North Eastern Locomotive Preservation Group

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Q6 Blog

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

Wednesday 22rd February

Refreshed by a cup of tea using the new kettle, the three of us - Ian Pearson, Jon Bradley, and myself - worked until lunch time and removed the five flue tubes that had been knocked through from the middle row.

We had a word with Mark O' Brien about the other three middle row flue's that required burning out in the fire box and, while we had lunch, he went up to the Q6, burnt the remaining three flues and also the bottom row of eight. After lunch, Chris Henwood joined us from the MPD, so he was set on running the tap down through the dome nuts, and he also gave us a hand when required removing the flues. After Mark had finished burning out the flues in the firebox he gave us a hand removing them. The bottom row was pulled out physically by Mark, Ian and myself, and then lowered down to Jon and Chris on the ground. The flue's at each side were the sticklers as they were slightly foul of the smoke box door rim. But with some pulling to the left and right, barring over and careful use of a hammer they were eased out. So all the flues we removed (16) are now stacked on the floor and chocked - so for those attending on Saturday be careful when you come in the Shed as you will have to walk over them to get to the workshop unless you go all the way round the Q6. These tubes will require moving to be with the others and then a decision made on their disposal.

Paul Middleton and Barney called in at the end of the day to view progress, and, suitably impressed, would like to move the Q6 down to the running shed for its postponed wash out, and remove the chimney. We also now need to get the boiler inspector to Grosmont as soon as we can to do his inspection with the CME.

Overall a very productive day, with 16 tubes removed and 11 nuts re- tapped, and only one tea break, but many thanks to Mark for his efforts and assistance during the afternoon, without which it would have been a very late finish. So now over to the Saturday team to maintain the progress!


Saturday 18th February

Mark O'Brien erects steps and staging to assist with the extraction of the Flue tubes  - Joan Lowes

Another very good day at Deviation shed, Mark O’Brien under contract to remove the flue tubes, & five NELPG workers. Alan Hardie came along to help us remove the flue tubes, many thanks Alan, also Andy & Joan Lowes, Peter Ellis & Trevor Wilford. Another week with no more mice in the traps. There was one fatality though; the kettle hit the bin, as it tripped the workshop when water was poured from it to the cups!

Alan Hardie and Mark O'Brien await the tube being extracted from the smokebox by Andy Lowes and Trevor Wilford - Joan Lowes

While the tubes were being burnt out several small jobs were sorted out; the blast pipe was cleaned & the back sand pipes were removed from the loco. Also the tender was measured up for steps to be made, a walk round all the other tenders to see what steps were fitted to them helped with this process. The big cupboards in the workshop have received a bit of a spring clean, all the electrical spares & wire have been put upstairs on the shelves the JVs built last month. The 110v hand lamps are now in the cupboard after cleaning.

Mark O'Brian burning the second row of flue tubes in the firebox - Andy Lowes

With the flue tubes burnt out at the tube plate end & the top row in the fire box, a tea break was called for to allow the fumes disperse & keep the workers happy. We then set to freeing off the top row of tubes then pulling them out with the chain block, as we had practiced with the elements. Only these were a lot bigger & heavier, so Mark soon went & got some staging to make this a lot easier to achieve. We managed to get all eight tubes out of the top row by the end of the day.

Flue tubes being dragged from the smoke box - Andy Lowes

The DMU just happened to be passing with Ian Pearson driving as we were having our afternoon tea & cake break, so we gave him a guard of honour when he returned.

The guard of honour for the returning DMU - JoanLowes

The middle row has been burnt out in the fire box & will be ready to be pulled out next week. So we now require a team of fit & able workers to remove them, all assistance greatly appreciated.

Jobs for Wednesday 22nd February:

  • Remove middle row of flue tubes, if enough people to do it safely
  • Clean mud holes in boiler
  • Clean mud hole doors
  • Put tap through nuts for dome cover & run die nut down studs 7/8” BSW
  • Start stripping brake gear off loco, after marking it up

Wednesday 15th February

Although I was not at Grosmont yesterday as I was taking the final bits for the J27 boiler down to Crewe, I understand there was a good turnout, with Nigel Bill, Steve Hyman, Jon Bradley, Derek Shorten and Ian McCall all hard at work under Ian Pearson's leadership.

No reports of any more mouse fatalities, but there were further problems with the electrics. This time it was the 240 volt sockets that kept tripping out and Gordon Wells suspects it may be earth leakage. However, although frustrating when it occurred, it was still possible to keep the kettle and heater working to provide essential refreshments and a bit of warmth in the workshop.

On the work front, Derek cleaned both steam pipes and joint rings along with the two valve covers while Ian McCall cleaned the smoke box tube plate, the header and surrounding area. He also wire brushed the studs where the steam pipe fits, oiled the studs and ran the nuts down. These nuts have been left in situ. All the loose dirt was also removed from the smoke box.

