Monday 10 July 2023

A Trip Across the Cob

 It would be churlish not to note 4415's trips from Boston Lodge across the Cob as part of the WHR100 celebrations on the 24th & 25th June as progress. 

All of Rob Collins’ lovely paint job will be getting grit blasted off in the next twelve months if we stick to the current plan to rivet up the body next winter, so here are a few views at least to capture some of the many completed components enjoying a trip out rather than languishing in the finished parts store. 

Seen below, meeting up with former Dinas shed mate ‘Russell’ at Boston Lodge at 08:54 on Saturday morning.

Optimistically coupled to a rake of 1920s style coaches below, it looks the part, and is the only decent photo I have showing the radiator & the replica ‘MACLAREN’ plate (cast using an original plate from the road roller).

In the end it ‘double headed’ with Welsh Pony, being somewhat lacking in the engine department.

In addition to allegedly inspiring the streamlining on the A4s, the iconic look of KS4415 may have inspired the architect of Snowdon Wharf.

Eventually the sun came out, just as the loco returned to Boston Lodge on Saturday evening and a posed for a few minutes by the cliff.

Sunday saw 4415 going off shed with the full line up of surviving of Ffestiniog Railway early IC motive power.

The head turning impact of early IC motive power can be fully appreciated when you see the platform in this view of the 1917 build, 40HP petrol powered Motor Rail Tractor and the 1927 build 60HP Diesel 4415. It’s a niche market.

Some of the ‘facts’ in this blog may be made up.

Saturday 10 June 2023

Engine Fitted To 4415!

Come on down and see for yourselves!  All of this frantic work on the body is of course to enable KS4415 to make a public appearance in Porthmadog during the Welsh Highland Railway 100 event on the 23rd-25th June. Who would have thought that the engine would be fitted before the event? Martin Greenland, Blackburne donkey engine restorer par excellence, that’s who.

A number of the completed components are going on to give a taste of the engineering as well as the appearance of the locomotive. No surprise that the MDB4 is still at Farndon Engineering. The above view shows the cab interior, partially fitted out with the petrol starting engine, starting gear box and radiator. There is a similar view in 15/- Change (which we can flog you out of the back of the cab if you have not already got one).
Now you can play ‘spot the difference’ and complain about the recess on the flywheel and the missing Diesel engine, the front hatch cover is removed in the old view,  no cab handrails in the new…

Ha! Cab handrails now planished (drawing 33362 refers). The one on the right is the replica, turned up by Rob Bishop and all of them have  been planished to within an inch of its life by Rob Collins. They are upside down in the photograph.

This view shows the handrails fitted, together with the cab back and driver seat (both original components).

We have had to let some new steel into the cab back, the majority (coloured red oxide) is original. The angle iron stay stiffens up the back sheet to ensure that overweight drivers do not buckle the sheet, another largely original component with a repair to the top. All of the other angle components are new.

To give the front elevation a bit more character the hatch handles have been recovered from the old hatch and fitted to the replacement.

So, looking more complete than it has done in many a year, 23rd-25th June will see this marvellous Diesel pioneer out and about. Come on over, see the beast, buy the merch!

Thursday 8 June 2023

Making a spectacle

Like a moth to a flame I’m drawn to the awful and predictable pun, even though the Kerr Stuart drawing refers to them as a windows. Going back in time to the 17 October 21 blog, the mechanics of the window catches were described when Bob Smith and Adam Livingston were busy making the patterns, the castings from which arrived back in time to make an appearance in the 16 February 22 entry. Norman Bond has subsequently produced the patterns for both the round and rectangular windows and the components for these have been cast too, arriving during the special Christmas of 2022 with the injectors, governor body and a box of new drills to make all those rivet holes.

Our machinist man for these little jobs, Dave Linton (who is also our little man for machining jobs) has put some considerable mental effort into working out how best to set up the various bits for machining. This is the clamp set-up used in the four jaw chuck of the lathe to turn the catches and hinges.

The hinge castings and bearings are seen here post machining. The castings with the slots are the lower hinges to the windows.

