Samson - late spring progress...

Samson – late spring progress…

After a little break in the reports on Samson’s rapid construction, which in no way indicates an absence of progress (!), here is an update on the project, through to the end of April.

Latest progress on Samson’s construction

Below: David has been focusing on the construction of the engine unit, which has now reached the stage where it might be considered pretty much complete – a major milestone and giving the exciting prospect of being able to plumb in an auxiliary steam supply (the Steam Mule) and turn the engine over on steam in the not too distant future.

Here we see the eccentric rods in the course of finishing, Chris having welded the fork and mating surface for the eccentric strap to the tapered rod. These photos show them in the raw, with heat discolouration still evident.


Below: An overall view of one of the eccentric rods (there being two on Stephensons valve gear – one for forwards and one for backwards).


Below: This view shows progress as of yesterday morning, with the backward eccentric rod finished and fitted, lifting links in place and supported by the crank that takes the forwards/backwards movement from the reversing lever.


Below: A (tall!) driver’s eye view showing the regulator quadrant, complete with markings, and rod, stretching forwards to the cylinder block.


Below: By this afternoon the valve gear was complete and in place.  Note the reverser rod in place, and also the regulator rod at the top of the view.  Despite some close clearances, everything fits and works – no doubt a result of many sleepless nights for David in contemplating, drawing, further contemplating and finally making this impressive collection of parts.


Also in hand are the boiler drawings and wheelsets, the latter which we hope to have late spring to enable a rolling chassis to be created and the brake gear etc. to be made and fitted.  The boiler will take a little longer to bring to fruition but we remain hopeful that Samson might boil his own water and move under his own steam, under test, in early 2015, if not a little sooner.

Further Explorations around Cornish Hush

As Samson progresses in the workshop, thoughts towards its predecessor’s working life keep drawing David, Andy Martin and myself back to Cornish Hush and Bollihope Common, a recent (rare) sunny day enabling us to further explore the Cornish Hush Tramway (as I have decided to name it!) and hinterland around the mine itself.

Below: We start at the end of the journey for the lead ore, the incline down to the crushing mill and flats where it was then shipped out from.  Fine Burn Quarry, to the right of this view, was connected by a standard gauge branch to the Weardale line, so may have offered an outlet other than by pack horse and track.


Below: Looking towards the incline head, about half way along the 0.86 mile long tramway – doesn’t it just cry out for a railway again?!


Below: The notable civil engineering feature is the embankment carrying the tramway across the Hawkwood Burn, as it approaches the level at Cornish Hush itself.  As can be seen, it is subject to substantial slippage, the other side being recently very badly washed out.  Note the construction of the culvert and tips in the background.


Below: Another view of the embankment, looking north east.


Below: The embankment is to the left and there is a clear definition of a branch running up the Hawkwood Burn valley, seen to the right here.


Below: Not a bad view! Taken from the flat outside the mine, this view shows much of the route of the tramway snaking along the contour just above 1000 feet as it heads towards the incline head and Bollihope Common.  The view is taken stood on the formation, which is clearly visible in the hillside in the distance.


Below: Cornish Hush and its immediate flat, the adit mouth being beneath the landslip about 25% along this photo and 25% down.  The mine was later (1970) re-explored by Swill Aluminium whilst prospecting for flourspar (unsuccessfully) and this area was home to several buildings as well as a two foot gauge railway, battery loco operated, which ran underground and terminated outside on the flat shown here.


Below: In this view I am stood next to the adit mouth, with the valley stretching out ahead.  The route of the tramway can be seen on the right.  I think the photograph of Samson outside a building was taken in more or less the middle of this scene, outside what would have been the mine ‘shop’ (workshop), which is shown on the 1890s OS map of the area complete with tramway track.  I am working on a full article on the tramway, Samson and Cornish Hush at the moment and in due course hope to publish a fuller history and description both in print and here on the blog.  There is also the tantalising prospect of laying some temporary track and putting our Samson in the same position as the original photograph and recreating something quite unique…