Rolling Restorations Part 4: Fowler DNAS Steam Roller 'Rambler'

Rolling Restorations Part 4: Fowler DNAS Steam Roller ‘Rambler’

I thought a post about a steam roller might ring the changes, with a look at the work being carried out on our 1931 built Fowler steam roller ‘Rambler’ – a familiar sight around Beamish and a firm favorite with all crews who have operated this gentle, free steaming and beautifully set up engine.

Below: Like all jobs, the decision to re-tube the engine (based on the localised and quite deep pitting observed on the tubes) has turned into rather more than a simple job!  We are moving some of our boilers across to a new insurance company and so Rambler, has a new inspector, who recommended a number of jobs be carried out in order to maximise the life of the new tubes).  The roller is being worked on as a contract job by Vincent Allen, at a private location.  As seen here, Vince has got stuck into the front end, with not only tubes removed, but also the forecarriage, headstock and front ring!


Below: The front tubeplate was thinning and so Vince has built this up with weld to restore the thickness around the lower section of the next and washout plug.


Below: We won’t be re-lagging Rambler in wood – it is just too awkward and messy as well as entirely hidden from view.  The cladding has been stripped (for the inspection) and the area around the clack seat (the small hole to the right) will also receive some attention from Vince’s welding rods.


Below: The headstock removed from the boiler, with forecarriage below.  We have a replacement casting for the chimney base (the original finally disintegrated during removal) but the state of the smokebox is such that a new one is to be made and fitted.


Below: The smokebox door ring – quite a mess!  A new one is on order from Israel Newton & Sons, to be flanged per the original and refitted into the new smokebox.


Below: This blurry view of the smokebox top shows just how much it has thinned – there would be little point carrying out all of the other work and not replacing this.


Below: Looking up into the inner firebox, a lump of coal’s eye view.  Note that Rambler isn’t fitted with crown stays, but has a corrugated pattern pressed into the crown sheet to provide the requisite stiffness.  The firebox tubeplate is to the right of this view, the firehole door to the left.  The dark circles are the stay heads.  We suspect the engine has had a new inner firebox fitted at some point in its life.  The stays are in very sound condition with plenty of thread still evident in the cavity between the inner and outer wrapper (not visible here).


Below: This close up shows grooving along the lap seam of the tubeplate and side of the inner box – along the dark line up the centre of this view.  This will be built up with weld at the behest of the boiler inspector.


Below: This is an interesting feature – this shows the front tubeplate within the ring of the boiler, which has a long lap seam (rather than being butt strapped).  Note the sliver of copper evident between the plates – apparently a feature of Fowlers and an aid to creating a steam tight seal along the joint.


Below: Meanwhile, back at Beamish, work has started on rebuilding the canopy – seen here with Matt removing the attached canvas screens – these will be modified (and repaired) so as to be detachable – when tied up they are something of a nuisance for the crew.