Locomotive Update Late Summer 2014

Since the last in July when I explained about the lapping plate I can now say we have successfully lapped the regulator valve into its seat in the regulator box which is part of the Superheater header. This work took several man days of hard tedious rubbing the lapping plate over the port face in the header. Eventually the result was a nice flat face where the regulator valve will sit which is as near perfectly flat as can be achieved. Our particular thanks go to John Hancock and Mike Strange who did the bulk of this work.

A lot of other things have happened since the last report. I will start with the boiler. As you can see from the pictures the boiler is now devoid of the lower section of the firebox sides. The remnants of the tube plate have been removed and work on removing the crown stays is well underway. Unfortunately we have had to make the decision to spend yet more money on the firebox as the front steel section of the outer firebox was cracked. This area called the throatplate is cracked between a row of stays. At a review meeting John Hancock, Ian Carpenter (The boiler responsible person for the GWSR) and myself took the decision in conjunction with Bob & Alistair Meanley that it would be more sensible to cut off the steel platework similar to the sides and replace it with new steel. This will give us a longer life repair and as its below frame level it is impossible to get at once the boiler is back in position. So if any further cracks had developed we would be into lifting the boiler again. A problem we felt we could not risk. To be fair to Tysley they are really pushing on with the work as we requested so things are very positive in the progress to date.

With regard to activity at Toddington, again things are going to plan quite well. The vast majority of the between frames paintwork has been completed and very recently Chris Gee and Tony Bailey completed the painting of the rear drag box area which now clears the way for some bits to go back on. Tim Pickthorn has completed the undercoating of all the wheels. This has been a particularly laborious task as every time the loco moved more oil ran down the area he had done. However perseverance won the day and now the work on scraping the frames is under way.  

To facilitate the ease of the frames painting the connecting and coupling rods have also been removed. These in their own right are now undergoing a thorough cleaning and polishing to get the steel back up bright and shiny. The connecting rods are particular pitted, which to be honest have been there from ever since we bought them all those years ago. We are using various hand and machine methods on these rods to get them as good as we can. Steve Jones a GWSR department member and a tool maker by trade is team leading this work.  Again this is very laborious repetitive work but already the difference is remarkable and the finished job will be first class of that I am sure. It is the intention to leave the rods off and when the loco goes to Tysley the rods will go loose as the bearings all need remetalling and machining back to size.

The tender has not been forgotten. To date the right hand rear buffer has been replaced with an overhauled one. The one removed has been stripped shot blasted and repainting is underway. It will then be fitted to the left hand rear when complete leaving the removed one to be overhauled and stored as a spare. We have also refitted both water control valves. These have been stripped cleaned and slightly modified to try and prevent them from going stiff when in use. This is a Mike Strange suggestion and modification.

The other major development is the exhaust pipe assembly. We have had bad news and good news on this part of the project. This is with our contractor, Adrian, who has been very helpful to us in recent years and is very sympathetic to the steam preservation game. He has done lots of research and searching to find a supplier who could bend the swept bends of the pipes so as he could fabricate the assembly. In short unless we have a very very fat bank balance, which we don’t, then he cannot find a supplier to bend the pipes. The technical reason, in very simple terms is that to bend any pipe or tube the tightest you can achieve in NORMAL bending is about a ratio of 5 :1. As an example a 2 inch pipe will only bend easily to a radius of 10 inches.  One supplier said he could manage 3.5:1 but ours is 1:1. In short Swindon had some special tooling to bend the exhaust pipes the shape they are. So we have a problem.

Adrian being the sort of contractor he is then looked at the problem from a different angle. He got the pipes shot blasted and then had the thickness of the assembly measured in numerous places to ascertain the general material thickness. What he then discovered was that the assembly looked far worse than it really is and he felt it would be very practical to cut out the wasted area’s, shape some new steel and weld it into place. He brought the shot blasted assembly to Toddington for John H and I to look at and after some debate we gave Adrian the go ahead to repair it as he recommends. We are confident this will be successful and should be less costly than making the thing from new.

There are a million to one other jobs underway, overhaul of numerous parts, cleaning scraping and painting and the regular Wednesday and Saturday gangs keep chipping away at all the jobs.

As always we welcome all offers of help, and the share issue remains OPEN!!!!!

Details from Jim Clarke, Chairman  at

Wentworth House North Street Westbourne Emsworth Hants PO10 8SP

Email   jimclarke@7903foremarkehall.co.uk