Workshop update – December 2020

December 21, 2020

Since my last report, much progress has been made and particularly reassembling the rear drag box. The riveting of the frames has now been completed and our volunteer working parties (when not on lockdown) have been doing a sterling job filling, sanding and topcoating the frames. The axle boxes have also been white metalled ready for machining. Sadly, despite best made plans, we were not be in a position to re-wheel the locomotive before Christmas (the recent lockdown hasn’t helped) but I do hope that will happen early in 2021.

Rear Drag box

The new dragbox was offered into position and a dimensional check carried out to ensure its accurate alignment. We carried out some weld repairs to corroded main frame sections above the new dragbox and as expected the welding pulled the frames in slightly at the top which necessitated jacking the frames back into position, using the same method that we used to straighten the bent front RHS frame earlier in the year. The new rear buffer beam was fitted and all the holes in the platework reamed ready for riveting. The cab floor sits on extension brackets which in turn, are riveted to the rear buffer beam. Two of the originals were life expired and two new ones had previously been made during the early years of restoration at Toddington. These brackets were completed and machined to correct some distortion caused by the original welding. All the brackets and the cab support angles have now been fitted and riveted into place. With all this work now complete it brings an end to the locomotive frame repairs, hopefully they will be good for another 60 years!

Completed Rear Frame Section With Drag Box In position (Photo by Ian Crowder)

When we riveted the original intermediate buffer rubbing blocks on to the new rear buffer beam, we discovered the manganese steel was cracked in several places. Further examination, after removing all the paint, showed previous weld repairs. As the cracks are numerous we will replace the manganese steel wear strip with new material. Unfortunately, we will have to remove a few rivets for this to be done, a small step backwards but that is steam locomotive restoration for you!!!

With the main re-construction work complete on the frames our volunteers have been busy filling, sanding, priming, undercoating and finally applying two coats of gloss black to the outside of the frames and very smart it looks, too.

A considerable effort went into ensuring a smooth flat finish (Photo by Ian Crowder)

Very rewarding as you can now see your face in them!

Axle boxes

The heavily contaminated white metal of the outer thrust faces was melted off and the surface cleaned and tinned in preparation to applying new material. The crowns of the axle boxes have been white metalled and then pressed back into their relevant boxes. New white metal was then cast onto the thrust faces. This leaves the machining to be done to complete the axle box refurbishment. Now the frame painting is nearing completion the axle centre bars can be put in position to determine the amount of shimming required behind each horn liner. Some of the small lateral manganese steel horn liners (particularly on the rear axles) are likely to have to be replaced due to excessive corrosion and this will be done using off-cuts from the manganese steel ordered for the intermediate buffer wear strips mentioned earlier.

Melting off old white metal on thrust faces

Heating crown in chill before pouring in white metal

Pressing the re metalled crowns into the axle boxes

Newly white metalled crown

Axle box white metal complete now awaiting machining (Photo by Ian Crowder)

Other Developments

The front section of vacuum pipe has been made to replace the old heavily corroded one. Some very tight bends had to be formed to clear the top of the pony truck. The pipe bender would not achieve the tight radius required so the pipe was filled with sand to prevent it from collapsing, heated to a dull red colour, and pulled into position by hand until the correct shape was formed. We have just received the material for the steam heat pipe and that will also be shaped in the same way and installed before the pony truck is fitted.

Old and new front Vacuum pipe

After 18 months of negotiation, we have finally been able to order the replacement chimney using a pattern owned by Riley & Son. We were very pleased that the cost of this
component has been sponsored by Bob Mackintosh, one of our shareholders. Whilst on this subject I must take this opportunity to thank all the people who have sponsored components, it really does help us enormously.


New builders plates

The two replacement builder’s plates have arrived, and we took the opportunity to trial fit one. Thanks to Brian Mason and John Harris for sponsoring these items. Another item that has been sponsored by Chris Blake is our new smokebox door. It has just arrived but unfortunately, after dimensionally checking it, we discovered that it did not match the drawing so it has been returned for rectification at the supplier’s cost. Hopefully, we will have it back early in the new year together with the rest of the smokebox door furniture.

In my workshop at home, I have finished the grease lubrication blocks which were machined at Toddington. I have fitted the pipe unions made by the late Peter Taylor. These blocks fit on the outside of the frames and enable grease to be pumped via copper pipework to the axle box horn liners and brake shaft bearings. New spring hanger nuts are currently being machined and new fitted bolts for the leading brake hanger brackets produced. I have also been machining the new smokebox door handles and handrail end caps ready for fitting to the new smokebox door.

New grease lubrication blocks

Despite the lockdown restrictions the machine shop at Toddington have been doing good work machining the replacement adjustable spring hanger bolts. Hopefully, we should have these complete ready to re-wheel the locomotive. As and when possible the new sand ejectors are also being machined in the GWSR machine shop however we are in no hurry for these so they are low on the priority list.

May I take this opportunity to thank everyone who has supported us through this difficult year. I do hope 2021 will bring an end to the crazy life we have all been leading. I hope you all can enjoy Christmas even though I know it will be very different this year.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Andrew Meredith

76077 Engineering Director