Watercress Line

Friends of 80150 - The Joys of Spring - 8th July 2018

Since we took on the task of 80150’s rehabilitation, one of our primary objectives has been to get our locomotive moveable again. The removal of the bogie springs whilst the locomotive was in Woodham Bros. scrapyard effectively crippled 80150 and caused chronic problems with moving the loco, resulting in numerous derailments over the years. When the locomotive eventually moved to the Mid Hants in 2011 it was shunted very carefully into the far end of the Alresford Down siding and has remained there ever since with the weight of the loco only transferring to the bogie by some makeshift wooden and steel packing pieces. The problem was compounded by the bogie’s side control mechanism being seized; decades of water pouring down, with no cab roof or floor to prevent it, had completely fused the bearing faces together.

 In Autumn 2017 we began a programme of work to unjam the bogie by removing the heavily eroded “V” strips and getting between the bearing faces with a blunted hacksaw blade and various other implements to clear the oilways of debris. Eventually we got the oil running freely and it was then time to test our work by placing a small Enerpac jack between the bogie frame and centre casting and giving it a shove. With surprisingly little force applied, the bogie moved as we hoped it would, leaving the way clear for the next stage of the operation.

With a thoroughly wet and miserable winter we were not able to do much more in our inhospitable location until the spring of 2018 when we set about descaling and painting more of the locomotive which quickly was starting to look very respectable indeed. The bogie area was completely cleaned up and by June we were ready to fit the springs which we had manhandled down to the locomotive a year earlier. As these must have been fitted to 75079's front bogie some time in the 1960s, they are not in the first flush of youth and one of them has a couple of broken leaves, but in terms of improving 80150’s prospects they could prove to be very significant indeed.

We were delighted to enlist the help and expertise of Martin and Johny from the 75079 gang and aided by our own 80150 team, the rear of the locomotive was jacked up, the packing removed and the springs gently edged into place with wooden posts and blocks. MHRPS had kindly agreed to finance the manufacture of a brand new set of spring links, the originals having also gone missing in the scrapyard, and these fitted perfectly. By mid-afternoon both springs were on and our crippled locomotive was crippled no more. Although some temporary lubrication for the axleboxes will need to be provided, the potential now exists for the locomotive to be moved and exhibited, and we are looking forward to showing off our progress to the wider world.

With one significant milestone reached we are aiming for the next one and having seen the damage caused by years of water pouring down through the cab we decided to launch an appeal for a new cab roof, the original being long gone. The appeal proved to be massively popular and we achieved our target in only 10 weeks. Our brilliant supporters have carried on donating and the appeal will remain open, meaning that we can buy even more parts for 80150’s eventual restoration. You can donate at https://mydonate.bt.com/events/standard4tankproject/456791

The most expensive parts of the roof are the top window runner castings which support the sides of the roof. Patterns for these have been located from another restoration group and the castings have been ordered. We are talking to various engineering contractors with regard to rolling the roof plate to profile,  and manufacture of the other parts and we hope to have more news soon.

Although we are still at an early stage with 80150 it is clear that the project has a great deal of momentum and we look to build on that with the help of our wonderful volunteer team and supporters. 80150 is in many ways the “Watercress Loco”; a genuine part of our history as well as our future.

You can contact us at mhr.friendsof80150@btconnect.com.

 

Martin

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