7" gauge in the garden

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7¼" gauge in the garden

2009 diary

 

« go to the 2008 diary

January      February      March      April      May      June      July      August      September      October      November      December

January 2009

 

POEM

John Bremner and I made good progress on POEM over the holidays and we're almost ready for a steam-test to make sure our modifications are OK. If so, and they should be fine, we are then ready to strip her down for a repaint. All being well, we should have her back on the rails in a few weeks.

I just ordered some new brass gauges for POEM from Miniature Pressure Gauge Ltd. They were the only company I could find who would do a 3" diameter, 0-150 psi steam gauge. Their prices are good too.

 

Whilst on holiday

Pip and I went to the Havelock North Live Steamers over the New Year holiday and their track is superb. I have an open offer to take POEM down there whenever I want; which would be fun!

 

Wagon construction

Neither John B. nor I can TIG weld, but a friend of mine can. TIG welding would make a much neater job of welding up the chassis for my tipper wagons than MIG would. Maurice is busy tearing out his old bathroom at the moment and his wife has threatened him that he needs to get that done before he does anything else! Which is fair enough I guess

 

Land

It looks like the owner of the piece of land we were interested in may be moving a bit on the "issues", so perhaps we'll be getting it after all. Watch this space.

 

Garratts

I am researching options for building a Garratt with John Bremner.

 

POEM

We steam-tested POEM last night after her overhaul. There were a few minor leaks around fittings but nothing serious. Once these are rectified, it is time to strip her down for painting.

 

Change of name of the railway and website

Pip has found that Raglan is a bit too far for her clients to come to her and moving back closer to Hamilton or Cambridge would make sense; and this is where the majority of our friends are too. Raglan is a also a long way from a lot of the public if we want to run the railway it for the public now and then - which we would. Taking it all together, we have decided that we'll look to buy a piece of land closer to Hamilton later in the year and not try to find land in Raglan. We're not sure yet where we will buy, but we need somewhere where Pip can setup her business on the same site.

 

A petrol-hydraulic 'utility' loco

I made a conscious decision not to embark on the petrol-hydraulic until POEM is finished. As POEM is now nearing completion, I am starting to "doodle" ideas on what I'd like to build. I'll use this to "cut my teeth on" in preparation for the Garratt project.

POEM

We noticed that the side tanks on POEM were less than flat. This was a problem because I wanted to move the nameplates to the tanks. We got a panel-beater to have a look at it and after a few knocks with a hammer all is well. Apart from sorting out the rust on the tender, we're all ready to paint her (OK, a bit more complicated than that).

Garratts

I just spent a pleasant couple of hours with AutoCAD. Stefan Lipsey drew up the frames for L'ilLima as intended (he's building one), then I took all his work and played cut-and-paste seeing how the chassis would work as a Garratt.

I especially like the 2-8-2 + 2-8-2.

This 2-6-2 + 2-6-2 works out at 3.5m long (over the frames and excluding whatever pilot or couplers go on the ends).

The 2-8-2 + 2-8-2 works out at 3.73m. Not much longer and I think it looks more in proportion seeing as it needs a cab much larger than normal to sit inside.

If this project goes ahead, it'll not be until 2010 as I want to get my petrol-hydraulic working and John B. needs to finish his Romulus.

CLICK HERE for more information on the Garratt project.

January      February      March      April      May      June      July      August      September      October      November      December

February 2009

 

 NOTICE  The Glenbrook Vintage Railway (3' 6" gauge) have their "Steam & Vintage Country Festival" over Waitangi Weekend (Fri. 6th - Sun. 8th Feb.).

 

More AutoCAD evening classes

I've started my "AutoCAD Intermediate" class. I really want to get on to three-dimensional (3D) drafting, but you have to complete two classes of 2D first. One down (last year), one to go (this one), then it should be on to 3D. The instructor is building a live-steam loco so he's sort-of a kindred-spirit.

POEM

POEM has gone to the paint shop. Once she is completed I can concentrate on my petrol hydraulic; the Garratt (if it happens) is a project for 2010.

