North Eastern Locomotive Preservation Group

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Q6 Blog

A record of events, activities and our work with the Q6

Wednesday 27th November 2019


'The rain it poored doon aall the day and made the groond quite muddy' at Grosmont yesterday, as the famous song says. Ian Pearson, Steve Hyman, Nigel Bill, Jon Bradley and myself (working on the T2) and Paul Hutchinson, Angie Buxton, Les Harper and Mike Bloomfield (working on the K1) all braved the appalling weather to get to Deviation Shed. At the start of the day the stove was lit and tea brewed.

 Nigel Bill after splitting the T2 crosshead on 27 November 2019 - Ian Pearson

On the T2, work started, mainly with a team effort, which saw the LH crosshead oil pot removed,and then both crosshead cotters removed with hammer and a bar. A tool had been borrowed from Ian Storey for removing cotters but it was too large and would not fit. All the locomotive brake blocks were removed and have been stored under the bench by the display boards. I also replaced all the broken bulbs in the inspection lamps, and the remaining new bulbs are on the electrical spares shelf in the storeroom upstairs. Lunch was had around the stove and discussion of how we were to split the crossheads. Having decided on a plan, all the splitting equipment was brought up from the MPD. During the afternoon both crossheads were split from the piston rod - see photo of a pleased Nigel after he had given the crosshead a thump with a copper hammer. With pressure on from the splitter the rod parted with a bang (see photo of end result with the splitter attached to the crosshead). While work was underway on the crosshead I was busy cleaning sections of the spark arrestor. The L/H side metal piston packing was also removed, put in a box with its nuts, and put in the storeroom upstairs. This piston is now ready for removal at the weekend.

T2 split crosshead with splitter on 27 November 2019 - Ian Pearson

Meanwhile on the K1, the team completed servicing of the cylinder relief valves, replaced the left rear ash pan door linkage pin, progressed the annual backhead valve exam and maintenance (including recutting both clack box steam valve seats), previously weld repaired areas of the tender tank were re-welded by Mark O'Brien after he had finished work, a new taper pin prepared for the LH return crank, the steam heat valve bead blasted (the valve seat is to be replaced by Steve Andrews), and the LH cylinder sealing face and cover studs cleaned ahead of reassembly.

J27 fractured spring hanger on 22 November 2019 - Barney Casey

Not such good news on the J27 however. After refitting the valve covers on 21 November, during the subsequent fitter's inspection, the left leading driving spring hanger bracket was found to be fractured (see photo). It was decided to machine a new part (the half with the pocket for the spring hanger bolt) and weld it onto the half that bolts onto the frames. Evidence was found of a previous welding repair though and the fractures in the old casting are many and substantial. A new lower part is therefore required. The fractures appear to have been there before the leaf spring collapse, but this collapse will have hastened this latest failure of the casting. Time is of the essence to get the engine ready for the Santas. The necessary steel has been ordered and, once it arrives, the MPD has said that the necessary work to effect the repair should only take a few days. The J27 will therefore miss the trial run of the Northern Lights Express tomorrow and will be replaced by the B1 No 1264. Once the repair is completed however, it is expected to be used on the remaining Northern Light Express and the Santa Special trains to the end of December. Being based at Pickering it can also provide steam heating for the duration. The MPD’s Barney Casey will be keeping an eye on it while it is there, and making sure it is not affected by any bad weather that might occur.

In spite of being no operations yesterday, the S15 was on test in steam, the B1 was moving around festooned in LED light strings, and the 9F and Repton were lit up late afternoon. The Channel 5 film crew were also around, including in Deviation Shed, no doubt getting the atmospheric dusk/dark, raining and steam swirling shots.

Last Updated on Friday, 20 December 2019 20:37

Wednesday 20th November 2019


A cold, cloudy start at Grosmont early on yesterday, but it soon brightened up, giving us a sunny, clear day. Ian Pearson, Steve Hyman, Ian McCall, Neil Smedley, Nigel Bill, Jon Bradley, Paul Hutchinson and, just in time for lunch, myself!

