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Bluebell Railway Atlantic Group
Latest progress

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Atlantic House - Open Weekend
7-8 July 2018

The annual Bluebell Atlantic Open Weekend gives the opportunity for supporters and visitors to see the latest progress with the construction of 'Beachy Head'. Atlantic House at Sheffield Park will be open from 10 am to 5pm both days.
There will be a small auction of Railwayana, Pictures , Models etc on Sunday afternoon at 2.45pm . Viewing will be from Saturday morning. Commission Bids can be left if you can't attend on Sunday afternoon.
Items include:

  • A BR Firing Shovel.
  • A S.M.J. 'Beware of Trains' cast iron Notice.
  • An original Matthew Cousins Painting
  • Hornby and Bachmann Locomotives
  • ...and other items.
There will be a progress report and presentation before the Auction at 2.30

May 2018

As work on the boiler continues, fabrication of its clothing is the main preoccupation of this report from Fred Bailey.

As no doubt you have seen in previous updates, we are reasonably comfortable with the machining of components, and the fabrication of heavy lumps of metal, but when it comes to the thinner sheet metal required for the details related to the boiler clothing sheets, then we are into a specialist area.

I have spent quite some time trying to find a company to make such items as the decorative mud hole door surrounds, the mouldings that fit to the boiler clothing but cover in the front corners of the firebox, plus that which encircles the backhead. Also we need a proper outer dome cover and some other parts that will not be seen (very unfortunately), these being the pockets that are inside the boiler clothing where the latter is cut away to clear the tops of the driving wheel splashers. Also we needed that company to have the capacity and capability to do this work at a sensible price. This work is far from being mass produced body panels and involves a mix of pressing onto simple tooling followed by skilled handwork for final forming and finishing.

The company now doing this work for us were very keen to put this through their apprentice school as it provided an ideal opportunity to learn the hand crafts on components with a function and use, not just an exercise. Just this last week two of the apprentices involved in this work together with their Training School Manager and Welding Supervisor visited us in Atlantic House and delivered the first components. To say I was impressed is an understatement!

Plastic tooling for mudhole door surrounds - S. Burdett, The Premier Group - 16 May 2018 The company to whom I refer is The Premier Group in Coventry. A number of the photographs that follow were taken by Mr. S. Burdett of that company and I will acknowledge his photographs accordingly. Note to other locomotive projects: please do not inundate them with work until ours is finished!

I am going to start with a few pictures showing part of the manufacturing process.

Right: The first stage is to make male and female plastic tooling and then form the dished portion with a rubber press. (S. Burdett, The Premier Group)

Below: After this the dish is clamped to the tool on an angle plate for the marking out of the shaped holes that pierce the component to allow the bridge on the mudhole door on the boiler to protrude. These doors have to be able to be removed without taking this surround off of the clothing sheet. From this point all of the work is down to manual dexterity. (S. Burdett, The Premier Group)
Next are the two finished articles, one seen from the inside, the other the outside. (Fred B.)

Marking out mudhole door surrounds - S. Burdett, The Premier Group - 16 May 2018 Completed mudhole door surrounds - Fred Bailey - 24 May 2018

Below is one of the pockets to take the splashers, after pressing using the male and female tooling, but now mounted on the male tool and robustly clamped down with a solid backing piece to prevent distortion ready for the corner radius to be hand chased.

Next we have that corner being hand chased by one of the apprentices. (Both: S. Burdett, The Premier Group)

Pressed splasher pocket - S. Burdett, The Premier Group - 16 May 2018 Hand chasing splasher pocket - S. Burdett, The Premier Group - 16 May 2018

Now, looking into the pocket itself on the finished article. We will be drilling the fixing holes in this part once we have the clothing sheets properly located. But that is some way off as yet!

They are very difficult to photograph, but as these pockets fit to the boiler clothing, the whole item is curved, the pocket as well as the flange around it, to let it match both the boiler itself as well as the clothing sheet, although not touching the boiler itself. (Both: Fred B.)

