Sunday, 30 March 2014

An Easy Day at Shackerstone...

Hi guys. A short and sweet day today at Shackerstone. I helped Andy in the shed in the morning before being invited out with John & Dave on 3803 to have a trip on the shovel. 3803 steamed beautifully as normal and it was an enjoyable trip with the lads. And, that's all folks! Best Regards, Sam...

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Statfold Success with "Minas de Aller"...

Hello guys. Today at 5:20am I was on the road, bound for Statfold. By 6am, most of us were on the shed frontage lighting up the locomotives. Fifteen examples from the wonderful SBR collection would be in steam today for the enjoyment of the many guests. Upon arrival I checked over our locomotive: the Corpet: before lighting one of the rags I had put in the firebox yesterday. Straight away the green 0-6-0 began crackling away as thick smoke rose from her chimney. All around, the rest of the engines were being lit up and the shed area became very atmospheric under its layer of smoke! Opposite us, two of the Quarry Hunslet's were slowly getting warm: "Statfold" and, behind her, much elder sister "Sybil Mary"...
Driver John arrived at around 6:30 and began oiling up the Corpet as I continued to tend to the fire and finish off the final cleaning jobs, such as the brass-work. The Corpet carries the unusual Brown valve gear; a method of actuation which utilises rocker-arms in order to transfer the indirect-drive from the piston rods to the leading cranks. The engine is also outside-framed, making everything easy to get at. Though it looks complex, the arrangement seems to work very well and the Corpet is a proven, elderly machine. Built in 1884 by Corpet-Louvet of Paris, the engine was rescued from Spain and was "Minas de Aller" No2. Minas de Aller is Spanish for Aller Mines and I believe the engine worked in the Aller area: a strong coal mining location. This engine: No439: was one of five of this type based at Minas de Aller and worked in service until the 1960s. She was preserved in Spain initially but arrived at Statfold in a dilapidated state after Mr Lee bought her in 2010. After a thorough rebuild to sparkling, original condition the engine steamed again in May 2012. We certainly had no trouble with her this morning, she steamed up easily behind the Hudswell Clarke 'GP39'...
An unusual factor with the Corpet is the lack of any kind of dampers. Therefore, once you've lit a strong fire, the primary air flow is considerable and uncontrollable. This is not a Statfold modification - I don't think it ever had a damper by the looks of it. This, for the Fireman, means that No439 should be treated carefully in terms of coal consumption when full steam is not required for a while! She was lit from cold at 6am this morning and by around 8:00am she already had around 40psi on the clock. I can't even say there was a big fire in the box' - there wasn't. I guess its just the level of draft that's being drawn all the time, even without the blower. She steamed up beautifully and the fire was soon left to burn through, leaving just a very light covering on the grate in order to keep the loco nice & hot. She sat pretty on shed through the 9am Safety Brief and awaited her turn patiently. Trains began full operation at about 9:40am, once everything had got safely into position. As we were blocked in by other locomotives, we were the second-last to leave shed, about 11am. The loco was then backed down to the new shed-road disc signal to await the road, with the fire now back up to 'running standard'...
With the signal 'off', we steamed down to Statfold Junction past the attractive signalbox. The loco was then given the road & the shunt signal to steam into the bay platform to collect our passenger stock. Once coupled up, away we went! Our first run was in reverse and we collected the token before steaming out into the fields. The engine chugged along nicely with the fairly light 2-coach train and we exchanged tokens at Oak Tree before steaming down the bank. The loco then ran easily along to the Baloon Loop, which we traversed before heading back out onto the main. After a good run back up the line, we were soon sat watching the resting Corpet from the comfort of the station bench in the warm sunshine...
Once we had been 'shunt released', it was time to head back on shed. John then uttered the infamous phrase: "fetch coffee lad"...
At about 1pm it was our turn again and away we went, back down to the station...
For this trip we would be running forwards and with the heavier passenger train to boot. With a good fire in the box, the Corpet blew-off most of the way! Once she'd got the weight moving the needle just crept up until the Salter safety valves lifted. The trouble with Salter's is that now & again once they've lifted they don't shut straight away. For example, the Corpet runs at 150psi full pressure, but the Salter's didn't knock off until around 125psi! Sometimes if you're chugging along at a good pace the vibration can shut Salter's bang on time but if you're on shed or rolling along slowly then they stay open for all to see! One of the SBR's roving photographers: Jeff Cogan: was out in the fields today and captured this fine little shot of the Corpet chugging happily along with the heavy passenger train...
"Corpet In Full Steam" - J.Cogan
After an enjoyable second run, we were back on shed again and it was time to put some more water into the boiler...
"Injecting Water" - K.Eyre
I took a quick photograph of the basic cab controls early this morning, before the brasses were cleaned. The attractive pressure gauge is situated at the top, with the steam brake visible beneath it. Below the steam brake valve, left & right, are the two injector steam valves. The next row of valves is the sanding lever (left) and the blower (right). Finally we have one gauge glass and, in the event of an emergency, two test cocks. The large screw reverser can be seen on the right and the handbrake is on the left. The regulator is on the manifold outside the cab on the right hand side, just out of view. All in all a primitive layout but the age of the locomotive (130 years!) should be considered...
We had one more bunker-first public round trip before returning to shed again. The engine was later utilised on two shunt-release duties and also an ECS run to Oak Tree at around 5pm. Here the engine is waiting for the disc-signal to change into the 'off' position on the Oak Tree approach. I drove the engine down from Statfold and, despite a heavy regulator, she is a pleasure!...
With the main rake of coaches put away, the Corpet joined the rest of the engines for the cavalcade and 'big whistle'. We then returned to the shed. I must thank Ken Eyre and Jeff Cogan for sending in images for this post. Here's one from Ken in the name of vanity...
"Fireman Sam on No439" - K.Eyre
Following the cavalcade we returned to the shed and disposed of the Corpet, along with the rest of the engines. It had been a most enjoyable day and I must thank the owners & staff of the railway for inviting us along to crew once again, and for making us so welcome...it was a grand day out! Finally, I will leave you with a few shots that Mr Hanks sent me of the other engines in operation...
"Eddie and Dan-Dan Aboard GP39 at Oak Tree"
"Peckett 'Harrogate', Hunslet 'Trangkil No4' and Bagnall 'Isibutu' On Shed"
"The New Engine, ex-Fiji Hudswell Clarke 0-6-0 Tender"
"Jack Lane" in the Garden
For a video of the events of the day there is a good one on Youtube here. Thank you very much for reading folks and I hope you enjoyed this post. Cheers - Sam...


