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December 2016 Working Party

There was no November working party this year as due to various reasons a substantial number of the team turned out to unavailable for the alloted weekend.

The December working party on the other hand made up for the lost time with plenty achieved.

Whilst this wasn't direct work on the loco or tender it was, however, making great strides ready for a fresh start in the new year. We spent the weekend, much as with the October working party, collecting and sorting all our various components in our new workshop. Now in the possession of plenty of shelf space we're able to make a much better attempt and keeping all the components in a more logical order. Before these had been kept on pallets and inevitably got moved around with parts sometimes not where they should be. The only parts left on pallets now are the motion components still in the loco shed awaiting machining by the full time staff. 

We also have a substantial bench in the workshop and so various vices and bench grinders were selected to adorn it. We'll fit these next time. 

On the Saturday we also took the opportunity to recover our boiler as the various tarpaulin sheets that had covered the various openings, the dome and inspection hatch for example, had badly deteriorated with both UV and windy weather. Another tarpaulin was used to cover the whole top and this was well tied down so hopefully it'll better withstand the vagaries of being stored outside.

№134's Boiler re-covered after the last tarpaulin was very much shredded by the weather. (Photo: Laurence Armstrong)

№134's Boiler re-covered after the last tarpaulin was very much shredded by the weather. 

Whilst we'd brought many of the remaining components into the new workshop from the loco shed and from out from our original home in the 'clip shed' we used when we started the restoration, in October there were many parts still on the tender and loco frames from when it was moved out of the loco shed and into the carriage shed. With the help of the duty diesel driver we therefore moved the loco and tender frames from out of the carriage shed to just outside our new workshop where we were easily able to transfer all the parts inside and onto the shelving.

Part of the component movement exercise also involved bringing the pony trucks into the workshop. These had been taken into the carriage shed alongside our frames, however the full time staff had brought them from out of there to make them more accessible. We were therefore easily able to move them into the workshop. Our intention is that we'll work on these as one our first major tasks of the new year.

The inside of the workshop at the end of Sunday's tidying and transfering of components. (Photo: Laurence Armstrong)

The inside of the workshop at the end of Sunday's tidying and transfering of components..

So with everything now in one place, we're in a good position for 2017 and to make good progress towards completing the restoration. The dates for 2017 are now available in the Working Party Dates page.

October 2016 Working Party

Another brief note, this time regarding the October working party.

As mentioned last month, we had hoped to have had a party from Imperial College in London joining us, however in the end due to pressures of studies only two were able to join us for the Saturday only.

In view of this we altered our intended work for it to be more of a weekend of re-organisation. We've been given use of a new workshop and storage facility not far from where we first started the restoration. Currently our components are stored at various places across the site, and intermixed with various NGG16 components as well as K1's, the first Garratt type locomotive build by Beyer Peacock. The situation for both us and the Works Manager was getting a bit confusing with the distribution of components so he's decided that we're best concentrating in one place. This is a workshop that's currently used for storing mainly NGG16 components.

We therefore spent the weekend transferring NGG16 parts out from our new home and transferring our parts into the new workshop. All quite easy with the use of the coaling tractor whereby we simply filled the bucket with components then drove over, unloaded, and drove back with the bucket filled with components going in the other direction. One side effect of this is that K1 will also benefit as there will be room to move and store its components on the opposite side of the workshop. We'll move these next time then with both the NG15 and K1 components all in one place life will be so much easier.

The underside of the tender tank showing the modifications in progress by Brunswick Ironworks. (Photo: Laurence Armstrong)

The interior of the new workshop with our components transferred over.

There's still a bit of setting up to be done as regards benches, vices and power tools etc, however it now gives us somewhere where amongst other things we can refurbish the remainder of the smaller components before attachment to the loco or tender.

September 2016 Working Party

A brief note regarding this working party as unfortunately, due to pressure of work on the various NGG16 that the railway has we were unable to get space in the loco shed to work on №134. Rather that be twiddling our thumbs or going home we set to and helped dismantle NGG16 №138's leading power unit. The full time staff had started this during the week so we continued taking down the motion and other components off the unit and out of 138's cab. 

As we were getting ourselves in a right mess from the build up of oil and muck on the floor we also had a go at pressure washing the floor in the area around the power unit.

