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.