Watercress Line

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Ropley Loco Wednesday Gang - 5th June 2019 - Time to come and see ‘506

Another update from the Ropley Loco Wednesday Gang. Since the last one, we’ve eaten a fair bit of cake, spring has turned to summer, and Urie S15 (30)506 has been officially launched into traffic.  Now that its officially launched, I can show some of the photos I’ve been accumulating over the last few weeks.

The paintwork on the loco looks splendid – the result of a lot of care and attention by Heritage Painting and an immense amount of scraping and cleaning by just about everyone.  Last week several of us were under 30506 attending to a few final jobs.  Richard and I tightened up the front drawhook – which seemed a natural progression as I’d been fitting Swanage’s drawhook only minutes before. 

We also fitted the locking-plates that secure the nuts at the bottom of the coil springs on 30506’s middle axle.  This is a case where a picture would speak a thousand words, but alas I was too busy and my hands were too greasy to take a picture.  But all is not lost (literally) as I took a picture in March 2013 shortly after 30506 was brought in for it's overhaul. The Urie S15s have two helical springs on each side for the middle axle – and inside each of these, is a smaller spring.  A large “bolt” through the centre of these then transfers the weight of the loco onto the axle-box.  The locking-plate ensures the nuts don’t move after the weight on each axle has been set - you can just make it out amongst the grime in the picture.  This was a design feature of the Urie S15s but was superceded on the later Maunsell S15s, which had leaf springs throughout.

This week, 30506 was receiving a ceramic cement base in the bottom of the smokebox. As it covers the flanges where the steam pipes attach to the casting below, it’s prudent to wait until after the proving runs, in case the steam pipes need tightening.  This cement seals up any gaps in the bottom of the smokebox and protects the massive casting that contains the steam ports and the bogie pivot.  I can recall the daunting task of scraping and cleaning this monster about 5 years ago.

Keith, Les and Welsh Pete have been busy with Swanage’s coupled-wheel axle-horns, using their custom-built gadget to machine them flat and true.  Keith explained that the gap between the horns was considerably wider at the bottom than the top, despite the horn stays being in place.  Today’s task was to take 27 thou off one of the horn guides for the front axleboxes.

Meanwhile Swanage’s coupled wheels are slowly being scraped and chiselled to remove 70 years of crud from the pockets so carefully designed into them. The Bulleid-Firth-Brown wheels may be lighter than spoked ones but they are a lot harder to get clean for painting!

The CanPac tender chassis gang have been waiting patiently for new platework to be bolted and welded into place, and in the meantime they’ve mainly focused on moving stuff around the site. Today was no exception as there were plenty of heavy castings to store away or prepare for shipment. 

Alan, Dave and I have been working our way through CanPacs tender brake rigging, with Alan and Dave making new bushes while I press them in and return them to store.  We discovered that the racking in the storage container wasn’t really up to the job, so we’ve spent some time re-deploying a lot of heavy parts to allow the racking to be upgraded. 

Today, I found an opportunity to receive a tutorial on the use of the gas-axe so as a practice run, Bob and I cut up an old digger bucket, and Bob showed me how to tackle the trickier thick sections. I’ve been wanting to get some training on this, as there’s a fair bit of scrap around the site that needs cutting up.

Lastly, I drive home past the Butts in Alton and have noted that the girders and decking for the new bridge are now in place on top of the abutments.  I’m sure there is plenty more to do, but this seems like a good sign.

Under Assistant Ropley Scribe

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