Watercress Line

Ropley Loco Wednesday Gang - 29 August 2018

Officially Meteorological Autumn so we need to get on with those outside jobs before the weather changes, and at 7.30 this morning it did feel like autumn with a chill in the air.
On arrival at Ropley a lorry was waiting to unload a Traction Motor for one of our 08 Diesel Shunters and a Track Panel, complete with Buffer, for delivery to Medstead.  After some manoeuvring the Traction Motor and other parts were offloaded and the lorry sent on its way to Medstead.  
Last Tuesday I had the pleasure of introducing Anthony Pile to the loco named after his grandfather, 34058 Sir Frederick Pile, a Bullied Light Pacific of the Battle of Britain Class. The loco was built in Brighton in 1947, was named at Waterloo in 1948, re-built at Eastleigh in 1960 and withdrawn by BR in 1964. As our reader  will be aware, at the start of the Second World War, General Frederick Pile  was made General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Anti-Aircraft Command, a position he held throughout the war.  He was the only British general to retain the same command throughout the entire conflict.  The loco was donated to the MHR some years ago and currently sits in the head-shunt at Alresford.  Anthony joined the Society, so welcome to our newest member.
Back at Ropley on Wednesday, a number of non-loco-related outside jobs were on offer.  The first of these was to give the Merlo coal loader a clean before its annual inspection.  Given our military theme this week it was interesting to see a retired Squadron Leader and retired Brigadier with bucket and sponge in hand.  Overall I think they did a reasonable job.
One of the other major jobs of the day was to clean out and free up all the points in the Yard and replace a number of rotten and broken sleepers that sit between the tracks.  Peter, John, Jim and Graham made a start on the points whilst Michael, Dave and I contemplated how we were going to cut the sleepers.  Aussie John marked up some of the sleepers for cutting but unfortunately feeling unwell before lunch, he was taken to hospital in Basingstoke. The good news is that he was released later that day and will hopefully be back with us soon.  Get well soon John.
Michael disappeared from site and sometime later returned with a saw and so after lunch cutting commenced in earnest.  By midafternoon we had made good progress so decided to call it a day and carry on next week. Well those sleepers are heavy!
Iain and Colin continued to drill out yet more rivets from CanPac’s Tender Frames and at this rate it will take at least another month to free the drag box.  Richard and Pilot Pete meantime continued with grinding and facing the inner frames ready for the welding of the new profiles when they arrive.
Our colleagues from the Boiler Shop were beavering away inside the smoke box of the 9F. I noted that the blast pipe had been removed but didn’t get time to find out what they were actually doing.
Wednesday was also our last opportunity to see the Black 5 in service as its Boiler Ticket expires on Sunday 9th September.  We took every opportunity to take in the site and sound of it as it left Ropley.  Something we won’t see again for some years.
Until the next time.
Dave 2Jags.

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