Thursday, 8 November 2012

Removal Day.

The renovation of Woolwich goes on relentlessly and this update marks one year of our labours.  Will it end? Yes it will, in 2013, when we'll see the fruits of our labours.  For now, it's time to lift the mainframes to allow the wheels and axle-boxes to be withdrawn. The frames are in really very good condition. They are straight and the only corrosion is surface rust on a stiffening plate beneath the smokebox.

Rather than bring in a crane we decided to do the job 'in house' using lifting gantries with blocks and tackle. Once all the equipment had been checked for safety a larger than usual group assembled to remove the last components from the frames in the morning and conduct the lift in the afternoon.

The frames were lifted twice; firstly just the front end to remove the brake rodding and secondly to withdraw the wheelsets. A curious feature of the locos design is that it's impossible to dismantle the brake rods without removing their entire assembly. Removing said assembly is equally impossible unless Woolwich is either over an inspection pit or raised. No wonder the accident damage they've incurred has never been repaired.

Peter Letchford and Richard Seager took charge of the lift as both have a great deal of relevant professional experience. Not surprisingly they did a great job, with the heavy frames so perfectly suspended that a ball bearing would not roll if placed on them. The wheelsets didn't bind at all and once they'd rolled out the operation was completed by gently lowering the mainframes onto wooden blocks.

A most useful day's work that introduced the gantries to our arsenal of equipment. Many thanks to Kew Bridge Steam Museum for supplying them to Crossness. 

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