Friday, 30 May 2014

Achilles Report No55: In Steam...

Hi everyone. When we left the last "Achilles" report the loco was getting towards finished and an in steam test was very much now on the horizon. Since then, yes, the locomotive has been in steam. So, again, in this post we will document the work over about three or four days rather than just creating four separate tiny posts about fairly menial jobs. So, Wednesday May 21st saw the engine stripped again, well slightly anyway. The fouling coupling rods were removed on both sides, as was the rear wheelset which was still getting tight without reason on the new boxes. Thus the loco sat fairly quietly on the workbench feeling sorry for herself, and looking quite unusual as an 0-4-0 with massive overhang!...
Pictured below is the rear wheelset; freshly painted, tyre polished and with new axleboxes fitted as previously reported. For some reason the boxes were completely free when outside the engine, but when tightened up inside they were getting tight, as if they were being pulled out of centre. After checking the fit inside the horn guides and the square on the horns themselves, all seemed OK so it had to be the boxes, or something similar...
It was later discovered that the R/H keep plate on the R/H new axlebox had a slight drilling/tapping error on one of the spring holders. This meant that, when tightened into the frames, the keep plate stopped the misaligned spring holder from being able to pivot ever so slightly with the box during movement. This pulled the box ever so slightly over to one side, thus misaligning the axle a wee bit and causing a slight tight spot. So, I opted to remove the springs and keep plate and just slightly open up the holes to relieve the tension. Perhaps a bodge in the eyes of some, but in my eyes a bodge that will not cause the engine any problems other than to ensure that her new axleboxes do not get damaged or run hot...
Moving on to May 22nd and the coupling rods were receiving their attention. After a few different means of making them clear the wheels and the crossheads failed, we decided to flute them at the back, as per standard gauge practise. Therefore, 10-thou (0.25mm) spacers were made for each bearing to sit in front of, and a further 10-thou was fluted into the back of each coupling rod in order to ensure a good clearance. This work was completed the following week on May 29th, though in the meantime an incident did occur. The final of the four connecting rods to be fluted had an unfortunate falling out with a large endmill in the milling machine that was fluting it, and thus ended up with one of the oil pots snapped completely off and half of the decorative frontage chewed away. Though the actual integrity of the rod was by no means compromised, the rod did need some cosmetic surgery as it were. The rod was delicately made up with soft weld and then ground down to a perfectly uniform oil pot again. Even I struggle to imagine it is a repair, and I must thank some good friends of mine for patching up the rod for me: its now good as new and refitted to the engine. So, a good evenings work yesterday (29th) saw the engine back together and ready for a test steaming, with both of the rods and the newly opened up axlebox keep ready for action. Today after work all I had to do was refit the eccentrics for the double-acting axlepump and then refit the grate ready for a steam up. After all of the necessary checks were carried out and water was pumped into the boiler, the locomotive had her first fire lit in over 4 months...
"First Fire since January"
The locomotive is pictured here blocked up and in steam. I operated her for about an hour ticking over, both at higher and lower pressures. In the end she steamed right down to about 2psi on the clock before stopping so not bad considering she's on a few new bearings again. Regular checks were of course made whilst she was in steam in order to ensure that everything was taking oil correctly and that nothing was running warm. I am pleased to say that, apart from the tanks leaking (not enough sealant around one or two nuts!), the engine ran very well and I am very pleased with her...
video
It was very pleasing to see the locomotive in steam again and now all I have to do is seal the tanks again and do one or two other little cosmetic jobs before throwing back on all of the nice bits and, yes, cleaning the brass! The loco is now well on course and I am hoping that we will be attending the CMES Third Wednesday of the Month members running evening on June 18th all being well, with the completed engine ready for testing. Even though she hasn't been on the track yet, the fact that she runs well on tick-over is a very good start. Thank goodness that this job is coming to an end as I am beginning to very much miss my engine! Best Regards, Sam...

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