Friday, 28 March 2014

Statfold Prep Day...

Hi guys. Today I went to Statfold again to help with the preparations for tomorrow's forthcoming Open Day. Upon my arrival at Midday two engines were already in steam: the big blue Jung Mallet and the large Fowler 0-4-2 "Saccharine". Both engines stood on shed, joined by Hudswell GP39, the Corpet, "Trangkil" and the massive new Hudswell Clarke 0-6-0 tender engine. Inside the shed, "Sybil Mary" was also in sight. The first task was to get the big Hudswell onto the 'big engine railway'. This involved taking her down the line using the 2ft 6" gauge Hunslet diesel, known as "Badger". I rode aboard the Hudswell, riding the handbrake. This is a brand new restoration and, as the engine arrived in a horrific state from Fiji, it is mostly a brand new loco too. Her bogie tender rode like a coach as we continued down the line towards Oak Tree, and the overall appearance of the engine was beautiful (see above pic). Once at Oak Tree we stopped and then began shunting coaches. Two 2-coach sets would be required on the 'big engine railway' and so "Badger" and "Saccharine" got to work getting things ready. "Saccharine" would potter back & forth from Statfold Junction with the coaches before returning light engine, whilst myself & Phil continued to get more stock out using "Badger"...
"Fowler 0-4-2T Saccharine at Oak Tree"
"Badger" was then used to push the new Hudswell down to the Baloon Loop where a newly fitted cross-over allows trains from the 'big engine railway' to use the loop too. This is another first for the SBR. As the big engine railway is 2ft only, "Saccharine" was required at the loop to collect the 0-6-0 tender engine as "Badger" cannot travel on that line for obvious reasons! With the new Hudswell on the big railway, the Fowler took her off to "Statfold" whilst myself & Phil followed the pair along the double-track section, heading for Oak Tree. At Oak Tree, with the coaches for the big railway ready and the new Hudswell on the new line, we decided that it was time to begin collecting engines. For those who are reading this post and thinking that we had only been working for a few minutes...we hadn't...we were now at about 2:30pm! Safe shunting really does take time, particularly when moving stock over a 1.75 mile long railway. In the Grain Store at Oak Tree, there is now a beautiful roundhouse. The turntable is surrounded by the wonderful SBR fleet, both steam & diesel. The pride of the fleet: in my eyes anyway: is the Bagnall 4-4-0 "Isibutu". This beautiful green side tank engine is huge on 2ft gauge rails and is one of Bagnall's best. She's just lovely...
"Bagnall's Best: Isibutu"
Also in the Grain Store were spotted the two Peckett sisters: "Triassic" (formerly of Bala) and "Liassic". Neither of these Peckett's have been restored yet but maybe one day, ay. They are very attractive little engines...
"Peckett Pair: Triassic & Liassic"
Three of the 2ft 6" engines would not be taking part: the Pakis Baru pairing of No1 and the Mallet No5, and the Le Meuse tank. Certainly the former two are serviceable but I'm not sure on the latter. One by one, "Sragi No1", "Sragi No14", "Isibutu" and "Marchlyn" would have to be removed and taken to Statfold running shed. Luckily one engine had already been taken by the Fowler: No19...the 0-4-0 Hudswell, also from Fiji. This was the view in the half-emptied roundhouse at about 3pm...
"Half Empty Roundhouse"
Myself & Phil soon fired up the 'Plymouth' diesel locomotive and began shunting "Isibutu". She would be the next engine to head to Statfold Junction. The loco was turned by hand on the turntable (and she is heavy!) before the 'Plymouth' began with the shoving. I rode on the footplate of the big Bagnall as Phil pushed with the diesel from behind. The diesel certainly roared as the bulk of "Isibutu" was marched up the steep hill to the running shed. Once secured, the 'Plymouth' returned to Oak Tree with Phil & Tom whilst I stayed at Statfold and began cleaning out the Corpet's firebox. With the grate clean and the tubes, water level, fusible and smokebox checked, I laid a light covering of wood across the grate and mixed it with paraffin-soaked rags. A final layer of wood was thrown on top and then left ready for the morning. The strike of a single match will then get the Corpet straight into action at 6am tomorrow! The remainder of the day saw me cleaning the frames and Brown valve gear of our steed for tomorrow: the Corpet: whilst other locomotives slowly arrived on the shed frontage, pushed by the 'Plymouth'. I eventually left at 5:30pm after a tiring afternoon, but I am so looking forward to the morning: first steam of 2014! Best Regards, Sam...

