Thursday, 18 July 2013

MAINFRAMES: An Ongoing Saga

You might have noticed that there weren't any updates to this blog in early 2013. Why? Because, as said in the last update, who want's to read a continuous story of paint removal? It certainly isn't very interesting, and that's putting it mildly...

Paint-scraping: Is there a faster way?
Woolwich's mainframes were coated with up to 14 layers of thickly applied red paint. Those lucky enough to be involved in locomotive restoration will know that this has to be removed so that the 'frames can be checked for defects. They'll also know that today's standard methods of stripping mainframes are shot blasting and needle gunning. In September 2012 a local firm indicated that they'd be prepared to shot blast the 'frames at no cost. As we operate on a shoestring that offer was irresistible and the mainframes were delivered to them. Five months later nothing had happened so we reluctantly concluded that we'd have to bring them back and do the job ourselves.

And if you want something done...
Whilst we have superb workshop facilities our supply of certain staples, such as compressed air and power tools, is limited. Also, most volunteers are only able to visit once per week. Consequently much of the stripping has been done by hand, a days work hasn't appeared to result in much progress, and it's been a slow job. It was disappointing if understandable to receive such comments as "You haven't got very far, have you" from visitors at mid-June's open day.

Was it faster?  No.  But we're almost there...
Thankfully we are now just two or three weeks from the end of the process [- you now have that in writing!] and in part two of this 'Saga of the Mainframes' you'll see them over 99.9% down to bare metal and painted. Painting is the turning point of the restoration. Until now 'Woolwich' has looked worse and worse as each week passed. She'll now start to look better and better.

When money and tools are in short supply every locomotive restoration goes through this difficult period of little apparent progress despite diligent work. Yet, thanks to being first, the UK has a well deserved reputation and tradition of producing the finest restorations in the world. That's thanks to patience, resilience, and resolution. We've taken the responsibility of restoring a particularly historic machine and realise that we'll be judged by the quality and qualities of those who went before us.

Don't take our word for it - check out the photos!
Please do look at the photographs, they and their captions tell so much more about this unique locomotive's journey back to steam, and the condition her makers splendid reputation depended on. The next update will be 'Mainframes Part Two' in less than four weeks but there's a chance that a new arrival might appear at Crossness before then. If so, there'll be a special update, so watch this space!

To make sure of knowing about what's happening here just enter your e-mail address in the box to the upper right of this page. Also, if you'd like to see 'Woolwich' in person, 2013 will see open days at Crossness on 28th July, 1st September and 13th October.  You are most welcome.

Meanwhile, do look at this instalment's photographs!

No comments:

Post a comment