Sunday, 24 February 2013

Quiet Day at Shackerstone...

Hi guys. Another quiet day at Shackerstone Loco Shed, pottering about in the cold doing a few bits on "Sir Gomer" - the resident Peckett. Next weekend trains will return to the Battlefield Line, as far as Market Bosworth only however due to on-going track work at Far Coton. The roster shows DMU for next weekend too. I'll be back next week for more work on "SG", to get her ready for the Steam Gala weekend of March 16th/17th. Cheers guys. Sam.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Achilles Report No27: Making Good Progress...

Hi guys. Well, now we are on "Achilles" post No27. At the current time the loco is living at Eddie's and has filled the 5" gauge void which exists in his home workshop, rubbing shoulders with 3.5" and 7.25" loco's. Work on the engine has now reached a good stage as all of the two-diameter coupling rod bushes, and the two big end bushes, have been made and bored out to the individual size of each crank pin. Though the bushes are alot tighter than they used to be, there is of course freedom of movement engineered into the system so that the engine can actually move and negotiate curves too! The two front coupling rod bushes (single diameter bronze) have been left as they are, on the old bearings, as they were not that bad and this extra play will allow for slight sideways axle movement on bends and tight points, which is for the better.
LH Assembly - Con Rod, Crosshead, Drop Arm and Gudgeon Pin
As we can see below, the engine has had its coupling rod brasses trial fitted in order to test the running fit. They are all very good indeed and should give the engine alot more 'tight' service life. The image below shows evidence of the old green paint that was once applied to the wheels...with green having been the original colour choice for "Achilles" prior to the application of Highland Blue...
In order to allow the rebuild of "Achilles" to progress at a faster rate, Eddie had offered to contract the work for the two new crossheads. Kindly, he has been ticking away at them at a good pace, putting my mind at rest about not having them done in time for the season. The crossheads arrived as a single piece of metal, with the early markings of what looked like crosshead shapes on the sides. This of course has to be sawn in half and filed heavily in order to achieve surfaces that can be accurately machined to create the final crossheads.
Turning The Boss On The R/H Side New Crosshead
The plan to fit new crossheads to "Achilles" has been on the cards for some time, with the old ones: particularly the L/H Side: being very worn and starting to knock like mad. Slide bar damage has been escaped this time by the looks of it, but the crossheads themselves were damaged more than I would normally expect to see, simply because of how much they were actually moving up and down during their travel cycles. Oh well, out with the old, in with the new. Below, we can see that Eddie has achieved two squared off crossheads with their bosses turned down to size, with a good surface finish...
As well as the various bushes and the two new crossheads, there are other jobs still to be done on the loco itself. The whistle turret for example requires a new washer before being put back together, whilst the water gauge glass bottom-nut section requires packing and sealing before the gauge glass goes back in. My hope is to get the engine back together by the end of March in order to perform a test steaming at home, prior to actually undertaking any track work. Realistically I would say that the valve gear will need resetting once the engine is back together but, just at present, the aim is to get it back together to a condition where it can actually move itself pretty soon!...
A job which I had sort of 'missed out' during my calculations was the relationship between the gudgeon pin and the little end. Having decided to test that relationship today I found that there was a strong amount of wear in the little end bushes on both sides and so opted to make some new whilst I had the time and Eddie's workshop handy! Having found the internal diameter of the little end section of the rods, and an accurate size for the gudgeon pins, I started turning the new pair. The process of turning is something that I've learnt through work and is quite enjoyable on little jobs like this, and pretty easy. Below, the bronze is being turned down to the external diameter...
Next, the bronze rod was drilled out to a diameter just slightly smaller than the gudgeon pins; to allow for possible drill run-out etc. The hole is then reemed in order to provide the best surface finish, clear the burrs and of course produce the accurate shape. Below, I get stuck in with the drilling...
Once you've got your internal and external diameters right, you can check the appropriate depth before 'parting off' the job. Below, I'm preparing to part-off the bronze to create two new bushes... 
Occasionally, particularly with a soft material like this, the parting off cut may cause some swarf to remain on the finished jobs. This is easily removed by putting the part carefully back into the chuck and then running the knife tool gently across until the face is clean and shiney. And there you have it!...
One of The Bushes Having The Final Clean Up
The new bushes were then pressed into their appropriate positions in the little end of the main connecting rods. A quick check with the gudgeon pin revealed a good running fit...a huge amount better than they were before!...
Gudgeon Pin Fitted
The locomotive is now looking alot better mechanically, though it isn't together of course. The bushes are pretty much done and the crossheads are well on their way, thanks to the kind help of Eddie and other friends of course.
Lets hope that by April the old girl will be sitting back on the bays at Ryton pools...in steam, squeaky clean, shiney and of course...tight! The below image was taken in October at RPMR, as "Achilles" simmers with 80psi on the clock, before a few laps of the track...
Thanks for reading again guys - Best Regards, Sam.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Quiet One at Shackerstone...

