Sunday, 28 August 2016

Getting There

We've had a lot of progress in the last couple of weeks. We've also had a lot of help with the work at Aviemore. In addition to the usual Strathspey-based suspects our Farthest North supporters from Orkney have been down south for a couple of weeks - thanks indeed to Amy-Jane Budge and Alistair Foden for your help..! Chris Boyd has started to work his deep cleaning magic on the tender paintwork and will move onto the loco when we can stop working on it and give him access. And our oldest working volunteer, Graham King came up for the day last week from Stirlingshire  and showed that he can still get underneath the loco with the best of them. 

On the tender we are still waiting for Ian Riley to receive the tyre forgings from Germany. We had a false dawn when he told us that they would arrive with him on August 23rd. When that didn't happen he told Colin Vaughan that they were still in Germany but would be with him on Monday 5th September. He's aware that the return of the tender wheels is now critical to getting the loco back in traffic and he's told us that he will progress the work as quickly as possible. Hopefully we will have the tender wheels back during the second half of September. If this happens we'll have a realistic prospect of seeing 828 in action during October..

In the meantime Nathan Lightowler and Bennie McInnes have made great progress with completing the remaining work on the tender axleboxes. This has involved skimming the axlebox box tops in the milling machine to give a good seating for the newly cast crownplates. The crownplates themselves have had their lubrication points fitted. We should get the work completed in a few days and the 'boxes and bearings can be moved to the Carriage Maintenance Shed in preparation for refitting (as long as the C&W Boss doesn't object to more bits of steam locos inside his doors...)

On the loco itself we completed setting the valves - a complex operation carried out under the supervision of Nathan Lightowler. We then refitted the steamchest front cover complete with the valve spindle tail rod support bush. This latter item is a pesky piece of kit that seems to represent something of a pious hope that a sparsely lubricated bush will happily support part of the weight of the valve assembly while reciprocating at speed. The whole question of steamchest lubrication is one with which we are not wholly satisfied and there are improvements that need to be made after we have an opportunity to study how the loco behaves back in traffic. The original Caley lubrication system was quite elaborate but it is clear that under LMS and BR ownership it was considered that wet steam was an adequate lubricant and the moving parts would have to get by with a more crude form of lubrication. We will try and get back to the full CR lubrication system as soon as possible.

On 25th August with all the mechanical work approaching completion we raised steam and late in the afternoon we had the great pleasure of seeing and hearing 828 moving again under her own power. We ran her up and down the No.2 Road at the Shed for a few hundred yards and it was awesome...! Over the next couple of weeks we'll get the loco to 100% completion and then it will be matter of waiting for the tender wheels to return.......

Our old friend looking very smart in the sunshine outside the Shed..

RH Trailing Axlebox getting moved to the machine shop for skimming of the top surface..

Clamped onto the milling machine table..

Milling in operation..

More axleboxes waiting for their turn on the milling machine

Our fiends from Orkney, Amy-Jane Budge and Alistair Foden cleaning the tender axleboxes

After cleaning the tender axleboxes the next job was to clean the grate. The remains of the previous fire were clogging the air spaces between the firebars and "someone" had to go into the firebox to do the job....but only one member of the team would fit through the aperture - so congratulations and thanks to Amy-Jane....!!!

Chis Boyd getting to grips with the tender paintwork - check out the reflection...!!

This is the boiler blowdown valve on the bench. In previous days we had no need to blow down our boilers - but thanks to changes in the Strathspey water supply the SRC now needs to use an elaborate regime of chemical treatment to condition the water for our boilers. This has the consequence of requiring regular blowdowns to remove dissolved solids and this is the valve that will allow that to happen for CR 828..

This is the blowdown valve spindle - obviously suffering from a bad case of corrosion. Alan French has kindly offered to manufacture a new replacement in 316 stainless steel..

Nathan Lightowler, FRSVS (Fellow of the Royal Society of Valve Setters) attending to the valve settings on CR 828 - and concentrating hard..

Time to light the fire again with the trusty JCB acting as the coal bunker once again..

A pleasant change to be working outside on 828 in warm sunshine - Alistair Foden and Roddie McRae refitting the steamchest cover..

The gang with their loco - Amy-Jane Budge, Roddie McRae, Alistair Foden and Graham King with CR828 smoking nicely..

Ignoring the very distressed diesel next to them, the gang crack on with work on CR 828

Resting back in the Shed, 828 shows off her almost-completed front end. Soon we'll refit the "piano lid" cover and hide  the cylinder block..

Anyone got one of these in their attic..? This is the drawing of the steamchest displacement lubricator that should be fitted to the steamchest cover....but removed in LMS or BR days..we need one again..!

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Great Progress

While some of us were sunning ourselves in rural Charente others were getting on with the job...! 

