Watercress Line

Ropley Loco Wednesday Gang - 31st January 2018 – The (Super) Moon Shines Bright

After a few days of endless gibberish about Super, Blue and Blood moons I was rewarded by the beautiful sight of the moon as I drove home through Odiham yesterday.  I’d been on my weekly pilgrimage to Ropley where for the second week now, we’ve had the benefit of the heating system. It made a pleasant change to be able to move about reasonably freely, unencumbered by layers of fleeces and jumpers filling up the remaining available space inside my boiler suit. 

Les & the bogie-men (aka Keith, Welsh Pete and Derek) were busy with CanPacs trailing truck, and 30506’s bogie.  CanPacs trailing truck chassis is one very large steel casting (unlike the fabricated WC truck) and the bogie-men have been struggling to restore the surfaces and holes that carry the side-control mechanism. It looks very much like the original casting was either distorted or not very well made, because the sliding surfaces are well out of alignment with the bosses that carry the shafts and side-control springs. This resulted in the holes wearing egg-shaped. The sliding surfaces have now been restored and machined, and the egg-shaped holes are being bored out on proper alignments to be fitted with bushes to support the side-control shafts.  Les has developed an ingenious machine to do this, driven by one of our mag drills – you can see this at work in the photos.

30506’s S15 bogie wasn’t perfect either – but it did have the excuse of 40-odd years of hard BR service. At some point in its life, the wear surfaces had been ground back and plates installed. These too had worn – unsurprising as they carry the weight of the front end of the loco, somewhere around 20 tons.  Les had new wear-plates which he plans to bolt down into place, then to grind back to perfect level using a variation of the grinding frame he developed for the other bogies.

A couple of blokes from the tender gang took the pickup off to the SVR, while the others helped with painting the footbridge and scraping the S15 wheels back to bare metal. They will be re-painted and fitted when the axleboxes have all been machined.  Meanwhile the boiler is ready for testing, and the chassis has been painted so this loco is making pretty good progress.

We’ve had to stop both Black Fives (45379 and 45231, with grate/ashpan and superheater problems respectively. I’m not sure how the superheater repair is going, but new sections of ashpan have been welded into place, cut using the CAD drawings produced by Pete(rsfield) a while ago.  Sam and Russian John were persuading the hopper door mechanism to work, after straightening the shaft.

The 9F has been re-assembled, ready for the loco section to go off for tyre-turning. The tender wheels have already been treated so it will be ready for the new season. It was undergoing a boiler test this week.

Alan, Paul and I finished off the lubrication pipework on Swanage’s LH side last week. We’d had a few setbacks along the way, mainly due to a smudgy section of the very complex drawing. Having re-installed some bits for the umpteenth time, we gave it all a check-up with compressed air and all the LH side pipes are labelled and proven to lead to the right place. This week, we made a start on the RH side, with the anti-syphon hoops that attach to the sandbox.

As a way of spending leisure time this may all seem a bit weird, but how many people get the chance to play with such a giant set of Meccano?

Under Assistant Ropley Scribe

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