We really are almost there for main line running. All that is needed now is some work to site the GSM-R portable radio, some wiring, spark guards, firebox water sprinkler and sundry small(ish) jobs to finish the King off. On Saturday the 15th of October, the King was used for a Railway Experience Day on the DRC demonstration line. The new four-jet blastpipe gives a crisp sound, but not the original loud bark we had with the plain blastpipe and taller chimney used on the MNR and GCR.
Early indications from the steam gala at Didcot on the May bank holiday weekend are that the new blast pipe draws far more air through the fire than the original single pipe, and still gives a pleasing (if somewhat different) bark to the engine. Well done to all!
6023 was used 'light engine' in steam on our demonstration line on Friday 15th April. All the signs are that the new blast pipe draws well on the fire, yet maintains a crisp 'bark' like the original. Many, many thanks to Dr. Jos Koopmans of the Netherlands for his design, and thorough scientific knowledge of steam engine fluid dynamics. It is believed that this new four-jet pipe will solve a raft of problems that arose with the shortened chimney that we had to fit in order to take 6023 onto the main rail network. Visit us on the 30th April - 2nd May bank holiday weekend, and see the results for yourself. His explanation of why this is so very effective is below.
"The new blastcap has four orifices which should be regarded as parts of four chimneys resulting from another “theoretical” doubling of the original double chimneys mounted by Ell. The four chimneys are not really there, their common outside wall is the present chimney and their other common boundaries are shaped by the flow within the chimney. As such each of the jets takes ¼ of the chimney volume and as a consequence the relative length of the “chimneys” so formed is double that of the chimney with its single orifice. The necessary pathlength for proper momentum transfer from the jets to the combustion products within the chimney is created in this way." JJG Koopmans, PhD.
After many days of backbreaking work on the springs, we have reached a good set of weights on the axles of 6023. Some more work is needed on the tender springs (which is a much easier job), but everything is heading in the right direction.
Some weekends of hard work under the engine have taken place. Firstly, levelling the frames by adjusting the spring hangers, then shunting the locomotive in and out to even up the springs, gave us a firm foundation for further calculations and adjustments. By the end of our second Saturday's work 6023 had been in and out seven times, each time stopping each axle precisely over the weighing cells installed under the piece of floating track in the works. Credit to Tony (our shunter) and Kevin for such precise movements with hundreds of feet of coupled engines between shunter and king. Here are some shots of the work.
Photos courtesy of Frank Dumbleton and Kevin Dare
The weighing gear at Didcot has been installed, however the process of weighing and balancing the engine is going slowly, given the size of the engine and the huge weights involved. Once this is done, it is intended to run 6023 up and down 8 road at the GWS, to test the new blast pipe arrangements. Chris Denton has done a sterling job on the whistles.
Electronic weighing gear is in the process of being installed in the railway works at Didcot. A special pair of load cells mounted under a floating section of track will allow each axle of 6023 (and other locos) to be weighed in turn as the engine is shunted over them, before we commence the frustrating job (leaf springs have a mind of their own) of adjusting spring hanger nuts so that the height of the engine and load on each axle is correct.
The required electronics (OTMR, TPWS and AWS) for modern mainline certification are complete, and the new blast arrangements designed by Jos Koopman await testing just as soon as the maintenance team at Didcot can release 6023 into traffic again. Negotiations are taking place over the accurate gauging of 6023 (as it is so close to the limits of height and width).
The support crew for the engine were selected last year from regular volunteers at the GWS; they have all undergone medicals, drug and alcohol testing, Personal Track Safety training, and have been issued with their authority cards.
So much for the June completion date! Unfortunately the wait for the new springs froze a lot of work on King Edward II, but finally they arrived (weeks apart) and were installed. Engine and tender have been reunited following the completion of installation of new rear driving wheel springs. The installation of these springs involved the removal of heavy brake gear, steam and vacuum pipes under the loco, and these have now been successfully reinstalled. With a fresh annual boiler examination done (hot and cold), much work is continuing on the required electronic monitoring and communication systems for main line use.
As already alluded to, the damper flaps on 6023's ashpan needed replacing due to heat warping. After many weekends of work, new ones were fitted, and promptly warped during only one weekend of use on DRC's demonstration line.
