Hi guys. Well, with her having slumbered since November, I thought that todays steam up at RPMR would be a good chance to get "Achilles" out for a run. A program of planned winter repairs to the engine has yet to begin and the original plan was to get started around now. However, CMES is also planning its own repairs to the track at the pools and today would be the last opportunity to use the entire track circuit for some weeks. Therefore, it seemed to be the perfect chance to get up there and have one last run (for a while at least) with both the engine & the track. The loco was the first on site and was duly unloaded, with her riding truck, onto one of the steaming bays. Other locomotives soon followed including a Butch, a Simplex and a Polly IV amongst others. "Achilles" steamed up nicely with her relatively new Polly blower and then sat quietly simmering away on the bay with 80psi on the clock, whilst I changed into my overalls. We then steamed onto the track and enjoyed a good few laps with the old girl. Although she clanks and bangs like mad, she still has a good amount of pulling power and, with the right draft going up the chimney, steams well.
Throughout the day we had several different loads behind the drawbar, including four people at one point which, surprisingly, proved no problem for her as she completed two laps of the track. There are a number of niggling problems which are starting to get on my nerves so they will be rectified first. These include a few minor steam leaks and some new O-rings for the water pump. The next problem is the valve gear which requires immediate attention. The crossheads in particular are badly worn and that is what is providing the majority of my clanking noises.
|"Achilles" Crests Ryton Bank With Steam to Spare (M.Sweatman)|
Following a good couple of hours running we retired from the track in order to dispose, pack up and get home for a warm. Though there was no frost today, it was VERY cold. I think the phrase "thats it old gal" is appropriate here as that will definately be it now for "Achilles" until I can get some of this work done. The cab in particular requires some repairs, along with those pesky crossheads. I would have thought that the next time she'll get a steam up is April-ish when hopefully the new crossheads will have been milled out and fitted. Cheers guys. Sam.