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By Darrin Crone on

Sir Nigel Gresley overhaul – update 7

The team in The Works are pressing on with the overhaul of Sir Nigel Gresley.

Locomotive Engineer Darrin Crone provides us with an insight into recent weeks’ work on restoring the great locomotive.

Week commencing 29 August

The examination of the frames continued this week. On Tuesday the brackets that support the footplating from the frames were thoroughly cleaned. They have been cleaned before but required another visit prior to removing the paint, after which a detailed inspection of these castings can be carried out. After cleaning they were needle gunned to remove all the paint.

With the frames stripped detailed examination is possible. On the frames is a brass plate showing that the loco carried experimental nuts on it’s slidebars.

Cleaning and needle gunning has been carried out elsewhere on the frames, and there’s now not much left to do behind the cylinders. On Wednesday the underneath of the bracket that supports the front vacuum cylinders was cleaned. This bracket can now be stripped of paint.

Work is now concentrating on the area around the cylinders. On Thursday the Engineering Team did a great job cleaning off the carbon deposits around the trailing face of the outside cylinder castings. There are still some awkward corners to get into, but a large surface area has been done. This will allow a detailed inspection to take place around the slidebar brackets and piston packing housings that are integrally cast on the cylinder.

Roger Turnbull cleaning the trailing side of the left hand cylinder.

Also this week, a detailed survey of the fasteners took place on the right hand side of the loco. It is fascinating to see the small markings, repairs, tool marks, pops and scribe marks that show the loco’s long history. As much of this as possible will be recorded. To help with this we were visited by our official photographer Trevor Camp. Using his very high class equipment he took some documentary photographs of the frames.

During the inspection process it was noticed that the leading right-hand combined spring hanger and brake shaft bracket is shimmed from the frames and there is a gap between the lower part of the side of the bracket and the frame. This bracket is a fabrication whereas the bracket on the left of the loco is a casting. As there is also an alignment issue with these brackets it was decided to remove the fabricated bracket for detailed examination and refitting. By the end of Saturday removal progressed to the point where it was clinging on with just one rivet.

One of the bogie spring beams is marked 2568 LNE. Locomotive 2568 was Sceptre which became 60069, perhaps another recycled component.

We continued to clean the bogie on the underside. We trialed the needle gun on it and a lot of the hard deposits chipped off, so we won’t need to manually scrape a large area of the underside of the bogie main frame casting. There doesn’t seem to be much paint on the underside, probably because it hasn’t been upside down since it was built.

On Saturday we ran our regular Junior Volunteers day. The locomotive injectors were cleaned by the JV’s for the first time and the Juniors were put to good use cleaning the cylinder bores prior to measurement.

Week commencing 5 September

Work continued on the frames this week. We are now concentrating on de-scaling the cylinder and saddle castings. We continued to deep clean between the frames in the areas which we will soon be painting. Examination between the frames continued with an inspection of the large cross shaped frame stretcher and the surrounding fasteners. The cylinder bore dimensions are now being taken, with the right hand now completed by our CME Richard Swales.

Rod Thomas deep cleaning between the frames
Rod Thomas deep cleaning between the frames

Away from the locomotive the sandboxes were inspected before receiving their first coats of primer. The bogie spring beams also had their first coats of primer applied. These are the first components painted in preparation for refitting to the locomotive.

The right-hand driving axle box horn casting is the only one with BR cast markings. The other five are marked LNE
The right-hand driving axle box horn casting is the only one with BR cast markings. The other five are marked LNE

The last rivet holding the right leading combined spring hanger and brake shaft bracket was removed. The bracket is now removed from the locomotive, allowing it to be inspected and refurbished.

My main activity this week was visiting the workshops of the South Devon Railway to discuss the re-tyring of our wheel sets. The wheels were dispatched from York during August.

The driving wheel set in the South Devon Railways workshop without tyres
The driving wheel set in the South Devon Railways workshop without tyres

Since arrival at Buckfastleigh the coupled wheels have had their tyres removed. The SDR workshop manager very generously spent considerable time with us, examining and discussing the work to be done to the wheels. He took us through the entire process, step by step.

The prime-painted right-hand sandbox
The prime-painted right-hand sandbox

We were very encouraged by the condition of the wheels, and the cleanliness and preparation of the wheelsets, prior to leaving York, allows easy examination and will contribute to their quick return.

Week commencing 12 September

The frames were inspected to identify any remaining grime and paint and a few patches were found, requiring a little further cleaning attention and from the needle gun. Most of these isolated patches are on the underside or on the inside of corners. There were cleaned and needle gunned and, hopefully, by the end of the week we were finished behind the cylinders. The cylinders and saddle have had some time spent on them in the last few weeks so they are approaching completion.

A general view of the loco in workshop
A general view of the loco in workshop

The combined spring and brake bracket removed from the right front of the locomotive was cleaned and stripped. Fabricated instead of cast, It’s a fascinating piece of work. Originally on 60026 it must have been fitted to Sir Nigel Gresley during it’s Crewe overhaul in 1967.

The removal of broken studs from the right hand outside cylinder was finished this week. Our stud removal expert has proved to be so good at this that I’ve let him start on the ones along the bottom of the middle cylinder. These have to be done overhead – no fun with swarf raining down from the drill, but he’s up to it.

Before the end of the piston valve is cleaned
Before the end of the piston valve is cleaned

Painting continues on the sandboxes and bogie spring components. With priming completed on some of these the loco spring components have now been started. The sandboxes are ready for undercoating.

The cleaning and of all six driving axleboxes and their associated spring hangers was finished this week.

The bogie cleaning continued this week, and when the needle gun is available it can now be stripped. We found that the bogie is stamped 2553 in a couple of places, perhaps indicating that it was once under A1/A3 2553 (60054) Prince of Wales.

After the carbon is removed from the valve
After the carbon is removed from the valve

The piston valves were finish de-carboned this week. All the grooves have been thoroughly cleaned out and the heavy carbon deposits on the exhaust side of the valves chipped off. A job well done, completed by the volunteer Engineering Team. Work has now started on the piston ring grooves.

This is the seventh update – you can catch up on the previous posts here.

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