We made a visit to the tender in the carriage shed to see how the modifications to the tender body had progressed. We anticipated it wouldn't be much as again pressure on shed space meant  Brunswick Ironworks, who were doing the work for us, couldn't get the time in the shed they needed.

The underside of the tender tank showing the modifications in progress by Brunswick Ironworks. (Photo: Laurence Armstrong)

The underside of the tender tank showing the modifications in progress by Brunswick Ironworks.

Next month we'll make much better progress as we have a group coming to join us from Imperial College in London. There'll be many hands available that weekend so we should have good progress to report.

August 2016 Working Party

This working party was again spent concentrating on the tender and the mounting of the vacuum pipe underneath the tender body.

It had been hoped that following last months working party Brunswick Ironworks would have made the modification to the cutout on the underside of the tender to allow more clearance for the brake's vacuum cylinder, however this had net been done due to pressure for space on the loco shed. This therefore gave us more time to work on and complete all the brackets  to hold the vacuum pipe underneath the tank. These will be welded on at the same time.

So once we'd got everything where we wanted it and found all the tools and jigs needed, the weekend concentrated of the manufacture of the clips to go underneath the tender body. A total of 14 clips were made, although only 12 are likely to be needed, and these were attached to the pipe ready to be welded to the underside of the tank. There are a couple of photos in the Gallery, that whilst not brilliant shots, will give a gist of what was done.

July 2016 Working Party

Much of the first day of the working party was concerned with helping get an NGG16 into steam to be able to swap it with the loco on the service train from Porthmadog, together with sorting out the various bits from having our frames moved to the carriage shed. 

It had turned out that NGG16 №138 that was based at Boston Lodge overnight for the Porthmadog service train departure was in need of some attention. It was therefore decided to bring №87 into steam, as it had just had some maintenance work on it completed. The intention was to do a loco swap at Caernarfon at lunchtime. As time was of the essence a number of the team helped with the preparation work to make it ready. Once lit we could then get on with our intended tasks whilst it warmed up.

The first, and main task on our №134 for the weekend the was to work on the tender. The full time staff had kindly moved the tender into the loco shed for us to work on over the working party. This move was also to allow some work to be carried out by Brunswick Ironworks, the company that built the tender body, to do some work on the tender body early in the week. This was to adjust the position of a cutout where the Vacuum Cylinder was to be positioned. 

They were also going to weld on our standoffs to the underside of the tank to support the twin vacuum pipe run underneath. 

№134's tender in the loco shed. (Photo: Laurence Armstrong) The new exit point for the vacuum brake pipe in the rear of the tender. (Photo: Dave Oates)

№134's tender in the loco shed (left) and the new exit point for the vacuum brake pipe in the rear of the tender (right). 

To ensure the standoffs were to be positioned correctly some of the team spent Saturday and Sunday cutting the access holes in the body where the pipes were to enter and exit through the floor from the block of four vacuum reservoir cylinders mounted in the rear of the tender. Also the access hole in the rear of the tender was cut where the vacuum brake pipe for the rest of the train will be situated. 

Saturday also provided us with a bit of light relief when we were treated to the sight of Double Fairlie, David Lloyd George arriving with a Private Charter train from Porthmadog. The loco ran round at Dinas and before returning and some of the team helped with coaling the loco.

Then the next  piece of excitement for the weekend was on the Saturday evening, for our annual evening get-together and BBQ. Normally we'd have a South African Braai, however our South African team member was unavailable this weekend. 

June 2016 Working Party

Continuing with the sand boxes, or rather their design, we went through the drawings we'd produced to double check the various measurements taken on the May working party. These we're mainly found to be OK for the font boxes with perhaps just the odd minor tweak here and there. However, we did concentrate more on the rear box for reverse running as this is entirely new, the original loco just having a sand feed for the forward direction. 

We're aiming to provide sanding to the 3rd, 2nd and 1st wheelsets when operating in reverse with the original idea being to have one box servicing both sides. One reason for this was the limited room for a box on the right hand side due to the various sander and drain cock operating rodding. Once we started to consider the one box option in more detail however, it began to look quite difficult, if not impossible, to get both weirs needed beneath the left hand running plate between the 3rd and 4th wheelsets. Also the pipework would have to meander around the brake rigging to get the the other side of the loco. This led us to reconsider the approach of  a box on each side as with care it could be found room on the right hand running plate.