Drivers and firemen reported that there was very little suck from the chimney on the fire, and if anything, one would have thought the fire was burning in a stationary engine waiting for duty. The source seems to be the reduction in height of our single chimney by 4", in order to get within the national network loading gauge (we had been 13'5" - but as mentioned below we have cut the king down to 13'1"). The reduction in height has had a huge effect on the moving mass of exhaust in the chimney that causes the suck on the fire. As the fire burns at a hotter temperature than the melting point of its firebars and ashpan, the only thing stopping a gradual meltdown is the blast of cold air being drawn in through the ashpan doors.
The ashpan doors (or damper doors) we have been able to replace with thicker ones, and whilst doing so we are fitting wire mesh to stop the ash falling out (we caused a fire on our very first day of steam at Didcot).
The draughting arrangements have called for a more novel solution. We approached Jos Koopmans in the Netherlands, who has written a thesis on steam locomotive exhausts called 'The Fire Burns Much Better' and available from Camden Miniatures: Jos Koopmans' book. Using the collected engineering principles of nearly 200 years of draughting design, Jos has designed us a new top to the blastpipe which we hope will return us to even greater draughting efficiency than when 6023 was 13'5" tall - however, we suspect at this stage that the enormous (and energy-wasting) bark of her exhaust may be lost - we will see.
The other huge issue has been the cracking of the springs above the rear two driving wheels. Careful examination of the existing springs, which were fitted early in the restoration over 20 years ago, has revealed that they were slightly too long. One side has now been replaced and the other is currently undergoing modification. This is a major job which has entailed the removal of pipes and heavy brake linkages between the two rear (restored) drivers. When this is all replaced, we can re-weigh the loco.
Also (and this has been another major job), regulations for main line certification include a host of devices that include the rail equivalent of a black box recorder - the On Train Monitoring Recorder (OTMR), a portable radio (GSM-R), and of course TPWS (Train Protection and Warning System). This has all meant a lot of wiring, and then re-wiring, every time specifications change. One improvement on our original TPWS setup is that we will soon be able to use the original GWR ATC bell instead of the red one we had installed.
There is still more to do, including the installation of a sprinkler system to damp the fire down, a casting for the lower positioned whistles, and fabrication of a tarpaulin to cover the gap between the new roof and the tender (the hooks are now in place in the cab).
We are working towards a June completion date.
5 & 6.4.2014
6023 starred alongside 60163 Tornado and 60007 Sir Nigel Gresley in a line up of these iconic blue locos at Didcot, when she was run for the first time since being reduced in height.
Today 6023 was weighed axle by axle by running it over a special device installed between the rails on Didcot's ashing out road. Much adjustment was done to even up the axle weights, as the bogie and rear driver were found on the first pass to be heavier than the other axles.
The final repairs to the damper doors were also completed, and the engine now wears its 13'1" cut down chimney, bonnet and cab roof.
The cracked spring assemblies carrying the right middle driver and right rear bogie were replaced during a joint effort yesterday between the GWS's loco maintenance men and its 6023 team. The replacement of these and the replacement of the 4 badly heat-warped ash pan damper doors two weeks ago mean that 6023 is back close to running condition.
Both new bonnets were tried and fitted last weekend, and have had their first coat of Oxford blue paint on their shoulders. We also removed the four damper doors, as these have sustained some heat damage since last year, and three of them now only close completely on one side of the engine. None of the original hinge castings have been damaged, and work amounts to replacing the mild steel sheets that make up the flaps, and ensuring a tight fit once again.
Cracks in the top springs of the main driving wheels mean we can't steam 6023 until the springs are replaced. New ones are being ordered. The good news, however, is that two new bonnets have been delivered; one to replace the one that was struck off by a tree (and then stolen) en route to the MNR in 2011; and the other, a shortened one for use on the 13'1" National Rail loading gauge. They should be fitted in October.
At a 22.6.13 GWS Mainline Committee meeting at the Didcot, it was agreed by all that the way forward for 6023 is to aim for steaming on the mainline when all the correct regulatory equipment has been fitted later in the year, and the engine has passed the necessary tests. A solution has been found to the GSM-R issue that will cost somewhat less than £57K. We aim to have 6023 on the national network 4-6 times per year, subject to the exigencies of engineering, etc.
