C2 Project News

February 2017

A busy month for the C2!

As we prepare to reunite the frames and wheels, there's a lot to do and we're having some extra working parties. I'm writing these up week by week as we go along - see the sections below.

First Weekend: 4/5 February

If it seems like only a few days since I wrote up our January working party, that's because it is. Chris couldn't attend our working party last weekend, but was determined to do his bit and has been working on the C2 in Boston Lodge today. He's done a lovely job cleaning up the outside of the injector bodies and our next task with these will be to 'pickle' them in citric acid to clean up the insides too. We'll then check them for damage and cracks before making the final decision whether to buy a spare.

Chris also did some preparation of the loco frames ready for a final coat of paint.

Meanwhile back at home, Paul, Andrew and David have been busy preparing drawings for the next components to be made and ordered, and we'll be getting some quotes for these next week. We've also been planning the sequence for assembling the wheels into the frames. For an 8-coupled loco with adjustable wedges, it's a bit more complicated than just lowering the frame onto the axleboxes! We think we've sussed it though, and Paul is determined to achieve this at Easter so we can exhibit a rolling chassis at the FR's Quirks and Curiosities II event.
Chris ready for action!
The injector bodies were in this condition before Chris started work. It's been suggested that these look like a Mayan dog sculpture
Injector bodies, with the outsides nicely cleaned up by Chris.
The main tourist information and marketing organisation in North Wales is Go North Wales. We learnt today that after a successful marketing partnership in Japan last year, their focus this year is to attract visitors from China. So we had better make some progress on Y Ddraig Ddu / 黑龙 ready for the hordes of Chinese visitors! (I'm kidding, we haven't named the C2, it's still just number 4).

Second Weekend: 11/12 February

Paul and Dave arranged this working party to resolve the problems we had with fitting the wedge bolts to the horn keeps, plus a few other minor tasks. We had bought some citric acid crystals and a small circulation pump so the first task was to start pickling the injector bodies that Chris had cleaned up the previous weekend. We then did a little measuring job on the loco frames before getting stuck in to the main task of the weekend.
The injector bodies in a bath of citric acid, to remove scale from the insides. That's a tiny circulation pump in there with them.
Re-tapping the wedge bolt holes in the horn keeps, using the big DSG lathe. This took a while to set up but it worked well.
Paul and Dave spent the rest of the morning working out a way to mount the horn keeps in the 4-jaw chuck of the big DSG lathe, with the tapped hole for the wedge bolt positioned on the spindle axis and the horn keep secured flat against its datum faces. The task was complicated by the length of the horn keeps and the limited clearances between the work and the bed. In fact we found that of the two near-identical DSG lathes, the job would only fit in one of them (typically, not the first one we tried...) We worked it out in the end as shown in the photo above. The old tapped holes were slightly under-size and not perfectly square, so we drilled them out true and then re-tapped them with the tap in the tailstock and turning the chuck by hand. A slow job but it has produced eight good-quality tapped holes that are truly square.
Trial fitting three of the corrected horn keeps to the frames has highlighted a few more niggles to solve, most of which are relatively easy to solve and Paul has already made a start on that. Unfortunately, one of the tapped holes needs to be moved along the horn keep by about 6mm! We're not quite sure what went wrong here but we have a plan to fix it which will occur at the next working party.
Wedge faceplate, adjuster bolt and horn keep successfully assembled into the loco frame. The axlebox should fit in the gap between them. The size of the gap can be fine-tuned by turning the wedge bolt to move the wedge faceplate up and down. The bolt is then locked in place with a locknut (not shown).
Axleboxes machined and with thrust faces assembled. We need a smaller countersink to do the last holes in the renewable thrust faces - a job for 2 weeks time. Not too much more to do on these now.
Meanwhile, Martin has been continuing to work on our axleboxes and the lateral thrust faces are now nearly complete. He's done a superb job using the CNC milling machine and the fit is excellent. By the next working party, Martin should have completed his tasks for us, and we will have a few final fettling jobs on the axleboxes before they are ready for trial assembly, painting and then final assembly.
Sam and Alan made a flying visit on Saturday afternoon to give us some moral support. Alan has done some useful homework procuring some non-standard fasteners and fittings we needed, and is also working on building up our stocks of merchandise ready for some sales at the FR's Quirks and Curiosities II event.
Andrew arrived on Saturday evening and did a variety of tasks on Sunday, including gleaning materials for the couplings, and machining some oil grooves in the axlebox horn faces. He's done these on two boxes and is hoping to return next weekend to complete the other six.
Pete also joined us on Sunday and worked on refurbishing and modifying our skates. We built these to bring the loco across the cob back in 2008, but they have lain out of use since we dismantled the loco. Now we are going to use them again to hold the frame in mid-air while we lift the wheelsets in, one at a time, using our crane. Here's a couple of archive photos of the skates when they were new:
Criccieth Castle shunts the completed skates on the C2 Project's Hudson Bogie wagon number 80. Andrew Nelms.
The two skates coming out of the shed to let the paint dry in the sun. Andrew Nelms.

