Sunday, 26 January 2014

"Sir Gomer" Strip Down...

Hi guys. Today, with the prospect of a working group back in the loco shed at Shackerstone again, I decided to head along. I arrived at around 10:30am and preparations were immediately made to begin the days task: "Sir Gomer". The Peckett has had a very good year and performed faultlessly at Shackerstone during the Spring/early Summer season. She hauled many trains filled with happy passengers and many of us enjoyed a good few days aboard her footplate. As the year went on the engine received a repaint and is currently wearing a very smart, plain black livery. She visited the Epping Ongar Railway in November and returned to Shackerstone towards the end of the month to take part in "Santa Special" Station Pilot duties. Unfortunately, on her last day of rostered work, she ran a hot axlebox bearing at the Fireman's side front axlebox. Since then the engine has been in the locomotive shed awaiting repair. So far the engine had been jacked up and packed, and the culprit axlebox brass removed. The brass rides on the top side of the axle and features the two oil-ways that are fed to each box from the mechanical lubricator. For whatever reason, the box has been starved of oil and this has caused the axle to run hot in the brass and cause damage to both the axle and the brass itself. Problems such as this are not entirely uncommon with steam locomotives but they do happen on a rare occasion. For example, "Sir Gomer" hasn't run a hot box for many years but any accumulated muck which causes a restriction in oil flow can easily cause this problem on any locomotive. Indeed, in the past, engines on other railways have run hot boxes in hot weather!
 
It is, I guess, kind of fortunate that "Sir Gomer" can be repaired over the closed season where she won't be missing out on any booked, revenue earning turns. If the problem had occurred in the summer then we would have had trouble. In order for the repair of the engine to take place, the damaged axle has to be removed and cleaned up in order to bring it cylindrical again and remove any burrs, scars or dips. This is because any false cuts in the axle will obviously bite into the newly repaired/replaced brass and cut it away. Cut away debris can then block the oil holes, causing a hot-box. Its a very vicious circle like that. The axle must also be 'evened up'. Obviously if you turn one side you turn the other as you don't want a smaller axle (even by a tiny tolerance) on one side as there is no fine spring adjustment. In the same vein, if you machine a brass you have to machine the other too: everything has to be even. This way you ensure that the radius in which the axle runs in the brass is kept correct and even, resting the weight across the entire brass rather than across a selected section. OK, so with all this in mind, we set to work. Obviously to remove the axle we need to remove the two connecting rods and all of the coupling rods. The eccentric straps also require removing as we will also be checking the centre axle during this task. Myself & Craig worked in the cramped conditions inside the frames, removing the pins in the lifting links which hold the eccentric straps in place. We worked for an hour or so, labouring away, before the job was done. We can see below that the expansion links are in the lowered (full forward) position and that the lifting links are hanging free. The eccentric straps have been removed so that the engine can be jacked without worrying about bending anything or causing any damage...
On the outside of the engine Carl, Pockets and Reece were hard at work too. "Sir Gomer" is a fairly basic machine as, afterall, Peckett's were designed to be. The big-end and coupling rod brasses (bearings) are made in two halves. The two halves surround the crank pin and are then pushed tightly together using a key which is driven in. Locking bolts then tighten up against the tapered key in order to ensure its full security. The tightness of the key in the gap and the pressure of the bolts against the key hold the two halves of the brass tightly and securely around the crank pin. An oil-way in the top of the brass then allows oil from the well under the cork atop each rod to fall through onto the pin and lubricate it. To remove the connecting rods, the castle nut and key on the gudgeon pin is removed in readiness. The bolts against the key at the opposite end of the rod are then loosened and the key driven out. The brass halves can then be carefully removed and the rod rested very carefully on the pin in order to allow the gudgeon pin to be removed...
With the gudgeon pin out and brass halves removed, the connecting rod can be very carefully lifted off the engine by a few willing helpers. Below, I've included a picture of the removed brass from this side. Down the centre of the brass can be seen the oil-way and the two holes which provide the oil. The shading down each side of the brass about 1-inch in from each side denotes the radius of the axle and where it has been riding. We can see the cuts in the brass and the damage that has been caused by a lack of oil. The grey patches are actually heavily shaven pieces of brass which are now engrained in the cuts...
A close up of the worst of the damage...
As I said this is all a vicious circle as the brass must be perfectly smooth and free of damage, as must the axle. If not, then the repair will not last long as the same problem will occur again. It may take years, it may take half a trip...you just don't know. Doing the job correctly and taking the time to check other parts: as is being done during this process with the Peckett: is by far the best policy in ensuring that the locomotive remains in the best possible mechanical condition. The well-being of the locomotive is always our prime concern...
"Gudgeon Pin Castle Nut and Key Removed"
Here we can see the eccentric buckles which have been left hanging on the axle. These will hopefully not have to be removed but time will tell...
The heavy process seemed to take place rather quickly and the fireman's side was soon completely gone (rod wise!). Attention then turned to the equally simple driver's side...
Before long, the engine was stripped on both sides and all of the crank pins were checked for wear. The crank pins all seemed in remarkably good condition, as did their brasses...
"All Rods Removed and Crank Pins Checked"
Lunch time soon beckoned and the stove was instrumental in warming us up in the 'Cookery Corner'...
Below, a collection of rods from the fireman's side. From left to right they are the rear coupling rod, the main connecting rod (little end nearest) and the forward coupling rod...
"Rods Everywhere!"
Below there is an example of a coupling rod brass. We can see the spacer, key and the two halves of the brass. The ensemble is simple, yet effective...
"Coupling Rod Brass"
Well, that's enough for this week. We've still got to remove the brake rigging that runs along the underside of the engine from the steam brake to each of the six brake hangers, and the springs on the centre axle. This work is due to be carried out next week and then we can think about getting the wheels out. All of this vital work allows us to learn so much more about the mechanics of a locomotive and this is why I try to explain as much as I can about these processes on my blog. "Sir Gomer" is coming along and will be repaired soon. Moving right along. Best Regards, Sam...

