Saturday, 11 January 2014

Achilles Report No46: The Great Destruction...

Good evening everyone. As you may have read in last Saturday's post, "Achilles" had a good running session at RPMR. However, the run was mainly in aid of an upcoming strip down which really came into its own today. With the heater on to combat the freezing weather outside the workshop, I sat down alongside the engine and got to work. Slowly but surely, she came to pieces. Kind gestures of cups of tea in the "Achilles Mug" came in now & again and kept me going as I already had a cold! Having been completed over 25 years ago, myself & Ken concluded during a phonecall the other night that this would be the engines biggest strip down since build. She was repainted once after her build but I don't think the chassis was done, mainly the large cosmetic bits & bobs. My first job was to remove the cab/bunker section and the left-hand tank top. This is all held on with small BA bolts and I can safely say that there is nothing metric on "Achilles"...not yet anyway! With the tank top off you can see the base of the tanks. The bolts were obviously put into carefully drilled holes and then soldered in place so as to guard against any leaks. By peering underneath the running board you could see the nuts & rubber seals that hold the tank firm to the framing. Having undone these and removed the L/H nameplate, I pulled on the tank lightly and it groaned before coming away from the engine. Over 25 years of accumulated grime and Brasso residue littered the boiler cladding; no wonder really. Having wiped over the cladding to get the worst of the grime off it was time to remove the mechanical lubricator that is carried on the engines left-side and lubricates the cylinders. The delivery pipe was uncoupled and the container/pump section removed as well as the running boards. At this point, the engine looked a little bit like this!...
Bearing in mind that this is the furthest I have ever gone with "Achilles" in terms of mechanical work, I was still feeling rather confident and interested. Naturally, with each part that came off, I was learning how my engine went together and all this is valuable knowledge for the future. With the left-hand tank off, I turned my attention to the left-hand valve gear. All of this was duly removed with some help from the blow-torch to burn away any long-lasting Lock-tite Screw-Thread which: as most steam engine owners will know: is an invaluable resource! With the Lock-tite burnt off the nuts came away easily and the pins could be removed and safely stored. The entire LHS was soon gone and only one slide bar remained...
With the loco now completely stripped on the LHS, I took a welcome break for lunch. After a hearty hot meal I returned to the workshop and began stripping down the RHS once the engine had been turned on the work-bench. The RHS tank came away even easier as the LHS counterpart also carries the emergency hand-pump which also had to be disconnected. In the view below, we can see the lengthy reach rod which follows the boiler barrel to the weigh-shaft...
With the RHS tank off, I decided to have a look at the cab. To get the cladding off the manifold would have to be removed which meant removing the whistle and pressure gauge as well as disconnecting the feed for the steam blower. The whistle delivery line was also removed as well as the old, dented whistle itself...
The locomotive then had her four brass boiler-bands removed before the cladding reluctantly came away. A common thing to replace when cladding comes off is boiler lagging and so the old stuff was removed and barrel cleaned. This is the first time I had ever seen the bare boiler of "Achilles". It was all proving to be quite a learning curve. Anyway, as my enthusiasm began to wain and the ill effects of my cold began to take over, the engine looked a little bit like this...
Following the removal of almost everything else, the only remaining thing to do was to remove the RHS valve gear in the time-honoured fashion. With this done in quick time I decided to get the engine to the point at which I was going to 'stop taking bits off' before I gave it up for today. Therefore, the wheels were taken out...
"What Have I Done?!"
And, there you have it. A few quick & easy steps to turn a working 5" gauge steam locomotive into a few heavy lumps of stationary metal! When I was stripping it down I thought "this is fun" or "oh aren't I learning a lot". But, unfortunately, now the thoughts having turned to..."this is NEVER going to work again". Oh well, onwards & upwards ay. OK, now the engine is at this stage work can begin on putting her right again. All of her parts are now going to be painted. The framing is debateable as, under all the grime, it is quite smart and so it may just benefit from a heavy, paraffin wash. The wheels, tanks, cladding, cab, bunker, running boards, smokebox and so on are all going to be repainted. Despite the work carried out last winter (see relevant posts), there are also some repairs to be made this time, to put the engine 'right'. So, as well as the repaint, the rear axle is going to have a pair of new axleboxes. The other four boxes are fine, even after over 25 years service, but the rear pair are quite unbelievable and will be changed. The expansion link bearings will be replaced to stop the knocking, and the valve and piston packings will also be replenished. The frames will be heavily washed and the whistle turret in the cab renewed. The boiler will benefit from brand new lagging and the brass will be...yes you've guessed it...heavily polished. The whistle is also going to be moved and repiped. Finally, the expansion links have got to be re-riveted and some work needs to be done on the reach-rod and weigh-shaft. Plenty to do?...I think so! The timescale on all this work is probably going to vary but I would hope that the engine can re-emerge from the workshop in a steamable, repaired & repainted condition in March as "Achilles". Naturally I will report on the work on this blog as it happens. Thanks for reading guys. Regards, Sam...

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