We are pleased to be able to present this, another of our regular updates, from Fred Bailey.
With the chassis all but complete we are now of course working on the boiler and its various ancillary parts. As might be expected, a lot of this is far from spectacular and is quite slow work, some of it being heavy and some of it quite tricky. I hope you will all understand if this report does not have lots of "wow" factor but unfortunately most of the construction of an engine is very mundane and requires a lot of tenacity from the build team to work through these times, and patience from our sponsors and supporters eager to see progress.
Believe it or not the handrail knobs on most locomotive boilers are bolted into the pressure vessel itself, rather than to the support crinolins for the sheet metal lagging. The result of this is that we have to fit the stand-offs for the handrail knobs before we can fill the boiler with water. This picture shows the handrail knobs temporarily fitted in the stand-offs that are in turn fastened into the boiler barrel. Needless to say, the scaffolding and ladder for access to the dome will be removed before the handrails themselves are fitted! The handrails are hollow as they contain the operating rods for the blower steam valve on the left side of the engine, and the Westinghouse Pump steam valve on the right side. To achieve this the standoffs on the firebox are of a different design to those on the boiler barrel and even these latter items are of two differing lengths due to the differences in size of the rings of the boiler.
Below we see the blower steam valve and the Westinghouse Pump steam valve, which are now both almost complete, as produced in house by one of our skilled volunteers. The blower valve has the smaller pipe connections. Both are fitted to the sides of the smoke-box in line with the handrails. The lock nuts on the two pipe connections retain them in position on the smokebox.
The next photograph shows the two rings that build up the outside of the barrel to meet the smoke-box. The original "Brighton" engines had a single piece of 21/2" wide by 23/8" thick steel bar wrapped around the boiler to achieve this. (The original piece weighed about 353.5 lb - 160 Kg for the younger folks). We have however an ex LNER boiler that has a double row of rivet holes left over from the fixing of an angle iron front ring that fitted to the smoke-box, so the wide but thinner inner ring is fixed using the holes nearest the tubeplate (so blocking them with bolts) and the narrower, but thicker outer ring is fitted using the row of bolt holes nearest the end of the boiler barrel. Although a little more work it made the pieces slightly more manageable and allowed us to use metric thicknesses of material without needing any machining operations.
The view on the left is looking straight down inside the inner dome and shows the 8 pipes that collect the steam for all of the boiler ancillaries. The rough looking bracket with the two holes is of LNER design and manufacture to which we will be fitting our main steam pipe and regulator valve. You will note the step ladder inside to allow access to the inside of the barrel. Four of these pipes are completely new and the others have needed to be re-routed because the LNER engines had a small manifold above the boiler back-head for the smaller ancillaries, but the "Brighton" locos did not. This extra work has been produced by our replicating as nearly as possible the back-head layout of the original Brighton Atlantics and we hope it will be appreciated in due course. It has kept one of our more senior members of our workforce confined inside the boiler for some quite extended periods of time. Not a comfortable place to work as it is just too small to allow one to straighten up. I know, I have been in there myself (and struggled the last time to get back out!! Must loose some weight!)
Next we have the start of the final facing of the flange on top of the inner dome ready for the fitting of the inner dome cover. This was first carried out by offhand angle grinding and then finished to a marking blue witness by hand filing and scraping of the flange. The inner dome cover (in the photo) being just behind and above, hanging on the hook of the hoist, so it can be try fitted between each session of filing or scraping. Although the flange was quite poor both for flatness and for pitting due to its long time exposed to the elements we decided to do the work by hand even though we could have hired a flange facing machine. By the time we had set up this machine accurately and with the uncertainty of the effect to the surface finish with the tool cutting across the stud holes, we are sure that in the end the method chosen was more cost efficient and probably quicker. The hire fees were daily plus packing and carriage charges both ways so this could have run to a considerable sum if any snags were met.
The first picture below is of one of the injector combined clack and steam valve bodies at the end of the first machining operations.
