Outstanding tasks

Even though K1 had been passed for solo passenger running on the 5th September 2006, and had worked trains at the Superpower weekend on the 9th & 10th September, there were still quite a few jobs outstanding, not least the troublesome axle box that had been giving niggling problems for some time. Following an assessment of those jobs by the K1 group in mid-October 2006, the following summarised the tasks in hand at that time on K1:

  • The axle box found to be running warm at the end of Superpower is due to a water leak from the front tank getting into the left hand side of the front trailing axle. Hence the tank is off the engine but will be going back very soon. Where the base of the tank rises to clear the main engine frame there is an internal reinforcing plate. Water has found its way behind this and rotted the plate from the inside. The vibration of use served to make this worse. This difficult to spot problem escaped during the earlier work on the front tank. To prevent leakage around the fixings rather than having nuts and bolts, studs will be welded to the tank.
  • The rear tank will receive similar treatment in the future, most likely during the conversion to coal because either the cab or the tank will have to be removed to release the oil tank.
  • The sanders are not yet effective, meaning that the hind engine tends to slip. The steam nozzles need enlarging; these had to be remade without the benefit of a drawing, and can be opened out easily.
  • The pressure in the intermediate pipe between the two engine units is lower than expected, causing the hind engine to do more work and the front less. There are two suggestions as to why: (i) a fault with the simpling valve below the blast pipe (which permits simple not compound operation while starting); (ii) and/or the exact setting of the valve events. According to the drawings these are not symmetrical. Once steam is raised the operation of the simpling valve can be tested.
  • The injectors remain a cause for concern. Hard work has been done on them, and both are working, and some of the difficulty of operation is now understood. The long run of pipe from the overflow means that the effect of any adjustment takes too long to be seen, making fine trimming difficult. The noise in the cab on an oil-fired engine makes the injectors impossible to hear; this may change with the proposal to revert to coal. The restoration has for the most part sought not to alter the external appearance of the engine, but for ease of operation it may be wise to accommodate modern injectors though the pipe work will be very difficult. Inquiries are in hand about an arrangement in the cab whereby the overflow may be seen. In addition the opinion of those who make and refurbish injectors will be sought.
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K1 south of Glanrafon, 11th November 2006
Photo: Ben Fisher

The first item on the list was the leaking water tank and that was repaired in time for a weekend charter on November 11-12th 2006 which saw K1 having sole use of the Waunfawr - Rhyd Ddu section as well as venturing out for a distance along the new length of line towards Beddgelert. This making K1 the first Garratt to run to the summit of the line and beyond, to the bottom of Pont Cae'r Gors cutting. K1 ran with some B wagons and the SAR van as can be seen on the right. Like Palmerston at Superpower two months before, K1 was watered at Rhyd Ddu via the incoming water supply which was not yet connected up to the south water tower.

All axleboxes ran cool throughout the charter weekend, and were regularly checked with an infra-red digital thermometer. The previously troublesome fireman's injector was now completely reliable. The loco had been fitted with sanders from a Class 08 diesel shunter which were working extremely well, and were considered far better in operation than than the gravity sanders on the NGG16s at that time - the NGG16s having since also been fitted with steam sanders. The loco was pulling well, and using its compounding effectively, with use of the simpling valve unnecessary with the wagon load, even starting in reverse on the 1 in 40 in Pont Cae'r Gors cutting. There was however room for improvement in how well the engine steamed.

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K1 at Pont Cae'r Gors, 12th November 2006
Photo: Martin Creese
Taking Water at Rhyd Ddu, 12th November 2006
Photo: Ben Fisher

Tourist Railways of Tasmania Plaque

At the same time as the photo charter was taking place in Wales, a little ceremony was taking place at the Don River Railways workshops in Launceston, Tasmania on November 12th 2006. A plaque commemorating the engineering and historical significance of K1 which would eventually be fitted to the loco was shown to Charles Smith, his wife Aileen and other members of the Tasmanian Association of Tourist Railways by Chris Martin, their President. Charles Smith was the instigator of the repatriation of K1 when, as a young railway engineer, he found the loco at Zeehan in 1945. More details on this are in the K1 in Tasmania page. He rose to become the Chief Engineer of Tasmanian Government Railways, retiring in the 1980s. His love of steam meant that many Tasmanian steam locomotives were saved from the cutter's torch for Heritage Railways in that State. So the TATR are grateful to him for that and the rescue of K1.

