Saturday, 30 January 2016

Tyseley: Oil, Tubes and Flues...

Hi all. Today was another volunteer Shed Day at Tyseley Loco Works. I arrived at just before 10am and immediately sought the warm sanctuary of the cabin where some of the other volunteers were already gathered. Work during the morning was simply to move some of the loco's around in an effort to keep them well oiled, rather than letting them root to the spot during their Winter rest period. The BR Green Class 47 was therefore soon roaring into life, coughing smoke up into the blue skies. Having warmed up and made air, the 47' moved forward and coupled to the stalwart pair of Great Western 4-6-0s: 5043 and 4965. Having been well oiled, the Western pair were moved outside into the chilly morning air for a push-pull working up and down the yard...
With the locomotives having blown away a few cobwebs and been returned to the cover of the shed, the 47' was shut-down. After Lunch, work continued on the boiler of 7029 "Clun Castle". Today we were starting to slide in the Flue tubes.

A super-heated steam boiler contains two types of tubes: Smoke Tubes and Flue Tubes. The smoke tubes are the numerous small tubes, there to allow heat drawn from the firebox to boil the water in the barrel efficiently before the gases then leave the smokebox end for ejection up the chimney. The Flue Tubes are much larger as they contain the superheater elements. The elements are basically pipe-work which provides a longer steam circuit for steam leaving the boiler at the regulator. The steam enters the superheater elements where it is taken back through the boiler within the elements which are fitted inside the Flue Tubes. Eventually the steam enters the steam chest for admission via the valves into the cylinders. This process raises the temperature of the steam further, thus drying it, and providing superheat. (A non super-heated engine is known as a saturated type). 7029's boiler is typical of a GWR main line 4-6-0 in terms of general construction but there were variations between the 171 sisters of the Castle Class. "Clun" for example carries the final development of the boiler, with 28 Flue Tubes spread over 4 rows, the larger superheater being provided for the double-chimney engines. 5043 also has this arrangement, though I believe that the other 6 preserved Castle's are all the single chimney type with lower superheating capacity. The flues are very heavy and are threaded into the firebox tubeplate. Therefore, when fitting, lugs are tagged onto the smokebox end and the flue is then fed gently into its chosen hole in the tubeplate. Once threaded in, an adapted fitting is used with a large rachet to drive the flue into the firebox tubeplate on its thread. Once firmly in place, attentions turn to fitting the next flue. Naturally, once all the flues are in place, they will be expanded and beaded where necessary. The smoke tubes will also be expanded and beaded.


Its very interesting helping with boiler work as it provides an astonishing learning exercise into the design and construction of steam locomotives as a whole. All the best, Sam...

Friday, 29 January 2016

Great Central Winter Gala: A U-Boat Off Loughborough...

