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Nene Valley Railway, Wansford Station, Stibbington, Peterborough, PE8 6LR

Tel: 01780 784444

4th May 2017.  

Three main areas are being attacked - Smokebox, Running boards and Cab.

At the smokebox, the boiler attaches to the frames in three ways.  The steam pipes on either side connect the superheater to the piston valves. At the base of the smokebox, the blastpipe is bolted and cemented to frames.  And finally along the base of the smokebox are a row of bolts that fix it to the saddle rising up from the frames.  So far, the steampipes and the blast pipe have been disconnected and we’ve started working on the Saddle fixings; these are tough to remove after 10 years in a smokebox but good progress is being made.

The running boards themselves are pretty much cosmetic fixings but they do have pipework slung beneath and some of this connects the boiler to the injectors.  To access this pipework, we need to remove the running boards.  We’ve done the left hand side (it’s simpler) but the right-hand side is only half-done, so it is an important area on which to focus.

In the cab, there are two main areas needing immediate attention. The cab front sits astride the firebox and must be removed before the boiler can be lifted.  The cab front is penetrated by many control rods and pipework, all of which must be removed first. The second critical fixing in the cab is a retaining bar that clamps the firebox onto the expansion plates that permit longitudinal extension as the boiler heats up. This bar is covered at either side by driver and fireman controls, all of which need to come out.

Parts removed count:


The driving position. Just about everything in this picture, except the backhead and the cab side, needs to be taken out before the boiler can be lifted.

Johns Wooton and Wood followed a menu from Alan Whenman to guide them through the 19-step process of removing the pipework. In the picture they haven’t yet reached half-way but they did get to 50% by the end of the day.

Some part of Roland is visible as he works to remove blastpipe fixing nuts.  This area was smothered in cement, which he had to remove to get to this stage.

Now you see it, now you don’t

Glenn and Andy took off the last few nuts and were rewarded with an easily removable but very heavy blastpipe.

Some of the under-running-board pipework.  

This year we have to undo all of it.  In a  few years time, the lucky ones will get to reinstall it.

10-11th May 2017.  

The team is getting bigger. On Wednesday, 17 people were working on and around the loco.

Some terrific flexibility on show, with teams and people changing focus to work around others.  

Good to see the RHS running boards off and terrific progress at the front end and in and around the cab.  Some work is challengingly complex, other parts are just bl----- hard work.

As Ken, Paul, StanD and GrahamP found, the smokebox saddle is very firmly attached. A solution suggested by Graham Batho - to grind crosses into the inside-the-smokebox bolt heads, then chisel them off and beat out the bolts ends, still with nuts attached. This is feasible because the bolt-heads are beyond re-use, but the cutting must be done carefully to avoid damage to the smokebox fabric - we do hope to reuse that.

New man David Myall had something of a baptism of fire - helping JohnW take down the drivers stack on the LHS of the cab.  Even with Alan Whenman's notes, this was difficult in the extreme but the end is now in sight, thanks to some torch work from DOC. Also in the cab, Ian, DavidB and Phil made short work of the damper controls and they (the controls!) are now safely in the container.  They've moved on to a more difficult job - removing the feed pipe from the exhaust steam injector to the RH clack. Very uncooperative fixings all along here, some conquered, some still to be done.

Parts removed count:


Paul has sparks flying as he works on the running board bracket fixing bolts.  The bolt heads (inside the smokebox) have become so corroded that it’s impossible to hold them with a spanner while the nut (on the outside) is unwound.  So Paul is grinding a head off, once done, the bolt-plus-nut can be simply tapped out.

Another before-and-after sequence. Philip, Ian and David disconnected the rear and central sections of the exhaust steam injector pipe. A further section (out of shot) disappears between the frames and may have to stay there until the boiler is lifted.

Talking of which,…

In conjunction with Engineering Support, we've decided that it's better to continue removing as much of the boiler fittings as is possible while it continues to sit on the frames in the workshop. The huge benefits are the safe working environment, the overhead crane, immunity from the weather and the proximity of tools.  A downside is that we don't get inside the frames as early as originally planned.  A key date, probably on the critical path, in the overall project is having the boiler ready for inspection, which means fittings removed, cladding/lagging off, tubes, superheater & S/H tubes out, dome & chimney off, regulator out.  This can all be done in the shed and should mean we get to that key date sooner than otherwise.

On the left hand side, Graham and Alastair have made good progress getting the controls and pipes that come through the cab front disconnected. This is one of the key tasks towards having a removable boiler.  

Their biggest component was the reverser shaft. Universal joints at both ends disconnected, as was the modesty panel on the cab front. The shaft was then hung on the overhead crane, the temporary strap up was removed and the part lowered onto the workshop floor.  A brief assessment suggested some play in the pins of the universal joints so there could well be some remedial work later.  A fuller study will be performed before any work starts.

Some smaller components that are obstructing access to boiler fixings were removed today.

Ken and George removed the speedometer and made a start on the water feed toward the LH Clack (which is already off).  Vivienne tagged and loosened oil pipes connected to the LH lubricator, taking care to keep the numbers in order of attachment.

Away from the loco, StanD punched out some more tags and Vivienne drilled out the corner holes. DOC is going to slice the sheet into individual tags using his kitchen guillotine.

