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Well what a glorious Summer we've had this year. I hope you all enjoyed the fantastic weather and had some wonderful holidays - or maybe just took the time to soak up the rays in your own garden. Whatever you did, I'm sure you have some great memories to share. What about me? Well, along with the rest of the team, I spent many a weekend dripping sweat and cursing the heat as we continued to progress with 499 at Ropley! Working outdoors we pray for clear weather so I won't complain about the long dry spell, it would just have been nicer had the temperature been a few degrees lower! Great progress has been made on both locos over the last 3 months. Let's start by taking a look at the work done by the MHR guys as they continue to push 506 along, assisted by the ULS as necessary:
  • All cylinder block bolts have been flogged up tight
  • Completed front bogie is now under the loco - we have a 4-6-0!
  • Cylinder drain cock linkage fabricated
  • New drain cocks are complete, including lapping in. Only outstanding work now is to drill and ream the taper pin holes in the squares for the linkage
  • Brake pull rods fettled and assembled (apart from leading set)
  • Brake cylinder piston rod bushes made and fitted
  • 6 new slidebar nuts made
  • A start has been made on tidying up the oil pipes into the horn blocks
  • Boiler barrel cladding repairs and painting continues
  • Main cylinder cladding finished and fitted
  • A start has been made on making a new vac cylinder piston gland cover plate
  • A bit of progress on the rubber front has also been made
  • Expansion link rivets made and fitted
  • One return crank pin ground by a contractor
  • Side rods sent away for machining
  • Tops for the bogie spring link blocks have been machined
  • Big ends re-metalled
  • Return crank rods - one twist removed, large holes bored - taper pin hole re-drilled
  • Commenced manufacturing of axle box dust seal parts
  • Return crank rod bush made and fitted
  • Slidebar alignment is slowly progressing
  • Various oil pipes annealed, straightened/tidied up
  • Various painting tasks being progressed
  • Two new reverser die blocks made
  • Driving axle springs fitted
  • Brake cylinders are pretty much complete, just require testing
  • Nuts and pipes unions/nipples made for lubrication system
  • Both expansion links re-fitted - L/H has been re-bushed
The tender, which I previously reported had been moved into the yard, has now been stripped for overhaul; the tank is sat on blocks outside the main shed whilst the bogie frames and wheels are inside. A number of strengthening angles on the bogies have been identified for replacement due to excessive corrosion, so new material has been ordered. In the meantime, work has commenced to clean the rest of the frames. The buffers which were at the front of the tender for shunting round the yard in its previous life as a testing station have now been removed, as has the fabricated handbrake column. All springs have been removed and are being tested, and the brake cylinder has been overhauled. The white metal has been run out of the axle box crowns and all boxes are being assessed for repairs. Elsewhere in the machine shop the tender brake crossbeam ends have been built up with weld and re-machined, split pins drilled out of the horn tie studs, brake trunnions have been modified to accept grease nipples and a start made on grinding off 'roll-over' on the tender wheel sets.

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… almost there
Completed draincock
Brake rigging
View from the running plate of rear axle and axle box assembly

