North Eastern Locomotive Preservation Group

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Q6 Blog

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

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.


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.


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