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June 2017 Working Party

And what a warm weekend that was but still with good progress made. 

The continuing task from last month was the fitting of the fitted bolts for the axle boxes to the pony and Krauss-Helmholtz trucks. The fitted bolts arrived, however they turned out to have M20 fine pitch threads so with only standard nuts available we were only able to tap those into place on the pony truck where we'd previously reamed out the holes. We found these were a good fit but we still did not want to continue until we'd the nuts to tighten everything up fully.

We did however move onto the Krauss-Helmholtz truck and reamed out a further 12 holes ready on that. There are 8 more to do however again no further progress was safe to be made until these current ones are tightened up.

Also from last time was the continuation of the tidying up of the holes to attach the cladding to the cylinders. We had 4 very large holes left to do. These already had stripped M12 threads so we drilled and tapped these to M14 then fitted plugs and then drilled and tapped into these with M10. All was going well until we broke the tap in the last hole so this will be finished with a new tap next time.

The rear pony truck with some fitted bolts in place, but not tightened. (Photo: Laurence Armstrong) The cylinder covers after cleaning and painting. (Photo: Laurence Armstrong)

The rear pony truck with some fitted bolts in place, but not tightened (left) and the cylinder covers after cleaning and painting (right). 

The cylinder end covers had the same treatment of cleaning out and re-tapping the holed to take the insulation cover and the cladding cover. Both cylinder covers were then cleaned and painted.

As we wanted the dome cladding cover out of the way onto a shelf we decided to clean this, remove all the various dents and gave it a protective coat of paint.

Finally we revisited the tender rear dragbox as there is some corrosion there. We cleaned off any rust and scale to examine the extent of the problem so a plan for its repair can be formulated.

All told, and regardless of the warm lathergic weather, progress continues.

May 2017 Working Party

Well here we are again, another set of notes from a working party. 

Perhaps not quite as expected as our 'Master of Ceremonies', aka the boss, found himself on the end of something rather horrible and spent the best of part of the weekend curled up in bed.

Fortunately we had a good idea of what to get on with so we carried on without the extra pair of hands to help, well to direct us. 

A few loose ends to start with involved things like cleaning all the components of the rear coupling for the tender ready for re-use as the main priority for the railway is to get the tender and loco chassis capable of being freely moved around. This will help us in that the two chassis can be positioned in a more suitable work location prior to each working party. The other small job was the fitting of the covers to the Automatic By-pass Valves using a set of gaskets made as a homework project by one of the team. The valves had been fitted to the cylinders last time and so just needed the covers fitted.

We also reviewed the front valve covers for the cylinders for their cladding cover attachment. These should be stand-offs however most were either missing or converted to studs. Those missing had their holes re-tapped ready.

We reamed out a few more of the rear pony truck axle box mountings ready for fitting fitted bolts using the existing reamer. We'd really like to get the holes reamed so far fitted with the fitted bolts so we decided that we'd safely gone as for as we could until they arrive.

One item that had caused great concern last month was the realisation that our rear pony truck frame is quite bent compared to the drawings. It does look from several weld marks in the frame that it has been reconstructed at some point, and does continue to support our suspicions, along with various other evidence of replaced or bent 'things' that the loco had been in some sort of an accident, possibly onto it's side.

We therefore took a straight edge and various measuring implements to check alignment. It is vital that the pivot pin is in the centreline of the whole assembly, especially with the centre of the axle. Fortunately the measurements showed minimal error, probably well with measurement error as we're taking the measurements from the axlebox casting rather than with the wheels in place. We were expecting several 10's of mm from the look of the frames. We believe this is the least of our worries at this stage.

The rear pony truck with a bend in its frame. (Photo: Laurence Armstrong) The left hand cylinder with new cladding bolts. (Photo: Laurence Armstrong)

The bent, but in alignment, rear pony truck (left) and the left hand cylinder now with new cylinder cladding bolts fitted (right). 

