North Eastern Locomotive Preservation Group

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Q6 Blog

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

Saturday 28th January

The mice have eaten the bait but the traps did not go off, we have reset them with mars bar (only the best for our four legged friends).

Good news, our electrician has fitted a new isolator to the workshop in deviation shed.

Quite a bit of progress today with five workers on the loco; valve covers were removed & the lubrication pipes under the steam chest. The steam pipe for the reverser has been annealed & cleaned ready to be refitted onto the loco.

The brake ejector in the cab is still fighting back, the exhaust pipe is off but the steam pipe still refuses to give up its hold. Do we have a large ‘c’ spanner to take the nut off the vacuum pipe at the bottom? The dome cover is safely down on the floor & put into storage.


Ian Pearson in smokebox whilst Andy Lowes makes notes on smokebox door - Joan Lowes

The left steam pipe was taken out of the smoke box & the ends of the front row of elements were cleaned, where they go into the header. A gauge was made to mark a datum from the header, so the elements can have a new piece of pipe welded back on & expanded into the header. Our tame burner had these cut in no time at all. A plan was devised between us to get the elements out. We used a chain lift to pull the elements free in the smoke box, then manipulated them onto a stand in front of the loco & then onto the floor. A total of five elements were removed today, but the blast pipe will have to be removed before the centre two will come out.


Ian Pearson with gague - Andy Lowes

As there is no storage space left in deviation shed, we have put the elements in the walkway behind the gates in the 6’, road 6 to 7. Please be aware of the tripping hazards if you require access to this area.

The elements being cut - Andy Lowes


The first element is removed - Joan Lowes

Company car is available from Teesside for Wednesday workers.

Job list for Wednesday 1st February 2017:-

Dig out base of smoke box

Remove blast pipe

Spark arrester & smoke box dart to clean

Remove packing from valve glands

Remove valves

All mud door holes in boiler to clean ready for inspection

Broken stud from dome in vice outside workshop to put with nuts & washes stored with mud doors.

Thanks everyone for a really productive day,


Saturday 21st January 2017

I will start this report on Friday, as Paul & I had a meeting with the NYMR shed management to go through what is to happen with the Q6. Over the next few months together we will get the winter maintenance done, the boiler will have the super heater elements & flue tubes removed. This will allow our insurance inspector to assess the internal area of the boiler & allow us to run the loco until 2024 with the usual periodic exams. The wheels will be taken out to check for wear in the axle boxes, the leading wheels may require some work.

So to Saturday, the juniors turned up on mass & set to work some doing training on the morning while the rest were on the Q6. After lunch they swapped over so they all did the same amount of training to work experience. I have to say the team worked very well together moving the timber packing from behind No5 to the end of the shed in no time at all. They then emptied the fire box of the remains of the arch & removed the fire bars. Then it was onto cleaning the mud hole doors for the boiler. Two of the lads repaired the top of the coal board for the tender. The ash was taken out of the ash pan on the loco & also the pit outside deviation shed. A good effort all round lads, next time we will work on tidying up after yourselves.

The main thing today was we have some means of heating nuts up to remove various parts that refused to come off last week. Trevor Wilford is the man for this job; he helped Ian Pearson get the spark arrestor into bits. Then the ejector exhaust pipe was removed, the blower ring & pipe work also came off.

Trevor & I then started on the dome cover but this really did fight back, we had to heat the nuts & flog them off as well. The good news is they are all now loose but the bad news is one stud snapped.

Peter Ellis removed the remaining pipes that run under the loco so the wheels can be removed, he then went on to clean & match mark them for ease of refitting. All the associated brackets were also refurbished & cleaned.

Now to the work list for Wednesday:-

  • Steam pipes to remove from smoke box
  • Blast pipe to dig out & remove
  • Both valve covers & valves to come out
  • Brake valve from cab to take out & leave on bench (had an offer to have it refurbished)

Mouse traps have been set in the workshop, Beware they do nip fingers too!

A job coming up in the not too distant future on Saturdays, Mark O’Brian is to be contracted to remove the flue tubes. We will require a team of volunteers to assist him to get these out. If you are fit & able please keep this in mind, once these are out we will get the insurance inspector in. Then we will be able to start building the boiler back to his satisfaction.

