Despite their size, and the fact that they are made of durable materials, Steam locomotives are delicate machines and frequently develop trifling defects. Unlike humans, animals and plants though, they don’t heal up, once a machine develops a fault it will either stay faulty or get worse. So when a minor fault is noted at an inspection it needs to be remedied fairly quickly. Some faults have to be dealt with as soon as they are spotted, but sometimes the fault is minor enough that it can be left until the next scheduled maintenance day.
When the locomotive is at Loughborough, “scheduled maintenance” can actually take place on an ad hoc basis; when a suitably skilled volunteer is available and the locomotive is out of traffic, or not yet off shed, the volunteer can be briefed, the tools assembled and the job done. But when the locomotive is away from Loughborough we have to make a special trip. The weekend of the 28th & 29th of March was one such trip, when Tom, Hugh, Alison, Mark and Peter went to Southall to work on a list of minor jobs on 70013, and to clean the firebox, ashpan and smokebox ready for next week’s trips. None of the maintenance jobs was particularly major; a matter of tightening a nut or two, replace a piece of mesh, re-sealing a joint, then tick the job off on the list and begin on the next task.
While they were at Southall, the team noticed that the boiler was fairly well covered with muck off the roof of Penge Tunnel from the last trip (see ‘Echoing off the Walls’), plus a liberal dose of pigeon droppings. Pigeon droppings are horrible, they are corrosive, if left on paintwork for any length of time they tend to pickle the surface of the paint, in extreme cases they can take the paint off completely, so when the team spotted a liberal spattering on the boiler they made time to give the Brit a quick wash down, getting the tunnel debris off at the same time. Not only does this deal with the potential damage to the paintwork, but it also gives the team that will be prepping for Thursday’s trip a head start.
Meanwhile back at Loughborough things are moving apace; the fridge, cooker and workbench are now in the coach, one end of the east side has blossomed into green undercoat, a welder has been eyeing up the job of replacing the rusted patches, and new timber for the step-boards has arrived and is being shaped.
Lamiel isn’t forgotten either, the injector change-over flap repair is underway, and Tone-the-Clean, Geoff and Michael spent Sunday ‘bulling up’ various bits of bright work and motion ready for her return to traffic. They haven’t cleaned the dust off boiler though, because even one day in the shed tends to deposit enough dust to rival the annual average of a normal house. Although it looks dirty, the boiler is actually fairly clean, it’s just that she’s been stood in the shed for a while so it is liberally covered with dust but at least it’s not pigeon droppings!