Thursday, 4 January 2018

Wrapping Up 2017

Now that 2017 is behind us we can reflect on CR828's achievements in her first full season back in operation since 2013. In terms of mileage run she finished the year with just under 4000 additional miles on the clock. In terms of number of days in operation we reached 90 days. And how about reliability, you ask? She failed in traffic twice and was unable to leave the Shed on a couple of other occasions. In every case the problem was associated with boiler feedwater injectors. You may recall that we fitted new cones to both injectors in June. This cured most of the problems but left the loco vulnerable to inadequate performance from the injector clack valves. (These are non-return valves that prevent reverse flow from the boiler through the injectors.) Leakage through clack valves is the curse of the backhead injector and this caused a continual headache for Shed staff. Fortunately we have a plan to rebew the clack valves using a better and more resilient material than specified by the Caledonian Railway and this is one of the first jobs on the winter maintenance programme. But apart from injectors the loco was completely reliable and has exceeded all performance expectations.

The winter work programme is anticipated to be relatively light and we expect to open the 2018 running season at Aviemore at the end of March using CR828.

We are starting to think seriously about the next heavy general overhaul that will be due from late 2020. The workscope for this will indeed be heavy. Two of the major items, renewal of the cylinder block and renewal of the loco dragbox, will require that we separate the frame plates. This may lead to a decision to renew the frameplates. This will not be cheap...! In anticipation of requesting donations from friends and supporters the CR828 Trust, the legal owners of the loco, is enacting its entitlement as a Scottish Charity to recover Gift Aid from HMRC. Soon we can expect the Trust to make requests for donations from those interested in keeping the last Caledonian Railway loco of pure JF McIntosh design at work well into the  middle of the 21st Century....

Thanks to everyone who has followed this rather intermittent blog during 2017. Very best wishes to you all for a Happy New Year throughout 2018..




Strathspey Railway Association (SRA) Director Maureen Cuthbertson hands a ceremonial cheque to CR828 Trustee Doug Scott at the beginning of November. In a gesture of great generosity the SRA has donated the proceeds of its annual raffle towards the next heavy overhaul. The sum donated amounted to a very very welcome £4000..!!




On 5th November the Strathspey Railway Company operated a "Supporters Special" as a 'thank-you' to all those who have helped and supported the Railway during 2017. Part of the fun saw 828 lead the special drain to the bridge over the River Dulnain on the extension towards Grantown on Spey. As you can see, she got very close to the existing railhead... 




For the first time ever, CR 828 stands on the new Dulnain Bridge...





A snowy scene at Boat of Garten for the first of ten days that 828 operated the Strathspey Railway's 2017 Santa Express services..



Departing Boat of Garten for Broomhill...




A great shot by top steam railway photographer Jonny Gourlay. 828 dashes towards the bridge at Tullochgorum in very seasonal Christmas weather..






The cold and snowy weather made life a bit more difficult for loco crews but Driver Dave McLaren and Fireman Martin McLeod are cheerful as they get the old girl ready to go off-shed..



Family shot at Broomhill as one of our Elves is given some guidance on operating the camera...



During cold weather we use the alternative supply from our water tower at Boat of Garten for filling the tender tank. This is the view from the operating platform...




Sparkling sunshine at Boat of Garten on a return working from Broomhill to Aviemore...




A typical black face after a dry day on CR 828....

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Autumn Update...

It's been a busy summer for CR 828. After a series of injector problems that spoiled her operational reliability for a few weeks in the late Spring she has come through the summer period very well indeed. At a recent count in early September she's operated on 61 days since 25th March 2017. In so doing she's covered around 2500 miles in passenger service.

With the end of the main running season at Aviemore only a few weeks away we can start thinking about the winter maintenance programme. At the time of writing this shouldn't contain much more than routine stuff as the Strathspey Railway's 28-day maintenance regime keeps on top of any minor faults and helps to prevent escalation.

On a sunny day in September 2017 CR828 and Ivatt 46512 EV Cooper, Engineer show off the beautiful location of Aviemore Shed...

Line clear to Boat of Garten as CR828 picks up speed with a Saturday evening Dining Train in late August 2017...

Fire burning well at Broomhill...

The heart of the matter...! The inside motion at rest..

Adjusting the tender brakes at Aviemore Shed...

Maintaining the boiler safety valves...

Out on the moor with the Sunday dining train. The Caledonian Railway semaphore route indicator is in the 'bow tie' position indicating 'Main Line via Motherwell' (which sadly isn't quite correct for the location)... 

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Annual Boiler Examination

Apologies for the delay in updating the blog - it's been a busy few week. CR 828 has accumulated about 600 miles in traffic since the end of March and is running pretty well.  In the past week she has had her annual boiler inspection. This involves the Boiler Inspector carrying out a detailed examination of the boiler in the cold condition and then returning to inspect it in steam and check the setting of the safety valves. This work was completed during the week commencing Monday 7th May and was completed on Friday 11th May. The loco also had its 28-day exam under SRC maintenance procedures.  She is now back in service again. I heard her running into Boat of Garten Station a few minutes ago while updating the blog..