New splasher pocket - Fred Bailey - 23 May 2018 New splasher pocket - Fred Bailey - 24 May 2018

Forming firebox mouldings on English wheel - S. Burdett, The Premier Group - 16 May 2018 Here we have the start of one of the firebox mouldings, being formed on the English wheel. This is a real black art and I think something that can only be learned by practice, practice, practice. By pushing and pulling the sheet metal between the two rollers, one above and one below the sheet and with some pressure between them the metal is slowly stretched on one side more than the other so making it deform into a curved shape. The art then comes in knowing in which direction one rolls the sheet to increase or decrease the curvature in the direction required. The whole shape is then matched to sheet metal templates. I may well detail this more in a later update. (Right and below: S. Burdett, The Premier Group)

The second photo below shows our visitors from The Premier Group. Left to right: John Watkins, the Training School Manager (also seen on the English Wheel), Lewis Prewett, Sheet Metal Apprentice, Gary Horton, Welding Supervisor, and Toby Casey, Sheet Metal Apprentice. (Fred B.)

Firebox mouldings from English wheel - S. Burdett, The Premier Group - 16 May 2018 Visitors from The Premier Group - Fred Bailey - 23 May 2018

Moving on to my more normal topics, the boiler is now fully riveted and we have done some preliminary low pressure air tests to look for obvious leakage.

We designed and had built a mini hydraulic squeeze riveter specifically to put in the rivets around the fire-hole door. There is insufficient room to manouvre a pneumatic rivet gun so this was our answer. Although I did some simple FEA on the 3D model of this item, with a 25 ton ram applying the squeeze onto a very hot rivet I wanted to make sure it was up to the job, so did some tests to check on the deflections especially at full load. Fortunately they were very similar to the results from the model.

Below is the riveter in position having just put in another rivet. Keith was adjusting the riveter's position inside the boiler and once all set I was heating the rivet, putting it in the hole for Keith to grab and hold with another pair of tongs whilst I got the underside snap in the riveter onto the rivet head. Once there he could dispose of his tongs and guide the upper snap onto the rivet. I meanwhile had my head next to the riveter frame and my foot on the valve operating the ram. All done as quick as possible. I hope you will forgive me for not getting an "action" photo! This also explains my deflection test!

Compact squeeze riveter - Fred Bailey - 15 April 2018 Riveting around firehole door - Fred Bailey - 2 May 2018

Below we see all of the rivets in position. In addition to the heads one can see the plates were heavily countersunk on both sides (as made by the LNER).

Finally for this update, Keith looking for leaks with a flare - we have progressed from having our hats blown off, as you can see. Our old compressor has worked overtime at this, but about 10 psi or so can tell one a lot, and now we are using soapy water so that the bubbles show up the lesser leaks. The superheater flues are as yet only expanded and not belled or beaded. We will do this after the hydraulic test. No doubt on a full hydraulic we will find more leaks, but this method is a lot drier and certainly finds the worst of the problems early on.

New rivets around firehole door - Fred Bailey - 2 May 2018 Checking for leaks with flare - Fred Bailey - 10 May 2018
We have also made up temporary low height "track" ready to wheel the tender chassis and the boiler outside, but due to our position in the yard and the other projects taking place around us we are likely to meet with some delay in moving the tender chassis and boiler. There are always jobs we can work on however and they all move the project forward.

March 2018

Fred Bailey supplies an update, with photos illustrating the current state of this project.

First of all I must apologise yet again for the big gap in our updates, but the boiler work is not that photogenic and involves a lot of hard work (for us older folk) with a good deal of grunting and a pot or two of perspiration. However we have not all pushed off to pastures green but have been beavering away on the boiler, plus a few other bits and pieces.

Firebox throatplate - Fred Bailey - 22 February 2018 The overall result is that we are getting quite close to its hydraulic test. That will take place out of doors later on in the year as we have no wish to flood our workshop, which has no pits or drainage. It does not matter how tight the boiler is, everything near will get wet. I hope this little update will be of interest to those of you following and hopefully supporting this project.

The photo on the right is of the throatplate, now finally riveted to the foundation ring, and with new stays fitted where required in the welded-in patch plate. Also in view are the rather awkward curved mud hole doors with their bridges. All new of course to fit the patch plates.

The first below shows the right hand side of the firebox. The studs that hold the blowdown valve still need to be fitted, and of course so will the valve itself. This is finished and in stock.

