News and Views from the
TYNESIDE SOCIETY of MODEL and EXPERIMENTAL ENGINEERS
Winter seems to have descended on us with a vengeance. After a mild early Autumn which kept things going at the Club, the arrival of cold, wind, rain and snow has certainly slowed things down.
The upside is that, unlike this time last year, the Clubhouse remained open for those who still wanted to attend. Unfortunately, just as Covid paranoia was beginning to subside, along comes the Omigodwereallgonnadie variant to throw everything into turmoil again..
Annual subscriptions are due at the end of December. Fees are being held again at £35 for Single and £45 for Family Membership. Cheques should be made payable to TSMEE Ltd, posted to Ian Spencer at 39 Briardene Crescent, Kenton Park, Newcastle upon Tyne NE34RX.
If you prefer to pay by Bank Transfer, the full details are “The Tyneside Society of Model And Experimental Engineers Ltd” , Sort Code 40 37 37 , A/c No. 41383817.
In spite of the new variant’s bad press, it is felt that the Clubhouse is no more a hazardous environment than previously and, providing caution and good hygiene are still maintained, it will remain open for those who don‟t mind being cold.
Mask-wearing is a quite acceptable added precaution given the present uncertainties about the new strain.
Storm Arwen did its worst pretty much everywhere, but TSMEE got off quite lightly with only minor damage. A tree in the far corner was brought down, its roots lifting two panels of the fence and falling across both ground- and raised tracks. Fortunately, no damage was sustained by either. The usual stalwarts pitched in on the Sunday morning with handsaws to start the clearing up.
The boundary fence was also damaged over a considerable length from the Car Park corner to the Tin Hut – numerous posts have broken at ground level and the whole thing is now leaning inwards against the hedge and the hut.
More progress has been made with the groundworks for the Garden Railway extension. On 12th November a Grab Lorry arrived to take away all the rubble
and soil that had accumulated. Some soil was retained for remediation purposes. Working blind from the Town Moor side of the hedge, the grab made some deep gouges into the ground. These were re-filled with soil from the spare heap and the levelling of the strip along the hedge.
The shuttering to form the concrete slab was also set out carefully, with much checking of dimensions and levels.
Finally, on November 24th, a delivery of dolomite was dumped into the hole, raked level and tamped. Over this, a membrane has been laid and the rebar, trimmed to fit, put on top. Now awaiting a spell of fine weather to get the slab poured.
An Alternative to Coal?
With coal in the U.K. now being threatened, there has been some discussion about alternatives, with Ecoal 50 being mentioned in the model magazines. So, just how suitable is this for our locomotives ?
It looks like a trial is required. A 10 kilo bag of the stuff was purchased from Wickes for 7 quid. The first thing to raise its head is the size of the brickettes, similar in size to a bread bun. No way will that fit in any of our little locos ! Some 3 hours was spent with a hammer breaking 5 kilos down to about grape sized bits. It gets tedious after 2 kilos, but by 5 kilos you have lost the will to live and run out of steam anyway.
The first loco chosen for this trial was my Merchant Navy class, BrockleBank Line, (Ariel by Keith Wilson). Its character and moods are well known so any differences with the new “coal” will be easily spotted.
Initial steam raising is by the usual method with charcoal soaked in barbecue lighter fluid and a layer of this new stuff on top. It took a little longer than usual for the Ecoal to catch and the grey cloud of fumes from the electric blower outlet was distinctly unpleasant to breathe. As the Ecoal caught, the cloud dissipated and the rate of steam raising notably picked up with the safety valves soon lifting.
On to the track. This loco is a bit fussy about how it is fired and with what. The grate is 7 inch by 7 inch ( 49 sq. inches ) and needs to be filled to about 1 inch with the corners filled.
With a good coal it will run steadily with sometimes a stop to raise steam, fire or fill with water, but usually just keeps going. Poor coal is another matter.
Performance on Ecoal was a revelation !! It just kept going with little or no drop in pressure. With Ecoal and water going in as required while on the move, it would probably keep going until supplies ran out. This was always a good loco to drive – now it is fantastic. The fire is certainly hotter and you do use somewhat more Ecoal than ordinary coal.
Coming into the station would often result in the safeties blowing as the regulator was shut so forget the blower for now, leave the fire hole door open and if possible on with an injector until things quietened down and the safeties shut. With the blower off a curious greenish smog would sometimes waft out of the funnel.
