A brief encounter… “TORPEDO” returns to active service… and then withdrawn again.
The Short Version
After 18 months out of service with steam turret problems, PHR’s Hunslet steam locomotive “Torpedo” ran successful trials fitted with a new steam turret on Thursday 25th June.
The detailed Report
Progress Report No. 51 dated 13/03/2019 advised that PHR’s steam locomotive “Torpedo” was being withdrawn from service owing to continuing problems with its steam turret. When “Torpedo” was being lit up on Thursday 21st February last year for the first time since its boiler inspection on Wednesday 24th October 2018, wisps of steam had been observed by Rhys, our trainee boiler attendant, as coming from another hairline crack in the turret. Thus, as this initial repair of the steam turret had not been successful, the decision was made that a replacement would be necessary.
Our steam fitter Matt prepared plans for the new turret and commenced its manufacture. This was not completed before Matt had to relocate to Bathurst for further employment. After an extended period, the new turret was completed; however it was then found on a trial fitting that owing to welding carried out during construction, the nuts required to attach it to the top of the firebox could not be done up tightly. Thin sleeves had to be made so that the nuts could be located clear of the welds.
Unfortunately, Matt then suffered a knee injury which incapacitated him and required an operation. Following considerable rest and recuperation, he was able to make the lengthy journey back to Pete’s Hobby Railway on Monday 22nd June last.
With the aid of Ben and Josh, “Torpedo” was prepared to receive the new turret. After cleaning of the various steam outlets to the injectors, etc., the plumbing was reattached and made good. The safety valves were reinstated.
At this stage, we found another problem! To allow removal of the original steam turret, the steam pressure gauge had been disconnected and placed somewhere for safekeeping. Despite diligent searching by all concerned, it has not been located. Certainly, it has not been stolen, it has been carefully secreted somewhere, but where, we have not been able to discover! Urgent arrangements were made for another to be temporarily borrowed, which enabled steam to be slowly raised during the afternoon of Wednesday 24/06.
Some minor problems arose which could not be attended to with the engine in steam, so the fire was dropped and pressure allowed to slowly dissipate, thus reducing any possible stresses on the new turret. However, it performed perfectly!
The next day, following adjustments, steam was again raised and shortly after midday, “Torpedo” was able to move under her own power for the first time since 10th October 2018 – just on eighteen months ago!
First moves were made gingerly as light engine, but no problems were found, so the trials were extended down to Loftus platform, culminating in a load trial. This comprised three carriages together with the Ruston diesel on the rear. Adverse weather conditions causing greasy track caused adhesion problems, resulting in the Ruston having to give a couple of “nudges” to help “Torpedo” out of the slippery area!
Matt and I were more than satisfied with the trial, particularly as “Torpedo” had received minimal attention over the period out-of-service.
On the assumption that the original pressure gauge is located or a replacement obtained, the next planned steaming for “Torpedo” is into the Pit Road of the new locomotive and storage shed. Here, PHR’s volunteers will be called upon to give “Torpedo” a much-needed degrease and thorough cleaning. Despite the loco only being steamed a couple of times since its previous boiler inspection, the time is rapidly approaching again. Depending on the requirements of the Boiler Inspector, this could involve partial dismantling.
That’s all for this special Report. Other updates are in the pipeline.