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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 12th April 2017 by Laurence Armstrong