Now at last we have received the small tubes for the boiler. The 32 large flues and the machined bottle ends that are welded to them are away at present for welding by a specialist and will be due back before long.
Another few months on - report and photos with thanks to Fred Bailey.
It has been a little while since we have updated this site with our progress so I thought it about time I updated things a little. There are all sorts of things on order and happening as I write, but for those I have no photographs. At present we have on order the castings for the fire-hole door together with those for its hinges. The other parts for this are laser or water-jet cut and are in stock as I write, but obviously they all need further engineering work carrying out on them to make them useable. The "Brighton" fire-hole door is like most others not as simple as it might appear there being at least 20 components required to make up the assembly. Also on order at this time is the large cross member that spans the firebox to support the firebars. At present I am still working on finding the correct iron specification for the latter. There are 160 of them needed to make up the grate.
With our sub-contract machinist company in Storrington are the window frames for the cab spectacle plate windows. Due to their odd shape they lend themselves to being CNC milled from the basic castings. Glass for these will be ordered shortly - not picture glass though! Also there are the "bottle ends" that will be welded to the superheater flues. These all need to be machined inside and out to match the flue tube thickness and need threading at one end to suit the threads in the copper tube-plate in the firebox. All the tubes (134 of them) and the Superheater flues (32 of those) are on order with delivery expected before September.
Now to the bits I do have photos:
The photo on the right shows the safety valve casting now finish machined in house. Sitting on the top of them are the two easing levers and in front are the raw castings for the valves themselves.
Below we see the main regulator body and the small and large valves that act upon it, again machined in house. When fitted in position the slide valves operate vertically. It is almost upside down sitting on the bench.
Next is the underside of the inner dome cover. This was cast from a polyurethane pattern and supplied to us fully machined. It provides access to the regulator valves which are fitted within the dome.
The lower blast-pipe is seen on the left. This component is bolted down to the flange on the top of the valve chest with a tapered bronze washer interposed between the two flanges to set the top face of this casting level. The result is that the blastpipe proper should be vertical and centred under the chimney. This was cast from a normal pattern and machined in Atlantic House. When finally fitted all of this will be forgotten and under a layer of heat resisting concrete.
We are currently awaiting the cast and fully machined upper blastpipe.
For our open day in June which we arranged for our supporters, subscribers and sponsors, we played a bit to the gallery by getting the splashers properly painted, lined and varnished with the nameplate and axle-box lubricators attached. These two pictures hopefully show how nicely they worked up. Interesting to note we found that as far as we could tell each of the H2s in BR days were lined out differently.
A significant set of photos, with work moving on to the boiler, with thanks to Fred Bailey.
The chassis is now getting close to completion with the valves now set, the valve chest covers re-fitted and the coupling and connecting rods erected. We have now removed the rollers from under the driving wheels as they are now not required. So, we now swing over to work on the boiler. First of all we have had to make some room around it to get space to work, so the large marking out table ex Eastleigh loco works and weighing 4 tons or so has had to be removed.
The photo on the right shows the large marking out table, alongside the boiler, cleared of parts and rubbish, resting on pipe rollers ready to be pinch-barred to the doors.
The first photo below shows that, once the marking out table was removed, we cleaned and painted the floor ready to get to grips with the boiler.
With a bit more room, this view became available showing the chassis with the coupling and connecting rods all assembled.
As of Wednesday 9 March we received the superheater header, in SG iron, cast, machined and pressure tested from Premier Patterns and Castings, as seen in the two photos above, the second of which shows the underside with all the coned holes ready to take the superheater elements.
We carried out a "loose" trial fitting the following day just to check on the practicalities of its fit to the boiler and within the smokebox. As can be seen below it over-sails the edges of the boiler barrel by some way, but this will still fit within the smokebox which is about 5" larger in diameter than the boiler.
Finally we see the two safety valve easing levers, which were initially water-cut to profile and then finished by various milling processes in house.
Work is also well advanced on the regulator valve and is about to start on the safety valve columns themselves. Quite a tricky job again.
Our thanks to Fred Bailey for this report and the photos.
