AVR gala and a distinguished visitor

In preparation for the Avon Valley Railway‘s ‘London Transport’ gala, we decided to re-assemble 4123’s cab to act as a focal point for our small sales stand.

The cab is actually ‘new’, having been built many years ago when the loco was based at Ropley on the Mid Hants Railway, but had until very recently been sat on the loco out exposed to the elements, and was in need of some TLC.   At some point, the main cab structure will need to be riveted together in its final configuration, ready to put back on the loco when the time comes.

The cab in the process of being reassembled.

The cab in the process of being reassembled.

Assembling the cab outside our workshop.

Assembling the cab outside our workshop.

A fully assembled cab sits on a baseplate outside our workshop.

A fully assembled cab sits on a baseplate outside our workshop.

The cab as a focal point of our small sales stand.

The cab as a focal point of our small sales stand.

One side of the cab has been painted in black, with 44123 applied to give an impression of what the loco will look like when finished.

One side of the cab has been painted in black, with 44123 applied to give an impression of what the loco will look like when finished.

There was a distinguished visitor during the gala – Sir Peter Hendy – Chairman of Network Rail, and former commissioner of Transport for London.  We took the opportunity to show him around 4123 and what we are up to in the restoration project.

Sir Peter Hendy views 4123's driving wheel.  Photo credit - Robin Mitchell.

Sir Peter Hendy views 4123’s driving wheel. Photo credit – Robin Mitchell.

Carl shows the new tender frames to Sir Peter Hendy.  Photo credit - Robin Mitchell.

Carl shows the new tender frames to Sir Peter Hendy. Photo credit – Robin Mitchell.

Michael Lance Vout

Michael Vout

It is with the deepest regret that we have to announce the death of one of our stalwart members, Mr Michael Vout, known to many as “MLV”, who passed away in the early hours of this morning, Friday 27th March 2015, at Bath’s Royal United Hospital, following a severe stroke which he suffered in mid-February this year.

Michael made an amazing contribution to preservation in general, and in particular to the restoration of 4123 and his own ‘Battle of Britain’ class locomotive no. 34058 ‘Sir Frederick Pile’.  He had led the restoration efforts on both these projects for many years since the mid-80s, and during this time he personally constructed many new components to the highest of standards, and all employing traditional engineering methods and practices.

Michael was a unique character and touched the lives of many people with his sense of humour, willingness to assist on noble causes, and his passionate desire to see his beloved ‘Heavy Engineering’ live on through the development of youngsters and the progression of the preservation scene in general.

Those of us who knew him well were deeply saddened by the seriousness of his condition in recent weeks which had cruelly robbed a highly intelligent and articulate man of the majority of his physical abilities and capacity to communicate.  However, it is safe to say that he will live on in both the work he did on the locomotives, and in our minds which are full of his amusing stories & anecdotes, a lamentably small fraction of his engineering knowledge, and his unique outlook on life.

RIP Michael.

1939 – 2015.

 MLV

Photo news

Here are a few photos of recent progress on the construction of the new tender chassis and tender tank – the pieces of the jigsaw that is the restoration of 4123 are starting to get bigger…

Hopefully the photos and the captions do the talking.   If you’d like to see more photos of how this is coming along, have a look at our Flikr page.

General view of the new tender chassis which has been constructed, and is now substantially complete and waiting to be rivetted.

General view of the new tender chassis which has been constructed, and is now substantially complete and waiting to be rivetted.

Another view of the new chassis at the front looking towards the rear.

Another view of the new chassis at the front looking towards the rear.

Chassis 3

The rear of the new chassis showing the dragbox, coupling hook, buffers and guard irons.

Elbow machining

One of the new castings for the tender water feed elbows is machined on the lathe. Here it is having the 11 TPI screw thread cut.

Scoope Dome 1

This is the ‘dome’ for the water scoop filler pipe, which sits at the back of the tender, and is a distinctive feature of those tenders that were fitted with water scoops (i.e. all the 4Fs). This is a combination of new metal (the lower barrel and angle) with a re-used original top section which was repairable, and which would have been very difficult/expensive to replace with a new item.

Filler Lid

Here is the new tender tank water filler pipe and lid. Later LMS tenders had a hinged lid, but 4123 always had a ‘loose’ lid which was attached to the pipe with a chain (to stop it getting lost), so this is what we’ve replicated. We didn’t have an original to copy, so the profile for this had to be scaled from a drawing to get the correct radius and height, etc. This was ‘metal- spun’ for us by Purdies of Bradford.

 

tank parts

This pile of bits are components of the tender tank which are fitted inside and outside of the ‘well’ on the bottom of the tank. These have now been welded into position into the well. The two new gunmetal castings for the water feed elbows can also been seen – having been fully machined – and these are now ready to fit to the tank when the time comes.

Tank stiffeners

Here are some more tender tank internal components waiting to be installed. The red plates are vertical stiffeners which form part of the main structure of the tank, and to which the main internal cross-baffles are attached.

