Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Achilles Report No29: In Steam...

Hi guys. Today I briefly steamed "Achilles" in its half-rebuilt guise in order to see if there were any leaks in the fittings I had repacked. The gauge glass and the whistle turret have both been successfully sealed and the new gauge glass rubbers were working fine. The blower gland still needs sorting but I can do that when I get around to it. The engine steamed up carefully with her electric blower running at a slower speed, in order to bring her around slowly on this very cold day. The valves blew off at the required 90psi and she sat simmering happily away with a good fire burning in the firebox. I had been trialling charcoal in the firebox for lighting up purposes as I am told that some people use it in the same way as parrafin wood but, honestly, I think the wood is much better, especially when lit with a fire-lighter to get it off the mark. Below, we can see a good wood fire burning brightly in the box with a trail of parrafin spill making its way down the backhead...
With the loco steaming well as a stationary boiler and no real faults to report, I decided to block it up in the air so as to allow the wheels to turn over. Slowly but surely, easing the regulator open in full forward gear, "Achilles" wheels began to bind as the steam pressure starting to push the rods. As usual, she didn't move first time. Instead I had to shut-off steam and then move the wheels by hand, allowing the supposedly "auto" (though the term is used loosely) drain cocks to open and release untold amounts of water. With the water expelled, a light touch on the regulator got the engine turning over freely, rocking back & forth on the work-bench. In fairness she did go OK, apart from the steam chests leaking slightly at their lids, as well as the drain cocks remaining open all the time. The latter problem is a plague I find with auto cocks, and these will be replaced with manuals before she hits the track. One problem that I was annoyed with was the water pump. The double-acting axle pump has two rams which force water from the tank into the boiler along a bypass system. However, I think the 'O' rings on the rams have finally worn out and so "Achilles" is chucking water all over the place, with the clack on the side of the boiler remaining very hot throughout running, and suggesting no feed whatsoever. Luckily the engine is still in the earliest stages of testing and so there is plenty of time to sort these jobs out, though I'm still aiming for April 6th. After a brief test to see what needed doing before a proper, full steam test, I decided to blow the engine down which, as she was in the workshop, involved putting her out on the drive...
"Wierd Thing To Have On The Drive!"
After disposal the engine was put back on her work-table and left to cool with all valves open to prevent freezing: this winter doesn't seem to be ending any time soon! Her 'naked' look (no chimney, dome or cab) was partly down to the fact she is under test and not quite finished yet, but also due to the fact that I have had some of the brasses professionally polished, as I do now & again. Below, we can see the chimney cap and the dome shining like mad. You cannot possibly get this finish by manual elbow-grease alone...
Now you all know the secret of "Achilles" shiney dome cover which I think looks fairly impressive when out on the engine. You can literally see your (or my) face in it!...
"Shiney"
With that said, you can probably guess why the brass is not currently on the engine. The loco is grimey and covered in muck from all the work she's had done, plus the sealant for the steam chests, coal dust and PTFE tape waste and god knows what else. The brass will return to the engine when it returns to the track in (hopefully) April. Thanks for reading guys. Sam.

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