First of all I must explain that the lack of frequent updates here is not due to there being nothing happening. Rather, we are making a lot of progress, but it is difficult to produce photographs showing it. For instance there have been further runs of small copper pipe installed between the frames to take steam to the sanders. We are also now installing the injectors under the cab, together with the rest of the piping for the vacuum brakes, the air brakes and the steam heating. All this becomes an interesting lot of knitting! A lot of the work is therefore of a more hidden nature, but the chassis is now very near to completion and work will very soon be starting on the boiler. Various work is in progress to enable that work to start as can be seen in one or two of the pictures. On order are pre-shaped sections of boiler plate to fill in the holes above the foundation ring where we removed the sections of boiler containing the corroded areas around the mud hole doors. The drawings have been completed for all of the ashpan and the damper assembly, but the plates for this will not be ordered just yet.
So, on to the pictures:
To the right and below left: Just delivered from Premier Patterns is the casting for the double Ramsbottom Safety Valves. All Brighton Atlantics had these to the end of their lives with, I think, one H1 exception. Unlike the GNR/LNER locomotives they were not fitted with Ross Pop Valves. Our casting is for the twin Ramsbottom type with all of the critical working parts produced to the original designs.
Also received at this time is one of the backhead fittings. This is a casting (seen in the other two photos below) that combines the functions of the injector steam valve and the boiler feed non-return valve body. The right hand version is to follow shortly. These are to fit to our ex LNER boiler, but the "Brighton" used very similar designs on their Atlantics. Various changes took place over the years, but we have based ours on their appearance in the later days.
The final part from Premier Patterns, seen above on the left, is the decorative shroud that fits around the safey valves and partially hides them from view. This time the casting is in Sphericular graphite iron, a stronger version of standard cast iron.
On the right, above, is the machined 'J' pipe. This fits inside the dome, and the regulator (also being machined in house) sits on the top of it. Another step towards the boiler.
Now, onto the loco itself. We have now fitted the connecting rods to the engine and the driving wheels are sitting on the rollers. The reverser is complete and is bolted firmly in the cab and the latter in turn is finally bolted down to the chassis. We are now about to complete the valve setting. A preliminary run through of this has got things close but we need to run over it again as a check before fitting all the covers etc. back on the front end. We have found that we can turn the engine over using a simple ratchet spanner with a short tube on it. Even with everything coupled up one can slowly turn it over one handed. The exception to this is when one comes to the part of the rotation when one is lifting both of the balance weights at the same time - then it makes one blow a little! As soon as valve setting is complete we will fit the coupling rods and remove the rotators.
Below we are turning the driving wheels using the rotators. Working in conjunction with a small chain hoist on the connecting rod we can then "feed" the crankpin into the front half of the big end bearing. The rear half bearing is then pushed into position followed by the glut plate, the wedge and the centre block and its tapered bolt.
The next photo shows the assembled big end on the other side of the engine. The head of the bolt at the left hand end may not actually fit tight to the top of the big end strap as the bolt shank and the hole through both sides of the strap and the centre block are both a continuous matching taper. It will go in a bit further once we have fully driven it in.
It is not easy to get an over-all picture with the limited room available in Atlantic House", but here, on the left, is the centre of the chassis with the connecting rod in place.
Below we see the finally assembled reverser mounted in the cab, with the Vacuum Brake Ejector mounted temporarily above it in order to start piping up both it and the Westinghouse Air Brake valve, that is not yet in position. All this needs to be done at this stage as there is still a lot of piping to go in beneath the cab, and between the frames.
The final photo shows a selection of the handrail knobs, recently completed by Epal Ltd. of Storrington. There are 22 handrail knobs in total with something like 8 variations.
The Atlantic House sales stand, and access to view the project, will be among the attractions available over the weekend of 31 October & 1 November for Giants of Steam.
Our thanks to Fred Bailey for this report and the photos.
