C2 Project News

May 2017

Back to Normal

After wheeling the frames at Easter and showing off at the Quirks and Curiosities gala, we have settled back into our normal routine. The late May working party was focused on 4 days over the bank holiday weekend, but Andrew is staying on in Wales and hopes to continue to progress some tasks over the next couple of weeks.
The main workstreams are now the loco bufferbeams, loco brakes, cylinders and motion, and the tender frame reconstruction. We made progress on all of these. Attendance included Alan, Sam, Paul, Andrew, both Daves, Colin, James and Rowland. As usual, we were distracted slightly by the demands of running a train service too!
The new front bufferbeam is a substantial piece of 80mm plate weighing about a third of a tonne. We have adjusted the original design shape slightly to suit the regauged frames and FR drawgear while attempting to retain the typical character of a C2 front end. We had previously descaled it and tapped the holes. We had also made the trim pieces which make up the characteristic bead along the top edges.

This will be a very visible part of the loco so it's important to get it looking right. Paul carefully set up the trim pieces, while Andrew tacked them in place. We have decided to get the final visible weld bead completed by one of the expert welders at Boston Lodge, to ensure that it is perfectly smooth and even.
Front bufferbeam with trim tacked in place ready for final welding.
Brake cross-stretchers and a slack adjuster
The loco features an elaborate fully-equalised brake rigging. Although the basic concept and geometry of the Polish and Chinese versions are the same, there are numerous detail design differences: the Chinese increased many of the pin sizes and lengths, and added more slack adjusters into the linkage.

The first step was to collect all the parts together, clean them up and review the design and condition of the components before making a decision what to do. It immediately became apparent that there was not enough space between the re-gauged frames for either the Chinese or the Polish linkage arrangement. Working with CAD on the laptop next to the pile of bits, Paul has created a new concept geometry for the linkage retaining the equalisation within the reduced space. We then identified which parts could be re-used or modified in the new design. Colin, Dave 2, James and Paul made a start on improving the finish on the parts to be re-used, and making replacements for those in poor condition. Over the next few weeks Paul will complete the detail designs.

One happy coincidence is that the FR's Funkey diesel 'Vale of Ffestiniog' uses a composite brake block almost identical to that on the C2, and these (which are in stock) can be fitted to our brake block carriers with minor modifications.
Slack adjusters and brake block carriers. Some of these required considerable heat and persuasion to get them apart!
This brake block as used on the FR's Funkey diesel is a perfect fit on the C2 wheels!
Meanwhile, work was continuing on the motion brackets and cylinders. Alan has painstakingly cleaned up the motion brackets, removing all the paint and corrosion with a needle gun and then tidying up the seams with a flapwheel. These are nearly ready for a coat of paint to protect them. Paul removed a couple of stubborn studs from one of the cylinders, and cleaned up the remaining threads.

Alan is going to lead the refurbishment and refitting of the cylinders, slidebars and motion brackets which will require careful alignment and re-machining, plus some redesign of the weighbar shaft to suit the regauged frames.
Alan tidies up a motion bracket.
The rear spring safety brackets. But what colour should they be?
The rear springs have some safety brackets which are bolted to the frames and catch the spring in the case of failure of the suspension linkage. We had mislaid these so Rowland was set the task of finding them and refurbishing them so they could be re-fitted. He succeeded, and while cleaning them up he discovered that they had originally been painted black, but were later painted red. We had all assumed they would be black but a search through our photo archive found that our loco and a minority of other C2s had them painted red in the later years. This may have been a feature of locos overhauled at Chaihe in the 1990s; Harbin certainly outshopped the brackets in black. We've postponed the decision on top-coat colour until the next working party!
The reconstruction of the tender frame is a major task which is being led by Andrew and Dave 1. This working party focused on completing the back end with the spine, dragbox, drawbar support plate and bufferbeam being completed. This has involved a lot of descaling, weld preps, welding and finishing. Preparations have also been made for the attachment of the top skeleton plates and the reassembly of the front of the frames. We're hoping to have the fabrication stages complete by late summer, then get the frames grit-blasted and painted before proceeding with fitting the new horn plates, axleboxes and refurbished wheelsets. With a bit of luck we might have it on its wheels by the end of the year?
Andrew admires his handiwork at the rear end of the tender.
On our photo archive project, this weekend we have made two new contacts with photographers who visited Chinese narrow gauge lines in the 1980s and 1990s and we're hoping this will flesh out our archive with some new photos. Here's a nice example with several noteworthy features:
Mongolian C2: There were a few forestry lines in the Nei Mongol autonomous region, but they closed or dieselised relatively early and were little visited by western enthusiasts with cameras. So we were very pleased to receive a scan of this portrait of #12 at Ganhe in November 1999, newly added to our photo archive.

This was originally a Polish-built KP-4 loco (Chrzanów 3556/1958) and the worksplate is just visible on the dome. It has been thoroughly updated by the Chinese to be indistinguishable from a C2. It now has a long wide cab, roller bearings on rods and tender axleboxes, new lubricator, side blowdown valves, top feed, dome inspection hatch and external regulator linkage. The many changes to the boiler fittings may indicate that a new one has been fitted.

The loco looks freshly overhauled, which would probably have been done at Chaihe a few months after our own C2 was overhauled there. We're often asked what livery our loco will be outshopped in and this photo would be a good answer to that question. Note the rear spring safety brackets are red (as is the motion bracket), also the distinctive trim around the bufferbeam is picked out in white: these are all items we've been working on this weekend as described in the paragraphs above.

(Photo © Nicholas Pertwee)
Mini-update: Andrew has been driving trains most of the week but has found a couple of days to make progress on the C2. Here's a few photos of the latest work.

As well as working on our own loco, most of the group and our regular volunteers are Ff&WHR drivers or firemen, so you'll often see one of us operating the service or covering the more mundane roles such as standby driver or site supervisor. Sometimes we'll even moonlight on another loco restoration project such as Kerr Stuart 4415!

The next C2 working parties are in late June. Watch this space!
New front buffer beam with the trim welded on.
Has a chopper coupling ever been so shiny? Andrew has made a lovely job of these parts!
Detail of the trim after the welds have been cleaned up. This will look great in red with white trim!
June 2017 
Q&C II 2017