A Master Craftsman at work! Mr Murray Duncan is applying the letters and numbers to the front bufferbeam.

The finished job - absolutely perfect. Thanks Murray...!

Stopped at Boat of Garten down home signal on a day when we were working a two-train service.

Mr Michael Wells, a great fan of CR 828 with Driver Doug Scott and 828 at Boat of Garten

Fireman Tom Macdonald looking thoughtful as we wait for departure on the 13:00 Dining Train on May 7th..

Almost ready for departure.. The piper makes his way up the platform to give the Diner a Highland send-off

46512 receives some attention from Benny McInnes while 828's annual boiler exam gets underway.

Safety Valves removed...

The safety valves stripped and cleaned ready for inspection..

Sam Logan with one of the 22 boiler washout plugs he cleaned...

Nathan Lightowler checks the feather edge clearance on the safety valves while Calum Titley prepares for washing out the boiler barrel through the smokebox tubeplate washout plugs..

Roddie McRae looking cheerful as he carries out 28-day exam repairs.


View looking into the boiler just above the foundation ring. Note the build up of scale that needs to be washed out...

Attending to the inside motion. The LH Fwd Eccentric Rod needed some tightening..
Early morning sunlight in the Shed as 828 warms up ahead of the annual steam test..
Job done. safety valves set at 180 psi and the annual inspection completed satisfactorily...






Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Days of the Diner


The second weekend of operating 828 on the Dining Train has passed successfully. She was out on April 2nd and the weather was ideal once again for her exposed footplate. So far she is settling well into this new period of operation. A small fault with the carriage warming valve was attended to during the week and she was able to provide heat to the 10:30 departure from Aviemore. After that the day was too warm for steam heating. She is using a bit more water than she should while we wait for the slide valves to wear themselves in again. Footplate crews are noticing the difference in the ride quality of an inside cylinder loco compared to the more lively ride they get on 46512. This point was well understood by JF McIntosh who was challenged once on why he refused to design outside cylinder locos when his contemporaries were proving that they were cheaper to build and easier to maintain. His view was that the inherent stability of an inside cylinder design was worth more than any improvements that could be gained by using outside cylinders....



828 taking water at Boat of Garten (picture copyright of Derek McGinn)

828 exiting the loop at Broomhill (picture copyright of Derek McGinn)

Attending to a leaking seat on the Westinghouse Carriage Warming Valve - the radial cut across the seating surface needed removing. The circumferential cut is not a problem..

Surface plate and grinding paste taking out the defect...

Job done - radial cut eliminated and a good sealing surface achieved..

Lapping in the seat of the valve diaphragm..

Facing north in Broomhill Loop with the CR Route Indicator looking a bit unsettled..

Ken Plant enjoying the sunshine wile we pause at the summit of the line with the Dining Train on 2nd April 2017

Shed disposal - emptying the smokebox and checking on the Alan French spark arrester (which is working well)...

Newly cast tender tank filler cap with the old one as a pattern. All we need now is to drill the required holes in the new cap, paint it and then fit it...Thanks to SRC Engineering Director Brian Thomson for getting the casting made..

Monday, 27 March 2017

Operational...!!


At last we're back in operation...!

CR828 re-entered normal operation with the Strathspey Railway on Saturday 25th March when she handled the normal three depatures from Aviemore with a five-coach train. Then on Sunday 26th she worked the 10:30 service train and then the 13:00 dining service. She performed very well on both days and appeared to be in good mechanical condition. We have a slight issue with the Westinghouse Carriage Warming Valve and that will be investigated during the week commencing 27th March. 

The weather in Strathspey over both days was perfect. Warm sunshine and very little breeze made it a very enjoyable experience on the footplate provided the coal was kept dampened for tender first running. It was great to have two steam locos working on the Sunday and this should hopefully be a regular feature of Sunday operations throughout 2017. The Strathspey Railway is operating a new catering service in 2017 using in-house resources. Feedback on the service has been very positive. Supporters of CR828 could combine a Sunday visit to the Railway by dining in style while travelling behind the loco...!!!! For details please visit the website of the Strathspey Railway at www.strathspeyrailway.co.uk



A magnificent picture of 828 heading south at "Fishermens Crossing" on Sunday 26th March. (Picture by Derek McGinn)

Final cleaning of the loco on Friday 24th March. Norman Girvan, Honorary Secretary of the CR828 Trust, is cleaning the coupling rods...

Polished and ready for operation. 828 under the lum in the Shed on 24th March..

Attracting a crowd..! 828 pauses at Boat of Garten on 26th March with the 11:35 from Broomhill to Aviemore.

Basking in sunshine at Broomhill..

The Wakefield Displacement Lubricator. A tricky device that helps lubricate the valves and pistons. Very temperamental on Saturday 25th and performed flawlessly all day on Sunday 26th...this is it working as it should . A droplet of oil is ascending though the sight glass and will soon be on its way to steamchest..!

Together again at Aviemore. A spotless 828 hands over the service train to an immaculate 46512. After 46512 had departed at 12:30 828 moved up to the carriage shed to collect the stock for the 13:00 dining service..