L/H return crank
Whilst 506 is in the final stages of its overhaul, exciting things have been happening on 499. First off, we took delivery in June of THE key component for the whole project - a 'stovepipe' chimney! It was delivered shortly before our open day so we had just enough time to prepare it for the grand unveiling; all we need to do now is complete the loco to put it on! In fact we have two 'stovepipes', thinking ahead we decided to have a second cast which could be cut down to ultimately allow the loco to go on hire to heritage lines with a lower loading gauge and return with the chimney still in one piece! This is now displayed in the yard at Ropley on boiler 451. Having had that very successful open day at the end of June, we could now crack on with the front end rebuild. First 'little' job in the queue was to remove the R/H cylinder block which had been left on the loco for our open day; by lunchtime on the Sunday it was off. Next up, clean off the centre casting and prepare it for lifting. Some fettling was required, mainly building up wasted areas with weld on the top of the casting and cleaning off any grinding dust or other residual deposits, particularly from the mating faces; the same process applied to the inside of the frames. A thin coat of oil was then applied as protection and the casting moved into position ready for lifting with the hoist. Prior to that we had removed the old front platform which had been temporarily bolted low in the frames to act as a safe standing platform whilst the cylinder block holes were reamed. The final part of the pre-lift preparation was to remove the new buffer beam which had been bolted on to give a degree of strength to the frames. The casting has large lugs at the bottom which pull up to the bottom edge of the frames; unlike 506 we do not have the space to slide the casting in from the front so both frame sections have to be sprung apart to allow the lugs to drop in from the top … basically we had to open the frames by approximately 2.5" to get the casting in. The hoist was readied, gantry moved into place, feet locked and the chains and strops positioned. Raising the block to the maximum height literally gave us just enough room to slide the casting over the top of the frames! Once over, it was lowered and the frames sprung to allow the lugs to slide between the sections; the frames were then closed and accommodation bolts fitted to secure the casting.
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Tender tank lifted from the bogies
… and supported on blocks in the yard
Bogie frames being stripped
Stovepipe chimney fresh from the foundry
Cut-down stovepipe on boiler 451
Next job was to lift the refurbished middle stretcher in to place, but before that the motion brackets had to be removed … again! The stretcher is a lot lighter than the front casting so easier to manoeuvre, but it actually sits either side of the joggle in the frames so there was still a degree of 'jiggery/pokery' required to get the thing to fit. Eventually it was located and held up with yet more accommodation bolts so we could proceed to make and drill a few remaining holes on the joggles, ream all holes for riveting then countersink as necessary. Finally, after so many promises, the day finally came when riveting could start. The team got stuck in and over two days the stretcher was completely riveted and, with a bit of time to spare and the equipment set up, we riveted on a couple of spring hanger pins 'cos we could'! The process went perfectly, although we did have to make up yet another holding-up bar for a few rivets which are obstructed by wing plates. It's impossible to put into words how good it felt to be 'back on the guns'. With the stretcher now riveted up, the next job will be the centre casting; preparatory work has been completed with holes reamed and countersunk where necessary.

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Cleaning inside 499's frames
Centre casting heads skywards for the last time!
And now time or the middle stretcher
Engine in yard

Not much more will be done on 499 during October, however, as our attention turns back to 506 and the fabrication of a new ashpan. This is a far from straightforward design, and with no drawings available the only sensible way to deal with this is to sit the boiler in the frames and work from there. And so it came to pass that on 25 September 2018, boiler 755 was reunited with 506's frames for the first time in 17 years. It is only a temporary fit whilst we fabricate the ashpan and finish a couple of other jobs but it is a wonderful sight to see. The boiler is likely to be lifted again before Christmas as together we work towards hydraulic and steam tests … the eventual return to traffic of 506 moves ever closer!