Many thanks everyone. Keep up the good work, Andy



Saturday 14th January

Due to the weather & the forecast the JV’s monthly work party on the Q6 has been put back a week. Don’t worry lads I have still got plenty of work for you to do!

So with three people we set to doing the following jobs:-

Ian Pearson continued to strip the spark arrestor but got to a point where heat will be required to get the remaining nuts off. He sorted out some new bottles for the burning gear so hopefully next Saturday great progress will be made.

Ian Pearson struggling with the spark arrestor - Andy Lowes

Peter Ellis removed the lubricating pipes to the front covers of the valves. Also the vacuum & steam heat pipes under the loco.

Peter Ellis removing plubrication pipework - Andy Lowes

We all helped each other when lifts were required i.e. cylinder covers, lengths of pipe, or dome cladding. A good team effort, good progress made with limited number of workers.

A view of the dome cover - Andy Lowes

When the cylinder covers were removed both bores are covered in oil, so the lubrication system is working very well.


Winter maintenance begins

After a very good season on the NYMR the Q6 has covered over 7,000 miles with very few problems. After this weekend, then the shed staff will wash the boiler out and put it into Deviation shed on the pit road outside the workshop.

Our chairman writes:

"The Q6 has had a most successful year and, following Sunday's running, will have clocked up an impressive 7,396 miles this season (third highest on the NYMR in 2016) - well done to all concerned in making that happen.  We are now embarking on the winter maintenance and special thanks to Andy Lowes for taking on the important task of seeing this through: please support him as much as you can so that the Q6 can be back in traffic as soon as possible."

Paul & I had a look round the loco before Christmas; Paul has put together a list of jobs to do based on what we saw. We are hoping for an answer from the insurance company early in the New Year with what is required for the boiler.

So as the heading states work will start on Saturday 7th January at 09.00 until 16.00 then every Wednesday & Saturday until loco is back in traffic. I would like to thank Ian Pearson for agreeing to RO on the Wednesday’s. The company car will be at Thornaby for use on Wednesday’s but it is required for K1 on Saturday’s.

We will start by winterising the loco & a thorough clean, especially underneath. Then a full exam can be done, hopefully not finding anything we don’t already know about.

Please let me know when you are available & on what day.

Here’s to a very happy New Year,




Q6's last days of operation

Some photographs of the last days of operation of the Q6 before its boiler ticket expires.


Santa's Loco


06:30 and a clean Q6 simmers in Grosmont running shed in readiness for Santa's train - Terry Newman


Wednesday 23rd March - Steam Test Day

Well, the Q6 winter maintenance programme has now truly come to an end.

The NEKLPG and NYMR MPD teams at work on the Q6 - Chris Lawson

Andy Lowes went down to Grosmont on Tuesday to explain how the crosshead alignment had been set up, following concerns that had been expressed by the MPD staff that it was significantly out of line. Suitably clarified, the in steam boiler insurance exam was confirmed for the next day (Wednesday) and the MPD then refitted the right hand piston, attached the crosshead and slippers and put up the rods so that the Q6 could be moved out of Deviation Shed (that movement in itself was no mean feat as the largely dismantled No 29 had to be carefully moved out first, with concerns that it might derail). Once completed, a warming fire was lit in the Q6 first thing on Wednesday morning and the in steam boiler insurance exam was successfully held later that morning. A couple of minor adjustments necessary as a consequence, most notably to the front safety valve, but otherwise everything was fine.

