Watercress Line

75079 Update August 2016

A quiet celebration that the final corner of the firebox cladding is complete. In fact, the boiler cladding is almost there with just a few bits of final trimming and fettling, plus painting to do. The bands that fit around the cladding sheets are in place and have been tightened to hold everything secure. All the cladding has had to be newly made as none of the old pieces were salvageable. The new handrails have been refitted including the double curved handrails that are fitted on the smokebox.

Where possible original pieces of the loco are refurbished and reused; one example of this is the dome cover – the dome cover had rust holes and was very dented when we started on it. Many hours of panel beating it back into shape, careful filling and sanding returned to the original condition. It now sits on top of the loco in shiny black.

Parts of the cylinder cladding has been removed to enable the many copper lubrication pipes to be made up and fitted underneath. Once the lubrication pipes are completed, the cylinder cladding will be replaced with insulation installed. Work has been carried out to refurbish the flanges under the cylinders where the cylinder drain cocks will be fitted. The anti-vacuum valve castings fitted to the top of the cylinders have been machined and fitted and are just waiting for the valve itself to be machined and fitted. The oil boxes, grease blocks, and many pipe unions have been made – the lubrication system on the loco is complex to say the very least.

The lubrication pipework for the bogie has been finished and will be connected up with flexible hoses once the bogie has been reinstalled. Once the newly cast axle box has been machined and the four axle boxes white-metalled and machined, the bogie will go back underneath the loco and the front end will be substantially complete.

Work has progressed on the sanding gear with the sand boxes in place and with the sandtraps cleaned up and fitted. The supports for the rear large sandbox had been cut off at some time so new pieces were made and fitted to the frames using new studs screwed into the frames; considering the weight of a full sandbox it came as rather a surprise when taking the rivets out of the old supports to find they were loose enough to push out by hand. The sanding ejectors have been cleaned up and new jets fitted, and fitted to the loco using the support brackets and adjusters made some time ago. A start has been made on the sand pipes themselves but the job is not proving as easy as it first appeared with a complex shape to avoid axles and brake parts and a need to ensure a continuous vertical flow of the sand.

Many jobs can only be done to a certain point and then must wait for other pieces to be completed. Examples are the vacuum piping and steam heat pipes where new valves need to be machined before they can be completed. The large diameter pipe connecting the ejector to the smokebox has been bent to shape and much machining done with only the final flanges to be made.

Preparation work for removing the driving wheels has started in earnest. Mixtures of penetrating fluid, diesel, and oil have been poured over the axle boxes, horns and horn stays in the hope that the parts will separate easily. After much labour both the leading and driving wheel horn stays have been removed – only two more to go.

Another example of an original part being refurbished is the boiler pressure gauge. A rather battered example had been obtained but with careful cleaning up of the face and the casing, new glass, and polishing to remove corrosion from the brass casing an original BR pressure gauge could be used. The gauge has been successfully calibrated and has been loaned to fellow Standard 76017 while theirs is being sorted.

In complete contrast to the delicate work on the pressure gauge, the heavy work of building the footplate extension has been completed. The footplate extension is the section at the very rear of the cab upon which the fall plate from the tender rests. The original footplate extension (sometimes referred to as “the reward” was extensively corroded and it was possible to see where the fall plate had worn through the top plate and had been repaired in BR days. The fabrication consists of two large plates that rivet to the back of the frames with six substantial web plates topped off with a large sheet of barley plate – our thanks go to our friends in the Urie Group for helping us with the cutting of the barley plate. Considering the footplate extension is for the crew to stand on, one wonders how heavy they thought the crew might be. The shovelling plate has also been fabricated so that the wooden cab floor may soon be fitted.

Underneath the footplate at the rear of the loco is the dragbox and boiler support. This fabrication is a key part of the frames and is the piece to which the tender is connected and which takes the full weight of the back of the boiler. It is a huge piece of work to fabricate the dragbox and needs to be done with great accuracy to ensure it is fully square and an accurate fit between the frames. All the parts have been cut and profiled and work has started on getting the parts prepared for welding.

No further work has been possible on the tender and work can only be started when a suitable flat area of concrete standing is available as the base for the build up of the parts. The cross members and tender drag box are well travelled, being stored in one of the vans of the goods train. There are many casting for the tender which have been obtained, examples being brake hangers, spring hangers and horns – these all need machining and are being progressed as and when resources are available.

We have a long way to go but we are making tangible progress on a locomotive that will be perfect for the Mid-Hants in terms of power and economy.

Photo gallery