While the main focus of the Strathspey Railway is running steam trains for the paying public, a small but dedicated group of volunteers has been restoring other items of heritage interest in spare moments between working on the loco fleet and improving locoshed infrastructure and facilities.

The current project is a Ruston Hornsby 48DS diesel shunter of 1948 which worked at Longmorn distillery until 1980 (even though Dr Beeching had closed the adjacent main line in 1967). Because it was presented to the Strathspey Railway repainted with advertisements for Queen Anne blended scotch whisky, it is known to most people as “Queen Anne”.

To find out more about our aims, follow this link or click the [About] button above.

This Blog was started over 5 years after the project began, so most of the initial blog entries are retrospective.

Tuesday 31 May 2016

Dismantling 2 - Everything but the engine

The cab was suffering from serious corrosion.  The cab consists of several panels of 4mm and 5mm steel joined by angle iron or flat steel strip.  These parts are fastened by a mixture of round-head 3/8” Whitworth bolts and 3/8” round-head rivets.  The cab opening is edged with steel strip known as “half-round feather edge”, which is riveted to the panels.  Rust had formed between the panels and the angle iron and also between the panels and the half-round feather edge, and as corrosion progressed the panels had buckled between fixing points due to the expansion of the rust.  The panels had also corroded through in a few places.  The fact that the panels had been distorted and the extent of the corrosion meant that the panels, angle iron and feather-edge were all scrap.  However they would be kept to provide a reference for making new parts in future.

Before dismantling the cab, the electrical system was removed.  The electrical system is very simple and consists of a control box with a key switch (the control box had been levered open and the key switch stolen) and four push-pull switches for lights (front, rear and cab) plus engine start.  A push-button on each side of the cab operated the horn.  All wiring within the cab used brass-bound armoured cable.  The control box, cabling, switches, lights and horn were all removed and set aside for restoration.  The large wooden tool / battery box was also removed for restoration – the lower half had partially rotted, but it was restorable.
The upper front of the cab, showing the corrosion and buckling at the edges
A few cab bolts were salvageable, but most were removed using an angle grinder.  The roof was the first part to be removed.  Its shaped angle irons and the roof sheet itself were salvageable, but the feather-edge would need to be replaced.  The roof rear end was bent by the chains when Queen Anne was lifted from its siding, but could be straightened.

The lower rear cab panel
The original design of the cab had a horizontal sheet of metal from the lower edge of each cab side to the main chassis girder (this part is below the cab floor).  It was a trap for dirt and moisture and was the most corroded part of the whole locomotive.  This will be redesigned in future to eliminate the rust trap and improve the method of fixing the floor.
Badly designed bodywork
The chassis is formed from substantial rolled steel sections (mainly U-channel) from Lanark steelworks and welded together.  There was some localized corrosion (particularly where the rot-trap above was bolted on) but the substantial nature of the steel ensured it was not a problem.  There was quite a bit of corrosion (and a mummified rat) in the area of the sandboxes.  This was because sand would get spilled when filling the sandboxes and go through the gaps onto the chassis below.  A small part of the chassis was ground back to help any sand drop onto the track.

In one place this corrosion had extended to the nut on the back of the buffer that retains the buffer spring.  Also, one of the fixing bolts for each sandbox is hidden behind the buffer, so all four buffers had to be removed to enable the nut to be replaced and the sandboxes to be refurbished.

The brake gear was stripped off and was basically serviceable (but partially seized), although the pivots that take the brake blocks were a bit worn.

The suspension uses leading and trailing swinging arms pivoted around the centre of the locomotive.  The pivots are approximately coincident with the sprockets that drive the wheels via chains and this ensures that the chain will not come off as the wheels go up and down.  Because the drive sprockets for the front and rear chains are on the same axis, this alignment cannot be exact for both axles.  By making the length of the swinging arms adjustable, the chain tension can also be set.

The axle bearings were found to be in good condition.  A bronze bush spanning 180 degrees of circumference bears on the steel axle which is lubricated by an oil pad.  All suspension parts were cleaned up and put back.  Leaf springs are used, with the upper (largest) leaf bearing on one of the chassis girders.  This allows the springs to move laterally as the length of the suspension arms is altered.  The upper leaf on one of the wheels was found to be broken, but was welded back together.  This spring will be monitored to see if the repair holds.

With everything stripped, the suspension is being attended to
Practically everything was stripped from the chassis, leaving it with just its wheels and the engine block and gearbox still in place.  The long process of examination, refurbishment and reassembly lay ahead.

