|January 2007 news|
Happy New Year everybody, I hope that you got everything you expected for Christmas. I had two weeks of doing little other than watching in mystifyed awe as number two son learned to fly a radio controlled helicopter (I found it impossible even to get it two inches off the floor without the wretched thing falling over) and walking the dog (which was a little easier). I got a copy of David Curwen's autobiography which has just come out and found it a cracking good read - available via his website, I recommend it.
Sam and I made a pump in the workshop - on the way back from the club one afternoon over the break he was asking about how they drained the fens (an issue of ever-present interest to us Lincolnshire folk), we talked about windmills and the switch over to steam engines in the early nineteenth century. By the time we'd got back to the workshop, we had a half worked out plan to build a simple piston pump which was finished by the time tea and buns arrived at about five o'clock - it works well by hand, next step is to build another cylinder and a beam to convert it into a proper engine (along with finishing off his Hunslet, making bits for the new-build Tich and finishing off a set of 5 inch gauge "Metro" driving wheels which are currently tying up the Chipmaster while he learns how to machine castings - he's got more projects that I have).
As I've said many times before, meeting different people and seeing their workshops is one of the great benefits of this job. I've learned a huge amount in all sorts of places over the years and always feel somewhat humbled at how free with time and expertise some people are.
I was visiting a customer before Christmas to collect a traction engine. We had exchanged emails in the course of which he had sent me some photographs of the engine - the quality of the pictures was "colour supplement quality" beside my amateur "seaside snaps" of engines. As I was visiting anyway, I had asked to see his setup and, if posible, glean a little information on how to take better pictures.
On arriving we decamped to his workshop with a cup of coffee. Small, but well lit, warm and immaculately tidy - a Myford Super 7 lathe occupied one wall with a small vertical mill in the corner, at the far end stood a Drummond lathe which appeared in as-new condition. However, the thing that really drew the eye were a pair of miniature lathes, perfect six inch long copies of a Myford ML7 and the Drummond. The Myford had been built first, then the full sized Drummond restored simply to provide a speciment to model! The pictures (taken by me, not the builder I hasten to add - they don't come close to his quality) show just what fabulous little jewels they are. It goes without saying that everything works, the handwheels move the saddle, all the bits that should turn do.
As you might imagine, he approached his photography with the same expert hand - over a few hours I learned more about taking pictures than I had in the last forty years. If any of it sinks in, in theory at least, the pictures on the website should improve.
I was manning our club stand at the Midlands Model Engineering Exhibition at the end of last year - we were the stand just inside the door with a full size Locomobile steam car on show. I was sharing duties with David, so while one of us stood about and tried to look useful, the other could have a look around - as usual there was much to see and not really enough time to get round everything.
More pictures of the exhibition
It was only after the doors shut that evening that we could get down to some serious talking with some of the other exhibitors, plus one or two familiar faces who had managed to get locked in.
It's not really news (nor even particularly recent, come to that) but I have some pictures which have been sitting about for some time taken when father and I went to the Churnet Valley Railway en-route home from the big bash at Crewe in 2005. It was a slight detour from our schedule, made because father had been waiting patiently for the LNWR Super D to be finished so that he could hear it running. Sod's Law being what it is, the engine was finished in time but, for reasons best known to either the NRM, Mr Waterman or both, it was debuting in steam at the CVR on the same weekend, hence the visit.
I'd never been there before, it's one of the prettiest railway about - very atmospheric, super tidy with none of the sidings full of scrap that blight some concerns and very friendly staff who had plenty of time to stand and talk (although this was possibly because all their regular weekend trade was down the road at Crewe...). Seeing their S160 out in the yard made the day for me, I think they're great looking, in an austere, plumber's nightmare sort of a way.
I got a number of emails before Christmas about boiler testing, specifically the testing of small boilers. Several boilers have been advertised recently, either standalone or installed in locomotives, with a somewhat mealy-mouthed claim that the vendor is unsure whether they require a test due to their size (and this includes, it must be said, some sellers who on any other day of the week claim to be experts in the field...).
Now I can't personally see what you save by not testing a boiler, other than about five minutes and a pint of water. However, if you have a (very) small boiler and would like to exercise your right not to test it, the latest club rules exempt boilers with a capacity not exceeding 1.5 bar litres. So, for something like a Stuart 500 series boiler running at 60psi, which is pretty much 4 bar, total capacity would have to be 375 cubic centimetres or less (and for the Stuart, it isn't - so it needs a test). To avoid testing, you need to get down to seriously small boilers - something like a Gauge 1 tank locomotive (the Roundhouse "Lady Anne" sitting on my desk at the moment has a capacity of about 300cc and runs at 40psi, or 2.7 bar - total capacity is under 1 bar litre).
Having said all of the above, at least pull the safety valve out once a year to make sure it isn't crudded up inside and the ball hasn't stuck fast to its seat (and about one in three of engines that come in here that haven't run for more than a year need attention to their safety valves).
10th January 2007
October 2006 - Updates
on part-built and projects
July 2006 - Evergreens Miniature Railway, local 10 1/4 line, collecting the Pacific from Cleethorpes
April 2006 - Progress in the workshop, visit to the National Railway Museum, visit to Woody Bay
January 2006 - Moving to new units, grit-blasting my hands, shiny Romulus
October 2005 - Stamford SME, Sam starts the restoration of "Pendle Witch", Casterton Working Weekend
August 2005 - New workshop, Thurston Pacific back from Cleethorpes
May 2005 - Berkely Light Railway, dodgy boiler certificates, full-size ploughing engines at auction
January 2005 - digging
October 2004 - initial planning for the garden railway
July 2004 - Fowler ploughing engines in Yorkshire
May 2004 - Moving the workshop, a 9 1/2 inch gauge garden railway
Apr 2004 - Holiday in Shropshire & The Severn Valley Railway, LNER liveried Black 5
Feb 2004 - Refacing a Tangye slide valve, new acquisition 10 ton Aveling roller
2004 - 12 1/4 inch gauge Pacific