All the small tubes and the superheater flues have received 2 coats of a graphite-rich coating prior to fitting as mentioned in my last update, but it is quite a time consuming (and not to mention messy) job, but hopefully it will be worth it in due course. A quick calculation shows that we have covered roughly 1/10th of an acre with graphite paint!

Right hand side of the firebox - Fred Bailey - 4 March 2018 Painting flues and tubes - Fred Bailey - 22 October 2017

Small tubes in place - Fred Bailey - 15 November 2017

The picture on the left was taken through one of the superheater flue holes, looking towards the firebox, and shows all of the small tubes in place with the exception of those that are in amongst the flue tubes. As the top of our tender chassis which sits in front of the boiler is higher than most of the small tube holes, each one had to be inserted higher up than needed, then threaded through a lower hole at the firebox end, prior to shuffling to and fro before arriving in its final place.

The flues weighing in the order of 1.5 cwt (76 kg) needed to be handled semi-mechanically, and below is the last one about to be put in to the boiler - a red letter day for us, but only the start of another process - expanding! One might be able to make out a tool filling up one of the tube holes and this is an expanding toothed collet that grips the inside of the tube and allows one to turn the tube to screw it into the thread in the copper at the firebox end.

Last flue tube - Fred Bailey - 3 January 2018 Last flue tube - Fred Bailey - 3 January 2018

Cut-price gym membership, expanding a flue - Fred Bailey - 25 January 2018

On the right, a volunteer member of the "Old mans' gang" that makes up our build team getting value for money out of his membership of the gymnasium that is The Bluebell Railway - about £20 per year for Senior Citizens at the 5 year rate. Just think what proper gym membership must cost - all that exercise to get aching muscles for no result! Here we have another flue expanded, so a few aches, but with a positive worthwhile result!

I will not go through the rest of the tubing in detail, but suffice to say, below is the front tubeplate with all the flues and tubes expanded. Unfortunately further very skilled processes need to be applied to the tube ends, especially in the firebox, but these will be carried out after a pressure test. If done beforehand and a leak is found on test it makes a further expansion of the offending tube almost impossible.

The next view below shows the backhead with most of the blanking plates and the regulator rod and its gland installed ready for testing. Unfortunately we are still waiting for the special frame for our new small hydraulic riveter to be made by one of our local sub-contractors. As usual, you find a company that produces good work, who then become known and busier and then their deliveries start to slip. The space available around the door ring (which needs riveting) is rather too limited to use two pneumatic riveting guns, a squeezer is more compact, not to say quieter.

Concurrently with all the boiler work, one of our regular volunteers has completely stripped and rebuilt a four-feed Detroit sight-feed lubricator. This has needed a lot of new parts, some made by him, some purchased and others made by our volunteer turner. This is the advantage of having a small but good team who all work together. On this fact a lot depends. It is hard enough tackling these projects without having "people" problems. They are the most destructive of all. The main thing is although a serious project it must also be fun!

All tubes and flues expanded - Fred Bailey - 11 March 2018 Backhead - Fred Bailey - 25 February 2018 Detriot sight-feed lubricator - Fred Bailey - 11 March 2018

Front footplating hiding Westinghouse pump - Fred Bailey - 11 March 2018

This is all one can see of the Westinghouse pump and its new governor, now the front footplating is in place and the pump covers installed!

Another job we could not put off any longer was drilling and tapping new holes for the front boiler support and for the centre grate support and also the drilling and burning out of old original studs that held the rear side expansion brackets and the ashpan. All of this work entailed working upside down under the boiler's foundation ring. (We do not have facilities in Atlantic House to turn boilers over). In the first photo below one can see the pilot holes that have been drilled with our small magnetic based drill.

These holes needed to be opened out to a size larger than the capacity of the smaller drill, so we used our air drill, as seen in the middle photo below. With limited room between the floor and the foundation ring some drills had to be considerably cut back and reground, but tools such as these have to be expendable up to a point - pun not intended! Even after all of this the remains of the studs needed further attention from the oxy-acetylene to get the last remnants out.