Evening all. Today was the annual pilgrimage to the main event of the out of season calendar: the GCR's Winter Steam Gala. Due to the amassed hoards of bobble-hatted enthusiasts that normally descend upon the railway during the weekend, we felt that the Friday would be a better choice this year. Though a slightly quieter timetable: five loco's instead of eight: it would also be a quieter day passenger-wise so all the better for us. I left work at 11am as usual for a Friday day-shift before having a blustery run over to Quorn station. Eddie & John had arrived a little earlier and were on route back towards me behind one of the visiting engines. For me, this one was the one to tick-off: U Class No31806. The engine's 12:22pm departure was drawing near and soon enough she was spotted from a distance chugging happily along the double-track away from Woodthorpe...
31806 has shut-off steam on the approach to Quorn and coasts easily towards the road bridge for the station stop...
I boarded the rearmost coach where I found Eddie and John casually chatting about the merits of various steam locomotive designs. Discussion then turned to the chunky engine at the front: the U Class. What is now No31806 entered service in 1926 as a K-Class 2-6-4 Tank. The K-Class became a scapegoat for a serious accident that occurred in 1927, in which 13 people lost their lives. Following that all 20 K-Class engines were immediately withdrawn before being rebuilt as 2-6-0 Mogul tender engines under the U Class design. 31806 was rebuilt as a U in 1928 and is the only survivor of the K-Class rebuilds. The U Class eventually numbered 50 examples and were classified as 4P, with 6ft driving wheels and a 200psi boiler. I like these engines; there is really something about them. Anyway, the U Class (known affectionately as a U-Boat) took us easily up to Leicester North where she was captured running round - the Fireman is just pulling the points to allow the Mogul to set-back into the loop...
Having not lunched yet due to heading straight to the GCR, I decided to board the Gresley Buffet Car for a Bacon Cob and a nice cup of tea. The welcome surroundings of 24278, built at York in 1937, were very pleasant on this chilly Winter afternoon. I must admit, it was very pleasing "Taking Tea In The Teak", as I later described to Eddie, as you don't see many Teak's around in comparison to other coaching stock...
"A Rather Civilised Journey"
The Mogul steamed tender-first to Rothley where we alighted to watch her departure. I don't know if they were having trouble with it, but the Fireman was just refilling the hydrostatic lubricator with cylinder oil...
31806 barked out of Rothley leaving her voice on the breeze. I suppose we must have the obligatory ridiculous picture of local forgetter of the alarm clock 'Eddie the Late' who seems to be doing his best Flamingo impression when snapped...
Eddie and John went off to have a look at the pretty G-Scale Garden Railway whilst I chatted to a couple who bring their engines to my miniature steam rallies - I always find someone I know! Just then, clanking in from Loughborough, came 34053 "Sir Keith Park". She was the other visitor, attending from the Severn Valley Railway...
A Local set soon arrived behind the BR Black Eight-Freight, clanking non-stop through the station with snifters rattling. Having halted under the protection of the Outer Home, the 8F was relieved by recently restored Modified Hall No6990 "Witherslack Hall". We duly boarded the Hall's train and enjoyed a pleasant run back to Loughborough in very comfortable seats. Once there, I was treated once again to the sight of No34053. An unusual typo in the GC's Gala Guide billed the Pacific as being a two-cylinder machine: Mr Bulleid would not be amused...
A lovely thing about the GCR is the shed area, as it just has the atmosphere of a working steam shed. Wandering cautiously down the ash pathway, I came towards the beautiful Black Five No45305. The remaining engines for the weekend portion of the gala were dotted around with warming fires already lit. The 5MT was sitting quietly, crackling away to herself with just a light plume of smoke drifting half-heartedly skyward...
On the shed front stood the smallest and largest members of the GCR Steam Fleet: Standard Shunt ('Jinty') No47406 and BR Standard Class 9F No92214. Due to her livery, double chimney and copper cap, 92214 is masquerading as the very last steam engine built for BR - No92220 "Evening Star", now preserved at the NRM...
"David & Goliath" - 47406 and the 9F"
The massive bulk of the Nine Freight was soon moved forward to begin shunting. 777 "Sir Lamiel" was smoking up a storm in the shed and so I'm guessing the move was to eventually result in getting the King Arthur outside. The 9F is well kept...
Having wandered around the shed for a spell in the stiff breeze, soaking up the atmosphere of soot, oil and grime on a damp Friday afternoon, I headed off back towards the platforms. Having seen a good few more people I know (from various railways - including Shack!) I boarded the 3:15pm train behind 31806. The boarding of this train involved bumping into two more people I know - I seem to spend half my days out just nattering to people I know: its such a small world! I alighted from the U-Boat's train at Quorn and was immediately met with the sight of immaculate Modified Hall No6990, which was tailing the Local train hauled by the Mickey Mouse (Ivatt 2)...
"Recently Restored 6990 'Witherslack Hall' Tailing The Local"
31806 was just about to make an audible departure and is captured beginning to pull away. I like this engine and am very glad that I've ticked her off the list. The U-Boat's were clearly a useful and powerful tool which leads me to question their 3F capacity. I guess the 3F is due to her big legs as the 4P is a little more encouraging. Another nice old gal' this is...
Having watched in awe as Driver Tom Tighe took the U away in fine form, it wasn't long before she was pounding away into the distance. I decided to wait around to see the next train pass through - this just happened to be the 8F on the Windcutter Minerals...
Once the 8F had clanked through (it looked a picture) I began my short walk back to the car. The welcome heat upon my commencement of the journey home was something I was very much looking forward to! As I got to my car I saw the Bullied pass by one last time, thinking about how Southern men must have felt to be presented with such a spaceship of an engine after life on classes such as the U's, the Nelson's and the Arthur's. Anyway, it had been another very pleasant day and another worthwhile visit to the GCR's Winter Steam Gala. I've been coming to this do for years and its always been very good, not to mention it being a welcome settler for my steam craving during the winter months! Cheers all, and thanks to Ed and John for their company. Good Evening...