Friday 13 May 2016

Dismantling 1 - the engine

One of the first jobs on getting Queen Anne inside the locoshed was to determine the condition of the engine.  The "bonnet" superstructure was removed along with the radiator cowl and the radiator to allow all-round access to the engine.

The crankshaft did not seem willing to turn, and on removal of the exhaust manifold and silencer, the latter was found to be half full of water.  The loco has a vertical exhaust pipe and the open end had not been covered when it was laid up out of use, so rainwater had accumulated inside the engine.

An attempt was made to turn the crankshaft using a bar in one of the holes in the flywheel and a jack against the chassis, but it was stuck fast.  On removing the four cylinder heads, it was found that water had got into cylinders nos. 1 and 2 because their exhaust valves had been open.  Cylinders 3 and 4 were dry.

There is another Ruston shunter at Aviemore - a 165 HP 0-4-0 with a 6VPH engine.  This had seized because it had been stored with its heads removed, but had successfully been freed by pouring Tesco Cola into the bores and leaving it for a few days!

After trying various methods for freeing Queen Anne's engine without success, it was decided to try the "Cola" method.  However, in this case it didn't work and simply resulted in more pitting and corrosion of the liners.  That may have been due to an electrolytic effect between the aluminium pistons and iron liners.

The seized pistons (nos 1 and 2) were finally freed by removing the big end caps of the connecting rods and using a hydraulic jack between the top of the pistons and a metal plate secured to the head studs.  All the pistons were then removed - they have to go downwards and out through the crankcase doors as the big ends are larger than the bores.

Although there was some surface corrosion in the crankcase under nos 1 & 2 cylinders, the crankshaft turned easily, and the big end journals were easily cleaned up.

One of the original liners
The liners were all badly corroded and were too far gone to be honed.  However the pistons seemed in good condition, although the rings were all gummed up.  Most of the rings broke while trying to free them from the ring grooves.  The gudgeon pins and big end shells seemed in good condition.

The crankcase was badly "sludged" with black sooty deposits, because a non-detergent lubricating oil had been used, but that could easily be cleaned up using paraffin.  Because the big end bearings didn't seem worn, it was assumed that the main bearings were OK as there wasn't any sign of movement.  Examination of the main bearings would require removal of the flywheel and lifting the engine block from the chassis - a lot of work.

The cylinder heads seemed basically OK, but would need a complete clean and de-coke.  The rockers seemed OK although it was noted that one of them had been repaired by brazing.  It was a good repair, but if a new rocker could be found, it would be replaced.

Exhaust rocker with brazing repair

On removing the valves, the exhaust valve of head no. 1 was found to be severely pitted by the water ingress, and could not be ground back into shape.  The valve seat was also too badly pitted to be ground in and would need a new cast-iron insert fitted.  All the other valves were capable of being ground in.

Badly pitted exhaust valve
All the cylinder head studs were found to be very wasted due to corrosion, and would need to be replaced.  One of the covers for the water jacket had cracked due to freezing - it was simple to make a replacement and no other frost damage was found.  The water drain cock for the block was blocked with rusty sludge and there was a lot of sludge in the water galleries.  The injectors were unlikely to work after being inactive for so long and one of the nozzles had become very badly pitted and would probably need replacing while the other water-damaged nozzle was not too bad and might be salvageable.

The dismantled engine
So the following replacement parts would be required :-
  1. 4 off cylinder liners & seals
  2. 4 off head gaskets
  3. 4 off piston ring sets
  4. 1 off exhaust rocker
  5. 1 off exhaust valve

Wednesday 4 May 2016

Liberation from Aviemore Speyside (2010)

In autumn 2010, Queen Anne was liberated from an isolated piece of track beside the disused Aviemore Speyside station.

This was possibly the first time the loco had actually moved in more than 25 years.  It had arrived at the Strathspey Railway in 1980, and was used for a few years before being abandoned.

Ruston 48DS Queen Anne being lifted from its section of track.
Queen Anne being lifted from its section of track.
Mind those chains on the cab roof.... Oh well, we can easily straighten that bit out.

Ruston 48DS Queen Anne Back on the Rail Network
Back on the "Rail Network"
The Smith Rodley crane puts QA back onto the track in Aviemore yard, assisted by Colin, Tom and someone else.

Ruston 48DS Queen Anne outside the locoshed coupled to a bigger Ruston - 165HP BR Class 97/6 No. PWM651
QA outside the locoshed coupled to a bigger Ruston - 165HP BR Class 97/6 No. PWM651
QA waits to be put under cover in the locoshed, where it is warm and dry (a bit of poetic licence there).  Note the severe corrosion and the fact that the exhaust pipe is not covered.  But at least the loco is complete.