The other main job concentrated on was the completion of the drilling out and the re-tapping of the various broken studs to hold the cylinder cladding and covers in place. As mentioned last time these had been broken and repositioned several times on the loco's life so we decided to go back to their original positions. Those that were still viable with a thread, and in the correct place, were a mixture of M10, M12 and M14 holes! Whilst we're making all the re-drilled holes M10 the few M12 holes that there are are too awkward to alter so will be left. However, the M14 holes and the M12 holes that have had their thread stripped will be plugged with M14 studs and drilled and re-tapped to M10. As M14 is not a standard size for us or the railway we'll need some taps before we can continue so that's one for next time. So that was Sunday gone before we knew it.

Our working weekend also coincided with the railway's RailAle festival - Mmmm now fancy that! - so we were able to 'let our hair down' a bit in the evenings and enjoy the fun. Also to enjoy all the trains running well in to the night to get all the attendees to and from the event.

April 2017 Working Party

There were a number of jobs started last month that we continued into this, as well as starting some work in other areas.

From last month was the continuing work on the Snifter and Vacuum By-pass Valves for the cylinders. We had one by-pass valve to finish off and lap-in and this was duly done early on the Saturday. After some cleaning of all the various mating faces we then fitted all the valves onto the cylinders. The first being the Snifting Valves followed by the By-pass Valves, These latter ones were sealed using some gaskets made as a homework project by one of the team. 

The right hand Snifting Valve fitted. (Photo: Laurence Armstrong) One of the two right hand Vacuum By-pass Valves fitted. (Photo: Laurence Armstrong)

The right hand Snifter valve in place (left) and one of the two Vacuum By-pass Valves fitted (right). 

Other members of the team were continuing with the pony trucks. We had re-fitted the axle boxes during the previous two working parties, however they've been fitted using temporary bolts as we need to use fitted bolts that will need to be manufactured. As we needed to ream out the holes to a slightly bigger size we weren't quite sure what size was actually going to be needed. This month therefore, armed with several reamers we established that 21mm bolts will suffice. We managed just short of 1/4 of the holes so we will continue next month when hopefully all the fitted bolts will have been made.

Another job started was to drill out the cylinder cladding attachment holes in the cylinder casting. The vast majority of the holes had broken off bolts in them, and in many cases the attachment point had been repositioned and several times for some. Unfortunately some of the repositioned ones were very close to the cylinder studs so we're going back to the original positions and drilling out and re-tapping the holes. In most cases all the accessible ones were pilot drilled and so we'll need to finish the job next time with the tapping. 

Drilling out broken off bolts for the cylinder cladding. (Photo: Laurence Armstrong)

The right hand cylinder showing the identified original location of the cylinder cladding bolts, these having been drilled out to remove the original broken off bolt. 

One last job is that we started to look at our tender frames again. We need to get the frames movable so as we get them nearer to were work needs to be done. It was noted that the rear tender drag-box needs some attention as it has been attacked by the rust moth so will need some remedial work done. We gathered together and cleaned all the coupling components so as it's ready to be assembled with an FR style coupling.

March 2017 Working Party

This working party held over the weekend of 18th and 19th March wasn't the best weekend for the weather so working indoors on a steam loco seemed as good a way as any to spend the weekend. The weather only detracted slightly from what we were trying to do so in the end a fair amount was achieved over the weekend.

The main point of note being the reassembly of the front Krauss-Helmholtz pony truck. This pony truck consists of two fabrications joined together via the two axle boxes. With us having cleaned and refurbished these we then assembled all the components into the completed truck. Like the rear pony truck these were assembled using normal bolts as we are still awaiting our machined fitted bolts. These therefore will be fitted at a future working party once available.

One last job to do on all the axle boxes however was to run a tap through the various threaded holes ready to take things like the axle box covers.

We then maneuvered the Krauss-Helmholtz truck into a position in the workshop were it would be of minimum inconvenience. This now being quite a heavy item, consumed quite a bit of time and effort in doing so!

The front Krauss-Helmholtz pony truck assembled with axle boxes. (Photo: Laurence Armstrong) The two Snifting after painting and now ready for fitting. (Photo: Laurence Armstrong)

The front Krauss-Helmholtz pony truck assembled with axle boxes (left) and the two Snifting Valves painted and ready for re-fitting (right). 

