Sunday, 5 June 2016

An Eccentric Journey

On our travels this week........the eccentrics and straps had to be delivered to the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland (RPSI) Works at Whitehead, near Larne. Unwilling to trust such irreplaceable items to a commercial carrier the best solution seemed to be to take them myself in a hired van. So a van was duly hired in Inverness and ferry crossings and accommodation booked. Mrs Scott chose to come along on the trip as neither of us had previously visited Northern Ireland. We had a great time. The country is beautiful and the people more friendly than we thought possible. The RPSI has a marvellous base at Whitehead that is undergoing a huge expansion as the result of Lottery and Dept of Agriculture funding. On the day that we were there they were installing their new turntable and work on their hugely expanded carriage shed and machine shop was approaching completion. (Where has the SRC missed out....??)

The eccentric sheaves and straps were removed by hand from the van thanks to the ingenious efforts of RPSI stalwart Bob Edwards - a man who knows how to combine the use of a wooden plank and gravity. Bob produced his own personal sack barrow, modified with non-pneumatic rubber tyres, and gave a virtuoso demonstration of how to move heavy and awkward parts without mechanical aid. 

The parts were taken to the machine shop and are now waiting on the attention of the RPSI machinist. Hopefully we will have them back before the end of June.

Other progress during the week saw the tender wheelsets uplifted and transported to Ian Riley for fitting of the new tyres. 

On the loco itself Nathan Lightowler has been busy and has aligned the leading wheels with the crankaxle and refitted the leading section of coupling rod. It's amazing what a difference this makes to the appearance of the loco..! Work has also been progressed on welding the spring guide bosses to the newly machined LH Driving Hornclip. 

Roddie McCrae has done more good work during the week refitting the lubrication pipework to the driving axleboxes and guides.

A final word on the Irish trip - we stayed at an Inn in Carrickfergus and were a bit concerned to be told that we were sharing our room with a poltergeist. Fortunately the spirit remained absent during our stay - maybe it approves of steam locomotives...

Eccentrics and straps loaded into the van and "seafastened"...

Bob Edwards of the RPSI with the Whitehead Yard & Works in the background

Bob's plank and his mighty barrow ready for offload...

Bob and an inappropriately dressed Doug Scott offload the RH Eccentrics..
Bob moves a pair of straps and the eccentric mandrel past GNR(I) No.85 "Merlin"

No.85 watches with interest as the straps head for the Machine Shop...

Journey's End - the parts are all safely stowed in the Machine Shop..

To the right is the lathe that will machine our parts; in the background is the ex-York Road wheel lathe - capable of turning wheels up to seven feet in diameter. RPSI CME Peter Scott gave us a quick demonstration of the machine in operation - a wonderful sight and sound..

Close up of No.85's smokebox - how do they get the door to be such a good fit...?

Alongside another blue loco....and one I definitely want to come back and see in operation. The RPSI have a fantastic mainline fleet and it's easy to understand why they are justifiably so proud of operating the only mainline compound loco in Britain and Ireland.

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