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Achilles Report No51: Smokebox Success at Last!...

Hi there. Regular readers will probably have been keeping up with the steady progress on my locomotive "Achilles". She has been under-going a repaint as well as some repairs for the last three months now, off & on. One of the biggest problems has been the smokebox as the various paint types and manufacturers I've tried so far have not worked. The last post on this blog regarding the loco saw the smokebox in a grey Exhaust Spray paint, designed for high temperature applications. However, the finish was very powdery. As you rubbed your hand across it, even when totally cured, the effect was dusty at best. The paint also had pretty poor coverage for a spray paint and so, enraged as one gets with these constant irritations, the smokebox again found itself under paint stripper. The paint blistered like mad as it was sanded away from whence it came. White spirit was then used to clean away the debry and the remaining paint stripper. What was then revealed was probably the cleanest paint-free finish yet on the smokebox. The new brand of paint: another high-heat type: is Hammerite Matt Black. This stuff was applied yesterday. It has much better coverage, settles much more nicely and dries quickly. It also cures without heating which is a bonus. However, even with a much better finish than had yet been achieved, the paint still reacted with the final remnants of the old paint underneath. After pondering it over a cuppa', I decided that there was only one course of action left. As paint stripper would not even think about touching some of the 27-year old paint, it would have to be lightly chipped off until bare metal was found. So, with a sharp straight edge and lots of care, I set to work. One of the worst areas of reaction was at the foot of the smokebox near the running board...
From the front running board I worked my way up the smokebox face, following the trails of the reaction. Eventually, the smokebox face was fairly clean and was then sanded to become as flat as possible. This was the result...
"The Greatest Struggle Ever!"
With the best possible finish achieved, I tried the paint again with much better success. The paint took to the smokebox face beautifully with no reaction. The only remaining parts of reaction are some very small spots around the snifting valve (probably oil residue) which can easily be chipped off, sanded and repainted. The smokebox will need a final coat anyway. The smokebox door also later received a coat of matt black ready to join its counterpart in the near future. Thank goodness for that...
It was then time to head off the job until this morning when work recommenced. So, today, the job continued with the rubbing down of the chimney ready for spraying. The brass area was heavily masked for protection and then the black liveried areas rubbed down. It will also be sprayed with the Hammerite high-heat so as to match the smokebox when time allows...
Meanwhile, the expansion links and their trunnion bearings have also received attention. The old, worn bearings have been replaced with new ones which we turned from phospher bronze bar. The holes in the centre are completely central but have not been made to drawing, instead they've been made to a good running-fit with the trunnion pins. This is to save replacement of the trunnion pins themselves as they are still in fairly good condition. Obviously any wear on the pins themselves will be taken in account by the new bore in the new bearings, rather than worrying about replacing both. The engine will still work just the same. The new bearings look fairly smart and just need to be pressed into their housings before having the oil-way hole drilled. These simple tasks will take place once the housings have been painted which is being done in due course...
"More New Bearings!"
A close up of one of the expansion links with the new trunnion bearings...
The smokebox paint had fully cured by this morning and is beginning to look rather smart. I just have some more tiny bits of reaction to remove and then she can have her top coat and the door replaced. I will then lag the boiler...
"Smokebox Nearly Done"
The new whistle valve was tried today with the pipework to the whistle itself. Eddie kindly did some modifications to the whistle as it did not fit the manifold when it arrived. The smart-looking valve is a Reeves product, much like the loco, and should look well when fitted to the engine...
The final task of today was to sand and prime the four trunnion bearing housings. The four received their first coat of primer just before I stopped play for today. They'll just need a final coat of primer (or maybe not if it has settled well) and then a coat of matt black. It will then be time to press the bearings in and drill the oil-ways before painting the slide-bar hangers from which these housings also hang. Once those jobs are complete, the expansion links can be refitted ready for action...
"Trunnion Bearings in Primer"
As you can see guys "Achilles" is now marching along quite nicely. Most things are progressing well and I am quite enjoying the various tasks at present. I am so relieved that the smokebox has now settled as that was becoming quite a worry. Best Regards, Sam...

