C2 Project News

March 2017

Another Busy Working Party

With the aim of getting a rolling chassis for the locomotive at Easter firmly in our sights, the March Working Party was a hive of activity. Paul has taken on the unenviable position of project manager for this critical period, and has invested a lot of time in planning out activities for the working party. The results of his efforts are plain to see though, with productivity being fantastic.

A couple of weeks ago, Dave 1 had a worrying thought about the axlebox under-trays. Since we have moved the axleboxes closer together due to the change in gauge, would there still be space to pull out the under-trays? A quick measure up showed that the trays themselves could be withdrawn, but the handles clashed. Chris 1 therefore ground off the old wire loop handles, and Paul cut some steel strip to make new hand grips which could be mounted on the bottom of the under-trays. Alan welded the new hand grips on after Chris 1 had ground the weld preps. Problem solved!
The last weekend in March was a fine one, with beautiful weather. Is there a railway workshop anywhere in the world with a better view than this?
We have changed the way the main axle bearings are lubricated, replacing the original top feed design with a bottom feed arrangement. This required oil to be fed from the axlebox top reservoir around the outside of the bearing, such that it dribbles into the under-tray and keeps the Armstrong Oiler therein sitting in a pool of oil. Some small adjustments were required to the under-trays to ensure that the oil dribbles into the tray, and not past it and onto the floor. Ed carefully bent the top edges of the under-trays out, so that they are a good fit into the axleboxes. Where necessary, Matt ground the inner edges of the sides of the under-trays, so that they sit fully under the lip on the axlebox which the oil dribbles over.
Because the under-trays are now a much closer fit in the axlebox, Ed moved some of the fixing bolt holes a little to keep everything in alignment. Paul ran a tap into the corresponding bolt holes in the axleboxes, to make sure they are clear. Much easier to do this on the workbench now instead of discovering that the bolts are a difficult fit when we're laying on our backs on the track trying to fit the under-trays at Easter.

Finally Chris 1 took the finished under-trays into the carriage works paint shop (where we have kindly been given some space to paint components in a clean environment) for application of primer and top coat.
Axlebox lids and trays being repainted after modifications to the suspension pillar holes and handles respectively.
After many months of measuring, grinding, re-measuring, re-grinding, etc., we believed all of the horn face plates to be correctly positioned. Paul carried out a final check of one of the wedge faceplates which was the last to be ground, and was satisfied with its position. Paul and Dave 1 then carried out a trial run of assembling the horn wedges, horn faceplates, wedge adjusters, horn keep plates, and axleboxes. All parts fit beautifully, with the wedge faceplates at the bottom of their adjustment range, just as we had intended. Phew!
Paul stamped the wedge faceplates with their position codes, so we can always put them back in positions which we know they fit in. He also documented the positions of the two spare axleboxes we are using in place of two of the originals. One of the originals was showing signs of derailment damage, and we had some difficulties while machining another. They can be put to one side to be sorted out later, while we use the spare axleboxes to get the locomotive into traffic.
Whilst the above parts were assembled, the alignment of the suspension pillars was checked. These pass through bushed holes in the frames, and locate in a recess in the axlebox lid. By design, there is a clearance between the pillar and the sides of the recess, but we quickly discovered that many of the pillars were tight against the edges of the recess, and a few would not fit at all. Fortunately the side wall of the recess is quite thick, and so Chris 1 put the axlebox lids into a lathe and bored the recesses out by a few millimetres to give more clearance. Another check with all components assembled, and all but one of the suspension pillars fitted nicely.
The obstinate suspension pillar was one associated with Axle 4. We have realigned the horns on Axle 4 quite significantly, to correct for a twist in the frames probably caused by derailment damage in the past. This means that although Axle 4 is now correctly aligned with all the other axles, it is not so well aligned with the frames. So it was no great surprise that aligning the suspension pillar with the axlebox was a challenge.
Paul and Dave 1 determined that the recess in the axlebox lid needed to be moved longitudinally by about three millimetres. Chris 1 set the axlebox lid up in a lathe with a four jaw chuck, and after centring it with a dial test indicator, carefully moved the lid sideways by three millimetres. Re-boring the recess on this new centre moved it in the correct direction, such that when assembled the suspension pillar sits correctly. Another problem solved!
To finish, Chris 1 took the axlebox lids into the paint shop and applied first primer then top coat to the enlarged recesses, thereby completing the lids.
Because of the realignment of parts surrounding Axle 4, we found that one of the brake retaining safety straps made at the previous working party didn't fit. It is likely that it was made to fit the holes in the frames, one of which we later moved when fitting the horn keep plate. However we had spare material, and it didn't take Rowland long to make up a replacement part.
Suspension pillar heads machined from solid by Chris (2) and Dave (1) and about to be painted. One axlebox awaits a final coat of paint behind.
Chris 2 started work on the suspension pillar heads a few months ago, and took them back home to Manchester to continue working on them there. He completed boring out the recess in their undersides, into which the top of the suspension pillar fits, and started cutting the slots in the top surfaces which locate the ends of the springs or equalising beams. Due to time constraints, it was decided to finish these components at Boston Lodge, so Matty kindly returned them to us in Wales.

