Saturday, 5 October 2013

Achilles Report No41 and Post 100 of 2013!...

Hi everyone. Today my 5" locomotive "Achilles" was off to RPMR again. It was the monthly Members Running Day at the track and there were plenty of other engines in action. Part of the blue tank engine's reason for attending today was the impending expiry of her 14-monthly steam test certificate. As the certificate was within weeks of expiry I decided to get in early and have the engine done so that it would be sorted. A Steam Test for an engine like this is fairly worry free as long as the engine is performing well. An owner will often notice the tell-tale signs of faults that could potentially void a steam test so that they can be rectified. Firstly, whilst cold, the pressure gauge is checked, as is the all important 'red line'. For those that don't know what a 'red line' denotes, it is there to show you when the safety valves should lift and shows the maximum working pressure for the engine. In the case of "Achilles" full pressure is 90psi. With the gauge checked the engine is looked over whilst cold with water in the boiler. Anything obvious like leaking tubes or firebox weeps will show up during this. The home-made copper boiler on "Achilles" has always been a good one, and Ken has often told me so! It certainly has had no problems at all ("touch wood"!) since I've had the engine.
 
With the boiler checked the fire can be lit and the engine is brought around into steam as normal. Once the engine is in steam then the safety valves are required to lift (both of them) at 90psi. Furthermore, they have to maintain the maximum boiler pressure to within a small percentage with the blower valve fully open. With a strong, full fire in the box the blower is opened right up and both valves will lift. Once lifting violently, the valves should, as I say, maintain near working pressure, perhaps crossing the red line only slightly. As usual "Achilles" powerful blower was kept up with by the safety valves and the then stationary boiler had passed so far. You then need to demonstrate that you have at least two means of putting water into the boiler. "Achilles" currently carries an axle-pump and a hand-pump, with the latter being tested on the steaming bay where it easily calms the safety valves down and carefully fills the boiler: showing that it works! The water pump is tested on the track and so, as we would of anyway, myself & "Achilles" went for a run...
After a very pleasant afternoons running with both pumps working well and the boiler steaming brilliantly, "Achilles" had passed another steam test. It was also nice to see someone else driving the engine again today: Eric took the engine for a couple of laps whilst I sorted some stuff out. Apart from the springing: which will be rectified this winter: the locomotive is performing very well indeed and I can't really knock it. Sauntering around the track following the other engines, the loco will steam easily and if you don't keep the water pump on it will be blowing off before long. The coal we are using at the minute, although from the same supplier, seems a lot better for the engine as it steams a treat on it. However, as always, some of the other owners have reported problems with this coal. Different engines, ay! Below, "Achilles" waits in a traffic jam on the bank later in the afternoon...
Test Passed - Job Done
Well, that's another steam test passed and the engine is now certified for another 14 months of running. I don't know how many more runs we'll get in in 2013: hopefully at least one: but at least she's ready when she's needed. Right then, now to a little more of a blog issue. We are now on Post No100 of 2013. Last year it appeared in November, and the year before that it appeared in late October. So, yet again, I've beaten myself! We are now just under 4 weeks ahead of Post 100 of 2011. My god this year has been busy: I need to slow down! Thanks for reading folks. Best Regards, Sam...

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