Workshop facilities

We have comprehensive workshop facilities on the premises for the design and manufacture of all types and sizes of steam engine and their component parts, including steel boilers. We work on locomotives from gauge 1 to two foot gauge and traction engines up to full size - scroll to the bottom of the page for pictures of some of machines we have and things we make.

The machine shop

  • XYZ SLX 1630 CNC lathe, Siemens Prototrak control. Mainstay of low-volume turning in the workshop, used for production of everything from gland nuts up to valve gear components for two foot gauge locomotives. The first CNC lathe in the workshop, bought new in 2009.

  • XYZ CT52 turning centre, Siemens 828D control. This revolutionised the way we make turned components when it arrived new in 2013. With a 5000rpm spindle and ten station tool changer, the machine can be left to its own devices on turned components - you simply program in how many parts you want, they appear in its parts bin two hours later! Although used mainly for smaller, bar-turned parts - things like expansion link trunnion pins and bushes - it's equally effective as a chucking machine where we feed cut blanks in one at a time, for instance making large safety valve bodies or driving wheels.

  • XYZ VMC 560 machining centre, Siemens Sinumerik 810D control. We've got two of these, which run pretty much continuously producing parts for new-build locomotives and the more complicated one-off and short run parts for overhauls and repair jobs. With 8000rpm spindles and solid carbide tooling, capable of producing a superb finish straight off the machine. Ten station tool changers make these versatile machines which can be set up with a job that will run for an hour or more at a time unattended, as shown machining cylinders here.

  • XYZ VMC 750 machining centre, Siemens 828 control. Bought new in 2018, this is a slightly bigger machine than the two 560s, it has Renishaw probing for tool and workpiece which greatly reduces setup time.

  • XYZ 2500 SMX CNC bed mill. Bought new in 2014 to replace the similar, slightly smaller CNC Bridgeport we'd had since new in 1998. The 2500 has XYZ's Prototrak controller, a simpler system than the Siemens controllers on our machining centres but ideally suited to profiling out rods and links, boring big ends etc. It's got the longest X-axis travel of all our milling machines, so useful for long parts - such as connecting rods for the batch of two foot gauge Bagnalls we're currently building.

  • Presses - a variety of these: 30 ton hydraulic press for broaching keyways and pressing wheelsets together; Jones & Shipman geared broaching press; small bench top arbor press used for pushing in bushes and folding up small sheet metal parts

The boiler shop

We have the expertise and facilities to repair boilers - including re-tubing - or design and manufacture steel boilers of all types: marine or locomotive, vertical or horizontal, suitable for coal or gas firing. The boiler shop is well-equipped and employs two full-time coded welders - our notified body is British Engineering Services who approve all new designs and inspect boilers during construction. New boilers are CE-marked and supplied with complete documentation, including original material, welding and hydraulic test certificates. We are happy to quote for single boilers, or multiples - we regularly build in batches of up to 24 at a time.

Equipment in the boiler shop includes:

  • Bayleigh horizontal band saw - bought new 2018, used for blanking up material for the machine shop and a wide variety of material in the boiler shop.

  • Richmond radial arm drill. Max spindle speed 1500 rpm - bought originally for reaming tubeplates in situ, we rarely use it for drilling boiler plates, most of this is handled on one of our machining centres which is very much quicker. It's also very useful for getting rounded off washout and fusible plugs out as well (and you'd be amazed at how many of those we see...).

  • Thermal Dynamics plasma cutter, cuts to 15mm steel but particularly useful (and very fast) on plate up to 6mm

  • Eland 300 amp MIG welder - used for larger steel fabrication work, in particular new-build "tab & slot" chassis and, of course, boilers. For boiler work we keep approved welding wire which comes with its own certificates, along with our boiler plate.

  • 240 amp TIG welder - used for thin sheet fabrication - on our new-build locomotives cabs and stainless steel water tanks
  • Welding turntables - a small one taking parts, or complete boilers, up to about 100Kg (we do all the small Stafford boilers on this) and another, monster size one converted from a 30 inch rotary table that you could probably turn a bus on. Useful for large boilers, up to two foot gauge or the biggest half size traction engines.

  • 20 ton hydraulic tube extractor. If you've ever taken tubes out of a boiler with gas and a chisel, you'll appreciate just what a difference a machine like this makes when you're retubing a boiler! There's a video of it pulling the tubes out of a traction engine boiler here - it turns the job into a fast, one-man operation needing very little by way of physical effort.

  • Inspection equipment including high-resolution recording CCTV for internal inspection and ultrasonic thickness tester.


In addition to the above, we have a spray booth used for most paint finishes with the exception of two-pack, which we sub-contract to a local company who produce excellent work. A 20hp compressor supplies the main workshop, spray booth and boiler shop.

We have good contacts for laser-cutting, pattern-making/casting and high quality CNC sheet metal work. In house we use Solidworks 3D CAD for pretty much everything, producing designs and drawings in a wide variety of formats. Offline programming is by Fusion 360 CAM.


 
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