Saturday, 25 January 2014

The Great Central's Winter Steam Gala...

Hi all. The Great Central Railway at Loughborough: being one of the bigger preserved railway players: holds their annual Winter Steam Gala at the end of each January. I attend every year as a good show is always on offer. For the 2014 event, I was joined by Eddie for the day and it was another enjoyable outing. The three-day event yet again boasted a fabulous roster. This year there were 10 locomotives on the bill, headlined by visiting BR Riddles 9F 2-10-0 No92214, of the NYMR. Joining the 9F were two other visitors: 0-6-2 56XX Tank No5643 and Hunslet Austerity No22. With the three visitors being joined by the seven operational locomotives of the home fleet, the event could offer a brilliantly intensive timetable and there was always something going on. An example of engines from each of the "Big Four" companies and even three Standard Class engines as well as an industrial seemed a mighty fine display! Myself & Eddie arrived at Quorn & Woodhouse station at just before 9am, with the first train due at about 9:10. We immediately purchased our tickets and joined the first standing-room-only train, hauled by 70013 "Oliver Cromwell". The noisy Britannia took us to Leicester North via Rothley, before returning us to Quorn. The attractive guide for the event was now our map for the day...
We hung around at Quorn station for a while as it is always a good place to catch the action. Trains were already passing through with only a few minute intervals between them. On this cold & windy morning, we were soon treated to the sight of the star engine: 92214. I don't think I'd ever seen a 9F in steam prior to this, and what a machine. Built by BR in 1959, the engine only worked for 6 years in service prior to retirement. This was obviously a criminal fact, but it happened with most of the Standards. 92214 was today looking resplendent in BR Black with Mixed Traffic lining. She now carries the inauthentic name "Cock O' The North" and of course the inauthentic lining as a 9F is truly a heavy freight engine. Indeed, the 'rivet counters' in the crowd were voicing their opinions: "its ridiculous", "its unnatural", "its silly". My reply: "well, its not that silly really, she looks very smart. Furthermore, if you own an immaculate 9F and operate it to a high standard, then its choice of name and livery should be yours". She looked lovely...
"9F 2-10-0 No92214 Cock O' The North"
After a noisy departure by 92214, the little GNR-liveried N2 0-6-2 Tank arrived. She was to be turned on the Quorn turntable as part of the demonstration. Carefully, she was edged onto the turntable...
The attractive engine was turned by her footplate crew with relative ease: once they got the weight moving!...
"A Good Fire in the Box of The N2"
A highly appreciated little tank engine: in my eyes anyway: is the well-kept 3F Class 'Jinty' No47406. I think myself & Eddie were eyeing up the 'Jinty' as the perfect engine for Shackerstone! The 'Jinty's are powerful, economical, easy to drive & fire and attractive...they have everything you need in a tank engine! 47406 was on her way to Rothley when I took this shot...
Having had a cuppa' at Quorn, we joined visiting 56XX No5643 aboard the 'Local Train' to Rothley only. The 0-6-2 was 'looped' at Swithland as a Leicester North bound express hauled by "Sir Lamiel" roared by. The 56' was, in the meantime, joined at the rear of her train by the N2, which tailed to Rothley ready to work the return leg of the 'Local'...
"5643 Is Uncoupled at Rothley"
Having left the 'Local' train at Rothley, we clambered up the station steps and across the road to reach Rothley Embankment. This is a popular spot for budding photographers as you can see the engines at work. The little green N2 put on a nice display leaving Rothley with the Loughborough-bound 'Local'...
With the line clear, the 'Duch-Eight' (an 8F in Express Passenger Red) No48624 was sent light engine towards Loughborough having brought up a freight train...
Below, BR Standard Class 2 No78019 descends into Rothley with a well-heated 6-coach train for Leicester North...
After watching a few more moves, including the 'Jinty' running light and a departure by "Oliver Cromwell" and 5643, we returned to the platforms. The 'Jinty' was waiting at the top end of the Loughborough-bound platform...
