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Ropley Loco Tuesday Gang - 10th March 2020

The regular volunteer Tuesday Gang are a small (usually about six of us) group of fine chaps who get a thrill from hitting steam locomotives with sledgehammers when required in the course of maintaining the beasts. We are tasked with various maintenance and restoration jobs as required by the full-time staff.

10 March 2020

A couple of us replaced a couple of firebars in the firebox of 'Cheltenham', then assisted while it was shunted onto the pit road before the ashpan was raked out (which is normally done each time the locomotive is lit up).

While we were doing that, some of the rest of the Gang were cleaning out the tender sandboxes and ensuring the sandpipes were not blocked. The old sand was collected and taken into the workshop to be dried before being returned to the sandboxes. The tender sandboxes are used when running backwards as the sand pipes on the locomotive are set up for forwards running. If the sand gets damp it clogs the simple gravity feed system. The locomotive sanders use steam to draw the sand out of the sandboxes.

Once the loco had been shunted along to the end of the pit we removed the middle piston rod gland packings which have been blowing past in service were removed. Once removed, a couple of us spent the rest of the day lapping the gland segments before they are machined a little at the end of each segment tomorrow. That will allow the springs that surround the segments to hold the segments closer against the piston rod.

We also cleaned out the pit, just before 41312 returned from a freight photo charter to dump more ash into the pit.

Bill Read

Photo gallery


  • Looking into ‘Cheltenham’s firebox, two new firebars were fitted into the dark area on the right hand side, in line with the bent bar. 'Cheltenham' is fitted with a three-section rocking grate which has replaced the original fixed front section of firebars

  • Two of the three sections of piston rod gland packing from the middle cylinder of 'Cheltenham' before we started lapping them. The three segments to each gland packing has two springs wrapped around them to hold them in place inside a carrier