1014 The G.W. County Project
November and December

After October's frenetic activity, work slackened off a bit in November/December. No. 4 Road now looks like a new pin and appropriate to a professional engineering works.  All the portable tools are now PAT tested and repaired as necessary, with one new angle grinder purchased to replace that which was condemned.

As usual the County Setters partook of a Christmas celebration. Special thanks to Dicky and LaDonna for helping with the party food and Mike Cooper is really upset that not more was shoved in capacious boilers!! Well done everyone - a good final workday of 2015. 

On the personnel front LaDonna has hurt herself - falling off her cycle ... again! Hopefully, she will be fully recovered from her shoulder injury before too long - she is needed! Furthermore, although Keith Gilbert celebrated a notable birthday in early December, he is also scheduled for more surgery - we all wish him well and a speedy recoovery.

Locomotive Progress:

Painting frames

December 2015 - painting the frames - splashers getting the treatment.

Work to drop off the axleboxes and keeps for cleaning has started. Now drawings for the felt lubricating pads and wicks have been located, materials have been ordered, consequently manufacture of the lubrication pads and gaskets can start. All this is essential preparation for re-wheeling, which regrettably, will not now take place in 2015 - hopefully in the first quarter of 2016?

Gary commenced the repairs to the chimney blower flange, while Joe got stuck in making the saddle jig and mending the loco oil bath lids.

Flange repair 1

December 2015 - Gary undertaking welding repairs to the chimney blower flange.

Completed blower welding repair

December 2015 - welding repair completed - now for fettling.

The drawings for the smokebox saddle have created a need for significantficant additional work. GW Drawing no. 118446, for the Frame Stay and Smokebox Saddle, is common to both Lots 350 and 354 but there are differences in both the smokebox diameters and the boiler centre lines.  This means a need for checking and rechecking, further complicated by the centre line reduction of 1.75 inches to meet the 3987 mm height gauge.

There was a meeting at Crewe on 26 November with our insurers and Crewe staff to discuss the way forward on elements of the boiler barrel procurement in 2016, as well as the fixed price labour contract.
Planning work for the boiler barrel, the front tube plate and the smokebox wrapper is cranking up now funding approval has been received to get these components manufactured.

A demonstration of sand mould printing at Pinewood was attended in November, consequently planning activity for our superheater/regulator has been accelerated, production of which will use this new technology. However, the brief to the insurer on the material for the superheater, prompted some supplementary questions on the heat stability of SGI at 800oF, which is being addressed both with Boro Foundry and in-house.   

Sand moulder 1

12/11/2015 - sand moulder demonstration 1.

Sand moulder2

12/11/2015 - sand moulder demonstration 2.

Tender Progress:

The drop valances are in process of being bolted into position prior to riveting.
The tender tank timber packing is cut and ready to fit. 
Some work remains to be done cleaning up threads on the spring hangers before fitting the springs, which have already been overhauled, cleaned and painted. Once completed the four centre and lead brake hanger brackets will be bolted into position. Meanwhile work on the wheel bearing continues. 

Brake hanger bracket bolted

December 2015 - brake hanger brackets bolted into position.

Rear Brake hanger bracket fitted

December 2015 - rear brake hanger bracket bolted into position.

Having ascertained the weight of the tender when rewheeled, it is evident that this can be undertaken using the 6 tonne crane, with a safety factor of 1.43.
To re-wheel the tender the Bankers have worked out a provisional method statement as to this will be undertaken.


We are now 9 years into the project to recreate No 1014 County of Glamorgan, and are on the cusp of seeing some quite dramatic movements in the project.  As usual, it is time to take stock of where we are. 

Firstly, it has not been an easy year and we have been beset by personnel issues: my own and those of Keith Gilbert as well as a number of other volunteers.  We also continue to miss Mike Sawers, our welder, who is still attached to the Thomas project, now with a completion date in the early New Year!  I remain indebted to all our supporters and volunteers for their continuing support of the project and to our Chairman, Richard Croucher, for his sage advice, his fund raising and the financial management of the project and David Bradshaw for his wheeling and dealing for the project.  Without this personal, material and financial support, we would just not be able to do the work and procure the new parts that we are currently doing.  I am also particularly grateful to the Saint and 7903 projects, as well as Bob Meanley at Tyseley, who all continue to help us with technical and practical advice and common items of procurement. 

Next, the big headlines.  The locomotive frames are back at Didcot after overhaul of the horn guides and axleboxes and the grinding of the valve chests at Tyseley.  Work is now in hand to check, paint and mark up all the components for rewheeling, which should be in the first quarter 2016. The firebox awaits the fitting of some stays and is then complete.  On the boiler front, we have done a lot of work to confirm the probable cost of the parts for a new boiler and smokebox, which is in the order of £86,000.  Subject to an engineering risk assessment, we now propose to engage with potential contractors for a fixed price labour contract in order that we can keep a very tight control on costs.

2015 saw spectacular progress on the underframe of our tender which was enhanced by a most successful Work Week.  The majority of components are now fitted, the most recent being the riveting of the spring hanger brackets.  The fitting of the brake hanger brackets was recently completed, but the wheel bearings remain work in progress.  The springs are cleaned and oiled and the hanger threads are being cleaned up.  We are now working towards wheeling in 2016 which will leave the brake hangers and crossbeams to be fitted and piping up to be done.  Regrettably, with the absence of our welder, work on the tank and its base has stalled, although the timber packing for the tank base is cut and is being installed. 

Loco-wise, work on the extremely complex cab floor is complete.  We now have both crossheads which are awaiting conversion to the required specification.  We have started looking at the manufacture of our pistons and rods – regrettably those that we had in stock were for a bar frame loco rather than a plate frame one. We have also ordered the main elements of the exhaust steam injector for both ourselves and the Saint project and some parts have already been delivered.  We also continue to lever on other projects where commonality of parts procurement exists.

Now that we are working on new components which have a high technical content and value, we must ensure that the drawings that we use to support our procurement process are error free.  To this end, we have initiated a check on the checker, which means that any drawing will be checked twice against the GW original drawing of the component.  As with everything in the project, the mantra must remain; “Do it once and do it right”.

The good news is that the hours worked statistics have improved from 2014 but they have not yet returned to the heady early days of the project.  Initiatives such as riveting weekends and mid-week working have borne fruit, the latter being particularly useful for lone-workers, but it is still essential for us to put more effective works time into the project.  As we have done this year, Dicky and I will be trying other initiatives such working every Saturday, working a double day once a month, working selected weekends or simply finishing work an hour later.  I will nag no more!!

As usual, some statistics for you.  As at early December 2015, 141,591 hits on the website – just over 21,000 hits during the 12 months beginning December 2014, a reduction of 3,000 hits over the last period.  Total project spend to date £685009; 2015 spend £46400.  Total 1695 hours worked (2014 total 1608 hours), up 4%.  Total support hours approximately 650.  Average 2015 workday turnout 9.

Finally, my thanks again to all County Setters for your physical efforts in 2015 and I look forward to your continuing support in 2016, particularly in the matter of hours worked in the shop.

My compliments of the season to you all,

Mike Cooper