The K1 completed its first week on the Jacobite with no significant problems.
As the week progressed we had a few very minor settling in issues to deal with but the loco performed very well. The loco carried a wreath for 3 days mid week in memory of the friends and colleagues we have lost this year.
The support crew, Angie, Saskia, James Pearcy and me managed to deal with the Covid 19 restrictions without issue. One of the benefits of the restrictions is that we now have our own shower/toilet block (the little green box) at the depot. This is much better than using the NR facility as in previous years.
Loading on the Jacobite generally increased through the week but the train was only running at maximum Covid 19 capacity on one day. This meant that there was room for the whole support crew to travel in the train apart from the one day that it was full. I expect that demand for tickets will continue to rise as more tourists reach the area but we will just have to see. Predictably, there were noticeably more British passengers than in previous years.
One very positive outcome from last week was passing James out as a mainline R.O. James shadowed me for the first couple of days then took over for the rest of the week. He did a brilliant job so congratulations to James and another very positive step for the Group in continuing its main line activities.
Before we left on Sunday we did a bit more work to the coach to make the 3rd compartment habitable (not needed in the first week as Angie and I sleep in our van) and had a good tidy up in the workshop.
The K1 is carrying a wreath on the Jacobite today in memory of all friends and colleagues lost this year.
We have certainly had a busy time since my last K1 update at the end of June. While it is great that the K1 and coach are now at Fort William we ended up with no time to spare and the interior of the coach, in particular, did not have the attention it really needed before we left.
In my last update at the end of June I reported that our initial steam test would be carried out within a few days of my report. This took place as planned and was generally satisfactory, the only problem of any significance being an AWS fault where the horn did not sound on a caution signal but did sound when the brake demand came in. The horn also sounded, as normal, on the TPWS start up checks. In short we tried changing a few bits on the day, eventually put it back as it was before we started and it worked correctly! It was then extensively tested and worked as it should every time. I therefore convinced my self that the problem had been a poor connection that had been made good as we removed and refitted the various parts.
The next time we worked on the loco was the day before the NR annual exam when we carried out a few minor repairs/adjustments arising from the initial steam test. The engine was lit up that evening for the next day’s functional exam. The morning of the exam we had an early start to check out one or two things before the functional exam took place. We tested the AWS at this time when it failed with the same problem as before. Again to be brief, we ended up changing the receiver and is seemed to work. The system was again extensively tested and it worked as it should on every occasion. Everything else on the functional exam was satisfactory so it was just a matter of getting the paperwork done, recalibrating the speedo and completing the TPWS/OTMR annual maintenance checks before the planned running in trip from Hellifield and back on 10th July – or so we thought. Everything initially went more or less to plan until a further AWS test the day before the running in trip revealed the problem had returned. Richard P who knows much more about these thing than me then set about working through the system again, finding various very minor items to improve as he went. Unfortunately the problem was very intermittent it was very difficult to determine whether any of the minor adjustments made were actually doing any good. However we eventually got to the point where the system did not fail after very extensive testing. We therefore wrapped up after a very long day thinking that we had probably sorted the problem although we could not put our finger on exactly what it might have been.
The next day was the day of the running in trip, booked off Carnforth depot at 11.00. The loco sailed through its FTR and more extensive testing of the AWS. Surely we had it sorted – but then again! On the exit road to the depot there is a fixed AWS test magnet – no prizes for guessing what happened (but it is probably a good job that it did). So it was back on shed for more investigation. Further minor adjustments were made and more extensive test. We must have done over 100 sweeps of the test magnet with no fault and were just about stop when the system failed again. Fortunately, this time it then failed enough times for us to actually find something wrong. It was in fact the solenoid which actuates the horn its self – something which we had discounted early on as it was working (just at the wrong time). We have various theories as to how it failed as it did but when we took the solenoid apart, cleaned it up and refitted it the problem went away and has stayed away ever since.
While the problem was a real pain and resulted in a number of very long days for those working on the loco, Richard was brilliant, as was Mandy Sharpe who spent hours on the phone working through the problem with him. We also all learned from the experience (I certainly learned that the best way to deal with electrical problems is to get someone else to deal with them).
The running in trip eventually took place 9 hours later than planned but it was entirely satisfactory with only very minor adjustments to make the following day. This was fortunate as by this time we had learned that instead of heading from Carnforth to Fort William on the 12th July as planned we were to run to Carlisle with 45407 the Jacobite morning stock and he two support coaches on the afternoon of the 11th. All of the work we needed to do to the locomotive was completed in time and the run to Carlisle went well, as did the onward journey to Fort William the next day. The AWS performed faultlessly throughout as did the rest of the loco - and the support crew (Angie, Chris H, Mike B, Jon W (Saturday only) and me).
I examined the loco at Fort William on Monday and am pleased to say there are no defects to attend to before the loco starts working the Jacobite on the 19th. There are still a number of items to attend to on the interior of the coach. We will manage to deal with some of these but the rest will have to wait.