Sunday, 23 March 2014

3803 Gets New Springs...

Hi everyone. Today we were at Shackerstone bright and early at 6:30am to begin changing two of 3803's very heavy springs. She had broke the pair on her second driving axle this time and so both would be replaced during the day. Two brand new springs were already waiting in the loco shed when we arrived...
"Spring Time"
At around 7:30am, with the pit clear and ready to accept 3803, I headed out with Adrian to start up the railway's Class 04 diesel shunter. When oil and air pressures were at their required levels, the 04 moved easily into the shed and buffered up to the big Western. She was then pushed forward by the blue shunter, over the pit. Once 3803 was secured, the diesel was moved back outside and shut-down for a while. The next task was to set-up the packing ready to install the jacks for the lift. In order to change springs, the weight of the locomotive has to be taken off the axlebox, and the spring. The locomotive is jacked equally until the spring pins become fairly free; thus denoting that there is no/very little weight being carried. At this point, you can stop and begin removing the old springs. With the two old springs removed the new ones were dragged into the pit and, with some straining, were slowly fitted to 3803. By dinner time, the locomotive had both new springs fitted and was lowered back down off the jacks. She is now fit for service next weekend. Out in the South Yard, the 25-ton Southern Railway brakevan is coming along nicely. It is currently enjoying the completion of its restoration and is looking rather smart. I'm sure it will be completed in the near future...
At the back of the shed on the 2-road section, things are looking a little busy at present. The cold hulk of Peckett 0-4-0 "Dunlop No7" is still awaiting her boiler before her restoration continues to progress. Meanwhile, fellow Peckett "Sir Gomer" is awaiting lifting so that the damaged front axle can be removed. Everything is now ready for the lift so this should take place imminently. The pretty little 2-2-0 "Blue Circle" is now awaiting her next outing which will take place during our April 11th - 13th Steam Gala. Talking of the gala, another little blue locomotive was waiting at the back of the shed, along with "Blue Circle". "Bluebell" has been heavily cleaned and is now very much anticipating April 11th when she will be in public service on the Battlefield Line for the first time...
"Something Old, Something Borrowed, Something Blue"
Opposite "Bluebell", "Sir Gomer" awaits her lift...
"Sir Gomer" (1859 of 1932)
We left Shackerstone a little earlier today, probably about 2:30-ish, due to having started much earlier than normal for a 'shed work' day. But, our main task (3803) had been successfully completed so everybody could rest easy in the knowledge that she will be out next weekend as planned. Next weekend? Its Statfold and Shackerstone! Cheers guys, Sam...

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Return to Statfold...