When building a new locomotive there are unfortunately times when no large impressive parts arrive on site or are bolted on, but work progresses never-the-less, completing a lot of the smaller "detailing" parts without which the whole cannot function or would look incomplete. We have been through a long spell of this, but the following should hopefully show what is happening.
The chassis is sitting on its wheels with the wheel rotators in position ready for valve setting, but the cab reverser needs to be finally assembled with all of its internal parts fitted, and the whole firmly bolted to the pedestal which just happens to be part of the cab itself. This photo shows the cover that fits over the reverser proper and carries the cut-off indicator, the bottom half of which is riveted and sweated to it ready to receive the indicator scale itself.
LB&SCR locos built at Brighton are liberally supplied with rivets. Our cab is made much in that traditional manner. Any welding is being kept to an absolute minimum to prevent distortion problems and to keep within the brief of it being a reconstruction of the original, especially where it can be seen.
One place where we could not avoid welding was in the making of the two cab look out beadings. Originally this was an "off the shelf" drawn 'T' section - just bend to shape drill and rivet! Not today. This one part has had to be made from 6 separate pieces, as seen in the photo below. Two lengths of 'D' section steel, two lengths of flat to which the D shaped parts were welded plus the two end pieces that take the handrails. The whole lot then ground, filed and emery papered to get a good finish.
Here we have the first trial assembly of the cab sides, upper sides (that join to the roof) and the cab front sheets. New brackets have been made at this stage to take the Gresham and Craven Vacuum brake ejector on the driver's side and the Detroit sight feed lubricator on the Fireman's side. Although being fitted earlier than expected, it is easier to rivet them on now rather than later.
Talking of rivets, our cab roof kit is to be seen below. There are 438 rivets in the cab roof alone! The cab roof itself has feather edge 'D' section beading across the top front and back, plus two strips of 3" x 3/8" flat steel strip going across side to side, then two 'T' sections (now not obtainable from stock, so requiring fabrication) also going from side to side, an angle to fix the roof to the cab front, and to finish another angle running around three sides as a rain gutter. This is why a proper reconstruction takes time, but all this is in full view from the foot-bridges and even from the platforms.
To prepare for the fitting of the cab the three plates making up the cab under-floor have now had various holes cut through them ready to take the various pipes that eventually find there way up into the cab. These include those for the air and vacuum brake plus those for the injectors both steam and delivery. These floor plates have now also been drilled and countersunk where required and finally bolted down to the frames.
A small test rig has been assembled from various parts that we had about us based generally on the Westinghouse Brake and Signal Company test procedures so that the various parts that we will be fitting can be checked accurately for proper function, prior to us fixing them on the engine. All parts were found to function according to specification, so they have now been installed in their final positions.
The "Brighton" never seemed to do things the same as other Companies. Most locomotives have bits of pipe coming from the drain cocks that head forwards and are clipped to the front steps or something similar. On the Atlantics and the J tanks they start by going backwards before curving around between the bogie and the frame stretcher above, then diving down behind the leading bogie axle before pointing out under the coupling. All 6 of them (on the original loco) and 7 the new one. Things will become crowded later in this area once the Westinghouse pump and its various pipes and fittings are installed.
The next two photos show the rear decorative cylinder cover shrouds (for want of a better term). These were spun to form the outside then pressed to match to the gland. These were bought in as basic spun items and then individually hand fitted to the job. Some things are not in our normal "comfort zone" so buying in that expertise although appearing to be expensive is in fact an economical option. The Company that made these for us did a first rate job although the four covers cost a little more today than the complete locomotive with tender did in 1911! The fitting of the rear one next to the frames was "fun" as we had to remove the splasher that covers the rear bogie wheel to get it in. The Atlantics must have been almost as much a fitter's nightmare as an original Bulleid Pacific!
On the left we see the distinctive front cover. When built these had a piston tail rod housing protruding through them and the covers were kept burnished. Some had a patch plate to hide the hole where this was when the tailrods were removed and others had new covers fitted, ours being like the latter ones. In later days these covers were painted, as ours will be. With locos being left outside not in use for periods of time in excess of what would have been normal in years gone by this painting of these covers should help in keeping them from deteriorating too quickly.
