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2013 Archived Working Party Reports


December 2013 Working Party

The working party involved progress on quite a number of fronts. In the past it's not been unusual for there to be a number of people working of one specific large job at once, however this weekend saw quite a large number of jobs being tackled by just one or two people. During the weekend we were also paid a visit by the Boston Lodge works manager to see how we were progressing.

First of the jobs to mention is the continuing progress being made on the fitting of the cab and footplate supports. These are being changed due to the modified cab to tender boundary as well as a slightly different cab layout. The work consisted of welding new brackets into place, followed by a certain amount of grinding and then finishing them off with a coat of paint. 

To show that we are most definitely putting the loco back together, we started assembling the brake and suspension rigging. The suspension balancing arms were fitted into place together with their respective support rods. Both of these have been re-bushed and new pins manufactured. Initially this will be a 'dry run' to make sure it all fittes onto place. We plan to give the components another coat of paint before final assembly. For the brake rigging, we fitted a number of the brake arm pivot brackets to the frames. Also fitted was the cross brace that carries the brake rigging safety bracket. This is there so should the main brake rod fail for any reason it cannot fall onto the track and cause further damage. 

New cab support brackets. (Photo: Laurence Armstrong) Refitted brake and suspension components. (Photo: Laurence Armstrong)

Cab support brackets fitted into place (left) and refurbished brake and suspension components (right).

Another job was to clean out all the rod ends of the years of caked-on and dried oil and grease. All the lubrication fittings were removed from the rod ends for further refurbishment, and to enable us to convert them back to oil lubrication. The loco had been built for oil lubrication, however it was converted to hard grease in South Africa. We'll be running them with oil lubrication as with the rest of the railway's running loco fleet. 

When the loco was built it was fitted with one large vacuum reservoir cylinder for the tender. Due to the different layout of the new tender it was planned to fit two reservoirs of similar total capacity. As it looks like working out, there were four spare reservoirs at the Ffestiniog Railway's Boston Lodge works. These had been used in a push-pull carriage and are now redundant and so were duly delivered to Dinas for our use. They have a slightly lower total capacity than the original single cylinder, however we believe it will be sufficient.

We finally finished off Sunday with a bit of painting, including a few more brake rigging components together with the frames where the rear drag box and frame stretcher had been fitted with fitted bolts.

So that was it, a weekend with progress made an many fronts. 

November 2013 Working Party

As has been alluded to elsewhere, with the rear drag box now in place it has really increased our scope for work on the loco. This working party therefore involved activity in that regards.

This centred around the arrangements for the cab, such as the fitting of the various brackets to support the running board in the cab area and of the fitting of brackets for the cab itself. Much of this is needed to allow for the changed arrangement of the cab's loco-tender boundary. Originally the fall plate went across the middle of the cab area, resulting in the fireman having one foot on the loco's running plate and the other on the tender. Whilst this arrangement has obviously worked whilst in service, experience by some of the team members of working on an NG15 at Sandstone has shown that if the arrangement could be improved then it should be. With the need for a new tender to be fabricated this gave that ideal opportunity. 

Working on the new cab and running board supports. (Photo: Terry Rowe

Brackets being manufactured to size and clamped in place prior to permanent fitting.

Whilst this was being worked on another group did a rod swap with №133. One of the rods on №134 was found to be from №146, manufactured as a different loco batch by Henschel & Sohn, rather than from our batch built by Societe Anglo-Franco-Belge, so it was decided we liked 133's rod better!

Another group was actively painting all the brake and suspension gear. Painting is one of those encouraging activities that shows you're heading in the right direction to completion, although the work needed should not be underestimated.

One last activity worthy of mentioning is the continuing work to repair the front pony truck safety support. This is the support that stops the front pony truck dropping down when the whole loco is lifted and had to be (forcibly) removed during dismantling!

October 2013 Working Party

There was something about this weekend, it had a really good feel to it. It must have been due to the fact that we were now firmly installed at the back of the loco shed where we've plenty of room, plenty of light, much nearer to the sites various facilities (such that we're not spending our time walking back and forth between the north and south yards) and generally a much more pleasant environment. 

