Saturday, 25 May 2019

Hello Dolly!

If you go back to 2/11/16 you may recall why the 4415 project team does not provide horse racing tips; having considered putting money into three different Diesel engines we decided to back the horse with the broken leg. This ‘horse’, the MDB4 engine had damage to the crank case, a broken crankshaft, a damaged piston, no injectors (atomisers in the language of 1928) and no fuel pump. While we have a very comprehensive set of drawings for the locomotive and some drawings for the engine, the set of engine drawings is incomplete. The drawings we have come from the McLaren archives held at Armley Mills museum, who also kindly donated the MDB4 engine to the project. In the back of another of their sheds was something to covet:

This particular wonky donkey of a horse is a Barford Perkins road roller. Precise vintage unknown, but the interest from the 4415 project perspective is that the motive power comes from a McLaren MDB2 engine, the two cylinder variant of the MDB4. The great thing about the roller engine is that it is substantially complete, with fuel pump, governor & atomisers. Obviously (by definition) there are not enough of the components the project needs for cannibalisation, but cloning is the technology of the future.

In line with the project ethos, recovery of the roller was done by the team in some style, that style being provided by Foden, courtesy of Dave Walker.

For the roller, there must be a sense of déjà vu, it does not look any happier in its new home in Wales:

The continued support of the Armley Mills museum to the project is greatly appreciated. The roller is on loan, to enable investigation and replication of the components missing from the MDB4 engine. The governor/ fuel pump assembly (in the photo below) is of particular interest and can be compared with illustration of the MDB4 from "15/- change":

When the two photos are compared, the fuel pump assemblies can be seen to be similar, but not identical, and it is not just that one has two fuel lines running from it and the other four. It might be because some of the McLaren drawings we have for the fuel pump are labelled ‘for Old Type Fuel Pump’ which infers that there is a new type too. We have some detail drawings and can be very confident that we can recognize an old type governor ball thrust when we see one; whether we can tell if the MDB2 fuel pump is ‘old type’ or ‘new type’ will require some expertise that merges the roles of diesel fitter & chicken sexer, and the governor ball thrust is very much an integral part of the whole fuel pump assembly.
Whether the drawing below represents the ‘new’ or the ‘old’ type unit we do not know, but there’s quite a bit of work in making one of these.

 We’ll keep you posted on progress.

The other main items of interest are the atomisers. We do have a good set of drawings for these, but it's nice to actually see one.

A reminder: MDB2. It has two cylinders and therefore two atomisers. It would have been nice if they were both the same; but which is the new, improved one?

The ones we are going to have made are the ones on the right; because we do have a set of drawings for that type.

Not all the bits that need to be cloned are complex precise bits of machining. We also need some interesting castings too. This is a rocker cover from the MDB2. We need four of these. We’re pleased to welcome Bob Smith to our team, with the hope that he will enjoy the title of ‘project patternmaker’, because this isn’t the only casting we need.

Finally from the roller, something that rocks our world. Proof that the pattern shop at McLarens did not have a proofreader. We don’t need to clone the radiator, but we do need to clone the spelling mistake:

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Gearbox fitted!

Rick, Matty & Monkey have overcome the interface issues which left the gearbox on physical chain block and storyline cliff hanger in the last report. Overcoming the interface issue, meant a trip for the clock side mounting plate.

In this view of the gearbox being finally lowered into the frames, the fact that the engine and gearbox are not on the centreline of the locomotive is all too apparent.

This photo shows the final drive gears (external to the gearbox) and the drive chain from the layshaft to the leading axle and gives an idea of how little room there is between the gearbox and longitudinal frame stretcher to squeeze the new clamping plate in. 

On the engine side there the clamping plate is positioned outside the frame stretcher (hence the need for the spacer ring described in the 11/10/18 report. As it is a new component the clamps are assembled with metric bolts.

There is a cast iron spacer which sits on the layshaft and holds the gearbox in place laterally. This has been trimmed back, so that it now locates on the clamping plate rather than the gearbox. Two flats have also been machined off to allow the spacer to fit between the clamp plate bosses.

With the gearbox now fitted the interior has been cleaned up. While the working of the gearbox was described in the 6th December 2017 report, it will not harm to describe it again. By moving the bevel gears on the upper shaft to the left or right (so that they engage with the unseen gear on the incoming drive shaft) the upper shaft can be made to rotate clockwise or anticlockwise. The motion is transmitted by chains to the lower shaft. On the bottom shaft whichever dog clutch is engaged determines if you are in the high or low gear.