Well 1

Here is a view on the newly fabricated tender tank ‘well’. This fits underneath the main body of the tank, between the inner frames of the chassis, and provides a useful additional ~500 gallons of water capacity. We have made this from one piece of plate folded to the correct shape, and with end plates welded in. Doing it this way has removed around 300 rivets from the tank.

Well Fabrication

A close-up of the end plate of the well after welding was completed and ground flush. Originally this would have been a riveted plate, but welding is easier and more cost effective, and will never be seen once the tank is installed on the frames.

Here's a view on the underside of the tender well showing the various attachments which have now been welded on.   Don't let the rusty finish worry you - this will be grit blasted once the tank fabrication is completed, and then coated with a decent paint system, so it will hopefully last for many years.

Here’s a view on the underside of the tender well showing the various attachments which have now been welded on. Don’t let the rusty finish worry you – this will be grit blasted once the tank fabrication is completed, and then coated with a decent paint system, so it will hopefully last for many years.

An update

The following is from the text of a brief update article which ran in the Avon Valley Railway’s in-house news magazine, ‘Ground Signal’ in Feb 2015.

Since the last report, the work on LMS 4123 (BR 44123) and tender No 3257 has continued apace. However before giving an update on this, we would first like to welcome two new members of the mid-week group.  They are Alan Church and Peter Crossfield, both of whom are bringing a wealth of knowledge to the team.  We also have two new volunteers to the weekend team – Nick Ealey and Justin Edwards who are both getting stuck in to helping with the making of new parts for the tender.

Work is progressing on the tender chassis and tank, this being primarily a weekend gang project, and numerous additional items have been manufactured,  such as:

  • Water scoop mechanism actuating shaft and water scoop dome.
  • Tender water feed elbows, pipe nuts, flanges and flexible hose elbows.
  • Tender tank filler ring and lid – spun for us by Purdie Metal Spinners of Bradford
  • Tender well plates and clips.

We are also producing wooden patterns for the numerous small castings and fittings which will allow the tender to eventually be made operational.  Many of our castings are made at Bristol Foundry just down the road in Brislington, this being an arrangement that works well for us as it gives us the opportunity to discuss the castings with the foundry manager, and there are no delivery charges!

To allow things to progress more quickly, we have recently been working with another Bristol company with a view to having them help us with the fabrication and assembly of the new tender tank.  This is almost at the point where they are ready to start work on the water well at the bottom of the tank which forms the foundation on which the rest of the tank is assembled.   As you can imagine, this work will be expensive, very quickly running into thousands of pounds, so if anyone has some spare cash they would like to donate, this would be gratefully received, and would make an amazing difference to our speed of progress.

The loco has been having attention as well, primarily by the mid-week gang. The nuts on the Piston covers have been loosened and many more loco parts have been rubbed down and painted.  The rear buffer beam was removed after a lot of hard work then rubbed down and painted.  The loco requires a brand new rear dragbox, and the large and heavy steel plates for this are approximately 50% manufactured.

One item that has yet to submit to our attempts to remove it is the smoke box door hinge pin. It is about 2’6” long and after soaking it in diesel, applying lots of heat, using a hydraulic jack, an Acrow prop and lots of persuasion with a sledge hammer it is yet to move a gnat’s whatsit. Hopefully by the time you read this we hope to have got the better of the !?!?!?!?!. We need to take the door off to check its condition and measure it up prior to having a new one made.

If any member is on site Mondays or Fridays do come and see us at the top of the yard by the loco and we will give you a guided tour and a pair of overalls!

A minor update…

January 27th 2014.

We have just completed a very sucessful working weekend which saw progress on quite a few fronts.  A brief summary is below.

Early on Saturday, we took delivery of the newly cast tender tank water vent pipes. 

 

This is the wooden pattern which we made to allow us to cast the new tender tank vent pipes

This is the wooden pattern which we made to allow us to cast the new tender tank vent pipes

 

And here are the finished castings.  Only two of these are needed for 4123 - one of them will be going to our friends at the Glouscester & Warwickshire Rly for sister 4F No. 4027

And here are the finished castings.
Only two of these are needed for 4123 – one of them will be going to our friends at the Glouscester & Warwickshire Rly for sister 4F No. 4027

 

New(ish) volunteer George undertook the installation of the second inner frame for the tender, almost entirely on his own, and this is now ready for final setting up.

The second inner frame is shown installed (on the RHS of this picture).

The second inner frame is shown installed (on the RHS of this picture).

 The first of the tender brake gear bushes have been made and fitted into the frames, which allows us to accurately line up the inner and outer frame plates before we start marking and drilling all the matching rivet holes.

 

The new gunmetal bushes which will hold the brake pins are shown after being press fitted into the frames. The inner frame is nearest the camera with the outer frame behind.

The new gunmetal bushes which will hold the brake pins are shown after being press fitted into the frames.
The inner frame is nearest the camera with the outer frame behind.