My last picture shows the safety valves bolted down on to the boiler. (They are shown with the gagging links fitted to allow for a hydraulic test to a pressure beyond its working steam pressure). These links are replaced with the final safety links after the hydraulic test. Also in view is one of the upper inspection doors with its cover / clamp plate. These door cover plates are about flush with the clothing sheets so are not too conspicuous. Only boilers for the C1's built after about 1936 had these doors. Prior to that and in common with the Brighton engines the boilers had plugs in these positions. The later doors are tricky to fit, but provide excellent access for inspecting the firebox crown and all of the crown stays etc.

Drilling holes under firebox - 29 June 2017 Drilling holes under firebox - Fred Bailey - 10 January 2018 Safety valves in place - Fred Bailey - 11 March 2018

October 2017

Fred Bailey supplies another update, with photos showing recent progress on this project.
The component sponsorship list has also been updated.

Smokebox door and surround on the smokebox saddle - Fred Bailey - 17 September 2017 On the right we have a view of the chassis with the smokebox door and its surround sitting on the smokebox saddle. Its true position is about a foot nearer the front of the engine, so that the Westinghouse pump will actually be under the smokebox. Hardly ideal for maintenance purposes but to fit it to the smokebox side would severely limit forward visibility and might also foul the loading gauge, and space between the frames is (and was) taken up with loads of other equipment. Hence the position selected by the LB&SCR for the pumps on the H classes of Atlantic.

As stated earlier the boiler has been our priority and the first row of rivets around the foundation ring have been removed and are now re-riveted by our two boiler smiths from the main workshop assisted by a couple of us from the Atlantic crew. Work on boilers is a job that is not only hard physically, but demands a great deal of thought, planning and (although not realised by the majority) precision. The folks that do this work day in and day out are the only reason you can see preserved steam ANYWHERE today! So be thankful there are such people prepared to do this work and we ought to go out of our way to ensure we keep their services.

The photograph below, although a little blurred (there is not time to pose for cameras), shows a rivet about to be put in its hole prior to being double gunned down. This means two hand held rivet guns being used, one on each end of the rivet. The remaining rivets in the upper row have now been removed although a good few were in no mood to come out without a fight, but never the less we are now ready to finish the foundation ring riveting once we can obtain the assistance of our (younger and fitter) boiler smiths once they can find a gap in their more important work in the main loco workshops which obviously must take priority.

The second photo below shows the 'J' pipe, on top of which sits the regulator, and the main steam pipe going out through the front tube-plate. We have conducted a pressure test on the joint between the 'J' pipe and the steam pipe and it seems to be satisfactory, so the studs to take the superheater header have now been installed, so filling up the holes that can be seen around the steam-pipe.

Riveting the foundation ring - Fred Bailey - 31 August 2017 J-pipe - Fred Bailey - 2 August 2017

Dead-weight pressure gauge tester - Fred Bailey - 14 October 2017

On the left is a picture of the start of the check calibration on one of the movements within the Westinghouse Duplex pressure gauge. This is being carried out on a dead-weight pressure gauge tester that works via a "sack" containing water that is pressurised by the oil used in the tester itself. This then ensures that the oil in the test machine does not come into contact with the gauge internals. The outer needle is not fitted whilst checking the inner one as shown.

A little while ago we produced some 3D CAD models of the various cast parts that go towards the making of a Westinghouse air pump governor. The patterns and castings were then made and machined. These together with all of the many other parts have now been produced by others with the result we now have in stock a brand new Westinghouse pump governor, seen in the first photo below. The machining and assembly, not to mention the "tinkering" required, have produced an excellent item that we are told works like a dream as it has been tested in service on an engine.

At long last we have now made a start with the painting and installing of the boiler tubes, as seen below. Each tube gets two coats of Apexior prior to installing it into the boiler. This is quite a slow job - the painting and drying of the tubes a few at a time taking a lot longer than their fitting. The superheater flues will be slower still as there are handling problems due to their weight to be considered. Putting them in their holes is the easy part as they all then have to be expanded and beaded. "Fun" to come!

Westinghouse air pump governor - Fred Bailey - 12 October 2017 First tubes installed in boiler - Fred Bailey - 22 October 2017

May 2017

Fred Bailey supplied this update in early May, so apologies for the time taken to get it online.

