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





This week some of the team started stripping the radiator shutter boxes and engine side vents from 08888 in preparation for the crane lift next week to remove the middle wheel set for bearing repairs.  It all came off easily given we'd only just put it all back on following the re-paint!

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The throat plate was lifted back onto the boiler and some more fixing holes drilled

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followed by bolting down.  The ash pan heat shield had last week's welding ground back

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and, with a little more work, that job should be finished next week.  On Sunday, work was concentrated on the throat plate to get the lower edge to fit tight to the boiler barrel.  This involved much heating and hammering to shape

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and the making and welding on of various brackets against which wedges could be hammered in.  After this more holes were drilled so a further section could be bolted down tight.

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As the weather was warm and sunny the loco was uncovered and the fireman's side water tank lid stop was fitted

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which gave us the opportunity to repair the tarpaulin given it's suffered in quite a few places as a result of the recent high winds.


With the gale force winds continuing we again had to spend some time on roof repairs but Tuesday still saw the ashpan heat shield ground back following last week's welding work, the boiler throat plate had more trimming and fettling until it sat properly against the foundation ring and the water valve operating sockets also received some final fettling.  On Friday, the cab windows were glazed

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and the interior of the cab received a rub down and coat of paint.

images/450/Mar 17 2.jpgOn Sunday, the final bit of welding was done on the ashpan heat shield and involved the debut of our new welding helmet with filtered air supply to comply with new HSE regs.

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The throat plate was marked for initial drilling, taken down and had a section trimmed from the edge that sits on the barrel using the plasma cutter.

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After this the first of the holes to align with the foundation ring were drilled and then the plate was laid on its side, an angle beam temporarily welded across the bottom to act as an anchor for the air drill and then the first of the holes for attachment to the barrel were drilled.

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We now have a bottom edge like this

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and, once lifted into position yet again, bolts will be used to anchor the centre section to the barrel and then the sections to the left and right will be heated and drawn down to match the barrel profile so that more holes can be marked and drilled and the process repeated until the entire edge sits flush to the barrel.



The usual three days this week with Tuesday being spent grinding back the welds on the ash pan heat shield and the making of another set of wedges to be welded into the gaps left after the final shaping and bending.  Sockets for the water valves were made with steel bar heated and bent round the former made last week.

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They were then trimmed, welded together and finished off with a file.

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On Friday, the Pullman sterilising sink was finally completed and tested

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and the making of a new burner for the hot cupboard in the Pullman kitchen coach, Diana, was started as the old one was considered to be beyond repair.  The top bearing in the spare 350 axle box was pressed out to enable a chill to be made up for the re-white metalling of the 08888's boxes.  Sunday's first job was repairing the damage the wind had done to the removable roof section of the boiler house.  After that the cab window frames were straightened in readiness for glazing,

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the coal pick holder was drilled and fixed to the inside of the cab roof, a new tank lid stop was fitted to the driver's side tank and new lamp brackets were shaped prior to being bent.  We also did our bit for training, with Paul teaching the Railway's apprentice Jamie how to use the Mig welder as the final shots show.

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On Tuesday more of the booth's sheeting walls were replaced and included a couple of foot square doors so we can feed in air/gas pipes as needed.  Colin was machining up various odds and ends and others were cutting up small pieces of shaped plate to be welded into the slots in the ashpan heat shield.  One of our Shareholders, Tom, arrived with his camera to take a group photo of the volunteers.  Not particularly newsworthy you'd think other than the fact that his camera is a huge 1880's wooden plate camera that was getting on for 40 years old when 4253 first left Swindon works.  Friday was mainly doing jobs for other parts/groups of the Railway with the refurb of the Pullman sterilising sink continuing, a spare 350 axlebox located and stripped so we can make a chill in preparation for one of 08888's axles coming out so that a failing bearing can be re-white metalled and also melting out the old white metal from a Pullman coach bearing that was also in need of attention.  Sunday was back to the boiler throat plate which had another small slice measured and cut from the bottom of both sides.