JUNE 2018

Work on 506 is now largely in the hands of the MHR engineering team. With the running fleet to be maintained as well, work may sometimes appear sporadic but the guys are pushing on with the overhaul as best they can. Certain jobs have been done/are to be done by our own guys but to start splitting out who's done what seems a bit daft … we're all working together as one team to try and ensure 506 returns to traffic later this year. So, to summarise the work done by all parties since my last post:
  • New brake hangers are now riveted to the frames
  • New piston and valve cover studs have been made
  • Brake rigging has been refurbished; crossbars and pull rods
  • Brake weighshaft has been machined
  • Mating faces for the blastpipe and main steam pipes have been faced up
  • Blastpipe infill pieces have been finished and fitted
  • 4 axleboxes have been machined and white-metalled
  • Leading and centre driving wheelsets are in
  • 1 new axle box has been completed, the other is machined and awaiting white-metalling. The axle boxes have proved a bit of a saga. Some of you may recall that 2 of our original boxes were u/s so the plan was to replace these with a pair of new castings the Society had made some 15 years ago. Unfortunately, once the MHR guys started to machine them, it because clear they had more air holes than a Swiss cheese. There was no option but to scrap these and start again with brand new castings. As you can probably imagine, we were all hugely frustrated by this backward step, not only because of the time needed to obtain 2 more castings but also because after such a long period of time we have no recourse to the foundry for the first ones.
  • The front bogie is now completely refurbished and awaiting final assembly
  • Wear in the bores on the coupling rods has been built up with weld
  • The boiler casing is undergoing repairs as necessary
  • A special tap has been made to re-cut the steam pipe studs in the cylinder blocks
  • Whilst all this has been going on, the frames and cab sides have been prepped and painted; it's all looking pretty good!
  • Planning ahead, the tender has been moved into the yard for finishing. For those interested in the detail, this is the new tender tank (on the chassis rescued from Eastleigh works) built to ultimately run with 499; 506's own tender is u/s with thin tank sides and a question mark over the frames. Ultimately we plan to build another new tender using frames we have from 30825 - just need a few more hours in the day!
Up on 499 things have really started to move on. The L/H cylinder block was hung on the frames a while ago but nothing could be done until we had a 33mm reamer to fit our mag base drill. Enter our new friends at Redmayne Engineering in Lymington and all was resolved. In recent weeks the frame holes for the L/H block have been reamed to full size, the block removed from the frames and the R/H hung ready for the same treatment. Some of the R/H holes had been drilled slightly oversize so our mindset was that this could take some weeks to sort out; in fact a couple of weeks and all were finished. Theoretically the next task is to remove the block and locate the centre casting, but we are putting this on hold until after our open day - we want to share the sight of499 with a cylinder block on with our visitors. In the meantime the opportunity has been taken to refurbish the area around the bogie pivot; you may recall from previous posts that this area was badly corroded so has been built up with weld which is now being ground down and filed level. Once we hit July, all hell will break loose! It will be a case of block off, casting in, ream more holes, casting out, clear sward, casting back in, begin riveting. It's a massive ask, but we're aiming to have the front end rebuild (blocks, casting, running plate, valence, buffer beam and centre platform) virtually finished before Christmas - did I really just say that!

Whilst the reaming has been going on, a couple of us decided to grind off a few firebox stay heads on boiler 799 as a bit of an 'in-fill' job. In fact, things have gone so well that the boiler has become a project, at least 1 year ahead of schedule. Most of the stays below the grate will have to be removed. The outside heads of these have been ground flush to the steel plate and pilot drilled to a diameter of 8mm. Inside the firebox the stays marked for removal have been ground flush with the copper plate. This grinding requires much more care than the outside - nick the steel and a simple weld repair sorts the problem; nick the copper and it's a whole different issue!! Those who have been to Ropley lately may have noticed that the smokebox rivets have been removed from boiler 451 (nearest the yard). To allay any confusion, boiler 799 IS the one chosen for 499 on the basis of economics - 451 requires a new copper crown. However, because it is sited nearest the yard and the easiest to work on, we are removing the latter's smokebox to enable us to use the barrel as a template for a new smokebox. I have seen a comment on one of the chat rooms about the type of smokebox door we intend to use. Clearly we would love to have a proper Urie style door made, but because of the shape it is currently looking cost-prohibitive. The ULS doesn't give up easily though, we will keep looking for a way round this and I will keep everyone informed of progress. In the meantime, should any of you win the lottery please contact the Urie Loco Society …..!!

Back to the 'here and now', we will be holding our 3rd annual open day on 30th June this year. Yes, it is all about fundraising to keep our projects on track, but it is also a day when the engineering team stays clean and we make ourselves available to meet members and visitors and answer any questions they may have. If you can spare a few hours why not come along for a chat and see the work we do close up. You will have access to both locos; 506 is currently a 4-4-0 but is likely to be an 0-6-0 come the 30th! The rear drivers are ready to go in soon, the accommodation bogie will be taken out but the refurbished bogie won't go in immediately … we need access to the cylinder bolt nuts to do a final check for tightness (in other words we need to get in there with a large spanner and hammer!). Return to a 4-6-0 is likely to be during July. Back to the 30th, you'll be able to browse the books for sale in our sales cabin, see our photographic record of the work done since 2011 and watch archive footage of 506. We will be showing some of the components we have made and there may also be one or two surprises for you to see this year. Maybe you could consider taking our a membership or signing up for the 499 Appeal; remember, this is a unique project to return the loco to her 1920 as-built condition and you can be part of that. Also in attendance on the day will be our President, Bob Urie - grandson of the great man - and our Honorary Patron, Mark Collins, radio presenter on Wave 105 and renowned railway enthusiast; both will be delighted to meet you.