Monday, 25 January 2016

Statfold Barn Railway Miniature Steam Rally PLUG...

The annual plug is here guys, albeit for a change of venue. Join us at the award winning Statfold Barn Railway over April 23rd/24th for the line's first family-friendly event. This impressive but usually private narrow gauge railway is holding its first Miniature Steam Rally over this Spring weekend and will be welcoming over 70 miniature engines in 1.5" - 6" scales. The engines range from traction engines to steam lorries and of course steam rollers, representing most of the well known manufacturers of bygone age road steam. The engines will be milling around the site whilst a select few members from the Statfold Barn steam fleet offer unlimited travel on the narrow gauge railway between Statfold Junction and New Road. The locomotives in action are planned to include these two: Peckett "Harrogate" and Hudswell Clarke "Fiji": amongst others from the award winning fleet...
"Two Wonderful SBR Engines" (M.Ranieri)
Regular readers will remember that I created and organised the Market Bosworth Miniature Traction Engine Weekend that had its first show in 2013. I went on to do three of them, with the final one last year welcoming over 50 wonderful examples of miniature road steam from across the country. The venue of my organisation activities changing to Statfold Barn is a great step forward I feel and indeed the level of interest from exhibitors has been over whelming. The prospect of welcoming over 70 engines to the event is fantastic. This was some of the 50+ we brought to MB last year...
"The Last MB MTEW - 2015" (M.Ranieri)
As well as the miniatures on display we will have the following attractions:
  • Three Full Size Road Steamers
  • Miniature Working Area - 4" Sawing, 2" Cultivating and Corn Milling too
  • At Least Four SBR Steam Engines in Service
  • Photo Opportunities with the Locomotives, Traction Engines and Turntable
  • Engine Line-Up and BIG Whistle Up at 2pm Each Day
  • Peters Railway Book Stand with Author Christopher Vine
  • Indoor Displays of Toy Steam, Meccano & 16mm Live Steam Layouts
  • Trade Stands of 00 Gauge and Model Engineering
  • And Much More!
As well as seeing the engines in action you'll be able to ride on the Statfold Barn Railway as well as chat to the owners of these marvellous machines. If you're thinking of building or buying an engine then I guarantee you will enjoy this event as we will be showcasing most scales, designs and models...
"Harrogate With The Author Driving - June 2015" (G.Cryer)
Invitations to attend this event are available HERE on the SBR website and for these we request a donation of £10 per Adult and £5 per Under 14, with all profits going to deserving local charities. As I say this is the FIRST Statfold Barn event to welcome Under 14s so please come along for a steam-filled family day out. (Please note that we cannot accept entry on the gate on the day without a valid pre-booked invitation). I look forward to seeing some of you at our new venture and I hope you will enjoy it - its going to be a whopper! We'd better get some polish on these engines...
We hope you can join us for a day out with steam, celebrating miniature representations of those engines of a bygone age when steam ruled the roads, the fields and the rails. Many Thanks All, Sam...

Friday, 22 January 2016

Shackerstone Memories: Prepping A Locomotive Recollections...

Hi everyone. This post is all new as I don't usually do posts like this. Most of the posts on this blog relate to the telling of a days events, generally following progress from the start of the day til' the end. In this post, I'm going to talk a little more about the mornings on shed with a full size locomotive; poetic though some of it may be. The information will date from as early as 2008 but I'm just trying to give that little insight into the day to day tasks that were involved in doing the job whist involved at Shackerstone and the mixture of different characters encountered. I hope you'll enjoy it...

To understand the mind-set of someone awoken from their slumbers before 5 o'clock in the morning, picture yourself leaving home whilst the rest of the world peacefully sleeps. Leaving home early is a trait that is inevitable with steam locomotives, particularly the big ones. In order to get up a good head of steam and carry out all of the necessary preparation tasks without making yourself late for the engines first duty, punctuality is key. I used to like to get in 30 minutes or so earlier than necessary, giving me that little bit of spare time that one would give all the money in the world for later on in the day. Arriving at Shackerstone when even the birds had barely risen, the first task was to grease up your hands opening the gates and then trundle the short distance to the station car park. The usual juggling act of carrying all of your kit along the dimly lit M6 widening of the ash pathway was then endured before falling gracefully through the door of the engine shed...

