Saturday 30 January 2016

Here are some pictures from the work done on 828 in the past few days. We removed the cracked LH Driving Hornblock from the loco and then put a heavy jack in place to give the frame some temporary support. When we inspected the frame plate we found an old repair dating back to BR days (or earlier). The frame plate has cracked in the area where the repair was made. Not a big problem - our welding contractor has looked at it and is confident that modern welding will do a proper job.. In the meantime we've confirmed that a foundry in Central Scotland can use the damaged LH Driving Hornblock to make a pattern and cast a new component in the correct grade of steel. Mr Graham King and Mr Paul Blount both have copies of the BR material specifications for ex-LMS locomotives and the foundry will be able to identify the appropriate current specification that aligns best with the 1940 standard quoted in the BR publication..

Sleepers placed across the pit and a heavy jack giving the frame the relief that it needs to avoid any tendency for  excessive stress at a weak point. The old repair can be seen quite clearly on the left side of the picture between two of the bolt holes.

This is the crack that we found on the frame plate underneath the LH Driving Hornblock. It extends between the two bolt holes and disappears down into the plate. The full extent will be confirmed by NDT and then it will be ground out and rewelded.

The cracked horn block being prepared for use in making a pattern. It will be returned to Aviemore with the new casting and kept as part of the "black museum". The Trust that owns 828 is committed to keeping the loco in operational condition for as long as possible. Over a long life (117 years and rising) she has had many new components but the historical link to her original 1899 condition remains intact.
The record sheet that we created to record various data during removal of the horn block. It's interesting to see that bolts in the two legs were different sizes. This is a good indication that this is not the first time the horn block has been renewed..

Sunday 24 January 2016

Thursday 21st January was the day of the big lift....Keith Holyland and Richard Fell had made all their preparations and moved the lifting jacks into position. The Loco Dept completed the preliminary shunting and 828 was brought into the Carriage Maintenance Shed. The plan was to lift her clear of her wheels and then roll out the leading and the driving wheelsets. The trailing wheels would remain where they were. Once the wheels were rolled out, the leading set would be lifted out of the way and the crank axle rolled round to the loco shed. The engine would then be lowered back onto its leading and trailing wheels and moved back to the loco shed. This would give us the access we need to remove the fractured LH Driving Hornblock.

There are a couple of points to make here.

1. The job would have been so much easier if the Railway had retained the wheel drop that Eric Cooper acquired from BR in the early days. Unfortunately, this was disposed of at a time when Eric was working in Saudi Arabia with little contact with the Railway. With a wheeldrop we would only have had to drop out the crank axle without touching the rest of the loco........wishful thinking maybe, but perhaps something for the future...??

2. The Railway successfully funded the Carriage Maintenance Shed back in the early 2000s. Maybe it's time that serious thinking is given to constructing a locomotive overhaul shed at Aviemore. The working conditions in the loco shed are pretty primitive and it is a great credit to the staff (employees and volunteers) that they turn out such high quality work. A properly outfitted overhaul shed could only lead to improvements in work efficiency and workforce morale..

The lift of the loco was a complete success. It was a great example of teamwork and collaboration and all involved can take great pride in this first lift of a locomotive using the Carriage Shed jacking system.

The pictures below were all supplied by Steve Robinson.

On her way to the Carriage Shed as a six-wheeled loco for the last time in a while..

The 08 pushes 828 into position on the jacks..

Final checks prior to the initial lift..

All OK at the back...?

Keith Holyland in control at the operating station..

Lifted clear...!

Getting ready to roll...

Dave Green checks that the crank axle is clear..

Crank axle on its way out..

Large open space where there used to be wheels...

Only four wheels now, but still looking pretty good...

Back home to the loco shed....job done.

Saturday 23 January 2016

Before we could lift the loco we had to turn it so that it was facing south. This became quite an involved exercise as the shunting was made more difficult with only one diesel shunting loco available. However, on a very cold day on January 20th we got the job done and with 828 facing south we uncoupled the loco from its tender and then we were ready for the big lift....

The view from underneath 828 after the loco has been uncoupled from its tender. The large nut on the drawbar is very obvious. Missing from the picture is the enormous and heavy spring that that the nut holds in place..

828 uncoupled from her tender and by a strange coincidence so is 46512....

Wednesday 20 January 2016

Onto the heavy stuff now........removal of the connecting and coupling rods....and the eccentric straps

Here we go with the LH Connecting Rod. Disconnect it at the big end cap (left of picture) remove the back half of the bearing with its cap, rig it to prevent it swinging free (remembering that it weighs 480kg) let go the small end from the crosshead, move the loco so that the crank moves away from the rod. Use a pinch bar to move the crosshead forwards and out it comes...!

LH Crankpin exposed after removal of the connecting rod..

LH Big End Bearing halves with the small end bush sitting modestly in the background...

RH Connecting Rod on the Shed floor....

Crank Axle minus both connecting rods but still four eccentric straps to come off..

All four eccentric straps removed.....

Removing the RH Coupling Rods with some mechanical handling assistance...

Dave Green directs operations......

Rear section already off, now comes the front half...

Back into the Shed minus RH coupling rod.....

Job done...LH Coupling Rod removed.....Martin Macleod and Dave Green can relax....!