The rest of the team started to remove the valves and encountered more frustration in trying to part the intermediate valve spindle from the actual valve spindle, especially the right hand one. It was constantly back and forth to the workshop for punches, old taper pins, anything that might move the valve forward. The air line was set up so as to reverse the engine to move the spindle but the reverser would not work: it just kept blowing to exhaust in both directions. Eventually, assistance was received from Barney, the NYMR Senior Fitter, who got the reverser working such that the left hand valve was extracted. The right hand valve proved just as reluctant to come out, but with a lot of determined effort, success was finally achieved. They are now both on the workshop bench waiting to be cleaned.

On Saturday, Mark O'Brien, the NYMR boilersmith is planning to start removing the flue tubes, for which he will require our assistance. So if you are able to help this Saturday, please let Andy Lowes know.


Saturday 11th February

A total of 5 NELPG working members; Andy Lowes, Ian Pearson, James Pearcy, Peter Ellis & Trevor Wilford. Also our junior volunteers with Brian Orange overseeing them while they were either training with Chris Parish or working on the Q6. No mice today.

After the frustrations of our two Wednesday team members with no power until mid afternoon, they had set the job up for today by marking the middle row of elements ready for cutting. So after setting up lights & burning gear these were burnt out & removed very quickly.

We set up a work station just inside the roller shutter door so the JVs could clean the removed elements before storing them on a rail wagon just outside the door. It’s all about planning, looks easy when it works well. Another good team effort from both morning & afternoon lads, I think they may be in with our banter before long!


Watched by Bryan Orange Noah, Nano Tom and Finn  clean up superheater elements - Andy Lowes

The regulator rod was disconnected from the regulator, and then piece by piece the regulator was dismantled. Only the body of the regulator remains in the dome with the bolts out.

The plate under the steam chest was replaced after the lubrication pipes were put back last week.

The last row of elements were cleaned & marked up ready for removal. After lunch six middle ones soon came out, but the one at either end were fouling on the smoke box door frame. On cleaning the area we noticed pieces had been chopped out & welded back in previously. So these were burnt out once again, marked up & stored ready for welding in on completion. These last two were still tight to remove but with perseverance we ended up with all the elements removed today.


James Pearcy's breath condences in the cold air of the smokebox-  Andy Lowes

After all the elements were clean & stored on the rail wagon, they were taken to number seven road outside Deviation shed. Mark O’Brian is going to put them inside the shed this week when he removes the tubes & flues for Repton in number six road.


Ethan and Little Tom also cleaning superheater elements - Andy Lowes

We are now ready for Mark O’Brian to remove the flues under contract, so as soon as the date is confirmed we need the fit & able workers to help him remove them as requested a few weeks ago.


Tom Nobel, Ian Pearson playing mother, Trevor Wilford and Peter Ellis stop for tea - Andy Lowes

Work for Wednesday 15th February, co car available from Teesside if anyone requires it.

  • Clean smoke box, wire brush all threads on the header & remove the cover plate
  • Take valves out & clean
  • Clean mud holes in boiler
  • Clean blast pipe
  • Clean steam pipes & joint rings

Wednesday 8th February

One of those days yesterday. Bitterly cold with a hailstorm mid morning, and no electricity until 2pm. Although the previous day's lack of power had been thought to have been resolved by that evening, it had failed again by the morning. Thanks to the sterling efforts of Chris Wright and Gordon Wells during Wednesday morning however, power was restored in the afternoon and the workshop heater and cups of tea were then available and much appreciated. The fault was eventually traced to water getting in the main fuse box and blowing out the fuses via the hole in the cladding above the box. This has now been temporarily filled with plastic and gaffer tape (although Piglet reckoned that he would be walking past in a year's time and reminding himself that the repair was really only temporary even though it was still there!). Lower rated replacement fuses were installed on a temporary basis and we were assured that they really would be replaced with the full rated 63 amp ones in the next couple of days! In the meantime, it was agreed that the compressor should not be used in case we blew the temporary ones again.

Another dead mouse by the workshop door at the south end: trap reset with Mars Bar.

As for the work, only Ian Pearson and myself were present, but in spite of all the limitations and distractions, I managed to clean up five door holes on the right hand side of the boiler and three on the left, although because the boiler had not yet been washed out, the bottom one on each side was surrounded by damp sludge so may need more attention once a wash out has been done. Each completed one has been marked with a yellow dot. Ian cleaned the middle row of elements where they went in to the header, measured the datum line, pop marked them, put the ID marks on them and also on the inside of the smoke box door, so that they are ready for Trevor to burn them through ready for removal.

Barney replaced the pepper pot from Repton fitted to the Q6 brake valve with the original one from the Q6 which has been fully reconditioned, so requires no further attention. He also removed the top air clack to use as a pattern to make a new one for Repton. The brake valve itself remains on the workshop bench.