Hi guys. Just a quiet one at Shackerstone today, doing a few little jobs in the engine shed on "Sir Gomer". The loco had been steam tested yesterday following some more remedial valve gear work, and so required cleaning out today. The smokebox and firebox both required cleaning and so myself & Eddie set to with these tasks. Outside, Ruston diesel shunter "Hercules" was coming back to life. The engine arrived at Shackerstone a few years back as a runner but, due to a failed axlebox brass, ended up in storage until repairs could be carried out. The loco recently moved to a new resting place at the side of the loco shed, adjacent to the stores, allowing work to be undertaken away from the main running line. The locomotive has an air-fed start, meaning that a resevoir pressure of compressed air (around 200-300psi) is required before the loco has enough strength to turn the engine over a couple of times at a fast enough speed to engage a successful start. Sure enough, once the air had built up, "Hercules" roared into life and threw clouds of smoke into the midday air. Below, "Hercules" proudly ticks over...noisily!...
What better image to advertise volunteer labour than myself inside a firebox?! Below, I'm checking the tubes and stays on "Sir Gomer", having just cleaned the grate. These checks are routine as its common-sense to check everything is fine whilst you are in there in the gloom anyway. Sure enough, all was well and "Sir G" looked good, even from the inside!...
"Dear Me, Its Hot In Here!"
Thanks very much for reading again guys. Lets hope "Sir Gomer" will be in steam and running well again ready for our services to recommence in March. We've had some beautiful engines over the years..."Mayflower", 3803, 9466 and of course my personal favourites...5542 & 5786. However, "Sir Gomer" is still part of the operational fleet and is currently penned to work the early seasons services. Why not come along and ride behind her, for something different with an industrial charm? Cheers guys. Sam.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

LEGO Railway at Solihull...

Hi guys. Today we were at the annual G Scale West Midlands Show, held in Hobs Moat, Solihull. We attended this well patronised event last year and enjoyed it very much, and so we were more than happy to come back this year following a kind invitation. The show takes place each year in order to raise much needed funds for the G Scale Society. We took along our 12ft x 4ft LEGO Model Railway, still fresh from its outing to the Stoneleigh show three weeks ago. The layout performed very well and proved very popular, as usual, with plenty of children & adults alike commenting on how good the layout looked. I must admit, though it really is just a toy train collection (if a rare one) it still proves very popular at even the biggest of shows...such as Warley at the NEC...
The show was open from 10:30am until 4:30pm and during this time our locomotives hauled a variety of loads around the three different circuits on our layout. Naturally, during the day a few people commented on some of our humorous situations!...
"LE-GO of Me You Fool!"
Below, the red diesel shunter pulls the car flats through a busy yard, passing the Harry Potter locomotive and the Santa Fe Super Chief diesel No301...
All in all, a very enjoyable day at the Solihull exhibition. There were some very interesting layouts on display, in scales varying from N right up to Gauge 1 live steam and of course G Scale. Our LEGO railway seemed to provide a little bit of "fun" alongside its more serious, and equally fantastic, brothers.
"On Shed" - The Grey Tank Engine Gets A Well Earned Clean
Thanks for reading guys. The LEGO Railway will next be exhibited at the September 15th Hinckley Model Railway Show, depending on wether anything else crops up in the meantime. Of course, we will also be exhibiting the layout at the 2013 Warley National Model Railway Exhibition at the NEC in November...a favourite show of ours! Cheers guys - Its off to Shackerstone tomorrow. Sam.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Achilles Report No26: Measuring Crank Pins...

Hi guys. Today, "Achilles" made a quick journey along the M6 and the A46 towards Eddie's house. There, we measured the wear in the crank pins in order to compare the results against the original drawings. The crank pin bushes were originally designed for an internal diameter of 3/8". Following 25 years or so of use, "Achilles" has around 3-4 thou of wear on the crank pins, but this is variable across each pin. Therefore, the brand new bushes will be bored out to the appropriate size on each pin, making a tight running fit across all of the axles. Below left, we see three of the old bushes: worn and abused. Below right, we see all six brand new bronze bushes of the two-diameter type...made and ready for fitting...
Now that "Achilles" has her six new bushes ready for fitment, we can concentrate on getting them on. The two front coupling rod bushes are of a single-diameter type and are not in too bad a condition so will be left as they are. The engine will now require crossheads and little end bushes. Thanks for reading folks. Sam.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

The Day We Went to Bosworth...