The slots allow the hinge to clamp onto the pins, to hold the window in the open position.  The full assembly is shown here, with the wing nuts also machined by Dave.

Who also made all of the other brass components required to fit the hinges to the cab sides. 

Like all blokes who have kept something in their shed for years, he was particularly pleased that the kitchen worktop offcut from 1999 made a wonderful mounting plate to support the round windows for machining.  It is seen here mounted on a rotary table, being used to machine  two castings to make them into a matching pair. 

The drilling in the lower picture came first but it is hard to envisage the ingenious rotary table set-up from the drilling view. Worth capturing the moment in case you want to try this at home.

With all four castings drilled and mounted on the board Dave then put the whole set in in one of the Dean Smith & Grace lathes at Boston Lodge to skim them.

The various components, with the exception of the catches to hold the windows shut, are seen here in a dry-run assembly on the loco. It is curious that the bosses are outside the cab, requiring a slot cutting in the cab front.

Mounting the windows in this way moves the centre of the hinge pins outwards, allowing the hinges to be almost flush with the cab sheet (as shown in the drawing below). 

Another minor detail that is so nice to get right, which can be seen in the photo below:

Wednesday 24 May 2023

Body Talk


Much of the progress over the last five months has been boring. Literally. Probably used the joke before but I don’t care as the task of drilling the holes to allow the body to be assembled is nearing an end. Forming the lovely, new rectangular components was something that Boston Lodge is well set up for, as it has a large guillotine. Many of the sheet steel components are connected by rolled steel angles and while we have been able to recover one (as described in the 14th January 2023 blog entry) the others are too far wasted for re-use. Several of these angles are rolled to some quite tight radii, and require some skill to form them. In addition the main body wrapper, with its distinct ‘air-smoothed’ appearance is too corroded for re-use.

With the arrival of the wrapper, from Richards Sheet Metal the body started to move from being a series of one-dimensional components into something more tangible.

The recovered angle which connects the wrapper to the right hand side panel was soon trial fitted to find that the radii are beautiful match.

The other angle was too heavily corroded for re-use and a replacement has been manufactured by Chris Brady, a blacksmith from Tudweiliog.

Chris has also formed up a new angle hoop to connect the body to the cab, the very rusty remains of which were illustrated in the 14th January 2023 entry.

The body hatches (both top and front) are formed of two angle rings, one attached to the body, the other to the hatch which sit on top of each other. Chris has made these too and four more lovely pieces of angle iron you have never seen in your life.

The photo below shows the new, rear angle hoop and upper wrapper meeting the old side panel and angle. There is a rivet that attaches the angle to the side panel that needs to go in before the hoop is fitted.

After mucho drilling, the body is now a thing. The cut outs for the hatches have been partially laser cut, but left in situ to ensure that the body has some rigidity before the angle rings (which will add a lot of strength) are fitted.

The covers for the hatches have been ordered as laser cut parts. Here is Ben Boulter drilling even more holes to fasten the covers to the angle rings. The original front cover can also be seen in the photo, being used as a point of reference.

One of the cab side panels had some corrosion at the bottom. Chris ‘Rimmer’ Barry is seen here with the guillotine, about to remove a strip which has subsequently been replaced with new material.

A very tidy, massive rectangular hole had been cut into the other cab side at some stage in the past, so that has been replaced. The photo below shows the all new, right hand cab side, which is again full height for the first time since 1929.

Both cab and bonnet are rather large items to store in a workshop, so they have been temporarily mounted on the chassis. While we are quite pleased with the amount of original body that has been recovered (painted red oxide in the photo below) the amount of new steel added is all to apparent. In this view of the left hand side the new strip of steel grafted in to the lower can side can be noted.

The yellow blob on the cab side is a quick 'works plate'. There are two sets of holes, the outer holes are for the longer, elliptical Kerr, Stuart plates and the inner ones for the Hunslet/ Robert Hudson plates fitted in 1934.

