Spring Lambing 2005
Last year (2004) it was cold and wet. We had a portable track near the tractor queues and gave a total of 154 rides over two days. The motive power was Stumpy.
This year for motive power we had Stumpy, "The Widow" ( a brand new Hunslet) and Bopper (and electrically powered model of a Hymek). We were at our new location and had a run "up and back" of 150 yards (300 yards total). The days started misty but on both days the sun was peeking through by mid morning and we had a sunny warm afternoon.
Over the two days we sold an incredible 994 tickets!!!! That is nearly as many rides as we gave in the whole of last year!
However, it wasn't all plain sailing. The Widow" needs running in (we knew that). The idea was to get her in steam and give her a few light loads. We were so busy, the best we could do was to let her out for a sprint to the end of the line (and back) with my son Robert in charge, whilst the rest of us got the next passenger train ready to depart. Being new we are still learning her foibles e.g. depth of fire, getting the injectors to work, the setting for the axle driven pump etc. In the latter case, that caused a lot of grief. After one run she almost got back then refused to move. Approximately 180 degrees of movement was all I could get. A serious failure. In the mean time, Bopper took over.
Bopper performed faultlessly on Saturday, powered with a single C5 motor and one car battery she lasted most of the day without a re-charge. Only about 15:30 did Stumpy return as Bopper was declared a failure due to an exhausted battery. Bopper's owner is Paul, he was sort of pleased with Bopper's performance. You can see how pleased from the picture at the top right hand corner of this page!
Stumpy then decided that he wanted to play up. The "drive by wire" to the forward/reverse stopped working. Nothing obvious, but a problem. At least it was the end of the day and I could sort it out first thing tomorrow morning.
We still had the widow to sort! Four strong chaps and one lift later and she was in the back of my car. We got her home, back onto the maintenance stand, but where to start? I thought that it may be one of the slide valves that had slipped down the valve spindle and jammed at the end. So, off with the steam chest covers. Not too difficult, but a long job with some screws playing hard to get (access wise). With both spindles removed the slide valves were inspected. They seemed fine. On further inspection of all moving parts I came to the conclusion that there was only one option. It had to be the axle driven water pump. I removed the drive and amazingly, it all freed up! We then removed the pump to have a look. There was a nitrile ball on top of the valve and it wasn't coming loose. Obviously a lack of water, leading to a lack of lubrication and the "O" ring sealing the pump ram jammed. A complete disassembly, then rebuild replacing the "O" ring and also the nitrile ball with a stainless steel ball.
The pump ram was moved in and out, still no water. So an inspection of the plumbing. One pipe (feeding the pump) was totally blocked with a rubber object. I suspect that a second nitrile ball had got sucked into the pipe (when the boiler cools?) and blocked it. With two bends in the pipe the blockage couldn't be cleared, so a new pipe was made. It was assembled onto "The Widow" and all worked fine. 02:30, time for bed!!
On the next day (Sunday) we started with Bopper, however it would appear that even after being on charge overnight, the battery could not have been fully charged and Bopper gave up the ghost. Stumpy was called into service and spent the rest of the day ploughing up and down the line with no problems or hesitation.
"The Widow" was steamed again and that problem was solved. I have injector problems (they don't seem to work at high pressures), so after lurking on a discussion on an e-mail group I belong to I have ordered a slightly smaller (60 oz against 80oz), JC injector. If that works satisfactorily, I'll replace the one on the other side as well. The axle drive pump did not seem to have much of an effect, but then up and back 150 yards is not really a fair test.
In a couple of weeks I'll take her to the North Wilts track at Swindon for some serious running in and we'll see how we go from there.
You'll notice from the pictures that "The Widow" has her nameplate covered (with masking tape). When I get the pictures back, I'll put on some pictures and more words about why. Until then, you'll just have to speculate.........
We are running again next weekend Easter Sunday and Easter Monday (27th & 28th March). If you are in the area we would love to see you. I'm not expecting it to be as many as the last weekend, but what a start to the season.
To see the pictures follow this link - GALLERY
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