one that was made quite a bit earlier

Whilst walking around the shed I spied Martin hiding in the smoke box of 4270 or so I thought, but he assured me that he was busy helping clean the boiler tubes which need a good washing out too.

Martin hiding cleaning the boiler tubes
Washing out the tubes ensures that the boiler can work at maximum efficiency to turn all that heat into steam and ensure the fireman's efforts are rewarded. Martin was one end of the team, as in the Firebox, Peter was applying a pressure lance and rodding out any remaining stubborn build up on the inside of the tubes.

Meanwhile on 35006 I caught up with another one of our volunteers giving a spring clean (or is that be a winter clean?) to the footplate area. I did think of my efforts to brush all the dirt under the carpet at home but here having no such luxury it seemed that this may end up under the floor boards!

Chris cleaning up the footplate of 35006

Finally, Peter was getting to grips with the technical issues of a routine weekly and monthly service and trying to find all those hidden greasing points and fluid levels which need to be check off and confirmed as all good.

Bedtime reading perhaps? Peter reads the manual for the JCB

Until next time.


Thanks, Chris - I will look forward to your next instalment! On Saturday I returned to my blogging duties and found that the Gang was a bit thin on the ground this week - a bit like the snow we had in the morning! The snow had all but gone by lunchtime and it very cold and wet indeed. There was still plenty to do and those that were in were certainly getting on with it.

As it was gone lunchtime by the time I visited I had missed most of the fun but Clive N kindly filled me in on the day's activities. 

Jeff I and John C were making a cover for the reverser on 4270 - it also had passed its boiler inspection today and it is soon to have its steam test, as will 3 of the other locos, 35006, 2807 and 7903 Foremarke Hall, all to be taking place during the beginning of March. This will mean a great many warming fires to be lit!

After Clive's kind update I went to see what else was occurring in the DP Shed.

Bob finishing up on the Fly Press
Bob M was on the Fly Press, bending a mystery piece of metal for one of the locos. Perhaps it was something to do with 4270?

Mystery Part Under the Protractor

We then spent a few minutes discussing the pros and cons of new and old technology where presses are concerned - the fly press, as it doesn't use any fluid, won't ever have any leaks. Nor will it need servicing. But of course it will never be a match for the more powerful hydraulic press. There is many an entertaining video on the Internet featuring hydraulic presses and various inanimate 'victims' but I'll let you find those out for yourself.  

New and Old: There's always a place and a use for older machinery on a heritage railway

Today though, the most activity could be found on 35006; with it having such a large footplate area, it's very easy to have many people comfortably working, still with plenty of space to move. Today was no exception - I found John, Jonathan P, Angela, and one of our new volunteers, Yue H, all busy with various footplate jobs that needed attending to. As you can imagine it was a very social occasion, with the opportunity for a good natter whilst working. 

The loco was tucked away in one of the back corners of the shed, but a work light helped to shed some light on the subject, which also made for some challenging interesting photography at the same time.

A good few of the fixtures and fittings on 35006 are unpainted, and over the winter months these parts had gained a bit of a tarnish as it hasn't been used. Yue had the job of removing the very light coating of rust from the reverser using abrasive paper and then giving it a final coat of oil to preserve the appearance.

Yue cleaning the reverser
A work in progress - looking good!
Meanwhile, Angela and Jonathan P were busy on the regulator - they had removed the packing earlier on, and were concentrating on rubbing down the inner surfaces so new packing could be inserted at a later time. It had a little bit of a steam leak so with a bit of luck it should help to seal it and solve the problem.

Angela working on the regulator

The loco's draw hook (unpainted) and rods were also getting rubbed down and having oil applied to them by Dan W. Similar to the reverser, they had become a little rusty. They are all shining now and personally I quite like the plain finish, although most, if not all, of our other locos feature black painted draw hooks. 

I'm hooked on the finish!

Dan making a good job of polishing up 35006's rods

John was tasked with cleaning out the threads on the canopy. There are quite a few overhead bolts on 35006's canopy and I'm sure his arms would have been suffering in the end!

John cleans out the threads on 35006's canopy
35006's stablemate 7820 gets some attention of her own  -
her nameplate is being lovingly polished
On the subject of the Starfish- I was informed that it was there in the shed all along (it was actually behind me) and aside from 3 rivets and a coat of paint it is complete.