The second locomotive to try was a Speedy. This has a smaller grate area, 5.75 inch by 2.5 inch ( 14.4 sq. inches ) and is not at all fussy about firing.
Again the fire was hotter with plenty of steam and it was possible to run while firing or feeding water, in fact it was necessary to stop the safety blowing ! Because of the small grate size you are kept very busy with the coal shovel for a lot of the time, the Ecoal disappears fast on a small grate. Again shutting the regulator on stopping at the station will probably blow the safety.
The good points:- Steam production is defiantly increased, both locos had a marked increase in steam available. The Ecoal bag says it is 38% hotter and the fires certainly looked brighter. After the run was over very little slag was found on the grate, and the grate itself did not looked affected by the hotter fire. In the smoke box there was less ash and it was of a much finer texture. Blowing it clear left a cloud hanging in the air.
The down side:- To use Ecoal 50 you have break it up to a size suitable for your loco. It took 3 hours to produce 5 kilos with a hammer, and all that was used on track in again 3 hours for the larger loco, Speedy used less. In firing the loco you do use a greater quantity of fuel, and with Speedy‟s small grate you are definitely kept busy with the coal shovel. If the Club is going to use Ecoal, it will have to have an easy-to-use „Nut Cracker‟ to produce the size of coal needed.
It looks as though grate size may be important, with a large size making for an easier life. It was possible to fill the Merchant Navy grate up and then give some attention to looking after the water level and high steam pressure. Speedy was much busier with its smaller grate. Little and often was the order of the day, with less time for water, pressure and look out.
This may make use in 3 ½” gauge locos difficult as it could mean continuous firing. The 7 ¼” gauge people may love it, particularly if the Ecoal fits without crushing.
So we have a new hot coal that gives copious steam at high pressure. What more could we possibly want ? Well, a little less steam would be nice – the safeties are constantly trying to blow, the firing rate is high and you do need reliable injectors.
A possible solution is to reduce the drafting in the smoke box. This could be tested before machining the blast nozzle by cracking open the smoke box door a little to let air in and reducing the draft. If this works, the fire would have less heat, less steam produced, and less firing required. But going back to ordinary coal would not be straight-forward. And we still have the Ecoal brickette size and its crushing to attend to.
An interesting experiment. I wonder where we go from here ?
A Canadian (Covid) Excursion
Having taken a punt once we got past Freedom Day and bought tickets to Los Angeles for the Riverside and Maricopa Fall Meets in late October, Mr Biden obviously forgot that I had purchased the tickets and wouldn‟t let us Brits into the US unless we spent 14 days outside the UK first.
I obviously had the choice to cancel the tickets, but after two years sitting at home I was loath to do that. So, after a bit of last-minute head scratching, I decided to spend a fortnight in Canada before entering the US. This was not ideal given the time of year as winter was fast approaching. BA flight destinations in Canada are not what they used to be, so Vancouver was the best point of entry.
I have a friend living close to Calgary I wanted to visit so I thought that might be an option. Although that meant driving through the Rockies on the trans-Canada highway with winter in the offing.
As it turned out, apart from some light snow on the very highest passes, the drive was uneventful. After a leisurely four days I arrived in Red Deer, mid-way between Calgary and Edmonton.
I had met Ernie Beskowiney at the 2006 Train Mountain Triennial meet in Oregon where he was displaying a CP Mikado he was manufacturing and selling at the time. We met every three years after that at the Train Mountain Triennials. Ernie had told me he was building his own railroad and I offered to give him a week‟s work while I waited for the fourteen days to pass.
Ernie has christened his railroad “Train Acres”. He started in 2015 and the railroad comprises about 9000 ft of main line and 4000 ft of passing loops, sidings and steaming bays, all in 7.5” gauge. He has basically built the whole thing himself. He surveyed and laid out the track bed. Excavated, compacted, ballasted and built all the track. Built a 200 ft tunnel and the embankments for a steel bridge which he also constructed. Interestingly the abutments to the bridge and the columns inside the tunnel were all recycled timbers from a full size wooden trestle bridge that had been removed locally.
Most if not all of the main line is laid, and Ernie is concentrating on junctions, passing loops and sidings. So our first day was spent laying track in what is now known as Nolan Junction.