Top of tender cleared - Fred Bailey - 4 May 2017 It has been some time since we have provided an update on the Atlantic, because the progress that is being made is generally not very showy, but does provide the basis for the next major stages. Obviously the boiler is our priority but various small items have added up to a further delay.

The replacement plates with new openings for mud hole doors are now fully welded into position, the welds have passed their stringent examination satisfactorily and new copper stays to replace those removed with the old plate are now in position and await final heading.

We are now ready to start riveting the foundation ring, but due to our team's more senior age profiles we are awaiting a time when one or two of the younger, fitter, skilled boiler team members from the main works can assist us. Unfortunately they are very busy working on boilers that are needed to provide the motive power to service the core business of the railway. We hope to get underway in June with this work.

The first photo shows a sight not seen for a long time. We have cleared all of our material stocks off of the top of the tender chassis and put the larger components on one side to allow us to start preparations for tubing the boiler. We intend using a special coating on these tubes to give them a good start in life within our boiler. There is quite a lot of work here as all 134 small tubes and 32 large tubes, all 16 feet long, need to be thoroughly de-greased and then given two coats of the preservative "paint". The first few tubes can be seen laying on the tender floor. We were initially intending to raise the boiler to tube it, but we have found that this will not now be necessary.

The photos below are an earlier view of the two steam pipes in the base of the smoke box saddle (round flanges) leading into the valve chests and in the centre the exhaust exit flange, and a later view showing the blanking plates to help protect the top of the valve chests from ash etc. and the upper blast-pipe now in position - although it will be removed when adding the boiler and smoke box to the chassis.

Steam pipes in the base of the smoke box saddle - Fred Bailey - 6 July 2016 Blanking plates and blast pipe - Fred Bailey - 15 March 2017
More piping and an air reservoir in the cab - Fred Bailey - 12 March 2017 Spectacle plates fitted - Fred Bailey - 2 March 2017

At the rear of the engine (as seen on the left) more pipes are getting installed along with another air reservoir that provides the air to power the reverser.

Also in the cab (right) we have been fitting the spectacle plate window frames and (not shown) the catches that keep them closed.

Below is the valve, mounted on the cab side above the reverser, that operates both the clutch to lock the weigh shaft and applies air to the reverser to assist in reversing the engine. No air assist is required to put the engine in forward gear.

The double Ramsbottom safety valves, below, are now virtually complete. These will be pressure tested shortly to prove the body integrity and then will be re-assembled and approximately set for the blowing off pressure. Once that is done, washers are made to go between the counter-bore in the body and the underside of the adjuster to ensure that no further adjustments can be made that would increase the set pressure.
Reverser air valve - Fred Bailey - 2 May 2017 Double Ramsbottom safety valves - Fred Bailey - 16 April 2017
For some time the chassis has looked complete, and in essence it was, however it is not complete until all the fixings are tightened and retained. This operation is best left to be done as one operation moving methodically from part to part. Steam locomotives try from the first moment they move to reduce themselves to their component parts by whatever means possible and this is where the very smallest of components become the most important.

It is difficult to show the amount of work involved in doing this work but this next picture below shows an easily accessible example outside the frames. This is the big end cotter and taper bolt with its nuts behind it. Note the cotter has pinch bolts in the side, plus a cotter fitted tight to the underside of the rod, which in turn is split pinned. The taper bolt has a nut and locknut again with a fitted cotter and split pin. This sort of thing can be found throughout the chassis especially between the frames where it can't be easily seen.

Work has started on fitting up the smokebox door and its surround. The hinges were rescued off of the smokebox that came attached to the boiler all those years ago. With some slight modifications they seem to fit very well to our new smokebox door. The hinges would be difficult and expensive to manufacture today, being forgings with twists and bends to make them fit the door.

Lock-nuts, cotters and split pins - Fred Bailey - 19 March 2017 Fitting the hinges to Atlantic smokebox door - Fred Bailey - 7 May 2017

January 2017

Fred Bailey supplies this intermediate update to finish off 2016 and make a start on 2017. In addition David Jones has just provided an updated component sponsorship list, since we're pleased to say that quite a few items have found sponsors in the last few weeks.