One of us carried on valve lapping. Last time it was the Snifting Valves, this weekend it was the turn of the Automatic By-pass Valves to make them ready to be fitted to the cylinders. As lapping usually does, it kept one of out of mischief for a good proportion of the weekend! We unfortunately found out that one of the actual by-pass valves has a crack in it so will need replacing. The other three were lapped in OK so another one of the team cleaned their mating faces ready for assembly onto the cylinders. The only outstanding item for this task being to make the sealing gaskets. A small homework project will see these will be made ready for next time.

We spent a bit of time cleaning and painting various items. These included the Snifting Valves and the front valve covers. These were painted in the heat resistant, corrosion preventing Corroless paint. More parts need doing such a the By-pass Valves and so we'll do these once attached to the cylinders, as the cylinders themselves also need painting.

Whilst on the cylinders, we looked at cleaning out the threads in the bolt holes used to attach the cylinder cladding. These however, are not in good shape, the vast majority of holes having broken off bolts in them, with almost all of them having also been repositioned numerous times. We really need to go back to the original holes and drill and re-tap these. One for next time.

Another pair of parts for painting are the cylinder covers and so we retrieved these from our parts storage and started cleaning them ready for painting

In all another good weekend with many of the regular faces, but it also included Jack, a new member to the team.

Our next working party is only three weeks away so hopefully we'll finish all the jobs not quite completed this time.

February 2017 Working Party

This weekend we continued with a number jobs from last month as well as one new one.

The main area of activity however, was around the pony truck axle boxes. Last Month we'd started cleaning these and specifically attempted to clean out the oilway from the oil reservoir at the top of the box to the inner side thrust bearing surfaces. These we'd found were all blocked - all eight of them, there being two on each of the four axle boxes. 

It's our intention to use Vesconite for these bearings. This is a hard wearing, self lubricating material based upon nylon. It was developed in South Africa for use as bearing material in the harsh conditions of the deep mines there. The South African Reefsteamers have been using it with success on their locomotives there. We'll also be using it for some of the motion bearings, however for the axle boxes where there is likely to be a higher load on the material the use of some lubrication has been recommended to us. We therefore do need to ensure the oilways are clear should we decide to use them.

These oilways use holes in the casting that pass through three axes, X, Y and Z. First there is the hole down from the reservoir, the 'Y', and this takes the woolen trimming. Coming in from the bearing surface is a horizontal hole, the 'X', that due to its required position it doesn't quite meet up with the 'Y' hole. There is therefore a third hole drilled from the outside of the casting in the 'Z' direction to connect the two ends of the 'X' and 'Y' passageways. Once drilled this is then blanked off to the outside with a headless screw. It is in this internal passageway, the 'Z' direction, where we believed all the blockages were.

A re-tapped oilway blanking hole after cleaning the internal passage. (Photo: Laurence Armstrong)

A re-tapped oilway blanking hole after cleaning the internal passage. 

To clear these we therefore had to remove the blanking screw to get access to the passageway. Needless to say none were in a fit state to be removed therefore all had to be drilled out and the hole re-tapped that we'll blank off using an easier to remove short nut. That 'little' job kept three of us busy all weekend!

When we did break through to the 'Z' passage there was plenty of hardened muck blocking the oilway, and in some cases this included pieces of the wool trimming that had become jammed in and in one case the supporting wire as well!

With all the various holes cleaned, and where required tapped, for the two rear axle boxes these were then mounted onto the rear pony truck. We've used normal bolts at this stage to get it all aligned correctly. The aim is to have some fitted bolts made ready for next time so we'll remove each temporary bolt in turn, ream out the hole, then permanently fit these new bolts. 

We then started on the front pony truck axle boxes however, didn't quite get all the passageways cleared in these. It was close by the end of the Sunday and so won't take long to complete next time. When we've fitted the new fitted bolts to the rear truck we'll use the temporary bolts from that to attach the axle boxes to the front pony truck before permanently assembling this with their new fitted bolts.