"Time for some tea & cake now". I think Eddie had queued from the outskirts of Leicester to reach the counter in Rothley!...
Having had our cake & eaten it, we caught the slightly late running next train to Loughborough, behind 777 "Sir Lamiel". Regular readers may remember that I had an exhilarating footplate ride on "Lamiel" a couple of years ago during a Winter Gala (see post). The King Arthur took us swiftly back to Loughborough and we arrived in good time to see 5643 at the head of a pretty, mixed freight...
Leaving 5643 awaiting the 'Right Away' in the Goods Loop, we walked down towards the locomotive sheds. "Sir Lamiel" was waiting near the shed area ready to be called for her next duty. Built by the North British Locomotive Company for the Southern Railway in June 1925, the Arthur worked until October 1961. It was never intended for immediate preservation, with sister locomotive "King Arthur" being the obvious candidate for the National Collection. "King Arthur" was kept in storage awaiting a preservation restoration but due to a subsequent lack of a Drummond-style water cart tender for her, she was duly scrapped. Preservation plans then turned to "Sir Lamiel" who has been part of the NRM's collection ever since, working both on preserved railways and main line tours. I must admit, it is a very attractive engine in its own way, and it looks beautiful in Southern green...
"King Arthur Class 777 "Sir Lamiel" of 1925"
Wandering past the tall 6ft 7" wheels of the Arthur, we soon reached the Empress Road bridge over the shed area. Just outside the bridge stood what would have been locomotive No10 in the service roster. However, due to a mudlid fault, Austerity No22 had been failed on the Friday and never made service during the weekend. This was a real shame for us industrial fans but the stricken locomotive did make a nice little sight in the yard...
"The One That Got Away - Austerity No22"
A rarity during a visit to the GCR nowadays, the shed was open for viewing. Due to a spate of thefts this area is usually closed off, and rightly so. However, today, with stewards on guard, we were allowed access to the shed as long as we gave a donation. There are many engines in the shed, all but one incomplete. The only complete locomotive, though out of ticket, is the wonderful NRM-owned GCR 8K/LNER 04 No63601: a venerable old freight engine. At the back of the shed was recently arrived Standard 2 locomotive 78018. Clearly the sister to GCR resident 78019, the engine is coming along nicely during her first restoration in preservation, with the majority of the work having been carried out already at a site in Darlington. The engine will be completed at the GCR and will remain to see out around 10 years work. The engine, formerly based at Shackerstone in the early preservation days there, will be a fine sight once completed...
"78018 - Getting There"
Elsewhere in the shed were various engines including an Austerity, 8F 48305, West Country "Boscastle", "Witherslack Hall", a Standard Class 4-6-0 and a very tired looking Black 5. Everything seems to be making slow but steady progress here. Through a crack in a partition door we spotted the Epping Ongar's Hall Class 4953 "Pitchford Hall", which is here for a swift but heavy overhaul. Whilst we were in the large shed, the heavens opened and the thunder, lightning and pouring hail and rain lashed down. It was quite a storm and we were lucky to be inside at the time. This change in the weather called for a second lap of the shed!...
When the rain eventually slowed up, we ventured back up towards the platforms and caught sight of 92214 again. "Cock O' The North" was at the head of the Windcutter Rake of Mineral Wagons: a once common sight on GCR metals. We later learned that 92214 was sold to the GCR on the approach to the weekend and will now remain here for the foreseeable future. A large and very powerful locomotive at Class 9, it was a pleasure to see her...
"The Power of Nine"
Myself and Eddie then caught the late-running 4pm train back to Quorn behind a fine sounding 5643. Leaving the train there, we watched a few more passes as we anticipated the Grand Finale, consisting of "Oliver Cromwell" and the TPO. Though she was late, she certainly did not disappoint and put on a fine display of acceleration and power. To see one of the many Youtube videos of the pass, click here. The engine certainly put on a good show and it was a great end to a grand day out. Cheers guys, Sam... 