Hi guys. Now & again a privilege is extended to you which you cannot refuse. One of these privileges which I've had the pleasure of accepting over the years is the opportunity to crew steam locomotives at the wonderful Statfold Barn Railway near Tamworth. This unique centre of narrow gauge preservation is now one of this gauge's 'big boys' and commands the largest privately-owned collection of narrow gauge steam locomotives in the country. I have been lucky enough to be allowed to crew for the SBR next Saturday at their Spring Open Day, and this will be my fourth open day turn, and fifth SBR crew turn overall. I am so pleased to have this opportunity and appreciate it very much: as I should. Today was all about training. We had been invited over to the SBR in order to see the new signalling system that has been installed. The dual-gauge 2ft/2ft 6" route is now fully signalled using compressed-air actuation from the new but period-looking signalbox at Statfold Junction. The signals really set the place off, and make it look like a real, preserved railway. The system is also very cleverly designed, and allows trains to be safely signalled whilst also giving off a professional and atmospheric look. We were taken through the signalling system thoroughly today; both through classroom theory and then practical lessons aboard the steam engines. There were three engines in steam today: the Corpet, the Fowler and Hunslet "Trangkil No4". Phil had invited me over early to help get the engines ready and the first task was to oil up the Corpet and the Fowler. I am booked out as Fireman on the beautiful Corpet next week...
0-6-0 Corpet Pannier Tank of 1884 "Minas de Aller 2"
The Corpet is a beautifully simplistic engine and yet, due to her unusual looks, seems to make herself look more complicated than she actually is. The 1884-built 0-6-0 is actuated by Brown valve gear; a concept which conveys movement via the use of a hefty rocker-shaft through the framing. Though it may look cumbersome to the eye, in practise it is very effective and provides a smooth ride. The Corpet is also very powerful and can easily handle the train-weights and gradients of the SBR. The morning steam-up session certainly seemed to be full of promise for the day ahead, with blue skies and warm sunshine in abundance as the engines came round...
0-4-2 Fowler Side Tank No13355 of 1914 "Saccharine"
With the Corpet and "Trangkil No4" now in steam and raring to go, we steamed down for coal. Coaling was to take place manually from the SBR coal wagon stationed in the Bay Platform. The two engines moved down off shed one by one, and were then signalled into the bay for stabling. Once coaled, the loco's awaited their first duties...
"Ready for Action"
The format for the day included an in depth line-walk with a full discussion on the operation of these particular signals. As railway rule books (depending on which railway you're on at the time) may differ slightly, a signal may not always be signalling what you expect and therefore a bit of route-learning or peg-learning as it were is nothing short of valuable. The new SBR signalling system consists of both shunting signals and stop signals. The arms are upper quadrant-style, unlike the GWR style lower-quadrants one can encounter on some outings. The non-arm signals are made up mostly of dolly's (disc signals) with one exception in a colour light signal on the blind-bend on the approach to Statfold Junction from Oak Tree Halt. After our very informative line-walk and 90-minute classroom session, we were treated to a run out with the engines. First, myself & Eddie had a very wet, cold but enjoyable ride aboard "Saccharine" the big Fowler. It was just our luck that the moment we stepped onto the footplate it began to pour with rain! The next trip was enjoyed in slightly better weather. This time we were aboard the Brake Van behind "Minas de Aller 2" (the Corpet). The engine is captured here during a brief stop at the Balloon Loop...
Following our second familiarisation trip we decided to call it a day. My 7:30am sign-on mixed with the cold wind & rain was certainly taking its toll. I must get used to being out early for steam engines again now that winter is coming to a much anticipated end! We will be back at the wonderful SBR next Friday for the prep-day and then of course we're out for the Open Day on March 29th with the Corpet. Best Regards, Sam...

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Achilles Report No50: Progress...