"The NRM T9 Steams Up" (April 2013)
Once inside, if all was well, the locomotive would be good & hot and a blanket of heat would engulf its vicinity. The false sense of security that heat gave to a yawning Fireman was taken from me in a flash one day when that heat just wasn't there! It turned out that the warming fire had not been as meaty as perhaps the locomotive required and, though she was good and hot, the fire hadn't created any steam. Recollection fails me on what engine that was but one of them had me sweating long before everyone's favourite Driver "I'm not a morning person" Eddie the Late turned in. Finding a locomotive in not quite the condition you expected seems to create two great phenomenons: 1) an unusual speed to every duty you perform and 2) the speeding up of time, reducing your once valuable hours to mere minutes in what feels like the blink of an eye. Mornings like that soon have you running for all the wood you can find which, in Shack shed, was minimal at best and often made a half-empty box of Swan Vesta's look like severe deforestation. By the time the fire was lit you were praying it would go, spilling every accelerant you could find on it to try and draw out some heat. Every Fireman, despite what they may say, has stood there looking at a pressure gauge before trying the ever reassuring..."its broken! This gauge is broken!". No, allas, it isn't broken, its just your luck! Another good one for those moments is the light hearted tap - as if a mere tap will suddenly generate a hundred pounds of steam - I've done it myself countless times when all hope seems lost! The engine would of course eventually spring into life and we were rarely late off shed, but these situations did create experience for the lowly Fireman and ones recollections of such situations were better than an alarm clock on cold winter mornings for getting you up on time! Theres nothing worse than the Driver looking across to you and saying "better get that needle up Sunshine" (a Batesy quote from 2012-ish)...
"A Good Warming Fire in 3803" (2014)
As a trainee, between 2008 and 2011, arrival at the shed was different each time. In your heart you wanted just to get on and have a go but it was nice, in a way, not to have the responsibility for the engine at the time. During the wonderful "Mayflower" years, I remember the late Gerald Boden always having classical music playing loudly whilst 1306 gracefully raised steam, a tradition later adopted by Pockets before the unfortunate demise of the radio. Gerald's ear for classical seemed to give more atmosphere to an engine warming through on a cold winter's morning, relaxing the crew effortlessly. In later years, you could tell who was on by the bark of the radio as some of the lads stuck on Kerrang whilst Jason was unmistakable in his choice of the well known Ukulele player George Formby! "Oh Mr Wu" was at one time a shed ballad whilst the engine came around. Anyway, I've gone off track (as it were). Back as a Fireman, the first job would be to check the water level in the boiler and of course have a look in the firebox, checking the stays, plugs and the general condition of what was left, if anything, on the grate. I remember happy mornings sat inside the roasting firebox of Great Western 2884 No3803, chipping away at the fire bars to free off clinker from that pesky open-cast Welsh Coal that burnt a treat but melted half the grate it sat on. At 6:00 in the morning, the last thing you want to do is sweat your weight in a firebox, chisel in hand and covered in ash. But, we do it and we'll continue to do it for the love of our steam engines - and quite right too...
"A Gloomy Grate Whilst Rocked in 3803" (2012)
Ashing out is perhaps one of a steam locomotives most wonderful tasks. Some engines, such as 3803 and the Black Five, included a rocking ashpan which was fabulous once the ash was nicely wet (stops the dust). On other engines, like the Standard Shunt's (Fowler 3F - 'Jinty'), you have to do it yourself with a rake and a hose which is, of course, no problem. What is a problem however are the little things that happen. A favourite of mine when ashing out, as was always the case at Shack whilst learning to do it as a youngster, was the fabled 'sleeve trick'. When ashing out, you wash the ash as much as possible, feeding the hose in as much as you can without melting the end. Then its time to rake the ash out but the water used to miraculously separate from the ash, join the cold metal of the rake and then travel neatly down its length and land perfectly in your sleeve. I've lost count of the amount of times that water from the ashpan has landed itself with expert precision in the sleeve of my overalls! The trouble is it runs down your arm too and you end up with a wet back...but HOW?...the laws of physics amaze me! If the water on the rake didn't get you then the old fashioned 'boot in a lake' would. Whilst you're raking your ash, the hose would be gently filling the pit and, once you'd got two piles of ash an accidental boot-deep splash into the created reservoir was completely inevitable. Many a wet boot has been enjoyed that way! Finally of course, there was the ash that could get you. I remember once Gerald was under "Mayflower" (which had a hopper pan but to keep the engine clean the ash would be washed thoroughly from underneath) and called for a "little bit more" and a "tiny bit more". This process went on for about 30 seconds before the final "little bit more" provided a satanic avalanche of filthy ash, engulfing not only the B1 but also the shed in a cloud of thick dust. Gerald came out looking like he'd spent a week at the coal face! Ashing out is perhaps one of those tasks that we all treat with that little bit of respect...
