Sunday, 1 March 2015

Busy Times at Shack Loco...

Hi everyone. After an enjoyable visit to Chasewater yesterday for their Winter Gala, it was back to normal at Shackerstone today for our Sunday shed working. During the week, the railways Peckett 0-6-0ST "Sir Gomer" had been shunted around to result in her being over the inspection pit. The loco is currently awaiting her annual re-ticket and thus work was carried out to that end today. During the test period, the inspector of a steam boiler will do a dry exam and a steam exam. For this to take place the various plugs and lids around the engine will have to be removed and the boiler will also be washed out if required. "SG" hasn't done a great deal of steamings since her last washout but it was decided to do the job anyway just to be safe. The backhead plugs are seen here removed, as well as both of the corner plugs located lower down...
When talking about steam boilers references may be made to a mud-door or a mudlid. The mudlids are basically larger inspection blanks used to seal inspection holes. A mudlid itself is made to fit inside the mudhole but obviously not to come out. They often go in at an angle and a machined section will have been made so that it fits snugly into the mudhole. There is then a threaded section which then takes the clamp (known as the 'bridge') and a washer followed by a large nut. The machined section of the lid often takes a seal, known as a 'pilot seal', which is there to take up any undulations (no matter how slight) in the plate work or the lid, thus sealing it against steam pressure. "Gomer"s boiler contains 10 mudlids I believe, plus all of the plugs, though other boilers will probably contain more. The fireman's side mudlid can be seen here with the old seal removed...
Here is a quick snap inside "Sir Gomer"s smokebox during the washout. In this shot we can see the two main steam pipes coming down from the header. (The loco is not superheated). The blower ring can be seen making its way in from the right and the blast pipe is duly central. The array of tubes in the background can be clearly seen and the pipe making its way in from the left and angling itself towards the petticoat is the ejector feed from the vacuum system. There are plugs in the smokebox to remove too...
Here we see the selection of plugs and lids removed from "Gomer". All of them will be lightly cleaned of any muck or grime and then refitted when required. All of the mudlids will have brand new seals of course...
I had the hideous job of removing the fusible plugs from the firebox crown. Swinging spanners inside 1859's little box is nothing short of cramp inducing! I tell you what, I got absolutely filthy. There was soot everywhere that soot could be. "Sir Gomer" then enjoyed a good old washout. For those not in the know, a washout is exactly what it sounds like: the boiler is washed out so as to remove any sediment that leaves the boiled water during steamings. In a particularly hard-water area such as ours, washouts are vital for the long term health of the boilers. The engines are treated each time they steam but this doesn't necessarily mean that a washout is not required. The treatment often encourages the sediment (some call it limescale) to stick to it rather than the materials of the boiler. Therefore, during a washout, the whole lot comes out in a kind of brown sludge, pouring from the recently opened mudholes. Todays washout was a fairly clean one for "Sir Gomer", showing her lack of use in recent months. However, the job was still worth doing and got rid of some potentially harmful muck. The boiler will then dry and been inspected dry before being put back together (known as boxing up) before being steamed. We're sure she'll pass with flying colours.

Well, that's one Peckett...what about Dunlop No7? Well...
No7 is enjoying her new stays and more are being fitted every time I see the boiler. Some 300 stays are gradually making their way into the new firebox...
Looking into the firebox we can see the new firebox material and the new stays poking through ready for nutting...
The stays on the outside of the boiler will be corked (or peened over if you like) until a seal is made, as per standard practise. These are the throatplate stays...
"Not To Be Moved", ay? Well, not for much longer we hope!...
Elsewhere in the shed, GWR 3803 is changing by the week. I look forward to displaying some photos of her once the gala weekend of March 28th/29th finally arrives! Outside the shed the cutting is receiving some P-Way work. Some of the track has been lifted and the drains are being redone by contractors. The trackbed will then be dug back, a new base put down and fresh ballast added before the track goes back. A good job well on the way... 
I was at the railway from 11am until around 5pm today and felt a good, productive day was had by all. Thank you all for reading and good evening :) All the best, Sam...

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