Measurements were therefore taken for a box on the right hand running plate and reducing the size of the box on the left. This whilst a needing care to get the box design right would be easier with having just one weir on each side.

The new slide bar lubrication fitting on the right hand slide bar. (Photo: Laurence Armstrong)

Some of the motion components sorted ready for being refurbished by the full time staff. 

We'd had word that the full time staff were in a position to start refurbishing the pins and bushes for the motion. Much of Saturday was therefore spent sorting all the various components out and arranging them in a logical order for the work to be identified by the staff. We did unfortunately find we had one pin missing, however as in all likelihood some pins will need renewing anyway a new can be made as a replacement for the missing one at the same time.

The new slide bar lubrication fitting on the right hand slide bar. (Photo: Laurence Armstrong) One of the weirs for the steam sanding mechanism. (Photo: Laurence Armstrong)

The new slide bar lubrication fitting on the right hand slide bar (left) and one of the weirs for the steam sanding mechanism (right). 

A small job completed was the hand crafting of a new locking ring for the the Wakefield mechanical lubricator. We had our original lubricator purloined for a service loco at the beginning of the year and so we had to refurbish a second, however that was missing one of it's locking rings.

On this working party we also came close to the completion of the two pairs of oil lubrication fittings from the mechanical lubricator to the slide bars. The only outstanding job being to weld the two parts together. A quick job for next time.

So in all, together with a small bit of work done on the vacuum pipe run, it was another weekend of forward progress.

May 2016 Working Party

This working party concentrated on one main task, however a number of other jobs were also continued.

The main focus of attention was that of the sand-boxes. With the two mechanical lubricators now residing on the running plate and in such a position that they would foul the reinstatement of sand-boxes in their original position it was decided that the best approach would be to make cardboard templates for a new design of sand-box. Whilst these sand-boxes made use of the same cutout in the running plate for the exit pipe they will be slightly rearward of their existing position.

The left hand 'forward' cardboard sand-box template. (Photo: Laurence Armstrong) All three' cardboard sand-box templates in place. (Photo: Laurence Armstrong)

The left hand 'forward' cardboard sand-box template in place (left) and all three in place (right). 

We also have two further added complications. The first being that we will be using steam sanders and so a suitable location is needed for the weirs/sand traps that form part of this mechanism. The second complication is that originally the loco was designed for forward running only and so they only sand in that direction. On the Welsh Highland Railway we will be operating just as much in reverse and so require an extra pair of sand-boxes to cater for that reverse running. As it turned out, and after inspection of the best location, we decided that one large sand-box on the right hand running plate would be able to provide sand for both sides of the loco.

We therefore set about making the three sandboxes out of cardboard. We were prepared for this task and some cardboard boxes had been brought along for the purpose, however we were very fortunate that it was also the Rail Ale festival at the railway and the organisers had plenty of ex drinking glasses boxes available for us to use to supplement what we'd brought. 

Once the templates were made we took them all down to №133 to double check for clearances there, especially against the boiler.

Other tasks continued this weekend included the manufacture of the locking ring for the Wakefield lubricator we refurbished last month. There's still a bit to finish off on this that hopefully will happen next time. 

As part of the lubrication scheme we also continued with the manufacture of the four fittings that will lubricate the slide bars. This was started a few months ago but was moved down the priority list. After finding the components we made last time we continued with these. This also included clearing out the attachment holes in the slide bars and running a tap through to ensure they'd bolt on cleanly. Again there's still work to do on these next time.

Team Wylfa have been helping the NG15 group for the past few years during their midweek evening working parties. Unfortunately the team have now disbanded due to the closure of  Wylfa Power Station and the retirement of key personnel involved. Some of those people, however, are continuing their activities on №134 and have joined the main weekend working parties.  One of those jobs being carried on during the week, and now at the weekend, was the manufacture of the support brackets for the brake vacuum pipe run underneath the tender as shown below.

One of the tender vacuum pipe support brackets ready for welding underneat the tender tank. (Photo: Laurence Armstrong)

The lubricator reassembled, primed with steam oil and ready for pressure testing.

Finally we started to mark out some of the pipe runs from the mechanical lubricators to the various points 'requiring their services'.