After assembling a suitable cutter, Dave 1 completed the machining of the upper slots in the suspension pillar caps using the Wanderer milling machine. Chris 1 and Matt gave them a clean, and took them into the paint shop for the appropriate treatment. More parts finished!
At the previous Working Party, we had tried to clean out the M6 threads in the axlebox drain holes. Unfortunately a tap broke in one of the holes, followed by another tap breaking in the other hole on the same axlebox! There must be something odd about that particular box. Alan took the axlebox home with him, and his friend Phil at M.P. Engineering used a very fancy CNC milling machine and a spark eroding machine to remove the offending taps.
With a full complement of axleboxes back in Wales, Paul tested the fit of the bearings onto the journals on the axles. As we had hoped, they are a very snug fit. He and Alan spent some time checking just how well the bearings fit on the axles, and have identified that some of them may be a little on the tight side, but only by a thou or two. We don't think we can make such fine adjustments reliably using the machines at our disposal, so current thinking is that we will roll the wheelsets up and down a few times with the axleboxes fitted, to polish off any tight spots.

Alan make some small adjustments to the entraining tapers within the bearings (these are at the edges of the bearing, where oil is squeezed between the journal and bearing surfaces), and this was found to improve the fit of the bearings on the axles.
Colin surveys the trial fitting of the axleboxes on the wheelsets.
When fitting the axleboxes to the axles, one significant issue did become clear. There is a transition curve on the axle, between the wheel seat and the bearing journal. We have increased the radius of the transition slightly, to reduce stresses in the axle. When the bearing thrust faces were machined, the corresponding radius on the edge of the thrust face was forgotten, so the axlebox could not be pushed up against the back of the wheel. As it happens, we had forgotten to change the radius on the thrust face drawing to match the radius on the axle, so it is perhaps fortunate that the thrust faces had not been machined (it was easy to spot that a sharp corner would not interface with a curve; it would have been a lot more difficult to identify that two curves didn't match precisely!). Paul determined the correct chamfer required on the edge of the thrust face, and Martin has very kindly offered to machine them for us before Easter. Another potential problem well under way to being solved.
Dave 2 removed the thrust faces from the axleboxes in readiness for machining the chamfers. In doing so, he spotted that some of the thrust face lubrication ports had become blocked with filler when we filled adjacent unwanted holes. He therefore checked that all the oil ports were clear, and cleaned out any that weren't.
The axleboxes which remained in Wales had been painted by Colin in the weeks before the working party, so it was just the axlebox which Alan had taken home that was unpainted. Rowland took this into the carriage works and applied primer and top coat, so now all the axleboxes we intend to use for the rolling chassis are at the same stage.
With attention focussed on the axleboxes, a lubrication trial was carried out. Ed made up a series of trimmings to fit into the oil wick tubes. We aren't sure how dense the trimmings need to be, so Ed made up several sets of different densities. With trimmings in place, and assisted by Paul, the axlebox top reservoir was filled with oil and the flow through the ports monitored. A fire was lit outside the shed to heat up a pan of oil so that we could test the oil flow with warm oil too. Decisions were thus made about suitable densities of trimmings for each wick tube, and using this information Ed made up a full set of trimmings for all of our axleboxes.
With things coming together for the rolling chassis, Dave 1 carried out a check of the suspension components to make sure we have a complete set. This included all the fixings we'll need. Colin drilled out one of the split pin holes which was under size, and Dave 1 found some suitable sized split pins. Some of the components had been painted a long time ago, and so Chris 1 and Rowland cleaned them and applied more paint where necessary.
The axlebox keep plates and brake retaining safety straps are held in place with bolts fitted with castle nuts and split pins. We have bought all new fixings, so the bolts needed to be drilled for the split pin holes. The castle nuts form a useful guide for marking the holes, which Chris 1 carried out. Alan has taken the bolts home to drill the holes, as the bolts are rather tough material to work with.