The boiler barrel and domes are back from the paint shop and they look great. Also, the trailer is nearly finished. John Bremner reckons we should have POEM running in about a month.

It is a VERY small world. I got an email from someone I know in Croatia, who had read the newsletter of The Hutt Valley Model Engineering Society (don't ask me how or why!). In their February 2009 edition POEM and I get a mention.

The trailer is off to the galvaniser this week.

The cab and tender are back from the paint-shop. The green is a bit brighter than expected but it looks great. I am so glad I got it done by a professional rather than trying to do it myself. It'll b a push, but we might get her back together in time for Manu Ariki on the 7th/8th March.

AutoCAD

It turns out that the instructor is far more of a "what do you want to get out of this course" kind-of guy and he's tailoring it to our needs. As several of us wanted to learn about 3D, we're spending some time on that rather than some of the more obscure 2D concepts.

Land for the railway

I know what I said a few weeks ago, but there may be hope for a railway in Raglan yet - but not on the piece of land I had been looking at.

January      February      March      April      May      June      July      August      September      October      November      December

March 2009

 

 NOTICE  The annual running weekend at the Manu Ariki Railway near Taumaranui is Sat. 7th - Sun. 8th Mar. (POEM was originally built for the Manu Ariki Railway). The railway is only open by invitation so if you are interested contact Dave Giles.

 

 NOTICE  The Hamilton Model Engineers have their open weekend on Sat. 14th - Sun. 15th Mar.

 

POEM

Everything is starting to come together now.

I am not sure why, but the green has come out somewhat brighter than I anticipated. I checked the colour samples carefully, but it is a bit "green". Anyway, It is not so bright that it is "bad", and it is growing no me. I guess I'll just have to wait for the Kermit jokes!

We've put the tender back together. The seat will need to be recovered as blue doesn't go with the new colour scheme, but this is a job we can sort out later.

 

This is John Bremner sorting out the plumbing to the vacuum brake valve. One sidetank is back on. Boiler cladding, domes, chimney all painted.

I am going to make the buffer-beam a shade or two darker. Not sure why both the green and red have come out brighter on the loco than on the colour samples; very odd.

 

After a lot of polishing, all of the brass and copper pipework is now nice and shiny. Not sure how long it'll stay that way mind you!

We need to fit the new gauges, but we may have to use the two old vacuum gauges just to get us running for Manu Ariki.

 

John Bremner, Brett (a friend of John's) and myself almost pulled an all-nighter getting POEM and the trailer ready for the weekend - I got to bed a 2:15am.

We did a steam-test on POEM and everything was fine. The only thing we have left to do is to put the cab back on (about a dozen bolts), it was just easier to do the steam test with the cab off. There's still some jobs to be done later on, but 99% of the rebuild is now complete. JB also repainted the buffer-beam a darker shade of red - it looks much better now.


Here's a summary of the work we've done to her over the last 6 months:

  • Raised the sides of the footplate by 75mm
  • Trimmed the cab sides to match the raised footplate
  • Trimmed the cab roof so it doesn't hit your knees on corners
  • Moved the water valves and all associated pipe work
  • Made new water valve handles and fitted them to the cab sides
  • Modified the regulator so it works the "normal" way round
  • Fitted new steam and vacuum gauges
  • Lengthened the chimney
  • Moved the headlight
  • Rerouted or replaced all the pipe work - do not underestimate the effort involved!
  • Changed the cab handrails
  • Raised the chimney clear of the dome
  • Modified all the steam valve handles - we got tired of burning our fingers
  • Repainted (done professionally)
  • A friend made a tray to go in the ash pan to help in dropping the fire - for some reason Murray didn't design it so you could simply drop the fire (grate and all) out the bottom. Might have to fix that.

Jobs still to be done:

  • Connect up the new vacuum gauges - they are just sitting there looking pretty at the moment - we were in a hurry
  • Improve the way the tender water hoses are connected
  • Put the nameplates on the side-tanks
  • Re-upholster the seat so it matches the new colour-scheme
  • Connect up the headlight and fit cab and water level sight glass lamps
  • Paint the outside cranks red - only if I can do it without taking the valve gear apart

I can't wait to see people's reactions to her after the rebuild; JB and I both think she looks awesome. She didn't have a lot of "street cred" in blue and purple, but she looks like a totally different loco now.

