Watercress Line

Santa’s Mystery Present

Everyone was back to normal this week, having recovered from Christmas excesses and the lurgies that seem to upsurge during the festivities. So we sat down to a slice of Victoria sponge, out of date mince pies, and a long steel screw, that Santa had apparently left for us.  After the usual ramblings, we concluded that it was a reverser screw from an unidentified loco – possibly an S15.  Andy-the-boss duly appeared and ran through the list of new and ongoing jobs and off we set.

Cheltenham’s intermediate overhaul continues.  One of the items being attended to is the vacuum brake cylinder.  The cylinder sides had worn smooth so they’d been machined to make microscopically small ridges to give the rolling rubber sealing ring something to grip onto.  The cylinder was being re-fitted into Cheltenham by a team working under Matt or Marks guidance.

Another Cheltenham job was to remove the bushes from the connecting and coupling rods. Paul had done one of the coupling rods earlier on and I joined him with another couple of helpers to tackle one of the connecting rods.  It probably weighs in at about ½ ton so it took some manouvring to get it through the shed to where it could be lifted by the fork truck into position on the hydraulic press. We left the rods from the other side to give the Thursday gang some exercise.

The railway had recently bought two A-Frame gantries, and the kit of parts was lying in the station yard when we arrived.  By the end of the day, one had been loaded onto a truck and taken to Eastleigh and the other had been assembled and erected in the shed.  This was no easy feat as these things are taller than the shed doors – I’ll leave the rest to your imagination.

The usual gang was working on Wadebridge’s new tender chassis.  The 12 spring hanger brackets had all been taken off and re-drilled to accurately fit the bearer pads.  They are now being re-drilled to align them properly with the holes in the chassis, using a drilling template. The holes for the retaining bolts were also misaligned and these are being re-drilled - slow work with the mag drill and a very long bit.

Up in the mezzanine, the “walking wounded” team (a complete misnomer) spent the day scanning and photographing paper drawings. This little project is nearing completion and gives us a secure copy that is fully indexed and backed-up off site.

Les & Co continued with their task of getting Swanage’s bogie and truck fully aligned.  Les and I borrowed a spirit level from the carriage shop to check the alignment of Swanage’s frames where the bearer pads transfer load to the trailing truck.  This appeared to show that the rear end of the frames were twisted giving a difference in height of 5/16” between the left and right sides (that’s 312.5 thou for Keith’s book of thous!). This will need a bit of analysis to determine the cause and remedy.

During our visit to the carriage shop, Gordon showed us progress on one of the Bulleid carriages. He’s getting ready to remove the life-expired timber and replace it with newly machined and prepared bits.  This is no simple task as they all had to be cut to Mr Bulleid’s  curved profile. Gordon explained that the modern kit in his workshop makes this a quick and easy job by following a profile pattern.

Out in the yard, the 9F was going through it’s annual insurance inspection, and Thomas had arrived, ready for an overhaul and a lick of paint.


Happy New Year to our reader – Mrs Trellis in North Wales.

Under Assistant Ropley Scribe


Cake roster for the next few weeks (Thanks Paul):

18 Jan 17            Aussie John, Keith
25 Jan 17            Pete(rsfield), George
1 Feb 17              Andy-the-paint, Pilot Pete
8 Feb 17              Colin Austin, Aussie Sam
15 Feb 17            Colin Morris, Painless

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