Compared with last month we had a good number of people there on both Saturday and Sunday making it a very productive weekend. Saturday we started by moving as many of the loco's dismantled components as possible from the clip shed to the loco shed where they'd now be needed. This comprised mainly of those components below the running plate. Those associated above it ie with the boiler or cab, or tender, being left where they were. To do this, as they were too numerous and many too heavy, we filled a B-wagon with them all and transported them using the diesel loco Caernarfon Castle. 

This was shunted into the road alongside where the frames are positioned at the back of the loco shed where they were duly unloaded. They were laid out in a manner such that they were in their relative position to each other as they would be on the frames. This hopefully will give the full time staff and idea of what's there and where they will all eventually live.

The working environment we now have. (Photo: Laurence Armstrong Components laid out on the floor alongside the frames. (Photo: Laurence Armstrong

Components laid out on the floor alongside the frames with the left hand pictiure giving a good idea of our new working environment.

Whilst the unloading was going on two of the group were detached to do some work on K1. This needed some damaged grate sections removed and replaced. Yours truly here was the one deemed small enough to fit through K1's fire door so I found myself doing the firebox work. I really must put on more weight! On the Sunday we then put a warming fire into K1 ready for the full time staff to investigate a steam leak on the Monday. 

On the Sunday we continued with the sorting of components with the occasional visit to the clip shed to find bits we'd left behind. We were still missing a couple of components, but as these are common with the NGG16 it would not surprise us if they are now on one of the service locos!

We were joined by Alf Williams, one of Dinas shed's local volunteer staff, who is starting to refurbishing our mechanical lubricator. We also started the refurbish sanding equipment, some of which has come from a scrapped main line Class 31.

With the drag box now fitted this was duly cleaned of oil and grease and then painted together with the cab floor support brackets.

On the wheelsets, some of these have suffered in the past from worn crank pin side thrust plates and therefore have had replacement rings machined and welded into the cranks in South Africa. These in turn were now badly worn and will need replacement so we started to grind these off ready to have new rings fitted.  

With the frames in their new position, we checked their alignment using the piano wire we fitted very early on. It was found that the frames were obviously quite rigid as only minor adjustment was needed. This was duly completed then the axle alignment guides were re-fitted and re-aligned. During this we did notice a minor discrepancy against the drawings' wheelbase dimensions so this is something to investigate next time.

Meanwhile at Boston Lodge the tender bogies are progressing with the brake rigging components that were being modified now fitted. See the Gallery for more details.

All round it was a most fulfilling weekend with everyone very buoyant and one of the guys commenting that he was going back to work for the rest!!!

September 2013 Working Party

Held on the weekend of 13th & 14th September this weekend proved quite variable with the number of volunteers helping - just three people on the Saturday then ten on the Sunday!

As a result most of the work and progress was achieved on the Sunday and this was quite variable and encompassing in the tasks tackled. One group started out loading the wheelsets into a B Wagon ready for a visit to Boston Lodge works for axle journal turning. These included the Loco's driving wheelsets and pony trucks and one (bogie) set of tender wheels, the others already being there. These latter ones are being prepared to receive roller bearings.

Associated with this was the measuring of all the wheel journals so we know exactly their size and condition in order to prepare for the turning.

Underside of No.133 grate showing how the grate rocking arms align in the proposed arrangement for No.134. (Photo: Laurence Armstrong Underside of No.133 grate showing how the grate rocking arms align in the proposed arrangement for No.134. (Photo: Laurence Armstrong

Wheelsets loaded in to B Wagon B1835 and the re-assembled vacuum cylinder for the tender.

On the Loco frames work started on grinding the horn guides flat and parallel. It was more a pilot exercise to check out some recently purchased cup grinders. The hope is that the full-time staff would pursue this task. Also on the frames some more clips were added to route pipework around a slot in the driver's side running plate where the reverser arm would be located. The two pipework runs on each side were made identical - that was until we realised we needed to pass around the slot! This task also involved the manufacture of more pipe clips as we'd run out of the size we needed.

