Locomotive Update Spring 2014

Well after three months solid work we have lifted the boiler and despatched it to Tysley Locomotive Works. This has involved most weekends and at least one if not two days in the week at Toddington. This is a slight change of plan as TLW are very busy at the moment and our frames would have been in the way until we are able to give them the go ahead to do any mechanical work. This we cannot do until the boiler costs are fully established. We hope the frames will follow later in the year provided we have some monies to pay for work to be done. This will mainly be overhaul of the front bogie, and possible coupling and connecting rod bushes.

Stripping of the loco was much harder than we imagined with most of the smokebox fixing having to be cut off with the gas bottles. Therefore all the fixing for this area will have to be new. We have also removed all tubes from the boiler and given it several washes both internally and externally to generally clean it up. We also have removed all the rivets holding the smokebox in place and the majority of rivets that hold the smokebox to the boiler barrel. Some had to be left in for transport security. The tube plate is also cut free and only needs the longitudinal stay nuts removed and the front tube should come free. All this work is to save us money on the overhaul cost. As at 14th April the Smoke box is already off at Tysley.

As you can see once the boiler was lifted free the ashpan was cut off, again as the nuts would not undo. We will need another new ashpan. We are going to change the design to try and eliminate the middle hopper from buckling. This design work is already under way.

The process has now started of cleaning up all the parts that will be going back on the loco, and believe me there is a lot of bits to do! It is worth a mention that Sean Nielsen the GWR Senior Firing Instructor on the railway and a shareholder in Foremarke is well out in front with number of parts already done. Ron Alexander is running not far behind with a lot of the basic metal parts cleaned and painted. Tim Pickthorn has started doing the frames on the tender so all in good progress is being made. (It goes without saying, I hope, we do thank ALL members of steam Department who at different times have got stuck in to give us a hand).

The brake gear is off the engine as the linkage is well worn. It needs new pins and the holes in the linkage needs reducing all back to GWR tolerances. We did this exercise on the tender a couple of winters ago and that process will be adopted for the engine. The new pins are due just after Easter and the old nuts and lock nuts are being refreshed in my workshop at home here ready for the new pins.

The next critical area is the smokebox blast pipe assembly which has been leaking exhaust steam. I am fairly certain albeit before I took the project over, but this area was not stripped, or did not get the attention that it really needed when the original restoration took place. In hindsight perhaps it should have. The counter argument though is we have managed 10years! However now it has to be done and can only be done with the boiler out. With the assistance in particular of Neil Cooper and John Hancock amongst others we have now removed the saddle plate and extracted the exhaust pipes. You will see from the pictures it is not an easy job and the leaking exhaust has deposited steam oil in the exhaust box making a very unpleasant and messy area to work in. We have been black with dirty steam oil. All of this muck has to be scraped and cleaned out so as the area can be painted. We have a contractor who is prepared to look at the Exhaust pipes themselves. Hopefully shortly after Easter the assembly will go to his workshop. I had hoped the fault would have been a simple patch repair but John H and I feel that the only real solution is a new assembly and that will be thousands of pounds. Money we really cannot afford! However we have to do it as the boiler cannot go back in without it being done.

Both engine frames and tender are in the shed at Toddington and the process of cleaning, painting and general repairs will commence. The tender only needs a small amount of work but none the less needs work! All in all a  good start but a long way to go!

The intention is to turn the whole job around very quickly but that will need more money so if you are thinking of buying shares NOW would be a very good time.