Don’t buy a second hand car from Hunslets! In 1934 they were passing off second hand goods as new!

Dewi Atherton has machined up the replacement sliders for the shutters

This is the one good shutter slider that is fit for re-use attached to the replacement right hand side cab sheet

On the left hand side, the lower cab sheet is original but both shutter sliders are new. Seen here with a trial fitting of the teak shutters Clive Bickley produced in 2019 (see 11 December 2019 blog).

Rob Collins is seen here sanding back filler applied to tidy up some of the worst of the pitting to one of the old body panels.

With the front hatch temporarily fitted and a coat of primer Kerr, Stuart 4415 is quite an impressive beast.

Thursday 16 February 2023

Injector Progress

Not content with getting all excited over the governor body casting, another significant milestone was been reached in the back burner department  in January. The injectors. The idea that we needed to source injectors from the dawn of time has always been somewhat daunting, given the precise nature of these components. 

Fortunately the Armley Mills archive did include a set of drawings for them, however these lacked some of the information we would have liked on materials and tolerances. The blog entry for 25th May 2019 illustrated the injectors borrowed from the MDB2 together with an illustration from the McLaren-Benz Catalogue which captures the complexity of these wee beasties, reproduced here too.

For understandable reasons, no-one from the world of 21st Century Diesels was going to make a little batch of injectors like this, however some contacts at Mercedes-Benz were very helpful with materials and tolerance advice. Paul Turner took the McLaren drawings and cadded them up. As these are Benz components being manufactured by McLaren the old drawings were already in metric which kept things nice and simple.
Eventually we found a company that are interested in manufacturing small batches of fiddly components, Grange Square Engineering. They turned our order for ten sets of bits round very quickly. 

Before and after, one of the new injectors together with a sample borrowed from the MDB2 engine.
It must be emphasised that despite appearances, these are a set of bits which require assembly by somebody who knows what they are doing to ensure that the fit and finish is right.

These are parts C and D, the needle valve body nut and the needle valve body. We have not got all the bits A to Q (no sprayer valve spring, part F for example) but is great to have money spent and a box full of bits. We don’t have to worry about making them, now the fear is getting them to work.
After getting all excited about that we are heads down and on with more drilling to prepare the cab sides for riveting.

Thursday 19 January 2023

Cast in Sand

 Something that has been exercising our minds and the pattern makers arm muscles for some time is the fuel pump and governor unit. The blog entries for 10th& 16th February 2020 describe the inner workings of this unit and that of 17th October 2021 summarises progress on making the pattern for the governor housing and the fuel filter. 

Both these patterns have now been completed by Bob Smith & Adam Livingston. Bob trained as a pattern maker straight out of school and is now retired. He described it as the most complex item he has ever worked on. The main pattern and some of the coreboxes are illustrated below, together with the body of the similar, but smaller casting from the MDB2 engine, which has been used as a point of reference.

Given the complexity of the beast Bob & Adam tried their hands as moulders, to ensure the cores can be removed from the core boxes and that the necessary clearances can be achieved to produce the wall thicknesses required. An interesting exercise, which also proved in part that their skills lie elsewhere; being a moulder is a skill in its own right.

The chaps at Cerdic Foundry in Chard fortunately have all the skills required to turn wood into sand and ultimately into iron and another of the big hurdles for the project has now been cleared. If you turn to p26 illustration 6 of your McLaren spare parts catalogue you will of course recognize components 532 (Fuel Pump Gearbox) and 540 (end cover for fuel pump gear box).

Those who may have mislaid this useful reference will find the illustration from the catalogue in the 10th February 2020 blog entry, which has a painful reminder of how many small and intricate parts now need to be manufactured.

One photo hardly does justice to the massive amount of work that has gone into recreating this extremely complex component so here are a couple more views to allow it to be appreciated.

The fuel filter body is small and relatively simple by comparison. If you have the KS4415 Panini stickers book this is part number 852. The pattern and role of this component was described in the 17th October 2021 blog. Rather less daunting to complete, it is another useful work in progress milestone that has been passed.