Friday, 24 August 2012

How to fit an Ashpan (6)

Making an ashpan is one thing but actually fixing it in place is quite another. It's not just offering the ashpan up to the firebox, drilling a few holes and screwing up a few nuts and bolts. The ashpan is heavy, all my tools etc. are at Chippenham and the firebox is 25 miles away in Midsomer Norton! And what sort of brackets are needed?

In amongst many other things, I've been pondering how to do this for months. The ashpan is circular so angle iron brackets would have to be curved to just the right radius. I can't do angle iron bending and it would be too pricey to have four made. Even then, it still does not answer where to mount them!

Ear's the idea I came up with.
'Ears' (4)
I made these four ears with the inner radius ground to suit the ashpan curvature. The plan was to fix these in place then jack the ashpan up under the firebox, adjust the ears for best fit and finally tack-weld them to the ashpan wall.
Two of the four 'ears' in place
With the ears in place, the ashpan was put on a pair of wooden beams so it could be 'walked' along the rails to its location beneath the firebox.
Ready for 'walkies'
Spot the deliberate error here!
In position below the firebox
(Deliberate error corrected!).
Then the ashpan was jacked into the highest position abutting up against the brackets...
Highest position
... and ears tack-welded in place.
Tack welded
Bearing in mind that I'm almost six feet tall, not a natural contortionist and was at times wearing a welding helmet, getting into position to do the tack welds was not a trivial operation particularly for the ears towards the front of the loco. I confess there were a few flashes as the welding rod caught the wrong thing on the journey getting into position!

Why three nuts per fixing? The top one holds the studding in place; the other two can set and lock the ashpan height and hence the air-gap. I hate things being able to rattle!

Having brought the ashpan back to base, I have to complete welding the ears with a 'leg' support, increase the ears'-hole size (of these ears, not mine!), add some fresh smoke-box paint, assemble the flap and fix the complete ashpan in place. Hopefully this job will then be complete after about nine months duration!

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Sentinel Conversion Loco Steams Again (2)

After posting the article on Gervase's restoration progress, I found a couple of photos of Gervase of old in Tony Thomas's photo collection.
Gervase at Tenterden 21st October 1969
Photo Courtesy of Tony Thomas
Gervase at Standard Brick Co., Redhill 13th January 1951
Photo Courtesy of Tony Thomas

Sentinel Conversion Loco Steams Again (1)

Mike Hart from Elsecar Heritage Railway, recently announced that his current restoration project, a Sentinel Conversion Loco named Gervase, had steamed again on June 30th 2012 for the first time in 50 years.
Gervase (1) photo courtesy Mike Hart
As well as preparing the boiler for its final certification exam, the engine unit was run, the vacuum and steam brake equipment was tested and the steam heating and all the other bits and bobs checked out. At the end of the day, a pleasingly small snagging list was left to sort out.
Gervase (2) photo courtesy Mike Hart
At the end of July the loco was planned to be moved to the railway workshops at The Great Central Railway, Loughborough, where Locomotive Maintenance Services would make and fit new axle boxes and horn guides, recondition the side rods and perform various other jobs to finally finish the loco’s restoration.
Gervase (3) photo courtesy Mike Hart
Mike’s aim is to have the loco operating at Elsecar by Christmas 2012 and ready for a trip to the Kent & East Sussex Railway Gala in May 2013 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its first steaming at Tenterden.
Gervase (4) photo courtesy Mike Hart
Sentinel works no. 6807, Gervase, is the only known remaining potentially serviceable Sentinel ‘conversion’ loco. It was originally a Manning Wardle but adapted by Sentinel in 1928 to use a vertical boiler and vertical twin cylinder engine of steam road waggon design.

Although the cab and engine housings bear a resemblance to the Fry's type of 100 HP Sentinel, there the similarity ends - it has side rods instead of chains linking the front and rear axles.

This is a really interesting project and I am looking forward to visiting Elsecar to see it in action.

Click here for a couple of historic photos.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Snibston, Chasewater and The Missing Bits

Early in 2012, I visited the Chasewater Railway at Brownhills, north of Birmingham. While talking to some of the staff, it became obvious that a number of them were very familiar with Sentinel 7109. The reason for the familiarity was from their interest in purchasing 7109 at the time when MSN volunteers finally purchased it late in 2004. Moreover, I was stunned when told that one of their staff (absent that day) knew that there were some of 7109's missing parts in a particular goods wagon at Snibston Colliery at Coalville.
Not this particular wagon!
This was too good an opportunity to miss so I contacted Snibston and was put in touch with Nick Pell, their museum curator of mining and transport. Nick, also a volunteer at the Welsh Highland Heritage Railway, Porthmadog, could not have been more helpful but, after some searching himself, was highly pessimistic that the parts could be at Snibston. I arranged to visit him there on 31st July 2012.
Prior to the visit, I had also been in touch with Mark Sealey, General Manager at Chasewater. He was more confident that there could be some parts at Snibston and even suggested where to look.

Come the day, Nick kindly led us on a thorough search but to no avail. It also became clear that the wagon in question had been one of five originally at Snibston but they had all been transferred to Chasewater about five years earlier.

So a visit to Chasewater followed as it was close on the way home.
I found the five wagons.
The five(ish) wagons at Chasewater Heaths Station
There was nothing in them, let alone any Sentinel parts.

I rang Mark Sealey later to discuss the search but had to conclude that this was the end of the line and that the parts really had disappeared. A pity. We'd had high hopes of finding our spectacle windows and safety valves if nothing else.