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'New' tender to initially run with 506
Refurbished front bogie for 506 awaiting final assembly
Deep contemplation Urie style on 506!
506 blastpipe infill pieces finished and fitted. Blastpipe mating faces faced up.
Ropley wheeldrop in use to fit 506's leading drivers

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499's RH cylinder block is lifted into place
Reaming cylinder block bolt holes in 499's frames
Pilot drilling firebox stays to be removed on boiler 799
Burning out smokebox rivets on boiler 451

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Refurbishing around the bogie pivot on 499's centre casting


At last the ULS engineering team has begun working on 2 fronts. In the last update, it was announced that we had completed the front end rebuild of 30506, but since then we have completed a number of more straightforward jobs on the loco. Three rivets holding the centre stretcher had been identified as loose, so these have now been removed, the holes cleaned up/prepared and new rivets fitted. Work on the brake hangers has continued and we will soon be in a position to rivet these to the frames. Our previous attempt to repair the cab toolboxes did not meet the standards we like to see so these have now been scrapped, new ones fabricated and bolted/riveted in place. For the past couple of months, work has been carried out to scrape and then steam clean the frames and begin painting areas which will not easily be accessible once the wheels are back! Running plate, valences and cab sides are all receiving attention.

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Replacing loose frame rivets on 30506
On the mechanical side, the main areas of focus are the axle boxes, with 4 existing boxes plus 2 new castings being machined and drilled for lining plates. Boxes have been built up with bronze weld as necessary. New steel horn liner plates have been made and are currently being machined, the horn faces are being machined and a good start has been made to frame alignment. Slide bars have been ground and slide bar alignment plates machined. A start has also been made on fabricating a new ashpan; this will take some time as it is quite a complex component.

While all this has been going on, significant progress has been made with the front bogie. It's probably easier to list the work done rather than try to put it into a 'story':
Meanwhile in the boiler shop, progress on boiler 755 has been quite outstanding. The beachhead fittings are now largely in place along with the regulator handle and a fully overhauled regulator valve. The firebox sling hangers and stays, all direct crown stays and the crown bars are all fitted. The superheated flues have had the copper ends brazed on and small tubes removed from store and annealed. ALL are now fitted in the boiler, leaving just the superheater elements to sort out. As we look at it now, with smokebox door and chimney fitted, and regulator dome lined up for fitting, we have almost got a finished boiler!

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The other piece of really exciting news is that the engineering team have restarted the restoration of 499. Work has been going on for a while to clean up the centre casting prior to lifting it back between the frames. We are also now working inside the rear section of frames to clean those up. The BIG news though is that we now have a cylinder block on; the left-hand block was lifted into place a couple of weeks ago and located with steel dowels and accommodation bolts. The next part of the process is to open out the holes drilled in the frames to full size ready for fitted bolts. The block will be taken down once this is done so we can repeat the process with the R/H side before dropping the casting in for riveting. With weather on our side, we could have the casting and both blocks riveted and bolted up by our 2018 open day!

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Aside from the engineering works, the ULS have at long last acquired a permanent sales cabin which has been erected near the top car park at Ropley. Not only do we now have somewhere to display the book collections and other items generously donated for fundraising sales, but the stock is now much better protected from deterioration. My thanks to all concerned at Ropley who helped facilitate this and also to Matt from Elfords Sheds for the very generous discount offered when we bought the building. The cabin is perfectly placed to sit in the sunshine and admire the work going on with 499 whilst reading a good book … bought from us, of course! In all seriousness, every penny raised by the sales team will go directly into the restoration of the loco.


Following an afternoon discussing the trials and tribulations of restoring old steam locomotives, renowned radio presenter and railway enthusiast, Mark Collins, has enthusiastically accepted the role of honorary patron of the Urie Locomotive Society.

Mark, who presents his shows at Wave 105, the South's largest local radio station, has worked in radio for over 25 years, including stints at the old Virgin Radio and Talksport. His interest in railways has also taken him into television where he presented two series of Trainspotting for the Discovery Channel.