6023 King Edward II was the co-star of the 'Rovers' Return' weekend at Didcot on 4th, 5th & 6th of May after her return there from Loughborough. There is still much for the team to do to complete the work to prepare her for main line running, and this will progress over the coming months.
It has been reported on the internet that 6023's brick arch has fallen down. This is incorrect. Our brick arch has had to be removed a number of times in order to get at the remedial boiler work that has been necessary since its launch in 2011. Brick arches are brittle and not designed to be repeatedly assembled then disassembled, and the current one had picked up sufficient wear for it to be unviable for future use. A new one is being installed.
The GCR has been granted permission by the owners of 6023 to 'disguise' the engine as 6015 King Richard III, to honour the finding of the King's body under a car park in Leicester. The locomotive will be fitted with specially manufactured name and number plates made by John Cowlishaw, from Lincoln. It is envisaged that '6015' King Richard III will take part in a medievally themed day in April. click for this site's Richard III page
We can confirm that 6023 had a leaky tube on Saturday - fixed now. These are the kind of issues that the planned ten cold-hot-cold steaming cycles are designed to identify. We hope to run on the following days; 22-23rd Feb, 2-3rd March, 9-10th March, 15-25th March (photo charter), 29-31st March, 1st April, & 26-27th April, subject to all the usual variables that go with running an eighty something year-old.
We can also confirm that there will be some delay getting the King up to spec for the main line, as the costs of installing GSM-R (Global System for Mobile communications - Railway) are in the region of £57K for a bespoke configuration for 6023. The project team is actively working on a solution to this issue; more to follow when there are details.
Photo by Mike Spencer
Again, fresh back from Loughborough where 6023 was pulling trains up and down the GCR in sunshine and snow for their Winter Gala.
Hot-footed with news from Loughborough: The King has passed its boiler test and completed a 16 mile light engine run on the GCR. On schedule to star in the Gala this weekend!
News from Loughborough: We can now confirm that 6023 has passed its hydraulic test this afternoon in the presence of insurance inspectors and the VAB.
The repairs to 6023's boiler took another step forward on 4 January, when the new copper plate work and welding passed its NDT (Non Destructive Test). There is still some further work which needs to be undertaken in the firebox and it is hoped this will be completed in time to undertake a hydraulic test around the middle of January. If this is successful a steam test will quickly follow in time, it is hoped, for 6023 to appear at the Great Central mid winter gala over the weekend 25/27 January. 6023 will then be used on the GCR at weekends, any problems sorted out, and it is the team's intention to bring her back home to the GWS at Didcot for May.
Remedial work on the boiler has been forging ahead in the shed at Loughborough, especially the replacement of the front lap joints of the firebox tube plate. When we were last there, the laps had been removed and copper welding was being carried out in preparation to install the new pre-prepared copper sheet which will make up the new tube plate lap joints. Removing and refitting the laps has given us a chance to clean the area between the two joint surfaces and to ensure that a tight joint can now be achieved; this would always have been an area of concern due to scale and other deposits building up between the two sheets and preventing a true face to face fit.
Agreement has now been reached with the GC with regards to testing the repair work once it has been completed, this will involve:
- A hydraulic test to ensure the integrity of the repairs carried out, followed by a steam test if all parties are happy to proceed.
- 10 Didcot type steaming cycles e.g. warmed, steamed and then fully cooled (she may also be used during these cycles if the GC so wish)
Once the boiler work has been approved then work will begin on making her ready for the mainline, this will involve:
- Changing the chimney
- Fitting the lowered cab roof
- Fitting reduced height whistles
- Fitting the newly manufactured lowered safety valve bonnet
- Testing the TPWS/OTMR fitment, speedometer calibration etc.
- Floating the loco on scales in order to get the weight distribution correct
These works will be carried out between Loughborough and Tysley where the final TPWS and OTMR testing will be carried out. It is then hoped to carry out some loaded test runs before the King returns to Didcot next year.
The last 6 months hasn't been quiet - all sorts of work has continued on 6023 while the important remedial work on the boiler takes place. A lot of the wiring for main line use has gone ahead, with various bits of concealment to maintain the period effect of the loco. At the 1st September working party we gave her a full lubrication in preparation for a move to the Great Central Railway at Loughborough on 4th September, where the boiler work will be easier to accomplish. Being a railway with a good operating length, yet maintaining the large loading gauge 6023 needs, we feel the move to Loughborough will assist in further running-in, underpinned by good loco facilities. Many thanks to the GCR!
