Watercress Line

Ropley Loco Wednesday Gang - Picnics are back!

Our reader will be reassured to know that my domestic situation continues to be chaotic – the kitchen is still not complete and we have the added complication of a leaking pipe elsewhere in the house that left a trail of things to be sorted out. This makes it all the more attractive to spend the day at the Ropley blokey health spa – an oasis of calm and tranquillity.

After the “morning briefing”, the Wadebridge Tender Gang seemed to disappear somewhere and I didn’t see much of them all day.  Dave explained at lunch that the spring hanger brackets were not to drawing, so the bearer pads needed to be reduced in thickness. I’m not sure whether they were being modified or re-made.

Swanage now has wheels!! Well, it has two and they are fitted into the trailing truck. A lot of very careful jacking and packing was required to get the truck up to the right height so the wheels and axleboxes could be rolled under it. There was a bit of jiggling to get it all aligned but by the end of the day, the trailing truck was sitting on it’s own wheels for the first time in about 4 years.

Another gang formed up to help Alex with retrieving various re-usable bits from Swanage’s scrapped casing.  This was stored out in the container yard and had already survived one major de-forestation exercise to discourage the buddleia that had moved in.  There was more buddleia and quite a lot of heavy stuff out there to move first, so the fork truck was taken along to assist with that.  Alex and Dave wielded the gas-axe and by the end of the day there was an impressive heap of scrap metal and presumably a smaller heap of salvaged bits.

Paul and I got on with pressing newly metalled and machined bushes into Cheltenhams connecting and coupling rods. This involved lots of lifting, trolleying and fork trucking to get them into the right place, then back again – so a big thank you to all who helped with this, especially Ollie who seems to have a particular expertise with these.  But first we had to do a bit of identification.  I’m used to the idea that the long ones are the connecting rods (from crosshead to driving wheel) and the shorter ones are usually the coupling rods (coupling one wheel to another).   Not so with Cheltenham. Due to it’s extraordinarily long wheelbase the coupling rods are about 11ft long while the connecting rods are only about 9ft.  Quite a beast to manouvre in the confines of the shed, especially when we realised we had to do a three point turn with one to get it the right way around for fitting.

The two coupling rods, and the small ends of the connecting rods, were a doddle as the bushes don’t have any securing devices requiring precise alignment. They went straight in with only a couple of tons of pressure.  The first big end went well too – tricky to get the threaded part of the bush and the threaded part of the rod aligned, but the securing bolt went in with no trouble.  The last bush of the day – the RH big end – proved to be more of a challenge. We lined it up, pressed it in and found it was a little over 1/32” out. So we tipped it over, pressed it out, scribed various alignment marks and pressed it in again. Same result. Good luck with that one, Thursday Gang!

Towards the end of the day, Cheltenhams driving wheel-set was lowered into the wheel-drop, and both Thomas and Cheltenham were hauled out, allowing Cheltenham’s wheels to be re-fitted.  Matt and Mark had worked wonders to get it to that point.  Thomas gleamed in the sunshine, showing the quality of the paint job that Ollie has nearly finished.  The pistons and valve gear have still to be fitted so there will inevitably be some touching-up to do later on.

The undoubted highlight of the day was the weather – making it the first picnic lunch of 2017.  A big thank-you to the folks who donated computers.  That gives us a working spare and the second one will allow some further upgrading when its owner brings it up from Bridport in July. And lastly, we haven’t forgotten 80150. Martin is quietly organising working parties and accumulating donations. If you can help in any way, please contact him at friendslof80150@btconnect.com

Under Assistant Ropley Scribe


Cake roster for the next few weeks:
22 Mar 17             Pilot Pete & Dave-2Jags
29 Mar 17             Colin Morris & Alastair
5 Apr 17                Graham & Derek
12 Apr 17             Steve J & Keith
19 Apr 17             Colin Austin & Iain
26 Apr 17             Paul & Pilot Pete

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