Ernie‟s method of track construction is using flats on edge with the chairs welded to the track on one rail. This rail is set down on the sleepers then the chairs are secured to the sleeper with two screws. This first rail of 20ft length has the chairs welded up on a jig, then the route is laid out on the bed seen here as the green spray marks. All radii on the track are 100ft, no pre bending is necessary as there is enough flex in the flats to achieve this radius.
Yours truly then came along using a track jig to place the chairs for the opposite side rail, screwing them into the sleepers. Ernie then follows up with a welder and again using a track jig welds the second rails to the pre positioned chairs.
Fish plates are fitted to join the rails with the bolts and lock nuts with the prerequisite slack on one side to allow for expansion. All switches (points) on the track are made on a jig and to date Ernie has made sixty. They are all manually operated but electrical operation is a future add-on.
To start with the weather was favourable and we worked on the track, but quite rapidly it got colder with a biting wind. So Ernie decided to work inside for the remaining days I was there. This involved cutting, treating and stacking sleepers. We managed to use all the wood Ernie had and added a further 2000 ft of sleepers to his inventory.
In between the work I also managed to get a look round Ernie‟s workshop, or more accurately small factory. While he no longer builds commercially now, he has still managed while building the railroad to make two diesels for passenger hauling and the best part of six riding cars for passengers.
Ernie has a very well equipped workshop with a CNC mill and lathe. 90% of everything you see was made by him. He has made press tooling for louvers and walkway diamond plate and he fabricates all the cab work. Bogies and castings for the diesels and steam locomotives as not only is he an accomplished machinist he is also a very good fabricator and CAD designer.
Ernie has been running his propane-fired 6060 locomotive for a number of years, and in the background is a second locomotive still under construction. While I was with Ernie I picked his brains on LPG firing as he has designed and built a number of burner units so is well placed to recommend what works.
So that completed my week at Train Acres. After passing my fit-to-fly Covid test in Calgary, I drove back to Vancouver. From there I flew down to Phoenix, going from minus temperatures to plus thirty. But more of that in a future issue.
An LNER V2 In 5 Inch Gauge
I have always had a particular soft spot for the Gresley V2, or Green Arrow as they were known by railwaymen. From my very earliest recollections until they disappeared in the mid 1960‟s, I saw them virtually every day. At night, I could hear them struggling up the long climb from Heaton to Forest Hall with heavy freights.
Many of them were in pretty ropey condition, with off- beat valve timing and steam leaks from every gland. And yet they were still masters of their work.
When I first joined TSMEE in 1961, we had a member called Jackie Dent who was a Gateshead driver. He used to say “Give me a good Green Arrow, and I can work any train on the line”. More recently, Andy Robson, another Gateshead driver, endorsed Jackie‟s opinion. So I suppose that it was inevitable that I would get round to building one.
Then there was the question of which loco to model, and at what time in its life. For a number of reasons, the choice fell on 60843 in its 1960 condition.
RESEARCH INTO THE PROTOTYPE
The first locomotive entered service in June 1936. 60843 was built at Darlington and entered service in December 1938 as No.4814. Research has shown that over the course of their lives, a number of modifications were made to members of the class as follows :-
Front footsteps The first batch of 5 locos entered service without the front footsteps. These were fitted very soon afterwards, and subsequent locos appear to have been built with the front steps.
Valve Guides The first five locos had the earlier type of valve spindle guide, which had previously been used on A3‟s. All subsequent locos had a modified guide arrangement, which was also later used on B1‟s and some A4‟s.
Pony Truck When built, the pony truck was of the swing link type. Following a derailment, it was thought that the swing link pony truck may have been a contributory factor. It was therefore decided to replace the swing links with conventional side springs. At the time of this modification, the dust guard above the pony wheels was removed. All locos were modified.
Oil Boxes During the 1940‟s, two oil boxes were fitted on the running board in front of the smoke-box, with one facing forwards and one facing backwards ! I have been unable to find any explanation for this quirk.
Cylinders As built, the 3 cylinders were a single monobloc casting. From 1957, any loco which needed replacement cylinders was fitted with 3 separate castings. Locos which were rebuilt with 3 separate castings could be readily identified by the external live steam pipes from the smoke-box to the outside cylinders. About 70 locos received this modification. 60843 was modified in May 1958.
