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...

Sunday, 12 June 2016

A Grate Week

Good news! CR828 was brought back into steam on Friday 10th June. We only took the pressure up to 50psi to make sure that everything was OK. It was. During the coming week we will refit her own pressure gauges and attend to a couple of minor issues and then take the boiler up to full pressure and set the safety valves. The Boiler Inspector is due at Aviemore on June 16th to carry out the formal "in steam" examination.

In the meantime we are waiting for an update from the RPSI regarding the machining of the eccentrics and straps. We are also waiting on Ian Riley advising when the tender tyre forgings will arrive from South Africa. The tender wheelsets are with Rileys and they should be getting on with the minor repairs required to a couple of the wheel centres.

Gauge Glasses Refitted

Time to reassemble the grate...

All firebars back in place. Seven new spare bars fitted..

New inner firedoor protector fitted...

The boiler backhead (or faceplate) fully reassembled and ready to go..

Outside the Shed with 46512....

Water level coming up nicely...

In the absence of the tender the JCB provided a good coal bunker...

The fire is lit...

View from the safety valves...and the coal is burning..

A hot fire....

A pressure gauge borrowed from 46512...50psi was as high as we went on this occasion

Burning the fire down,,

828's own gauges recalibrated and beautifully refurbished by Ken Donaldson

Sunday, 5 June 2016

An Eccentric Journey

On our travels this week........the eccentrics and straps had to be delivered to the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland (RPSI) Works at Whitehead, near Larne. Unwilling to trust such irreplaceable items to a commercial carrier the best solution seemed to be to take them myself in a hired van. So a van was duly hired in Inverness and ferry crossings and accommodation booked. Mrs Scott chose to come along on the trip as neither of us had previously visited Northern Ireland. We had a great time. The country is beautiful and the people more friendly than we thought possible. The RPSI has a marvellous base at Whitehead that is undergoing a huge expansion as the result of Lottery and Dept of Agriculture funding. On the day that we were there they were installing their new turntable and work on their hugely expanded carriage shed and machine shop was approaching completion. (Where has the SRC missed out....??)

The eccentric sheaves and straps were removed by hand from the van thanks to the ingenious efforts of RPSI stalwart Bob Edwards - a man who knows how to combine the use of a wooden plank and gravity. Bob produced his own personal sack barrow, modified with non-pneumatic rubber tyres, and gave a virtuoso demonstration of how to move heavy and awkward parts without mechanical aid. 

The parts were taken to the machine shop and are now waiting on the attention of the RPSI machinist. Hopefully we will have them back before the end of June.

Other progress during the week saw the tender wheelsets uplifted and transported to Ian Riley for fitting of the new tyres. 

On the loco itself Nathan Lightowler has been busy and has aligned the leading wheels with the crankaxle and refitted the leading section of coupling rod. It's amazing what a difference this makes to the appearance of the loco..! Work has also been progressed on welding the spring guide bosses to the newly machined LH Driving Hornclip. 

Roddie McCrae has done more good work during the week refitting the lubrication pipework to the driving axleboxes and guides.

A final word on the Irish trip - we stayed at an Inn in Carrickfergus and were a bit concerned to be told that we were sharing our room with a poltergeist. Fortunately the spirit remained absent during our stay - maybe it approves of steam locomotives...

Eccentrics and straps loaded into the van and "seafastened"...

Bob Edwards of the RPSI with the Whitehead Yard & Works in the background

Bob's plank and his mighty barrow ready for offload...

Bob and an inappropriately dressed Doug Scott offload the RH Eccentrics..
Bob moves a pair of straps and the eccentric mandrel past GNR(I) No.85 "Merlin"

No.85 watches with interest as the straps head for the Machine Shop...

Journey's End - the parts are all safely stowed in the Machine Shop..

To the right is the lathe that will machine our parts; in the background is the ex-York Road wheel lathe - capable of turning wheels up to seven feet in diameter. RPSI CME Peter Scott gave us a quick demonstration of the machine in operation - a wonderful sight and sound..

Close up of No.85's smokebox - how do they get the door to be such a good fit...?

Alongside another blue loco....and one I definitely want to come back and see in operation. The RPSI have a fantastic mainline fleet and it's easy to understand why they are justifiably so proud of operating the only mainline compound loco in Britain and Ireland.