As with all locomotives, we have to have our boiler inspected every year, for our insurance company, and for the independent body that certifies the safety of our operations. It is convenient for us to do this at this time of year, as it coincides with the maintenance period of Belmond, our major customer. We also take advantage of this period to carry out other maintenance tasks.
We opened up the boiler between Christmas and the New Year, and gave it a thorough washout with high pressure water. The safety valves and gauge frames were dismantled for cleaning and inspection, and the six fusible plugs were taken out for replacement. The boiler inspector came earlier on this week, and gave it a thorough looking over. He looked inside using an endoscope through all the washout plugholes and other openings, and tapped every stay with a hammer to check for any breaks. He announced that he was very happy with all that he found, and will write his report for the independent body and the insurance company. We can start "boxing up" the boiler again now.
As part of our other maintenance, we have decided to inspect the motion bushes on the driver's side of the engine. We looked at the fireman's side a few months ago. This involves taking down the connecting rod and the coupling rods - a job that is made much easier by having access to a forklift truck - Thank You Belmond! Having inspected the four bushes, it was felt that all four would need the white metal replacing, for various reasons. To do this, we had to press the bushes out of the rods, using a hydraulic jack. There is then quite a process of melting out the white metal, and casting the replacement. We will then roughly machine them, followed by fine machining to make them fit, using blue marker to show the high spots.
During this period, we are also having our tender tank lined by Specialist Coatings (GB) Limited. As the say on their own website, www.specialist-coatings.co.uk, this is designed to give the tank another thirty plus years of life, and is expected to take approximately four weeks to complete. The tank is the same one that came with the engine when we bought it fron BR in 1967, so it has quite a bit of historical significance for us. Because of this, we would much prefer to keep the current tank than replace it.
We expect everything to be complete and ready for us to take up our duties again in early March. We will publish our diary when we have confirmed the provisional dates.