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It was then lifted into position again and could now almost move back to the foundation ring whereupon more measuring was carried out.  It was then a case of down again, more grinding,

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up again and now it's almost there, just a bit more work to do next week.  The Pullman bearing was cleaned up, tinned and then the new white metal poured.

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The ashpan heat shield had a number of the triangular inserts welded into place

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after which more measuring, cutting, heating and bending of the edges to the correct profile was undertaken.

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The Tuesday guys now have another set of infill wedges to cut ready for next Sunday's welding.



On Tuesday, work started on shaping the ashpan heat deflector plate that sits over the axle.  This involved bending the edges at right angles and trimming until it fitted happily in the gap.

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Others continued with the grinding back of the throat plate top edge until it matches the profiles made from the foundation ring corners and the on-going booth maintenance saw some new wall sheeting installed where the old ones had been damaged over time by the weather.  On Friday the throat plate grinding was finally finished and it was moved back to the boiler house ready to be offered into position again for further measuring.  Another job tackled was the refurbishment of a sterilising sink for the Pullman kitchen coach.  On Sunday, the boiler foundation ring face that will be in contact with the throat plate was cleaned up

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and the patch screw holes had their threads re-cut prior to offering up the throat plate, measuring and then cutting a further section from the bottom edge with the plasma cutter so it can butt against the existing platework.  This will be a protracted job as we'd prefer to cut small sections away and re-fit a number of times than get over excited and cut too much material away in one go.

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The ashpan heat shield was bolted into position and then the side ends had slots cut into them so that the process of bending it to follow the profile of the ashpan itself could begin.  The next stage was pressing the sections outward and then start welding the slots up again after filler strips had been cut to fill the gaps created.  Note our new extractor equipment to deal with the welding fumes.

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The driver's side top slide bar was trial fitted, taken down again for machining of the front mounting holes

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and then re-fitted ready for setting the alignment next week.

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On top of that, the sales team attended the first event of the year at the Tenterden Model Railway Show on both Saturday and Sunday.


Four days in total this week with the grinding back of the throat plate top corners started on Monday as this will be a long, slow job.  Tuesday saw others taking their turn at this

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while another job was making the spacers to fit the axle heat shield to the base of the ashpan.  These were cut to length, drilled and threaded.

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Maintenance work continued on the booth with the new doors varnished and a good tidy up carried out with any components that aren't required yet being put away in the container to give us more working space.  Friday involved some roof repairs as some of the sheets have shifted and allowed rain water to run back under the joins.  The second pipe from the water valve to the injector was fitted, there was yet more throat plate grinding and the templates from the foundation ring corner profiles have been completed so that the final grinding session will be to match the throat plate top edges to these.  On Sunday the ashpan heat shield mounting bars were cut and drilled, the spacers were positioned and then welded into place,

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after which the shield section was trial fitted and now awaits having the ends bent to the correct shapes.  The driver's side bottom slide bar was given some fettling, aligned, bolted into position and pinned.

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The top retaining plate for the motion spring was machined up which finishes another part that new just needs fitting.

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Finally, for a change, there was a bit more throat plate grinding.


The usual three days again.  Tuesday was spent trial fitting the ashpan damper doors to ensure correct alignment prior to riveting.  

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The table we made to build the ashpan on has been moved to the other side of the booth and turned into a large workbench with storage underneath.  Friday was mainly painting and machining as the weather was so bad with near continuous wind and rain.  On Sunday we removed the damper doors, countersunk all the holes along the top edge to fit flush rivets to avoid fouling,

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then reamed through all the holes

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and finally riveting up all four.

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While this was being done, Dick D continued fettling the first copper pipe from water valve to injector until it was correct and could be bolted into place.

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Also, the new boiler throat plate had the first section of surplus metal cut from the bottom of the sides

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which has the added advantage of making it far easier to lift on and off the boiler.  Next job was the making of a template from the profile of the foundation ring to be used when grinding back the top edges of the throat plate.


Most of the work this week has been concentrated on the ashpan.  The strengthening plates on the damper door openings were drilled, clamped to the ashpan and through drilled using the mag-drill

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after which the underside of the holes were countersunk so the fixing rivets will be flush on the inside to avoid any ash build up.  Friday involved a start on grinding back all the edges to achieve a good finish while Sunday saw the strengthening plates all riveted into place

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followed by the final edge trimming and the welding up of any gaps.

