North Eastern Locomotive Preservation Group

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Q6 Blog

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

Wednesday 18th July 2018

Bill reports that yesterday was excellent weather-wise, but the noise pollution was severe, with needlgunning, beading over and stay head forming going on in all parts of the site. The Hartlepool Mafia was out in force, with Roy Marshall, Dave Donegan and Dave Whitfield in attendance, supplemented by Derek Shorten and Bill himself. Derek spent much of the day doing a much-needed tidy up of the workshop, while Dave Whitfield put together the toolkit required for the J27's trip to the Wensleydale Railway, and loaded it onto the back of the tender. The J27 is currently on washout, and rostered to work a train to Pickering on Monday. Bill is to split the engine /tender on Tuesday at New Bridge, but could do with a volunteer to assist. Please contact him directly if you are able to help.

On the Q6 itself, the good news is that the final stages of beading over the tubes are underway, with a boiler hydraulic test planned for tomorrow, and to be witnessed by the Insurance Company boiler inspector on Monday. The final preparation of the header was successful, and it is now ready to fit to the boiler immediately after the hydraulic exam on Monday.

If the hydraulic is successful, this will release much work, and working parties will be back to Wednesdays and Saturdays till the jobs are complete. In the meantime, no working party this Saturday, with the next one on Wednesday 25 July (so the Q6 will not, after all, be in traffic by the time of my return from Australia!)


Wednesday 11th July 2018

Bill Dobson reports that, as it was known that the NYMR boiler department retubing work was on-going, a "lean and mean" working party was arranged in view of the limited amount of work that could be done on the Q6. Dave Donegan, Roy Marshall and Bill assembled and the plan was to prepare the header for fitting to the boiler and to go over the engine with Barney to check things such as cotters etc., ie a mini FTR exam. However, this plan had to be aborted as Barney was called to Whitby to sort out failures of both steam and diesel engines, the former (Repton) with an AWS fault and the latter with a pressure switch fault.

When the header is fitted to the tubeplate we want to hydraulic the header and internal steam pipe in order to be assured that the potentially troublesome joint between the header and tubeplate is sound. This will require a different method of blanking the element holes due to limited access . The header was moved from Deviation Shed down to outside the boiler shop. The lens joints for the smokebox steam pipes were grit blasted, and a new joint for the ejector exhaust was made. All the gauges in the cab were connected up.

The last flue tube is now fitted and the small tubes are being expanded in the fire box. Once that work is completed, a hydraulic test will be arranged, and then that will release more work to finish off the engine. It seems a long time since the 19th of March and not long to 23 July.


Wednesday 4th July 2018

In my absence in Australia (where it is bright and sunny in a comfortable 19C - it is their winter after all, but in spite of that it is forecast to reach 24C today), Ian reports a rather dull cooler morning at Grosmont yesterday, but by lunch time it was getting warmer and then, after lunch, the sun shone with temperatures up in the lower 20's! Only Bill and Gordon Wells were with Ian, and he washed up all the dirty mugs of which there were quite a few! Bill took the bottles down to the MPD for water - perhaps we need to try and get our own supply in Deviation Shed? Then time for the usual cuppa. No more mice to report.

William and Martin were working again on the S15 boiler, and the French exchange student was needle gunning the bunker on Lucie. Gordon fitted a new light fitting above the fridge area with a new fluorescent tube. Ian fitted and secured the right hand side injector overflow pipe. Bill and Ian secured and split pinned both bottom slide bars, and Bill also split pinned the left hand side top slide bar. Bill fitted the vacuum gauge in the cab.

Lunch was had alfresco in the picnic area near Deviation Shed, as it was still a little dull but warm. Slow progress with the flues and there are 7 still to fit on the top row. All the jobs the team could do were done, so an early finish by 16.00 hrs. The regulator handle has been left for next week.

Not as many people as last week round the Shed today but still a few. A Class 20 diesel loco arrived from New Bridge in the afternoon under its own power - 20127, named Sir John Betjeman, in London Underground maroon livery. Another Class 20 is due today (Thursday). Both are required to increase resilience of the service if steam has to be taken off because of the fire risk. The J27 left on the 1230 from Grosmont yesterday, after the right hand tender side was cleaned at the platform by the crew to get rid of a long white streaky deposit.

