C2 Project News

Easter 2018

Busy Times on the Tender!

A couple of weeks ago we took the rash decision to make a booking with the grit blasters, and requested that they grit blast the tender chassis frames a week after Easter. This meant that all the welding and machining needed to be completed during the Easter working party, in order that the paint which will be applied immediately after grit blasting won't be damaged. Looking at the long list of jobs to be done, it was going to be quite a challenge!
Much of the Easter working party was spent drilling holes.
At the end of the previous working party, the tender hornguides had been temporarily bolted to the tender chassis frames, and the front hornguide of each pair had been aligned. The hornguides will be permanently fixed with fitted bolts (which are on order), and so need to be drilled in line with the existing holes in the tender chassis frames. Finally, the hole in both parts needs to be reamed to a precise diameter.
For this exercise, the magnetic base drill was used. Paul 1 made up a jig that would clamp to the tender chassis frames, to give the magnetic base drill something flat to stick to. While he did that, Dave 1 marked out the hole positions for the brake safety straps on the tender chassis frames.
To align the drill with the existing hornguide fixing holes in the frames, we found that the most practical method was to hold a tailstock centre (from a lathe) in the drill, and to push it into the hole. This centred itself, ready for the magnet to be switched on at which point the drill base clamps itself to the jig. With luck, the drill would be perfectly be centred on the hole (if not it could be fine adjusted with a mallet). Swapping the tailstock centre for a pilot drill started the drilling operation. Next, a 21mm diameter drill was run through, this being the diameter of the existing hole, so material was only being removed from the hornguide up to this stage. The final operation was to run a 27/32" reamer through, which gives a smooth hole through both the frames and the hornguide. It isn't really that difficult a process, but since it is easy to unseat the magnetic base drill by pushing too hard while drilling, it had to be carried out slowly and carefully.
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Using the mag-base drill to drill and ream the holes for bolting on the tender horn angles.
Thursday morning was spent getting everything ready and developing the process. After lunch, Julian and Dave 1 set to drilling and reaming holes. It's a two man job, as the magnetic base drill is heavy, and, even supporting some of the weight with the crane, it's almost impossible for one person to hold the drill, align it with the hole and switch the magnet on. After reaming, some of the holes were fitted with the dowels which Colin had made for us, to keep the hornguides in alignment while the other holes were worked on. By the end of the afternoon, 8 holes had been finished. Only another 52 holes to go!
Meanwhile, Paul 1 was making up a bracket for the bearing at one end of the brake weighshaft. He started with a piece of channel section steel, and shaped the edge of the web to fit under the tender chassis spine adjacent to the front dragbox. A gusset plate welded in by Al gives the bracket vertical rigidity, to react the loads on the weighshaft. The height of the bracket brings the bottom flange to almost the same height as the bottom flange of the sideframe, which the bearing bracket at the other end of the weighshaft will be bolted to. A couple of holes drilled for the bolts to hold the bearing on, a bit of shaping to neaten the ends up, and the bracket was ready for attaching to the tender chassis frames.
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This is the new brake weighshaft bracket that Paul made, seen before Andrew welded it in place.
At tea break, Dave 1 had a quick word with Glenn, manager of the carriage works at Boston Lodge, to ask some advice about budget locks for fitting to the battery box door. We know that similar locks are used in carriages, to hold access panels closed, so it seemed sensible to use similar items. Glenn showed us the range of locks available, and we found one perfectly suited to our needs. More on this in a bit.
Thursday came to a close with much done, but still an awful lot to do.
Al, Sam, Jon and Erle arrived on Friday. Paul went off to drive the Earl of Meirioneth, or more accurately to watch over trainee driver Matt having his last driving lesson before his test the following day. He passed - congratulations!

Sam started the weekend on good form, by mending the valve on the hot water boiler in the staff mess room. It should not be underestimated how important that valve is, since, without boiling water to make tea, Boston Lodge works and much of the Ffestiniog Railway would come to a complete halt.
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It was the penultimate weekend of operation for the much-loved 'Square' Earl of Meirioneth, and some of the C2 Project members enjoyed a last driving turn. Here the 1979-built Double Fairlie stands at Tan-y-Grisiau, ready to climb the bank to power station summit.