It's behind you! The Starfish was always there, it turns out

Outside in the yard, Ray and Eleanor were busy taking out the boiler stays on 3850's boiler - once again I was too late for any photos but I am reliably informed that the nuts are not easy to remove. I'm sure many of you will have seen inside a boiler and there have got to be hundreds of nuts inside - it's going to take a lot of hard work and cups of tea to get through that, I'm sure. 

The 2807 Group had another busy week themselves - on Wednesday 8th February, it was found that the cylinders had worn differently on each side - this is something that is not easily explainable, so perhaps we will find out more about it another time.

Brian and Gilbert removed the right hand cylinder covers and subsequently cleaned all of the studs and ran dies down them, and of course the nuts had a tap run through them as well. The final job was to fit PTFE seals to the two covers, and then it was a team effort to put the covers back on. Gilbert manned the pulley, Brian applied and brawn - and Alex kindly supplied the encouragement. 

The paintbrush was put to work once again - the inside of the cylinder cladding received a nice coat of black paint from John G. The outside, as well as the running boards, will get a coat of their own at a later date. 

The gadget for guiding the loco/tender links into their correct holes is now finished! It even comes with a handle, made from a length of fencing sourced from the skip. Recycling at its best.

Link Alignment Gadget
(Photo by Roger Molesworth)

Saturday meant new brake blocks for the loco - the best way to do this was to put it over a pit so the complete mechanism that connects all the brakes together could be undone. It was an opportunity to couple the loco and tender together and finally test out John T et al's new gadget. It's reported that it worked well but instructions will be needed for those not familiar with it.

It conspired that the new blocks were a little too wide at the pivot point, so they need to have a small amount machined off each one. With this, the loco was pushed back into the shed. 

Another big task for Saturday was to replace the left hand rocking shaft and connect up the valve, now that Bruce had finished fitting the offset pin into the shaft. The rocking shaft is heavy - a two-man lift - and getting it up onto the running board was a job in itself. 

The rocking shaft is finally on the running board ready for installation
(Photo by Roger Molesworth)

Bruce cleaned up and oiled the brass shells - these sit at an incline of about sixty degrees. The outer arm of the rocking shaft (black, in the photos) had to pass down through a slot in the running board. Once this was done the shells had to be clasped around the shaft whilst two willing volunteers used a bar through the centre to manoeuvre the shaft into its saddle.

Photo by Roger Molesworth
Once this was done, the top cover went on and was bolted down, ensuring that there was some movement still retained. The final part for this stage was to fit the oil pot on the top.

Fitting the oil pot
(Photo by Roger Molesworth)

The assembly as shown in the BR "Black Book"

The next part of the job was to fit the valve link (6) between the rocking shaft (outer black arm) and the valve spindle crosshead (3). The taper pin had to be inserted in the rocker shaft end, which meant some rotating to get it into the right place. 

At the other end, the valve spindle crosshead (3) was refitted and connected up to the valve spindle (2) - although valve (1) needed to be pushed forward to allow this to happen. Now, the outside motion is complete!

Back inside the frames, the rocking shaft arm (red) needed to be connected to the intermediate valve rod ˆthat joins the rocking shaft to the die block (21) in the expansion link (22).  So Roger volunteered to go in the frames whilst John T manned the reverser in the cab, and someone else on the outside pushed the valve further forwards, sufficient for the rod and the arm to mate. Finished! Here is what it looks like from the outside:

Photo by Roger Molesworth


  1. Can't believe the Washout Pump has been replaced now we (5542) no longer need it! At least the 'Easy Start' budget can now be halved or perhaps removed completely so that should get you to Broadway a month or 2 sooner!!

  2. The value cover said to the washer. You have to be good under pressure to work here!

    1. Genius! I will have to put that in the next posting.

  3. Very interesting and informative to those like me who only know the basics of locos. Thanks. Regards, Paul.

  4. It never fails; I always have to use the point of a ballpoint pen to reset our internet modem. I've never run over the cord but my little dogs battle the vacuum cleaner and bark constantly when it is run. The vacuum cleaner wins every time. Your needlepoint projects look great, I love the pillows! I really enjoy your blog.