The Covid 19 pandemic has certainly taken its toll on everything we do. While of miniscule significance in the overall scheme of things it has made what should have been an easy run into the Jacobite season frustratingly difficult. In addition to the work to the loco and coach which have been severely disrupted we have had to sort the Covid 19 control measures for operating in Scotland in the last 3 weeks. This has been a very time consuming exercise in its own right. While the back of this particular job is broken it will, of course be subject to constant review as we learn how to safely keep our locomotives running in this strange new world.
This is to confirm that the K1 is now safely at Fort William, ready for the start of its season on the Jacobite on 19 July.
This follows an intensive period of work by Paul Hutchinson and his team at Carnforth once the Covid 19 restrictions were eased. Following a successful steam test for the boiler inspector on 3 July, the K1 was due a test run round the Hellifield circle on 10 July. However, when ready to depart the yard in the morning, the AWS failed. Thanks to the efforts of Richard Pearson and others, this was finally resolved and the locomotive finally set off in the early evening and completed its test run satisfactorily. It was then due to leave for Fort William on Sunday12 July, but a last minute change of plan saw it depart for Carlisle on the Saturday afternoon with 45407 and the ECS (without a Class 37 on the front as originally intended), as I discovered when I was told it was standing at Carlisle Citadel Station in the late afternoon.
The consist then left for Fort William on the Sunday at 0958, again without a Class 37, and arrived at there at 2024, just under an hour late. Attached is a photo by Brian Nunn on the climb to Beattock Summit.
No further problems with the K1 following the AWS dificulty on Friday, so hopefully that has now been resolved. Yesterday, the locomotive was coaled and watered and checked over. In addition, the pit was cleaned and the water removed and the site generally sorted out in conjunction with Riley's men. The welfare unit has been plumbed in, so the support crews have the required separate toilet and washing facilities, and will be able to overnight in the support coach. Today there was to be a full safety briefing with the service starting tomorrow with the Black Five.
The K1 has its first week starting on Sunday as planned and is then due to run the weeks beginning 2/16/30 August, with a washout due to start week beginning 6 September before it returns.
John Hunt hasa confirmed that both locomotives and the ECS arrived at Fort William Sunday night at about 8.30pm after a good run from Carlisle. No further problems with the K1 following the AWS dificulties on Friday. Today (Monday) they have coaled and watered the locomotive, checked it over, cleaned and removed the water from the pit and generally sorted out the site in conjunction with Riley's men. The welfare unit has been plumbed in, so they will be able to overnight in the support coach in future. Service starts on Wednesday with the Black Five. The K1 has its first week starting on Sunday 19th as planned.
A K1 footnote. At a short notice video conference Board meeting on 7 July, the draft NELPG control measures for the Jacobite operation and Fort William depot were considered and approved, subject to a small number of amendments. These are currently being incorporated, and once signed off, they will be put on the website and circulated internally.
Similarly with the Jacobite Manual, which needs amending to bring it in line with the changes agreed to the control measures. All being well, and there is still work to be done to be done at Carnforth this week, the K1 is booked for its test run on Friday 10 July, and to travel up to Fort William on Sunday 12 July. Its first service week is due to begin on 19 July.
There were working parties over Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday on the K1 this week with 2 of us in attendance on Tuesday and 4 each on Wednesday and Thursday.
Satisfactory progress was made over the 3 days, the main jobs undertaken being completion of the drilling, reaming and tapping new rear fuseable plug hole and fitting the bung to the original hole (this was then caulked by Johnny Haddow from West Coast), finishing painting out the crew and tool lockers on the tender, competing the installation of the new GSMR charging point, glossing the trailing coupled wheels, refitting the coupling rods, con rods and return cranks/eccentric rods, refitting the speedo bracket, filling the boiler up, casting a new concrete arch and competing a few minor fitting jobs. It was a touch on the warm side to be doing some of these jobs but we were glad to be able to get on and do them.
Yesterday the engine and tender were shunted outside by West Coast with the main draw bar pin been fitted by Rolly (who is now back at work for West Coast) in the process.
Next week there will be working parties on Monday (when the plan is to bag up the engine and tender, complete a few remaining minor fitting jobs, thoroughly check the engine and tender over and light it up late afternoon), Tuesday (steam test including resetting safety valves and OTMR/TPWS annual tests), Thursday (deal with any issues found on Tuesday) and Friday (mainline functional exam). As the tyres have been turned the speedo needs to be recalibrated and this will hopefully be done before Friday (by West Coast).
If you would like to attend any of next weeks working parties then please let me know by e-mail to this address or by text on 07964988551. I will then get back in touch with you to confirm your attendance etc. As with the Grosmont working parties, please do not just turn up.
In addition to the work on the loco I am still working on the Covid 19 control measures for Fort William depot and for working the Jacobite. For various reasons that I won’t go in to here you with here, this is taking a little longer than I had anticipated but I do hope to have the drafts circulated to those who need to see them shortly.