A job started was the fitting of the new wheels to the Portal Lifting Frame. The existing wheels were unbraked and the insurers needed these to be braked. This involved the manufacture of some adapter plates as the whees had differing mounting hole centres. All we managed was the removal of the old wheels and so the new ones will be fitted at the next visit.

One last job to mention was the fitting of the piston into the vacuum cylinder for the tender. This is now ready to be fitted when we're at the stage of needing it on the tender chassis. 

On the subject of the tender chassis, one of the tender bogies is in Boston Lodge works having it's brake rigging modified as can be seen in the picture below. This is being done so as it can make use of the railway's standard size carriage brake blocks.

Tender bogie in Boston Lodge works having its brake rigging modified.(Photo: Andie Shaw

Tender bogie in Boston Lodge works having its brake rigging modified. 

August 2013 Working Party

The August working party was a rather quiet affair following so closely behind the July weekend. The result was nothing out of the ordinary to report.

With those that were there, mainly on the Sunday, the main item was the continuation of the pipework for the horn faces. On top of this work also continued on the repair of the front pony truck safety bracket. All these being jobs continued from the previous working party.

One other job started, but not a job directly on the loco, was the manufacture of brackets for the attachment of new wheels for the Portal Frame. Whilst the frame was acquired last year it has still to be certified for use. When it arrived it had plain unbraked wheels and these needed to be of the braked variety before the insurance company would issue a certificate for us to use it. The wheels had been obtained a few months ago, however as their attachment had totally different hole centres to the existing wheels. The job therefore was to manufacture a suitable adapter bracket.

July 2013 Working Party

The weather for the working party over the weekend of 20th & 21st July was hot! With the UK blessed with a heat wave there is no doubt that the heat slowed down our work rate, although we did in the end manage suitable progress.

We have had a delay with the rear dragbox and so it is still not fitted to the frames. It is however at Boston Lodge and will be machined as soon as a suitable slot becomes available in the works. As the dragbox is critical to the next phase of loco assembly, and especially that of re-wheeling the loco, we instead continued with the more peripheral tasks.

On the Saturday, with the main group working on the loco frames with activities such as welding and the grease lubrication network, two of us set about to establish the feasibility of the grate arrangement being planned for №134. As designed, the rocking grate on the NG15s is operated from one leaver on the Fireman's side of the cab, this leaver rocking all grate sections. With the revised arrangement we're intending to rock the front and rear halves separately, there being two separate operating mechanisms built into the new rear dragbox. 

We wanted to ensure this could be done without having to generate any new grate casting designs. The operating arms on each grate section are offset slightly to one side. The hope therefore was that we could use the same casting and simply turn the grate sections through 180 so as the operating arms in one half would be offset to the other side. To prove the feasibility of this we went into №133's firebox to turn three of the grate sections there.

Underside of No.133 grate showing how the grate rocking arms align in the proposed arrangement for No.134. (Photo: Laurence Armstrong

Underside of №133's grate showing how the grate rocking arms align in the proposed arrangement for №134.

During this exercise we discovered that a good number of №133's grate sections looked quite new and seemed to have endured very little active service. Whilst some others sections were showing some signs of damage we're hoping that we should be able to use all of №133's grate for №134. We also discovered that the NG15s share some common grate castings with the NGG16s thus alleviating the need to make new patterns for all grate components. After the trial we then removed all of №133's grate ready for possible re-use in №134.

On Sunday work continued on the grease lubrication network, a few more clips being required to be fitted at various location as the network of pipes expanded. One of the holes for these proving really difficult to drill due to it being in plate work neighbouring a rivet. The suspicion being the plate in the vicinity had become hardened by heat during riviting.

We also tidied up some damage to the frames where we'd welded the temporary cross pieces to hold the rear of the frames square whilst the dragbox was removed and before the rear frame stretches was permanently secured in place using the fitted bolts.

When we dismantled the loco back in early 2009 we had to remove some brackets on the frames that are intended to prevent the front pony truck from dropping out of place when the loco is lifted by the main lifting points on the frames. As the fixings for these were well corroded in place we had to use a cutting torch to remove the brackets so as the wheelsets could be removed. These now needed refitting so we prepared and positioned the various pieces on the frames ready to be welded back into one piece.