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Other work was the fitting of the final set of new doors to our booth, a pin for the new motion spring bracket was machined together with an end bush and the bracket reamed to suit.

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The second copper pipe from water valve to injector was bent to shape, cut to length and the flanges brazed onto the ends.

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Finally, the boiler barrel where the replacement section was welded in had distorted slightly during the process so the areas concerned were heated up and, using a long bar and the Enerpac, jacked back into the correct profile.

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This week the new boiler throat plate was hoisted into position for initial measuring as to how much surplus steel can be cut off,

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work continued on making a set of doors for the side entrance to our booth,

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new nuts were fitted to the eccentrics and more pipework was fabricated and fitted now that the water valves are back.  A new motion return spring rod has been made and welded to the clevis which was then drilled.

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The riveting together of the new ashpan has been completed and Nobby, Sunday's forge master, can be seen here modeling our new heat reflecting coat.

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After that the trimming back of the edges was started

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and the floor strengthening plates for each door entrance were measured, cut and drilled ready for riveting on.

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The fireman's side slide bars were pinned and measured for the sizing of the slipper blocks and the alignment wire apparatus was taken down.


Only two days this week as Tuesday was our annual Christmas dinner for all the volunteers which was the usual excellent event thanks to the catering staff at Tenterten Station Buffet.  It was back to reality on Friday with Colin machining the operating rod handles for the water valves

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the various splasher components were given a coat of undercoat and the pistons and rods were received back for us to sort the machining of the tapers on the crosshead ends.

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On Sunday, work resumed on the ashpan with more holes reamed out and the riveting team in action although we had a problem with the riveting gun which took some time to repair so progress was less than we'd hoped on that front.  The upper fireman's side slide bar had the required shims made and fitted and a start was made on fitting the bars on the driver's side.

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However, before we started, the rear cylinder cover was removed and the inner stud to hold the front of the top slide bar was dropped into place and the cover replaced.  We had learnt the hard way with the other side that this stud can't be fitted with the cover in place as the valve chest above does not give enough room.  The following shot shows the stud arrowed and the lack of room both above and below.

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On the fireman's side we had had to release the rear fixings of the lower slide bar, undo the rear cover and manoeuvre the whole assembly backwards on a trolley jack until the stud could be dropped in and everything then replaced.  That of course meant realigning the slide bar again.  You live and learn as they say.


A busy week starting off with the making and fitting of new doors for our construction booth which will both look smarter and keep us warmer this winter.  Work on the front wheel splashers has been fairly continuous this week with repairs to the original parts where possible,

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new parts fabricated where the corrosion was too great and then bending to the correct profiles

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and finally, much trial fitting and trimming until the fit was right and the process of riveting it all together could begin.  The upper fireman's side slide bar was successfully bolted into place

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and the initial alignment carried out.  We have also started the task of riveting the new ashpan together beginning with reaming out all the holes

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and then hammering the rivets home.

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We have also now received the water valves back from machining so can start on making the support brackets and fitting them.

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Saturday was our 7th AGM which was as well attended as ever and ended with the Grand Draw.  The winners are listed above and our congratulations go to them and our thanks to all those who bought tickets to support the project.



This week the final weld runs were laid on the boiler repair patch

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and a team from Quantum Rail came to NDT test the boiler welds and also the superheater header.  Both passed with no problems.

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The rear cab window frames were fitted with new pins made for the closing catches and brass knobs machined for ease of opening.  The superheater header had the new studs trial fitted

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and the completed dart bar was installed.

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The upper slide bar on the fireman's side was trial fitted to establish the extent of machining necessary to get it to fit which appears to be fairly minor, the throat plate was moved next to the boiler so we can undertake the initial measuring and trimming prior to it being offered up

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and the splasher for the fireman's side front wheel was finally located and dismantled as some sections need replacement given the amount of corrosion suffered.

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A further section of the splasher platework around the vacuum pump was fabricated and fitted and, finally, the loco was completely sheeted over as, once again, we are out in the cold.

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