Watercress Line

Ropley Loco Wednesday Gang - 3rd January 2018 – Happy New Year To Our Reader

It’s nearly twelfth night, and Christmas and the smell of boiled brussells sprouts is but a fading memory for most of us. All except the folk tradition fraternity which sees an upsurge of morris dancing, wassailing, mummers playing and wren hunting at this time of year. There’s still plenty more of this to come as a lot of it operates to the pre-1752 calendar when the clocks were wound forward by 11 days by decree from Rome (a classic case of EU interference to get all the worlds calendars in sync).  The highlight so far has been New Years Day with Wickham Morris which included some of the above, and ended with a spirited sing-song including “The Ballad of The Watercress Line”. Mercifiully, this little ditty didn’t make it into the top 10 back in the day – but it gets an airing every New Years Day whether it’s justified by artistic merit or not.

Whats been happening at Ropley? We all enjoyed our Christmas Lunch provided by the West Country Buffet and the essential ride in Hammy to deliver us all.  We got through the Santa Specials and Home-on-Leave thanks to the loan of Black Five 45231 (Sherwood Forester) – our own Black Five being laid up with an ashpan/grate problem.  In the very last few days of December though, 45231 and Cheltenham both suffered failures so they are on our list of priorities.

Petersfield Pete has been doing CAD drawings for replacement bits of ashpan for 45379 and various bits (hopper doors etc) had been removed ready for the repair. On Wednesday at least Sam and Demelza were cleaning tubes and removing grime and obstacles from 45231’s smokebox, in order to make the superheater header accessible. I’m told this will be repaired at Ropley..

The entire bogie-men team were absent on Wednesday, so there’s nothing much to report there, and the love-me-tender gang were strangely quiet out in the yard.  It turned out they were cleaning the bogie wheels from the 9Fs tender, which had returned from SDR with new tyres.  The roller bearings are still attached and there was some attention being given to them and to the horn guides, followed by some serious scraping to prepare the backs of the wheels for re-painting. I understand the 9F is due to go to a wheel lathe somewhere for tyre turning in the next few weeks.

Dave turned up around tea-break and selected the important task of sorting out this years contributions to the Ropley Strategic Spanner Reserve.  The “Spanner Mountain” resides in one of the containers and in the past, we’ve done this job under Frank’s watchful eye. Every time we attempted to dispose of a surplus spanner, Frank would interject with “ Oh no, that’s a 1953 Invicta ¾ inch Whitworth” or some such thing and the mountain just kept growing.  We all miss Frank’s watchful and encouraging eye, but his absence made the spanner sorting a whole lot easier this time around.

The Swanage pipers were a bit depleted as Stu has gone off to work on a Mercy Ship off the coast of Cameroon and Paul was AWOL, so Alan and I reached the milestone of having all the oil pipes fitted to the LH side of Swanage, at last.  This involved getting the twelve reluctant pipes into the correct positions in their brackets/clips under the firebox and cab sheeting, then fettling them to get them to lay reasonably neatly.  We still need to blow air through each in turn to make sure they are clear of obstruction, and that the label on the end does correspond with where the oil is supposed to be delivered to – up to 50 feet and several sections of pipe away.  I think Paul has a pipe clip to finish off too, but we should be starting on the RH side pretty soon.  That should be a whole lot easier as we’ve all learned a lot from doing the LH side.

More from the fun factory in the next few weeks.

Under Assistant Ropley Scribe

Cake rota for the next few weeks:
10 Jan              Aussie John & Alasdair
17 Jan             Paul & Pete(rsfield)
24 Jan             Dave-2Jags & Derek
31 Jan              Keiran & volunteer-needed

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