The lifting support bracket for the front pont truck ready for re-welding back into one piece. (Photo: Laurence Armstrong A driving wheel axle in place to review the practicalities of proposed lubrication schemes. (Photo: Laurence Armstrong

Pony truck support bracket ready for rejoining and a driving axle box positioned to review lubrication methodologies.

One last job to report was that of looking at the feasibility of a number of methods of lubricating the driving wheels in the axle boxes. There are several options and we needed to know which was actually practical with the constraints of the space available between the axle box and wheel and axle box and crank.

All told a successful, if somewhat sweaty, weekend.

June 2013 Working Party

The Saturday saw another visit to Brunswick's to view progress on the rear dragbox. See the Gallery for photos of its construction.This is nearing completion and it is hoped it will go to Boston Lodge during the following week for final machining. In anticipation of its arrival the temporary cross bracing was removed from the rear of the frames.

A pattern has now been made by Don Bateman at Boston Lodge for the replacement pistons.

Progress on the rear dragbox. (Photo: Andie Shaw) Piston head pattern. (Photo: Andie Shaw)

Progress on the rear dragbox left and the new pattern for casting new pistons right.

All the fitted bolts are now in place for the rear frame stretcher so this is another job that can be ticked off the list as complete. Work continues on the pipe run for the grease lubrication network for the wheel horn-guides. Good progress is being made in this now.

Whilst not directly related to №134, however, as it was a nice sunny weekend the opportunity was taken to remove the last of the boiler cladding from №133's boiler. This was being done to prevent any further deterioration of its boiler platework due to the saturated insulation material being in permanent contact with it.

Held at the beginning of May, this working party was only 2 weeks after the April weekend. In the past we've coincided the May working parties with the Railway's Rail Ale festival, however the past couple of years have not produced the most productive of weekends, with the distraction of the festival and attending to interested visitors. This year we therefore decided to make it the weekend before Rail Ale.

May 2013 Working Party

Held at the beginning of May, this working party was only 2 weeks after the April weekend. In the past we've coincided the May working parties with the Railway's Rail Ale festival, however the past couple of years have not produced the most productive of weekends, with the distraction of the festival and attending to interested visitors. This year we therefore decided to make it the weekend before Rail Ale.

The working party was very much a continuation of the previous, dealing with pipework clips and slide bar alignment. The last few holes were drilled and tapped on the Saturday allowing the completion of the fitment of pipework clips for the rear pony truck grease lubrication system. One member was certainly glad to have drilled the last hole into thick platework using a hand drill in the most inaccessible of places! No doubt our intrepid leader will find some more to do though.

With the slide bars, the same routine as last time was the norm - measuring then a trip to the grinder at the other end of the site to grind mountings and spacers to size to allow the correct alignment.

Clips on the rear frame stretcher ready to take the grease pipework. (Photo: L. Armstrong) The water tank ready to quench the pipework. (Photo: L. Armstrong)

The clips fitted to the rear frame stretcher and the water tank to be used to quench pipework.

A new job this time however, was moving a large water tank from another part of the site. This tank is normally used as a temporary water storage tank for visiting steam locos at galas or suchlike, however we were in need of a suitably large vessel in which to anneal our pipework and this was ideal. The tank first had to be emptied of water at it's current location, then moved to just outside our shed before refilling with water. As it was a closed tank we had to remove the lid and this involved the removal of 30 or so well painted in screws. The refilling took several hours so it was Sunday before we started making use of it.

As a result of our shed having new doors fitted, the preparation for this meant we had to clear away some stored material and components next to doors. This uncovered the running plate for in front of the smokebox, an item that had been 'mislaid'. This was duly attached on the Saturday.

April 2013 Working Party

The April working party weekend was postponed from its publicised date and was eventually held on the weekend of 27th & 28th April. As a result it was a quiet weekend with just two of us there for the whole time. We were due more help on the Sunday however, one member went home mid day not feeling very well and another ended up caring for a neighbour who needed hospital treatment. 

