Mid-Hants News 2003

Our look back into the archives comes in a slightly different form this time around as we share a Urie report from the Spring 2003 Mid-Hants newsletter. It is interesting to note that work on 499 and boiler 799 continues to this day showing the extent sometimes of locomotive restoration.

Much has been done and No.506 is now safely under cover and away from any running line Although we still
have a lot to do, the move to a dedicated working base about the loco has greatly improved the morale of our small work force.

Quite an amount of effort was needed to move our workshop container to its new location within the base. Thanks to those on site who moved the container during mid week when our team is not present. The weight was still considerable even though we had cleared the contents, and there were problems. Once located on its new site, the next problem was supply of essential services, and the first task was to bring in electricity, from the established supply in the works shed. Whilst this was being achieved, our van body workshop was also supplied. Another desirable supply is mains water, and so far we have installed a stop valve and new pipework at the existing source near our base. 100 yards of PVC pipe has been purchased; this needs to be in a trench to safeguard against damage from yard activity and frost. At the very least, tea making in the container will be much easier.

The van body workshop mentioned above is grounded, not on wheels, and represents the outer limits of our base area. Extensive repairs were necessary but have been completed, new doors, PVC roof covering and timber flooring. This last has been reinforced with 3/8 steel (salvaged on site), to carry a milling machine and pillar drill; the latter is undergoing a complete service. The van has been wired up with three phase electric power; currently, we await a decision whether to remain connected to the nearest existing supply or wait for a new 100 amp supply from
incoming services. Our working area has been wired up for exterior lighting using sodium flood lights. We
have obtained suitable lights for our work base, but await a suitable supply to enable actual use.

No.30506 with a Down working at Farnborough in BR days. Photo: Bob Barnard/Photos from the 50s.

How did they do that?

The tender frames for the rebuilt No.499 tender are now safely within our base. The move to here was complicated by the lack of crane headroom at destination, and we had to resort to methods used by our ancestors in building Stonehenge, namely by mounting the frame sections on poles and rolling into position. This activity when completed caused some consternation to the MHR staff, who could not work out just how we had done it. The next task will be to align the frame pieces and then pack them up to a suitable working height. Following a request to the 34 P-way people, we have been supplied with timbers to do the job. Our vintage LSWR jacks will be required. We have been able to inspect and overhaul these invaluable items some minor repairs; a good clean and oil up was all that was required, although we still need to make suitable handles and slewing ratchet spanners to complete.

We had hoped to have had our boiler 799 unloaded from the Warwell wagon early this year. However, the necessary 45 ton steam crane, once at Exmouth Junction, has been out of service due to extensive boiler repairs, new flue sheet and tubes. Anyway, the repaired boiler passed the inspector and the crane was assembled in time for the lift at the beginning of April. The delay did not hold us up, as we spent the time clearing a site of scrap steel to set down boiler 799, followed by levelling the land and putting down adequate support to receive the boiler. Some of the scrap steel from No.499’s tender and some just cleared has gone into a support frame, essential to avoid sinkage – boilers are heavy. With the boiler safely sited, we should be able to commence removal of tubes and other boiler fittings and thus assess repairs required.

The working conditions of the unfinished shed within which we are now based have improved since installation of side sheeting to the open area between roof and retaining wall. This is where prevailing rain always came in. Further tasks in this area will be to install guttering and drainage towards repelling water even more.

With our main effort concentrated on establishing decent working conditions at our base, we must not forget Terry and Fred who have continued working in all weathers on work within the new tender tank for No.499. Being inside does not keep out the weather. The work is very repetitive, drilling and fitting the essential internal bracing. As this tank is the only substantial item not within our base, we are thinking about a move of said tank before we are much older, from near the car park to our base, where the 45 ton crane could lift the tank on to rebuilt frames. Trouble is, the tank is heavy and big. Thinking caps required.

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