Watercress Line

Ropley Loco Wednesday Gang - 11th Oct 2017 - Pressing on!

More complaints to the Travelling Ticket Inspector (ie me) that there hasn’t been a blog for a while, so here we are again. 

I noticed that a new playmate for Thomas has arrived out in the yard – it’s come from a place far away across the sea. No, not the Isle of Sodor, but the Isle of Wight.  I showed the photo to my two-and-a-half-year-old grandson and he immediately told me it was “Mavis”.  This one (03197) was allocated to Norwich many years ago, so it probably spent it’s life shunting wagon s of mustard around – probably not a very arduous task. Aussie Sam thought it “quaint” that diesels were fitted with chimneys. (Postscript: Mavis is modelled on a class 04 - cowcatchers, skirts and chimney tapering inwards - but pretty good train recognition for a 2-year-old!)

The bogie-men have been busy with CanPac’s bogie and trailing truck. The bogie’s horn block has been riveted back on and the “book of thous” has grown as the bogie-men document every aspect of the geometry of the horn guides.  Some interesting shims have been removed, which can best be described as “life-expired”.  The next job is the egg-shaped holes and worn surfaces deep inside the trailing truck’s side-control mechanism. A jolly clever device has been made to allow something to be wound back and forth – we’ll see just how it works in the next few weeks

The tender gang have concentrated on dismantling more of CanPac’s tender chassis. This week the springs came off, and are on pallets ready for testing.  They’ve also made a start on sanding off the mill-scale from the tender body – but it’s slow, dusty and noisy work.

The Wednesday Gang have done various maintenance tasks on the running fleet over the last few weeks.  76017 has been getting its annual check-up and I spotted Sam and Ian up on the running plate, putting the U-shaped covers back on various pipes that run along the side of the boiler.  Last week, a motley crew was separating the tender and removing valve covers from the 9F prior to it going away for attention to its tyres – I’m not sure whether they succeeded as a brace was being made towards the end of the day to support the end of the piston valve rod.   Dave has done a few stints of steam-cleaning springs, resulting in an interesting crop of mould growing from his boots.  It may be worth donating them to medical science as there may be a new cure lurking in there.

This week, Dave and Steve were getting filthy under Cheltenham, changing the tender brake blocks. It’s one of those 5-minute jobs that takes hours because the split pins resisted removal, and the brake blocks needed boring out to fit the pins. Dave and I were reminiscing that years ago we seemed to spend every Wednesday up to our ears in greasy, grimy crud, but these days my overalls are almost clean (-ish) when I go home. 

The quest to re-install the lubrication system back onto Swanage has continued, with lots of sections now back on the loco, complete with peculiar bends and soldered-on connectors. Mike, Stu, Paul and Alasdair have made all this possible, spending hours poring over drawings, soldering and annealing.  We’re now ready to tidy up some of the LH side pipe runs – a job for a wooden hammer – but first we need some pipe clips to hold them in  position. 

Roughly half of the dozens of pipe clips have either gone missing or are made from flimsy material so Stu and Mike made a start last week on making some new ones.  I could see from the look of frustration on their faces that this new experience wasn’t going well and the traditional methods (heat and hammer) weren’t producing a satisfactory result.   For large pipes, the clips don’t have to be accurately shaped, but for the multiple soft copper pipes on Swanage the dimensions are critical. Too tight and they won’t go on or will crush the pipes – and too loose and the pipes will vibrate and become brittle from work-hardening.

So a new approach was needed to bend the 3/16” steel accurately. It stemmed from my days hanging around press-shops waiting for bits to keep production lines going, so this week we made a simple press tool which would (I hoped) allow us to press the clips cold on the hydraulic press.  With a bit of attention to shimming I was able to bend the clips pretty well perfectly and Stu and Mike then took over and drilled and cut them to size.  We had 8 mainly-finished clips by the end of the day, and they can be finished and primed next week. That should be enough of those types to finish the LH side of Swanage.  We’ll probably need a few more but attention now has to turn to the peculiar clip that holds the anti-syphon hoops on the RH side sandbox.

More in a few weeks time.

Under Assistant Ropley Scribe


Cake rota for the next few weeks:
18 Oct             Painless & Paul
25 Oct             Keith & Iain
1 Nov              Keiran & Pilot-Pete

Photo gallery