Back at Christmas, Dave 1 and Paul 2 had started to assemble the tender axleboxes. However, a problem had arisen, and only the outer races of the roller bearings had been fitted. Dave 1 had made an adaptor piece to aid assembly of the inner bearing races onto the axle ends, but it had not been tried out yet. Al and Sam therefore took up the challenge.
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Alan has already fitted the axlebox rear cover with its seal, and is now trial-fitting the first of the roller bearing inner races.
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Alan and Sam prepare to push the inner race into place.
Firstly, Al fitted the felt seal into the rear cover of each axlebox. Using the adaptor piece, the rear cover was then pushed over the end of the axle, and well clear of the journal. This was the stage which had caused problems before, but the adaptor piece worked, and it didn't take Al and Sam long to have three axlebox rear covers on the accessible ends of the three tender axles.
Jon cut down some bolts, in readiness for fitting the bearing puller which Chris made last year. After the adaptor piece was removed, the bearing puller was bolted to the end of the axle, and the first part of the inner bearing race was pulled into position on the journal. This was followed by the bearing spacer ring. The assembly was then packed with grease. The axlebox, complete with outer bearing race could then be carefully positioned on the journal. After packing with more grease, the second inner race was pulled into position. Next, the bearing puller was removed, and replaced by the axle end cap. More grease was applied, and the front and rear axlebox covers were bolted into position, sealing the box. It's an operation that doesn't sound difficult, but great care was needed to ensure that the precision roller bearings are perfectly aligned. It took Al and Sam all day to assemble three axleboxes, but it is real visible progress.
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Alan's got the whole bearing assembled now, and is filling it with grease.
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Closeup of one complete axlebox.
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All the tender axleboxes now fitted.
Erle continued work on the battery box door, which has been his pet project for the past few working parties. Robco kindly welded a length of small tube to a strip of steel, to make the door hinges. Erle then cut this into sections to make the individual hinge components, and shaped each part. Using the hinge pins he had made previously, the hinges were assembled, and the pins drilled for split pins to hold the hinges together.
While all of this was going on Dave 1 continued drilling and reaming the tender hornguides, assisted by others as necessary when aligning the magnetic base drill. After a full day at it, each of the front hornguides had four holes drilled and reamed. The fifth hole was blocked by the datum channels we had welded to the tender spine, so couldn't be drilled in situ. However, we had a plan for them.
The front hornguide of each pair on the tender chassis was set up relative to a datum down the centre of the chassis. However, it is difficult and time consuming to align the hornguides this way. To set up the rear hornguides, it is much easier to set each of them relative the adjacent front hornguide, all of which were aligned previously. To do this, we required a spacer piece. Jon located some 6" channel, and welded a strip of 10mm plate to it to make up a suitable width spacer. He then started to mill it a little narrower than the axleboxes (so that we have some material to remove when grinding the hornguides), but found that the channel section was too springy to get an accurate cut. Improving the machining fixture solved that, and so the hornguide spacer was faced off on the milling machine. Alan had to finish the job as we had to send Jon off to Caernarfon to relieve a Garratt fireman who was taken ill. Paul 1 used the jig to align the rear tender hornguides, and he temporarily bolted them into place.
Having drilled and reamed all the accessible holes in the front tender hornguides, on Saturday morning Dave 1 turned his attention to drilling holes in the tender chassis bottom plate for the brake safety straps. This was a much easier one man task, since the drilling was vertical so did not require the heavy magnetic base drill to be lifted into position each time. He also marked out and drilled holes for the brake lateral reaction pivots adjacent to axles 5 and 6. Paul 1 had previously marked out the holes in the bottom flange of the tender chassis where the outer end bearing of the brake weighshaft will fit, so Dave 1 drilled these holes too.
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Dave 1 drills holes for the brake safety straps.
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New holes for the brake safety straps. We had to move these as a consequence of the regauging.
Before the remaining three tender axleboxes could be assembled, the wheelsets needed turning round to give access to the opposite ends of the axles. Using the A frame crane in the shed, it didn't take Al and Sam long to be ready to start work on the remaining three axleboxes. The process was exactly the same as used the previous day, except that extra care was needed to ensure that the two axleboxes on each wheelset were matched. The centre axle has more clearance in the hornguides, so the two axleboxes on that axle are different from the others. We also wanted all of the grease nipples to be in the same relative position on each axlebox (it's not just our OCD that requires this; it also makes maintenance easier).