Over in the fabrication shop, fettling work contiuned on the new boiler support plate.  This is a substantial lump of steel (it is 7/8″ thick) and requires a team effort to manipulate it into the various positions required for welding and grinding work.

The new boiler support plate is seen here having the various welds dressed prior to being released for final machining

The new boiler support plate is seen here having the various welds dressed prior to being released for final machining

 

In addition, we made some further progress on the stripping of the loco – the first three sandboxes have been removed for repainting, along with various other minor items of platework and superstructure.  We were pleased to welcome another new volunteer to our team – Rudy – who made a valuable contribution to many things, including coutersinking numerous rivet holes in the tender frames. 

New Vounteer Rudy gets to grips with removing the middle sandbox

New Vounteer Rudy gets to grips with removing the middle sandbox

 

The dismanlting and cleaning of the cab steelwork is next.   We had a ‘medium’ tidy up in our main stores van to give us a bit more room to store all the items which are being taken off the loco….  The van is almost full up, but not quite…!

And finally…. we made some improvements to the temporary shelter which 4123 is currently sitting in, including providing decent crawling boards in the ‘four-foot’ under the loco, and strip lighting in the ceiling. At least we can now (almost) see what we’re doing in these long and cold winter evenings…

4123 sits patiently inside the temporary shelter was have built to keep the worst of the elements out

4123 sits patiently inside the temporary shelter was have built to keep the worst of the elements out

With a few more lights, we may actually be able to see what we're working on...

With a few more lights, we may actually be able to see what we’re working on…

 The refurb of our tender wheelsets was compelted last year, and they spent a little bit of time on one of the AVR’s flat wagons, and indeed did quite a few miles and provided a nice sight being towed up and down during the AVR’s Autumn gala in 2013.  However, they have now come back to earth and are back on the rails awaiting the day when we roll them under the new chassis.  Hopefully that won’t be too far in the future now…

Tender wheels ready to go

Tender wheels ready to go

That’s all for now.   More soon we hope.

 

Steam Locos in Profile – The LMS Fowler 4Fs

The 44422 Locomotive Company Limited

Chris Eden-Green has now added LMS 4Fs to his excellent series “Steam Locos in Profile” which can be found at the following link :

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8PfBczgi7kA.

44422 is shown out of service at Peak Rail. If you would like to see 44422 in steam again, you can help towards the overhaul costs by making a donation using the “Make a Donation” page header.

ALL donations, large or small, will go towards the overhaul.

Thank You

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Tender Chassis

November 2013

The big news so far this year is the commencement of the trial erection of the new tender frames.  This is a culmination of a couple of years of effort at preparation, and is really the first tangible sign of significant progress with the build of the new tender.

Frame plates ready for lifting

Frame plates ready for lifting

Before we could safely lift the frames into position, it was necessary to improve the floor in our workshop to allow the use of a gantry crane.   We thus had to cast two concrete strips suitable for the crane wheels, and this can be seen in the picture above.   Some means of non manual lifting was going to be essential for the erection of the frames – each main frame plate weights 800kg, which is obviously vastly beyond what can be safely lifted by hand and muscle power alone.

Main frame plates lifted to vertical

Main frame plates lifted to vertical

We are constructing the frames upside down, as this allows easier access for trial assembly and drilling.   The frames are temporarily sitting on two cross beams (seen in yellow) which have been levelled in both planes, as it is essential that the frames are constructed ‘true’ and square.

Frame erection progressing.  The inner frame plates can be seen between the main frames

Frame erection progressing. The inner frame plates can be seen between the main frames

The frames were set to the correct ‘back to back’ dimension by installation of the lower cross-stretchers (the red items which are clamped in) and by the use of two purpose machined temporary spacers (the yellow tubes).  Once this was done, the correct relative position of the frames was checked by ‘tramelling’ the diagonal dimensions between the centres of the axles, and moving one of the frames forwards or backwards to correct any error.  This took some time to do, as multiple measurements and a certain amount of trigonometry was required.

Front of the frames with dragbox installed

Front of the frames with dragbox installed

Once the frames were correctly set – the cross stretchers were drilled and fitted with tap fit bolts – thus ensuring that the relative position remained fixed during all subsequent operations.  After this the front dragbox and buffer beam were installed and similarly drilled.   Following this, we then proceeded to install and drill the angles which run for the full length of the frames, followed by the rear dragbox and bufferbeam.

The rear buffer beam and dragbox in positoin

The rear buffer beam and dragbox in position

All this work has to be carried out very accurately to ensure that everything is correctly located.  Even the smallest errors could result in problems later on, so we are taking our time, and measuring once/twice/three times before drilling…!

George drills holes in the tender frame top angle

George drills holes in the tender frame top angle

The frames will be fully riveted construction, and thus there are many hundreds of holes to be drilled…  Anybody who makes the mistake of walking into our workshop is likely to get collared for drilling a few holes…!

 

To be continued….