The refurbished steam brake for the J72 has been delivered to Deviation Shed by Steve Andrews and Fred has been informed. Bill is taking it to the Committee meeting on Monday for Nigel to take to Hopetown.

No Working Party this Saturday - enjoy the sunshine. Next Working Party will be Wednesday 11th July.


Wednesday 27th June 2018

Not a lot of progress to report on this hot sweltering day, with Ian Pearson, Derek Shorten and myself in attendance - along with a mouse in the trap, the first in a long time. After the usual cuppa with our Essex loco friends, William Parrish and Martin Ashburner, I rubbed down and gave the regulator handle a coat of red paint. It will need a light rub down and probably another couple of coats. Interestingly, the regulator handle is stamped up as being from (6)3398, built at Darlington in the same batch as 63395 in December 1918, and withdrawn in October 1965.

Derek washed up all the dirty cups, made us more tea, and also started to sort out the metal lockers and tidy the work bench. Ian in the meantime borrowed the MPD's metal thickness tester for the main steam pipes. Just as he was about to change the batteries for some he had brought from home, William Parrish said we could borrow his tester, which was in better condition than the Railway's. So Ian measured both left and right steam pipes and marked the thicknesses on the pipes and also logged them down for Bill to scrutinize.

As it was so hot, lunch was had in Deviation Shed being a little cooler, with quite a lot of visitors and money going in the box. Interestingly, following the improved signage organised by Bryan Orange, a common question was 'Why Deviation Shed?'. Whilst there are now photos of the old Deviation Signal Box on the wall, it has been suggested to Bryan that a map of the area showing the Signal box and old track layout, with the Shed superimposed, would be a useful addition to the site interpretation. We also had a number of visits from individuals who were carrying out an electrical installation check of the MPD site (including Deviation Shed) on behalf of the NYMR. One immediate consequence of this was that the light fitting above the tea point in the workshop fell apart and the tube broke. Bryan has now arranged for it to be replaced on Monday, so we will not be tea making in the dark.

On the locomotive itself, only 12 of the flue tubes have been fitted into the fire box tube plate to date. Because of apparent variations in the tubeplate thickness, it is proving difficult to get some of them fitted with sufficient tube exposed for expansion at the firebox end. Some further machining may prove necessary. The current heatwave is also not helping what is a very strenuous job in screwing in the tubes, not assisted either by finding that, after all the effort, they have to be taken out again. However, they are pressing on. No new date has been fixed for the hydraulic, but the boiler inspector has said he has flexibility in his diary and can come over at relatively short notice. The target date of return to service by 23 July remains! The repaired vacuum gauge has been returned and is ready for fitting, and Paul Hutchinson has returned the Q6 whistle after refurbishment. Both are in the workshop. Ian was just about to start work tightening up the injector overflow pipe when he was commandeered to drive the 08 Shunter and rescue the B1 and its 7 coach train from Green End and bring it back to Grosmont. It had slipped to a stand due to oil contamination on the rail from the Class 37 which had been towed earlier by the Class 26 to Pickering for repairs (the J27, with Terry Newman on the footplate as inspector, managed to get through with its 5 coaches in spite of the oil on the track). While Ian slaved away on the shunter, as the stock also had to be moved around at Grosmont, Derek and I decided there was little more we could do in the absence of the RO, so had an early finish.


Wednesday 20th June 2018

It was warm and breezy with a grey sky and a few scattered showers early on at Grosmont on Wednesday, with Bill Dobson, Jon Bradley, Nigel Bill, Roy Marshall, Ian Pearson, Derek Shorten and myself. Cups of tea all round first, then Derek who it was good to see again, set about giving our cups and trays a good cleaning, after telling us off for not keeping them up to his usual standard! We even bought Domestos and scouring pads by way of penance, so all our cups and spoons are ultra clean once more.