Thinking ahead a little, once the locomotive chassis is on its wheels it is highly likely that on occasion we'll want to tow it around with a shunter. Rather than rig up some nasty arrangement of chains which will damage the paintwork, we would like to use the temporary drawbar which Paul made last working party, and which fits into the dragbox we have designed. To this end, a few weeks ago we ordered all the parts required to assemble the dragboxes. Rubber springs and spacing washers are the same as those used on other FR locomotives, so we could buy them from the suppliers that the FR use. But other parts are bespoke to the C2, so these were ordered from Sanderson Engineering in Huddersfield.
Most parts for the dragboxes had arrived in the days preceding the working party, and so the opportunity was taken to ensure that they all fit together. Paul, Dave 1 and Colin all took part in this, and found that with some scraping of paint from the appropriate holes, the parts fitted perfectly. We had put a great deal of thought into the assembly process, since clearances are tight, and it was very satisfying to find that the parts slip into place just as intended. Once we were satisfied that everything fitted, Chris 1 and Rowland took the parts into the paint shop and applied primer then top coat.
Colin took some stainless steel bar which we had ordered previously, and turned up four pins which will hold the drawbars into the yokes within the dragboxes. It sounds simple, but involves a lot of material removal, which takes time. The final touches were the split pin holes through the ends of the pins.
Drawbar pins machined by Colin. Coupling bobweights machined by Chris (1)
Dragbox pins being painted prior to assembly.
The profile plates we ordered did not arrive in time for the working party (they were delivered on the Monday morning afterwards; doh!), so we were unable to make the dragbox yokes. But we hope to get these make the week before Easter, so they should not hold the job up. We won't have the final drawbars made by then, and we don't need them as we have the temporary drawbar already made, but a few of the components were available. Chris 1 faced off the bob-weights for the chopper couplings, so that's another job done.
With the profile cut plates due to arrive on Monday, we didn't really want them left outside in the rain and in the way until the Easter Working Party. Paul gave the matter some thought, and came up with a plan for getting the platework under cover when it arrives. This was quite a feat of logistics, and complicated and already complex plan for the working party. The objective was to free up our bogie wagon such that the plates could be placed on it when they arrive, and the wagon shunted into the C2 Shed by the works staff. To set the scene, we started with the bogie wagon loaded with the tender frames and the slate wagon loaded with the locomotive wheelsets. The skates were also in the shed.
First operation required Paul and Dave 1 to push the skates out of the shed and into another siding. Then the bogie wagon was pushed out of the shed but remained on the C2 siding, which allowed the slate wagon to be pushed up the siding within the C2 Shed until it was under the crane.
Using appropriate lifting straps, firstly Wheelset 4 was lifted from the slate wagon, the wagon moved out of the shed, and the wheelset placed on the rails. The wheels are stamped to indicate "driver's side" and "fireman's side". In theory it doesn't matter which way round the wheelset is installed, but to avoid confusion in the future, we turned the wheelset so that the wheels are each on the 'correct' side. Wheelset 4 was then rolled up to the end if the shed, and the slate wagon brought back under the crane.
Next was Wheelset 3. The same process was applied, but this time we had the concern that Wheelset 3 doesn't have any flanges. Although Paul and Dave 1 have both made a career based on the analysis of wheelset behaviour on rails, and all the theory says they will stay on without flanges, it's still a leap of faith to push over half a ton of wheelset along a curved siding with nothing visible to keep it on the rails. Fortunately conicity theory worked for us, and the wheelset was pushed up to the end of the shed siding next to Wheelset 4.
Wheelsets 2 and 1 followed, so that all the locomotive wheelsets are now on the rails in their correct orientation ready for fitting to the chassis.