The photos below show the basic cab complete with handrails mounted up on the rear foot-plating. As can be seen painting is also now being undertaken at least as far as the application of a couple of undercoats. A few more holes need to go into the sides especially on the fireman's side for his seat so top coating would be a little premature. The Atlantics gave the fireman time to "enjoy" the ride, so he got a seat whereas the drivers only had a shed made rough and ready item that fitted above the reverser.
The front spectacle plates are made removable (the original ones were riveted) to allow easier access for the installation of the boiler. (In due course). Work is also now in hand producing the patterns for the spectacle plate windows.
June 13-14 was our annual "Open House" event, and these photos show what was to be seen by our supporters and subscribers.
The sales stand, and access to view, should (all being well) next be available on Sunday June 28, as part of the Bluebell's Model Railway Weekend
The photo on the right is from Martin Lawrence, and the next two below are from Fred Bailey.
The next photo, above, is another from Fred Bailey. The other, showing both the frames and boiler, is from Martin Lawrence, as is that on the left, where David Jones is seen showing visitors the door giving access to the oilbox beneath the running plate.
Martin's photo below shows the cylinder, with the piston rod attached to the crosshead.
Brian Lacey's photo below shows the last major items to be fitted to the rolling chassis to be the connecting and coupling rods. The unusual eccentric crankpin on the driven wheels allows the throw of the coupling rods to be reduced (thereby reducing balancing needs and hammerblow to the track) whist accommodating the full stroke of the pistons.
Fred Bailey again provides a great report on progress on the Atlantic, illustrated by detailed photos.
It is some time since I have provided you all with an update of progress on the Atlantic, and this is not because nothing has happened, but in order to go forward we have had to go slightly backwards. When building things of a mechanical nature from scratch, part of the procedure is to assemble things that require "fitting". This term is something that is a little less prevalent in these days of mass-production with computer-controlled machines and robots, but is still very much alive in the making of steam engines, just as much now as when they were the norm. Our replicas or whatever you may wish to call them are one-off hand-built units; even though a lot of the parts are made by more modern methods, the actual assembly is very much a skilled, hands-on, operation.
So basically the last few months have been spent in completing a lot of assembly and fitting jobs that have now brought the chassis up to the point of its final assembly, with all the fasteners in place and all the various retention devices (that stop the fasteners working loose with vibration) also in place but not yet finally secured. So on to the pictures.
Right: The bogie appeared to be finished ages ago, but in fact a number of jobs needed completing, amongst which were the fitting of the grease nipple manifolds and grease pipes that lubricate the centre slide - part of the swing link arrangement. The finishing and fitting of the dust shields that prevent dirt and grit entering the bearings from along the axle has now also been completed. Bogies are situated in one of the messiest places on an engine, perhaps with the exception of the ashpan area. We also found one or two items that needed addressing that became obvious on our trial assembly, done previously, and these have been attended to at this stage.
Below: Firstly we see the eccentric straps, all now white-metal lined and machined-fitted to the eccentrics themselves. Very little scraping (note one 'p') was required to get these to fit, such was the accuracy of the machining done in house by one of our team. The fit is such that, with the bolts that hold the two halves together fully tightened, the strap (without the eccentric rod attached) just revolves slowly round on its own if left in an unbalanced position.
Then we have the eccentric rods, finally coupled to the expansion links. All four eccentric rods, and the intermediate valve rods that "dodge" over the leading driving axle, have been draw-filed by hand around all of their edges to take off any imperfections or sharpness that could lead to stress-raisers in the structure of the material. This amounts to over 20 feet of edges per rod! The split taper pins can be seen in the "pivot pins" of the valve gear, just awaiting the final opening of the slit ends. Just for interest, we have found split taper pins difficult or impossible to obtain recently, so we have had the slits wire eroded in the pins. It is only a 0.010" slit, so hacksaw cuts are out of the question. I have for odd individual ones done the job on my milling machine using a 0.010" slitting saw.