After consultation and inspection of the big end bearings with the shed staff, it was decided to shim the front part of the left hand big end to allow a flush fit of the taper pin so the cotter pin would fit securely. A 20 thou shim was made and fitted, the taper pin was inserted, and, when knocked in, the slot for the locking cotter was in the correct position so that was fitted and split pinned. The right hand side didn't require any extra shims so, again, the taper pin was inserted and the locking cotter fitted and split pinned. Both big end nuts were fitted and taper pinned. The mechanical lubricator drive rod was also fitted and secured. The left hand bottom slide bar was secured and pinned at the front end, but the rear still require tightening and pinning. The right hand side bottom slide bar also requires checking out for tightness and pinning.

Lunch was held in Deviation Shed as it looked as if it was going to rain - but it didn't! A check was done on measuring the tender height against the loco and was found to be higher on the right hand side. In the boiler, all the flue tubes have been found to need some machining to provide sufficient for expanding at the firebox end. That machining has now been completed, but the delay while this was done means that the hydraulic planned for 26 June has had to be postponed. Efforts are now being made to reschedule that for a week later and we have been told that completion and return to operation by the start of the Gold peak season timetable on 23 July is still perfectly achievable. In the meantime, six flues have been installed, and expansion of the small tubes at the firebox end has been successfully completed.

After unexpectedly being in service on Wednesday, the J27 arrived on shed about 15.45 and was disposed by Ian and Jon with help from Mark O' Brien when the rocking grate jammed, due to the presence of what looked like limestone rocks present in the current coal deliveries. Eventually the rocks had to be knocked out with a large bar with a chisel end and the grate levelled and secured. As the rest of the planned cleaning team had already had to leave, Bill, Derek, Nigel,and Jon set about cleaning the wheels and below the running plate to give a start for the next day's special (which turned out to be an extra special day in glorious weather with the J27 acquitting itself well, thanks in no small measure to the skill of Terry Newman and Jon Bradley on the footplate).

There will be no working party this Saturday. The next one will be on Wednesday 27 June, when we plan a workshop tidy up plus completion of a few little jobs on Q6.


Saturday 16th June 2018

Having returned from his holiday in 'C' territory - it turns out to have been the Cotswolds, where there is more steam working, rather than the Caribbean! - Ian reports a cool, showery morning at Grosmont yesterday. By the time Bill and Ian had arrived, Bryan Orange and the JV's had opened up Deviation Shed, with Bryan and Luke Perry fitting the new shed signs and the other JV's working on S15 No 825 down at the MPD, helping to paint the inside of the tender coal space. Another JV, Tom Readman, was employed grit blasting various nuts and bolts off Piglet's loco Lucie.

Chris Henwood and Thomas Dibbs fit the Q6 dome cover at Grosmont on 16 June 2018 - Ian Pearson.

After the usual cuppas Bill and Ian set about working on the big end brasses which required extra shims. They hadn't been started long when the MPD cleaning squad came to see if there was anything they could do to help out. With Alex Jolly as charge hand cleaner, the boiler was cleaned and the dome cover was fitted by Chris Henwood and Thomas Dibbs (see photo), with Chris Kelly driving the tele- handler. Prior to that, Chris Kelly had corked the one new stud that was fitted last year. One of the other cleaners removed the driver's side injector overflow pipe and put it in the machine shop for Keith Pardy's attention next week - it requires a hose fitting on the end of the pipe. Bill and Ian first made and fitted an extra shim to the left big end brass, and refitted the taper pin, but found that the brass was locked onto the crank pin with no side movement at all. So then they went round to the right hand side, adjusted the shims, put in the taper pin and got the same as the left side: no side movement on the crank pin. Bill then decided to leave things as they were for the moment, put a repair card on Barneys desk telling him of the situation, and with a request for him and Owain to check the bearing clearance as it may need the white metal scraping.

Bill and Ian had lunch alfresco at the picnic table outside Deviation Shed as it had become quite mild but a little overcast. They got some of the JV's after lunch and Luke Perry painted the regulator handle red gloss. He then assisted Scott Middlemiss knocking out more concrete from the smoke box as requested by Mark O'Brien, removing about 4 barrow loads. They also emptied the MPD site bins which were overflowing with litter. Luke assisted Repton's crew during disposal to empty the smoke box.