"The Then Trainee Me On 1306" (2009)
Another recollection from the countless was the amazing fan incident. Whilst burning the Russian coal, the engines were smoking the shed out of a morning. One morning a crew member on one of the engines recalled two old fans that had been in the roof since No11 pulled the first brakevan ride in the 1970s I reckon. On switching it on, to everyone's amazement, it worked and drew a whisp of the smoke out through the roof, aiding its gentle lift skywards. We then retired to the rest area for a cuppa', leaving the engine to sing away to herself before an almighty BANG was heard. The fan had quite happily released itself from its habitat in the shed roof and was sprawled across the shed floor in a mash of bits. The fixings must have been rusted through but it was just the way it worked for a second and then fell down!...
"The Beattie Well Tank - 30585" (March 2013)
Anyway back on the engine, the locomotive would gradually come round with the Fireman gently feeding the flames with whatever coal we were using at the time. We burnt it all: Russian, Polish, Welsh, Scottish and I think we had Daw Mill at one point. Each coal required a different fire and a different way of firing, particularly when raising steam. The Welsh stuff for example sat there waiting for Christmas, barely murmuring even when battered horrifically with the fire irons. It was fairly lifeless until the engine got it good and hot on a run. The Driver meanwhile would be going about the mornings tasks of oiling up and doing the routine FTR. I've had many good days on many engines at Shack and in particular I remember a cracking day on No323 "Bluebell" with JB. You can read the post about that here but it was a great time. I remember squeezing like a circus act into the motion of the little P Class to oil up the eccentrics and main cranks - I don't think I could do it now!...
"323 On Shed" (2014)
Another job of course around the engine shed is cleaning. Shack was always notoriously short of Cleaners as regards volunteers just there to Clean. Naturally the Driver and Fireman (who ever they were) had all been cleaners at some point but a lot of the time it was hard to do justice to a good clean on an engine with only two of you, particularly when considering that you'd often have 5 trains to do and possibly a Foot-Ex too!...
"The Shining Black Five 45379 at Shenton" (Sep 2012)
All of these things I write, though perhaps trivial to some, are all part of the general operation of a steam locomotive. They are labour intensive machines that require a lot of care and attention to keep them running but they, to me at least, are always worth it. The thrill of taking the regulator of an engine to gradually draw her outside into the morning sunshine under a cloudless blue sky is a great feeling that I never tire of. Lets say, it made all those blurry eyed mornings worthwhile...
"An Austerity On Shed" (September 2015)
Once the engine was off shed: fired up, checked, oiled and cleaned: it was over to you and the driver to make things happen. Maybe I'll revisit some posts and talk about driving and firing the line one day, but not in this one. Some drivers drove them like they weren't just hobbyists, but like they'd known the engines all of their lives and had some unusual affinity with them whilst others drove them with all the finesse of a house brick crashing through your front room window - everyone was different. Some drivers you could set your watch to; every movement and action, allowing you to fire accordingly and thus economically. Others seemed to think they were on a different railway each trip with some seemingly envisaging a King with 13-on topping Dainton Bank whilst the next trip would be a horse drawn wagon-way re-enactment at nothing more than 10mph. I personally liked the previous Drivers! All these recollections show though is that everyone is different and peoples varying perceptions of the steam locomotive create different actions. I've met some wonderful characters doing what I do and have many fond memories to show for it on some beautiful pieces of kit including the T9, the Black Five and the various Great Western examples...
"4141 Steaming Up" (March 2015)
Shackerstone, though its in the past for me now, offered a lot of learning and during my 8 years on the railway I drove and fired a lot of different types that I wouldn't have had the opportunity to otherwise. I hope you've enjoyed this unusual post which is basically a list of recollections to stop me from forgetting them in a hurry. Thanks for reading all, Sam...

