Watercress Line

ULS – Platework Ordered

499
Work since my last post has mainly focused on the cab roof. The platework and rolled angles have been sourced, shaped, cut and dry fitted. Once we were happy with the finished product, the whole lot was taken down as one piece, welded up, cleaned up, given a coat of red-oxide primer and finally painted with a coat of black gloss. Once dry, the section was lifted into place and will be on display at the forthcoming Spring gala. When the weather finally improves, the cab will be completely dismantled, cleaned back and any rust/millscale removed. The component parts will be individually primed so that all edges are protected and then reassembled on the loco for final riveting/bolting as relevant. 
The cab windows have now been cast, but there is a good deal of finishing work to be done before the apertures can be cut in the spectacle plate.
Because the loco is based out in the open, structural work is not possible on every weekend – the inclement weather renders cutting and welding impossible. On these occasions our engineering team have concentrated on pipework and ancilliary projects such as injector brackets.
Next project is replacement running plate, although this will not be fully fitted as it must be lifted when we deal with the frames... which brings me to the cracks. Those of you who have followed my posts for the past couple of years will be aware that there are serious cracks in the frames, at least one of which runs from top to bottom. Upon further inspection, we have determined that the loco is suffering from the same level of frame wastage as her sister, 506. To this end, we’ve decided not to mess around and will replace the front 4 mtrs or so of frames, effectively taking out the cracks. Although this means the replacement plate will require cranking, quotes have been obtained and the price is nothing like as horrendous as we thought. Consequently, profiled plate has been ordered and will be stored until such time as we are ready to strip the engine down.


506
Following removal of the cylinder blocks last year, all remaining bolts and rivets in the frame sections to be replaced have been removed. As part of the recent crane operations at Ropley, the centre casting has also been removed, meaning the frame sections are now ready to be cut. The casting itself has been needle-gunned by the mid-week staff. Nothing further will happen now until the new sections arrive on site, so work on the loco is in abeyance. HOWEVER, the new platework has been sourced by Steve Humby from the MHR and is now on order. We don’t yet have a lead time for delivery, but I’m guessing it won’t be long – and when the material arrives it will be all systems go!


Tender 3214 
Work on the new tender took a backseat whilst we stripped 506, but more recently it has again become a focus point. After a few adjustments with the aid of an angle grinder, the final section of top plate has been bolted up and welded in place. Inside the tank all weld beads were tapped with a chipping hammer to remove any remaining welding slag. Once this was finished, the tank was then brushed through and finally hovered! It may seem a bit extreme, but we want to avoid unnecessary scraps floating around in the water once the tender is in use and all the risks that go with that – worse case scenario is blocking and damage to the injectors. Side sheets to the front of the tank have been drilled, countersunk and dry-fitted, whilst the left hand side has been drilled to take the water depth gauge. The gauge itself has been removed from store and is now bolted on to the tender front. The sides and back have been completely cleaned down and a coat of red-oxide applied. Underneath, the sieve has been fitted into the sieve box and work has started on the pipework to the injectors.

Last year I promised a separate article on 506’s boiler. For various reasons this hasn’t yet happened, but please bear with me – its coming!

A potential major financial hurdle was the need to buy 4 new sections of frame for our 2 loco’s. In reality the cost has been nowhere near as bad as we expected, so work can proceed on all fronts. However, there is a limit to the amount of work our voluntary engineering team can do at weekends, so the more work we can outsource then the sooner we can return both engines to steam – I’m particularly referring to 499 here. So, I’m back to the Appeal! We have the financial resources to rebuild 506’s frames and do the lion’s share of 499’s mechanical restoration – including its new frames. However we still need to raise funds to complete the boiler restoration. The 499 Appeal was launched last year after the Society gained charitable status and has already raised almost £20,000. It’s a fantastic achievement, but we still need more and I’m hoping readers of this article will be able to help. Full details are available on our website, www.urieloco.co.uk but in summary all sums, however small, are gratefully received and for anyone able to donate £499 (lump sum or payable over 5 years) there is the reward of a seat on a special commemorative train to be double-headed by 499 & 506. I urge any of you who can contribute to please do so – the group is moving forward, the engines will both steam again, and the more funds we can raise now, the sooner it will happen. As I’ve said many times before, I’m nearly always at Ropley on a Sunday and will be delighted to meet any of our supporters and show you what’s going on. I can be contacted through our e-mail, urieloco@hotmail.co.uk

As ever, thank you for your interest in our projects

Mark

PS – apologies for the quality of some photo’s, I guess it’ll soon be time to replace the camera!

Photo gallery