It was an opportunity that could not be ignored but in the end no joy! If anybody does know the whereabouts of any of these parts, do (please) post me a comment below and I'll contact you to discuss possibilities.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Preventing a draught (2)

Monday 6th August 2012 witnessed the Olympian task of refitting Sentinel 7109's fire hole door.
Fire hole door fitted and latched closed
The door is supported by a rod which passes through two purpose designed brackets, each attached to the boiler by a pair of 5/8" BSW studs and nuts.
Left hand bracket, one of the two for supporting the door
In the picture above, there is a row of downward facing closed nuts used to hold the boiler together. Of course, these are neatly provided to get in the way of putting the brackets over their mounting studs!

With the nuts in the way, there's not a lot of space to swing an angle grinder; however, this seemed a better option than potentially breaking the hydraulically-tested boiler seal by removing a nut or two. The upper stud for each bracket was thus shortened to allow the brackets to be fitted and a nut to be squeezed in.
Fire hole door open.
Tab for latching the door closed is in the lower right.
The door latches shut by the protruding bar on its right sitting on the highlighted tab in the lower right of the photo above.
It is held open by the rather lethal looking hook at the top left of the photo. (It's not really that big; it was just a lot closer to the camera!).

The short spigot protruding from the protruding bar is to attach a chain to lift the door open from its closed position - at least I think that's what it's for! It probably is because the door is mainly Aluminium and quite light in weight.

Thoughts anyone?

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Grate Stuff!

After all the work on the boiler, superheater and ashpan, there's the little matter of where to put the fire. Ages ago, I looked over the fire-grate parts and cleaned them up with the usual electric wire brush. What I had never done was to try to put the grate actually into the firebox - assuming that is was the right one and would fit!

When assembled, the grate looks like this:
Arranged fire-grate (boot toe-caps not included!)
It consists of two semi-circular rings, each with its own 90 degree segment of grate affixed. Two more 90 degree segments also sit on the semi-circular rings (the ones with the row of holes). There are then five slotted fire-grate sections laid across between the two fixed segments (the ones without the row of holes).
6th Aug 2012, Fire-grate in position (It did fit, thankfully!).
In-situ, the ends of the semi-circular rings sit on two of the four brackets which also provide the fixings for the ashpan.
Gap between halves of the rings
Near to each end of the semi-circular rings, there is a downward protruding lug which abuts against the bracket to prevents the grate from rotating.
An 'Open-Mouthed' view in through the fire-hole opening
So how does the grate assembly arrive in the bottom of the firebox I hear you ask? It has to be put in item by item from below starting with the semi-circular rings, the two segments and finally the five slotted grate sections. A tough job providing more stiffness in the joints next day!
Isebrook's 100 horsepower fire-grate
For readers familiar with 100 horsepower waggon and loco fireboxes, Sentinel 7109's 200 HP grate is quite different from the 100 HP type shown above.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Boiler Nutted!

I've had a comment from Richard Nixon of the Sentinel Drivers' Club about the previous article on this subject 'Boiler Bolted!'.

He comments that on Sentinel road waggons, the boiler bolts point upwards with the nuts on top. I searched my photos to see if this was the case and found this early one (suitably cropped and photo-manipulated).
Nuts Up!
The photo was taken in January 2005 just after Sentinel 7109 arrived at Midsomer Norton Station and before the boiler had been removed. Clearly Richard is correct!

However, despite being upside down, the bolts are tight fitting and secure and they are going to stay where they are!

It's good to know the experts are monitoring our progress! Many thanks Richard.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Boiler Bolted!

Although Sentinel 7109's boiler was lowered into place about nine months ago (Friday 14th October 2011), it had only been fixed with two out of the ten bolts required. In the meantime, due to rain and winter exposure, those and the remaining nicely cleaned up bolts had gone rusty so a re-clean-up was needed to finish the job.

The vertical boiler has four fixing brackets at the front, rear, left and right sides. Starting with the rear, the sides and finally the front, access becomes steadily more tortuous!

Rear bracket with the boiler-maker's plate above
Previously, I'd thought the bolts should be fed up from below with nuts above - because they fitted into the holes that way! However, Norman (the fountain of all knowledge at Midsomer Norton Station) persuaded me that the bolts had previously been fed down from above before the boiler was removed.

Having aggressively wire-brush-cleaned the bolts and holes well and applied graphite grease, I found I was facing an interference or at least very tight fit - the sort that works better, the bigger the hammer!

When there isn't much space to work in, swinging a big hammer is an art form to behold - one that Norman had mastered a long time ago but has so far eluded me! Still, when you have a master of an art, why not make the best use of him! So I did and thanks to Norman and my spanner wielding self, the boiler is now very firmly bolted down.

Left hand bracket
Right hand bracket
Compared to the left hand bracket photo, the plate in the rear of the photo has a piece carved out of it to allow the curved main steam feed pipe to pass from the regulator valve assembly round the boiler to beneath the water tank and to the engines at the front.
The pipe can be seen in the cab doorway.
Photo courtesy of the Sentinel Drivers' Club
but heavily doctored for the cab detail
A new curved pipe is to be fabricated as the old one was badly corroded. This is a difficult task as the pipe has to curve in three dimensions. It will be made by Mendip Steam Restorations, our boiler repairer.
Front bracket from above - not too accessible!
Front bracket from below (somewhere near the rear axle!)
See what I mean!
Front bracket from below - with the rear axle showing
The two larger pipes are the water feeds from the two engine-mounted boiler feed pumps; the small pipe is the oil feed from the mechanical lubricator.
The Front fixing in grey is just above the axle - much
easier to get at without a boiler in the way!
After spending the day grovelling about under Sentinel 7109, next morning, I woke feeling as if I'd been thoroughly beaten up; I don't think I'll do this sort of thing too often!
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