Monday, 28 August 2017

Off to the Beach

On Saturday, Tony, Keith & David shifted the superheater elements out of 3845's boiler:
Tony applies some heat
David (l) & Keith apply some brute force
I had briefly tried last week using just brute force, as no heat was available, and gave it up as a bad job.  The added heat makes a world of difference.

The superheater elements are quite heavy items, and difficult to dislodge by hand.
Keith extracts one the hard way, John & George provide moral support
In the end, the telehandler was summoned to provide the brute force, which had the desired result and didn't involve anybody breaking into a sweat.
Perspiration free extraction
The elements themselves were beyond salvage, however the ends were deemed capable of being re-used.
The chances of this holding steam at 225 PSI seemed fairly remote.
Keith dismantling them for recycling.
Job done, all elements removed.
It's some little while now, since Dinmore Manor's old tender (T1761) was raised off its wheels.  At the time, five of the six axle boxes were cleaned up and stored in the DMLL container, but the sixth was still languishing unloved on the shed floor.
The Cinderella of axle boxes
Obviously not a job that anybody was particularly keen to grapple with, so I took pity on it, ferried it across to the oil store and gave it all a good going over in the cleaning bath.
In transit
Finally stashed away in the DMLL container.
Work on the tender itself continued, with Sam, Martin & Len all working hard at removing twenty years worth of grot & grime in order to establish what condition the tender frames were in.
Sam cleaning up under the tender
At least one weld was discovered that was showing signs of having cracked, if indeed it had ever been completely welded in the first place.
Some therapy required.
Having removed the rails from road six in the David Page shed last week, a small 360 degree digger was employed to clear out the old ballast.
Digging out the old ballast
Digging a drainage channel
On Sunday, yours truly was back again, this time for a firing turn on 2807, I was a little concerned to discover that there wasn't as much coal in the tender as I might have hoped for.
Won't get far on that!
It was enough for the cleaner (Luke) to turn up a jolly good breakfast for the crew though.
Breakfast on the shovel (photo courtesy of Luke Hudman)
It tasted as good as it looks too.
A cooked breakfast on the shovel is a rare though very welcome treat.  I know of at least one cleaner though who doesn't eat red meat who is seriously considering how to cook porridge on the shovel.  I suspect that experiment will be doomed to failure.

Turning to more serious matters, the coal shortage was rectified before we got onto the stock
Plenty for three round trips
2807, basking in the sunshine at Cheltenham Race Course station
You may remember from a few weeks ago that I bumped into Paul, one of our drivers whilst on the North York Moors Railway, where he is a fireman.  Paul also drives on the Swindon & Cricklade Railway, and the chap (I'm afraid I didn't catch his name) in the photo below was his fireman on Saturday.  He had come to the GWSR with a view to having a closer look at the regulator assembly of 2807 as he is in the process of machining one for Owsden Hall and wanted to compare an actual one with the drawing that he had.
Checking the regulator.
Neil making sure that the regulator still worked.
Luke having a go at firing... he did extremely well.
Crossing 35006 at Winchcombe
The narrow gauge railway was in operation, and one of their locos was running round its stock at the southern end of the line as we passed by
Narrow gauge line in operation
Something else that has caught my eye in recent weeks, but has hitherto remained unrecorded, is that a new sign has appeared at Gotherington, pointing out the direction to the beach.  The last time I checked on a map, Gotherington was some considerable distance from any beach, the nearest probably being at Weston-Super-Mare.  Unfortunately, Weston-Super-Mare is in the opposite direction to where the sign is pointing.
You'll be carrying your bucket & spade a very long way if you follow the sign
Sunday was particularly hot, and 2807 was the ideal loco to be out and about on, it's light airy cab allowing the crew to benefit from the passing breeze.
The sun cast strong shadows.
Once stopped of course, there was no benefit of any breeze to counteract the heat from the from the sun, compounded by the heat from the fire.  The crew sought shade wherever it could be found.
Luke (l) & Neil, hiding from the sun
A more welcome sight than even a cooked breakfast, is to arrive back on shed and find a disposal crew waiting to help ash out.   Many thanks indeed to Chris & Luke for covering that.
Chris, damping down the ash with a hose pipe
Luke & Chris emptying the ash pit.
I can now bring you an excellent selection of photos from 35006's recent excursion to the Mid Hants Railway's 50th anniversary of the end of southern steam gala.  This was of course the first time that 35006 had been anywhere off of our railway since she arrived around 30 years ago:

35006, being loaded onto a trailer at Toddington (photo courtesy of Steve Parker)
On the trailer (photo courtesy of Steve Parker)
Dan on the footplate at the Mid Hants (photo courtesy of Steve Parker)
Eagle eyed readers of Steam Railway magazine may just have caught sight of a photo of the crews & owner's representatives at the Mid Hants, which included Dan.
Somehow an action shot of 34081, 92 Squadron sneaked in here (photo courtesy of Steve Parker)
Morning loco prep at Ropley (photo courtesy of Steve Parker)
35006 arrives at Ropley with the usual end of steam chalk markings (photo courtesy of Steve Parker)
And finally, as you may have heard, there will be an open day at Old Oak Common this coming Saturday (2nd Sept).  Having spent almost all of her working life shedded at Old Oak Common (81A), Foremarke Hall has been invited.  On Saturday, she was busy having a steam test after a washout, as well as receiving lots of tender loving care from the cleaners to get her looking her absolute best.
Cinderella or not, she's off to the ball at Old Oak Common.
Should you wish to attend the event yourself, please note that this is a ticketed event and tickets are not available on the day, they have to be purchased in advance.  More details can be found on the official website.  Hopefully I will be able to bring you pictures of Foremarke Hall at the Old Oak Common open day next week.

Monday, 21 August 2017

Musical Chairs

 We use reverse osmosis equipment at both Toddington & Cheltenham which roughly turns tap water into distilled water.  This is far better for the locomotive boilers, as less residue gets left behind when the water boils, extending the life of the boiler, meaning less frequent washouts are possible, and no need to perform a blow down every day.  One of the fireman's many duties regarding prepping the loco for a day's service is to take a water sample, which will then be analysed to determine how well the reverse osmosis plant has been doing its job.  Small plastic containers are provide by the water analysis team for the purpose, and all the fireman has to do is to obtain a sample, usually from the lower water gauge test cock, or perhaps the water gauge drain.  I made the mistake of placing the sample container on the warming tray before filling it, and got on with all the other things that I needed to do first... such as lighting the fire.   You can see where this is going already can't you.
The bit of the plastic container that welded itself to the warming tray

The replacement, filled and safely stashed in the much cooler tool tunnel
 My apologies to the water team!

I had been monitoring our online crew rostering facility with some interest in the lead up to Friday, as nobody had signed up to clean the loco.  I was having visions of having to not only do all the pre-flight checks & the light up, but also having to clean Foremarke Hall as well.  Ade, the driver for the day had also shared my concerns and press ganged encouraged Gwendolyne to come along as well.
Gwendolyne at work with the Brasso (other brass cleaning products do exist)
 Tom had also noticed that there was no cleaner signed up.  As he was coming along later in the day to put a warming fire into 4270, he took it upon himself to simply turn up considerably earlier than would otherwise have been necessary and help clean Foremarke Hall as well.
Tom using an alternative brass cleaning product.
 This was of course excellent news as far as I was concerned.
Ade oiling up Foremarke Hall
Heading into the south headshunt whilst I operate the points.

Breakfast came from the Flag & Whistle rather than the shovel on this occasion
 Somewhere in the far flung corners of the GWSR's social media empire, there is a photo from the lineside drainage gang of Foremarke Hall with an intrepid blogger taking a photo of them, taking a photo of me, taking a photo...
Lineside drainage gang at work between Gotherington & Bishops Cleeve.
 Leaving home at stupid o'clock on footplate days,means that I only get to hear the shipping forecast on the radio as I drive in.  There is precious little shipping in the general vicinity of Toddington, so the Met Office has taken this as an excuse not to provide a specific forecast for the area.  Clearly they haven't taken the fact that we have a Merchant Navy class locomotive in our operational fleet into account.  The nearest part of the shipping forecast to Toddington is probably the Bristol Channel, for which the forecast was "gale force 8, becoming cyclonic".  I'm no expert in these matters, but quite frankly that didn't sound too good.  Predicatably enough, the weather closed in and several heavy downpours of rain ensued.  Also predictably enough, the rain only occured when we were running tender first.  Foremarke Hall's tender provides a measure of protection, but you are still pretty exposed and will get very wet in short order.  The usual trick for the driver and fireman is to find a cleaner to shelter behind, this causes some problems as there is usually only one cleaner available.  On this occasion, we had both Gwendolyne & Tom, so no problem.
Gwendolyne, rather unimpressed that she is now a weather shield
 No sooner had we got to Toddington and changed direction, than the sun came out.  Perfect comedy timing!
You wouldn't have guessed that it was hammering down five minutes earlier
 For later trips, when the rain came back again, we put up the storm sheet.  It does a fair job of protecting the crew from the rain, but it does make it difficult to see where you're going when running tender first.  The tried and trusted technique of jamming a broom under it to provide a small aperture through which to see was employed to good effect.
It makes sweeping around the footplate a bit of a challenge though.
 Cleaners have noticed that they can earn Brownie points by fetching tea and cake along during the layover at Toddington.
Gwendolyne earns some Brownie points.
One item of note, was that one of the nifty lights in the yard by the pits, was looking rather the worse for the wear.  Forensic analysis of the traces of yellow paint on the light were found to match the telehandler.  The name of the guilty party has been witheld, but only because he bought me breakfast.
Go home light... you're drunk!
As you may recollect from last week, I mentioned that a game of musical chairs was about to be played with a large crane and the various 2-8-0 locomotives associated with the Dinmore Manor group.  By the time that the music stopped on Monday; 3850 had been turned round to face towards Cheltenham (a move which will facilitate the cylinder block extraction), 3850's old boiler was temporarily placed on 2874's frames, 2874's boiler was rotated through 90 degrees, and 3845's boiler was lifted and brought to Toddington.