The steam pipe measurements were made and sent to Trevor for making temporary covers.

Steve Andrews provided a fusible plug spanner and plug socket so we don't have to borrow them from the MPD in future. They have been marked up as belonging to Deviation Shed and hung on the shadow board in the workshop.

Paul Middleton confirmed that they now had a plan for removing Repton's new tubes from the space which we need on No 6 road. All being well, they should be out of the way in the next week or so.

In the late afternoon there was a visitation by local management, including Martyn Cannings, of the track outside No 6 road. We suspect that this may be the first signs of the long awaited installation of the missing point to reinstate rail access to that part of the shed. We will see!

I am not able to attend Deviation Shed next Wednesday as I am taking J27 cab fittings and other parts required for the hydraulic and steam tests down to Crewe with Dave Pennock to review progress on the boiler. Hopefully others will be able to join Ian so he does not feel too lonely - you will be most welcome.



Saturday 4th February

Joan Lowes labeling parts in the store - Andy Lowes

A total of 6 today at Deviation shed, Andy & Joan Lowes, Ian Pearson, Peter Ellis, Trevor Wilford & Nigel Bill. I would say everyone really enjoyed the day, the banter was spot on & bits were coming off the loco faster than photos could be taken. One more mouse met its maker, traps were reset.

Nigel Bill ioosening the blast pipe - Andy Lowes

The smoke box boys continued breaking the concrete until the blast pipe bolts & base were exposed. While they had a break the bolts holding the chimney & both smoke box inspection plates were removed. Then with utmost care, as we had been advised that the blast pipe base had been repaired in the past, it was released from the steam chest. It was then put into storage for cleaning at a later date, see photo. The remaining lower row of elements was then removed, one fought back to the point where some other cunning plan was devised to get it out! If you think you need to know how it was done, then you should have been there.

Out it comes, Nigel Bill and Ian Pearson with the blast pipe - Andy Lowes

The brake ejector in the cab still made a desperate effort to beat us but we were having none of it, we overcame all resistance & removed said item to the workshop bench for overhaul. A lot of small items received attention also today, the fusible plugs were removed from the fire box crown & the inner box swept clean of soot. The reverser steam pipe was refitted along with the isolation valve to the steam cylinder. The glands on both reverser cylinders were nipped up & locking nuts added. The copper pipe from the manifold to the ejector has been annealed & been given some attention to the bends, it now requires some new bandage to finish it off. The lubrication pipes under the steam chest were put back with some joint sealing paste to make sure they don’t leak.

The brake ejector on the workbench - Andy Lowes


Wednesday 1st February

A fatality to report from yesterday's working party. Not sure whether it was Mickey or Minnie, but it was certainly a very dead mouse! Ian Pearson was brave and put it in the skip before the rest of us - Jon Bradley, Nigel Bill, Steve Hyman and myself - arrived. The traps have been reset with more Mars Bar.

On the work front, and after a restorative cup of tea, I got stuck in chiselling the concrete from the smoke box but quickly found it very tough going. The concrete is so hard, sparks were flying from the chisel as I tried to break it up - hard as concrete in fact! Ian then gave me a hand until lunch time, and we concentrated on the area round the blast pipe, thinking that if we could get the base and studs exposed so that we could get it out to give access to the remaining bottom elements, we could leave the rest of the concrete for later. By lunch time, we reckoned we had remove a couple of buckets full. In the meantime, Jon and Nigel were under the locomotive removing the valve followers to access the gland packing, and Steve was busy cleaning the smoke box door dart and then cleaning the smoke box spark arrester frame: he has made a great job. There are a few bits left to clean.

After lunch, Ian borrowed a windy gun and chisel from Mark O'Brien at the shed, started the compressor up, and with Nigel, started hammering away at the concrete. After a couple of false starts, it worked OK and a fair amount was removed, but there's still lots to go at on Saturday and it is still hard work. Mark gave us permission to keep the windy tools and these are in the workshop.

I went with Jon under the locomotive to dig out the old gland packing and he also removed both cotters from the valve rods. The valve rod cotters and follower nuts, plus 2 oil pipes are labelled up on the left hand bench in the workshop. Ian also removed the broken dome stud from the vice outside the workshop and that is now in the box with the mud hole doors.

Because the Grosmont car parks (NYMR and National Park) were being taken over by a film crew who were filming today (so 80136 and 44806 were having steam tests yesterday and adding to the general fog and mist shrouding the moors) we had to finish early to get our cars out of the car park. As a result, no start was made on removing the valves, nor were any of the remaining mud hole doors cleaned. So, with the rest of the concrete and the blast pipe, all jobs ready for the Saturday team.

If anyone wants to join the Wednesday team, they would be most welcome - lots of tea and biscuits available, and plenty of work to do. If you are coming though, please give Ian Pearson a ring or drop him an  so we can get out sufficient tea mugs.


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.


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