We have made progress on many fronts this weekend, with all the work on the vacuum pump completed, including the lubrication pot; reinstallation of the (now split by a join) cylinder drain cock rod, removal of the tender steam heat pipe for shortening, welding and other work on the short version cab roof, reinstallation of rear sander pipes, cleaning of corrosion off the front coupling & buffers, & much more besides.
6023's return to steam will take a little longer, as some very specialist work has to be done on the fabric of the inner firebox seams. On the positive side, the vacuum pump is back inside the frames (a very difficult manoeuvre when the boiler is on and the engine is largely complete). This will be reconnected on 31.3.
The team wishes to send its best wishes to Peter Gransden for a speedy return to full health following his accident.
The team has been working hard to rectify the snags identified during the running-in on the Mid Norfolk Railway. The repairs to the firebox are well under way under a contract.
It is anticipated that all will be complete by the middle of March.
The oil filler pipe on the middle left driver axlebox underkeep (a large oil bath) rotated in its tapered gas-thread during operation on the MNR, and struck the spokes of the driver. This ground away the end of the filler (see comparison, below). We were very fortunate that the problem was spotted promptly due to the continuing diligence of the support crew, and that there was no complete breakage. We made a safe temporary fix that allowed us to complete the trials.
The project has decided that as many other 4-cylinder engines in preservation have suffered similar problems with this hard-to-reach filler (squeezed in between the back of the wheel and the frames), it would be worth our while to modify all six underkeeps to a design originally undertaken on 6024 King Edward 1 in preservation. This modification blanks off the hole where the outer oil-filler pipe went, and introduces a fixed and permanent filler integral with the structure of the underkeep. This has to be filled with lubricating oil from between the frames whilst the crew are oiling up.
After jacking the engine's weight off of its springs and wheels, work has gone on over the past month to install these modified keeps. The left and right rear two drivers have now had this modification after a very successful day's work on the 21st Jan. See the pipes with the corks in, below.
A new collection of shots from the Mid Norfolk Railway running-in during June & July has been added to this site. The tab is top right.
A way forward has been agreed for rectifying the boiler for running on the main line.
The first of the modified axle box underkeeps have been fitted to the right and left sides of the middle driver.
The project team is actively seeking a non-intrusive solution to the repairs needed on the boiler.
The now widely-known issues with 6023's boiler are being addressed, and a way forward for the project will be agreed in coming weeks. 6023 will remain at Didcot whilst remedial work takes place.
6023 has now completed its running in on the Mid Norfolk Railway and is back at Didcot.
Supported by a joint group from the MNR and the 6023 restoration team, it operated for 22 days and ran 1822 miles. Although the mechanical work of the volunteers on the restoration team has been of a very high quality, inevitable 'on the road' snags have shown themselves which need rectification before 6023 can re-enter traffic. One of these is a small oil pipe into the centre driving wheel axle box underkeep which has rotated in its thread then been fouled by being hit by wheel spokes. This will necessitate the centre driving wheel set having to be dropped out to achieve the repair. Of greater concern, and extremely disappointing for the volunteer team is the fact that some of the expert contracted work on the boiler restoration has been done to a questionable standard. This work is being investigated by the GWS and some rectification work has already been undertaken. We are sure our supporters can understand our disappointment over this, but we hope to have all the work complete for going out on the main line in 2012.
As a result it will not be possible for 6023 to attend the Severn Valley and Great Central galas this autumn. The team is sorry for the disappointment this will cause although it is hoped that attendance at similar events can still be arranged in due course
6023 will be on show at Didcot for the GWS 50th Anniversary Gala in September. Work will continue to allow 6023 to debut on the main line during 2012.
This website will be updated properly when folk have stopped rioting & I can get some time off duty...webmaster
6023 is now getting into her stride with 6 or 7 carriage trains over the undulating 11 miles between Dereham and Wymondham, with the running-in target of 1000 miles easily within reach. Coal consumption at these low (25mph limit) speeds has been high at around 22-25 miles per ton - but then it is unnatural for an express engine like this to pull a train tender first for half of its round trip.