Our first formal working parties since the start of the lock down took place last Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. 5 of us attended each day and we made reasonable progress.
Following completion of the re-metalling and machining of the trailing coupled axle boxes the wheel set, horn stays and springs have now been refitted, as have the ashpan hopper door linkage and rear brake pull rods. The wheel set’s paint work was inevitably damaged when the tyres were turned earlier in February and upon their subsequent removal and refitting. The damaged areas have been rubbed down and undercoated. The inside of the crew and tool lockers have been cleaned rubbed down and under coated and a start has been made on installing a new battery charging point for the GSMR batteries. This will allow the batteries to be charged with the radio locker shut which is not possible at the moment.
The boiler has been boxed up (having been washed out just before lock down) apart from the refitting of the rear fuseable plug. Unfortunately when the old plug was removed the threads in the crown were found to be damaged. As the plug hole was at its maximum permitted size (BR4) it has been tapped out to take a copper ‘bung’ and a new hole drilled for a new plug hole. The hole is just about ready for tapping to take a BR1 plug.
There will be working parties on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday this week when the plan is to complete the reassembly (including casting a new concrete arch) and painting jobs to enable the engine to be steam tested before the end of this month. If you wish to attend then please let me know by text on 07964988551 or by e-mail at this address. The working parties will be limited to a maximum of 5 each day and I will confirm who has been rostered.
As you may be aware West Coast plan to start this years Jacobite season with 2 trains a day from 15th July with the K1’s first week starting on the 19th. I am currently drafting Covid 19 control measures for our volunteers in relation to Fort William Depot and for when the loco works the Jacobite. I will also be working with West Coast and Ian Riley to ensure there is no conflict between the measures adopted in the yard and on the operation of the service. I hope to be able to consult with the Group’s Board and our main line support crew members on all of the relevant documentation in the next few days.
Unfortunately Saturday's working party on the K1 had to be cancelled as the coach could not be moved out of the coach repair shed over the weekend and along with our tools, spares etc, was therefore not accessible.
Angie and I did, however, go over to Carnforth yesterday to examine the trailing wheel set and axle boxes with a view to deciding on the work required. Before we could carry out the examination we cleaned and stripped the auxiliary components from the axle boxes. The end float was then checked before the boxes were lifted from the wheel set. This was found to be satisfactory, with the total side to side clearances being only marginally over spec.
Upon removal the bearing surfaces were examined. While the boss faces were found to be in satisfactory order there was, as expected, some wear to the white metal to the bearing shells. While the crowns were still good, wear was evident around the thrusts. Both shells are therefore to be remetaled under contract by West Coast - work started on this today.
The 'T' hanger pins and bushes were also examined and found to be in order
The next working parties on the K1 will be on Friday and Saturday this week. The main areas of work will be cleaning the various bits relating to the trailing wheel set that we did not clean yesterday, refitting the steam heat valve (which has had a new stainless steel seat fitted by Steve Andrews) continuing replacing the tender brake linkage pins, adjusting the centre ash pan hopper door, preparing the boiler for washout/exam and replacing the front grate side bearer.
If you would like to join us on either, or both, day(s) then please let me know by e-mail at this address or by text on 07964988551.
As mentioned earlier the coach is currently in West Coast's repair shop. Most of the work (being carried out by West Coast under contract) is concentrated on number 2 end where the crash pillars have been exposed and repaired, the associated structural floor panel replaced. One of the door pillars and about half of the end panel have also been replaced.
Elsewhere the seal has been replaced to the centre compartment window, a number of minor body repairs are being undertaken and preparations are otherwise well underway for an external repaint.
Unfortunately, following my earlier appeals I have had only one offer of help for the work that I had hoped we could do to the coach this winter. Much of this work will therefore be deferred.
Finally I mentioned earlier that Steve Andrews has put a new stainless seat into the K1's steam heat valve. He has also repaired our cross head splitting gear but as we have allowed the B1's tender into Dev Shed has not charged us for either job. The total cost of the work Steve has carried out for us should be several hundred pounds so I think we can consider the fee for use of Dev Shed to be well and truly paid - many thanks Steve!
Another good turn out at Carnforth yesterday with 7 of us working on the K1.
The trailing coupled wheel set is now ready to be dropped out - both springs, rear brake pull rods, the axle box wedge adjuster cotters and the hopper door linkage have been removed, the flexi axle box lub pipes have been disconnected and the hornstays have been left on just two vertical bolts each. All parts removed have been cleaned and marked up. The leading and driving axle boxes have also been packed.
A start was also made on replacing the tender brake linkage pins.
West Coast will drop the trailing wheel set out during the week and our next working party will be next Saturday when there will be plenty to do. I will not be there (short break in Bruges for Angie's birthday (might even take her with me if she is good)) but if you would like to attend, and you have not already let me know, then please e-mail me at this address before 18:00 Tuesday or text me on 07964988551 at any time.