After the stove was lit, a brew was made so tea all round, then a start was made on lan’s list of jobs. With ladders fastened to the T2 handrails, Ian McCall removed both safety valves, cleaned the boss faces and studs, and refitted the nuts back onto the studs. He also cleaned the bases of the safety valves which are now marked up and on the workshop bench. Neil and Nigel Bill removed the cosmetic dome cover and the regulator dome cover before, with a team effort, it was gently lowered to the floor. Both covers are now at the back of No 8 Road by the buffer stop. Jon Bradley cleaned the dome studs and refitted the nuts back on later in the day. Steve removed the lubricator drive from the R/H side big end. It was then decided to have a go at removing the L/H con rod. To achieve this without having a shunt, the gate and gate post at the north end of No 7 Road were removed, allowing the locomotive to be moved a few feet northwards and getting the little end pin in a position where it could be withdrawn by the team. The entrance to the shed was barriered off for safety reasons, not that there were any visitors around, but on a precautionary basis.

Lunch was held round the stove, following which the big end bearing was removed, with each side of the bearing kept together with its shims, and wire tied round to keep them together. All the fittings for the L/H big and little ends are in a blue plastic bucket in the workshop. After removal of the brass bearings, the little end of the con rod was lowered to the floor and, with the jacking trolley underneath the big end taking the weight, Barney came in as we were about to attach a rope to lower it to the floor. He volunteered to lift it off the trolley and just picked it up and placed it on the floor on some timber packing, much to the chagrin of team of geriatrics who had been struggling to do the same job. Following an afternoon cup of tea to build up our strength again, a start was made on removing some of the R/H side big end and little end cotters and nuts. They were successfully loosened off but time ran out and this rod will have to be removed next time.

Steve has taken the steam brake isolation valve to Hopetown for Arthur Jenkins to repair.

When Barney came he asked Ian to put some other jobs on our T2 list - remove all locomotive brake blocks; remove the brake wayshaft; and remove the brake cylinder which needs honing and new rings.

On the J27, it was moved out of Deviation Shed and on to the coaling stage pit where the L/H piston was fitted. Again, as the dark descended, the cover was left to be fitted today. The locomotive will be out for a test run for the Northern Lights Express on 29 November, with the service starting the next day.

Unusually, Paul was working mainly on the K1 on his own, and he reckoned not much was achieved. However, the flexible engine to tender steam brake pipe was refitted. This included repairing the tender brake supply pipe and replacing an associated pipe clip, both of which were damaged when the flexible pipe was removed. In addition, one new rocking grate section was fitted with help from the team to get it onto the footplate - boy was it heavy! - and Jon helped Paul get it in the firebox and fitted. The original was noted to be fractured when Ian and Paul replaced the RH rear rocking grate side bearer last week.

While the K1 is not required for the Santas it is to be used on the NYMR Christmas/New Year services. In order to ensure that it will be ready in time we really need good attendances at the working parties over the next few weeks - hopefully starting this Saturday when the next working party will be held. There will also be one next Wednesday (27 November) and any extra ones that prove to be necessary will be called as and when.


Saturday 16th November 2019


A gloomy and intermittently very wet day yesterday with the full silence of the railway and landscape in its winter closure!

However, despite the absence of MPD staff on "official business" along with some of the regular Saturday Working Party members, a goodly team of NELPG faces were present. Neal Woods and James Pearcy were the engine working party contingent, assisted by apprentice Bryan Orange. Andy and Joan Lowes, with Arthur Jenkins, were present to kick off the 2019/2020 Young Persons Development Group workshop training programme.

I delivered a winter season starting safety briefing to all of the MPD Juniors, emphasising the Competency focus which our friends in ORR have currently taken after a marked increase in safety "incidents" on Heritage Railways nationally. After Arthur shouted "foul", cups of tea were quickly produced by yours truly to steady his and others nerves!