Nathan Lightowler, Bennie McInnes, Dave Green and Roddie McRae to name but a few have carried out great work on the loco and the tender. The end result is that the loco is approximately 95% complete and only needs a few small pieces of work to bring it to 100%. After the guys had rebuilt the inside and outside motion the loco was towed out of the yard and run over the weighbridge. Nathan reports that the crankaxle weight is about right but we need to swap about one ton between the leading and trailing axles. This is a relatively straightforward job once we have the required hydraulic lifting jacks back from overhaul. Very encouragingly Nathan reports that the loco rolls very freely with no indication of tightness in any of the refurbished bearings. The big ends are feeding oil satisfactorily; likewise the eccentric straps that Nathan put so much time into hand fitting.

Dave Green reported that the rebuild of the loco brake rigging was a bit like a chinese puzzle but eventually all of the parts went back where they came from....! One interesting discovery was to find that what we thought were slack rivets on the RH leading wheel brake hanger support were actually slack patch screws. These were refurbished and fully tightened into their tapped holes in the frame plate and secured permanently to stop them from moving again. 

The tender brake rigging has been fully cleaned up and inspected and is ready for refitting.

The newly cast crown plates for the tender axleboxes have had their sliding surfaces machined true and the lubrication grooves cut. We'll skim the top of the axleboxes to give a flat and true surface for the crown plates to bear on.

And the big question...! Where are the tender wheel tyre forgings...? Ian Riley has confirmed to Colin Vaughan that he anticipates delivery of the forgings at his Heywood works on August 23rd. Assuming that this is correct we hope that he will proceed with fitting and machining the tyres without delay. Colin will continue to liaise closely with him on this one. 

Now moved over to No.2 Road an almost complete loco stands happily under the smoke hood.

The RH view - note that the steam chest cover and piano lid are still missing - we need to do some final checks on the valve setting before refitting the covers..

The inside motion all back in place..

The tender axleboxes with their newly cast and machined crown plates..

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Getting Connected

More great progress in the last week. By the middle of the week we got the eccentric straps refitted, complete with the necessary oak plugs in the eccentric sheave bolt holes. We removed the connecting rods and valve yokes from storage in the tender and cleaned them up ready for refitting. In a day of very heavy work Nathan Lightowler and Dave Green refitted both connecting rods and tightened up the big and small end bearings. 

Colin Vaughan made a visit to Ian Riley's place at Heywood and got confirmation that the tender tyre forgings are on order from Germany with a three week delivery lead time. Riley's people also confirmed that they will commence fitting of the tyres as soon as the forgings arrive. Calum Titley sent through some pictures of the repairs that have been completed on the tender wheel centres.

We are making good progress towards getting the loco back in operation during the late summer....

This will be the last weekly update for a couple of weeks due to the holiday season...

Fitting the eccentric straps - a two person job. The hands of Nathan Lightowler visible in this picture (he did all the heavy stuff...)

Wedged up against the front of the firebox, Doug Scott did the easy bits while Nathan lifted everything into place..

All four eccentric straps fitted...

Starting to fit the RH Connecting Rod.....a heavy lump..

The small end of the RH Connecting Rod disappearing into the slidebars..

LH Connecting Rod small end with the cotter and pin fully fitted..

Both Connecting Rods back in place..

The connecting rods just after removing them from storage in the tender..

When 828 was preserved she had been fitted with non-original type connecting rods. At the request of the SLPTF BR found an original pair on BR 57601 (CR 863 built by Dubs in 1899 under contract to the Caley) and fitted them to 828 (BR 57566).

The tender wheelsets at Ian Rileys with all repairs complete. Now we just need the new tyres..

Close up of a weld repair..

Sunday, 26 June 2016

More Eccentricity

Another busy week on CR 828. The eccentrics and straps arrived back from the RPSI on Monday 20th June. They were brought over by Bob Edwards, the Man with the Plank, who took charge of offloading the parts into the Whitehead machine shop when I was there with them a few weeks back. Bob offered to stay on and help with fitting the parts back onto the loco. This offer was gratefully accepted. The RPSI has done a great job and it looks like 828 should run like an even better sewing machine with the straps fitted beautifully to the eccentrics. Nathan Lightowler spent several days under the loco to complete the final fitting of the eccentrics by "blueing" and hand scraping to ensure the best possible fit. He was very ably assisted in this awkward task by Benny McInnes.

Roddie McRae was busy earlier in the week cleaning and preparing the eccentric rods for refitting - something that will be happening pretty soon. 

Other activity has included refitting the pipework in the cab for the brake system and starting to clean up the coupling rods.

Riley's assure us that that they are on the case with the tender tyre forgings. Colin Vaughan has a meeting at their place in Heywood during week commencing 27th June and has been told to expect nothing but good news on all fronts......(!!)

Roddie McRae caught by surprise by the camera while cleaning up the eccentric rods..

Bob Edwards, newly arrived from Whitehead, gets ready for offloading of the eccentrics and straps.

