Getting 76084 ready for the Main Line

Having fitted and passed all three main line safety systems fit for use we have turned our attention to 76084's mechanical soundness for main line running. Not having the experience within 76084 Locomotive Company Limited we enlisted the assistance of other engineers more accustomed to maintaining main line steam locomotives to give our little 'Pocket Rocket' an assessment to identify anything that might need repairing or replacing prior to a main line debut.

We did ask and were quite surprised when the job list came back and was over 80 items in total. Granted some of the jobs were small and could be completed in a short time with little expense but there was the other extreme. One job that typified this was to check and test all locomotive and tender springs - 12 in total. The tender springs are on the outside of the tender frame and are physically smaller than the 6 locomotive driving wheel springs which are inside the loco frames and much more difficult to handle being larger and therefore heavier.

We had thought of paying someone to do all the work but financial considerations prevented this. So our Engineering Team with assistance from the North Norfolk Railway set about tackling the list of jobs in mid-January 2016 (Week 1)at the Weybourne Workshops of the NNR.

All the 12 springs mentioned above were removed by John Riley, Roger Norris, Mel & Malc Rutter. Two were found to have broken leafs. There is one school of thought that puts this down to the loading and offloading of the vehicles when being moved from Railway to Railway as undue strain is put on the springs during these operations. After steam cleaning the heavy springs they were palletted and sent off for repair and testing.

All the wheel axles have to be MPI tested for soundness and this could only be done with bare metal surfaces so all 7 had to be stripped of paint in Week 1, tested and repainted in mid-February (Week 2).

The motion had to be checked thoroughly so was taken off and carefully measured at the time in Week 1 with Dave Rollo doing a superb job of the measurements under the watchful eye of our VAB Inspector John Graham. The cylinders were re-bored too. This is a specialist job and Ian Riley & Son were employed to do 76084?s.

After the hard physical work of Week 1 various parts were ordered such as piston rings for the loco steam brake cylinder and new bushes for the expansion link trunnions. These would come together for Week 2 in mid-February

During Week 2 all Loco and Tender springs were refitted with tender springs receiving coat of paint to spruce them up. Both Mechanical Lubricators and Atomisers having been serviced were refitted , tested and refilled with correct lubricant. All Driving Wheel and Pony wheel axlebox underkeeps were drained, cleaned and new side felts fitted. New 'Armstrong Oiler' Pads were also fitted. 4 new Expansion Link Trunion bushes having been manufactured and have been fitted to the support brackets by NNR staff.

The 'Steam Brake Cylinder' was removed in Week 1 and refurbished before refitting in Week 2. This is so very easy to say in one sentence but the effort taken to do the refurbishment and refitting was huge. I can now point to a steam break cylinder on my OO gauge model of 76084 and inform those in earshot how much work goes into fitting what looks like a tiny piece of equipment.

The front end of 76084 was not overlooked during this Winter Maintenance with a new Front Draw Hook purchased and fitted, this was followed by a modified AWS guard plate being fitted to protect the equipment from impact damage by the front screw coupling. The Front buffer beam was rubbed down by 'Billy Wizz' and repainted by Brian Ashby, NNR Painter to a very high standard. The fitting of the new Smokebox 'Self-cleaner' components has been started by NNR staff. This is an important piece of kit as it will minimise the possibility of lineside fires in hot weather on the main line ? something that Network Rail are REALLY sensitive about.

In the cab a Roof Ventilator Guard has been manufactured and fitted. This is to prevent footplate staff poking anything up through the open ventilator, when operating beneath the 25Kv Over-Head Centenary. Above the Driver's position the technical details that the Driver needs to know have been painted. In the case of the tender taking on water on the main line is fraught with issues so low level fillers have been completed by NNR and the pipework given several coats of paint during Week 2. All 6 Tender 'Timken Bearings' have been carefully greased.

A lot more has had to be done on 76084 during this Winter Break on the NNR than any other. There are some final preparations and then 76084 will be ready for the challenges of secondary routes on Network Rail.

More images here