Saturday, 4 January 2014

Achilles Report No45: Welcome 2014...

First RPMR Steam in 2014 (P.Wilson)
Hi guys. Happy New Year and welcome to 2014. This is the first post so lets get going. This morning, though the weather looked dull, myself & Eddie decided that we would take our engines to RPMR for the monthly Members Running Day. "Achilles" would be in steam, whilst Eddie's newly completed 3.5" 2P 4-4-0 would be having its first in-the-frames hydraulic test. Though the rain was falling and the skies looked bleak, I had decided that I wasn't going to be put off today, having lost a run to rain on New Years Day. This would be the engines last operating day in steam prior to an upcoming large strip-down which will see her out of action for a few months so I wanted her to have one last bow before this began. Today I was trialling some different coal, with very smoky results. However, despite the smoke, the coal gave off some brilliant heat and the engine seemed to burn it well. To keep the smoke down, the fire required a good draft and so when running along with the regulator open all was fine. However, on the quieter and calmer draft of the electric blower, the smoke was quite strong!...
"Achilles" Raises Steam (P.Wilson)
As I said, the coal gave rather smoky results!...
Full Size Engine Smoke?! (P.Wilson)
The engine steamed up easily on this chilly day and I took her for about 7 or 8 laps of the track. She steamed well and pulled well, though she would with just me on the back! Her valve timing still seems rather crisp and her water pump was also functioning well. It is a different engine now really, to drive at least. You used to fight with her a little bit and she was very much keen to stick to 50psi when motoring along. This is why you would have a job hauling heavy loads as 30psi by the top of the bank with 2-cars on is a bit too little steam really. However, these days, the engine will happily chug around the track with her valves feathering. The water pump is then turned on to A) calm her down and B) fill the boiler. When you reach 45/50psi on the gauge you can open the bypass and the water pump will pump back into the tank via the return line rather than into the boiler. The steam is then yours to keep pulling the train with. By the time you've done another half a lap (as long as the fire is bright) the engine will be back up around 80 or 90psi again and the process can be repeated again. She maintains 1/2 a glass of water quite happily and is quite happy to be brought down to 30psi with a good fire if you need water in desperately or you want to make up the level. With a strong fire in the box she'll soon bring herself back around with little coaxing as long as you don't rush her. Naturally, the harder she works the better she steams as one adult isn't really much for her...
On this hideous afternoon it wasn't surprising to see that "Achilles" was the only engine in steam. I had expected this fact before I even set out from home! The 2P, having not had to be steamed, was tested down near the workshop out of the rain. Happily, the engine passed its hydraulic exam. Anyway, back to us...after 7 or 8 laps I decided enough was enough. The engine was clearly operating well and, with more rain on the horizon, I thought it would be a good time to call it a day. "Well done old gal"...
"Achilles" Blows Down After A Successful Run
Having rode home in the Saxo, "Achilles" was put safely back on her work-bench in the dry and warmth of the workshop. Now the real work begins...stripping her down. This strip down will be the biggest the engine has had since being built over 25 years ago so its bound to be strenuous. Naturally I will keep you all informed as to how it progresses...watch this space...
"Last Time In This Livery?"
Well, that's it, welcome to 2014 guys! I hope you enjoy reading this years posts! I have a lot of plans on the horizon and I can tell you now that there will be plenty to read about as it happens. Unfortunately though we have to get winter out of the way first! Best Regards, Sam...

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