This week’s post includes some nice milestones – including the start of testing on the Foulbridge – Town section of the Tramway. There is quite a lot to catch up on, but we will start with a livery correction!
Darlington Bus Shelter
Below: Following some further research (largely looking at colour photographs of Darlington trolleybuses), we have concluded that many of Darlington Corporation’s shelters were actually green (as were many of the traction poles, though blue was also used), we will paint the Darlington shelter green to match the rest of our tramway/bus infrastructure. North Bay Engineering kindly re-worked the CAD image to reflect this, and this is depicted here (the guttering will also be green).
Below: Two views of the columns for the shelter, with the new angle brackets being test fitted in the first view, and the filled crack in one column shown in the second. Photos and CAD render c/o North Bay Railway Engineering Services
Below: Steelwork for the roof structure frame (missing from the original remains) is being prepared for assembly, whilst glass is on order (a period-appropriate safety glass that many readers will recognise, namely wire-reinforced translucent panes).
Below: It doesn’t seem like five minutes (actually nearer six years) since J2007, the Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle, was in the works for attention to the box section framing. Last time it was re-floored, and this has stood up well, whereas the sub-frame has not. It is now in the fabrication shop, sans floor, for renewal of some of the structure and other repairs. I would imagine this will be the last time we carry out this level of invasive work on the bus – it simply won’t be worth it next time (and it gives focus to the need to restore the West Riding Leyland Cub, 560, as a second WAV for use at Beamish).
Below: Not a pretty sight! New angles are being rolled to replace the wheel arch structure, which as can be seen above, has perished.
Below: Darlington 4 visited Go North East’s depot at Consett to use the chassis-wash. This was to enable a thorough inspection of the underside of the bus, before some contract work is undertaken this spring, largely focussed on renewing the window rubbers, floor rails downstairs (whence the chassis wash visit) and a number of panel repairs on the exterior. Some of the interior Formica panels also require repair or replacement, having been damaged by passengers in the last two years. Once a hole appears, they then pick at these until large apertures with sharp edges develop. So we have to repair these as well.
Engineering and Maintenance
Below: Rebecca is working on the paintwork on Blackpool 31, whose rubbing strips (between waist and roker panels) were looking increasingly untidy and appeared to be allowing water ingress into the body panels. This proved to be the case, so they are being rubbed down, filled and then repainted to prevent any further damage in this area.
Below: Whilst we’ve seen apprentice Zoe’s work on Kerr Stuart 721, apprentice Dan has been working on his own project, components for the Crewe Tractor railway chassis. He has been in high-demand for welding work on the fleet, so progress has been slower, but a number of parts for the torque rods (that enable the drive between the rear axle of the road vehicle and the drive axle on the railway chassis to be tensioned) have been prepared for welding and machining. This project will progress incrementally, with parts made or obtained as and when we are able.
Below: A quick job for the vehicle workshop has been stripping the Fleur de Lis van of modern attachments. And its engine! As we decided that trying to obtain hard-to-find components, and the appetite it had for these, was no longer worthwhile, the van is now going to be converted to a static catering outlet. To prevent any attempt to drive it (or use it on any roads), the vehicle is being converted into a static outlet, that can be moved to location by trailer and will look something like a converted period vehicle, parked in the 1950s area. As the bonnet has, to my eye, always looked like a ‘replica’, we are going to have a new firewall, bonnet and radiator arrangement fitted, using a replica early Leyland radiator that until now has been something of an office ornament. The interior has been gutted and all that remains is the ability to steer and park (handbrake) the ‘vehicle’ in order to position it. It will then be placed on axle stands with a shore-supply to provide any power required (we haven’t yet had a brief on what the food team require internally so have simply created as much space as possible). A repaint would be nice, but in keeping with the ‘end of the terrace’ nature of the outlet, a patch-paint will probably be more suitable. With the bonnet etc. in black.
Below: Gateshead 10 has been lowered from its packing to enable work to commence on the body, at a reasonable working height. Being able to step in and out of the car is much more comfortable, and it brings the majority of the bodywork into a safer proximity with the floor.
Below: The Albion flatbed is on its way to the workshop for commissioning. A number of secure anchor points are to be fitted to the rear platform so that loads can be secured. We have something planned for the Beamish Steam Gala in April – watch this space on that one! The aim is to create a useful lorry for curatorial/transport team use (largely due to the licence requirements to drive it and the aspiration to keep it in good condition) in support of events or period displays.
Below: On Wednesday testing commenced on the Foulbridge – Town section of the Tramway, with Sunderland 16 being the first car lined up for this duty.
Below: The whole section has seen extensive re-sleepering (with sections having one in four sleepers replaced with recycled plastic replacements), new check rail spacers and then re-alignment to correct cant (super elevation – the amount by which the rail on one side differs to the other side – high rails being the outer rail, low rails being the inner and the difference being designed to aid the smooth progress of rolling stock through the curve) on the curves. The pink-shade of ballast obtained can clearly be seen. The aim is to complete testing and fettling before final inspection to allow passenger operation, before half-term begins on the 19th February.
The team will then move to the Waggonway over half-term to carry out some work there, before resuming the spot-resleepering work, this time from Pockerley towards the Town on the Tramway.
Over the past few years the engineering team have been refining the grate on Puffing Billy to maximise the performance of the various components, and the assembly as whole in service. The firebars themselves suffered from the tops of them burning away rapidly; which has been reduced by changing the makeup of the iron used for the cast fire bars, and modifying the bar pattern to give a better air flow. It is important to remember, the only thing keeping the bars from overheating is the air flow around them. The grate carriers and firebars suffered from distortion, partially down to the large mass of material they were compared to the surface area available for cooling (particularly the carriers here) and also because of ash becoming compacted around the bar ends meaning there was nowhere for expansion to take place.
Both of these factors have been addressed with new, lighter carriers to provide a much greater surface area for cooling, but also a significant improvement in the ability for fine ash around the bar ends to fall through the carriers. The new carriers are in steel (so may be susceptible to distortion more readily), but are a case of proving the principle prior to making patterns in iron. That said, the temperatures in the lower and outer grate areas appears to be quite low, as the firehole door surround still has the mill scale on the fire side after 14 years of service!
Finally, the front iron carrier had an integral baffle that extended up above the grate to stop fire rolling over into the combustion chamber, in a similar way to the bars, but this burnt away quite rapidly. The new carriers incorporate a row of firebricks to perform the same function. Firebricks have been successfully used in this way on Samson, where the fire at the front of the grate is a much higher temperature than that of Puffing Billy, so this solution should be more durable.
Below: The front carrier in place, with firebricks in situ. Beyond this is the combustion space before the tubeplate is reached. When the locomotive visited MBS in the Netherlands in May 2007, and was asked to perform hard over several miles, the fire was drawn over the end of the firebars and very quickly blocked this space. As this wasn’t clearly visible due to the intensity of the fire at the rear, over-firing resulted and exacerbated the problem. I recall rolling onto shed near midnight with 8lb on the pressure gauge and just enough steam in the huge cylinders to get the loco to balance on the turntable that provided shed access – and there it then sat! We pushed it inside after clearing out several wheelbarrow-full of remaining fire and ash.
Below: The middle carriers in position.
Below: A row of firebars in situ, along with the rear carrier (with more firebars to fit into the gap). These three photos c/o Don Cook