Third Weekend: 19 February

The weekend saw Andrew working hard at Boston Lodge on his own. (Not entirely on his own as a group of volunteers were also in the works inserting new boiler tubes into Hunslet locomotive Blanche). Andrew managed to machine 2 oil grooves in each axlebox brass wear plate. That's 4 per box so 32 grooves in total! These grooves help the bearing oil to be distributed evenly across the rubbing surface.
Machining the oil grooves in the axlebox brass wear plates. - Andrew Nelms 18/02/2017
All 8 Axleboxes with oil grooves freshly machined in the brass wear plates. - Andrew Nelms 18/02/2017
After completing the oil grooves, Andrew was able to carefully add a 'lead in' to the phosphor bronze journal bearings. This will help the oil to form an even film between the axles and the bearings.
The Journal bearings as machined by Martin. - Andrew Nelms 18/02/2017
An axle journal bearing with a 'lead in' ground into the bronze. This helps the bearing pick up the oil off the oil pad and draw it into a film on the bearing surface. - Andrew Nelms 18/02/2017
On Monday, Julian and Chris (2) dismantled, cleaned and oiled the bearings of both skates, and then reassembled them. The previous weekend Pete had cut some steel sections to be fitted to the top of the skate bolsters, to carry the loco frames about 2'6" above rail level. Julian and Chris have now welded these sections into place, so the skates are ready to support the loco frames while we lift the wheelsets in. That's another preparatory job complete that can be crossed off the list!
It seems a long time since Paul built this skate for shifting the loco across the cob. Here the blue skate is upside-down with the wheels out. - Chris Barry 20/02/2017
Julian welds a new section onto the bolster of the red skate, ready to support the loco frames. The new boiler for 'Welsh Pony' is visible in the background. - Chris Barry 20/02/2017
The skates are not quite as shiny as they once were, but they're ready for their next task. Julian pushes the skates back to the C2 shed. - Chris Barry 20/02/2017

Fourth Weekend: 25/26 February

Storm Doris made our journeys to North Wales a little fraught this weekend, with several of us delayed by up to a day. However, we've still made very good progress on tasks leading toward the rolling chassis. Paul, Colin and Will started work on the Friday, and were joined by both Daves, Alan and Matt for the weekend itself.
Will put a final coat of black paint on the underside of the frames and those areas that will become inaccessible once the wheels are fitted. Paul dealt with one horn keep which required the M22 tapped hole to be moved sideways by 6mm. In the 4-jaw chuck of the DSG lathe, he drilled and bored out a stepped, oversize hole encompassing the existing wrong hole. He then machined a plug which was a press fit, and Rob seal-welded it in place. Paul then tapped out the new hole in the correct place.
Moving a hole sideways by 6mm: the plug has been pressed in and welded (on the other side) and is now ready for tapping.
We had several deliveries this weekend, including steel stock, fasteners, tools, and a bush and yaw damper for the loco/tender drawgear. It seemed like Christmas as we unwrapped all the parcels! Many thanks to Unipart Rail who gave us a good price on the yaw damper, which is the same component used on many main line multiple units. This is a bit of an experiment, using hydraulic damping rather than friction in the loco/tender connection to damp the lateral movements.