Tuesday 19 January 2016

Here are a few views of the motion parts being removed from 828 in preparation for lifting her off of her wheels. It's worth pointing out the disadvantages of working on an inside cylinder loco. While the people working on 828 were struggling with heavy parts in the confined space between the frames other SRC staff members were cheerfully removing similar parts from the outside of 46512 EV Cooper Engineer...When the Caledonian Railway Company built 828 in 1899 the science of metallurgy was developing rapidly - even as late as the 1880s it was normal practice to make use of iron rather than steel. But by 1899 steel manufacturing techniques were being refined and expanded at a rapid pace and thus 828 makes extensive use of the low-alloy steels that were becoming widely available in 19th Century heavy engineering. From our perspective in the 21st Century "heavy" is the appropriate word. 828's connecting rods are steel forgings and they weigh just under 400kg each, which makes their removal something that needs to be undertaken with caution..but rather than depress ourselves right now with the connecting rods, lets look at the removal of the somewhat lighter valve eccentric rods and spindles...

The view from beneath....! Imagine you're standing in a three foot deep pit in Aviemore Shed underneath 828 and looking backwards towards the driving (middle) axle. This is what you see...! From right to left we see the LH Driving Wheel, the axle box suspension springs and above them, bolted to the frame, the fractured LH Driving Hornblock. Next is the LH Connecting Rod with one of its two large bolts visible at the bottom. Then we have have the four eccentrics and their eccentric rods that form the basis of the Stephensons Link valve gear that drives the slide valves to allow admission and exhaust of the working steam. Finally, on the left is the RH Connecting Rod. If you are impressed at how clean it is you can thank Dave Green who spent a day under the loco with a steam cleaner removing the oil and grease that normally saturates the motion and the inside of the frame plates...!

Look! The first of the four eccentric rods has been disconnected from the expansion link that it normally helps to swing. This one is known as the RH (right hand) Back Going Rod. It is attached to the bottom of the RH expansion link and its purpose is to give the principal valve movement to the RH Cylinder when the loco is running backwards. By a very clever piece of geometry it also helps to modify the valve events when the loco is running forwards.

Now we're crouching on the RH running plate and looking in at the valve spindle extension rods which can be seen emerging from their large support bushes mounted on the Motion Plate. The odd looking linkage on the LH Rod is the patent drive to the Mechanical Lubricator that ensures positive lubrication of slide valves and other parts of the valve gear. At the far left hand side are the LH Slide Bars and in the middle you can just see a vertical bolted joint that is the joint between the two halves of the cylinder block casting.

This picture shows the connection between the valve spindle extension rods and the valve spindles. The valve spindles are pulled up into a tapered socket and held firmly in position by a tapered wedge. The RH tapered wedge has been temporarily refitted after the spindle has been separated and pushed forwards.

Out in the open, just behind the front bufferbeam and below the smokebox door the "piano lid" has been removed and we can see the front covers of the two cylinders with the steamchest cover in between them. The steamchest cover has to come off to allow removal of the valve spindles. On the far side of the picture can be seen the extensive remedial work that was carried out in 2014 to strengthen the connection between the front bufferbeam and the main frames. 

The steamchest cover has been removed and we can see the two valve spindles. The slide valves themselves are the two bronze inserts in the valve yokes. 

Close up of the end of the valve spindles

Slide valve removed from its yoke (the yoke is lying on the shed floor). The valves are made from a phosphor bronze alloy. Because 828's cylinder block is quite old, the port faces that the valves move back and forward over are worn to an odd shape. It takes quite a while for new valves to bed in and form a good steam-tight seal. You can see the ridge that needs to form where the finger is pointing. When the next heavy overhaul is carried out it is quite probable that the cylinder block casting will need to be renewed.....

Monday 18 January 2016

Following discussions between the CR828 Trust (the loco owners) and the Strathspey Railway Company late in 2015 it was agreed that 828 should be given an Intermediate Repair to allow her to return to operation on the Strathspey Railway. Her current boiler ticket lasts until 2020 so she should be a very useful addition to the Railway's motive power contingent. It's intended that she will operate around 30 - 40 days per year. The above picture shows her standing alongside 46512 EV Cooper Engineer in Aviemore Shed in early January 2016 with work having just commenced.

The main items on the intermediate repair list are:

1. Renewal of the tender tyres.
2. Renewal of the cracked LH Driving hornblock casting.
3. Renewal of the worn slide valves
4. Inspection and renewal of slack fitted bolts connecting the motion plate to the loco frames
5. Inspection of the loco and tender dragboxes.

The most involved of the above jobs is the renewal of the LH Driving hornblock casting. This will require lifting the loco of of her wheels so that we can access the hornblock. It is a long time since any new hornblocks were cast for a Caledonian Railway locomotive so it will be an interesting job to get a new one cast and fitted. Fortunately there are still companies in the UK who can manufacture components of this type. The material will be cast steel.

Sunday 17 January 2016

17th January 2016

Welcome to the blog that has been created to help share information on  the life and times of Caledonian Railway No.828. The locomotive was built at the St Rollox (Springburn, Glasgow) Works of the Caledonian Railway Company in 1899. The Scottish Locomotive Preservation Fund (later the Scottish Locomotive Preservation Trust Fund, SLPTF) bought the loco from British Railways in 1963 with the aim of maintaining the loco in full working order so that future generations could enjoy the sight, sound and smell of a Caledonian Railway Company steam locomotive representative of the great technological achievements of our forebears.

At present 828 is based on the Strathspey Railway at Aviemore and is undergoing repairs that should allow the loco to return to operational condition during 2016.

The commemorative plate presented to 828 on her 100th birthday by the Caledonian Railway Association
A view of 828 from the footbridge at Boat of Garten Station, Strathspey Railway

The Coat of Arms of the Caledonian Railway Company as carried by No.828. The Caley adopted the medieval Royal Arms of Scotland  (without necessarily having gained permission) as their Arms to underline the "Scottishness" of the company.

Always the centre of attention wherever she goes.....! 828 at Boat of Garten in 2010 on the day that she was formally recommissioned after heavy overhaul