Watercress Line

Urie Loco Society June 2017

Blogs have been thin on the ground during recent months I’m afraid, but the same cannot be said for the engineering output! The team have been working flat out on 30506, the front end rebuild of which is now complete. This has been an absolutely mammoth task which at times took us out of our comfort zone and certainly required a significant amount of lateral thinking to get round problems we just didn’t know would exist when we started. We have a small team of 4 – 5 guys who only work at weekends, making this achievement that much more incredible. To summarise just some of the work involved:

  • Accurately mark old, bent frame sections for cutting
  • Use old sections as a template to drill the new frame sections, making accurate allowance for wastage/distortion of the old.
  • Burn out hundreds of rivets to remove
  • Buffer beam
  • Centre platform
  • Valence
  • Running plates
  • Front footsteps
  • Burn out cylinder bolts, including ‘burning blind’ through a narrow opening in the front of the centre casting.
  • Securely remove cylinder blocks
  • Burn out rivets securing the centre casting.
  • Remove centre casting
  • Lift/clamp/prep/weld new frame sections to remaining old plate.
  • Repair centre casting. Temporary fit/drill/remove casting then repeat process! Ream holes on final fit.
  • Rivet centre casting to frames, in some instances using holding up bars designed by our team.
  • Cut/drill/rivet buffer beam support angles
  • Drill/rivet new buffer beam.
  • Using tailor-made cradle, lift cylinder blocks into place……remembering no pattern exists should something go wrong!!!!
  • Line up cylinder blocks, using accommodation bolts, to fairly exacting tolerances.
  • Ream all cylinder bolt holes through frames and centre casting, using a host of jigs of our own design in areas of difficult access.
  • Bolt up with fitted bolts (manufactured by MHR machinists) and graunch up tight. This included working inside the centre casting, making ‘weight’ behind a hammer virtually impossible.
  • Rivet various support angles to front end
  • Rivet front platform back in
  • Refit valence sections
  • Rivet running plate, some recovered sections and others newly fabricated.
  • Repair and rivet front footsteps
  • Rehang sandboxes

The above is nowhere near comprehensive, but it gives an idea of what we faced. We were replacing the front 9’ of a 90 odd year old steam loco, bent, twisted and generally showing all the signs of a hard working life. Allowance had to be made for shrinkage during the weld process, all done to a margin of error of a millimetre or so. The truth as to whether the job had been successful or not would show up once we attempted to fit the slide bars; front end to the rear cylinder cover (on the new plate), rear end to the motion bracket on the old. Why did we

ever worry, they were a perfect fit! Work done on ULS loco’s is a team effort so I rarely mention individual names, however this is one of those occasions when special mention is required. A master at understating his own achievements, I want to acknowledge Barry Stratton who led this project; he did the measurements and he got it right!

30506 has now been moved into the wheel-drop for the MHR guys to take over and complete the overhaul. Our spare bogie has been temporarily assembled to support the front of the locomotive and a trolley is supporting the rear. All driving wheelsets have been removed and stored prior to being sent away for tyres and journals to be turned. The ULS team have a few more jobs to finish off before we move the riveting gear up the yard to restart 499. That is likely to be next month and once we start we won’t be stopping until 499 is fully restored to ‘as-built’ 1920 condition with no smoke deflectors and the signature stovepipe chimney. Imagine the sight of her pounding the banks in glorious holly green livery; it’s going to happen and it’s going to happen on the Mid Hants Railway!

A bit of variation never goes amiss, so when the MHR guys asked us to rivet 12 spring hangers on to Wadebridge’s new tender chassis we were delighted to help. Didn’t really take us long and it meant the MHR team could keep going, so positive outcomes all round.

There is a huge amount of positivity within the ULS these days, if you want to feel the buzz why not pop along and see us on Saturday (June 17th) at Ropley. We’re having an open day for members and others alike to come along, see what we’re doing and talk with the team. The boiler shop will be open and I’m delighted to say that Andy Netherwood will be joining us to discuss the vast amount of work he and his team have done to boiler 755.

…and finally, the usual plea! To complete 499 we still need money. Membership and Appeal forms are available for download from our website, www.urieloco.co.uk , maybe you could consider signing up and being part of a truly unique project?

Thank you for reading this, I hope to see some of you on Saturday.

Mark

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