Watercress Line

Urie Blog June-July

Whilst the dry weather of late hasn't been particularly kind to the MHR (fire risk and consequent withdrawal of steam services), it's certainly been a big help to the ULS guys working on 499! Working out in the open, we’re very weather dependent so a warm, dry spell for us is almost like winning the lottery! Over these last couple of months the cab has been almost completely reassembled, with the new sides, lower front sections and spectacle plate all back on the loco. Efforts are now fully focused on the cab roof which is being completed ‘off loco’, to be lifted back on as one piece once its completed. The current workload is to ‘rivet’ all the roof sections and angles together, but as a group we don’t have either the time or manpower to do this; so we’re welding bolts in instead. To give an idea of the work involved, each side of the hole is countersunk, a c/s bolt is fed through from the outside then welded up in the inside countersink. The rough weld to the inside and bolt head to the outside are then ground flush – the only problem is there are about 400 holes requiring this treatment!! For the next few weeks it may appear that nothing much is happening on the loco – but look closely & ye shall see.

Because the area where the group is based is directly under the ‘Harry Potter Footbridge’, we have also begun to have a bit of a tidy up and sort out of our accumulation of all things ‘useful’! Jobs like this can be a little frustrating because they can easily use up what precious little time we have on a weekend, but the group recognises the desire to present a neat environment to our paying visitors.

Down in the wheeldrop, tender 3214 is moving ever closer to completion. The last major job has been started with the fabrication of the handbrake column (following purchase from the NRM of a set of drawings). The shaft - a 4’ – 4’6" length of large bar with a 2’ screw thread cut at one end – will be put out as a contract job because we simply don’t have the time to do it. Hopefully the MHR machine shop will be able to take it on as we like to keep things within the railway as much as possible. The bronze nut which goes on the shaft has been cast but is awaiting machining. The bucket cock which is used for testing the depth of water in the tank is now fitted; it can also be used to provide water to wash down the cab floor and other ancillary jobs. The sandbox lid hinges have been fabricated by our engineering team, so the only outstanding item here is a bit of non-slip mesh to be welded onto the lids (sandboxes can provide a ‘step’ into the coal space when the tender is finally in service). Elsewhere, the vacuum cylinder has now been completely overhauled; the grooves inside the cylinder (which provide a rough surface which the rolling ring uses to create a seal) have been cleaned of all muck and corrosion, the piston has been refurbished and a new bush made and fitted. Once overhauled the cylinder was reassembled - a fiddly job because it’s paramount that the rolling ring (a large rubber O ring which runs up and down between the top and bottom sections) – doesn't twist and cause an imperfect seal. If it does twist during reassembly then then whole thing has to be taken apart and the process started again.

Work on 506 remains in abeyance whilst we await delivery of the new frame sections, which are due to arrive today (22 August).

Please don’t forget, if you have any specific questions about our projects then I can be found at Ropley most Sundays or contacted by e-mail, urieloco@hotmail.co.uk. You can also visit our website, www.urieloco.co.uk

Mark

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