Having recently received an invitation from the Committee to become an honorary patron, Mark said "I went along to the Watercress Line on Saturday, had a look around the sheds at Ropley and had a fantastic afternoon. I spent hours there just chatting to the ULS team and admiring the commitment they have to restoring these two locomotives, the difficulties they come across and the hurdles they overcome in making sure that these things will run again on the railways of the UK. So I have accepted their invitation."

We are delighted that Mark has accepted this role and look forward to seeing him at this year's AGM on 18 November.

Please play the audio clip below to hear Mark talking about his visit to Ropley - you will need to listen beyond the first 30 seconds or so to get to the ULS bit!
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Mark Collins (above) and below centre, along with (from L-R) Roger Burt, Barry Stratton, John Fry and Mark Pedley
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We are routinely asked what the latest developments are with the overhaul of 30506 and the restoration of 499 because our website is not always up to date in this regard. Unfortunately, work commitments prevent us from compiling more regular updates, so we hope to overcome the problem with a new series of very simple weekly summaries of the previous week's work, expanded hopefully every quarter into the more detailed blogs you are all used to, with photos. We hope you find these notes of interest.
W/E 17 SEPTEMBER 2017 (30506):
  • Built up bogie horn ties with weld for re-machining
  • Assessed loco horn ties and started building up with weld and machining
  • Steam cleaned under running plates
  • Weld repaired a driving axlebox
  • Made 4 new bogie spring hangers and 4 new nuts
  • Replaced remaining loose rivets on front bogie
  • Began to dismantle cab toolboxes for replacement
  • Small tubes removed from store and annealed
  • Continue to dismantle smokebox (499)
W/E 10 SEPTEMBER 2017 (30506):
  • Remove 2 hornblocks from 30506's front bogie
  • Weld up and re-drill bogie frame plates
  • Face up bogie frames and blocks
  • Rivet hornblocks
  • Remove lining
  • Remove loose rivets from bogie frame and replace
  • Commence squaring up axle box horn guides on bogie
  • Refit clips
  • Continue fabrication of new ashpan
  • Commence cleaning/degreasing main frames prior to painting
  • Machine loco axleboxes, including new casting
  • Braise copper ends onto super-heater flues
W/E 20 AUGUST 2017
  • Burn out loose rivets on front bogie - 30506
  • Assess bogie cross slide for new slide plates
  • Continue frame cleaning - 30506
  • Begin cleaning of front bogie - 30506
  • 30506 boiler: Install last of the crown stays and crown bars with the set bolts; install cross linked stay; complete remainder of internal pipework; install tailpipes in the dome
  • Sort rivet gear ready for move to 499
W/E 13 AUGUST 2017
  • Replace 3 rivets on centre stretcher - 30506
  • Rivet on new side control stop bracket to front bogie - 30506
  • Frame cleaning - 30506
  • Commence levelling of bogie pivot plate (previously built up with weld) - 499
  • Clean/paint driving wheelsets - 499
W/E 6 AUGUST 2017
  • Continue with fabrication of new ashpan for 30506
  • Cleaning/painting driving wheelsets - 499
  • Manufacture and fit fitted bolts to 30506 centre stretcher
  • Prep holes for remedial riveting to 30506 centre stretcher
  • Clean down 30506 frames ready for painting
  • Continue machining new axle box casting for 30506
  • Commence fitting direct crown stays, boiler 755 for 30506
  • Tubing on site for large tubes and superheater elements

JUNE 2017

The team have been working flat out on 30506, the front end rebuild of which is now complete. This has been an absolutely mammoth task which, at times, took us out of our comfort zone and certainly required a significant amount of lateral thinking to get round problems we just didn't know would exist when we started. We have a small team of 4-5 guys who only work weekends, making this achievement that much more incredible.

