Watercress Line

Wheelie good progress

We have been quiet on the blog front (our last blog from Eastleigh being May) as we have been tirelessly working to re-wheel Canadian Pacific. I have taken over as Project Supervisor and have been grappling with trying to understand the engineering side of the project. The volunteers and staff have been very patient with me. They will make an engineer out of me yet!

In May, we had completed the alignment checks which ensured that we could get the axleboxes set up as precisely as possible. The horn liners were made and delivered to Eastleigh to be fitted to the frames. A step in the right direction but not all went to plan. A couple of the horn liners were not flush with the frames and this meant additional machining before the axleboxes could be fitted.

Eastleigh Works is becoming increasingly busy and we needed to be re-wheeled and moved back into our original space by the end of September. We had been occupying additional space underneath the overhead cranes with the driving wheels on the inspection pit beside us. This new timeline meant all hands-on deck as we rushed to get all the components down to Eastleigh for. The axleboxes were a week behind schedule as the machines were needed for work on an in-service engine. It’s a constant juggling act between restoration and maintenance. Matt and Steve worked hard to get the axleboxes finished so we could get the frames re-wheeled. Meanwhile at Ropley, the volunteers at Eastleigh worked on getting the frames and wheels ready for the axleboxes.

The axleboxes started to be delivered at the start of September and Eastleigh became a hive of activity. The volunteers test fitted the axleboxes to the frames. This is not an easy job, the space around CanPac’s frames is tight and lifting such heavy parts can be problematic. The axleboxes were then blued to the wheels, which went smoothly and only a few adjustments had to be made. The next job of re-wheeling CP was to be undertaken by Arlington Fleet Services with the help of our volunteers and staff. The day before the lift saw Arlington help us to get the wheels in line with the frames and in the correct order (a crucial detail). It was then re-wheel day! We handed over to Arlington to complete the lift and advised when the frames were to be lowered onto the driving wheels. It was a sea of fetching yellow hard hats. The lift went fairly quickly and then it was the slow progress of lowering the frames onto the wheels inch by inch. It was from my position as an observer like watching a nail biting game of Tetris. Lowering inch by inch and sometimes going back up until every axlebox was in the correct place. Finally, Canadian Pacific was back on her driving wheels and for me it was the first time I saw the engine as such.

This was not to be the end of the saga for that day. We then needed to put the trays and oil pads back in the axleboxes so we could lift the engine back on the correct set of tracks. This then allowed us to push the engine back into its original position. A job well done and milestone in CP’s overhaul.

The bogie and trailing truck are being worked on at Ropley. The tender frames have been assessed and there is a bit of work to do to this before it is in working condition. A number of the tender parts have been steam cleaned and sent to Eastleigh to be worked on. We hoped to move the cab down to Eastleigh before the re-wheeling but it will be moved down to Eastleigh later this month. Another small step in bringing this engine back together.

Work in the boilershop is moving forward. The backplate is currently being fitted to the boiler and this is progressing nicely. The new throat plate has now been ordered and will be pressed in one piece. An exciting step forward in the building of the new inner firebox. The replaced sections of the thermic syphons have been finished and have been NDT tested. The boiler has been the biggest issue with this restoration and now we are beginning to see positive steps towards getting it back in steam. Remember we are still running the Sponsor a Stay Appeal, although there is no longer a model of CP to give away, the other benefits apply. Please see www.watercressline.co.uk/canpac/donate for more details and to donate. 

Thank you for reading

Becky, Project Supervisor


Please help support the progress of the Canadian Pacific project to bring back our flagship steam locomotive and two Bulleid carriages back to life by clicking here.  You can do this by Sponsoring a Stay or making a donation. Don't forget that we need to raise funds to complete the overhaul, especially as a new firebox is costing an extra £120,000, so all support is very much needed and appreciated. To sign up to the newsletter, please click here.

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