Hi there guys. Well, the last few days have seen a lot of work done on "Achilles" so, rather than write a few posts detailing a few bits & bobs, I thought I'd just do a bigger post about everything. So, we begin on Sunday just gone. I was at the railway on Sunday and, following the completion of some of my bits, I thought I'd pick them up. The boiler cladding is still the original: we decided not to replace it on the grounds of originality. I felt that, with most of the dents now removed and the cladding very nicely painted, that the remaining little dimples here & there would add character rather than a hideous look. The engine is, after all, nearly 30 years old and a few ripples here and there are to be expected on a hard-working old engine. The painting has been done to a high standard and, as I said, the vast majority of the dents and bumps have been removed by hand with a small wooden roller...
Having collected the cladding and the wheels for the engine, I headed for home. On Monday I was back with the engine again and admired the newly painted LH running board: now in its first coat of matt black...
The six wheels had returned in full colour blue. They were still masked and had dried nicely. The next task was to give the wheels their trademark polished 'tyres'. A sharp straight edge and some fine sandpaper was used to remove the paint on the wheel rims and then polish them up. So, before...
and after...
I was very pleased with the first wheel that had had its 'tyre' polished, and I really like the blue. The cladding meanwhile was stood next to "Achilles" in order to allow me to try and imagine the finished article. Once the smokebox is painted she'll have her boiler lagged with the new lagging that I've already got here, and then the cladding will be fitted. The two main sheets have had the majority of the dents removed and have come out with a very nice finish paintwork-wise. The blue is quite lovely I think, and will brighten the engine up no end once her shining brass boiler bands have been refitted as well as her well-known almost mirror-like dome cover! The polishing of all of the brass parts will be the final task before 'roll out day'. I'm looking forward to seeing the engine finished now I must admit: she's been in bits far too long!...
"Very Blue!"
Before I gave up on Monday the cladding was put to one side in order for the paint to be left to harden. Wednesday afternoon saw me back with the engine again, preparing and painting parts in the sun. The smokebox door never settled down properly with its smokebox black paint, no matter how I tried or experimented. So, in a fit of rage, the door was heavily rubbed down again and then polished up with the wire-wheel in order to provide the best possible painting surface. It was then cleaned using spirits and buffed up to cleanliness...
Also being rubbed down today were the steps and the running boards that are mid-painting. The RH steps rubbed down OK with sandpaper, with a bit of help from the wire-wheel!...
"Step Up"
The smokebox door was later coated with a layer of exhaust paint. This is a black finish paint but dries in grey on the first coat, according to reviews. Apparently as you apply more coats it gets darker and darker...just as well, ay?! The finish is however much better & much smoother...
"The Greyest Black Livery Ever"
The LH main running board which supports the tank was rubbed down today and given a second coat of primer...
The RH front running board then received a coat of matt black...
Meanwhile, further down the garden, bits & bobs were drying. The RH steps and the lubricator lid have now made it into primer and are looking fairly smart. The lubricator itself is still full of absorbents in order to remove as much oil from its tank-base as possible. The trouble with so much oil residue is that the primer will not set and it seems to cause problems with the paint stripper too. Therefore, preparation is definitely the key...
Here is the centre axle after 'tyre' polishing...
"Centre Axle"
As the darkness began to set in on Wednesday evening I was still working away in the workshop. I moved "Achilles" from her workbench resting place and straddled her across two hefty working stools. With the rear of the engine blocked up to allow more overhang at the back, I was allowed great access to the underside of the loco. This was a perfect angle at which to pop the wheels back in...or attempt to anyway! Starting with the centre axle, the wheels started to go back in just as they came out...
"Centre Axle Back In"
Half an hour or so later, after much pondering and adjusting, the loco was back on all six wheels for the first time since the start of January. This allows her to stand up correct on the workbench again (with chocks under the wheels) which is much more loco-like than being perched on the framing!...
"Reunited with Repainted Wheels"
With the wheels back in the axles could be checked and well oiled via the axleboxes. The front and centre axles were perfectly fine. The moment of truth came with the rear axle and its new boxes. With plenty of oil, the axle spun freely but there is a slight bind (very slight) when the keep-plate is tightened to the base of the framing. By opening up the spring-shaft holes slightly this problem should be completely rectified as the boxes will then be free to find their own way. I think one of the spring-shaft's may be slightly off centre and this is pulling the box over at full pull...easily sorted. The main worry was the quartering which was perfectly fine when a trial run of the coupling rods were connected up. Everything turned over correctly with no tight spots: just what we want! The only other problem is that the rods do tend to catch the wheels now and again, removing paint, as the rod bearings were never spaced away from the face of the wheel. Therefore, I'm going to put some spacers in, then repair the paint! Finally, with much progress achieved, today beckoned and saw some light pottering around with the smokebox door receiving another coat of exhaust black, both front running boards having their top coat of black and the LH tank running board and RH steps receiving first coats of black...
"Paint Shop"
Its all going on here. Tomorrow I'm sure that I'll be working on "Achilles" again, with the hope of getting the smokebox into a state fit for painting and then spraying it. I can't wait to get her finished now! Best Regards, Sam...