Close up of the lower (speed) shaft. The splined output drive shaft cab be glimpsed between the dog clutch teeth on the left hand side. The selector (see image below) engages with the central groove to move the clutches left & right.

Close up view of the forward/ reverse gears. No work has been done to these gears, other than a clean-up.

Gearbox with chains and selectors re-fitted.

Crank operating the high/low gear selector, possibly made at Britannia Foundry (see 6th December 2017 report).

Oil filler re-fitted (original pot, replica cap, see 24th June 2017 report).

Matty eschews Ricks handiwork with the oil filler and pours another 5 gallons of oil into the ‘box.

Another milestone reached!

Friday, 30 November 2018

Fitting the gearbox...

Images by Rob Bishop

I will apologize in advance for the sense of achievement in the title. In a nutshell, when you get to the end of this page the gearbox is still not in the locomotive. That however does not mean that there is has been no progress.

The replacement (longer) studs which fit the end plates to the gearbox have been fitted and will allow the new mounting plates to be fastened to the casting:

All of the fabrication work on the plates is complete and they have been painted a contrasting shade of green:

In this view of the first trial fit, the ‘clutch plate’ (see 26 October 2018 update) can be seen, mounted on the frames behind the gearbox, together with the refurbished mounting which supports the incoming drive shaft. This is a mounting, not a bearing as the shaft itself is contained in the unpainted areas of the housing. The layshaft, on which the lugs on the base of the gearbox sit, can be seen in the frame opening, as can the drawgear assembly. We’ll refer to that later…

So far, so good. But the engine side plate and the spacer ring did not clear the boss for the oil filler. A trip to the miller was required:

This is the little tickle it needed:

The spacer ring now fits. This view shows the engine side mounting plate in situ. The castle nut on the end of the shaft protruding from the upper shaft bearing plate is used to secure the chain to drive the vacuum exhauster:

Rob Bishop and Tim O’Donnell fit the new mounting plates:

This is the moment when satisfaction turned to mild despondency, the gearbox with the new mounting plates is about to be lowered into position:

Front view. The plate on the right hand side of the picture (clock side), which has the fabricated lug within the width of the box to ensure that it clears the frame spacer, clashes with the corner of the new drawgear.

We always knew it was going to be tight, and a little bit of machining will still be needed to achieve this significant objective.

Friday, 26 October 2018


Images by Rob Bishop

OK you wait months for an update and then three come along at once. Back in March the jury was out on the best option to sort out the crankshaft. Clearly it is very dead. While there is no intention to bury it, the carriage works volunteers have made it a beautiful casket.

It has gone on to a better place, Farndon Engineering in Coventry, who have been commissioned to make a replacement. In round figure terms this will cost £8,000, which leaves the kitty looking very bare. The recent donation of £1,000 from the FR Bristol Area Group has been a big help to keep this aspect of the project running. Farndon didn’t have an ‘order now for Christmas’ offer on, but there is still quite a bit to do on the gearbox which requires labour and not too much cash, and there are plenty of other rusty bits to be going at.

A last look in the coffin to the crankshaft with its broken neck. Imagine the excitement when the new one comes back and we start worrying about the broken piston, the missing fuel pump and injectors…

Clutch Plate?

Images by Emily High & Rob Bishop

I do know what the definition of a clutch plate is, but what do you call a plate which carries a clutch? It is the latter that I am going to describe, which I hope is more interesting than it sounds. Let me take you, the reader back in time. The image below is of the loco during the dismantling process. The plate in question is that part of the frame between the engine and the gearbox. The more observant will notice that there is a cone clutch within the flywheel and therefore the pedants may argue that my ‘clutch plate’ does not support the clutch.

This extract from drawing 33338 is interesting in this context. 
There is a housing for a quite different (plate clutch) unit.

The plate clutch was not successful and was replaced with a cone clutch, new drawings being issued in January & February 1929. The plan view from the same drawing tells the story; it shows the footprint of the clutch housing with the words ‘4 bolts not required 4418’.
Do you like the call off for the holes to secure the plate to the frames? It reads ‘5/8” bolts, 5/8”+1/32” holes’. An interesting way to define the tolerance.