Quite a few visitors, with some money spotted going into the box. The locos running yesterday were Repton, the B1, 80136, and the Class 25 diesel. The J27 had been out the previous two days following its wash out, had a rest yesterday, but is on the roster for today. It will be stopped again on Tuesday or Wednesday, dependent on other locomotive availability, for prepping for its special launch train on Thursday. Piglet and his Dad were working on Lucie all day in Deviation Shed.

Some items seem to be missing from the workshop, namely 2 medium sized adjustable spanners and a couple of paint markers, whilst the bench needs a general tidy up. A possible job for the next working party on Wednesday 20th June, when we may also need to assist with cleaning the J27 for the next day.


Wednesday 13th June 2018

An overcast but warm day with bursts of sunshine at Grosmont yesterday, with Bill Dobson (suffering from a very heavy cold claimed to have been picked up from the Committee meeting on Monday night) in charge, and Nigel Bill, Jon Bradley (in the morning only), Dave Donegan, Roy Marshall and myself in support.

The Q6 had been moved down to immediately outside the boiler shop, along with the flue tubes, for them to be fitted. As they have to be screwed in, and then trimmed, it is a much more difficult and time consuming job than with the small tubes which have now all been placed in position. By the end of the day, five of the flue tubes had been installed and another was well on the way (see photo).

Q6 flue tubes being fitted. Small tubes are all in - Chris Lawson

After the usual cuppa therefore, Nigel Bill and Jon Bradley went off to the running shed to do some preparatory work on the J27 for its special train on 21 June, I changed the pads on the defibrillator and gave it its monthly test (it has been suggested that we should carry it on the train on the 21st!), and Roy gave the Q6 regulator handle a degrease and light rub down with wet and dry before applying white undercoat. Bill and Dave started work on the regulator stuffing box.

Lunch was held on the benches overlooking the MPD, and, afterwards, Bill and Nigel fitted the shims for the left hand side big end bearing, while Dave fitted a blank to the J pipe. Bill also put in some extra packing to the regulator stuffing box. In between making more cups of tea, Roy also got a second undercoat onto the regulator handle. While all that was under way, I took advantage of an almost empty, and continuing to be dry, pit road to brush out the pit floor and clean out the central gulley down as far as the weltrol with Lucie - that produced a wheelbarrow full of dirt.

Elsewhere, trains were fairly fully loaded and we had a number of interested visitors round the Shed. Some even put money in the box. The 825 team continue their work on the boiler on No 8 road, although the tender has now moved into the MPD workshop to be with the frames. The bunker of No 29 was being painted but the cylinder block is still away being machined. 76079 had a successful steam test and run up the bank to Goathland on the back of a service train, but, on return to Grosmont, was retired to the wheeldrop in disgrace for examination.


Saturday 9th June 2018

Bill reports a select band of volunteers at Grosmont yesterday. With Ian on his Caribbean Cruise, it was left to Trevor and Bill to progress the overhaul. The good news is that the NYMR have fitted all but 24 of the small tubes, and are racing ahead to meet a self-set target date of having the boiler ready for the insurance company hydraulic test on 26th June.

The work of cutting the tubes to length and fitting them is being done just outside Deviation Shed, so the first task was to move the temporary scaffolding and shunt the engine over the pit so that Trevor could modify the hanger bracket that supports the two through pipes. Bill modified the regulator blanking plate to enable the internal steam pipe and joint to the header to be tested later. The regulator gland packing was fitted and tightened. Maurice Johnston paid a rare visit to Deviation Shed, and, over a cup of tea, said that he would like to retain the use of the cupboards he has had for the time being.

Eventually the sun broke through, and became rather hot. The last task of the day was to re-position the engine and scaffolding to enable the boiler work to continue on Monday morning.

In other news, it has been reported that it was raining at Fort William last night (and apparently had been for some time) and the K1 was in the platform at Fort William this morning, ready to depart for Mallaig on its first trip of the Jacobite season.


