Sunday, 16 June 2013

Achilles Report No35: Pulling More Than A Little!...

Hi guys. Today it was the turn of my loco "Achilles" to have another outing: it has been out quite regularly so far this year! I was rostered for one of my three-a-year crew days at Ryton Pools Miniature Railway and, as Emma (a fellow steam die-hard) was in charge we had decided to have a steam up all of our own on the 1pm - 4pm public running. "Achilles" was present, and Emma steamed the clubs Sweet Pea "John Owen". The third and final loco was Dave's 0-6-0 Polly IV tender engine which was making her public running debut I believe. Arriving at about 11am, the loco's were unloaded and prepped on their steaming bays, slowly but surely. Two train rakes had been made up especially for this unusual occasion. At about 12:20, "Achilles" & "John Owen" stood blowing off at the head of their double-headed 4-car train. Unfortunately, on the initial test lap (as always seems to happen during these events) "Achilles" failed. She had blown a gasket somewhere and had also lost an important coupling rod nut. I retired the loco with much annoyance to the steaming bays where the Polly IV, known as "IVY", was gradually raising steam.

"John Owen" coped admirably on its own, driven by Emma, before being joined at the head of its train by "Ivy". The pair then continued to double-head for the remaining 2.5 hours or so of the running...
Sunday Steam at RPMR (D.Strapps)
Whilst all this was going on I was doing my best to repair "Achilles". I hate being beaten in these trying situations and when I noticed that she had failed even before the official 1pm start time so I had bags of time left to fix her, I decided not to give in. I stripped the R/H running boards off and the cylinder cover as well as the drain cocks and reverser lifting link and discovered that the loud whistle of escaping steam was coming from the steam chest cover. I quickly removed all of the bolts and discovered that about 1/5 of the gasket had ruptured and blown out. Rattling around through the bottom of my toolbox like a thing possessed, I found that I had all of the tools to form a new gasket and so set to doing so asap. A gel gasket was laid down and allowed to dry for a few minutes before replacing the thoroughly cleaned top and tightening it down in stages; slowly and squarely. The engine still had water in and was very hot and so a small wood fire brought it back into steam quickly. A mid-gear regulator test confirmed that the gasket was still slightly leaking and so I tightened the nuts up a little more, completely sealing the steam chest. Thank goodness! With one problem gone I found that Geoff had luckily discovered my missing coupling rod nut which was duly loctited back on to within an inch of its life! The loco was then resteamed a 3rd time and returned to the track with high hopes. We were determined not to be beaten!

The 2nd train consisted of 3 cars which I was a little apprehensive about as we steamed around to the station, though I was very keen to uphold the "all steam" plan and not let the battery electrics come out to play. The first trip consisted of a load of 6 adults & 4 children, including myself & the Guard, which I thought would stop us dead on the bank. To my surprise, it didn't(!), and "Achilles" went up there at normal pace with good pressure and notched up to boot. I was very impressed. In fact, here we are returning on that same train to Ryton Halt, with myself still in complete disbelief!...
"Achilles" On Her Heaviest Ever Train at RPMR (D.Strapps)
The three engines continued to perform well for the rest of the afternoon and "Achilles" certainly received some pleasing comments from both club members and the public alike. I was very surprised at the loads she pulled, and how well she did so. At 4pm however I was glad to leave the track as "Achilles" had begun to choke up after 2 hours of heavy running and of course all that messing around first thing...
I must say what a fantastic but also tiring day this was! I was glad to get the loco fixed on site but, phew, what a stress. I was however very happy with her in the end and was pleased that her presence, and that of the other two steamers, was so well received by the public. Thanks guys, Sam...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It was a great day I thought. I really enjoyed myself and JHO performed very well. I was really impressed that you got Achilles repaired and back in action in a short space of time. Others would have called it a day. All credit to you Sam, and Achilles sure acquitted herself well with some very heavy loads pulled! All in all a great day. Thanks for you support in making it an all-steam day. Emma-Claire.