Our blog concerns the story of the rebuilding of our polish built locomotive ‘Naklo’. Kindly funded by The Power to Change Community Business Fund, the locomotive’s main frames and tender are being rebuilt in our own workshops in Alston. Meanwhile the all important boiler, was rebuilt by TRS Boiler Makers in Derbyshire.
Our story starts in August 2018 once the boiler had been removed and shipped off as a template for a new boiler, work started on stripping down the locomotive to its component parts so its condition could be assessed and plans made for the necessary repairs and refurbishments.
Back at Alston the stripping of the main frames is complete and the frames now stand on a bogie flat for assessment and further restoration.
Moving into November 2018 , the frames have been needle gunned and new metal has replaced areas where corrosion has taken hold.
Christmas time brought running of the STR Santa trains and the Christmas break. In January 2019 reassembly of the Naklo’s frames has begun, with the cylinders now back on the frames. Work has started on the tender. the severe corrosion of the tender tank means this will need to be replaced. As we shall see in the future corrosion of the tender frames will also need a lot of corrective fabrication. As originally acquired from Poland Naklo had side tanks, in an earlier rebuild these were removed and water was carried in a tank on the tender. As this reduced the adhesive weight of the locomotive, the tanks are being re-instated and the new tender will now have spaces for water, fuel and a battery compressor compartment for the train’s air brakes.
Towards the end of January fabrication work is the main activity with Naklo’s side tanks being made as well as the new tender body.#
Early February was a very important day for the Naklo project, the completed boiler was delivered from TRS Boilermakers in Melbourne Derbyshire.
After the excitement of the arrival of the boiler fabrication work continues. The three photos that follow show the tender body and components being fabricated
Fast forward to March 2019, the boiler has been mounted on the mainframes, the new side tanks are finished, have been test fitted and temporarily removed to allow access for other work. The smokebox has been fitted, a new smokebox door and baffle has been skillfully fabricated and turned on a lathe to ensure a parallel fit between the smokebox and door. The ends of the tender frame have produced some surprises with double thicknesses of plate, that have provided a harborage for moisture and consequently rust!
Work has been going on to create the steam inlet and exhaust exhaust pipework which takes steam to and from the cylinders. Curved exhaust pipes have been carefully fabricated from small sections of pipework to provide a route for low pressure exhaust steam from the cylinders to the blastpipe. A hole in the blastpipe has been repaired and pressure resistant pipework has been fabricated to take boiler pressure steam from the boiler to the cylinders.
June sees the tender body nearing completion
July – sees work focusing on wheels, axles and axleboxes.
August – Work starts on the cab.
September – The tender gets ready for its brake compressor to be fitted and is mounted on its wheels. Naklo’s cab heads towards completion. Naklo’s driving wheels visit the lathe to have thier tyres turned.
By the 25th of October came the time to start fitting Naklo’s driving wheels. The boiler, tanks, and cab were removed and the chassis turned upside down to allow the driving wheels to be fitted to the locomotive’s main frames.
2nd November 2019
22nd November 2019
23rd November 2019
Whilst Naklo is stripped down there is an opportunity to see some of the parts of the engine always hidden from view.
Work is coming to a close on the brake compressor and battery pack installation in Naklo’s tender.
28th November 2019
29th November 2019
06 December 2019
Outside the workshop in Alston today, there was much activity making preparations for the operation of STR’s first weekend of Santa Specials. Inside the workshop, progress was also being made, with the first pair of Naklo’s driving wheels, now fitted to the locomotive’s frames.
There has been progress with the tender, air valves to feed the flexible brake pipes between the tender and the train have been fitted. These valves connect to the original tender brake piping. The tender’s compressor/battery pack doors have been trial fitted with opening handles, they were being welded in place this afternoon.
9th December 2019
Today work continues on Naklo’s tender and fitting the centre flangeless driving wheel to the locomotive’s main frames.
18th of December 2019
Naklo gets its driving wheels fitted and preparations are being made to fit the springs and spring hangers.
Work continues on the tender with a second train brake air reservoir fitted and some plating work on the front upper corners of the tender.
20th December 2019
On the Friday before the STR’s 3rd Santa weekend, work continues on Naklo’s tender and locomotive main frames.
On Naklo’s main frames the locomotive’s springs and suspension components continue to be assembled.
9th of January 2020
Into 2020 and here’s our new year update on the progress with Naklo’s rebuild.
Locomotive main frames
24th of January 2020
Naklo is back on its wheels and preparations are being made to return the boiler to the frames. We’re making good progress on the air brake pipework in the tender.
The frames didn’t have to wait long for the boiler, your webmaster was surprised to get an e-mail this afternoon, with two shots of the Naklo’s boiler back in the frames. We’ll done to Steve and Chris our staff engineers at Alston workshops.
6th of February 2020
With the boiler back in the frames, we’re beginning to fit the boiler with a multitude of pipework and boiler fittings, that are needed to gradually turn it from a rolling chassis into a locomotive.
Clack valves and thier boiler mountings
Boiler fittings The workshop was busy today with preparatory work on boiler fittings.
14th of February 2020
Fitting the regulator valve
As I’m sure many readers will know the regulator valve on a steam engine controls the steam, that flows from the boiler to the cylinders to turn the wheels via the connecting + coupling rods and drive the locomotive.
Fitting the regulator valve is not a straightforward job, to quote our engineer Steve Race, “it’s the engineering equivalent of a complex medical procedure”. The regulator valve is mounted within the very tight confines of the dome, it’s operated by a long curved rod attached to the top of the valve, actuated by a crank mounted on the regulator shaft which is mounted inside the boiler just above the boiler tubes and operated by an external lever mounted on the backhead of the boiler. The long and heavy regulator shaft enters the boiler through a stuffing box on the boiler backhead. The most difficult task is to ‘lasso’ the end of the regulator shaft with a rope so it can be held in place, whilst the crank and rod that operate the regulator valve are attached, to complete the assembly.
In the photos that follow we enter the tight and compact area of the steam dome, only seen as times like this when a new boiler is being commissioned.
Lets get our bearings and see where everything is situated before we get down to details
21st of February
Work has started on the coupling rods and thier bearings. Each coupling rod has a vertical hinge pin that allows the rods to move to accommodate the vertical movement of the locomotive on its 3 axles. Naklo’s coupling rods overlap by half a rods thickness at the point where the rod is hinged. The hinge pin bearing needed replacing. In the shot that follows, we see the hole in a coupling rod in which the bearing is mounted. The bearings were seized in the rod and have had to be cut out. Another progress report next week.
5th of March
Sorry, there was a bit more than a weeks gap between updates. Re-assembly of Naklo continues, the firebars are in the firebox, the first coupling rod is being fitted, the damper controls are being assembled, a pillar for the handbrake has been made, the exhaust and inlet pipework is almost complete and the smokebox has had a smart coat of heat resistant black paint!
6th March 2020
Work on coupling rods continues.
7th of March 2020
Back in Alston again, today sees the rear right hand coupling rod in place and the re-assembly of the smokebox pipework almost complete.