Saturday, 12 December 2015

Achilles Report No71: An Engine Again...

Hi there all. Here is another "Achilles" report; No71 to be exact. Regular readers will recall that the locomotive last operated way back in June, at a CMES public steam day. The engine did alright that day but I'd already decided to attempt repairs to the two water pumps which sit between the frames. Being well over 25 years old, the pumps were life expired and needed work. Two days after running at Ryton Pools, the engine was without her boiler...
Two new pumps were made up from Reeves castings, whilst retaining the original hardened steel rams. The new pumps were ready in July but, having had a very busy summer, work on the engine got pushed back and back. That's the main trouble with having two engines to take out: having one running will always slow the rush down to repair the other and thus 'Maisie' has often been the engine of choice when running...
The engine spent the summer months in the workshop, frowning at me from afar. I kept arguing with myself to get her sorted but other things have continually got in the way. However, at last, I can honestly say she's now back in one piece. The undressed (without cladding) boiler is seen below...
The cladding was removed to assess the damage to it. Its never been much good to be honest - its work tired and very dented. During last years repaint of the engine I had decided to keep the old cladding simply to keep the engine original as it were but, having looked at it again, it needed to be changed. Enter well known late arrival and owner of the rights to the legendary 'Three Course Challenge': "Eddie the Late". Ed kindly showed me, having not so long ago gained experience whilst building his LMS 2P, how to roll boiler cladding. The brass was sourced from Kennions and, during November, we were at Ed's workshop making the new cladding. Thankfully "Achilles" only has a round-top firebox but the cladding was still very tough to make fit, particularly with its healthy ability to force itself flat again!...
Cladding successfully made, it was trial fitted to the boiler and banded up...
Having got it to fit (of a fashion) the engine entered my most dreaded and hated stage: the paint stage. The removal of the protective plastic from the brass revealed quite a shine!...
The cladding was first etch-primed...
And later it was painted into the engine's traditional blue...
Having had a few days to dry (in the house I may add - too cold in the workshop for that!) the cladding was fairly well ready for final fitting. So, today, the engine was my prime concern, having started working on it before 9am. Here, the new water pumps are fitted and piped up in readiness for the boiler to return to the frames...
Brand new water pumps in place and packed ready for use...
Later in the day, after much swearing and gnashing of teeth, the engine's boiler was lowered gently into the frames and piped up...
The boiler was neatly followed by the RH tank, the clacks, the cab fittings, the whistle, the tank tops, the cab/bunker and of course the ever clean dome cover. The engine was looking the part as the days light began to fade...
By tea-time, "Achilles" was pretty much finished and was returned to her rightful place alongside the Atlantic. There's a great deal of work that is unseen with these repair jobs. The new cladding and water pumps have required a full strip down to make happen as well as machining, painting and sealing tasks. The air around the workshop is as blue as the engine during these times, particularly when the household authorities realise that the electric heater has been on all day - anyone would think we'd drained the grid! But, thankfully, after all the work, the engine is back together and awaiting a test. I hope it goes now...the chances are it won't, but we can live in hope...
In terms of a test the main thing will be to ensure that the new water pumps work. We tried them in the sink whilst off the engine and they work pretty well. Hopefully the increased momentum of being back under the engine at track speed won't bring out anymore issues. I must thank well known "I thought we said 8 o'clock" enthusiast 'Eddie the Late' for his help and guidance once again on the matter of the cladding - that's another job learnt. All the best everyone, "Achilles" is back together for Christmas. Merry Christmas to you all. Best Regards, Sam...

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