Saturday, 3 November 2012

Achilles Report No21: Steaming Fine...

Hi everyone. After her troubled and short-lived run on Wednesday evening, "Achilles" spent Friday afternoon being cursed at in the workshop whilst I stripped the gudgeon pin and bolt out from the left-hand crosshead. I found some thread locker and, having gripped the nut slightly in the vice to bring tension onto the thread, I refitted the bits to the engine having degreased them. The thread locker was then used to get a good grip on the thread and the whole lot tightened up before being left to set. Though the fitting now looked solid, the only way to test these things out is of course to run against them. Therefore, I decided to bring the loco up to the RPMR (CMES) today for a run in the chilly afternoon sunlight. "Achilles" was wearing her traditional poppy ensemble so as to show respect for the fallen at this time of year. We steamed her up in typical November conditions on the bay, though she came round relatively quickly. We then backed off the steaming bay, through the bendy beam and onto the track with a driving truck and a passenger car.
Hanging Steam On This Cold November Day
With a bit of water from the drain cocks off we went, chugging along quite happily. The gudgeon pin nut stayed firmly in place and the locomotive steamed very well. Throughout the afternoon we ran quite a few laps of the track, turning many heads which we past on the walkways of the country park. The engine was pulling just fine, ambling along with loads of up to five people throughout the afternoon. Naturally there were a few gripes; namely a few leaks and the water pump glands seem to be passing well but those jobs can be sorted over the winter. Otherwise the engine performed very well which was a far cry from its embarrassing evening on Wednesday. Mind you, thats the way with an older engine like this, things are bound to drop off every now and again.
A few members of my family joined me at the RPMR this afternoon, with one even trying his hand at driving the loco. I do worry when other people drive "Achilles" due to her occassionally broken nature but when shes in fine form she does well. Today was a good day and the loco ambled happily around with a different driver on the regulator for a change.
Simmering Away At The Station
As the railway doesn't run for the public at this time of the year, and as "Achilles" was the only loco out on the track, the heads on the paths alongside the track seemed to be drawn to her. Many would gather at the fences along the route to watch her pass by, or simply watch her simmering away at the bendy beam between each lap. It is quite leisurely being the only engine on the track as you can just amble along and stop when you want. Indeed, the blue 0-6-0 sat feathering at the valves happily for most of the afternoon, keeping herself warm on this chilly November day.
With a couple of hours running under her belt we decided to retire the loco, still blowing off. Many people seemed in awe of her as she blew down on the bay, with full boiler pressure being released and condensating wildly in the air. She was then cleaned out and loaded into the car.
Packed And Ready For Home
Thats it then folks. Today was "Achilles"s last running day prior to overhaul. The engine has done well to last 25 years on her current bearings and bushes but many of them will be changed and the valve timing edited to make her run much sweeter over the winter. The colour scheme is also in question as that is slowly ageing as well. The livery may remain the same but will definately be repainted, whether that be over the winter or during the spring when the workshop warms up enough to allow the paint to dry properly. The plan is to return "Achilles" to service in early 2013 for running in, so that we may get her in a good mechanical condition before thinking about tackling the paint job. Maybe a red "Achilles" next year? We'll see. So thats it, the loco is now back in the workshop, cold and ready for overhaul. Hopefully it won't be long before she's raising steam again. Cheers guys. Sam.

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