Last weekend Andrew had left some of the injector cones pickling in citric acid and these were now clean. Will fished them out of the acid bath and gave them a thorough rinse. He then used the electric wire brush to remove loose material from another batch of cones, and put them in to soak.
The large yaw damper for our loco/tender drawbar. This is of a type used on many main-line trains and was kindly supplied by Unipart Rail.
Dave 1 and Colin machining oil holes in the axleboxes using the Asquith radial arm drill.
Colin set to work on the axleboxes again. We received a new small countersink which enabled him to complete the lateral thrust faces and fix them in place. He also made preparations for re-drilling the oil holes into the lateral thrust faces; the Chinese seem to have had several goes at this in the past but we wanted to make them more consistent.

Colin and Dave then proceeded to drill these holes in all nine axleboxes (including the spare) and inserted the oil tubes. We also plugged the old Chinese holes where necessary.

Meanwhile Alan skimmed a little material off the wedge adjuster bolt heads to make them a better fit in the wedges.
A closeup of the axlebox being drilled.
Dave 2 cuts some tube to length ready for assembly of the temporary drawbar.
On Saturday, Dave 2 worked with Matt and Will to make the metal strips that retain the brake gear; these are needed soon as they are fitted at the same time as the horn keeps. This involved measuring, marking, cuttting and drilling the steel strips, which gave the youngsters a chance to learn some new skills. Dave 2 also cut several pieces of tube and hollow section which Paul then cleaned up and welded together to create a lightweight temporary drawbar for the loco. We will initally use this to move the frames around once they're on the wheels, but it will be useful in the longer term when we want to separate the loco and tender and move them individually.
Will and Matt prepare the brake retaining straps.
The temporary drawbar. This is a lightweight fabrication for shunting within the yard only. It will fit at either end of the loco or tender, and will enable us to move the frames around prior to finishing the proper drawgear. In future it will also be useful if we wish to shunt the loco and tender separately.
The six strips which retain the brake gear on axles 2, 3 and 4.
Paul and Matt continued with the 'blacksmith' work on Sunday, forming the more brake retaining straps for axle 1, and several pieces of trim for the edges of the front bufferbeam. Dave 2 also prepared the coupling sliding plates for both front and rear bufferbeams.

We also removed and cleaned up the remainder of the injector cones.
The brake retaining strips for axle 1 are a more complicated shape which was hot-formed from strip. Matt made these with a little guidance from Paul.
Paul uses the oxy-propane torch to heat up some strip ready for forming it.
The end result - a neat curve to the correct radius.
Meanwhile, Alan, Dave 1, Dave 2 and Colin were busy with a variety of tasks on the axleboxes and horn keeps. Last time we had found that the redesigned wedge adjuster bolts were a rather tight fit in some places so Alan skimmed a little of the tapered faces to make them fit. Once Dave 1 and Colin had finished drilling the oil passages, Colin glued the oil tubes into place and then filled any remains of the old holes with sealant. Dave 2 tapped the drain holes in the axlebox oil reservoirs and modified some bolts to act as drain plugs. The axleboxes are now virtually complete and have been moved into the paint shop for finishing.
Alan's setup for skimming the tapered faces of the wedge adjuster bolts. This was necessary to achieve the desired travel down the wedge face.
A row of axleboxes in the paint shop, ready for finishing. The one without the oil grooves is the ninth (spare) box and we have left some additional material on this which can be machined to suit if/when it is needed in future.
Alan and Dave checked the fit of the horn keeps and wedge bolts onto the frames and did a little fettling to ensure that everything would align perfectly when we come to fit the wedges and axleboxes.
Trial assembly of horn keep and wedge bolt.
Dave, Alan and Paul assemble the horn keeps and wedge bolts onto the frames to check fit and clearances
Overall it was a very productive weekend achieving everything we had planned and some extra tasks as well. We all had a great time too.
Looking ahead, we'll have a short break in March for some homework tasks such as design and procurement of parts. There are also the annual 'Mutual Improvement' weekends for Ff&WHR lococrew, which many of us need to attend. We'll be back at the works for 4 days at the end of March and then a longer stint in the week running up to and including Easter. Busy and exciting times!
March 2017