Watercress Line

Ropley loco Wednesday Gang - 2nd August - We’re Still Here!

Somewhere out there, our reader must be wondering what’s happened to these blogs. Well this is just to let you know that we’re still here, still eating cake and still enjoying life in the Ropley Home for the Bewildered.

My grandson’s assaults on my keyboard are one reason for the three-week gap – the other reason is that there’s not a lot to report.  That doesn’t mean we’ve sat around all day drinking tea and stuffing our faces – it’s just that most of us are engaged on projects that will take some time to complete and the evidence of progress is a little repetitive.

The Bogie-men are still busy with Canadian Pacific’s bogie and truck. It’s much the same process as we reported at great length when they overhauled Swanage’s equivalent bits.  In this case it’s a little more difficult as there were loose rivets holding one of the axlebox horn blocks and they’ve had to be drilled out, the holes filled with weld, and they’re now being re-drilled. Otherwise it’s a matter of building up some very worn surfaces with weld, then grinding them back to make everything level and true.  These things are 75 years old, and I’m starting to wonder how or whether BR maintained them during their 25-year working life.

The Wadebridge Tender gang have now become the CanPac Tender Gang but progress has been rather slow as we’ve had rain for the last three Wednesdays and CanPacs tender chassis is outside in the yard.  This week saw the gang out in the rain, attempting to steam-clean the chassis, and a fairly bedraggled bunch of them gave up at lunch-time, with Sam coming to join us for some pipe-fiiting.  They’ve found a few other things to do during the last few weeks, including helping Ollie prepare the Urie S15’s chassis for painting.

We started a project to re-instate the lubrication pipework on Swanage a couple of months ago. It’s making good progress now that we’ve worked out where all the bits had been on the loco and how we can adapt them to make a maintainable system.  This has involved several days retriving, untangling, annealing and cleaning pipework, mainly done by Mike and Stu – and a lot of poring over SR drawings done mainly by Alasdair, Paul and myself. 

Last week we decided where we’d cut some of the existing pipe runs to make them into shorter sections that will allow for future maintenance.  This will allow blocked or damaged sections to be removed, and will allow the boiler to be lifted in and out without having to strip the whole system.  This means installing screw connectors in accessible places and that in turn means a lot of soldering, which is well under way. This week, Paul re-joined me and we got some of the anti-syphon hoops installed which will give us a fixed datum point for locating the pipe runs that run under the casing back to the cab, and forward to various parts of the valve gear.

The Black Five is stopped for a boiler exam and is being prepared for the cracked frame to be welded. I’ll find out more about this in the next few weeks.

There are a variety of other things going on – the usual pit-digging, sump-unblocking, locating Thomas faces, fitting brake blocks etc.  Those in the gang not attached to projects get on with these things every week, and help out with maintaining the running fleet. 

Well, my grandson is about to return from a day of chasing/feeding ducks, so that’s about all for now.

Under Assistant Ropley Scribe


Cake rota for the next few weeks:
9 August           Paul & Alasdair
16 August         Pilot-Pete & George
23 August         Les & Derek

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