Hi guys. Today, in the pouring rain, a hardy few (well...a hardy LOT!) were riding down on a P-Way train from Shackerstone, bound for Market Bosworth. It was freezing cold and very wet, with the shelter of the brakevan and the warmth of its stove being very welcome indeed. Our destination was Far Coton, or Three Bridges as I like to call it. Three Bridges is of course three over-bridges which span the railway about a 1/2 mile south of Market Bosworth, in the cutting which leads towards the open fields of Shenton. Permanent Way work often takes place in the closed season, allowing gaps in the track to be left for weeks on end in order to achieve the maximum improvement to our running line. Don't be fooled by the picture at the top as, even with alot of people, P-Way can be back-breaking work and, alot of the time, you come away feeling absolutely drained.
 
Far Coton has been plagued with what we know as "drop joints" for a while now but, as I say, little can be done during the running season as full rectification work takes time. Drop joints occur when the weight of the train causes the joints to dip, and have the potential to break locomotive leaf springs and even fishplates if left too long. An easy fix is to jack up the track and pack underneath using fine stones, allowing the joint to become supported once again. However, prolonged running causes the rail-ends to wear, meaning that you will still get the rough ride over the joints wether it is supported or not. The solution is to:
A) Remove the fishplates
B) Cut off the worn rail-ends
C) Redrill the rail-ends for new fishplate bolts to go through
D) Continue the task until you have a large gap
E) Fill the gap with a new piece of rail
This should give you a good piece of running line, with the rails being fresh, well-supported and above all, safe. We are blessed to have some useful P-Way equipment aboard our short P-Way train and so we can cope with most obstacles, providing that we have the man-power to help too. Below, a mobile donkey-saw is used to saw off worn rail-ends to make a new, square face...
Below, the train also carries a circular saw to produce a 'starting cut' ready for the donkey saw to drop into the channel...
Once a gap has been created, the rails must be 'barred up'. This job is as simple and heavy as it sounds! We have a few sets of rail-tongs which we use to drag the heavy rails up, through the chairs, a few inches at a time. A team of 8 persons is usually required to do this job effectively, especially over long distances. I certainly spent alot of time doing this today! Below, a rail has arrived at a chair but, when the old rail has been removed, the sleeper has dislodged due to ground movement and, in this situation, it has to be dug out and then put back in a square, appropriate position so that the rail may pass through the chair easily, whilst still allowing room for the key to be hammered in alongside...
Today, Carl's wife Sam was kind enough to bring a "kitchen on wheels" to Far Coton's 2nd bridge and feed the hungry (and very wet!) workers...Spot on!...
The wet wagons sit below the road at Far Coton, looking away from the track divide, towards Market Bosworth...
Our locomotive: the Class 73 Electro-Diesel: collected us early today, at about 3pm. We were just so wet and cold that we were happy to get back to Shack asap. Despite the weather, the large team that had turned out in force had got alot of work done and so, really, we had done more work in less time: brill! Thanks for reading folks. (The top photograph is C = Chris Simmons). Sam.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Planning Miniature Traction Engine Weekend...

Hi guys. This morning, in the pouring rain, a few of us stood at Market Bosworth planning some of the events for the season which lies ahead. My event is of course Miniature Traction Engine Weekend, which is due to take place on April 27th/28th, 10:30am until 5pm. The event will centre around Market Bosworth Station and will include at least 20 miniature traction engines in steam both days, amongst a good few other exhibits. The main thing about planning the event is ensuring that there is enough space for A) all of the engines and, B) all of their kit! On average an engine will turn up with a car, a trailer and a caravan, not to mention the space required for the engine itself! I'm sure it will all be fine when the weekend arrives but, as the old saying goes, "Fail to Plan...Plan to Fail". One of the engines that will be attending the event is a beautiful 6" Allchin Royal Chester, named "Abbie Jane" (photo courtesy of Malcolm Ranieri)...
Thanks for reading guys. Tomorrow I'm back at Shackerstone and I believe we are on the P-Way - probably in the rain!! Sam.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Achilles Report No25: More Loco Work...