Oh, and the trailer is finished too - except for the canvas cover.

 

Running weekend at the Manu Ariki Railway

We took POEM to Manu Ariki and had a "mixed" day. After about three runs round we noticed that she was "fighting" against herself and after having to push her back to the shed we found that one of the keys had come loose on an eccentric causing the valve events to be all over the place. The annoying thing was that we didn't even touch the valvegear during the rebuild! It is all fixable, just annoying.

Until the key came loose she worked great, so that is good news. JB reckons we should be able to sort that eccentric out tomorrow at our weekly workshop evening and hopefully be at Hamilton next weekend.

The trailer worked flawlessly too and my Mazda didn't complain too much about towing over 1 ton - apart from some of the hills around Te Kuiti that is.

As I was rather pre-occupied with POEM I didn't get the opportunity to take many photos of the railway itself. Oh well, there'll be another time.

[Click here to see more photos of Manu Ariki]

 

POEM

JB and I had a look at POEM's valvegear. A key on the back of one of the cranks had come loose and appeared to be the cause of the problem. There was not a huge amount of play in the valvegear, but when I had trouble at the weekend I found that pushing the reversing lever as far forward as it would go made a noticeable difference. The play or slop in the valvegear caused by the loose key was about five times as much as the movement due to pushing the reverser hard forward, so it is quite likely the cause of the problem.

I also noticed that in full forward gear the radius rod was not in-line with the lower eccentric rod. This means that the loco is effectively running with no more than about 50% cutoff, or not being able to utilise full power. It turns out that the slot in the footplate where the reversing lever goes through wasn't quite long enough. We made a few adjustments and it is a lot better, but if this doesn't solve the problem I'll need to modify the reverser slightly to get more throw in forward-gear.

But, she's running on air fine and we'll be at Hamilton at the weekend.

 

Running weekend at Hamilton

POEM misbehaved again. The hydrostatic lubricator doesn't seem to be working very well and as such the lubrication isn't getting to the cylinders. This could be the root cause of some of our problems.

We'll get these things fixed but it is annoying.

[Click here to see more photos taken at Hamilton]

January      February      March      April      May      June      July      August      September      October      November      December

April 2009

 

 NOTICE  The 2009 convention of the Australian Association of Live Steamers (AALS) is being held at the Castledare Miniature Railway in Perth, Western Australia over the Easter weekend (Thu. 9th - Sun. 12th Apr.).

 

 NOTICE  The Havelock North Live Steamers have their "visiting locos" event over the Easter weekend (Fri. 10th - Mon. 13th Apr.).

 

2009 AALS Convention, Perth, Australia

Due to circumstances beyond our control, Pip couldn't come with me to Perth, but she insisted that I go without her. In the end I was not alone as John Bremner and Alan Ure came too! This meant a boys, railway weekend in Perth. I decided to leave the tourist-stuff 'til Pip and I go back together.

Please check out the separate gallery I have setup for photos of the event.

 

POEM update

John Bremner and I put the reversing quadrant back the way it was before we rebuilt it all (not that big a job actually) and measured up the movement in the expansion link. We then put it back as it was post-modifications and measured it all again. It looks like we had slightly too little movement in forward gear to get the full valve events. It was so small we never even gave it another thought but it might be enough to explain a few things. We just need to test POEM under steam now. As we are moving house this will not be for a few weeks yet but we are optimistic.

January      February      March      April      May      June      July      August      September      October      November      December

May 2009

 

Workshop update

John and I put everything on POEM back together and measured the valve travel as per Murray's original drawings and we're now ready for a steam test.

There is a definite design fault in the return cranks. With the outer crank fixed to the inner crank the load on the inner ones is effectively doubled. As it stands the cranks are a bit small for the job and over a period of time the inner one comes loose. We can tighten up the grub screws but they will come loose again. I am seriously considering making new, larger cranks - which should overcome the problem.

POEM will definitely be going to Grant Alexander's mid-winter steam up, though she'll probably be running without the cab on as it is easier for us to get to the bits we've modified.