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The ceremony at Launceston, Tasmania, 12th November 2006, left, and the plaque, right
Photos: TATR/Andy Rutter collection

Seen above are: Chris Martin (President of the Tasmanian Association of Tourist Railways - Redwater Creek Steam and Heritage Society Inc representative); Charles Smith (Retired Chief Engineer, Tasmanian Government Railways), and his wife Aileen; Michael DeBomford (Secretary of the Tasmanian Association of Tourist Railways - Mount Lyell Abt Railway Society); Tony Coen (Derwent Valley Railway); Peter Martin (Treasurer of the Tasmanian Association of Tourist Railways); John Binns (Launceston Tramway Museum Society); Bill Housego (Don River Railway); Meg Thornton (Ida Bay Railway); and Graham Hawes (Wee Georgie Wood Railway).

Tackling the Small Jobs

The K1 Group's December 9-10th 2006 working party worked on numerous small jobs. The cone in the vacuum ejector was changed for a smaller diameter, and there was further investigation into the problems with the injectors. A number of rattles in the cab were tackled, together with other minor cosmetic work. The axlebox oil pads received attention and an original metal baseplate was rewound with lubricating wool strands to form a new pad. This was to be inserted into a keep with a pressure spring, and tested in service to see if it is more reliable than the existing oil pads. Quite a lot of attention was given to improving the general oiling and greasing of the least accessible parts of K1. With the loco over the pit, most of the grease nipples under the loco were changed for hook-on types as used on other locos on the railway to make the use of grease guns a swifter operation. The operation and adjustment of the reach rod (the reversing rod between front and hind engines) was investigated. With the reverser in mid gear the valve gears of the engine units are not quite in the central position as determined from the links. As there is no adjustment for the hind engine, the reverser was positioned to place the hind engine in the correct position, and the reach rod required a reduction of a full turn of the yoke at the front end to bring the front engine to the correct position. It was out by a sixteenth of an inch or so. The position of the die block in one link at each end was then measured for each of the cut off positions provided. This was part of the ongoing checks to fine tune the valve event timings, the adjustments being quite small and critical.

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Ian & Charles McKenzie, Robin Rees Jones and Martin Page with K1 and the plaque, 1st July 2007.
Photo: (Nobby) M.Clark

The plaque from Tasmania (see above, and having then arrived from Launceston) was put in place during the working party, and is seen fitted to the loco on the pictures on the right.

Conversion to coal firing

Once it was allowed to haul passenger trains on its own, and in view of it due to enter revenue earning service, K1 was immediately identified as a candidate for early conversion back to coal firing. This was as part of the programme prompted by the dramatic rises in the cost of fuel oil, and which had started with the FR's Taliesin and Earl of Merioneth. As the loco was originally coal fired, and although the restoration had been done with oil firing as its aim, it had always been considered that a return to coal would be needed at some point and so the exercise would be relatively straightforward.

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Firebox modifications in hand,
January 2007 Photo: (Nobby) M. Clark

The plan of work involved lifting the oil bunker out of the coal space, which gave the opportunity to lift the rear water tank complete, to replace the fixing bolts with studs in a similar fashion to the modification on the front tank. The oil firing panplate and burner to be replaced with a grate, and side ash pans like the originals made and fitted; the long receiver pipe between the engine units precluded a bottom emptying system. The firehole door to be modified for coal shovel use. Coal capacity would also be increased by adding coal rails around the bunker, reproducing a modification made whilst in service in Tasmania.

By January 2007 the work was progressing well on converting K1 to coal firing. The oil supply, pipes, burner and associated equipment had been removed or were in the process of being removed.

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Work inside K1's firebox, February 2007.
Photo: Robin Rees-Jones

With the conversion to coal firing of K1 in full swing the January working party re-fixed/re-assembled the cab and its fittings including whistle chains. The oil control valve and associated pipework was removed. The brick arch and associated carriers were removed without trouble though one of the bricks was cracked and came apart when taken down. The firebox doorplate hinge and catch fittings were removed. The driver's side injector taken off for attention, and further work done to the ejector.

The picture, right, shows work in progress inside the firebox during the February 17-18th 2007 working party to grind off the studs for the brick arch. The new brick arch will be in a different position for coal firing and so will need new studs in a different location.

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The coal rails in the process of being added,
March 2007.
Photo Andy Rutter
The firebox door having had its
oil firing door removed
March 2007. Photo Andy Rutter

The views, left, show items receiving attention as part of the coal conversion during the March 24-5th 2007 working party, most visibly (left) the coal rails; these reproduce fittings added in Tasmania to increase the coal capacity beyond that of the bunker, itself visible between the rear water tank filler and the cab backsheet, following removal of the oil tank. The oil firing door having been removed (right) leaves the firebox door awaiting the sliding door mechanism.