With all the tender axleboxes assembled, Al screwed the grease nipples into position on the top of each box, and he and Sam used a grease gun to make sure each box was full of grease. There is a small hole in the centre of each axlebox front cover, so when the grease oozes out of the front we know that the axlebox is full. Job done, and the tender wheelsets are now ready for fitting.
With the hinges for the battery box door now complete, Erle turned his attention to making mounting pads for the hinges and lock. The hinges have to be spaced off the tender sideframe, to allow for the thickness of the door. Similarly, the lock needs to be spaced off the inside of the door, to allow for the thickness of the sideframes. Holes for mounting the lock, and for the key, also needed to be drilled in the door and spacer. Erle also made an alignment tool, to keep the hinges in alignment while they were being welded to the door. With everything completed, he then set up the hinges and door in the welding bay, ready for welding the following day.
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The door from the inside, showing the lock.
A couple of smaller tasks were also carried out on Saturday afternoon.
Paul 1 made a precise 21mm diameter centre punch. The large and accurate diameter was necessary to locate the punch in the existing hornguide fixing holes in the tender chassis sideframes. After quench hardening the tip, he used the punch to accurately mark a hole centre on each of the front hornguides, in the location where we could not get access with the magnetic base drill.
The shape of the bottom plate towards the rear of the tender chassis is such that the brake lateral reaction pivot is well clear of the frame. Whereas the pivot pin at axles 5 and 6 is relatively short, it would be long and rather flexible at the axle 7 position. So Dave 1 found a block of steel, ground a radius at one end and chamfered it at the other to form a bracket to support the pivot pin. It's a little heavier than the original Russian bracket design (for some reason the Chinese design did not have a bracket here at all), but much simpler and quicker to make.
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Another new brake bracket - this is the lateral reaction bracket for the rear axle.
On Sunday morning, Andrew joined us. The astute amongst you may have realised that by now all six shareholders of the C2 Project were present. It is unusual for us all to be available at any one time, so we took the opportunity to hold the C2 Project Annual General Meeting on Sunday morning. Since the project seems to be progressing well at the moment, we did not hold a technical meeting, but just dealt with the formal business on this occasion. It kept the meeting short, so we could get back to working on the C2.
While we were holding the meeting, Erle used the magnetic base drill to drill a series of holes in the bottom flange of the battery box support frame. Wood screws or bolts will pass through these holes, to hold the wooden battery box floor in place. After the meeting, Andrew welded the battery box door hinges into place on the door, and Erle cut away the alignment jig.
With the rear tender hornguides now aligned, Dave 1 and Paul 2 set about the process of drilling and reaming them. In most cases the access was slightly better than the front hornguides, and so it was possible to drill and ream all five holes in each plate. Paul 2 had to leave at lunchtime to drive a train, so Erle then gave Dave 1 assistance with the operation. By mid afternoon, Dave 1 was tiring of drilling holes, so Al took over from him, with Erle continuing to provide assistance. By the end of the day, only two hornguides remained to be drilled and reamed (10 holes), along with 8 other holes which were inaccessible. 42 done, 18 to go!
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A busy moment in the C2 shed with people working on various parts of the tender frames
As if we hadn't done enough drilling already, Paul checked his drawings, marked up, and the drilled the fixing holes for the steam brake cylinder on the tender chassis sideframe.
To give us more space for the locomotive to tender safety chain eyebolts, we recessed the eyebolts into the locomotive rear bufferbeam. To gain another 10mm, we decided to similarly recess the eyebolts into the tender front plate. Because we could not get the tender chassis frames onto the horizontal boring machine, a different approach was required this time. It was decided to enlarge the holes in the front plate of the tender, such that the eyebolt would pass through it. Adding a backing plate would then form a recess.
The eyebolts are over 2" in diameter, so we didn't think that the magnetic base drill would be powerful enough to cut holes of that size. Paul 1 suggested using a plasma cutter, which could be easily carried over to the C2 shed, so Al made up a suitable guide ring. The plasma cutter only requires electricity and compressed air, both of which we have in the shed. Or so we thought. On going to switch the compressor on, Sam found that it was under repair, and out of action. After a moment of head scratching, Matty suggested that we should use a mobile compressor; a big green one called 'Vale of Ffestiniog'! It didn't take long to run the locomotive round onto 10-Road, close to our shed, and to connect the plasma cutter to the air reservoir drain on it. It may not have been the most efficient way of generating compressed air, and it certainly wasn't the quietest, but it did the job. Al cut the holes with the plasma cutter, and he and Paul 1 neatened them up with a die grinder.