Unfortunately Oliver Barker was taken poorly on Friday evening so was a "knocker" yesterday, but NELPG youngsters, Luke Perry, Findlay Brown, Tom Readman, Adam Dangerfield, Matty Smith and James Clark were ready and waiting to start!! James and dad Richard Clark were attending for their first Working Party.

In the morning, Mike McPeake and Howard Heath delivered the MPD Safety training course in the MIC room to Andy, Joan, Arthur, James, Richard and Matt. Apparently Matt saved the day when difficulties were encountered with Mike's Lap Top being unwilling to show his PowerPoint presentation. All the other Juniors present today had already received this training previously.

Luke, Tom and Adam assisted Neal and James with removing the brake blocks from the K1 tender and removing 2 brackets from the loco. One bracket was measured up and painted. The other bracket was scrapped due to corrosion and a new one will be manufactured at Hopetown.

A photo of the MPD Juniors with Arthur, Joan and Andy is attached enjoying lunch around a rather hot Pot Belly stove.

Lunchtime at Deviation Shed on 16 November 2019 - Bryan Orange.

In the afternoon all of the youngsters except Findlay departed to the MPD Workshop with Arthur, Joan and Andy to cut off all of the raw materials for their mallet manufacturing task, except Findlay who assisted James P with the remaining work on the brackets under the K1.

Neal and I started to service the K1 cylinder relief valves and drain cocks. The RHS relief valves were ground in.

We had to start to close things up about at around 1540 hours because the MPD is locked up at 1600 hours in the winter when no trains are running.'

Thanks to Mike McPeake and Howard Heath for delivering the latest MPD safety briefing induction course.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 19 November 2019 12:02

Wednesday 13th November 2019


A very cold but fine day at Grosmont today, with Ian Pearson, Steve Hyman, Nigel Bill, myself and later Jon Bradley working on the T2 (and Bill Dobson who called in early to brief us on what jobs to get on with) while Paul Hutchinson, Angie Buxton, and Mike Bloomfield were working on the K1 with Chris Henwood and Richard De Sadeleer joining them on the late shift.

No work was done on the J27, with the left hand valve repair being dealt with by the MPD staff and an instruction for the locomotive to be left alone for them to deal with. It will be in use however, for the Northern Light Express and the Santa Special trains from the end of November to the end of December, being based at Pickering to also provide steam heating for the duration. Barney Casey will be keeping an eye on it while it is there, and making sure it is not affected by any bad weather that might occur.

First job was to clean out the ashes from the stove, get it lit up and then have a warming cuppa. My first task was to clean out the remaining ash from the T2 smoke box so that Ian could get on with removal of the second main steam pipe. Then Steve, with my assistance, removed and cleaned all the cylinder cocks and stored them upstairs. The operating linkages were tied up and left in situ. Nigel Bill removed the valve that feeds steam to the reverser (this is situated on the right hand side of the boiler) after the application of heat to free up the securing nuts. The valve was dismantled in the workshop and then taken down to the MPD and given to Owain to do some machining and rectification, as it was blowing by when the carrot valve was open while topping up with steam oil.

Ian worked all day removing the nuts from the L/H main steam pipe in the smokebox with help from Nigel. This involved removal of a fair amount of concrete which was covering some of the nuts. By the end of the day, the steam pipe was successfully removed. Jon removed the injector caps for frost protection, cleaned them and put them upstairs. He also refitted all the cylinder head nuts back onto the studs after cleaning the threads and oiling them. The T2 is due a wash out, but this will be done as and when it becomes accessible for a move down to the MPD.

On the K1, there was frustratingly slow progress. The front valve was cleaned and fitted by Angie and Paul, the tail rod lubricator pipes annealed by Paul who also adjusted, fitted and secured the piston valve glands and made and fitted a new securing key for the R/H piston valve cotter. Both clack boxes were stripped for examination by Angie and she cleaned and lapped in both clack valves. Mike completed the cleaning of the R/H piston, and made a start on cleaning the R/H piston packing assembly. Late on in the day, Chris Henwood and Richard De Sadeleer made further progress with the replacement of the wasted roof stay nuts. In addition, Mark O’Brien made a start on re-profiling the throat plate mud hole door openings under contract with the NYMR. Paul also discussed with Barney the arranagements for getting the Support Coach down to Pickering at the end of the season, and also the use of the K1 during the Santa season out of Grosmont.

