C2 Project News

July 2017

I'm sure our working parties are longer than they used to be!

The July C2 Working Party started two weeks earlier than originally planned, with Andrew, Dave 1 and Dave 2 reporting for duty on Saturday 15th July.
First task involved Andrew and Dave 1 shunting the tender chassis frames, on our wagon, into the erecting shop. The locomotive buffer beams, which had been on the end of the wagon, were lifted onto a slate wagon chassis to get them out of the way. Then any superficial corrosion was removed from the tender chassis platework, and the top plates were clamped into position. Andrew tacked welded them in place; not so easy, as the welds are on the undersides of the top plates.
Tender top flange clamped in place ready for welding.
Due to the size of the tender chassis frames and the limited height of available cranes in the erecting shop, it was then necessary to shunt the frames, still on the wagon, back to the C2 shed for turning over. With great care taken to avoid injuring anyone or damaging any of the weld tacks, this was accomplished. The tender chassis frames were now inverted on the wagon, which gives much better access for welding. Then it was back to the erecting shop for Andrew and Dave 1 to weld the tender chassis top plates into place.
Whilst the above was going on, Dave 2 manufactured a flange for the new locomotive brake weigh shaft bearing, to replace the broken one. This involved drilling holes for the fixing bolts, boring a large hole to accept the boss of the bearing, then cutting the final outside shape from the parent plate.
After a couple of days carrying out welding work on the tender chassis frames, Andrew turned his attention to welding up the locomotive front coupler head. With care taken to ensure everything was square, the coupler head was welded into place on the front coupler bar.
New brake weighshaft bearing, compared to the good original one. The other was badly cracked.
Chopper coupling for the front of the loco, ready for painting. The loco-tender drawbar is on the left and this end will fit in the tender front dragbox (see picture below).
Andrew had to go back to work on Tuesday, but Daves 1 and 2 stayed on and turned their attention to preparing more plates for the tender chassis frames. Dave 1 manufactured a couple of spacers to aid in the assembly of the tender front dragbox. Using these spacers, he tack welded the dragbox front plate into place.
Dave 2 trimmed the tender sideframe front extension plates to fit. These plates replace the front of the original tender chassis sideframes, which had corroded badly and been cut away. Both Daves ground weld preps on the edges of most of the remaining tender platework, in readiness for welding into place.
Whilst he was at home, Andrew prepared a drawing of the special fitted bolts which will be used to fix the locomotive buffer beams to the frames. Dave 1 took some measurements of the locomotive frames to assist Andrew in getting the dimensions correct.
By this time it was Thursday, and Paul had arrived. After driving the 08:40 Porthmadog to Blaenau Ffestiniog train and return, he set up his computer and continued work on the locomotive brakegear design, which has been a major homework task over the last few months. Although we are not changing the general brakegear arrangement, the change in gauge requires most of the components to be altered in some way or other. It is important to keep all the lever ratios the same as original, in order to maintain equal forces on all eight brake shoes on the locomotive.
We are intending to use the same pattern of steam brake cylinders as used on all the Ffestiniog Railway Fairlies, and also recently manufactured at Boston Lodge for the Lynton and Barnstaple Railway's new locomotive Lyn. Coupled with the lowering of the C2 cab floor to keep the cab within gauge, the brake actuating crank needed a considerable redesign. Paul figured out a way of using parts of the existing crank in combination with a new end fork. After cutting the old end fork off the crank, he and Dave 1 forged a new end fork, and Dave 1 welded it onto the old crank.
Steam brake crank after cleaning up, but before modification.
Modified steam brake crank, almost complete.
Dave 2 uses the plasma cutter to shape a new piece of plate for the tender frame.
Dave 2 found some suitable plate to manufacture webs for the additional tender chassis outriggers which will be used to retain the tender tank in position. Two of there replicated the existing six outrigger webs, while the other two also form brackets on which to mount the tender rear footsteps. Dave 1 showed him how to use the plasma cutter, with which he cut the new webs. After drilling holes for the tender rear footsteps in the appropriate webs, and grinding weld preps onto them, Dave 1 tack welded the rear webs into place.

Paul was driving trains on Monday through to Thursday, while Dave 2 had to go back to work on Monday. However, Andrew returned on Wednesday, and so the work continued.
Andrew has considerably more experience of welding than Dave 1, so is better at it. The tender front dragbox carries the traction loads between the locomotive and the train, and so needs to be suitably strong. Andrew therefore carried out the welding of the plates which make up this critical part of the tender chassis. With the dragbox top plate welded in (a rather awkward operation, due to limited access), the dragbox bottom plate was welded into place.