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Alan uses the plasma cutter to enlarge a hole for the safety chain eyes.
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Alan works with the plasma cutter, with air supplied from the mobile air compressor 'Vale of Ffestiniog' seen on the right.
Over the past couple of weeks, Andrew has spent some time at Boston Lodge, making hooks for the locomotive front bufferbeam. The hooks were originally used to stow coupling chains, but were long disused after the coupling type on our loco was changed. However, the hooks remained, and were a distinctive feature of many C2s. We have therefore reproduced them, albeit a little straighter. Andrew completed these hooks, and also continued work on one or two remaining drawgear components.
As you can imagine, all the drilling work had, by now, resulted in the wagon on which the tender chassis frames are carried, being ankle deep in swarf. Sam and Paul 1 therefore gave the wagon a clean down on Sunday afternoon. There was still a little more drilling required, but the majority of the mess was removed.
Monday morning was spent finishing things off.
With just two hornguides remaining to be drilled and reamed, Dave 1 and Erle felt re-invigorated, and set to completing the work. All 10 holes were accessible, so after a morning's work, the job was done. Much relief!
Having completed the drilling an reaming of the tender hornguides in situ, Paul 1 then removed them all, in readiness for machining of the horn faces. Those which had all five holes drilled in them were oil coated to protect them, while he took the remaining 8 plates to the works for finishing.
Andrew took the axle 7 brake lateral reaction pivot bracket into the works, and drilled the pivot hole in it. It was now ready for welding to the frames.
Paul 1 took the eyebolt backing plates which Dave 1 had started previously, and fettled them to achieve a better fit behind the eyebolt cut-outs. Dave 1 drilled holes in the backing plates for the eyebolts to bolt on to.
Last job before lunch was for Dave 1 to shunt the wagon carrying the tender chassis frames into 4-Road in the works, to carry out the final welding that afternoon.
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Dave shunts the tender frames into the erecting shop for welding, during a short break in the rain.
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Andrew welds in a new bracket for the handbrake standard.
Erle clamped the battery box door assembly into place, and Andrew welded the hinge pads to the chassis sideframe, then the hinges to the pads. Although the hinges are welded to both the door and the chassis, the battery box door can still be removed by removing the hinge pins. Next to be welded in was the brake standard lower bearing bracket, then the axle 7 brake lateral reaction pivot bracket, followed by the inner end brake weighshaft bearing bracket. To finish off, he welded the backing plates behind the safety chain eyebolt holes. That completes all welding on the tender chassis frames, and they are ready for grit blasting and painting next week. Phew! Sometimes we didn't think we were going to make it, but with all the team members and helpers working flat out, we did.
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Battery box door mounted on the frames.
While the welding was going on, Dave used one of the Asquith drills in the works to drill out the 8 holes in the hornguides which could not be drilled and reamed in situ. They will be reamed from the outside, once fitted back on the tender chassis. After drilling, Paul 1 took them back to the shed where Dave 1 applied oil to protect from corrosion.
Andrew and Paul 1 shunted the wagon carrying the tender chassis frames back to the C2 Shed, and it was time for most of us to go home.
Andrew is staying on for a few more days, finishing off a few jobs on other parts of the loco. We may add a few pics of progress below...
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The loco's new front bufferbeam, painted in primer. Hopefully next week this will receive some top-coats in red.
Our friend John Raby is currently in China, visiting the last regularly steam-operated narrow gauge line at Shibanxi. He's found several steam locos in service this week, but a new diesel has arrived and there is talk of two more. This could be the beginning of the end for C2s and their relatives in China, though there are some other new narrow-gauge tourist lines springing up elsewhere. Here's John's report of today's activity.
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Tender frames positioned for grit blasting by GT Problast - Andrew Nelms 11 April 2018
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Tender frames after grit blasting. Two components from Hunslet diesel locomotive "Harold" were done at the same time, and are seen resting on top - Andrew Nelms 11 April 2018
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Tender frames in the paint shop ready for a coat of primer.- Andrew Nelms 11 April 2018
Tender Frames