April 2016 Working Party

We were somewhat restricted in what we could do this weekend as we did not have permission to work in the loco shed. This is currently being re-roofed, so whilst we were able to retrieve components and tools, we had to do whatever work was needed in the workshop, or on the tender in the north yard.

During the March working party we had found out that out that our steam oil lubricator had been purloined for use on NGG16 No138, much to everyone's chagrin! We had however been given an un-restored unit as a replacement. The April working party therefore saw us having to refurbish that unit.

The original unit had be refurbished and checked out by Alf Williams and so he was asked if he would mind popping in to give us guidance for how to do this unit. This he duly did on the Saturday morning.

Saturday was spent dismantling the lubricator and cleaning all the components in paraffin. This is an 8 port lubricator and so in doing the dismantling and cleaning we were careful in keeping all the components carefully laid out so as all the components for a specific port could be reassembled in the same place.

The lubricator reassembled and primed with steam oil and ready for testing at pressure. (Photo: Laurence Armstrong)

The lubricator reassembled, primed with steam oil and ready for pressure testing.

Sunday was down to the reassembly in the morning and testing it in the afternoon. We were very happy when it turned out that all the ports performed as they should do with no leaks being noted. As this is the steam oil lubricator it has to be capable of supplying oil at up to boiler pressure. All the ports were therefore tested up to 400psi and found that it supplied oil up to, and even above that pressure.

On Sunday another group were working on the tender to adjust the vacuum pipework to the 4 reservoir tanks. A pair of these still needed one of their ends connecting together and it was decided that the feed would be better on the opposite end of the tanks as the vacuum pipe run on the underside will be positioned down the right hand side.  Whilst not completed on the Sunday, at least a start was made.

March 2016 Working Party

With a number of the team unavailable this weekend the tasks tackled were restricted to two areas of activity.

One of those was continuing the work on the drain cocks and the straightening of the various rods for the operating mechanism. These had been found to be in poor condition, and having been modified at various times, presumably 'to make it work', the intention is to put all the various components back to the 'as built' condition and dimensions as indicated on the drawings.

The second task was associated with the oil lubrication from the Chinese lubricator. With the lubricator now bolted down we needed to work out the best route for the pipework to get to the respective oiling points.

Whilst limited in scope, this weekend's activities were nevertheless forward progress. 

February 2016 Working Party

Our second working party of the new year is now complete and I'd like to be able to add that the same can be written for some of the jobs. However, a substantial part of this month's working party was spent more in planning and measuring up for future jobs. 

We did however complete one task involving the Krauss-Helmholtz front pony truck. Here we cleaned and assembled the 'cannon box' that encompasses the leading driving wheel axle that the pony truck uses to 'steers' the wheelset into curves. With this driving wheel having had its thrust plates refurbished we needed to know of the cannon box fitted and whether any remedial work was required to the brasses in the box itself. It also served the purpose of 'rounding up' all the required components for the assembly! In doing so we did find a number of bolts missing, however, nothing unusual here as these may have cut off to be able to strip down the unit when the loco was being dismantled. Also it would be prudent for us to replace most of these bolts anyway to ensure longevity and reduce the possibility of the older bolts failing once in service.

The leading driving axle cannon box for the Krauss-Helmholtz pony truck (Photo: Laurence Armstrong) The cannon box installed around the driving wheel axle with the pony truck ball joint also in place beneath it. (Photo: Laurence Armstrong)

The leading driving axle cannon box for the Krauss-Helmholtz pony truck (left)
and the cannon box installed around the driving wheel axle with the pony truck ball joint also in place beneath it (right).

Whilst one group was cleaning the cannon box another was manhandling the rear portion of the pony truck frame into place under the front of the loco ready for the box to fitted and then the unit fitted onto the front driving axle. Sunday afternoon was therefore spent doing the aforementioned assembling on the loco frames. This however, was not without it's problems after first realising we needed to get the pony truck frame above the brake rigging, an oversight from Saturday's work! This done it was then a slow tricky job of lifting, jacking and packing to be able to bolt it all into place, taking us past our usual time we start to tidy up on a Sunday! Next time we'll do the required measurements ready to have the brass bearings made up and machined.

