Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Atlantic Report No13: Steam Test...

Hi all. This evening my 3.5" gauge Great Northern Railway Atlantic (LBSC Maisie) was to be steam tested at the club track ready for another year's work. I arrived at around 6:30pm and immediately set to unloading the car. The 4-4-2 still has its cab off, allowing access to the pressure gauge nut on the manifold. Boiler tester Colin then came up and, overseen by Derek, tested my gauge for true reading. With all OK, the gauge was refitted to the engine and preparations made to light the fire. With 1/2 a glass of water in the boiler and some wood crackling away on the grate, the engine began to gradually warm through with help from the electric blower...
The steam test; undertaken every 12 to 14 months; is basically an MOT for the boiler. The fittings are checked and the tester(s) will also look for leaks. The main points are to ensure that A) the safety valves work, B) the safety valves can empty the boiler faster than steam can be created at full blower chat and C) that the engine has at least two methods of getting water into the boiler to replenish the supply. With a good coal fire now in the box, the engine was ramped up to full blower chat and sat happily with the needle only slightly edging over the red line. (You get 10% grace!). With the test pretty much passed, all that was required was to prove the hand-pump and water pump. The hand-pump was fine but to test the water pump the easiest way is to go for a run. Soon enough, 4436 found herself simmering away at Ryton Halt as the sun began to set on this warm late Spring evening...
After a lap, Colin came back to check all was well and then gave the engine a clean bill of health. The new boiler certificate was then issued, allowing 4436 to run for another 14 months - "Hurray!". She was running very well; free-steaming and content as normal...
A good fire in the box at Ryton Halt...
I did a good half a dozen or so laps with the Atlantic before deciding to retire. The job in hand had been completed and the engine had proved that she is now back in fettle. A final view of the engine at Ryton Halt: it looks horrendous without the cab!...
"4436 Simmers at Ryton Halt Having Passed The Steam Test"
After the final photo-stop I steamed down to the steaming bays and duly disposed the engine. Unlike my "Achilles" tank engine, 4436 has a rocking grate which slopes at the rear to allow the fire to be raked out. Its pretty much like standard gauge practise - you get dust and ash everywhere! The locomotive was soon packed up and ready for home after a good little run. I hope to use 4436 a good few times this year, probably on the CMES Wednesday evening runs. She's a nimble little engine that is fun to drive and fire, whilst being light enough for me to load into and out of the car without any potential injury! Cheers all, Sam...

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