Wednesday 29 June 2016

Ready for the 'Mainline'

76084's winter maintenance this year was not just her annual maintenance to keep her running through this next season but a concerted effort by the Maintenance Team to do all that AND get her ready for the 'mainline'.

The list of jobs for the latter item was quite extensive and has been covered elsewhere in this blog. One item that couldn't be finished during the Maintenance Team's Jan/Feb visits was the fitting of self-cleaning equipment in the smokebox. Steam locomotives running on the mainline have to have this fitted for amongst other things it reduces the possibility of them causing lineside fires. The self cleaning equipment was subsequently fitted by the staff at North Norfolk Railway's Weybourne Shed.
SC Plate now fitted to 76084

The background to this is as follows: British Railways Standard Classes of steam locomotives (and some big four classes built/rebuilt during BR days) used a simple technology, where a robust mesh grille was incorporated into the smokebox, forming a filter between the front tubeplate and the exhaust. Any large pieces of 'char' passing through the boiler tubes would tend to be broken up on impact with the mesh, creating finer particles that would be swept up the chimney instead of accumulating in the bottom of the smokebox. This did not negate the need to clean out the smokebox but reduced the amount of work that had to be done. In the best case, smokebox cleaning could be avoided between boiler washouts, typically at intervals of two weeks.

To inform shed staff that less work was required on the smokeboxes of locos so fitted an 'SC' plate was affixed underneath the shedcode plate as shown in our photos.

Now here's the rub. I have seen misguided comments in online photograph libraries saying locomotives carrying an 'SC' plate had a Scottish connection as 'Sc' stood for that British Railways Region. I have recently been asked whilst stood by 76084 'What is 76084's Scottish connection?' So I duly explained there was none.

Standing on Holt Station awaiting time I was stood leeward of 76084's chimney chatting with interested onlookers last week as a light covering of ash settled on heads and shoulders indicating that the self cleaning system was working satisfactorily.

76084 is ready and even eager to work over the national network metals and that day is exactly 6 weeks away (subject to availability as always) as I write this article. 

10 August 2016 will be another notable milestone for the locomotive and the Company. Thanks to all shareholders, supporters and our partners - the North Norfolk Railway - for getting us this far.

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