To summarise just some of the work involved:
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  • Accurately mark old, bent frame sections for cutting
  • Use old sections as a template to drill the new frame sections, making accurate allowance for wastage/distortion of the old
  • Burn out hundreds of rivets to remove
  • Buffer beam
  • Centre platform
  • Valence
  • Running plates
  • Front footsteps
  • Burn out cylinder bolts, including 'burning blind' through a narrow opening in the front of the centre casting
  • Securely remove cylinder blocks
  • Burn out rivets securing the centre casting
  • Remove centre casting
  • Lift/clamp/prep/weld new frame sections to remaining old plate
  • Repair centre casting. Temporary fit/drill/remove casting then repeat process! Ream holes on final fit
  • Rivet centre casting to frames, in some instances using holding up bars designed by our team
  • Cut/drill/rivet buffer beam support angles
  • Drill/rivet new buffer beam
  • Using tailor-made cradle, lift cylinder blocks into place … remembering no pattern exists should something go wrong!!!
  • Line up cylinder blocks, using accommodation bolts, to fairly exacting tolerances
  • Ream all cylinder bolt holes through frames and centre casting, using a host of jigs of our own design in areas of difficult access
  • Bolt up with fitted bolts (manufactured by MHR machinists) and graunch up tight. This included working inside the centre casting, making 'weight' behind a hammer virtually impossible
  • Rivet various support angles to front end
  • Rivet front platform back in
  • Refit valence sections
  • Rivet running plate, some recovered sections and others newly fabricated
  • Repair and rivet front footsteps
  • Rehang sandboxes
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Cylinder bolt nuts viewed from inside the centre casting
Locating front platform
Pre-heating the surrounding area before riveting
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Testing yet another holding-up bar prior to riveting
Last cylinder block bolts fitted
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New smokebox floor
Fitting new cylinder studs

The above is nowhere near comprehensive, but it gives an idea of what we faced. We were replacing the front 9' of a 90-year-old steam loco - bent, twisted and generally showing all the signs of a hard working life. Allowance had to be made for shrinkage during the weld process, all done to a margin of error of a millimetre or so. The truth as to whether the job had been successful or not would show up once we attempted to fit the slide bars; front end to the rear cylinder cover (on the new plate), rear end to the motion bracket on the old. Why did we ever worry; they were a perfect fit! Work done on ULS loco's is a team effort so I rarely mention individual names, however this is one of those occasions when special mention is required. A master at understating his own achievements, I want to acknowledge Barry Stratton who led this project; he did the measurements and he got it right!

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R/H side bar, a perfect fit!!

30506 has now been moved into the wheel-drop for the MHR guys to take over and complete the overhaul. Our spare bogie has been temporarily assembled to support the front of the locomotive and a trolley is supporting the rear. All driving wheel sets have been removed and stored prior to being sent away for tyres and journals to be turned. The ULS team have a few more jobs to finish off before we move the riveting gear up the yard to restart 499. That is likely to be later this month and once we start we won't be stopping until 499 is fully restored to 'as-built' 1920 condition with no smoke deflectors and the signature stovepipe chimney. Imagine the sight of her pounding the banks in glorious holly green livery; it's going to happen and it's going to happen on the Mid Hants Railway!

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A bit of variation never goes amiss, so when the MHR guys asked us to rivet 12 spring hangers on to Wadebridge's new tender chassis we were delighted to help. It didn't really take us long and it meant the MHR team could keep going, so positive outcomes all round.

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Riveting spring hangers on Wadebridge's tender chassis


In the July report we commented that we had fully riveted the centre casting of 30506 to the new frame sections. This was sort of true as the two remaining rows of holes at the bottom of the casting were deemed to be too difficult to rivet, largely due to inaccessibility on the inside for the holder-up, and would therefore be bolted instead. In true ULS style, however, a lot of head scratching eventually evolved into another design of holding-up bar, one rivet in as a test, the idea worked perfectly and off we went. The centre casting IS now fully riveted up! A number of the casting rivets sit beneath the cylinder blocks so those heads then had to be ground flush.

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These really were the last row of rivets!

Grinding the heads flush.

The next major job was to finally fit the cylinder blocks onto the frames. Our well reported lifting cradle was used, following the same procedure as when they were trial fitted. Just prior to lifting, the mating surfaces were coated with a 'Stratton patented' mix to ensure a tight seal. Everything went without a hitch and the blocks were fitted with temporary accommodation bolts. The final fitted bolts are being made by the MHR guys in the machine shop, hopefully all will be through and fitted by the end of the year.

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L/H block ready for lifting.
Applying the magic potion.
… and on.
Fitted cylinder block bolt fresh from the machine shop.