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Winter P-Way...

Hi guys. Today, with little else going on elsewhere on the railway, I decided to head out to Carlton bridge (around 1.5 miles from Shackerstone) to help with the Permanent Way work. The Carlton Bridge area has recently been in need of some TLC and the winter closed season is a perfect time to carry out these tasks. There was a bad drop-joint on the approach to the bridge which has now been completely removed. The sleepers across the bridge are also being replaced and the rail ends have been cut and re-drilled in order to lose the wear which the many trains that travel over them cause as time goes on. Permanent Way is hard & heavy work and you certainly feel it when you've done a day. However, the progress achieved is quite rewarding and, in the summer, we can play trains on nice, smooth track. Thanks for reading guys, Sam...

Friday, 17 January 2014

Miniature Traction Engine Weekend 2014...

Hi guys. Here we go then...with only three months to go before the event it is time to start rationally plugging Miniature Traction Engine Weekend 2014. This event will be held over April 26th/27th at Market Bosworth Station on the Battlefield Line. The Goods Yard will play host to over 30 miniature traction engines and lorries in scales 3" - 6" and from makers such as Burrell, Foster, Fowler, Garrett, Allchin, Foden and rarer examples such as a Case and a Savage. The engines will no doubt be happily milling around on the Old Goods Yard. To compare their size, two full size road engines will be joining us for this gala event. In 2014, we are kindly joined by Wallis Expansion Engine "Pedler" and Aveling & Porter Roller "Louise". As well as the steamers there will be a visiting organ creating a steam rally atmosphere throughout the weekend. If you want to go even smaller, why not try the ride-on 5" gauge steam railway, courtesy of GEC MES (small extra charge payable)...
Close of Play on Saturday - MTEW 2013 - M.Heseltine
To see how traction engines were used in past years, why not come along and see our small working area. New for 2014, the area will demonstrate steam wood sawing and flour milling. These two trades came to be when the traction engines were coupled up using strong belts to exchange power from their spinning flywheels to the required appliance. Throughout MTEW 2014, it is hoped to show you steam wood sawing and steam flour milling in 1/3 scale, and at the time of writing we hope to have a 1/3 scale threshing box in attendance too. As if that wasn't enough, witness the beautiful 1/3 scale Showmans Engine "The Griffin" powering her much larger organ via her in-built Dynamo: just as her full size forefathers did. You will also be able to see Showmans engines powering their lights as they did in fairground days...though perhaps only by daylight in our case! The beauty of MTEW is that you can chat and socialise with the drivers of the various steam machines and learn more about the histories of these fabulous models...
"Vera" In Steam (She'll Be There In 2014) - P.Grain
The opportunity to see all of the engines: including the full size pair: together will come once a day. At 1:50pm the engines will all line up in the Goods Yard square in preparation for the 2pm (1:57 to be precise) "BIG WHISTLE" where everything that can whistle will whistle...including the passing bulk of GWR Heavy Freight No3803 on the metals of the Battlefield Line! This was the scene on the Sunday of the 2013 event at 2pm...
Line Up - MTEW Sunday 2013 - D.Playfoot
Indoors in the historic Market Bosworth Goods Shed there will be a catering stand as well as Model Engineering displays from Nuneaton MES and GEC MES. A live steam 16mm model railway (including coal-fired models at various intervals) will also be joining in the fun as well as Toy Steam displays, coupled with a Meccano display stand and Model Trucks. Why not stop for a cuppa' with our Catering Department?
 