Saturday was eventful, not from what we physically achieved, but more from the aspect of planning future work. A meeting was held with Boston Lodge staff on Saturday morning where a plan was put in place to progress the contract work now that funds are in place. This will see more off site progress taking place at Boston Lodge Works, the Ffestiniog Railway's workshops, followed by paid staff based at Dinas tackling some of the jobs once the railway has its three Garratts in service. It is hoped that one of the fitters will become allocated to the loco to progress work during the week. The plan therefore is to have the loco on its driving wheels and out of the clip shed and into the main loco shed by the time of the September gala. This will give us much more room to work rather than being the cramped conditions of the clip shed.

The second event was a visit to Brunswick Ironworks on the Saturday to view progress on the new rear dragbox for the loco's frames. See the dragbox page in the Gallery to view progress. The new dragbox is an all welded construction as against the plate and riveted version of the original.  The new version will also house the operating mechanism for the rocking grate. At the time of the visit the unit was partly welded up with some components just tacked in place for a trial fitting. It was intended to complete the construction the following week after which it will be sent to Boston Lodge for machining to so as its a precise fit between the frames. As soon as that's done it will then be fitted to the frames using fitted bolts. This has been holding up other work so we'll be glad to get it fitted.

Bolts holding the rear frame stretcher in place marked out ready to be replaced by fitted bolts. (Photo: L. Armstrong) One of the fabricated cab floor support brackes in front on the rear dragbox at Brunswick Ironworks.. (Photo: L. Armstrong)

Whilst at Brunswick's we were also shown the fabricated cab floor support brackets. These are new to the refurbishment of the loco due to the revised tender design. The original NG15s have their fall plate (the plate that covers the gap in the cab floor between the loco and tender) right in the middle;e of the cab. One of the changes is to position the fall plate further back and so this has resulted in the need of these new cantilever brackets that will be attached to the rear of the new dragbox to support the extended loco cab floor.

In between all this we continued with a number of jobs. This included the accurate fitting and alignment of the slidebars. It involved a lot of legwork with numerous visits to the grinder at the other end of the site to machine the mounting brackets as well as for the manufacture of new spacers. 

Other work involved the continuation of the grease lubrication pipe run for the rear pony truck. This was marked out on the last working party so this weekend saw the holes drilled and tapped for the mounting clips. A few clips still remain to be fitted so this will be done next time. Also the last vestiges of the original rear dragbox were removed. This was two angle brackets, one on the lower outside on each of the frames

Since the last working party the loco has also had a visit from staff at Brunswick's to repair some of the 'butchered' rectangular slots in the plates of the frames.

March 2013 Working Party

Held over the weekend of 16th and 17th March, the working party whittled away at a number of ongoing jobs. One of these was the grease lubrication network within the frames. With the various fittings to pass the network through the frames now installed the next job was to seal the inside fitting with ptfe tape and to attach the flexible pipe to take that connection to the hornguides  that are the target for the grease lubrication. These were all fitted during the Saturday to complete that job. 

A small job completed was the removal of some paint on the inside of the frames where the new dragbox is to be fitted. The inside of the frames in the area needed to be  protected where corrosion had taken place, however some of the paint had strayed onto area where a metal to metal fit was needed so was duly removed.

A larger job was the fitting of the slide bars. These had been temporally fitted in the past, however they were removed as they were in the way of drilling holes for the grease lubrication network. This time they were fitted and aligned with the correct packing and spacers and so this involved milling a number of new spacers to the correct thickness.


February 2013 Working Party

After the cancellation of last month's working party there were grand hopes that some catching up could be done this month. With one member injured, another moving house and another recovering from family funeral to say that numbers were somewhat down would be an understatement!

Still some progress was made with work continuing on the grease lubrication system, cylinder drain cocks and the cab support brackets. Good progress was described and being achieved.

On Sunday the task of removing 133's cladding was added to the work done. Here we're trying to prevent further deterioration of the boiler by removing the rain saturated boiler cladding.

January 2013 Working Party

This working part was cancelled due to bad weather.


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All content webmaster or as indicated - This page updated 19th February 2014 by Laurence Armstrong