Whilst waiting for the bolts, we have taken the opportunity to start rebuilding the front of the loco. The valence is now complete on both sides, front curved sections riveted to the buffer beam at one end and the straight sections which sit above the cylinder blocks at the other. The latter have, in turn, been welded to the part remaining on the loco. The valence supports the running plate on the outer extreme of the engine, the inner edge being supported by angle which has been cut, drilled and riveted to the new frame sections. To the front of the cylinder blocks the running plate curves down to the buffer beam and comprises two separate sections for removal during piston/valve exams. On both sides the original top piece was salvageable, but the bottom part required replacement. To this end, new plate has been cut, rolled, trimmed, drilled and countersunk on site by our guys. Butt straps for bolting the two sections together have been cut and riveted to the lower pieces. Up on top, the new running plate has been cut, profiled, drilled and countersunk for the rivet holes around the edges. Current work revolves around drilling, countersinking and tapping holes which are necessary to bolt the running plate to the top of the cylinder blocks. Lastly on the rebuild side, both sets of front footsteps have been riveted back on the loco, lamp irons and grab handles fitted. Where possible, frame sections have been cleaned down and a coat of red oxide primer applied.

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Removing the valence from the old running plate.

Curved plate section retrieved.
Valence sections riveted together …
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… and welded at the other.

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Cleaning down the frames.
A bit of heat helps to straighten the footsteps.

Riveting them on.
The ULS engineering team had a temporary break from riveting back in the Summer - with the boiler on its back but due to be turned fairly shortly, the opportunity was taken to fabricate and place into storage a new ashpan ring. Out in the yard our newest volunteers have begun to dismantle the smokebox on one of our spare boilers. There is a specific reason for this … you will all find out what that is in due course!!

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Not a bad first attempt.
It soon pulls into shape anyway.
Lamp iron and grab handle fitted.

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Cutting the new running plate.
New sections of running plate.
Dismantling a smokebox.

As a final reminder to ULS members, our AGM is Saturday 19 November. At midday you will have full access to both 30506 and 499, with an opportunity to discuss progress and plans with the committee. A small sales stand will be open and the photographic archives will be available for viewing. Non-members are also welcome to come along and see our work. At 2:30pm, members only will gather in the education room (workshop viewing gallery) for the usual reports and formalities of an AGM. I hope to see as many of you as possible on the day.

JULY 2016

Work in the last month or so has focused almost entirely on 30506. The centre casting was repaired to wasted areas, cleaned to remove all traces of swarf then lifted back into place for the final time with the gantry; the next time it comes out will definitely not be our problem! Once correctly aligned, the casting was fixed to the frames with locating bolts in every other hole which were then pulled up as tight as we could possibly get them. Finally, it was time to start riveting. Rather than the laborious method of heating rivets with gas, we had gained permission to use the railway's electric heater. What a machine, a 3.5 inch x 1 inch rivet is red hot within a few minutes! One team member places the rivet, another is straight on to the head as a holder-up and a third/fourth member knocks over and dresses the rivet. Once an area has been riveted as far as possible, the accommodation bolts (by now no more than finger tight) are removed and those holes riveted. It's hard work but by following the company protocol and not rushing, we have not had a single failure. As with everything in life, experience always improves productivity. When we first started I think we put in 4 rivets (to be fair, by the time we got everything set up and tested it was late afternoon). In contrast, the last Sunday of July we turned over 29. The achievements for the month were thus:
  • Centre casting fully riveted up. Some were straightforward, others required a degree of inventive thinking. In particular, 4 clusters of 4 holes in 'pockets' at the top of the casting required the manufacture of a special holding-up bar.
  • Those rivets covered by the cylinder blocks have been ground flush to the frames.
  • Buffer beam support brackets and gussets are fully riveted.
  • Buffer beam riveted to the supports.
  • The curved angles which support the front sections of running plate are also now finished.
  • All buffer beam rivets have been dressed.
  • Fitted bolts have been manufactured in the Mid-Hants Railway machine shop for holes at the very bottom of the casting which are simply too inaccessible for a holder-up and therefore cannot be riveted.

