Watercress Line

Urie Blog 30 April

I cannot believe that it’s almost 6 months since I last reported on our activities in the ULS – that old adage that time passes faster as you get older certainly appears to have a grip on me! The good news is that in those 6 months we have achieved a great deal and have now set ourselves some pretty tall targets for 2014.

Tender 3208
It’s virtually finished! – and now sits outside the loco shed at Ropley having been shunted to make way for the frames of 506, see later. Those of you who remember the detail of my twaddle will recall that up to now we have always referred to the chassis of the ‘new’ tender as being 3214. However, following further investigation by our own ‘Sherlock’, more information has now come to light which makes us as certain as we ever will be that it is, in fact, 3208 which originally ran with another Urie S15, no. 504. We are now keen to add any photos we can obtain of this tender to our archives, so if you do have any images you are happy to share of 504 with 5,000 gal tender please let me know. I can be contacted via the Society’s e-mail of urieloco@hotmail.co.uk.

Since my last report, strengthening brackets for the raves have been formed, fitted and painted. These are there simply to support the raves from the weight of coal rolling around inside the coal space and, in our case, from possible damage if it gets caught by the coaling bucket. Low level water fillers are a late addition to our plans and we fitted these over a couple of days before Christmas – their purpose is to make water filling by hose a bit easier for the crews. The handbrake column is now loose fitted and just awaits the brake shaft – a 4’ length of 3" steel bar turned down from a collar at one end to a length of approx. 2’ of single thread screw at the other. Because of the time and size of lathe required to make this, it will definitely be out-sourced to a contractor. With the column in place we were able to make some necessary adjustments to the R/H sandbox (that’s code for cut a lump out of the bottom to get it to fit over the brake column bolts). The cab floors of these early S15’s were originally made of wood, but with a build-up of ash and dust over the years and rain running into cracks and crevices, these floors would eventually rot. In an effort to ensure the floor on this new tender lasts as long as possible, we have decided to use an open steel framework supporting heavy timber planking. The idea is to allow as much muck and water as possible to fall straight through and prevent early deterioration. The framework has been made from heavy angle and is now in situ, primed and painted. The tank has now received a coat of primer, several layers of filling undercoat and a domestic gloss topcoat for protection. Although this tender has been built to run with 499, it will initially run with 506 when that loco returns to steam sometime in 2015.

Underneath, the weighshaft has been repaired with a new arm manufactured by our own team, most of the pipework fitted and tightened and the vac cylinder bearings overhauled. The vac cylinder itself, whilst fully overhauled as previously reported, will remain in safe storage to avoid possible damage during the lifting to take place this year. Lifting?? Our plans for 2014 involve lifting the tank and placing it on accommodation bogies which are currently stored at Alton. 3208’s own bogies will then be checked and any remedial work carried out – although we don’t anticipate much required. Whilst fully accessible, the bogies will be cleaned and painted before being reunited with the tank. By the end of the year we expect to have a completed tender ready for ‘lending’ to 506. For anyone interested, the ‘accommodation’ bogies are those from 825’s tender when it was purchased from Barry.

506
Work on the loco has been in abeyance now for some months, allowing us time to focus on tender 3208. Now though, with the tank complete, a midweek shunt has brought the tender out into the yard and 506 now takes its place in the main shed. The first job has been removal of the valve liners before the cylinder blocks are sent away to a contractor for remedial work. The cylinder block draincock threads were unserviceable, so these have been rethreaded to an increased size of 1 3/8" using 12tpi whitworth threads in old money. 6 new draincock adaptor flanges have been made (3 per block) and we are now in the last stages of removing all carbon build up from the bores. Our thanks also to the midweek volunteers who have done a fine job of needle-gunning the blocks themselves. Once at the contractor’s premises, the main jobs to be undertaken are:
1. Make new valve liners – cast iron
2. Possibly re-bore the valve chests to ‘true up’
3. Re-bore to oversize the piston bores and fit new liners
4. Possibly re-face the cylinder cover faces
As a point of interest, to fit the new liners they are first shrunk in liquid nitrogen then offered up and left to normalise in situ. As the normalisation process occurs, the liners expand back to produce a solid fit.

499
Up on 499, work continues to strip the loco down. The right hand running plate has been removed and new plate fitted. Not all the rivet holes are drilled yet, but the job is progressing well. New splashers have also been made up ready for fitting. At the front, work continues when time permits to dismantle the engine. The large platform which sits in front of the smokebox has been removed – at the moment this is now in store awaiting a decision on whether or not to re-use it. The blastpipe studs have been burnt out, allowing us to move the blastpipe further back. Eventually, of course, we will need to get it off the loco altogether – we have the means to do that, more about this another time! Various wasted bits of tin from the smokebox area have been burnt off with the gas axe and, as of last week, we’ve started removing the left hand running plate. Our temporary cover now offers a degree of protection from the elements, meaning we can continue working through the inclement weather. The 2 vacuum reservoir tanks for the braking system have now been removed – way beyond salvation, so 2 replacements will eventually have to be fabricated.

As ever, I will commit to try and get back on track with more regular updates, but business does sometimes get in the way! We will also keep updating our website, www.urieloco.co.uk where you can find historical information about our engines plus details of the 499 Appeal. As I’ve said many times, the more we have contributed to the Appeal, the more work we can contract out, therefore the sooner we get to that day when 499 and 506 pull into Alresford together! If you do feel able to offer financial assistance by way of a donation to the Appeal, or sponsoring a seat on the commemorative train, I can guarantee that your money will be used directly in the restoration cost of the loco.

Thank you for reading

Mark

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