Tuesday, 27 November 2012

The disassembly continues: Bearings, Axles and Wheels.

Having removed the wheelsets from the frames, it's time to have a look at the state of the bearings, axles, and wheels.  Hold your breath!

The axleboxes are in two parts, both iron castings. The upper section holds the brass bearing and the lower, two fabric wipers that apply lubrication to the axle and retain any grit particles. Avonside had a simple and elegant method of securing the castings together: two steel pins (with a slight interference fit) pass through them and they are easily tapped out. 

We separated the axleboxes with some trepidation as we'd already found notable scoring on the valve gear's brass bearings, which means they will have to be re-made. We needn't have worried - both the axles and their bearings are in excellent condition and require very little work to bring them into first class condition. Unlike most British lines, The Royal Arsenal Railway had an abhorrence of whitemetal in bearings and none is present in 'Woolwich' although the 'slippers' on the sides of the axles boxes are whitemetal. These look good, but at the time of writing haven't been measured to ascertain whether replacement is required.

Whilst the bearing's condition is heartening, the rear right hand axlebox castings had a nasty surprise for us. We noticed that the securing pins were missing from one side yet the lower section was stuck fast in the upper. After much elbow grease it was discovered that the upper casting had been badly damaged, perhaps by dropping it during an overhaul. The missing metal had been replaced by stainless steel weld metal, built up to approximately the correct shape and then roughly filed down. The lower casting had then been forced into the other to give a very tight fit. This is probably the worst damage we've encountered and as you'll see, repairs are now underway.

Take a glance at our close-up photos of all the parts cleaned up.


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