Entry to the 2014 event is price-frozen with the 2013 pioneer. Therefore entry to Market Bosworth Station is £4 per adult and £2 per child respectively. These tickets are however refundable against the price of a train ticket aboard our full size steam train. To get the most from your day, why not travel to the event from Shenton or Shackerstone stations? The picturesque 10-mile round trip calls in at Market Bosworth station in both directions and, as an added bonus, if you ride on the train to the event you enter MTEW for free! So why not ride on the train and see over 30 miniatures plus many other displays for free?! OK guys, that's it, no more plugging (for now!). I hope that we can make MTEW 2014 a success for our railway as we are always desperately short of much-needed funds. If anyone wishes to come along and support this little steam rally event then please do. It would be great to see you. So please support Miniature Traction Engine Weekend 2014, April 26th/27th 10am - 5pm. See www.battlefield-line-railway.co.uk for more details. Kind Regards, Sam...

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Shackerstone Shed Day...

"Eddie on Sir Gomer"
Hi guys. Today was a quiet day at Shackerstone Loco Shed. Myself and Eddie continued winterising 3803 and "Sir Gomer" by disconnecting or removing various gauges and lengths of pipework. In cold weather, these measures will allow any water that attempts to freeze to expand and run out of the new gaps in the piping, rather than freezing up. A frozen steam locomotive is the very last thing we want. Not a lot else to report from today...back again next week! Best Regards, Sam...

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Achilles Report No46: The Great Destruction...

