4253 Locomotive
A not-for-profit company run entirely by volunteers
Contact us at: gwr4253@gmail.com


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What's Happening This Month


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Three working days again this week although, on Tuesday, half the workforce were stripping old paint off the saddle tank of the Railway's loco No:25 with the steam cleaner to try and speed up its return to service.  The other half were cleaning up and inspecting all the brake linkage parts which soon revealed that many of the holes for the joining pins had been worn considerably oval.  Pete C and Grahame measured the ends of the brake shaft to establish the internal diameter for the new bronze bushes that need to be machined for this.

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To that end, Pete H was sawing off lengths of bronze to start the process.

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Friday saw Pete C back again to establish the external diameter with one of the new brake shaft bush caps seen resting on the vice.

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On Sunday, Dave D and Jerry laid out all the brake pull rods and linkage on the floor to ensure we had all the bits needed and to decide which parts needed bushing to fix excessive wear.

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The bits concerned were than move to the machine shop and the oval holes drilled out oversize to take bushes to return them to the original diameter.

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Graham was at the lathe making a supply of said bushes

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and Martin then pressed them into place.

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We still have some 8 to 10 bushes to make but, hopefully, these will be completed during the coming week and we'll have a braking system with all the slack taken out of it.  Other jobs included Paul continuing work on the foundation ring,

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fitting a number of the oil boxes to the frames, finishing off the spring adjuster fittings and making brackets to fix the axle box oilers to the frames.




Firstly, apologies for the late appearance of this week's progress report: I was without a broadband connection for 6 days.  Just Tuesday and Sunday this week as we also had to man the sales and information stand at the Chatham Dockyard Fair on Sunday and Monday.  Following the previous Sunday's riveting, a fair bit of painting was necessary and here's Dick W putting a top coat on the base of the water tanks.

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The new plate that goes between the frames under the bunker had its fixing holes countersunk to accept the screws with Dave A and Kevin seen here using the mag drill to do the job.

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We have also now got the newly made screw for the handbrake column together with it's threaded nut (as shown below) which will allow us to set the position for the new offset brake arm of the brake shaft as the original was cut off at some point in the past.

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On Sunday all the new spring adjusters were fitted with this shot showing Paul delivering all the parts on a trolley.

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Also, the badly worn spring hanger that was a temporary fit was replaced by Dave D and Henry now that the one we'd had newly cast has been machined.

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Other jobs included the fitting of the weight shaft arm

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and the trial fitting of the axle box oiling units which we had obtained from various sources as job lots and it was pleasing to find that we only need to fabricate one bracket for a trailing box to make a complete set.


We've worked three days this week starting Tuesday with getting all the brake gear out for a good clean and look over to see what needs to be done before refitting it all.  This shots shows most of the parts other than the main brake beams.

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Bryan and Dick W reamed out all the holes in the tank bottom edges and the cab steps ready for riveting.

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Additionally, all the oil boxes had their threads cleaned and checked and new trimmings made by Colin.

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On Friday, new brackets were cut and formed to retain the pins in the brake hangers as the originals were either missing or too corroded to be serviceable.  Sunday was a riveting day with the water tanks tackled first which needed a line of some 50 rivets in the bottom of each and the lifting eye brackets on just one of them.  Here's Henry gunning one of the rivets in the later while Dave D (who else?) is inside the tank holding it in place.

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After that we put in the 28 rivets holding the cab steps to the frames with this shot showing Henry and Jerry on the rivet guns working on the driver's side steps.

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Meanwhile, at the front of the frames, Neil was replacing the piston packing cover after fitting the final brake hanger.

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Finally, while all this was going on, Paul continued with the job of building up and grinding back the surface of the foundation ring which is now coming down the home straight.

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During the week we have been bolting various bits on the loco that were refurbished or newly made over the previous months.  These included the front sand boxes and the cab foot steps (which will now require reaming through prior to riveting) all of which were lifted into place using an engine hoist.

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Also, the brake hangers are now up

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and Mike P, one of our 'out workers', is currently making the brake pins on his lathe.  On Tuesday we took delivery of the newly assembled valve pistons on their new rods.

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Purely so we could get some better photos of the re-wheeled frames we towed them out of the yard and here are a couple.

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On Saturday we took the sales stand to the Detling Heritage Transport Show to spread the word and raise some more cash towards the boiler repairs.  Sunday saw the mammoth task of moving the water tanks out of the booth and laying them on their sides undertaken so that the bottom edge can be riveted and then painted.  This required many people, jacks and machine skates to get them into position outside and then the block and tackle on the gantry to lower them onto their sides across the rails that previously housed the wheelsets.  These shots show the job in progress, finished and some of the people who achieved it.

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Other jobs done during the day included fully bolting up the horn ties to ascertain the number and size of spacers required to fill the gap between the nuts and split pin holes and also fitting the studs that hold the brake shaft brackets.



We have done it at last.  The wheels are now back under the frames after three days of huge effort which saw the task completed at 7pm on Sunday which made the extra hour of daylight quite convenient.  The work was enthusiastically supported by many of our usual volunteer team who are currently, quite rightly, feeling rather proud of thermselves.  A big thank you to everyone involved in this tremendous achievement.

Following last Sunday's good start the remaining axle boxes and springs were fitted with this shot showing an underkeep being slid into place complete with oil mop.