Welded patch around mud-hole door - Fred Bailey - 28 December 2016 As we start the New Year work is now well under way on the welding of the patches required to replace the areas around the old mud hole doors that had corroded in the years when it was out of use. Once this is completed and inspected then we will be involved in riveting the bottom row of foundation ring rivets, prior to removing and replacing the row above. This is a normal procedure at the time of a ten year boiler overhaul, as these rivets tend to suffer from the damp ashes and heat.

To go with this boiler work we have now made the mud doors (photo below) which are fitted (i.e. adjusted to fit accurately) into the new sections of plate, plus the large inspection doors that are on either side of the firebox above the level of the inner firebox crown sheet. These latter not yet photographed.

Also not photographed is the J-pipe which supports the regulator and connects the main steam pipe to the front tube plate, which is now bolted up finally in its position in the dome.

In the second photo below are the 32 off, 16 foot long, 51/4" outside diameter flue tubes as they were delivered. The ends near to the roller shutter door are reduced in diameter and are threaded to screw into the firebox tubeplate. These threaded ends were welded to the main flues by a sub-contract coded welder. These have had their threads protected and been covered with a tarpaulin similar to the small tubes that are seen under their tarpaulin behind.

Mudhole door fittings - Fred Bailey - 18 December 2016 Flue Tubes - Fred Bailey - 7 December 2016
The top side of the cab roof is seen below, with the back removable section now in place, but without all the bolts securing it just yet.

The inside of the cab roof is seen next, with all the snap heads of the rivets on show; there are about 438 of them.

To conclude, Fred would like to ask if anyone out there has a source of plain mild steel round head and countersunk screws 3/8" Whitworth by 1" and 11/4" long at a sensible price? We need about 200 of each type and most sources seem to be profiteering!

Top of cab roof - Fred Bailey - 22 December 2016 Underside of cab roof - Fred Bailey - 28 December 2016

November 2016

Fred Bailey sent through the update below a few weeks ago; apologies for the delay in publishing it.

Scaffolding around the cab - Fred Bailey - 6 November 2016 We are getting to the point where we need to work at height, so have now invested in new industry standard tower scaffolding in order to be safe in so doing. Here is a small selection assembled to allow us access to the top of the cab front to mark off the holes onto the angle iron that gets riveted to the cab roof and bolted to the spectacle plates. In due course more of this will be erected to down both sides of the cab as well as across the cab front in preparation for fitting the cab roof to the cab sides.

While up in the roof it allows a nice shot (below) of the chassis to be taken. Apologies for the lack of gloss on the splashers - dust!

The cab roof is in two parts. The middle photo is the small rear part that was made removable to allow access for the chains from the breakdown cranes or those in the main works to get at the drag beam. The cab roof projects some way past the drag beam.

How we love the "Brighton" cab roof. There are 315, 3/8" rivets in this piece alone. The chain hoist and strops allow us to angle the roof to get the rivets square to the plate.

View over chassis - Fred Bailey - 6 November 2016 Rear section of the cab roof - Fred Bailey - 23 October 2016 Cab roof assembly - Fred Bailey - 2 November 2016
Next below is an underside view with a rivet sitting in the snap ready to flatten down with the rivet gun. All of these rivets were gunned in cold, together with a photo of one of our team in the act of making a lot of noise!
Rivet gunning the cab roof - Fred Bailey - 2 November 2016 Rivet gunning the cab roof - Fred Bailey - 2 November 2016
Below we have the larger part of the cab roof in position, ready to adjust to the sides and drill through for the fixings. There is a shorter section to add to the rear later on.

The final photo, with holes now spotted through and a few bolts fitted temporarily to hold things in place prior to fitting the right hand side in a similar fashion.

Cab roof temporarily in place - Fred Bailey - 16 November 2016 Cab roof temporarily in place - Fred Bailey - 16 November 2016
Other news in brief: We now have a sub-contract coded welder working on the patches in the boiler at long last. The air reservoir that powers the cab reverser is being welded by the same company. The handrail knobs shown in the last update are now properly fitted with their taper pins to the stand-offs on the boiler. Not as easy a job as one would think. It is best done in situ using a dummy length of handrail tubing to get the orientation of them correct and in line.

August 2016

We are pleased to be able to present this, another of our regular updates, from Fred Bailey.

Stand-offs and handrail knobs fitted to boiler - Fred Bailey - 7 August 2016 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.