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Tyseley: A Saturday With Steam...

Hi all. These winter working days provide a chilly but interesting experience at Tyseley Loco Works. Naturally, the site is not open to the general public but volunteers still come in at the weekends to help with the various jobs at hand. After a frosty run along the A45, I arrived at the site of the former 84E shed at around 10am. I had, of course, had the usual stop-off for a most welcome breakfast on route, with the Tyseley Corner Café providing the necessary. This was just what the doctor ordered...
Stomach replenished, it was time to change into my overalls for a day helping around the shed. Our first task this morning was to do some shunting with the Class 08 diesel shunter. The resulting moves saw some of the extensive Tyseley collection moved outside for the first time since the open day. One locomotive that I am always impressed by is the little Peckett No1. Built in 1941 by the well known Bristol-based manufacturer, the engine is a Type W7 0-4-0 and is one of those examples of a Peckett that has been lovingly restored...
Behind the much smaller W7 stood the Great Western's answer to an all round tank engine: the 5700 Class Pannier Tank. Pannier L94 (GWR 7752) was the North British-built engine that I had the pleasure of crewing at the October 2015 open day at the works...
Shunting slumbering engines in the cold normally creates some protest. Out of steam they wait, silent and still. When the unwelcome diesel comes in and causes them disturbance, there is much wailing and groaning as their cold bulks are removed from the sanctuary of their shed. Soon enough, the shunting task was complete for the morning and a welcome hot cuppa' was enjoyed. The Tyseley Shed Cat: known to all as "Puss Puss": was glad of the company on this very cold day...
In the afternoon, whilst various jobs continued around the works, I was put on a task with Dave underneath the Castle Class 4-6-0 No7029 "Clun Castle". The 1950-built Castle was Tyseley's pioneer engine in preservation and is currently the subject of a heavy restoration launched in 2008 under the name "Castles for the Future". 7029 is a very well travelled engine and is famous for hauling the last steam service from Paddington in 1965. In the image below we can see the anatomy of a Castle. Being four cylindered, the Castle's employ divided drive with outside connecting rods driving the centre axle and inside connecting rods driving the lead axle, with the cylinders exhausting in pairs. This is a tried and tested Swindon arrangement which worked very well in practise...
After another very worthwhile and interesting day volunteering at Tyseley, I left just before 5pm. Interestingly, my recently ordered new reading material arrived today and I'm looking forward to getting stuck in to it. 'Through The Links At Tyseley' talks about a working life at the shed from the point of view of author L.C.Jacks. Local late arrival and well known lover of a Three Course Challenge 'Eddie the Late' recommended the book to me and I think its right up my street!...
I'm currently very much enjoying my volunteering at Tyseley and hope to keep it up as much as I can. I would however like to make it clear that the writing on this blog, as with all posts about other railways, in no way reflects the position or opinions of any parties mentioned, only my own. Thanks all for reading and I must thank the Tyseley lads for another good day. I write this post as the snow falls outside and the fire roars away in the grate: I'm glad not to be out there in the cold! Best Regards, Sam...

Saturday, 9 January 2016

Tyseley: A Riveting Process...