The rear pony truck with axle boxes and keeps in place. (Photo: Laurence Armstrong) The two Snifting Valves refurbished and ready for painting. (Photo: Laurence Armstrong)

The rear pony truck with axle boxes and keeps in place (left) and the two Snifting Valves refurbished and ready for painting (right). 

The other job started and completed was the refurbishment of the two Snifting Valves for the two cylinders. This involved their dismantling, cleaning out of the interior, cleaning out, and in one case re-tapping the holes for the adjustment and locking bolts. We also lapped in the valve with Huw one of the full time staff kindly skimming the surface to remove the pitting on the valve surface to make the lapping easier.

Both units were then reassembled and are ready for fitting to the loco - a job that we can do next time.

We also did some checking of the drawings for the new sand boxes and this resulted in a slight tweak needed to one of them, and also did some more design work on the front drag box. To help us here we were able to view the draw gear assembly on a new Ffestiniog Railway coach that is under construction in the loco shed as this is the same design as the one we'll be using in the front drag box. This helped with our understanding of the arrangement and helped with our design.

So the weekend was one of satisfying progress and hopefully next time it'll see the pony trucks not far off being ready to go under the loco.

January 2017 Working Party

Well here we are, another year and fresh enthusiasm.

After a number of working parties of consolidation involving moving into our new store come workshop - not far away from but in the same block as where we started out - we're back working on the loco again.

There were two areas of our attention this weekend, the first being work on the pony truck axle boxes and the second some measuring up taking place on the main loco frames. This second one can again be split into two, namely the continuation of the sand-box designs and proposing a design for modifications to the front drag-box to take the Ffestiniog Railway's standard coupling.

As we can't use the old South African coupling in Wales this was removed from the loco's front drag-box a couple of years ago. We've now been given details and drawings of the Railway's standard coupling that they would like us to use so we spent a bit of time checking measurements of the loco against the builders drawings. Various bits on the loco have been modified whilst in service in South Africa so we can't always rely on what the drawings tell us! We then penciled a drawing of how we want to modify the drag-box to take the new coupling and so this will be drawn up in CAD and sent to the company for approval and integration into their drawings.

With further consideration being taken regarding the sand boxes, especially the position of the two new rear boxes that will be required for regular reverse running, one final last check was made against the builders drawings to ensure sufficient clearance was available against the boiler cladding. A view of the relative boiler position against the running plates had been extracted from the drawings and put into CAD to check those clearances. Doing this was especially important as we're likely to have a slightly thicker layer of insulation around the boiler and thus a slightly larger overall diameter. Some adjustments were needed to the sand box drawings however. With an inspection of our frames, it did get us to further modify one of the new rear sandboxes to be able to fit steam sanding equipment in so this will need some redrawing.

So down to what was done on on the actual loco. We're concentrating on getting the two pony trucks back under the frames and so spent the weekend refurbishing the four axle box castings. We had originally looked at replacing the conventional oil pad bearings with roller bearings as on the NGG16s, however an alternative solution has been proposed to us that would involve using the casting much as they are. We therefore spent time thoroughly cleaning these, including the internal oilways that allow lubrication to get to the side thrust bearings. These were all somewhat blocked! We did speculate how long these had been like that in service and how long they'd gone un-lubricated in its final years in South Africa. 

An axle box from the rear pony truck being cleaned. (Photo: Laurence Armstrong) The axle boxes from the Krauss Helmholtz pont truch cleaned and painted in primer. (Photo: Laurence Armstrong)

A rear pony truck axle boxe being cleaned (left) and the two Kraus Helmholtz castings cleaned and primed (right). 

With the axle boxes thoroughly cleaned with the last of the fine rust layer removed, and whilst one pair had already been primed they had suffered a bit in the interviening time so were re-cleaned, all four were then painted in primer. We'll give these an undercoat next time.

So all in all a good constructive weekend with progress being made once again.

2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 & 2016 reports can be found in the Archive

All content webmaster or as indicated - This page updated 21st June 2017 by Laurence Armstrong