Update February 2020
In November 2019 we had to stop our engine as it had developed a water leak in the firebox from what they call a palm stay. As we also had some firebox lap seam rivets, (these rivets hold the inner copper roof sheet to the copper backhead sheet together) needing replacement we took the decision to transport the engine to Tysley Locomotive Works for this work to be done. So in November the engine moved to Tysley for the work to be done. Whilst there we also decided to look at the Coupling and connecting rods as something was starting to knock when she was coasting.
You may have read elsewhere that the Erlstoke Manor Funds engine 7802 Bradley Manor has suffered a catastrophic failure in the West Somerset Railway when the Piston rod broke inside its connection with the crosshead. The resulting damaged had put the engine out of use and needing a new Cylinder block assembly. So we took the view we would strip 7903’s rods from the crossheads and investigate the taper fit between piston rod and crosshead. Whilst doing this we would replace the white metal bearing faces of the Crossheads as these had not been done since we first overhauled the engine at Blunsdon.
The boiler work went very well and was completed around the New Year. A few of us went up to start disconnecting the coupling rods ready for TLW to remove them and recheck all the bearings. In the end Alistair Meanley felt only the left hand Big End bearing needed the white metal replacing. Both crossheads needed their white metal replacing. However what they did also find was the fit of the left hand Piston rod in its crosshead was not good and had been showing signs of starting to move. Alistair Meanley’ s advice was that the tapered hole in the crosshead should be built up with weld and re-machined. The taper end of the piston rod was then skimmed and the two tapers machined to fit each other perfectly. This apparently was a common Swindon Works repair. Alistair was authorised to carry out this work.
As the engine was also due its annual boiler exam the engines boiler was washed out before it went to Tysley and the cold exam was completed by the GWSR Insurers there. Tysley then refitted all the Mudhole doors and washout plugs and the Hot examination with our Insurance Inspector took place on Friday 28th Feb. To carryout this steam test Foremarke was attached to Tysley’s Hawksworth Tender belonging to 5043 Earl of Mount Edgecombe. The really interesting fact about this tender is it is the one we as a group bought and brought out of Barry to Blunsdon. We later sold it on as we purchased our current tender frames from Swindon Works and which were significantly better and much more complete.
In the meantime at Toddington we have been giving the tender some winter maintenance part of which was a tender bearing lubricating pad inspection. Part of that inspection was to clean out the underkeeps and pads and refill with clean oil. It was just as well we did as we found the middle drivers side bearing had a problem with its white metal surface. This bearing had to be taken to Tysley for replacement white metal and re-machining. We then refitted the bearing and made the tender mobile again. What was interesting is the same bearing in the same position on the Earl’s tender also gave TLW a problem in the past. The tender tank has also been washed out and the buffer beam cleaned and repainted. The front dragbox area, this is the area that faces the back of the engine and is normally not accessable has also been cleaned and repainted. A repair to the left hand tender intermediate buffer, (this is the buffer that pushes against the back of the engine) was also stripped cleaned and a missing locking plate and cotter remade and fitted.
As I write this Sunday 1st March the engine is due to be loaded at TLW tomorrow midday and arrive at Toddington Monday evening. She will be unloaded Tuesday morning and me and a team will be there through the rest of the week to get the engine ready for service the following week.
Tender Frames that now run behind 5043 Earl of Mount Edgecombe
Swindon Works Tender frames being prepared for winching across to the Blunsdon running line from the disconnected storage siding.