Smokeboxes As built, the smokeboxes had countersunk rivets. When replacement became necessary from the early 1950‟s onwards, the new smokeboxes had snap head rivets.
Speedometers From the late 1950‟s, some locos were fitted with Smith speedometers. 60843 was never so fitted.
Automatic Warning System (AWS) AWS was fitted to all the class between 1958 and 1960. Locos fitted with AWS can be recognised by the plate on the front buffer beam. This prevented the screw coupling striking the AWS magnet, which was located under the buffer beam. There is a further quirk which I have never understood. In common with all the LNER Pacifics, V2‟s have gravity sanding on the leading axle and steam sanding on the driving axle. If anybody can explain the logic behind this, please tell me.
TENDERS The V2‟s were fitted with 3 variations of the LNER 4,200 gallon group standard tender :-
1. The earliest version easily recognised by the flared sides. Many of these were transferred from older locos (e.g. D49‟s) to new V2‟s.
2. A development of (1) above recognisable by its flush sides and the start of the coal space being set further back. This is the tender fitted to Green Arrow in preservation.
3. A further development Flush sided, as in Type 2 above, but with the coal space starting almost at the front. This was the most common type on V2‟s. It was also used on the first 10 B1‟s, and a few J39‟s. None has survived.
The Type 3 tenders had two modifications during their lives. During the war, the original single louvred door into the coal space was replaced with two solid doors. In the 1950‟s, the rear dividing late for the coal space was moved forward by about 2ft, to improve the self trimming of the coal. Because this was a late modification, the two gusset plates behind the plate were welded, not riveted.
Note The later B1‟s and K1‟s had yet another version of this tender, with a welded tank and incorporating a tunnel for the fire irons.
When built, 60843 had a Type (1) tender, but this had been exchanged for a Type (3) tender by 1955. The loco then retained a Type (3) tender for the rest of its life.
The tender on the model is the Type (3) as running with the loco in 1960. It was built using works drawings and incorporates the two modifications described above.
60843 was the very last V2 to be repainted from lined black to Brunswick Green, at its 1958 General Repair. In B.R. days, it was possible to identify where a V2 had last been painted, as Darlington applied lining to the boiler band on the firebox, whereas Doncaster did not. Being a North Eastern Region loco, 60843 was painted at Darlington.
The model represents as accurately as possible the condition of 60843 in 1960, when allocated to 52D Tweedmouth. This particular loco was selected for a number of reasons:~
1) It had the later type of tender
2) It had been rebuilt with 3 separate cylinders
3) I used to see it very regularly
4) I had two good runs behind it.
There are two published designs for the V2 in 5” Gauge. Examination of the drawings quickly showed that neither had the level of detail or accuracy required. The decision was therefore taken to base the model on works drawings, coupled with information obtained from frequent visits to the National Railway Museum to study Green Arrow. I record my thanks to Andrew Coulls and other NRM staff for allowing me to crawl over and under Green Arrow.
The frames were cut from 1/8” mild steel on my Senior Milling Machine. Scale frame stretchers were fabricated. The driving axle and Cartazzi axle hornblocks are castings produced for Don Young‟s “Doncaster” as they are an accurate representation of the prototype. The sandboxes were measured on the preserved loco and fabricated to scale size.
The driving axles were turned from high tensile steel on my Myford Super 7, and run in phosphor bronze axleboxes. I had previously used this combination of materials on my B1, and have had many years of service with minimal wear. The crank axle was made to published press-fit tolerances and assembled on a hydraulic press. No adhesives were used. A small allowance was made for finish turning after assembly, though this actually proved unnecessary.
The loco wheels are commercial castings, and were machined on a Harrison L5. Crankpins are from high tensile steel, and are a press fit into the wheel castings, using an interference fit of 0.0005” per 1” of diameter. The squares on the ends of the driving axle crankpins for the return
cranks were machined on the milling machine after pressing into the wheels but prior to assembly of the axle, to give the required angle of advance (27 deg).
The cylinders are 3 separate castings, correctly positioned in line. They are cast iron, and were machined on my Harrison L5 lathe. The valve chest liners were machined from centrifugally spun iron and the valves are stainless steel. Cast iron rings are fitted to the pistons and valves.
The boiler is Don Young‟s A3, but with a shortened barrel to suit a V2. This was chosen because it is known to steam well, and has a near scale backhead. Using a published design also removed the need to undertake and submit design calculations to the Society Boiler Inspectors.