Good evening everyone. As you may have read in last Saturday's post, "Achilles" had a good running session at RPMR. However, the run was mainly in aid of an upcoming strip down which really came into its own today. With the heater on to combat the freezing weather outside the workshop, I sat down alongside the engine and got to work. Slowly but surely, she came to pieces. Kind gestures of cups of tea in the "Achilles Mug" came in now & again and kept me going as I already had a cold! Having been completed over 25 years ago, myself & Ken concluded during a phonecall the other night that this would be the engines biggest strip down since build. She was repainted once after her build but I don't think the chassis was done, mainly the large cosmetic bits & bobs. My first job was to remove the cab/bunker section and the left-hand tank top. This is all held on with small BA bolts and I can safely say that there is nothing metric on "Achilles"...not yet anyway! With the tank top off you can see the base of the tanks. The bolts were obviously put into carefully drilled holes and then soldered in place so as to guard against any leaks. By peering underneath the running board you could see the nuts & rubber seals that hold the tank firm to the framing. Having undone these and removed the L/H nameplate, I pulled on the tank lightly and it groaned before coming away from the engine. Over 25 years of accumulated grime and Brasso residue littered the boiler cladding; no wonder really. Having wiped over the cladding to get the worst of the grime off it was time to remove the mechanical lubricator that is carried on the engines left-side and lubricates the cylinders. The delivery pipe was uncoupled and the container/pump section removed as well as the running boards. At this point, the engine looked a little bit like this!...
Bearing in mind that this is the furthest I have ever gone with "Achilles" in terms of mechanical work, I was still feeling rather confident and interested. Naturally, with each part that came off, I was learning how my engine went together and all this is valuable knowledge for the future. With the left-hand tank off, I turned my attention to the left-hand valve gear. All of this was duly removed with some help from the blow-torch to burn away any long-lasting Lock-tite Screw-Thread which: as most steam engine owners will know: is an invaluable resource! With the Lock-tite burnt off the nuts came away easily and the pins could be removed and safely stored. The entire LHS was soon gone and only one slide bar remained...
With the loco now completely stripped on the LHS, I took a welcome break for lunch. After a hearty hot meal I returned to the workshop and began stripping down the RHS once the engine had been turned on the work-bench. The RHS tank came away even easier as the LHS counterpart also carries the emergency hand-pump which also had to be disconnected. In the view below, we can see the lengthy reach rod which follows the boiler barrel to the weigh-shaft...
With the RHS tank off, I decided to have a look at the cab. To get the cladding off the manifold would have to be removed which meant removing the whistle and pressure gauge as well as disconnecting the feed for the steam blower. The whistle delivery line was also removed as well as the old, dented whistle itself...
The locomotive then had her four brass boiler-bands removed before the cladding reluctantly came away. A common thing to replace when cladding comes off is boiler lagging and so the old stuff was removed and barrel cleaned. This is the first time I had ever seen the bare boiler of "Achilles". It was all proving to be quite a learning curve. Anyway, as my enthusiasm began to wain and the ill effects of my cold began to take over, the engine looked a little bit like this...
Following the removal of almost everything else, the only remaining thing to do was to remove the RHS valve gear in the time-honoured fashion. With this done in quick time I decided to get the engine to the point at which I was going to 'stop taking bits off' before I gave it up for today. Therefore, the wheels were taken out...
"What Have I Done?!"
And, there you have it. A few quick & easy steps to turn a working 5" gauge steam locomotive into a few heavy lumps of stationary metal! When I was stripping it down I thought "this is fun" or "oh aren't I learning a lot". But, unfortunately, now the thoughts having turned to..."this is NEVER going to work again". Oh well, onwards & upwards ay. OK, now the engine is at this stage work can begin on putting her right again. All of her parts are now going to be painted. The framing is debateable as, under all the grime, it is quite smart and so it may just benefit from a heavy, paraffin wash. The wheels, tanks, cladding, cab, bunker, running boards, smokebox and so on are all going to be repainted. Despite the work carried out last winter (see relevant posts), there are also some repairs to be made this time, to put the engine 'right'. So, as well as the repaint, the rear axle is going to have a pair of new axleboxes. The other four boxes are fine, even after over 25 years service, but the rear pair are quite unbelievable and will be changed. The expansion link bearings will be replaced to stop the knocking, and the valve and piston packings will also be replenished. The frames will be heavily washed and the whistle turret in the cab renewed. The boiler will benefit from brand new lagging and the brass will be...yes you've guessed it...heavily polished. The whistle is also going to be moved and repiped. Finally, the expansion links have got to be re-riveted and some work needs to be done on the reach-rod and weigh-shaft. Plenty to do?...I think so! The timescale on all this work is probably going to vary but I would hope that the engine can re-emerge from the workshop in a steamable, repaired & repainted condition in March as "Achilles". Naturally I will report on the work on this blog as it happens. Thanks for reading guys. Regards, Sam...

Sunday, 5 January 2014

First Day at Shackerstone in 2014...

Hi guys. On this cold winter morning I decided that I would head over to Shackerstone for the first time in 2014. There was a fairly good crew in the engine shed of about 6 or 7 people, but nobody else on the entire railway...anywhere. With no trains running and the weather not up to much, the Battlefield Line can be quite a desolate place at this time of the year. However, despite the weather and the time of year, the engine shed calls. Inside the shed were the various locomotives, cold and silent. The engines currently in the shed include RSH 0-6-0 "Richard III", Peckett 0-4-0 "Dunlop No7" and "Blue Circle" in the 2-road, South end, whilst in the running shed area sit "Sir Gomer" and 3803. 3803 stood quiet and complete, though winterisation has begun. "Sir Gomer", also winterised, stands blocked up over the pit and is awaiting axlebox repairs. With not much on the horizon for the morning stint, I decided to clamber in between the chilly frames of 3803 and begin the heavy task of cleaning the inside motion. Inside motion is part of a locomotive that can often be forgotten whilst cleaning all of the 'on show' bits outside. However, cleaning inside valve gear is in fact an important part of locomotive house-keeping and not only allows the Driver to leave the frames with clean overalls, but also protects the valve gear from excess wear and grime, whilst also allowing any faults or loose nuts to be spotted more easily. I had about an hour inside the frames of 3803 cleaning the eccentrics, expansion links and weighshaft. These were the results...
"Cleaning The Important Bits"
Following this I was called out to help with a busy shunt that was occurring at the South end of the shed. However, this is not the end of cleaning for 3803's frames. Over the winter I hope to complete the cleaning of the entire inside of the frames, ready for the new season which begins in March. Despite being well into her ticket, 3803 is still well worth looking after as the paint still shines up lovely. Anyway, back to today. After dragging myself out of 3803's frames, I headed up to the South yard where the shunt was well underway. Out in the yard, a little old engine was seeing the light of day again: Dunlop No7. "Dunlop" has been in the shed after being rescued from the North end a while back. She has since been enjoying a casual restoration inside the loco shed and is coming along very well. The boiler is away for repairs but will be back soon. It will be very interesting to see this chunky little loco in steam at last: she's quite handsome. I look forward to seeing it...
"Dunlop No7 Well On Her Way"
After an enjoyable little day in the engine shed, I headed home for dinner and some warmth! I tell you, its warmer outside than it is in the shed! I'll be back next Sunday guys for more shed work. Cheers, Sam...

