Update Report December 2017

Well here we are early December and we are starting the planning of the winter maintenance, although we are standby cover for the Santa operation which is being covered by 5526 & 7820.

We have had a very successful season without many maintenance issues at all. The ongoing saga of the Vacuum pump playing up continued early in the season but we think we have sorted that now, at long last. As you will have seen our visit to Old Oak Common went very well with no real issues at all, at least whilst we were there. When we got back we had to change a rear driving spring as the one on the driver’s side had gone flat and so the engine was not sat at the right ride height. This can often happen when you put engines on road transport, something they were never designed to do. Also at some time during transport the speedo bracket got bent. Now this has proved a real nightmare to fix but after many man hours we think we have managed it.

This winter we are planning to do some remedial work to the vacuum retaining valve, which works in conjunction with the Vacuum pump. We want to inspect and measure it to make sure that valve is within its proper working clearances. We will also be doing lots of the routine things like cleaning snifting valves and various other parts just to make sure we can keep her as steam tight as possible. We are also looking to put 4 new cones in the vacuum ejector. The existing ones are working okay but four new ones will draw vacuum even better.

In addition the engine will have a full B Examination and annual Insurance Examination and boiler test to get 7903 approved for another year’s operation.

One project we are working on is the redesign of the Pep pipe cock. Currently we have a standard valve fitted as designed by the Great Western and continued into BR days. This valve is to allow a fireman to spray the coal with water in hot dusty conditions and to wash down the footplate. The valves design uses the central spindle which is carrot shaped and relies on a good tapered fit in the body and some sealing packing at the top to prevent water leakage. Water leaks are very common and potentially cause the floor substructure and lower cab side to rot due to being wet. So between Will Grimmett and John Hancock have re-designed the valve but with a slightly larger body. This will allow the body to be machined out parallel to take a graphite sealing bush, which is based on a similar arrangement that BR did with later water gauge frames. So we are now at the stage that the pattern is made and at the foundry for some bodies to be cast up. Then Will G will set about machining the valve up to the new design. We are confident the design will work and will look to sell them on to other GWR owners. Will show you pictures in a later Hallmarke.

As you will read elsewhere we have been left a legacy by the late Chris Webb. As Directors we know Chris left the money for the future upkeep of the engine so we felt buying a set of tyres helps secure the future of the engine. To that end we have placed an order with the supplier for a complete set of locomotive tyres. These will be held in stock as the current tyres do not need replacement just yet but with parts getting harder to source it seemed right to order a set well in advance.

Next year is a massive year for the GWSR with the opening to Broadway so this winter we have to get the engine into tip top shape this winter ready for 7903 to take her part in the opening events.

I will just take this opportunity to wish you all a happy Christmas and prosperous New Year and to thank all members of the support team for their help in keeping 7903 operational.

John Cruxon

Locomotive Manager