Overall Update Christmas 2015
What a year it has been?
I had hoped by now the engine would be back at Toddington with the boiler back in the frames but extra work and unforeseen delays have frustratingly prevented this. I can assure you it has not been for the want of trying!
So where are we?
The main structural repair work on the boiler is complete, and has been for a little while. The boiler has had more replacement steelwork than we originally envisaged so hopefully this will stand us in good stead for years to come. After about a six week delay the large flue tubes and the small tubes are finally all in and the process of expanding them up to make them water tight is well advanced, and by the time you read this will be complete. Worth a reminder is that at the GWSR we run engines on Reverse Osmosis water which is designed to keep corrosion to a minimum and keep the water space clean, all of which will help us in maintaining a good boiler life.
So very shortly the boiler will be ready to be filled with water and hydraulic tested ready for the official hydraulic test with the boiler inspector. The thing that could just delay this further is the current cold spell as boilers can only be tested when the ambient temperature is above seven degrees C.
Once we can get the boiler through the hydraulic test we will move straight onto the out of frames steam test. All of the necessary boiler fitting have been refurbished by John Hancock and are at Tysley either fitted to the boiler or waiting to be fitted. As soon as the hydraulic test is completed we will take the grate for the firebox up to Tysley for fitting ready for the first fire and the steam test. Even here we have had to cast new central grate support brackets as the old ones had broken and the engine had been running for quite a few years with a broken bracket bolted together. New ones are already at Tysley ready for fitting. All the other grate support brackets have been cleaned and painted with a heat resistant paint just for looks as I am sure once she is fired up the paint will let go even though it is supposed to withstand 750 degrees C. Once this out of frames steam test is passed by the inspector the smokebox and ashpan can be refitted and the boiler put back in the frames ready for return to Toddington.
A lot of work has been completed to the engine. I will list just some of the major jobs to give you an idea of the workload:- (GWSR = at Toddington TLW =Tysley)
Some of the Tysley jobs have had the benefit of our volunteer labour in helping to progress things. Certainly the bogie and coupling and connecting rods have all benefited for our efforts. On top of this there has been a 1001 small jobs that have been done at Toddington or offsite by the team to make the jobs listed above complete.
The tender is now virtually complete and is just waiting for the engine and final painting.
The tender has had lots of small jobs done, mainly cleaning and painting, as all the brake gear was overhauled in 2011/12 so didn’t need doing. We did alter the flange lubricator system slightly to hopefully stop the graphite blocks snapping off.
The steam heat valve has been cleaned and lapped in as have the two main water valves. These have undergone a slight modification to see if we can stop them getting so stiff to operate.
The major workload has been the preparation of the tender sides for painting. This has included putting on top coats then flatting it back ready for the final coat. It doesn’t sound much but it certainly was a lot of work.
As I said above there have been a 1001 small jobs and the cleaning and painting workload should not be underestimated. We have had a very small team doing what we would call the final painting and what an excellent job they have done.
There is no question we are tantalisingly close to getting the engine back for the last push to get her back together. There is no doubt that the work we have done this time is to the highest of standards and we have covered a lot of ground. It has taken longer than we hoped but the quality is there!
We are working very hard and will be working exceptionally hard to get her complete ASAP, certainly ready for the start of next season!