 DavidM finished his day off by threading some of the next set of tags onto a dispenser wire.

A much smaller team on Thursday but making significant progress with less competition for space or tools.

Andy Horne worked all day at getting more of the smokebox saddle bolts loosened. Here you can see that all front bolts except the centre have been moved a few turns. There’s an air-pump part in the way of the last nut.

Pete Gregory detached the petticoat. In remarkably good condition, it might well be reusable. He’s also taken the nuts off the ejector blower fixing but the bolts are (once again) rusted solid.

Fran Lyon took down brackets along the RHS and detached one of the pipe runs along the boiler side.

21st May 2017.  

Although significant progress has been made in the cab, where the retaining bar is now accessible and we can see the tie-bars that hold down the boiler, we’re starting to hit some difficult parts at the front end.

With great effort, about 2/3 of the smokebox saddle bolts have had nuts removed. Unfortunately the bolts themselves are rusted solid into the smokebox and the saddle.  These bolts have their heads inside the smokebox, so the obvious approach would be to drive them out using brute force from the outside.  In the very few that are directly accessible, this has worked but most bolt-ends are semi-obscured by other loco parts

Parts removed count:


Cab floor on Wednesday evening. On the right can just be seen the fireman’s controls for water feed and the slacker pipe.  In the centre are the sockets for the rocking grate levers.  Just behind them is the retaining stretcher which prevents the frames pressing on the firebox sides. Almost visible in the filth below the sockets are the tie-bars that hold the back end of the boiler down but allow it to move back and forward with expansion as it heats and cools.

Andy Horne passes one of the few successes into the ‘done’ box. The line of bolt-ends can be seen above the cylinder/valve casing. Their angled alignment makes for difficult striking when trying to drive them out.

Smokebox, showing petticoat removed showing the superheater header and tubes. At top centre is the ‘snail’, as the vacuum ejector is affectionately known. This is proving difficult to remove, nuts are off but bolts are (as usual) rusted solid into the snail and the chimney bottom.  An upleasant area to work - we will need to use breathing apparatus while burning out the bolts.

At each side can be seen the steam pipes. The bottom ends are free but the top ends await attention.

Note also the blanking plate to left centre of the superheater header.  It’s suspected that this component was a common design, and also used in LMS Jubilee class locos, which had three cylinders.

Both sides of the loco are starting to look bare of pipework and work has started on the removal of the cab front.

On top of the firebox, the injector pipes are 90% detached from the manifold.

Parts removed count:


31st May 2017.  

Same old tale of hard work in some areas with precious little to show although it’s thought that now there are only about 20 bolts connecting the boiler to the frames. In other parts, great strides are being made and a glimpse inside the storage container shows that much has been removed.

Graham Batho, Andy Horne, Clifford Owen and Pete Gregory have all worked shifts to progress the saddle bolt removal, the current focus is grinding off the bolt heads. All except those deep inside, against the tubeplate, are now ready for a big bashing session.

 In a ‘spare’ moment, Pete also heated one of the Steam pipe nuts to red hot, but still no movement there.

In the cab John Wooton, Dave Myall and John Wood continued (JWd for morning only, as he was deputed as fireman for 34081 in the afternoon) removing components and today the firebox doors and the gauge frame offsets came out.  Earlier in the week, Alan Collins had single-handedly removed the frame spacer across the firebox rear and two the of the four tie-bars that hold down the firebox.

Roland has measured up the patch for the tender coal space and has cut the metal needed and he is confident that welding will be in progress next week.

Underneath the cab on the RHS, Kevin and DavidB continue to burrow southward but have hit a major block - an injector support bracket with hidden attachments. This is a subassembly that is going to need removal en-bloc. It is of course, heavy and the connecting nuts/bolts are rounded and rusted.  

Philip and Alastair removed sundry smokebox attachments and have started removing brackets from the boiler side - claiming it was easy!  

Paul Ian and Philip had a major success removing the RH clack valve but its LH partner  is proving less compliant. More heat is obviously required here.

Away for the loco, quantities of paint required have been estimated and quotes are expected very soon from candidate suppliers.  A poll is being run in the Members Newsletter to help decide which livery should be adopted this time around.

Sundry cleaning tools and materials are being sourced and the 92 Squadron ‘communal cleaning tank’ has been commandeered for first phase parts cleansing.

Two watching, one working. Traditional British workmanship at its best. Graham, Clifford and Alan in mid-session at the smokebox saddle bolts.

The left hand clack valve. Removed from high up on the front ring of the boiler.  This is a non-return valve that is opened by water pressure (driven from the injectors) against the pressure inside the boiler.   That’s how water replaces the steam that’s been used moving the loco.

Now it’s removed, it can be scheduled for disassembly and internal inspection.

Underneath the RHS of the cab with the exhaust steam injector removed exposing its support bracket that conceals the RH live steam injector

The old Mech Eng mess room has been given a purge, removing the detritus of the 92 Squadron and Thomas overhauls.  Far from perfect, it is still a good environment for parts painting - we’ll take care to keep it at an even temperature and as dust-free as possible.  The old washroom is being kitted out as a drying room with hanging arrangements for small parts.

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