Author Archive: Charlie O'Mahoney

August Update

The retube of Velinheli’s boiler has been completed and the boiler has been hydraulically tested to 180PSI (1.5 times her working pressure of 120PSI) for our boiler inspector.

Covertcoat is currently being prepared for her annual boiler inspection. This involves removing the ashpan, firebars, fusible plug and washout plugs so that our boiler inspector is able to thoroughly examine the boiler. To make the inspection a little easier Covertcoat has been parked over the pit in our yard – if you have ever wondered if we use the track that runs through our museum, the video below will show you!

Lilian has been running fairly well following her minor problems towards the beginning of the season. She should be hauling the passenger trains for the rest of the week whilst Covertcoat is out of action for her boiler test.

The diesel railcar has been fitted with its initial engine cooling system. Once the railcar’s alternator has been wired up to the motor bogie and control gear, the completed chassis will make some test runs before the bodywork is constructed.

IMG_4294 IMG_4299 IMG_4303 velinboilertest

For Sale: Bagnall steam locomotive ‘Sybil’

James Evans, who is currently undertaking the ten yearly boiler overhaul on his Hunslet locomotive ‘Velinheli’, has decided to offer his second locomotive ‘Sybil’ for sale. This was built by W G Bagnall Ltd. of Stafford in 1906 for the Dinorwic Slate Quarry Co., where it worked till the early 1960’s., and was bought from the quarry in 1965 by James and his father Armstrong.

The locomotive is unusual in that it had a launch type boiler, and is fitted with Bagnall and Price’s patent valve gear. She has 7″ by 12″ cylinders, and weighs about 7 tons. She was always cabless and had a very short chimney, though the latter has been replaced by a taller cast chimney of Bagnall design (original included).

Since 1965 ‘Sybil’ ran on the Inny Valley Railway which James built round his father’s fields, and has subsequently been completely dismantled, regauged to 597mm. and had a considerable amount of mechanical work undertaken. Also the saddle tank has been comprehensively repaired and galvanized, and a new balance pipe made.

A prospective purchaser would need to build a new boiler, either to the original drawings which are available, or to a more traditional but welded design produced by James and approved by RSA (and not requiring modification of the frames). Other drawings and some patterns are included.

James will only consider selling ‘Sybil’ if it would produce sufficient funds to launch his follow-on to the LYD Project, which is to build a totally new ‘state of the art’ Modified Fairlie suitable for the reborn Welsh Highland Railway: a single ended 0-6-4-0T. to weigh 37.5 tons in working order. Further details of this new locomotive can be found here.

A minimum £50K ‘contribution’ towards the £750K required for the new project would be required to purchase Sybil. (All suggestions regarding the other £700K gratefully received!)

Sybil has now been sold to a Trust based at the West Lancashire Light Railway

sybil1 sybil2

Dorothea’s Day Out

Dorothea spent today ‘top and tailing’ trains as part of her running-in process. In total Dorothea was used on four of the passenger trains with Lilian.

Dorothea still requires a little more work to complete her – namely completion of her air brake equipment and lining out of her paintwork. It is currently expected that she will next be steamed when she is finished, which we hope will be a little later this year.

IMG_4218 IMG_4220 IMG_4233 IMG_4253 IMG_4259

July News from the Workshops

Recent work has focused on continuing to finish Dorothea for her entry into passenger service this summer. A new two-cylinder compressor has been fitted under her footplate – though Dorothea could have been fitted with an air pump similar to that mounted next to Lilian’s smokebox, it was felt this would spoil her ‘original’ looks. As can be seen from the photograph though, it is a tight fit getting the compressor under the footplate floor!

Dorothea’s compressor, click for larger view
Lilian has also had some remidial work undertaken to her safety valves with some new parts manufactured and fitted. Some of the original parts which still remain, such as the safety valve arms, were tested for cracks with penetrative dye in order to satisfy our boiler inspector that they were still safe for use. Happily no problems were encountered and Lilian’s boiler has been passed for another year of use.

Following a longer than expected wait, Velinheli’s new boiler tubes will be arriving shortly and will be fitted. Hopefully she will return to steam before the end of this season.

The majority of the machinery used in our workshops is over sixty years old, but although old is maintained in good working order and all regularly used, although perhaps used a little less often than when they were supplied new to industry six or more decades ago! The video below shows one of our notable machines, a 1940s Hendey lathe, in action boring some wheels for local company Southern Miniature Railways.

July News from the Workshops

dcompressor

Recent work has focused on continuing to finish Dorothea for her entry into passenger service this summer. A new two-cylinder compressor has been fitted under her footplate – though Dorothea could have been fitted with an air pump similar to that mounted next to Lilian’s smokebox, it was felt this would spoil her ‘original’ looks. As can be seen from the photograph though, it is a tight fit getting the compressor under the footplate floor!