It was then time to start reassembling the front end of the tender chassis frames. Firstly, after advice from Bob, Andrew built up some of the existing plates with weld, to fill any potential gaps. After grinding back to ensure the new platework still fitted, Dave 1 clamped the sideframe extension plates into place and Andrew welded them.
Front dragbox plates welded in position. A pin drops through those big holes.
While this was going on, Lottie used a wire wheel to remove superficial corrosion from the rear faces of the locomotive buffer beams. Andrew and Dave 1 then shunted the slate wagon carrying the buffer beams back to the relatively clean environment of the C2 shed. Lottie then applied a coat of primer to the rear faces of the locomotive buffer beams, and also to the coupler head which Andrew had made. She returned the following day to apply a coat of undercoat to these components, including the complete front drawbar, plus the locomotive spring retention brackets which had been primed previously.

Dave 2 returned on Friday, and with Paul's train driving duties completed, the planned working party started.

Paul moved some of the hole positions in the locomotive brake cross stretchers using a milling machine. It would appear that they were not originally manufactured very accurately! He also marked new centrelines on these components, and marked the ends for cutting off (the cross bars need to be shortened to account for the reduction in gauge). Lottie then used the band saw to make the necessary cuts. Paul also cleaned up the holes in many other brake gear components, ready for bushing.
Enlarging holes in the brake gear. These were worn to strange shapes, so Paul used an oversize slot drill to make them round again. Iglidur plastic bushes will be fitted to return them to the original size. The combination of stainless steep pins and Iglidur bushes has been used very successfully on FR carriage brake gear and we are adopting the same approach for the C2.
Andrew and Dave 1 continued work on rebuilding the front end of the tender chassis frames. Before fitting each plate, the straightness of the frames had to be checked, and any distortion caused by welding corrected. Then the new plate could be clamped into place and welded. By Saturday morning, the front end of the tender chassis frames were almost fully restored, and the remaining outrigger webs welded in place. Only the bottom flange and dragbox cover plate remain to be attached, but this will be done after the frames have been turned over again.
Front end of the tender from the outside
And a view from of the inside showing the new central spine
Paul found a billet of steel, and gave it to Dave 2 to machine into tender brake hanger brackets. First operation was to square up the billet, then to take about one inch of material off one side. Using the Bridgeport mill, Dave 2 generated a small mountain of swarf, and a squared off steel bar of suitable dimensions.
Colin ground the new forked end of the brake actuator crank to the correct profile. He also applied a coat of paint to the components which Lottie had undercoated the previous day.

Sam located some suitable steel strip to make new locomotive brakegear lateral control links, and cut and drilled it appropriately.
Loco bufferbeams and front coupling being painted. The backs of the bufferbeams are uppermost, and the blue paint is a witness coat used between layers of black. The front bufferbeam will of course be red!
Selection of modified brake gear components including weighshaft, crank, stretchers and lateral control links. There is still some work to do on all of these, but we're getting there!
With most of the welding on the tender chassis frames completed, Tom used a flap wheel to remove weld spatter. Dave 1 used a grinding disk to neaten up some of the cut-outs in the frames, while Andrew used a similar tool to flatten off some of the welds on the front. Tom then switched to a grinding disk to fettle the bottom edge of the tender frames in readiness for fitting the bottom flange. Dave 1 found a piece of tube and used the plasma cutter to make radiussed sections to blend the new front end bottom flange to the existing bottom flange of the tender chassis sideframes.
With the weekend drawing to a close, Sam and Dave 1 lifted the locomotive buffer beams from the slate wagon onto the floor in the C2 shed, in order to make room for the wagon carrying the tender chassis frames to be accommodated. Andrew and Dave 1 then shunted the frames on the wagon back to the C2 shed.
Daves 1 and 2 had a good tidy up of all areas of the works which we had been working in, to leave things in a presentable state. Andrew retired to the C2 shed and set up his computer, using it to work on an 'as built' drawing of the tender chassis frames; much easier to do when they were in front of him.
We've also had a go at creating Welsh and Mandarin language versions of our website front page. These are drafts at present, so apologies for any errors; we're going to get them properly checked soon. If you can offer us a better translation then please Contact Us.
And so concluded what must be our longest ever C2 Working Party. The tender chassis frames have progressed exceptionally well, as have the locomotive buffer beams and brakegear. We also helped out on the operational side of the railway in numerous ways over the fortnight. As always, special thanks must go to the helpers we had over the two weeks.
The tender frames outside, while on their way from the erecting shop back to our own shed. These are really looking good now and we're on target to have the tender rolling chassis done by the end of the year.
Mid August 2017 
June 2017