Sunday, 22 November 2015

'Alfred' stretches his little wheels on 'the big track'

Nice Sunday weather today so me, Malc, and 'Alfred' had a day out at Urmston Model Engineering Society's track. It's been three weeks since 'Alfred' was last steamed and I unloaded him from the car and wheeled  him via the swing bridge and access line onto the 'prep bay' where locos are prepared for running. First job is coupling the tender to the engine including the two water feeds for the injectors, and the one for the manual water pump.

All pictures by (and copyright of) Jason Lau. Please click on any picture for a larger image.

The prep bays at Urmston this morning, me Malc and 'Alfred' on the right

Next comes 'oiling round' the motion, axle boxes (not forgetting those on the tender), valve gear, eccentrics, expansion links, piston and valve rods, little ends, crosshead slides.... anything that moves or has stuff moving against it! Malc has modified my oil can with a long, fine bore, copper pipe to reach into all these places, especially the stuff between the frames. The steam oil tank is topped up with very thick oil (this is steam-pressurised in running and feeds steam oil into the cylinders to lubricate them).

The boiler has to filled with water and this is fed in through the blow down valve (having first opened it, of course!). It's filled to half a glass showing in the boiler water level gauge glass. The tender tank is then filled, and so is the saddle tank. The saddle tank on 'Alfred' is not used as a water source when running, but is filled as ballast to make the engine heavier for better grip.

The firebox is half filled with paraffin-impregnated charcoal, and the ignition key got out of my pocket (a ciggy lighter!). The electric blower (sucker really) is put on the chimney top and connected to a car battery to provide suction to draw the fire. Some charcoal is lit on the shovel and tipped into the firebox to start the conflagration. Once it's going well some coal is shoveled in on top of the fire, little and often. Soon it starts to crackle and the top of the firebox feels warm.

Malc, 'Alfred', me, and a club member. Note the 'blower' on the chimney.

These little engines soon make pressure and once the pressure gauge is showing a few pounds I can remove the electric 'blower' and use the loco's steam blower, which is far more effective. Once full pressure is reached I let 'Alfred' blow off to ensure the safety valves work, and of course use the injectors to maintain boiler water level.

Keith and another club member prepare 'The Beast', while Malc and I work on 'Alfred in the background, and Dave works on his crimson Beyer Peacock

 Soon be time to take off the electric 'blower'

Is Keith a fisherman, one wonders?

Keep feeding that fire! The prep bays have water and compressed air outlets which greatly facilitates preparation and disposal of engines.

'Alfred' is blowing off now. Soon be time to move out onto the running track. To the right of the prep bays are the two prep bay access tracks, the inner (shorter) running track, the feeder track to the main running track,and on the extreme right the 'big' (main) running track. A traverser connects the prep bays to the two prep bay access tracks (to the immediate right of me) while a traverser and 'swing bridge' (over the main running track) in the far corner of the park give locos access from one's car boot directly to these access tracks, so no need to carry a loco (not that you could with anything larger than 'Alfred'). Access to the main (big) running track from its feeder (the second from right track here) is by a third traverser beyond the passenger station, behind the camera.

Out on the shorter inner running track; Malc oils round again before he has a drive of 'Alfred' 

I'm driving 'Alfred' on the shorter (inner) running track so I have the 'token' for that track. The token, taken out of the traverser, disables the traverser so it can't be moved from the running line leaving a 'hole' in the track. So as long as I have the token I know the track is entire. However, if someone wants to use the traverser I hand over the token (as I am, above) and cease running until the traverser is back in place and I once again have the token on my engine. 

Dave's Beyer Peacock (on the right) is waiting to enter the passenger station on the main running track. A second train waits behind it in turn. The Society gives rides to the public on the big track and these are very popular and a good source of income.

Time to take 'Alfred' onto the main 'big' track! I wait on the main track feeder line for my slot after a passenger train on the 'big' track.

All set! 5" gauge LMS 'rebuilt' Royal Scot 'British Legion' in the station road.

On the 'big track'! I top up the tender water tank and ensure my fire is 'right' as I wait just short of the station on the main line for my run on the 'big track'. Keith sat behind me as mentor. Malc then had a drive of the little loco on the big track with Keith mentoring.

This is Dave on his Beyer Peacock. I drove two circuits of the big track on this loco with Dave sitting behind me, and Malc drove it as well. With its big boiler and fire box it's much less demanding than 'Alfred', especially on the extended distance and gradients on the big track. It doesn't need firing at all on a circuit of the track, and not much water injection either. 'Alfred needs firing at least once and it has to be done quickly as opening the fire box door kills the pressure as cold air is drawn in. He also needs a careful watch on water level and use of the injector to keep that as it should be.

Looking back to the station. This is the third traverser that connects the feeder track to the main circuit when it is activated (shifted right). 

At the end of the day Keith moves 'The Beast' onto the prep bay for disposal. Note the car backed into the site in the distance. That's where locos are loaded and unloaded. The compressed air powered lifting tracks enable much heavier locos than 'Alfred' to be unloaded from a member's car and positioned on a prep bay with little physical effort. That's essential, as any such loco cannot be lifted by any other means.

At the end of the running day it's time to 'dispose'. I got the boiler pressure up to max, and also the boiler water level while allowing the fire to decline and wheeled 'Alfred' onto the prep bay via the traverser and access track. First job was to drop the fire, and on these engines the grate can be literally dropped onto a shovel by backing the loco to the end of the prep bay track so the firebox overhangs the bay (the tender having been removed), pulling out the retaining pin, and allowing the grate to fall onto the shovel.

The loco can then be moved forward by hand and the blow down valve opened. I like to do this with maximum boiler pressure if possible so as the steam rushes out of the valve it will take any boiler contaminants with it. No water comes out as water in the boiler is at 90 PSI and well above atmospheric boiling temperature and on release to atmosphere it instantly boils to steam. It's amazing just how much energy is released even from a small loco like 'Alfred' when the blow down is opened.

The smoke box door is opened and the accumulation of grit, ash, and detritus drawn through the boiler flue tubes from the fire is shoveled out. The flue brush is used to clean out the boiler tubes (easier to do while the loco is still hot), and the saddle tank drained. Compressed air blows away residual ash etc from the cab, smokebox, and all around the loco taking care not to blow detritus into the motion or valve gear and bearings. A wipe down with an oily cloth completes the disposal chores, and after a good wash and scrub of hands and removal of overalls it's time to wheel 'Alfred back to the car loading bay, and carry the tool tray, battery etc as well. 

Car loaded we head off home. Via the Bird in Hand at Knolls Green for a refreshing pint of Sam Smiths of course!

Here's a video Jason took of me setting of with Keith on the big track. 'Alfred' later took me and Keith and Malc as well, and I could notch him right back to within one notch of mid gear on all but the steepest gradients, A strong little engine! The noise on the video is is the excited children around the station area:

Vince Chadwick with his Quarry Hunslet - Sunday 22nd November ...Vince Chadwick on his 3.5 gauge 0-4-0 Quarry Hunslet with tender, Going around Abbotsfield Park with Keith Tilbury. Sunday 22nd November 2015.
Posted by Urmston & District Model Engineering Society on Sunday, 22 November 2015

No comments:

Post a Comment