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Achilles Report No45: Welcome 2014...

First RPMR Steam in 2014 (P.Wilson)
Hi guys. Happy New Year and welcome to 2014. This is the first post so lets get going. This morning, though the weather looked dull, myself & Eddie decided that we would take our engines to RPMR for the monthly Members Running Day. "Achilles" would be in steam, whilst Eddie's newly completed 3.5" 2P 4-4-0 would be having its first in-the-frames hydraulic test. Though the rain was falling and the skies looked bleak, I had decided that I wasn't going to be put off today, having lost a run to rain on New Years Day. This would be the engines last operating day in steam prior to an upcoming large strip-down which will see her out of action for a few months so I wanted her to have one last bow before this began. Today I was trialling some different coal, with very smoky results. However, despite the smoke, the coal gave off some brilliant heat and the engine seemed to burn it well. To keep the smoke down, the fire required a good draft and so when running along with the regulator open all was fine. However, on the quieter and calmer draft of the electric blower, the smoke was quite strong!...
"Achilles" Raises Steam (P.Wilson)
As I said, the coal gave rather smoky results!...
Full Size Engine Smoke?! (P.Wilson)
The engine steamed up easily on this chilly day and I took her for about 7 or 8 laps of the track. She steamed well and pulled well, though she would with just me on the back! Her valve timing still seems rather crisp and her water pump was also functioning well. It is a different engine now really, to drive at least. You used to fight with her a little bit and she was very much keen to stick to 50psi when motoring along. This is why you would have a job hauling heavy loads as 30psi by the top of the bank with 2-cars on is a bit too little steam really. However, these days, the engine will happily chug around the track with her valves feathering. The water pump is then turned on to A) calm her down and B) fill the boiler. When you reach 45/50psi on the gauge you can open the bypass and the water pump will pump back into the tank via the return line rather than into the boiler. The steam is then yours to keep pulling the train with. By the time you've done another half a lap (as long as the fire is bright) the engine will be back up around 80 or 90psi again and the process can be repeated again. She maintains 1/2 a glass of water quite happily and is quite happy to be brought down to 30psi with a good fire if you need water in desperately or you want to make up the level. With a strong fire in the box she'll soon bring herself back around with little coaxing as long as you don't rush her. Naturally, the harder she works the better she steams as one adult isn't really much for her...
On this hideous afternoon it wasn't surprising to see that "Achilles" was the only engine in steam. I had expected this fact before I even set out from home! The 2P, having not had to be steamed, was tested down near the workshop out of the rain. Happily, the engine passed its hydraulic exam. Anyway, back to us...after 7 or 8 laps I decided enough was enough. The engine was clearly operating well and, with more rain on the horizon, I thought it would be a good time to call it a day. "Well done old gal"...
"Achilles" Blows Down After A Successful Run
Having rode home in the Saxo, "Achilles" was put safely back on her work-bench in the dry and warmth of the workshop. Now the real work begins...stripping her down. This strip down will be the biggest the engine has had since being built over 25 years ago so its bound to be strenuous. Naturally I will keep you all informed as to how it progresses...watch this space...
"Last Time In This Livery?"
Well, that's it, welcome to 2014 guys! I hope you enjoy reading this years posts! I have a lot of plans on the horizon and I can tell you now that there will be plenty to read about as it happens. Unfortunately though we have to get winter out of the way first! Best Regards, Sam...