North Eastern Locomotive Preservation Group

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Q6 Blog

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

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


'Wednesday 16 March 2016

A really dense foggy start to the day (couldn't even see the Fylingdales Security box from the Whitby/Pickering road, never mind Fylingdales itself), but it didn't matter much as Scotsman passed Deviation Shed with the cylinder cocks fully open so the photographers couldn't see a thing anyway! The weather did clear up later in the day though and by the late afternoon there was some fine low sun to back light the exhaust as the 3.30pm departure climbed away past Esk Valley.

At the Shed there were people everywhere, both visitors looking round and dropping large amounts of coins in the donation box judging from its regular ringing noise, but also working on the Q6. In addition to the regular NELPG Wednesday team, there were a considerable number of MPD staff beavering away as well - of which more below.

From our list of jobs, Nigel Hall brought the right hand crosshead slipper back from Darlington - a horrendous journey involving first a puncture in the badlands of Middlesbrough, repaired in Guisborough and then massive queues on the Whitby/Guisborough road following what was thought to be a major accident (now known to be a diesel spill). The crosshead slipper is now on the right hand front running plate. He then continued with preparing and painting the buffer beams. The right hand packing spring assembly and slide bar lubricator were cleaned and are back in the wooden box on the worktop at the far end of the workshop. Trimming for the oil box is required, and Ian/Jon are intending to make this for Saturday. The right hand, but not the left hand, side rods were wire brushed, as were both connecting rods. The left hand big end brasses were cleaned and the remaining sand removed from the floor. The brasses are now on the left hand running plate.

Mike Oliver fitted the gauge glasses and frames after Mark O'Brien had inspected the backplate, and the mouthpiece was refitted to the firebox. The steam pipe was recoupled to the reverser and the air pipe disconnected and returned to the workshop - it is on the back wall to the left of the main door. The reverser and cylinder were cleaned round and the flange studs were checked to make sure they were tight. Four bolts were fitted to the front cab cladding around the whistle connection once the whistle itself had been refitted. The cab floor was not refitted as access will be required to the lower mudhole doors for the in steam test, nor were the pit lights taken down as they were being used for setting up the weighing equipment.

Separately, the MPD staff had fitted the brick arch earlier in the week and the formers have now been removed. The engine has been boxed up, except for the four top mudhole doors awaiting a safe means of access, and the boiler filled with water to just below the bottom of the glass. The weighing gear has been set up under the engine only, with the intention of doing the weighing tomorrow - the tender will be done later when it has both coal and water on board. They had also removed the spark arrestor to give access to the blast pipe as there was a concern that there was an air leak. That work has now been abandoned, the spark arrestor will be refitted, and the smokebox floor be refilled with concrete.

Looking ahead, following a successful boiler insurance cold exam on Monday, John Graham has now arranged for the boiler insurance in steam exam to be carried out next Wednesday 23 March. The Saturday working party will be concentrating on the refitting of the right hand piston and crosshead, and we were told that the intention is to light up the engine on Sunday, assuming it is by then moveable, with an internal in steam exam to be done on Monday.

Although there has been a lot of progress made, and the end may be, just about, in sight, there are still some critical tasks to be successfully completed before gentle running in can be done prior to a return to traffic - and there's many a we know only too well with old steam locomotives. There will therefore be working parties definitely this Saturday and next Wednesday and possibly over the Easter weekend as well. Confirmation of the arrangements will be in future reports.


Saturday 12 March 2016

In spite of the excitement of the 'worlds most famous locomotive' roaring past Deviation Shed during the day, Andy reports a most frustrating time yesterday - 'I think today was a case of one step forward and two back: everything was hard won with some jobs just not getting done for various reasons.'

Neal Woods brought James Pearcy and Ian Pearson in his car with some additional bags of concrete for the smoke box. Andy brought Trevor Wilford and Brian Armstrong in his car with the right cross head, gland packing and regulator handle that had been collected from M-Machine on Friday evening. They both managed to park near the Shed having come down from Esk Valley but space was very limited and photographers were lining the fence opposite Deviation shed. After unloading both cars and signing on it was time for the first train.

Once that had gone, the first job of the day was to move the pallet of concrete from in the way of the public entrance, all 32 bags of it. This had to be done twice as there was only the one pallet.