Lilian has also had some remidial work undertaken to her safety valves with some new parts manufactured and fitted. Some of the original parts which still remain, such as the safety valve arms, were tested for cracks with penetrative dye in order to satisfy our boiler inspector that they were still safe for use. Happily no problems were encountered and Lilian’s boiler has been passed for another year of use.

Following a longer than expected wait, Velinheli’s new boiler tubes will be arriving shortly and will be fitted. Hopefully she will return to steam before the end of this season.

The majority of the machinery used in our workshops is over sixty years old, but although old is maintained in good working order and all regularly used, although perhaps used a little less often than when they were supplied new to industry six or more decades ago! The video below shows one of our notable machines, a 1940s Hendey lathe, in action boring some wheels for local company Southern Miniature Railways.


‘Fairratt’ – a new modern steam locomotive project

James Evans, owner of our resident steam locomotive ‘Velinheli’ and founder/design coordinator of the LYD Project, has recently announced, in an article published in the Welsh Highland Railway Society’s magazine, a proposal to construct an exciting new narrow gauge steam locomotive. Unlike LYD which as a ‘replica’ had to be kept within the original leading dimensions and detailed appearance, the objective of the new project is to create a locomotive specifically for anticipated future requirements of the rebuilt Welsh Highland Railway, with particular focus on fuel efficiency, clean combustion, high reliability and low maintenance costs.

Whilst the NGG16 Garratts currently in use on the WHR are more than adequate for current operations, and indeed the Welsh Highland revival would not have taken place without their availability, they are themselves museum pieces and expensive to rebuild, operate and maintain. A ‘built for purpose’ design would incorporate the best modern materials and technology, so that maximum performance could be achieved from a relatively small and simple locomotive, which would consequently be financially viable to build, and run in service. This would still be a substantial machine: an 0-6-4-0T. weighing 37.5 tons in working order.

The key concept is to combine all the best and very different features of the WHR Garratts and the Fairlie locomotives of the sister Ffestiniog Railway, involving the removal of all ‘dead weight’ (carrying axles and separate boiler cradle), with all wheels driven and transmitting maximum tractive effort. The main features from each design are as follows:

Main features from the Fairlie design:

  1. All wheels driving (no dead weight)
  2. Simple bogie articulation (coach-like ride)
  3. Boiler/tank assembly forms mainframe (weight saving)
  4. Clear sight lines for crew (safety)
  5. Good bore/stroke ratio (efficiency)
  6. Separate regulators (slipping control)

Main Features from the Garratt design:

  1. Single ended, short, large diameter boiler (free steaming, cheaper to make/maintain)
  2. Walk through cab (crew comfort and safety)
  3. Outside frames to power bogies (stability, reduced axle box stresses)
  4. Outside valve gear and springs (serviceability)
  5. Piston valves (reduced friction)
  6. Reasonable superheat (fuel and water saving, without increased maintenance)
  7. Compensated suspension (reduced track damage).

The external appearance of the ‘Fairratt’ would be traditional and to the highest standards of finish.

Although the project is not currently backed by the WHR, which is currently focused on fundraising to finish the railway’s infrastructure and provide more passenger carriages, James has been very pleased to receive considerable encouragement and advice from several leading steam locomotive engineers, who agree that steam’s unique features combined with modern design should ensure that it has an exciting future.

Inside Velinheli’s boiler

Work has continued recently on Velinheli’s boiler, which had been stripped down for it’s ten yearly inspection by our boiler inspector. Happily the boiler inspector has passed Velinheli’s boiler barrel for another ten years of service. New boiler tubes have been ordered and will be delivered and fitted in the next few weeks, following which the boiler will be hydraulically tested. With no tubes currently fitted in the boiler, the opportunity was taken to photograph the inside of the barrel – a rarely seen view of the Quarry Hunslet locomotives we use.

June 2012 News

The trackwork on the café curve has been completed in time for our summer season with a new concrete surface where the original tarmac surface had been removed to raise the curve. The curve itself was raised 3½” in one place!

The driveshaft which connects the engine to the alternator on the railcar has been subject to some modification recently to overcome the effects of torsional oscillation. The engine cradle has been modified, and a new larger flywheel for the engine is currently being machined.

Both Lilian and Covertcoat have been used in the first week of our summer season. Although Covertcoat has run with no problems, Lilian has had two minor mechanical problems. The first was the discovery of a crack in one of her wrought iron coupling rods. When the rod was inspected with penetrative dye, it was found that, although invisible to the naked eye, a previous crack had been repaired poorly at Penrhyn Quarry by inserting rivets into the coupling rod. Both the ‘new’ crack and the old Penrhyn crack have been repaired. The second problem encountered was a hot running axlebox; however following some attention to the lubrication system the axlebox should run cool and Lilian will be back in service next week.