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JUNE 2016

Our grateful thanks go to everyone who helped make the first ever ULS open day, held in June, a success far beyond our wildest expectations. The Mid-Hants staff had organised clear access for us on the Friday and the traffic department ensured both the 'new build' tender and 30506's original were brought into the yard for viewing. Andy Netherwood was in attendance to discuss progress on boiler 755 whilst Paul Stone was available to discuss the specialist welding he did to the frames of both locomotives. The ULS 'team' were there to answer questions, photo boards were on display and a full sales stand was available to browse and rummage.

Our thoughts are that around 150 - 200 people attended the event and many were not afraid to part with money; a significant boost to Society coffers by the end of the day! Special thanks therefore to everyone who made the effort to come down to Ropley - we wouldn't be anywhere without your generous support. Thanks also to our friends from the Canadian pacific project who helped promote the open day during their own tours of the sheds.

We hope to hold many more events working together in this way during the months and years ahead.

Here are a few images to give a flavour of the day - however, it was impossible to capture the atmosphere and by the time the crowds appeared we were too busy to take photos!

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The new front frame sections were successfully welded into place earlier on last year. Paul Stone is our coded welder and using a process known as flux-core welding (a form of mig rather than arc welding) he only needed 1 day per section. The centre casting provided the anchor points to effectively lock old and new sections together for welding. It has to be said that at first glance it looks like we have made a hash of the R/H side because the top of the new plate sits proud of the old; in fact it is perfectly true. The old girl has obviously had a tough life including a few rough shunts, so much so that when we looked closely we realised the original frame on that side was bent downwards.

Prior to the actual welding, all holes previously drilled using the old plates as templates were opened out to almost full size and countersunk as necessary. With both sides welded up, the centre casting was removed again for cleaning up and weld repair to wastage in some local areas. Work then went into abeyance for a number of months pending the return of the cylinder blocks from contractors Bryn Engineering. The blocks were eventually received back just before Christmas last year and have now both been trial fitted to the frames. They are not the easiest things to lift due to their shape, so a special cradle was made to allow a 2-stage lift. First the block needs to be stood up to bolt a heavy plate to the block, fix shackles, chains and strops, lift the block into the cradle, release the chains and remove the plate. Then, with the block upright in the cradle, lift it using strops only onto the frames and hold in place with accommodation bolts. Sounds easy, but each time this is done it is a very nerve-racking experience! All the fixings, chains and strops have to be in exactly the right place at equal tension … if a block falls there will only be one outcome and it’s one we daren’t think about!

All the bolt holes for both blocks lined up, so with a few weeks of reaming completed they have been put to one side to await the final fitting. The large platform which sits in front of the smokebox has been temporarily bolted onto the frames to check alignment although this has also been removed ahead of the final rebuild. The buffer beam is drilled and countersunk and the supporting brackets/angles which sit behind it have been fabricated. Most recently the centre casting has been removed yet again to be cleaned off and de-burred before we get stuck into riveting and bolting up.

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An awful lot has been achieved recently on 499. The front end of the loco has been completely stripped down, removing pistons, valves, crossheads, slide bars, sand boxes, motion brackets and extension pieces from both sides. Both cylinder blocks have been removed and the great news here is that they are not in as bad a condition as 506’s so will not need to be sent away for specialist work. Once the blocks were off, we then ‘blew out’ all the rivets holding the centre casting in place, replacing some with accommodation bolts, and lastly both leading horn blocks were removed.

The wasted frame sections were removed, taking the cut roughly in line with the centre of the leading driving axle, some 14’ in length. 499’s frames had to be renewed further back than 506’s because of an old BR weld repair that had started to crack again. In fact, the R/H side was so bad that we were able to simply lift off the majority of the wasted section without any cutting; 499 had, in reality, broken her back. The new frame sections had arrived sometime prior from Tata Steel, cut and profiled but not drilled. They had also been joggled for us, a joggle being a kink in the frame necessary to accommodate the large cylinder blocks whilst keeping the locomotive in gauge. Using exactly the same methodology as we did for 506, the old frames were used as a drilling jig on the new before our specialist welder brought everything back together using the flux core process. It will soon be time to start rebuiding the loco.
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