Later on in the year, during the July 21st-22nd 2007 working party, the existing fire brick moulds were used to create polystyrene "bricks" using expanding foam around blocks, allowing a trial run to be made of how the brick arch will fit in the firebox, with the "bricks" being trimmed as required. Making these allowed the moulds to be modified for the subsequent casting of the six fire bricks which will make up a suitable brick arch for coal firing.

Consideration has been given to the bucket/cone arrangement for the injector drains, which have a long run, not conventionally below the cab, but in front of the firebox. If the drain is viewable within the cab it will make this "backhead" type of injector less frustrating to operate and safer to view. New cones have been made for the right hand (driver's) injector, which should make it more reliable once fitted. Also fitted during the working party were the six remaining oil pads for the axle bearings, using new redesigned pressure pads.

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K1's ashpan under construction, 1st August 2007.
Photo: Peter Johnson
Rocking grate components, 2nd August 2007.
Photo: Peter Johnson

Vital steelwork for the coal conversion was being assembled by the start of August 2007. Brunswick Ironworks in Caernarfon were fabricating the ashpan (upside down in the picture far left) from components that had been profile cut by the supplier. The unusual shape is because the receiver pipe taking low-pressure steam to the front power unit passes close under the firebox, so the ashpan has to be in two parts. The near left picture shows part of the rocking grate mechanism at Boston Lodge.

Four of the K1 team assembled on Saturday August 18th 2007 to continue with the coal conversion of K1. The first job was to fit the four butterfly catches on the doors of the ashpan, which had by then been delivered from Brunswick Ironworks (see above). These catches were duly fitted fairly readily, given that half were fixed into stainless steel. The ashpan was then mostly complete and was ready to be fitted to the bottom of the firebox once all internal work was completed within.

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The Ashpan with flaps fitted, 18th August 2007.
Photo: Andy Rutter
The new firebox door,
18th August 2007. Photo: Andy Rutter

The picture near right shows the ashpan viewed from slightly below on the front right (driver's) side, with all flaps open, but before fitting the butterfly locking bolts. The larger openings without mesh on the inside are used to rake out the ash, and the dull red interior simulates the bottom of the firebox. The receiver (intermediate steam pressure) pipe connecting the two engine units will be between the two halves of the ashpan, hence the raised centre section. With the design being in two halves it allowed it to be fitted without removing this pipe.

The picture far right above is of the new coal firing door fitted in place, although as it turned out, in the near future this would be replaced with a double sliding door arrangement.

The team then had a look at the fitting work required on the drop grate arrangement. The drop bars were offered up to be marked for the required expansion gaps within the firebox. This required a band saw cut to one set to give a clearance of 6mm. The second set were even harder requiring other mechanically aided methods to be used. Both sets were installed in the firebox to await approval.

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K1 with a coal firing test train,
7th September 2007. Photo: WHRC Ltd
K1 and test train at Caernarfon,
7th September 2007. Photo: John Ewing/td>

With much of the work completed K1 was lit up on coal on September 3rd 2007, and is seen below on the 7th September, on warm-up and testing before the "Join-In Weekend". In addition to running within Dinas station limits, K1 took a freight rake down to Caernarfon and back.

The loco then ran further tests, and on September 21st 2007 became the first Garratt to reach Beddgelert. See the photo at the bottom of the page.

K1 is seen below arriving at Dinas from Caernarfon on October 2nd 2007, on test with the F Set of passenger stock.

On October 4th 2007 K1 took the F Set to Rhyd Ddu and back as a loaded test of a passenger turn, in what would have been the second departure of the day during the two-train service - 143 was operating the actual passenger service, and K1's train did not carry the public. Water and coal consumption were acceptable, and performance with the five-car F Set was very acceptable; the set will not need to be shortened when K1 is rostered. Tasks remaining included fitting the in-cab controls for the dampers, and there were still some concerns about the injectors. A hot box was experienced, and dismantled the next day. At this stage it is felt that the remaining hot box is a question of running-in and improving lubrication - it should be noted that K1's bearing surfaces are very similar to those on a standard gauge "Pacific"!

K1 was on test again when seen below right arriving back at Dinas on October 12th 2007. The loco hauled its first regular service trains a week later.

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K1 with Conway Castle and their test train
in Beddgelert, 21st September 2007.
Photo: WHRC Ltd
K1 arriving back at Dinas with a
test train from Caernarfon,
12th October 2007. Photo: John Peduzzi