Saturday, 21 September 2013

Achilles Report No39: New Steam Chest Gasket...

Hi guys. Today "Achilles" was again receiving some minor maintenance. Anyone who owns or is ever involved with any kind of steam locomotive will know that they rarely run perfectly time after time and that there is always something to be done. Last time I ran the loco at RPMR the other week I noticed that the R/H Steam Chest cover was leaking steam and oil a little. This gasket has proved annoying in the past and has been sealed twice this year alone, with this being the third time. I had been using a gasket gel: commonly used on car engines: but steam, as it does with most things, seems to find its way through after a time. This time therefore, I have opted for the old fashioned method and have used gasket paper. The engine is due to run at RPMR tomorrow and, as its public running, the engine will find itself working quite hard and the steam would have destroyed the already leaking old gasket gel if not rectified. Eddie kindly allowed me to bring the engine over to his workshop to have this little job done. "Achilles" is kept at home normally and there is space to do these jobs though, as Eddie's workshop is so much tidier and more 'user friendly', the engine often finds itself there it seems! The first job to do is to remove the running board and steam chest cover before cleaning up all of the surfaces as much as possible...
The Uncovered R/H Slide Valve
Having cleaned the surfaces a template is taken for the new gasket using the steam chest cover as a trace for holes and size. The centre section of the gasket can then be cut away using a fine, sharp knife. Using a bit of steam oil to help the job along, the paper is pushed down onto the studs which should come neatly through the holes. Eddie seems to be a master craftsman at this job!...
With the gasket down and sitting square, the steam chest cover can then be refitted carefully. Tapping down each of the four corners to make the cover square is then followed by fitting the four corner nuts first. The other nuts & washers can then be fitted and the whole ensemble tightened down slowly...
Me Tightening Up Nuts
With the cover back on we had a well-deserved cuppa'. The engine is now theoretically fit for service though I did leave the running board off so as to allow for a test tomorrow before the running commences. The admission of steam into the chest at 90psi (full pressure) should show up a leak if there is one. You should also wait until the cylinder is truly hot before attempting to get another slight 'nip' onto each nut if possible, trying where possible not to strip any threads! If the test proves successful then I can simply put the running board back on and start pulling trains. Lets hope all is well! Cheers guys, and thanks must again go to Eddie for allowing "Achilles" to visit the Eddie Steam Locomotive Repair Centre! Regards, Sam....

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