Steam valves - Fred Bailey - 21 August 2016 Smokebox rings - Fred Bailey - 7 August 2016
Inside the dome - Fred Bailey - 10 August 2016 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!)

Fitting the inner dome cover - Fred Bailey - 10 August 2016 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.

Injector clack and steam valve bodies - Fred Bailey - 7 August 2016 Small tubes delivered - Fred Bailey - 10 August 2016

June 2016

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.

Machined safety-valve casting - Fred Bailey - 9 June 2016 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.

Main regulator body and valves - Fred Bailey - 9 June 2016 Underside of the inner dome cover - Fred Bailey - 9 June 2016
The lower blast-pipe - Fred Bailey - 9 June 2016 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.

Splashers, oil pots and nameplate - Fred Bailey - 9 June 2016 Rolling chassis - Fred Bailey - 9 June 2016

Marking out table ready for moving - Fred Bailey - 2 March 2016

March 2016

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.

View of boiler with floor in front painted - Fred Bailey - 9 March 2016 Chassis with rods up - Fred Bailey - 3 March 2016

Superheater Header received - Fred Bailey - 9 March 2016 Underside of Superheater Header - Fred Bailey - 9 March 2016

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.

Trial fit of superheater header - Fred Bailey - 10 March 2016 Safety valve levers - Fred Bailey - 5 March 2016

Casting for the double Ramsbottom Safety Valves - Fred Bailey - 21 Jan 2016

January 2016

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.

Casting for the double Ramsbottom Safety Valves - Fred Bailey - 21 Jan 2016 Casting for backhead valves - Fred Bailey - 21 Jan 2016 Casting for backhead valves - Fred Bailey - 21 Jan 2016

Casting for safety valve shroud - Fred Bailey - 21 Jan 2016 Machined J-pipe - Fred Bailey - 14 Jan 2016

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.

Fitting connecting rod using wheel rotators - Fred Bailey - 13 Dec 2015 Assembled big end - Fred Bailey - 10 - Fred Bailey - 13 Dec 2015
Chassis with connecting rod - Fred Bailey - 17 Dec 2015

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.

Cab with completed reverser, and Vacuum Brake Ejector - Fred Bailey - 24 Jan 2016 Selection of the handrail knobs - Fred Bailey - 14 Jan 2016


Older news updates

  • Background and early progress
  • September 2001: Repairs to tender chassis.
  • More photos of the project.
  • March 2002: Modification of front end of tender.
  • November 2004: Loco Frames ordered.
  • December 2004: Bogie frame components arrive - also Feb.2005 news report.
  • 2005 - Loco main frames arrive - tender frames nearly completed - start of construction of the shed.
  • 2006 - Loco driving wheel castings delivered - drilling of the main frames and hornguides - building of the shed completed.
  • 2007 - Main locomotive frames erected.
  • 2008 - Components for the cylinders and valve chest delivered - frames riveted - forged billets for connecting and coupling rods delivered.
  • 2009 - First motion parts water-jet cut from forged blanks - bogie frames assembled.
  • 2010 - Cylinders and valve chests fabricated, air brake cylinders completed, bogie and trailing wheelsets completed.
  • 2011 - Coupling rods and axleboxes delivered, reverser mechanism completed, crossheads cast.
  • 2012 - Valve and cylinder liners fitted - lifting and reversing arms and axlebox crowns delivered - castings for mudhole doors, regulator and whistle valves, reversing shaft clutch, blast-pipe cap, crosshead slippers, 'J' pipe and eight eccentric halves received - Bogie and trailing axle now support the frames - Valve chest and cylinders fitted to frames, covers fitted, and pressure tested.
  • 2013 - Cylinders, valves, slidebars and crossheads completed - driving wheels completed - valve gear components delivered - lifting frames constructed.
  • 2014 - Weigh (reversing) shaft and air-clutch fitted, axleboxes metalled, machined and fitted, wheel rotators constructed, eccentric rods, valve and reversing gear, pipework for brakes and steam heat completed, locomotive wheeled, cylinders clad and crossheads fitted.
  • 2015 - Rolling Chassis completed with all motion erected. Running plates and splashers completed, along with cab sides and front.

Project Funding

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.

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