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The axles were then lifted and moved to the adjacent road in the correct order of leading, driving, intermediate and trailing.  This is the leading axle being dropped into place with the covered pony truck behind it.

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Additional jobs included temporarily fitting a draw hook to the rear buffer beam

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and dragging out the pony truck compensating beam which is a serious lump of metal.

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On Sunday everything was in place and ready to go after the horn openings had been cleaned and oiled.  The frames were lifted until the rear end was some 18 inches lower than the front and the accommodation bogies were then pushed out from under.

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The wheel sets were then pushed underneath and aligned with their respective horn openings with this shot showing the trailing axle being positioned.

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After that, the frames were lowered until the trailing axle boxes were just shy of their openings, the boxes aligned to match and then further slow lowering until the boxes engaged satisfactorily with the horns.  After that, the process is repeated at each axle moving forward with the angle of the frames bringing one axle into contact after another.   Once all four axles have engaged, the frames are then fully lowered with all boxes sliding up the horns until stopped by steel blocks sitting on the top of the trailing and leading axle boxes.  Or that's the theory.  Inevitably we had some problems along the way, the main one being the intermediate axle which was refusing to travel fully into the horns resulting in us needing to spend some time jacking it up on alternate sides wth the Enerpac until it was fully home.  Eventually all axles were properly in place, the wheels were on the ground and the crane not taking any weight.

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The horn ties were than all bolted up and the springs positioned with one adjuster fitted to each to hold them in position.  This shot shows one team working on an axle with another in the background.

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Finally, the pony truck was pulled up to the front of the loco,

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manoeuvered into position and fixed in place which took rather more time and effort to do than to say.  At the end of a non-stop ten hour day these guys have every right to look pleased with themselves having got the loco capable of moving on its own wheels after some four and a half years.

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This week's main activity has been the preparation towards and then the moving of the frames through the shed and into the yard as the re-wheeling gets ever closer.  The two locos currently under overhaul in the shed, Nos 21 and 25, were pulled out to provide access and the various items under and around the frames were moved out of the way.

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4253's frames were already sitting on accommodation bogies at each end with a stack of sleepers and blocks supporting the centre (as can be seen on the left in the above shot).  Once all these were removed the diesel was bought through, coupled up and the slow task of pulling the frames out started.

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Although slow going, there were no problems and, with someone at each corner to keep an eye on things, we emerged from the other end of the shed

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and then removed all the sheeting.

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Once done, we took a photo of most of the people who helped with the job and then went for a celebratory cup of tea.  Note the nice new hard hats purchased specially for the occasion.  Sadly we started the day with twelve and finished it with only ten; if any more disappear we'll be forced to enter into administration!

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After that we began moving the wheel sets from the field to the yard using the 36 ton steam crane starting with the pony truck assembly which was attached, lifted and put down on the rail outside the shed.

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and ending with the driving axle.

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After that we started to fit the axle boxes

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and by the end of the day had half the job done with the driving and trailing axles completed.

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Some twenty volunteers turned out today for a hard day's work so a big thank you to everyone involved for the progress made.


We've had people working on four days this week.  On Tuesday all the springs were removed from the container for cleaning and oiling followed by trial fitting of all the holding pins with three of them seen below.  The spring adjusters were also removed and all the required split pins cut to size.

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The last of the new lids for the axle boxes were cut out by Dick W (with the ones already done seen on the bench) after which the bolt holes in the boxes were re-tapped so they could be trial fitted.

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Meanwhile, new holding brackets for the pony truck beam were being shaped by Kelvin.

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Wednesday was spent painting all the bits made on Tuesday along with the next supply of clock and egg timer bodies with Friday's volunteers continuing this work.  Having just launched a limited edition run of special 4253 Centenary clocks we are having to work hard to keep up with demand. Sunday was dedicated to progressing the axle boxes with the bolt holes for the brackets that hold the rope mops being cleaned out and re-tapped by Jerry

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while Mark cleaned out the oil ways.  The top slides for the trailing boxes were trial fitted and the final machining of the last of the underkeeps was completed.  On top of that, Henry turned up a new bush for the fixing pin hole on the pony truck which was pressed into position as the last job of the day.

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Tuesday had some of the team grinding back the welds laid down the previous Sunday on the foundation ring after they had used block and tackle to raise it up onto trestles.  This will make it far easier to work on - especially for those of us with knackered knees.  The rest were engaged in cleaning up tube sections to make more clock and egg timer bodies and painting bodies previously made.  This work continued on Friday with Kelvin getting stuck in after his four weeks in New Zealand.

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Sunday saw Paul continuing with the welding on the foundation ring but this week he had two trainee welders, Neil and Scott.

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We need new retaining brackets for the pony truck arm so templates were first made in cardboard by Mac

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after which the shapes were marked on steel plate, cut out and fabrication of the first bracket has started.  Others were making new top plates for the axles boxes as four of the originals were found to be beyond salvaging.  Again, the shapes were marked out on steel plate and then cut out. Nobby is seen here at work with the angle grinder.

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Dave D and Norman were meanwhile assembling the sliding tops for the trailing axle boxes after cutting all the screws to length.  As can be seen from Dave's screwdriver, these screws are fairly large.

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In the machine shop, Graham was cutting the drains in the axle box oil filling elbows

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while Henry was drilling holes in the underkeeps into which the elbows will fit.

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The remaining underkeeps have all now been machined to fit their axle boxes so the re-wheeling gets ever closer.