One major step forward therefore, but, unfortunately, one small one back at the same time, as the MPD had discovered that the previous night they had put the right hand crosshead slippers and cotter in back to front (see photo of Owen contemplating the offending parts) - these things happen! So, with the Q6 now at the back of the Running Shed, the rest of the day was spent in them splitting the crosshead, and refitting the slippers and cotter the right way round. Elsewhere, the left hand side gauge frame plugs top and bottom were replaced from stock in the Deviation Shed store - there are now none left and replacements will need to be made: Ian has left the bottom one, which is now scrap, on a nail in the workshop by the tea point in Deviation Shed. Both injectors were reported as working fine, but the injector caps were tightened to stop them leaking. The piston covers were also tightened and the cosmetic outer covers re fitted (see photo of work in full swing, showing the newly repainted front buffer beam by Nigel Hall, and yes, that is Bryan Orange lurking in the background but having conveniently forgotten his overalls). The cab/tender sheet was put back on the locomotive, and the left hand side given a clean down - the right hand side couldn't be done as the MPD fitters were working there, so photographers will have a choice of a clean or dirty side depending on their preference ( no need to worry about the sun if the Easter weather forecast is right!)

NYMR fitter Owen, contemplating the wrong way round Q6 crosshead slippers - Chris Lawson

The MPD staff will now refit the cylinder cocks, replace the two hornstay bolts, and complete fitting of the regulator handle. Subject to that and any other final adjustments, the plan is that the Q6 will do some running in this afternoon (Thursday), and, assuming that does not reveal any problems, it might do a half day service turn on Good Friday (tomorrow). The priority however, is to have it in service for Easter Saturday, so Friday running will be foregone if there are issues revealed that need attention that day instead. Everything being equal it will then join the operational locomotive pool, increasing the available steam motive power by one third! That will mean a much earlier return to service than anticipated, notwithstanding the Railway keeping it in service until December, and therefore, hopefully, a much needed full season of revenue earning service.

Consequently, there will be no further working parties for the foreseeable future, although there is talk of a Wednesday one some time in April to do some clearing and cleaning in Deviation Shed. There are after all still quite a few biscuits to finish off. It is therefore important to take the opportunity of this last Q6 working party report to thank everyone who has been involved in the winter maintenance work this time round - you all know who you are - without whose help and support the Q6 would not be back at work. Particular thanks go to Andy Lowes for looking after the Q6 in Paul's absence with the K1 in Carnforth, and keeping us all on the straight and narrow, and to Ian Pearson who has led the Wednesday team, without whose presence it could not have operated. In addition, thanks must also be given to the NYMR and the MPD staff who in the last couple of weeks have done an immense amount of work to help get the Q6 finished at no cost to the Group. Yes, we know the Railway was desparately anxious to get the Q6 back in service, but the two teams have worked together in a really positive atmosphere and we hope that close working relationship will be maintained and, indeed, developed in the future.

So far as the K1 is concerned, the Wansbeck railtour was cancelled last week, so with the WCRC prohibition lifted yesterday, the K1 is now booked to move from Carnforth to Grosmont on 4 April and will hopefully be available for 26 days operation on the NYMR before having to be prepped for its move to Fort William for this season's Jacobite. So we now have the prospect of a choice of two NELPG engines to haul the NELPG 50th anniversay Tea Train on 9 April, and who knows what might happen.

So if you haven't already booked your seat and want to travel, please get in touch with me as soon as possible - details are in the last issue of News. Seats are still available: the closing date is 2 April.

Farewell from a happy Wednesday team Derek Shorten, Jon Bradbury, Mike Oliver, Nigel hall and Ian Pearson.Deviation Shed - Chris Lawson

A final photograph is attached to say farewell for this year from the Wednesday team.


Q6 blog: Saturday 19 March 2016

Andy reports that this could be the last work party this winter (but see below) as the NYMR has offered to finish off the last few mechanical jobs to get the Q6 back into traffic at Easter. They have already cast a new arch in the fire box and today they put the concrete in the smoke box. Also last week, the boiler was boxed up and filled with water so the loco could be weighed.

Today, Neal Woods and James Pearcy concentrated on slide bar and cross head alignment again - they are now experts on three piece crossheads! The left side was finished off and bump tested ready for full testing when the wheels first turn. The right side cross head top slipper was put in and the wire set up through it, shims were made and fitted to the slide bars. Unfortunately though, time was against them and, in spite of working late, the job could not be completed in the time available. The right hand piston is therefore still to fit.

Brian Armstrong re-fitted the cab floor and put various items for the running of the loco back on it. He also took on the public relations role and answered many questions from the very curious public who wanted to know about the other famous engine that was being worked on in Deviation Shed - and no, it was not No 29!

