Watercress Line

Ropley Loco Wednesday Gang - 1st August 2018 – 50th Anniversaries

There’s an impending 50th anniversary coming up very soon - my 50th wedding anniversary.  I lived in Bedfordshire in August 1968 and steam locomotives had quietly slipped away about 3 years before, practically unnoticed, so my attentions had moved on by then.  At about the same time in 1968 there were some people in flat caps in a far-away country called Lancashire who were watching the last steam locos eking out a lingering decline, but in my locality, this went completely unnoticed as we focused on Lambrettas and Watneys Red Barrel – not a happy combination.  Meanwhile in another far-away country called Hampshire, at least people could watch steam going out in style in 1967’s "Waterloo Sunset".  This was also largely  unnoticed north of London, so the “50th anniversary of the end of steam” doesn’t really mean that much to me.

We had a huge Wednesday Gang turnout this week, but luckily, there was an equally huge supply of cake.  There was lots of discussion of political ineptness, roadworks in the Wokingham area, cyclists, etc - but strangely, I don’t recall anyone mentioning “the 50th anniversary" although we were all around at the time.

So, with all these people around, what did they all get up to?

Mike and Dave-2Jags continued with their ground-breaking efforts to erect a new fence alongside the shed lane. There’s a bit of shade under the conker trees, but it’s been hot work, in difficult conditions.  The end result looks pretty good. It’s neater and safer for our visitors, and will discourage the “storage” of superfluous lumps of large metal in this area.

Work on the S15 is quietly progressing without much input from the Wednesday Gang.  The tender was lifted from it’s bogies last week, and presumably they are being progressed by one of the other groups.  Dr Bob’s painty fingers have been at work, and the sections of boiler cladding are now partially painted.

 Les and the bogie-men continued with their quest to get everything on CanPacs bogie & truck straight and true.  One of the jobs this week was grinding the horn blocks on the bogie to get them both flat and true. This involves wiping engineers blue across the surface with a bit of flat steel in contact with known reference points.  The blue bits are then ground back until the whole surface is true.  This weeks horn block still shows the original machining marks along one edge and as the blocks were almost certainly machined at right-angles in the 1940s, it’s possible that the bogie frame has distorted around the axle-box horns, causing them to go out of true.

Dave-2Jags and his team were drilling out fitted bolts from CanPacs tender chassis, releasing large lumps of wasted steel plate.  This chassis is going to need some serious work before the body can go back on.  A bit of a shame as it gives us nowhere to mount the brake rigging that my little team have started on.

The Swanage pipers are now engaged in assessing the brake rigging for CanPac's and Swanage's tenders.  Although Swanage’s tender might look like a West Country tender, it's built on the chassis of Merchant Navy 35025 Brocklebank Line's tender and uses brake crossbeams from carriage stock - so it’s a bit of a mongrel.  The two chassis’ are otherwise similar - CanPacs being a short wheelbase version originally from 35006 while Swanage’s is the longer wheelbase tender fitted to later batches of Merchant Navies. 

Out in the sun, Alan, Mike and Stu were cleaning up and measuring the holes in CanPacs tender brake rigging so they can make a new set of bushes – somewhere around 50-60 will be needed.  Unless we can find the pins that came out of the rigging, they will also need to be made. We’ve searched the containers so we may have to send a team to Eastleigh as we’re running out of possibilities.  Meanwhile, Dave and Paul were cleaning paint out of the bushes from Swanage's brake gear so we can assess whether new bushes are needed there. They’ve also been freeing up the lugs that carry the brake-block adjusters, and checking the ratchets on the brake adjuster turnbuckles.

While all this was going on I was attending to various computer “issues", accepting a donation of PCs from one of our readers (thank you, John), and sorting out some of the "features" we’ve identified since we got a copy of the Ashford works drawings for the tender brake gear, so I don’t think I did anything especially useful except lug heavy bits out of the container and check the results of the pin-hunt.

These three gangs – the Bogie-men, the Tender Loving Carers, and the Swanage Pipers seem to have a life of their own, lending a hand elsewhere when called upon. But there is a lot of other work that goes on elsewhere, which is rarely reported here. This week isn’t much of an exception, but I do know that some of the Wednesday Gang were involved in retrieving vital parts (faces) for the Days Out With Thomas event, and fitting bits back onto the Class 03 shunter.

That’s enough for now – more after we've all recovered from DOWT.

Colin
Under Assistant Ropley Scribe

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