The winter period is a key one for us in terms of carrying out maintenance and advancing projects on a number of fronts. Here is a summary of some work being carried out at the moment:
Below: Not an inspiring photograph, nor particularly exciting, but it shows the start of work to replace the top rail on the swing boats with a steel box-section alternative. The aim is to reduce the work required each year to re-secure fixings that ‘pull’ on the present timber rail, and ensure the safety and reliability of the ride for years to come. We have a second set of boats to rebuild, which will be overhauled in a similar way in due course. The picture shows the mag-drill set up for drilling one of two rail sections for fitting of joining pieces – the set has to remain dismantlable and so the pieces must remain in manageable lengths.
Below: David has continued his work on Samson’s top-end. The crankshaft returned after Christmas complete with eccentric sheaves and straps and since then various key-ways have been cut and the whole unit re-assembled onto the engine. Note also the completed marine type big end is also in place, ready for a connecting rod (much later!) to be fitted.
Below: The cylinder block is now being drilled in readiness for mounting on the boiler, making full use of the machine shop and milling machine.
Below: With Sheffield 264 proving to be in far better condition than expected, some time has been allocated to stripping the old paintwork, to aid the re-painting process and produce a better finish than might be attained over the old layers (including crazed varnish).
Below: Internally, the overhauled ironwork has been replaced, with all of the bottom rail being re-drilled (to a larger size) to remove the sloppiness that had worn in. The bulkheads also have crosses to brace them – interestingly such attachments are evident on Gateshead 52’s body, and can be seen in the photos in its posting on this site.
Below: It seems like only five minutes since the gallopers decks were in the workshop, and here they are again! The aging timber has not withstood our busiest-ever season particularly well, so the decision has been taken to re-deck all 12 pieces.
Below: As the re-decking work was not originally planned for this winter, we are tackling it as quickly as possible. A production line has been set up, which sees the ends of each piece strengthened with temporary timbers, the deck pieces removed (and fed into the boiler which heats the building, to assist in drying the wood that remains), a team then strips the old paint from the frame in the Erecting Shop, as seen here with Bill, Daniel and Matt hard at work.
Below: Meanwhile, in the Timber Shop, Shaun and Tony have set up a jig to cut out the new deck pieces (from marine plywood) and then cut in plank lines to retain the correct appearance. It is hoped that the use of a lighter deck will assist the long-term survival of the ride and put less pressure on load bearing components.
Below: Finished deck pieces, cut and scored with plank lines and ready for fitting to the stripped framework. Fixing of the ironwork and painting will then follow…
Below: And finally… Two old friends re-united – 280 and 101 (or 680 and 703 if you prefer) meet again in service… 280 was on driver familiarisation turns, with Peter Barlow (who took the photos) and Stuart Jennings trialing 280 before wider driver training follows. It entered passenger service today, still sans numbers (to be painted next week) and some of the green lining.
Behind the scenes, we are on the cusp of making some very exciting announcements for the transport operation at Beamish, and working hard on the preparations for the Great North Festival of Transport, which promises to present a wide array of spectacular vehicles, which we will have a look at here in due course. Another, very exciting, project is also shortly to commence and I will describe this in more detail in coming weeks. Andy Martin is also working hard on options for transforming the blog into a full-blown website, which will of course still feature the latest news, but should be more user-friendly in terms of accessing all of the information that can now be found via the drop-down boxes at the top of the page (for web-users – phones show it rather differently).
Below: A reminder – the trade catalogues section continues to grow – this Ransomes catalogue for the MG6 crawler being a rather lovely example of old publicity material.