Peter Ellis finished off the new flexible intermediate axle box pipe work and also fitted some new tallies Andy had made to identify the lubricator pipe work.

Ian Pearson covered the newly painted front buffer beam to protect it from the concrete that was put into the smoke box base. He then went on to make some trimmings that were missing from the slide bar lubricators.

After a struggle, the left connecting rod was refitted, but not the big end as a new felt had to be made and left to soak in oil - the original one had been contaminated with sand.

Andy spent the morning working on the regulator handle filing the tapered square where it fixes onto the shaft. This had been built up with weld at M-Machine, but, unfortunately, a dummy shaft that had been made to ensure a tight fit was the wrong size, which meant the regulator handle was still slack on the shaft. On Monday the MPD will put some more weld into the square on two faces only and then file it down to ensure a tight fit.

There are still quite a number of jobs to be done to get the Q6 back into traffic, and the MPD staff will be tackling them next week. The in steam boiler insurance exam is booked for Wednesday morning, for which John Graham will be present. In spite of his earlier assessment, Andy has agreed that there will be a working party on Wednesday, to provide any help required with the steam test, and to tackle any consequential jobs that may be identified as required or are still outstanding. If nothing else then the Q6 requires a good overall clean before it re-enters service! And as the operating season starts again on Monday (tomorrow) there may even be the occasional steam hauled service train to watch go by. So if anyone else is available and wants to join the regular Wednesday team, they will be most welcome - there are a lot of biscuits to be eaten up, but no cake this week.

As for Saturday (Easter Saturday), Bryan Orange and the JVs are planning a work/training day. Assuming all goes well, they may be able to wave and take photos of our Q6 as it passes Deviation shed, but that will depend on completion of the outstanding jobs, a successful in steam test, and satisfactory running in. On those also will depend whether we call another working party for Saturday - as we have learnt, old steam locomotives do not give in that easily. However, regardless, hopefully the JVs will be able to do some much needed tidying up of the Shed and workshop. The arch formers etc. can go back into the corner of the workshop and there are some grey 20 litre oil drums cut in half that need cleaning and also putting into the workshop. All the 110v electrical equipment can be cleaned ready for the PAT testing in the summer.

More news after Wednesday.


Friday 18 March 2016

Another day there by myself, second gloss on buffer beams.

The shed lads had got the side rods on before I arrived. They spent all day struggling with the spark arrestor - I think that they have it in satisfactorily now. However that struggle held up Phil Naylor and the concrete mixer. The mixer is sitting on the RHS ready for tomorrow morning. With luck, folks will pull the dust sheets over the buffers before they start, and not stand on the buffers. 

29 was pulled out of the shed  ... and pulled off the rails! A small team had a fun time with the jacks putting it back on. So, the way is now clear to extract the Q6 and take it to the running shed to weigh the tender and to prepare for the steam tests.

Flying Scotsman been sulking in the running shed all day, folks been allowed past gate to photograph it, restricted by barrier tape.

Paul Hutchinson and Angie seen emerging from the tunnel as I was leaving. Will the job list have grown longer by tomorrow morning?


Thursday 17th March 2016

There by myself, I couldn't stay away.

At the end of the day, both buffer beams have a single red topcoat. Possible opportunities to paint before folks start lighting fires are diminishing rapidly.

There was a lot of activity in the shed involving the shed staff. The loco has now been weighed, but the lads are really struggling with the spark arrestor. They cannot get top bolts in - especially at the back.

There was talk about dragging loco out tomorrow to fill, coal and weigh the tender in the running shed. It was pointed out by Ian Pearson when he finished his driving turn that this might be somewhat premature. If the loco isn't to be brought back to Deviation Shed (there is reluctance to move 29 more than necessary) then it would be separated from the piston. Also talk of lifting on rods tomorrow, and of getting concrete into base of smokebox when the spark arrestor finally submits to the struggle.

I intend to try to get a second gloss coat on the buffer beams tomorrow, but I may have to take a leaf out of Matt Earnshaw's book and go for a walk until concreting and movement comes to an end at 15:00


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