3845's boiler being lifted (photo courtesy of Mike Solloway)
 Eagle eyed readers will note that 3845's smoke box was cut through as part of this process.  The smoke box was already unfit for further service, with both the chimney and smoke box ring having been crudely gas-axed out long before 3845 came into DMLL's ownership.  3845 is still in the DMLL restoration queue and the intention is to return it to running order in the fullness of time, however it is at the back of the queue behind 3850 & 2874.
3850's boiler being placed on 2874's chassis (photo courtesy of Mike Solloway)

3850 swings round through 180 degrees (photo courtesy of Mike Solloway)

2874's boiler swings round through 90 degrees (photo courtesy of Mike Solloway)
 Moving on to Wednesday, a start was made on the concreting of the last section of the David Page shed floor.  3850's frames were safely tucked away at the back of the shed on road 6, then the first panel of track in the unconcreted section was lifted out, by Terry, Roy, Chris, Tom & Peter.  Getting the old, largely buried concrete sleepers out by hand was deemed to be too much like hard work, so they cheated and got the telehandler to lift them out.
Attaching chains to the chairs (photo courtesy of Peter Gutteridge)
Up it comes (photo courtesy of Peter Gutteridge)
 By now, 3850, facing Cheltenham was isolated on the previously concreted section of road 6.
3850... trapped!
The Wednesday gang also kindly removed the vac cylinders from both 3850 and 2874.  It took a lot of effort, but they both freed up in the end.  3850's dismantled OK, and revealed its innards to be in surprisingly good condition.  2874's proved to be too much of a challenge and has been left for another day.
2874's rusted up vac cylinder (photo courtesy of Peter Gutteridge)
The freed up end plates from 3850's (photo courtesy of Peter Gutteridge)
At some point since emerging from Barry Island scrap yard, somebody had taken the trouble to needle gun and prime 3845's boiler with some form of rust inhibiting paint. That time and effort was well rewarded, as although the paint is rather faded now, it has kept the boiler in remarkably good condition. In most places, needle gunning is not required first, we can go straight in with wire brushes to get back to good clean metal, then apply a fresh coat of rust inhibiting primer, which is exactly what a small team of people got up to on Saturday.
David working on 2874's boiler, before starting on 3845's
David (a different one) removing rust from the saddle area
 Saturday also saw more of the track on road 6 lifted prior to the commencement of concreting.
Track being dislodged...
...and pulled free by the telehandler
Popping out the sleepers
 There is now a bit of a stack of sleepers in the yard, best keep quiet about them, or P Way will be carting them off to Broadway.
The start of the sleeper stack.
Steam locomotive boilers have a number of safety features built in, one of which is fusible plugs.  The fusible plug is a hollow "bolt", with a lead core, which is screwed into the crown sheet of the boiler and protrudes into the water space.  Should the water level in the boiler fall too low, and the plug protrude above the water space into the steam space, then the higher temperature of the steam will cause the lead plug will melt, thereby emitting steam into the firebox.  This will be noticed by the crew who will then be alerted to the fact that the water levels are dangerously low and that immediate remedial action needs to be taken to prevent the collapse of the crown sheet.

Rod was in the machine shop on Saturday, busy re-leading a number of GWR style fusible plugs for use on our locos.  The plugs have an inner thread into which the lead is melted, of 1/2" W.  Once the plug has been used once, it can be rebored to 9/16W and re-leaded.  After the two uses, it is scrap and a new one has to be made.  This process takes place during every boiler washout.
Removing surplus lead in the base of the plug
Rod in the machine shop
Gunmetal blanks for making the next batch.
Trimming the lead core to a cone.
The nearly finished product, almost ready to fit
In fact, here are plenty that Rod made earlier, (scrap ones in the background.)
With Foremarke Hall and 4270 out running the service trains, 35006 was enjoying a relaxing day off... or at least the loco itself was, the owning group were getting on with regular maintenance.  One booked issue has been that the tender brakes drag occasionally.
Tweaking 35006's tender brakes.
 Hopefully that won't be an issue next time she runs.  The usual lubrication tasks were being attended to in the cab as well.
35006 enjoying the TLC
I am advised by Steve that a selection of photos are available from 35006's recent visit to the Mid Hant's Railway, hopefully I'll be able to share these with you in the near future.

And finally, one of Saturday's footplate crew managed to leave his hat behind at the end of the day.  Helpfully, one of the many reprobates still present marked the inside of the hat with its owner's name for ease of identification.

The moral of this tale, is that you should never leave anything lying around in the mess coach.