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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