Back in the Shed, the newly machine eccentric parts . (The large piece of wood is the shed door crossbar)

A good view of the nicely machined white metal on a pair of the straps. And well done the White Metallers, Alan French and John Greig..

Benny McInnes with the first half of the RH eccentrics ready to go under the loco (note the lifting table loaned by the C&W Dept)

A very heavy lift by Bob and Benny got the first half lifted into place and butted up against the driving shoulder on the RH crankweb.

The heavy lifters in action...

RH eccentric in place...

The view from underneath. Bob Edwards, Nathan Lightowler and Benny McInnes ponder on the tightening of the eccentric clamp bolts. It took a bit of time to get them clamped up exactly where they needed to be. The secret lay in getting the split line joint distributed evenly and making sure that the axial clearance between the LH and RH eccentrics was equal. We wondered how long it had been since this job was last tackled...

Crankaxle fully assembled once more with eccentrics that are truly circular...

We blued all the eccentrics and then offered the straps up onto them and then hand scraped until the bolts could be fully tightened and the eccentrics were free to rotate 360 degrees. Once we rebuild the inside motion it will be a matter of moving the old girl up and down the yard and making sure that everything settles in properly..

The first of the four - the RH Fwd Strap scraped in and ready to go...

BRCW Sulzer Type 2 D5394 propels CR 828 back into the Shed at the end of another days of eccentric strap fitting..

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Boiler Ticket

Another week of great progress with CR 828!

We carried out an in-house steam test on Tuesday 14th June and brought the boiler pressure up to the full rating of 180psi. Colin Vaughan then set the front and back safety valves to lift at the correct pressures (there should be 3 - 4 psi difference in the settings to prevent the valves from depressuring the boiler too quickly). Having satisfied ourselves that everything was in order we were able to look forward to the scheduled visit of the Boiler Inspector on June 15th. 

The day dawned cold and wet and got colder and wetter as it progressed. But the Boiler Inspector turned up and duly witnessed satisfactory operation of the boiler gauge glasses and the safety valves. He expressed satisfaction and that was it..! A boiler ticket for another year and a major step forward towards getting our old girl back into operation. And thanks to Roddie McRae for most of the pictures during the Boiler Inspector's visit.

With the inspection out of the way we were able to attend to more mundane stuff like fitting the mineral wool insulation to the dome and then refitting the cover. Working with mineral wool is a horrible job but at least it is better than working with the blue asbestos originally specified by the CR. With the dome cover refitted the loco is looking more and more like her very elegant self..

We are hoping to get the eccentrics and straps back from the RPSI in Northern Ireland during the coming week. Bob Edwards, the man with the plank and the reinforced barrow is bringing them back and staying on to help us fit them. This will be another major step as it will let us go ahead and fully assemble the inside motion and set the valves. Nathan Lightowler has started on modifications and repairs to the valve spindle tail rod bushings. This is a troublesome component that JF McIntosh first used on the CR 766 Class (or Dunalastair II). It provides a front end support for the valve rods but in practice, on 828 at least, we have found it difficult to lubricate and avoid excessive wear. We'll see if we can improve things this time round...

After a few weeks of chasing Ian Riley for information on the delivery date for the tender tyre forgings Colin Vaughan go some hard information. This was to the effect that the order on the south African supplier was cancelled by Rileys and a new order placed on a German supplier via another UK Heritage Railway Company. The lead time is supposed to be three weeks but as yet we have no confirmation of a delivery date. In the meantime Rileys are carrying out the necessary repairs to the wheel rims.

The loco has its own pressure gauges once more.....Left to right we see the brake vacuum, boiler pressure and carriage warming gauges.

We had to modify the new safety valve body provided by the SRPS. It was too tall and didn't give the required range of adjustment. Calum Titley carried out the necessary machining and here we see him with the old and new bodies at exactly the same height...
Looking good - both safety valves at the same height..

With the JCB coal bunker in attendance the fire is lit again for the first full pressure test..

180psi and all well....

Back in the Shed and cooling down after setting the safety valves for 180psi working pressure

The day of the Boiler Inspector's visit - a typical Highland summer day - pouring with rain and blowing onto the footplate..

Back safety valve lifting at 180psi

Fire burning well, blower on and back safety valve roaring..

Mixed traction in the Shed Yard....

Drifting steam amongst the rain...

A wet fireman....

The old girl looking quite smart despite a lot of missing parts..

The dome insulated with horrible mineral wool..

The cover back on and the access ladder tied off on the handrail..

Slightly out of focus but looking good with the dome cover back in place..

Aidan Bell working on the LH Driving Hornclip to ensure a true seating for the suspension springs..

One of the springs in place...

Mr Macintosh's valve rod support bushing in the lathe. This housing bolts onto the steamchest front cover and each of the two rods is supported by a bronze bush that wears out very quickly. 

The condition of the support bushes as removed.....hopefully we can come up with something that lasts longer and wears out less quickly...