Hi guys. Again, today, mug of tea in hand and with the heater on full blast, I was in the workshop working on the loco. Todays job was to remove the remaining bits of the LHS valve gear: specifically the crosshead, connecting rod and coupling rods. Regular readers will know that, during a Halloween run at CMES last October, "Achilles" was failed due to the gudgeon pin nut undoing itself during running. Unfortunately this could not be rectified on site at the time and so, when I got home I lock-tite'd it up until it could move no more. This quick fix worked brilliantly and the loco ran without fault during her November outing. However, thats the thing about lock-tite...its brilliant until you want to remove something that its holding on! The easiest way to remove the lock-tite is to heat it up with a blow-lamp until it flames...a sure sign that it has caught fire and thus lost its hold. You can then remove the offending article. However, today, I was having no such luck as even heating the nut up to maximum was having little effect. The transfer of heat through the crosshead however did cause the piston pin to lose its own lock-tite seal and fall out, allowing me to remove the entire ensemble and put the annoying crosshead on the bench in order to get a larger spanner onto it...Every cloud...
Below, the blow-lamp gets to grips with heating up the gudgeon pin nut in order to attempt to melt the Lock-tite...
My "Achilles" mug has been in regular use lately, especially since the rebuild began. The engine regularly finds herself staring at a picture of her on the mug of tea alongside her! With the loco now bare of valve gear on both sides I can concentrate on getting the bushes redone as they are removed from the rods.
Cheers guys - thanks for reading. The next report on "Achilles" will no doubt talk about the checking of the removed parts for wear. Thank you - Sam.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Bye, Bye Lamport?...

Hello guys. Today I was back at Shackerstone for another day working in the shed. I try to do every Sunday during the winter if I can, in an attempt to earn those brilliant summer turns on the footplate! Today there were a few little jobs going on, most involving "Sir Gomer" and "Dunlop No7". The Peckett duo have both been the subject of alot of work recently, with the latter steaming through an epic restoration project. "Sir Gomer" is gradually being brought back into serviceable condition following winter 'tweaking'. The ex-Mountain Ash beast will be strutting her stuff on the early season passenger services, no doubt showing us all what she can do. I certainly need no convincing - she is a powerful brute! In the chilly Midday air, the 0-6-0 was removed from the shed in order to make way for another Shackerstone six-wheeler: Bagnall "Lamport No3".

No3 hasn't steamed for over 10 years and has languished in and around the shed in complete condition since. Apart from the odd clean, no overhaul has ever been started on the Bagnall. As an estimation I would say that you could easily lose £75,000+ restoring this machine, simply because of the requirement of a new inner firebox. However, if you wanted to do as much of the work as possible on your own then that price could be considerably lowered. Afterall, the engine is "all there" and not in too bad a state. The bottom end is clanky and definately needs alot of work but, if you were not the "easily offended" type it would probably pull a train to the Battlefield and back quite easily in its current state. The boiler and firebox are the main issue, with worries of deterioration over the years. Today, the Bagnall was being inspected by a suspected, potential buyer. Purchase of the loco would involve restoration and, at that, you can't moan about it leaving. I would personally love to see this engine running again. Bagnall's are well respected and come with a strong pedigree. They are a much better engine than say, a Peckett or a Barclay for example. As part of her inspection today, "Lamport" was dragged into the shed by the Class 08 and pushed over the pit.
"Lamport No3" On The Old Pit Road, with the 08
Later in the day, following the inspection, we had to pull "Lamport" back out again in order to let "Sir Gomer" go back in. Driving the 08 whilst she pushed "Lamport", a 25T Brakevan and "Sir Gomer" up the incline to the shed was no mean fete! Mind you, we got there in the end...on the 3rd attempt! On my way out today I was met by Chris who gave me a good pile of the new Miniature Traction Engine Weekend leaflets. Again, I will plug my event! The event will take place at Market Bosworth Station over the weekend of April 27th/28th: 10:30am until 5pm. There will be:
  • At least 20 miniature traction engines in steam
  • Full size centrepiece Aveling Roller "Louise"
  • Musical, Pipe Organ powered by 3" Showmans
  • Table displays
  • 5" gauge Miniature Railway (small extra charge payable)
  • Refreshments
  • Indoor displays of Model Engineering and Toy Steam
  • 16mm Model Railway (Goods Shed)
  • And of course Steam Trains on the Battlefield Line
If any of my readers would like to join us for the event then please do, by all means. The event is brand new and we've never attempted something like this before. I have had alot of support from engine owners and societies to get this event off the ground and include as many exhibits as possible so now it is up to YOU to come along and see them! Below, the leaflet sorting gets under way...
Thank you for reading my first post of February 2013 guys. Maybe I'll see one or two of you at Miniature Traction Engine Weekend 2013?...I hope so! Thanks guys, Sam.