So, what else? As mentioned at the start, the rest was measuring and more measuring. The first being centred around the drain cocks and it's associated linkage. We're aiming to make use of as much of the existing linkage rodding as practical and so need to do the calculations and drawings to get the required throw to operate the new drain cock valves we've fitted.

The other measurements were to do with the sanding gear. Due to no turning facilities we'll be operating just as much in reverse as forward on the Welsh Highland Railway, and keeping in mind that the loco only had sanders fitted for forward running, we need to consider how to address that problem so we therefore spent quite a bit of time taking, yes more measurements.

January 2016 Working Party

A new year and new enthusiasm - although the snow and sub-zero conditions across the country did dampen the productivity of those there and did seem to keep our numbers down a bit. Nevertheless progress was made and has set the scene for what should be a year of marked and visible progress.

That visible progress was all apparent to us when we walked into the workshop upon arriving at Dinas as there on the bench was one of our piston heads having been recently worked on toward fitting it to the piston rod. The piston rods were there as well resting against the side. These were still in the process of being machined but nevertheless it was nice to see the progress made by the full time staff.

One of our new piston heads machined ready for attaching to the rod. (Photo: Laurence Armstrong)

One of our new piston heads machined ready for attaching to the rod.

We continued with the work we'd started last month on the cylinder drain cocks. It has to be said there was a slight backward step made here by way of a rethink to the system we'd employ. The consensus though, is that we'll end up with a better solution.

We were originally planning to attach a plate across the faces of the three drain cocks on each cylinder to act as an anti-torque bar. See last months photos. The fear is that with the new ball valve arrangement that we've fitted to the cylinders, continual operation of them could eventually encourage the valves to become loose in the cylinder casting. By linking all three together it will prevent any tendency to want to rotate the whole valve assembly rather than just the actual ball of valve.

We also wanted to provide some sort of steam dispersal box to the drain cocks to take the noise and hiss out of the ejected steam. Running a preserved railway we do get a lot of families with small children and the one single source of frightening children, other that the safety valves lifting, is the noise and steam from the drain cocks when leaving a station. Our intention is to minimise that. So this would be in the form of an expansion box that the drain cocks feed into before dispersing, hopefully quietly to the 'outside world'.

So back to the plot..... When we came to fit the plates we'd made last month we found that there was so much misalignment in all planes to the three valve faces that we though it was going to be a big problem to accurately grind the plates to form a reliable steam tight mating of the plate to the valve faces. Thus the change of plan is to make a firmer dispersal box and let that provide the anti-torque rigidity. 

As the drain cock is a new arrangement with new valves we also spent quite a bit of time assembling and taking measurements of the operating linkage assembly's various cranks, together with the room available. This is in order to calculate the dimensions and movement needed in the final drive to the valves themselves so as to reliably open and close them. As was becoming apparent, there really isn't that much room where the valves are we also took some measurements from №133 in the yard in order to establish the best place and size for the expansion box.

The left hand side drain cock operating rod fitted into place in order to evaluate the geometry of the operating linkage. (Photo: Laurence Armstrong) The input end of the four vacuum reservoir tanks in the rear cabinet of the tender tank (Photo: Laurence Armstrong)

The left hand side drain cock operating rod fitted into place (left)
and the end of the four vacuum reservoir tanks with the completed pipework (right).

The tender was our other focus of activity this weekend. One job here was Clive from Team Wylfa completing the linking pipework for the four vacuum reservoirs in the tender. This has been reported on for a number of months now so it was no surprise that he came back with a big smile on his face after finishing the job at long last!! Alongside this Clive had also completed one of the final stages of the vacuum pipe run across the loco frames. 

The other tender job that one of the team worked on, and that is still related to the vacuum pipework, was the manufacture of some stand-offs to form the supports for the pipes to and from the vacuum reservoir tanks. These pipes will be routed along the underside of the tender tank and so we manufactured a number of lugs that will be welded to the tank's underside into which the pipe support brackets will be secured.

The final job we did before leaving on the Sunday was to go over all the 'bright' metal components with an oily rag. These are the parts that are as yet unpainted, or that will be unpainted, such as the motion components. A number of these were beginning to show signs of surface rust as it's been one of the wettest Decembers on record in the UK and it was starting to take its toll on our loco's appearance.

Earlier working party reports can be found in the  Archive

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