After consideration, I decided not to incorporate a combustion chamber because of the inaccessibility of some of the joints. To compensate, the firetubes are a slightly larger diameter than “Doncaster”, based on the formula published by K.N. Harris. Performance of the boiler during running in has proved very satisfactory. I record my thanks to Stu Davidson, who assisted me with its assembly. The boiler is fed by two injectors. I have not fitted a hand pump or axle pump.
The valve gear is my own design, based on a study of other similar valve gears which I know to work well (Martin Evans‟ Enterprise and Don Young‟s Doncaster). The lead is 0.020”, the full gear cut off is 70%, and the full gear port opening is 0.140”. There is 0.010” exhaust clearance. As a first approximation, certain dimensions were scaled from full size (expansion link radius, combination lever overall length, drop arm length, anchor link length), then critical dimensions (combination lever proportions, return crank length, eccentric rod length), were calculated using the publication “Walschaerts Valve Gear for Model Engineers” by Don Ashton. Backset was derived from scale drawing to 2x full size. Finally, the whole design was checked using the Dockstader computer programme. Results from the two methods were virtually identical. The design has been proven very satisfactory in use. The loco maintains 6 even beats when notched up to almost mid gear.
To avoid the problem of oil from a single lubricator splitting unevenly amongst the 3 cylinders, I considered it essential to have 3 completely separate lubricators. I originally intended to fit 3 hydrostatic type lubricators, but decided against this as the sight glasses would have detracted form the appearance of the footplate. The loco is therefore lubricated by 3 separate mechanical lubricators concealed below the front of the smokebox. The drive is from a split eccentric sheave fitted retrospectively to the leading coupled axle.
I used my own arrangement of exhaust manifold, fitted on top of the steam chests and concealed in the smoke-box saddle. This was designed and fabricated to achieve a number of objectives:~ Minimise the effect of exhausts working against each other Give adequate cross sectional areas Give smooth passages avoiding sharp bends.
The tender is of conventional model engineering construction. It incorporates the correct double frame, and has a brass tank with soft soldered joints.
Construction took a total of 10 years. Many will point out (with full justification) that I could have built two less complex and less detailed locos in the same time. Was it all worth the effort? A definite yes.
When you‟re in the workshop using a lathe, have you ever wondered when and where this amazingly useful machine first appeared ? Spring-pole lathes for turning wood have been around for millennia and across continents, but those for working metals are only a few centuries old. The early ones were light-weight affairs made for the clock, instrument and jewellery businesses but were incapable of doing anything seriously large. The credit for designing and building the first truly “industrial” lathe belongs to one Jacques de Vaucanson, born in 1709 in Grenoble.
de Vaucanson is described as an “inventor and artist” and in his early career produced automata, then much in vogue with high society. Perhaps his most celebrated automaton was “The Digesting Duck” which quacked, flapped its wings, ate food and pooped. Heady stuff for the time.
In 1741 he was appointed as Inspector of the manufacture of silk in France. It was in this role that he invented the first truly industrial-scale metal-cutting slide-rest lathe to produce more accurately profiled copper rollers for crushing silk fabric. All subsequent machines can be traced back to his design.
His machine has survived and is housed in the Conservatoire des Arts et Métiers in Paris. It requires occasional conservation treatment as the lubricant he employed was mildly acidic, being a thick mucus obtained by crushing snails in a small wine press. Well, he was French.
Many thanks, as always, to this month‟s contributors who have, I hope you agree, furnished a damn good read for you all to enjoy.
That‟s it then. Another year gone, but with Covid still with us. Nonetheless, it was a better year than the previous with plenty going on at the Club in spite of everything. Perhaps 2022 will be even better still.
All that remains is to wish you all a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Oh – nearly forgot. Assuming that you‟ve read every word, you maybe spotted that a bit of nonsense had crept in. First to report it gets an honourable mention in the next issue.
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Headquarters and Multi-gauge Track – Exhibition Park, Newcastle upon Tyne NE2 4PZ
It’s not all gloom …
I take a lot of photographs – too many probably – but very few make it to press
If I have a favourite from this year, it must be this one, taken in late September
Young Eleanor has a go at driving my Roundhouse “Harlech Castle”
Start „em young, eh ?