Oh, and we piped up the new vacuum gauges too.

January      February      March      April      May      June      July      August      September      October      November      December

June 2009

 

 NOTICE  Grant Alexander has confirmed his mid-winter steam-up at his Squirrel Valley Railway for the weekend of the 13th-14th June.

Grant Alexander's Mid-Winter steam-up

After we got off to a bit of a shaky start (derailment coming off the trailer), POEM ran well all afternoon. For some bizarre reason the vacuum brakes are sticking on (something else we didn't actually touch during the rebuild) and the lubricator is still causing grief - we think we'll put a mechanical one on there instead!

Other than that, it was a great day, and the weather held off too.

January      February      March      April      May      June      July      August      September      October      November      December

July 2009

 

The lubricator is now working fine - we suspect there was a blockage somewhere. Now all we need to do is sort out the brakes.

We have sold our house so we can now begin seriously looking for a piece of land. For various reasons we didn't settle in Raglan so have decided to move back to the Cambridge / Hamilton area where all of our friends are - and it's also closer to work.

January      February      March      April      May      June      July      August      September      October      November      December

August 2009

 

John Bremner took POEM down to the Hamilton club track over the weekend and she ran well all day. The brakes are still a bit lame so we'll look at why and do some rework, but otherwise she's running well.

Mike Orange from the Manukau club suggested that one of the problems with POEM's valvegear is that the steam ports are too wide; he apparently saw POEM being built and wondered at the time. Because the vales themselves are so big there is a lot of load on them (steam pressure x surface area = a lot) and this is putting a lot of strain on the valvegear. He suggested that the ports could be halved in size and still work well.

It'd be a simple enough job to make two new valve plates and two new valves to try them - and if it didn't work, change them back again. This is a job for when things get a bit quieter in "my life outside trains".

January      February      March      April      May      June      July      August      September      October      November      December

September 2009

 

Pip and I went back to the UK for 4 weeks to visit family and friends, so no work done on POEM or anything else for that matter.

I did however manage to squeeze in a few railways whilst there:

  1. San Francisco Cable Cars (3' 6") - they run on rails so in my book count as a railway
  2. Bluebell Railway (4' 8½")
  3. Welshpool & Llanfair Railway (2' 6") - one of my favourite lines
  4. Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway (15")
  5. Bredgar & Wormshill Railway (2')
  6. Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway (15")
  7. Wells & Walsingham Railway (10 ¼")
  8. North Norfolk Railway (4' 8½")
  9. Bure Valley Railway (15") - I was offered (and accepted) a cab ride over the 9 mile route

January      February      March      April      May      June      July      August      September      October      November      December

October 2009

 

 NOTICE  The Havelock North Live Steamers have their "visiting locos" event over Labour weekend (Sat. 24th - Mon. 26th Oct.).

 

Havelock North

Had a superb weekend at Keirunga Park - though not with POEM (read why). The whole weekend was blue sky and sunshine and we were made to feel really welcome.

Over the weekend I got to drive:

  • Alan Ure's 5" gauge 2-8-2T - a lovely little loco
  • John Romanes' ALCO PA1 - up for sale
  • John Heald offered me a drive of his 0-4-2 but I didn't manage to fit it in over the weekend - this is also up for sale

 

January      February      March      April      May      June      July      August      September      October      November      December

November 2009

 

My life outside railways has been pretty hectic recently so haven't really made any progress on any miniature railway jobs.

We have however managed to work out a quick, simple and robust way to anchor POEM down on the trailer. Gone are the days of fiddling-about with shackles and turnbuckles.

January      February      March      April      May      June      July      August      September      October      November      December

December 2009

 

2010 is going to be a "biggy" for my wife and I as her business is picking up and we're going international with it.

This means less time to think about a track of my own in NZ but I will be doing a lot of travelling, so we've put house (land) unting on hold for now. We'll be visiting Colorado for a month sometimes next year and I have already penciled-in the Cumbres and Toltec, Durango and Silverton and the Manitou and Pikes Peak.

go to the 2010 diary »

 
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