The restoration team members have been delighted by the welcome they have received at the MNR, and the very friendly and supportive help we have received from volunteers there (from all departments).
3.6.2011 - STOP PRESS! - On her journey to the MNR, 6023 had her bonnet knocked off (possibly by a tree), and it is probably sitting in a ditch somewhere between Didcot and Dereham. We are currently using a borrowed one.
For reference, the bonnet is the brass thing that looks like a cotton spool half way along the top of the boiler, and has two blue 'shoulders' (see photos of the complete engine, below). It has low scrap value as it is thin and decorative, but has to be made by hand, so is worth a lot in time and effort. Please contact the webmaster (see links) or the Mid Norfolk Railway if you have any information on its location.
6023 has now been sent to the Mid Norfolk Railway at Dereham, by low-loader (as she is not yet certificated for main-line running). A final Saturday working party at Didcot saw work on the cab windows, the restoration of the higher roof and higher fittings, the installation of the tender water scoop and myriad other jobs before the move.
Waterscoop down ! (Sounds like a story about rabbits) The tender water scoop fitted 28.5.2011. This would be lowered (as shown) into water troughs sited on the main line to collect water for the tender, when supplies were running low and the loco was hauling a non-stop express.
There was an official public first steaming of 6023 King Edward II on Saturday 2nd April at the Great Western Society, Didcot Railway Centre, Oxfordshire at 1pm, in the presence of Mr Steve Davies MBE, Head of the National Railway Museum.
It was a doubly special event with Vintage Trains stopping their double-headed steam tour from Birmingham at Didcot Parkway at 12.10pm in order for passengers to join us in Didcot Railway Centre. Locos were 4965 “Rood Ashton Hall” and 5043 “Earl of Mount Edgcumbe” Both engines used the facilities at the GWS.
6023 was also in steam on Sunday 3rd April, and is planned to be in steam with 6024 King Edward 1st on Easter Saturday.
In June 6023 will move to the Mid Norfolk Railway for running-in, and where she will be based until 17th July.
5.3.2011 The King sits among other working engines in the Didcot engine shed, the fresh BR blue paint contrasting with the dark green or black of the other engines. Only 4 weeks to go!
- 20.12011. After many extra hours of work over much of January, a fire was lit, the pressure rose in the boiler, and she moved under her own steam for the first time since her last fire was dropped in 1962.
- 11.12.2010. A lot of work has brought 6023 close to moving under her own steam. All the cladding is on, the backhead is largely complete, all the work in the smokebox is done and the main things we are waiting to fit are the cab roof, cab floor and brick arch, as well as many smaller finishing jobs on paint and pipes.
- Lots more photographs are on the Gallery pages at Fire in the boiler , Boiler lift , Superheater, backhead cladding & chimney & Finishing the smokebox and cab fittings . As you will see, the weeks are counting down to that first 'chuff' since she was condemned in June 1962.
- 18.9.2010. Another cracking day of work that saw the main steam pipes installed in the smokebox, and many of the pipes and fittings installed on the backhead.
- 21.8.2010. Following the installation of the superheater header on 7th August and the mighty regulator rod, four rows of superheater elements have been installed. Another magnificent day of heavy work (in hot and humid conditions) by the team.
- 24th July 2010. The boiler was lifted onto the frames and after mating with the ashpan, lowered carefully into its final position
- The cylinders have been lagged.
- The boiler steam test was passed to 260psi on the 12th April 2010.
- At 1700 on the 28th March 2010 we lit a fire in the water-filled boiler and smoke went up the chimney for the first time in 48 years!
- The boiler passed its hydraulic test on the 15th March. This is a critical test on its way to certification and ensures that it has no leaks.
- The firebox brick arch segments have been delivered and await installation.
- The TPWS is being wired up.
- The ash pan is in the final stages of fabrication and fit, and has benefitted from a comprehensive reworking of the space over the rear axle..
- The last runs of the mechanical lubricator copper pipework have been installed.
- *The team has received the David Muirhead Award 2008 from the Transport Trust. The certificate was awarded at RAF Hendon by HRH Prince Michael of Kent, on 24th June 2009.*
As the workshop is now closed to visitors during working, live work on 6023 can only be viewed from behind the safety barriers. This is to protect members of the public from the various hazards in the workshop from which the volunteers are well protected by proper kit.