Hi all. Today was a Volunteer Shed Day at Tyseley Loco Works. I was quite interested today to take part in some Steam Boiler Riveting which was going on. A boiler of one of the collections striking main line engines was having some Foundation Ring riveting carried out as part of a restoration to working order. Having experienced this riveting process ("see what I did there?") I thought it would be nice to talk a little about it. Steam locomotive boilers are held together using various means. A typical boiler will often include several hundred stays and rivets of various types and sizes which join forces to hold the plate-work together against steam pressure. With pressures up to and including 250 pounds per square inch on some locomotives, the amount of force trying to escape is staggering. During riveting, the rivet is heated with a gas torch until red hot and the runner (in our case me) must, using tongs, take the rivet to the boiler and, having given it a good bang against the plate to free off any material scale, feed the rivet into the hole that is to be riveted. The rivet is then driven into shape using two air fed tools, one of which retains the curved shape of the rivet head whilst the other in effect crushes the rivet down until almost flush. The holes in the plate-work are often countersunk on the none rivet-head side to allow the rivet material to be crushed further and thus the plate-work is held firmly together. There are however of course variants in the process of riveting as certain locomotive classes, on the foundation ring for example, will have less distance between the frames for the boiler in between once fitted. Yes, clearances can be that tight! There will also be variants in rivet materials, heads and sizes. The riveting process is demonstrated below on the boiler of 4472 "Flying Scotsman". This NRM video is available on YouTube...
As you make your way along the boiler, in our case the foundation ring, the rivets are calked between nuts and bolts which, during the process, act as holders for the plates. As the holes are gradually taken by rivets, the nuts and bolts can be removed and rivets crushed in their place. Eventually, you end up with a wholly riveted section of plate...
The rivet is often almost critical temperature-wise when being fitted and the process must be quick as the cold boiler steals the heat VERY quickly. I would estimate that from leaving the gas torch to reaching the end of the hammering the process takes little more than 10 seconds. Its the heating that takes the most time and I think we took most of the day to put in just over 100 rivets (probably about 1/3 of the foundation ring!). Its amazing just how many stays and rivets are inside a main line locomotive boiler and all have to be in A1 condition. The rivets are of course not only there to hold the plate-work but also to make a seal, in this case against water attempting to leave the 'water jacket' between the inner and outer firebox. However, this boiler is now another step closer to steaming and it was most interesting to see and take part in the riveting process first hand. I hate to think what it must have been like to hand rivet something like the RMS Titantic together with no air-fed tooling, just hammers! Best Regards all, Sam...

Friday, 1 January 2016

Achilles Report No72: New Year Steam...

Hello everyone. Happy New Year to all of my readers and welcome to the first post of 2016. Today was an outing for "Achilles". We had planned to be out and about on Christmas Eve but rain stopped play on that one unfortunately. Our destination for todays run was the GEC railway at Copsewood (Coventry) following an invitation by Graham a few days before. It was bitter, really bitter. I'm aware that New Years Day isn't renowned for boasting tropical weather but this was something else. Even so, "Achilles" was soon unloaded from the car and was steamed up slowly on the steaming bay. There were three locos in action in total, with a 3.5" Conway joining me on the raised track whilst the Hudman family's Quarry Hunslet was trundling about on the 7.25", happily steaming up and down the field...
The engine was steamed up in the traditional manner, with paraffin-soaked wood providing the basis of the fire before coal was added on top. The stiff breeze whirling up through the ashpan did tend to beat the electric blower somewhat with the firehole doors open during firing!...
Soon enough "Achilles" was in steam and clearing the condensate from her steam circuit. The engine hasn't been on a track since June and even today would be a test run. I did steam her at home the other week with, lets say, mixed results! Having expelled most of the water from the auto drain cocks, the 0-6-0 was coupled to one of the GEC trucks before the fire was made up ready for the off. I'm currently using a mixture of house coal and steam coal which seems to work well. The bigger house coal provides a thicker bed whilst the mix of steam coal seems to lessen the smoke...
For the next hour or two we trundled happily around the track. "Achilles" was in good form and the two new water pumps were working just fine. The engine has had weak pumps throughout my ownership of her as the old ones were fitted in the late 1980s and were well worn. The new ones really do the job and I'm pleased with the results of the replacement. The blue tank engine was also steaming well with minimal effort required to keep the pressure up near the red line...
The Conway: a recently completed engine on test: soon retired and "Achilles" had the raised track to herself. This, signals permitting, allowed for some continuous laps and four or five at a time were completed with ease. The engine now does what you want and I'm quite content with it. After a successful run, the engine steamed easily back up the loading ramp and onto an ashing-out road ready for disposal. She is seen here blowing down...
With the fire out and the boiler blown down, "Achilles" was carefully loaded back into the car ready for the short journey home. As the heater in the motor began to warm up, the feeling gradually returned to my grateful hands! It had been a VERY cold run but well worth it and I must thank the GEC lads for their hospitality and good company. All the best, Sam...