Working parties will continue tomorrow (15th) and Saturday (16th - when the JVs will also be present). On that Saturday, Mike McPeake is also running an MPD site briefing from 10.00 to 12.00 in the MIC Room at the MPD. This is essentially for the JVs, but if anyone else has not so far attended a briefing, or needs a refresher, and is able to go on Saturday they will be most welcome.

There will be a further working party on Wednesday 20 November, for which Neil Smedley and Ian McCall have already indicated their intention to be present.


Wednesday 6th November 2019


A cold fine morning but cloud setting in after lunch yesterday at Grosmont. No trains running until the end of the month when Santa specials and The Northern Lights start operating using the J27. The track has been split on Fen Bog for sleeper renewal.

The team today was Bill Dobson, who could only stop for a cup of tea and give us some jobs on the T2 due to other arrangements, Ian Pearson, Steve Hyman, Nigel Hall and myself working on the T2, and Paul Hutchinson, Angie Buxton, Les Harper, Mike Bloomfield and later on Chris Henwood and Richard De Sadeleer working on the K1. The K1 and T2 were shunted onto No 7 Road in Deviation Shed on Tuesday and, yesterday, Lucie and the J27 were shunted into No 8 Road (see photo). As a result, Dame Vera Lynn was moved outside and is now standing immediately by the roller shutter door on No 8 Road.

Three NELPG engines in Deviation Shed on 6 November 2019 - Chris Lawson.

After the usual cuppa, work started with Steve cleaning out the T2's smoke box with Ian assisting, in preparation for removing the main steam pipes. However, they soon realised that the removal of the main steam pipes wasn't as easy as it looked because the spark arrestor was in the way and making any progress very difficult. Nigel brought some heavy duty cardboard from home and stacked it against the sheeting wall on the side of No 6 Road. It is intended to be used for lying on when work is required while in the 4 foot. He also slackened a washout door on the lower right hand side of the T2 to allow the boiler to drain into the pit. As a result the pit pump was on for most of the day. First job for me was to light the stove and then I removed the cosmetic covers from the T2 cylinder covers. That enabled me to access the cylinder nuts and slacken them using a 7/8" socket and a long handled ratchet socket from the K1 toolbox. Although all the cylinder nuts are now loose, we never got round to removing the cylinder covers - a job for next week.

Lunch was had around the stove and a decision was made to remove the spark arrestor from the smoke box. So, after lunch, Ian set about the removal of the spark arrestor with my assistance and we managed to remove some parts of it. Some of the small bolts would not unscrew so Ian cut them of with an angle grinder. Unfortunately, the rest of the studs will have to be drilled out later. There is therefore still quite a bit of work to do to remove the rest of the spark arrestor - another job for next week. The pieces taken off at the moment have been marked up and some photos taken. Steve and Nigel spent all afternoon removing the T2 regulator handle and stuffing box which are now on the bench in the workshop. Mark O' Brien inspected the T2 firebox tube plate and reported all was OK after its steam test last week and use at the weekend after Repton had failed.

In the meantime, on the K1, most of the effort concentrated on getting the boiler ready for Friday's insurance company cold exam. The mud hole door openings and washout plug holes were cleaned, the gauge frames stripped and examined, cleaning the firebox was completed and the tube ends oiled. The safety valves were also stripped and examined, and our own examination of the boiler was carried out including identifying which roof stay nuts are to be replaced ahead of next season's service.

In addition, the steam brake flexible pipe between the engine and tender was removed so that it can be used as a pattern to manufacture some spares. The wear on the cross head top slippers was also checked against the wear on the piston heads.

No work was done on the J27 today but the left hand valve has been taken out for repair by the MPD staff.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 19 November 2019 11:56

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