There were 4 to 6 JVs having training with Chris Parrish and also working on the locomotive. Steve and Bryan Orange were looking after the JVs and they were set to with the task of lubricating all the brake gear after cleaning the grease nipples. Three different grease guns were tried: one is now living in the skip, one was filled by hand as it was a larger diameter than the grease cartridge, and for the last one a new cartridge was obtained from the MPD stores. So, after cleaning the workshop, they were in business. Hopefully the JVs learnt some valuable lessons in grease lubrication and then went on to clean the piston packing springs and followers for the cylinders.

Neal and James set up the left slide bars with the wire running through the crosshead. With much shimming and checking it was decided to put the left piston in the cylinder. By the time the rings had been gapped the team were now on overtime, but the good news is the piston is in. Even better news, it slides up and down the cylinder with the crosshead.

The previously missing cab gauges were found - easy when you know where they are! - the box had been covered over. Ian fitted these and put some additional calibration stickers on the front supplied by the MPD. The valve glands were nipped up.

Brian set to sorting out the cotters on the side rods and making secondary cotters. A very time consuming task with not a lot to show at the end of the day. Trevor was building up the cotters until the welder broke down. He is going to get a new shroud and tip for the gun.

Andy tried to fit the regulator handle but the square is still too big and our welder does not work. He then put the right cross head together on the slide bars and took some measurements to get the top slipper built up with white metal and machined to size. This was taken back to M-Machine and will be returned for fitting next Saturday.

No work programme for Wednesday yet as it depends on what, if anything, arises from tomorrow's cold exam by the boiler insurance inspector. John Graham, Andy and Ian will be present for that , so Ian will know if anything is identified which needs to be dealt with on Wednesday. If not, Andy assures me that there will still be plenty to keep us occupied! So anyone else available and wanting to attend will be most welcome to join the regular Wednesday team. The NELPG car should be available, but, as usual, anyone planning to use it should check its availability with Paul Hutchinson on Tuesday (07964 988551 after 6pm). And don't forget that Wednesday will be a Scotsman operating day, so no parking at Grosmont


Wednesday 9 March 2016

The weather forecaster got it right this time - it poured down all day. The grey sky was only alleviated by the yellow glow from all the 'No Waiting' cones now lining the road through Grosmont, from one end to the other: you have been warned!

The usual Wednesday team was supplemented by the welcome return to active duty at Grosmont of Nigel Hall, who returned the Q6 brick arch formers from Carnforth and got started on the prep work for repainting of the front and rear buffer beams. He had been missed. Mike Oliver replaced the pipe on the blow down assembly and refitted it, and the axle box intermediate pipe work was completed by Ian Pearson. It just waits for Peter Ellis to do the reconnections.

Jon Bradley, Ian and myself reconnected the valves to the rods, put in the cotters and fitted new split pins, and Jon and Ian then fitted the valve covers, so that job is now complete. The locomotive was moved to give access to the horn stay bolts that need replacing. The MPD has said they will do that job for us. I fitted the new wood covers to the cab sand boxes to prevent any more sand being put inside and seizing up the mechanism again. The mechanism itself is now operational, and although the rear sanders will not work (because of having no sand), the cab mechanism also works the intermediate sanders on both sides which are fully operational and are considered more than adequate to meet any likely needs for the locomotive. In any case, the front sanders also work.

The mouthpiece from the firehole door was removed to give better access for the boiler inspector, and has been placed on the left hand side of the front of the tender by the tool box. Derek Shorten also cleaned up the whole area round the locomotive to ensure that all the sand and other dirt was removed to avoid the risk of sand contamination to the various moving parts that have still to be refitted, as well as doing some more cleaning between the frames in areas that had been inaccessible until we moved the locomotive.

The piston rings have now arrived and are on the bench in the workshop near the kettle, and Andy Lowes is going to check on progress with the regulator handle this week at M Machine.

The cold exam has now been confirmed for Monday 14 March (to avoid the mayhem associated with the Scotsman visit - it is not operating on Monday or Friday next week) and Ian Pearson and Andy are both hoping to be present.

On the way out, I collected Nick Downing's 1969 built model of the Q6 from the Crossing Club in Grosmont (I just managed to get it in my car - it is very large!). It will be on view at various events during the year. Thanks to Peter Proud and George Morton for facilitating that.

Still looking for the J27 one though, with one or two possible leads being followed up, but any more clues would be much appreciated.

There will be a working party this Saturday which Andy will lead, with work to be done on the crossheads and the pistons. Bryan Orange and a full complement of the JVs will also be attending, and doubtless everyone will be watching Scotsman go by during the tea breaks. Just hope everyone gets there OK and there are not too many transport difficulties. Don't forget to make sure the donation box bell keeps ringing - assuming there are any visitors of course!


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