With the slate wagon cleared, it was pushed up the siding to join the wheelsets and the bogie wagon, carrying the tender frames, brought back into the shed under the crane. The frames were carefully lifted, the wagons both moved along the siding again, and the the frames lowered onto the slate wagon. Both wagons then had to be pushed up into 10 Road, such that the slate wagon could be placed in a different siding. The tender frames will have to live outside for a couple of weeks while we get things ready for the Easter Working Party. Alan used a diesel shunter to run the bogie wagon round into the main works yard, ready for loading with pallets of platework on Monday.
Profiles being loaded onto our wagon.
Our bogie wagon out in the sunshine, waiting in front of the Boston Lodge erecting shop for our delivery of profiles.
The delivery of profiles, back in our shed a couple of days after the working party. Better late than never! We'll be getting on with these at the next working party.
With the siding in the shed clear, Paul took the opportunity to use the space to turn the locomotive frames over. We haven't seen the top of the locomotive frames for quite a while, as it has been easier to work on the horns with them upside down. But now with the frames the correct way up, in readiness for wheeling, the opportunity was taken to clean the top surfaces and apply more paint. Ed and Chris 1 busied themselves with this task.
The loco frames are now the right way up again, and have had a final clean-down and coat of paint before the are reunited with the wheels.
Ed applies the finishing touches to the paint on the loco frames.
Although most of the current effort is going towards the rolling chassis for the locomotive, finishing the tender rolling chassis is not being forgotten. Many of the profile cut plates which we have on order are for the rebuild of the tender frames, which we will focus on after Easter. Meanwhile, Dave 2 milled and drilled a large piece of angle section to make a jig which we will use to hold the tender horn plates when we grind them.
The ' Quirks and Curiosities II' weekend is approaching, when we will have the C2 Shed open for visitors. We are preparing various items of merchandise to hopefully sell at the event. Alan is sourcing clothing, and brought samples with him. We were very pleased with the quality, and have put in a larger order for ourselves, in addition to that for general sale. Also available will be forestry plates (see our merchandise page) and Harbin name plates (made from a sample which Paul obtained when visiting Rongshan). Chris 1 applied more paint to the plates we have had cast, red for the forestry plates and black for the Harbin name plates.
Example of the new range of branded merchandise that will be available at the Quirks event.
Replica 'Harbin Forest Machinery Factory' worksplates being painted. We hope to have these polished up and for sale at the Quirks event.
We try to keep the C2 shed tidy, but it's a working environment, so the clutter does eventually build up. Spurred by the rearrangement of wheelsets, frames and wagons, Paul, Dave 1, Chris 1 and Matt each spent some time tidying areas of the shed. There's still more to do to make it presentable at ' Quirks and Curiosities II', but we've made a good start. It's amazing home much extra space there seems to be when the shed is tidy!
Before going home at the end of the working party, Matt applied a layer of oil on the exposed metal surfaces of the wedges and horn face plates, to protect them against corrosion. Although the weather over the weekend had a real feel of spring about it, with some beautiful sunshine, it would be a brave man to say that it will remain that way for the next few weeks. When the rain is horizontal and the wind coming off the sea, it only takes a day of two for a layer of rust to form on unprotected surfaces, so we're not taking any chances.
And just in case all the above activity was not enough, Paul organised Kurdish Pasties from the Model bakery in Blaenau Ffestiniog for lunch on Saturday, and Dave 1 arranged a couple of meals at the Thai Harbwr restaurant in Porthmadog. You have to keep the troops well fed. And we even managed a pint or two of ale in the local drinking establishments. Busy times!

We've got two more working parties in April to contiune the excellent progress.

Then it will be time for the FR's Quirks and Curiosities II event and we hope to meet some of you then!
The group of volunteers based at Glan-y-Pwll depot have been restoring the FR's train of side tippers. They've done about half of them so far; these might make a nice photo-charter rake for our C2 eventually.
Easter 2017 
February 2017