Wednesday 6th June 2018 (D-Day)

Cool, damp and grey at Grosmont with thick fog on the Moor tops from either direction yesterday, although it cleared up in the afternoon and the sun briefly broke through. Steve Hyman, Bill Dobson, Chris Wakefield after his cleaning turn at the MPD, and myself were in time for the morning brew, and we were joined by a late running Ian Pearson who arrived just in time for lunch which was had in Deviation Shed.

Mark Obrien and Chris cutting tubes to size and fitting into the Q6 boiler - Chris Lawson

The Q6 had been pulled outside the shed so that Mark O'Brien and the boiler staff could make a start on retubing the boiler. The long running copper ferrule saga had finally concluded and it had already been fitted. By the end of the day, 55 small tubes had been cut to size and installed (see photo) - final fitting and beading over will come later. Now that Eric Treacy's boiler is back in the frames, the bulk of the boiler work is finished with it becoming a fitting job, and the boiler shop priority is now the Q6. The boier inspector is on holiday until 24 June and he has been booked in for the Q6 hydraulic on Tuesday 26 June. So Mark and his team have until then to get the boiler retubed before the official hydraulic is carried out. Expect to see some rapid progress! If that is successful, then the header and elements will be hydraulic'd, followed by a steam test and then hopefully back in service for the Gold timetable peak season which is the target.

In the meantime, as we could not get anything done underneath the engine, Steve fitted the steam heat safety valve in the cab, with assistance from Chris Wakefield, after I had cleaned up the threads. I then fitted the new regulator stuffing box with assistance from Bill. Steve was in the process of fitting the vacuum gauge when it unfortunately fell accidentally onto the cab floor and broke the glass. It was returned to Andrew Jeffery for repair and will hopefully be back for next Wednesday. Ian got the job of removing the old paint from the regulator handle and giving it a coat of primer. With his permission, the padlocks on Maurice Johnston's lockers in the workshop have been removed to find lots of tools and various pieces of steel . We will need to speak to Maurice to sort out what he wants to do with all these items, as the lockers are full.

Steve also took Martin Ashburner's dog for a walk around the site during the afternoon much to Martin's consternation - he thought one of the many visitors we had round yesterday had dognapped it!

The J27 was running yesterday, but is being taken out of traffic today for a while for a boiler washout, water change and general health check after its nearly three weeks of regular running.

The next working party will be on Saturday 9 June.


Saturday 2nd June 20218

Ian reports a dull, mild and muggy morning at Grosmont yesterday with Bill Dobson, Trevor Wilford, Alan Hardie, Ian himself, and, a little later, Bryan Orange and Luke Perry who came in to fit some of the new Deviation Shed signage.

After the usual cups of tea, Alan was in the smoke box with a drill and flapper wheel cleaning the rust off the large and small tube plate holes as requested by Mark O'Brien. This job has been done several times in the past by members of our working team, but the chemistry of dampness and time on steel creates rust! Alan did a great job and completed cleaning all the small holes and 21 large holes leaving 3 large ones to clean. Hopefully this will be for the last time. Bill and Ian fitted the cab flooring and the blow down cover, and also a box that fits on to the front of the driver's foot step. An old piece of flooring was removed from the tender and has been put aside, near the stove, as it was not known where it belongs. Ian and Bill then fitted a clamp bracket to the vacuum and steam heat pipes but could not initially find the other bracket which is fastened to the ash pan. Trevor had just started to make a new one when Ian found the original one behind the bench seat in Deviation Shed. This was then fitted, but will require some alteration as it catches a grease nipple on a brake rod pin. Bill will have to get Trevor to alter the bracket slightly next Saturday. Bill and Ian also continued to washer and split pin the remaining brake pins on the loco: some pins may need opening out a little more! Trevor completed the fabrication of the stove chimney with a cowl attached, and it is now ready for fitting on top of the flue along with the lead seal. Bill will get Andy Wiffin to do this.

Lunch was had alfresco again as the weather had turned fine and very warm, even though the dark clouds were gathering! Lots of visitors today at the Shed with the J27 running with 5 and 6 coach trains, also the B1 No 1264, Repton No 926 , Standard Tank No 80136 and Class 26 diesel Tom Clift. The rain came down later on about 2.30 pm with visitors sheltering in our Shed.


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