Watercress Line

Ropley Loco Wednesday Gang - 26 April 2017 - Next Bogie Please!

The sweet small of success continued this week - at least, I think that's what it was!

The Wadebridge Tender Gang got the buffing plate onto the loco-end of their tender chassis, having already painted the back of it, and the dragbox surface. I believe they may have had a short diversion onto pressing 9F bushes back into the connecting rods, but I was otherwise engaged at the time. Then they went on to attach the remaining springs, declaring they’d finished the job some time in mid-afternoon.  I think they left about then to celebrate with a cup of Ropley tea and yet another slice of cake.

Les and the Bogie-men carried on with blueing-in their axlebox bearings to ensure that everything would fit together, then around lunch-time they carefully lowered the bogie onto the waiting axle-boxes and wheelsets.  They still have to fit springs and lubrication pipes etc but they are almost ready to move onto overhauling CanPacs bogie and pony truck – if indeed that is their next mission.  It would be a shame to disappoint them!

Elsewhere in the workshop Ollie was busy needle-gunning Swanage’s tender – never a popular job with anyone else in the workshop as the tender body amplifies the noise.  Alex and Roger repeatedly climbed up and down the side of Swanage’s smokebox fitting the new sheet metal casing, needing a helping lift from time to time while they trial-fitted it.   Morley was up in the mezzanine planning out the electrical circuits and conduit on CanPac and Swanage.

Steve was planing Swanage’s main axle-boxes, but Paul and I interrupted him to ask if he would entrust us with the task of silver-soldering the fittings onto the lubrication pipes we’d annealed a couple of weeks ago.  Steve has (quite rightly) been a little reluctant about this as there is a real skill to this job that is only acquired with practice.  But we knew that there are hundreds of these joints to be silver-soldered and if we could develop the knack, it would save Steve from having to do them all.  The worst thing that could happen is that they might leak a little bit of gravity-fed oil (on a Bulleid!) and we’d not be touching anything that carries pressurized steam.

So, Steve gave us a 15-minute lesson and we found some scrap bits to practice on, before setting out to solder the real thing.  It’s true there is a knack, and our first one was possibly a fluke, but reassuringly successful.  Somehow we must have applied just the right amount of cherry-red heat to just the right places to get the solder to flow into the joint and leave a decent fillet around the oil pipe. 

So far - so good.  With our new-found confidence we moved onto the next one, and it seemed to be going well till we found that we’d put too much solder through the joint and it had run down through the brass fitting onto the cone-shaped mating surface.  This had to be filed and melted out to give an oil-tight joint.  Well, we expected this might happen, and indeed it did on the third one too.

By then we were possibly getting the knack and the next four all went OK. Does this make us experts? I doubt it!  But we feel ready to tackle the other 16 of these short pipes before moving on to the multitude of others.  Before they go on the loco, the corrosive flux will need to be removed, and the pipes will be blown through to remove the carbon deposits caused by the heat of the annealing and soldering processes.

An update on this exciting story next week!

Under Assistant Ropley Scribe


Cake roster for the next few weeks:
May 3              Alasdair & Pete(rsfield)
May 10            Dave-2Jags & George

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