Watercress Line

Ropley Loco Wednesday Gang - 16th August – All the usual fun, plus Chocolate!

A couple of fun-filled weeks have passed since my last blog.  We had a successful week with Thomas the Tank Engine, which gave me a couple of days of TTI-ing and a day out with grandson Thomas – all very enjoyable. Enjoyable that is, until that naughty Thomas puffed smoke at him while he was on the Harry Potter bridge – not something that tired two-year-olds always enjoy! One of the highlights was the nice family whose kids were about to tuck into a chocolate Thomas – they’ve since sent me details of where to buy one.

Last week, several of the gang assisted with the construction of a new brick arch in the Black Five’s firebox.  Historically, the arch was indeed made from fire-bricks, but these days it’s made from ceramic cement poured into a plywood former.  This involved a lot of work with cement mixer, wheelbarrows and buckets, which had to be done with military precision and conistent speed.  A slightly ghostly-looking gang emerged afterwards, having completed the job and transferred a  fair amount of cement dust onto their boiler suits.

Les and the Bogie-men have made steady progress with grinding flat the sliding surfaces on CanPacs bogie and Les pronounced himself satisfied with the finished result yesterday afternoon.  He’s been battling with inconsistencies which turned out to be caused by the bit of glass he was using to blue-in the surfaces, which had long ago adorned the top of Steve’s granny’s chest of drawers. It turns out to have been rather less flat than he’d assumed with a 30 thou bow in it.

It’s been great to see bits of Standard Tank 80150 taking shape in the workshop. There are new steps in progress, and salvaged bits being overhauled. Martin is well chuffed!

You may have noticed that it’s rained on almost every Wednesday since the gala. This has resulted in the tender gang steam-cleaning CanPacs tender chassis in the pouring rain, defying the laws of physics – otherwise there hasn’t been a lot of progress.  This week saw them out in the sunshine, stripping brake rigging and other components to allow the frames to be cleaned and painted.

My happy gang of pipers have been annealing pipes, sweating off sleeves, and soldering on connectors for Swanage’s lubrication system.  The big challenge has been to discover just where the SR engineers intended them to be routed, as this isn’t all that clear on the drawings.   This wasn’t helped by some brackets that we now know had been re-installed upside-down when the frames were painted.  This job will probably keep us busy until Christmas, then there will be another group of pipes fitted that go to steam brakes, sanders, steam chest pressure gauge and the oil tank pressure gauge.  The vacuum and steam heat pipes are already in place and if theres any space left, Morley can install the electrical conduit that runs through this forest of pipe-work. It has been asserted that Mr Bulleid used the air-smoothed casing to allow these locos to use carriage washing plants, but I’m now fairly sure it was to hide all this plumbing.

In between sorting out pipe-work I also got a group started on testing a spare spring for the Black Five that arrived a few weeks ago. Aussie John and Roy did most of the work, with encouragement from Pete(rsfield) and George. The results have been documented and passed on for review.

Alex the ex-apprentice is leaving us for a position at the Statfold Barn Railway. The whole Wednesday Gang turned out to hand over a parting gift, and for Welsh Pete to make a mercifully short speech..  Alex has been an absolute treasure since he joined as an apprentice – always cheerful and ready to help us wrinklies with advice, tools etc. We’re sorry to see him go, and wish him well in his new position.

Lastly, an appeal for help: Roger, who is building the air-smoothed casing on Swanage, needs an assistant to join him on Mondays (and possibly Thursdays). No previous experience is required but a bit of sheet-metal knowledge would be useful.

Another update in a couple of weeks time.

Under Assistant Ropley Scribe


Cake rota for the next few weeks:
23 Aug             Les & Derek
30 Aug             Pete(rsfield) & Dave-the-scribe
6 Sept              Steve Jones & Paul Segar

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