Friday, 18 July 2014

Achilles Report No60: The Saga Continues...

Hi all. Well, lets continue with the saga! After a day at Market Bosworth on Sunday, Monday saw me returning to the evening shift at work for a week, leaving the midday/afternoon segments of the days for working on "Achilles". Therefore, Monday was spent heavily rubbing down the removed smokebox and attempting to get a good surface finish back onto it. Once stripped and cleaned, the smokebox was given two good coats of the HT paint that it had before, a kind of grey colour to contrast the blue and black. The several coatings of oil that it will get in the future will soon sort out the finish and turn it darker...
Eddie had kindly repaired the superheater whilst we were on holiday. The process had involved replacing the main steam pipe and steam header, and silver soldering it to the superheater elements and the wet header too. Eddie had admittedly made a great job of the lot and I am very grateful for his help. A new steam gasket was made for the wet header on the Monday and the superheater refitted carefully. Now that this is back in place, the smokebox can soon go back on...
The cleaned and repaired superheater in place...
On Tuesday, having refitted the blower pipe, the smokebox was refitted carefully. With the smokebox bolted on, the bolt heads were carefully sprayed in order to keep them in line with the colour of the smokebox. The snifting valve was also cleaned and serviced and had a new ball fitted for the first time in almost 30 years! The ensemble is here...
"Tuesday - Smokebox and Boiler Reunited"
On Wednesday the boiler was reclad and the boiler bands put back on. I must admit I was nowhere near happy with the finish. Unfortunately, due to all this on-going work with the engine, the repaint of the cladding was very much rushed in order to try and make the engine ready for Sunday's run. However, dare I say it, its only the top of the cladding that matters in a desperate situation such as this!...
The boiler was placed back into the frames later on Wednesday afternoon and the steam pipe did fit very well...
"Well Done, Ed!"
On Thursday the loco was looking near complete and the blast pipe was refitted with new gaskets between its base feeds and the cylinder exhaust ports. The smokebox was then sealed with gasket gel to fill the remaining holes where piping comes through. Obviously if the smokebox leaks then the vacuum that you are trying to induce is lost, thus hindering the steaming of the engine...
"Thursday - Getting There"
So, the moment of truth came on the Friday when "Achilles" (cabless but pulling!) went to the Onley Lane track at Rugby MES. Myself and Eddie were both running loco's but Ed brought a 7.25" gauge loco so we each had a track to ourselves in effect. Once steaming up, "Achilles" would not move. "Damn!". The steam pipe was leaking heavily. However, upon inspection, an extra good tightening when hot sorted this so that we only had a hiss left rather than a roar. This hiss is coming from somewhere else. I inspected the whole interior of the smokebox and could not find a precise place where it was coming from. However, when under pressure with the regulator wide, rather than standing still, "Achilles" was now determined to move and pulled hard against me so that I could hardly hold her back. I think the rings are blowing past slightly on the pistons, but only when you have almost full regulator with the engine pinned to the spot by all of your weight! So, I decided to try and go for a run. Well, she steamed well, pulled well, sounded well and the water pump worked fine. However, as is sods law, the rushed job with the cladding was more than evident when the paint rippled and a boiler band slipped back causing damage. I was annoyed about this, don't get me wrong, but I was still so glad that the loco worked now, and well. She managed to drag me up the bank with the handbrake on the truck hard on whilst blowing off at both valves...that's a fair test!

A decision could have been made at this point to fit the cab and just run the engine rather than worrying about the cladding damage but, after all this, there is no way that the engine is going out scruffy! So, within 25 minutes of arriving home, the boiler lay back on the floor...I'm getting quicker!...
"Friday - Boiler Removals Whilst You Wait"
So, the cladding now just has to be repainted and the boiler dropped back in. To be honest, the boiler comes out in 25 minutes and goes back in in about 45 minutes so I'm sure she'll be fine next time out. She steamed very well today and everything worked except the cosmetics so here's hoping we've sorted the fault. The rings passing at full regulator with the engine pretty much locked up will not worry you on the track with her as the steam will probably overcome most train weights or produce a slip instead as its not often you work an engine that hard at full blowing off pressure. Fingers crossed she'll be done soon and this nightmare will be over! Cheers guys, Sam...

3 comments:

Philip Lockett said...

Well done Sam. Fantastic achievement and you are now popping the boiler in and out without a seconds thought, whereas previously you daren't touch it. That's significant progress! You'll be building your own loco next!

Sam Brandist said...

Hi Phil. Thanks for the comment mate. Well, I don't know about building a loco, I'm much more into the looking after/doing up side as I have a distinct lack of patience. However, never say never, maybe one day. The new engine should be here in the next week or so that'll be another to appear on the blog. Cheers :)

Anonymous said...

Great news that Achilles steams well at last! You must be pleased. Hope to see it at the August RPMR Steam on Sunday event. Hope you decide to keep the cladding on this time, you're a perfectionist Sam ;-)
Eddie did a great job with the superheater!
You've got the engine stripdown time finely honed like an F1 pit team!
Kind regards, Emma-claire.