The 5/8” bolts had seen better days when the loco was stripped down, the little pimples in the photo below is all that remains of them.
As the plate is also heavily corroded a decision has been made to replace it.

The working party of Rob Bishop, Matty Wolstenholme and Tim O’Donnell did a lovely job of forming these pan head rivets.
It’s a pity no-one will see them.

The rivets secure the angle at the rear to the plate. The pan-heads are underneath. Obviously we won’t be fitting the plate clutch, but the bolt holes (in the centre) are there just in case. The replacement plate has only one hand hole (as shown on the original drawing). We have not managed to fathom out why the two additional holes were added to the old plate. Perhaps we will find out when we try to bolt stuff down.

One reason for not reproducing the additional hand holes is that the vacuum exhauster is mounted on the plate, so there are two more holes to add, to bolt down the cast iron base described in the August update.

Coupling Update

Images by Rob Bishop

Although the chopper couplings were fitted some time ago, some detail aspects were incomplete. The pending gearbox re-fit will make access to the front dragbox difficult and acted as a spur to completing the couplings. Back in September 2016 the resurrection of some old, split face chopper couplings was described. The distance between the old buffer face and the coupling eccentric cam is a non-standard dimension, meaning that when coupled, the chopper faces do not meet and there is a risk that the hook may disengage due to the slack. Not too great a problem when being shunted round Boston Lodge yard but a reportable incident when the train divides in section.

The solution has been to mill part of the old buffing face off and weld on a new face plate, 
bringing the buffing face to hook eccentric distance to a standard dimension.

The face of a coupling being milled off in the horizontal borer

New ‘fat face’ welded on to the cleaned up coupling

We’ve also had some cast iron bosses made to provide vertical support for the chopper coupling
 and have fitted some side chains to complete the early 1929 look. 

The Dragbox
While the boss castings are made to suit the modern dragbox arrangement (which has a lot of side swing), the detailing is taken from Kerr Stuart drawing 33736, ‘Arrangement of Vacuum Pipes For Diesel Loco 4415’. The new casting has a larger opening to suit the end swing of the coupling.

Behind the front buffer beam the coupling pivot on the dragbox needs the pin inserting from below as access from the top
 will be impossible once the gearbox is in situ. The options however are limited. Good to get this task finished now. 
Doubtless there will be new entries into the profanasaurus if that split pin ever needs taking out; 
"which ****** put this together - it’s as if they put this pin in and then built the whole machine around it!!"
  (They did and his name is Rob Bishop) 

After closing on paint drying for the last blog entry, this time we feature hole staring; the arc of holes in the plate to the left of the dragbox is for the bolts to fasten the external gear cover to the frame (see paint drying, 11/10/18). The cover will be on the other side of the plate illustrated.   

Thursday, 18 October 2018

Gearbox update

KS4415 Update 11/10/18

Images by Rob Bishop

The blog entry December 2017 described a trial fitting of the gear box in the frames. The deliberations from that trial fitting led to the drawings in the 5th March 2018 entry which illustrated the proposed repair, using plates which bolt to the annulus around the bottom bearing housing.  The new components have been manufactured and are seen here with the cleaned up gear box.

The annular ring for the RHS plate is to allow it to be fitted outside the frame stretcher, as space in this part of the loco is at a premium.

If it all goes to plan it will assemble like this:

Before painting, the gearbox has been given a very thorough wire brushing; what a thing of beauty! Note the line of brazing on the rear face, bottom left.

This is a brazed repair to a crack in the casing; the crack is still visible on the inside.

Inside the gear box the drive from the (upper) forward/ reverse shaft to the lower (high/ low gear) shaft is via a chain drive (see below). If a link comes off the chain, the still rotating upper shaft brings all the chain up in the box and piles it onto the top shelf.  There isn’t enough space for this, the result is evident.

In the view below the gearbox is lying face down and the damaged lugs which support the gearbox on the layshaft can be seen, hence the new supporting plates. The next task is to replace the studs which fix the lower cover with some longer ones that are able to pick up the plates.

Progress on the new mounting plates is illustrated below. One pair of blocks which will secure the two halves of the mounting plate around the layshaft have been machined and drilled. The tack welds are temporary.

Finally, because we know that watching progress on the project is like watching paint dry, here is a picture of some paint drying. The green panel is the front cover to the gearbox, the grey components are the covers to the external gears (on the outside of the gearbox and on the layshaft). Some work to do before they are re-fitted!