The next view below shows the two locomotive Westinghouse brake cylinders now finally assembled with their pistons and seals, then coupled up to the brake shaft. A member of our team has produced a test rig to check the operation of the various component parts of the vacuum/air system, and this will be described in more detail in a later update. Also just visible in the photograph are the leaf springs on the leading driving axle, this being the first time these parts have been assembled. They are "interesting" to fit, (read awkward!) even with the chassis raised as shown. The orange Carver clamps were keeping the rubber shock pads in position until the chassis was lowered on to its wheels.
A further view, similar to the previous one, shows the coil springs fitted to the main driving axle. As the axleboxes are sitting on the horn stays it can be seen that the springs were not in contact with the undersides of them. All that changed once the wheels touched the floor. Further work carried out at this stage was the final installation and fitting up of the control linkages to the 7 drain cocks. Even with the chassis raised up a lot of kneeling and crawling around on the concrete floor has been required and at least two of us are suffering with some knee and leg problems - we are not getting any younger!
Enough of the undersides; what has happened "up top"?
Left: The running plates are now complete as far back as the cab front. This was a difficult job due to the weight of the parts, and on the side nearer our outside wall, with more limited accessibility. In this view can be seen the front steps, produced using polystyrene "disposable" patterns straight from the 3D drawings. The plates are 3/8" thick steel and the valences 5"x3"x1/2" angle. We had to fabricate the curved portions of this, as section roller companies of today were unable to do the radii we required in the size of material we were using - no problem seemingly for the "Brighton" in 1910! Most holes were laser cut in the plates, but all had to be drilled through 21/32" diameter (not Black & Decker sizes) and then countersunk. This was especially tricky even with a magnetic based drill when going around the curved parts. The countersunk bolts were ordered specially for the project and then in order to make the engine more maintenance-friendly (and yet keeping the appearance of rivets) each bolt has had its head re-machined.
Below: Just behind the cylinders on both sides of the engine there is a "hidden" door that allows access to a 3-feed oilbox underneath. All that is visible is the tops of the hinges and a hole for one's finger to lift the lid. A nice touch not often seen in photos, but on the original drawings.
The next photograph shows the first of the leading splashers assembled with temporary bolts and now ready for riveting. On the floor are the tops of the trailing splashers before we put them through our bending rolls to form the shaped top and reverse-rolled front end. Even after rolling to shape there is a lot of tricky work entailed in getting the fit just right, sometimes requiring the use of heat and mallets. "Bodywork" for steam engines is a bit heavier than that for cars.
Below that is a later view, showing the rear splashers assembled with temporary bolts.
Finally we see a view looking forward on 2 April, which shows the chassis down on its wheels with the splasher fronts in position, as was required to get the angles that join the splasher fronts to the running plates drilled and countersunk ready for the bolts. Prior to fitting the splashers, once all riveted together, we have to drill for the prominent oil boxes that are located on the splasher tops and also for the nameplates. Getting to these fixings once the splashers are fitted to the running plates will be almost impossible.
On our Open Days, on 13 & 14 June, those of you that are able to visit will be able to see this progress for yourselves. As usual our sales stand will be open and members of the team will be available to answer questions or explain any items of interest.
A fund raising appeal for the money required to complete the project was launched in 2000, and a combination of gifts made via the Bluebell Railway Trust, and standing orders set up to provide a steady income to the project have provided funding for the present work. However, more is still needed to complete the project, and the best way in which you can help is by setting up a small, regular, standing order to the Bluebell Railway Trust under Gift Aid, since this enables the Trust to reclaim the basic rate tax you have paid, and (if you are a higher rate tax-payer) enables you to reclaim some tax as well.
Would you like to sponsor a specific part of the locomotive? The latest component list is available, from which you can choose a wide variety of important parts of the locomotive. You may prefer to use the combined Sponsorship and GiftAid form available as a pdf.
A combined Donation, GiftAid and Standing Order form is available as a pdf document.
For further details contact David Jones.