Progress Updates

We'll be posting here periodically with details of what's been going on with May's restoration work....

Update 31st August 2014

posted 3 Sep 2014, 02:20 by Derek TP

Where's the summer gone?  Actually it was a good summer in Swanage, which probably explains the hiatus in updating this page...
Various bits and pieces have gone on with work on May over the summer, but interrupted by three events:
  • Visit by Sygnets to the Gloucestershire/Warwickshire Railway (including viewing work on May's sister engine there, Mavis)  -  thanks to all at GWRS!
  • 35th Anniversary celebrations - marked at May with presentation of long-service awards to some of the volunteers who were there from day 1
  • The August barbecue, run to raise some funds for Sygnets and distracting us from work that Saturday!
Work that has been completed, though, is some further coats of paint on the bonnet-top and nose, and the filling of the many rust patches and small (and not so small) holes in the nose. Both sets of cab steps are also now in undercoat and attached in their final positions.
With May, at SR
    With Mavis at GWRS

Update 14th June

posted 28 Jun 2014, 12:50 by Derek TP

[Posted a couple of weeks later]
With May at the very end of the goods shed siding in Corfe Castle, we are unfortunately once again without power. (Yes, there's power nearby but all sockets are in use and we don't have the right adapters...)   So last Sygnets' session was purely Sygnet-powered!  Nonetheless we got some good jobs done and progress made, including:
  • Undercoating the front of the cab
  • Unbolting the main electrical control panel from the cab sides (though we still need to detach the cable runs / conduit to free it completely)
  • Removing the stanchion at the end of one of the long bonnet handrails
  • Re-ferriconning and priming the curved part of the bonnet nose
The handrail job is a small but important one. The design of the Fowler bonnet has three handrail stanchions each side, bolted from underneath. Unfortunately the nuts on the rearmost stanchion are completely inaccessible, due to the fuel tank almost entirely filling the space under the rear bonnet section.  Now that would be OK if the handrails just slid in / through the stanchions, but because they're completely rusted in and seized, it effectively means that the rear bonnet cover and the handrails have to be assembled before fitting to the loco, making the whole thing extremely heavy and unwieldy. If we can free up just the rear stanchions, they can be bolted in place before fitting the bonnet cover, then later the handrails can be slid into them and bolted onto the other covers. The stanchion on one side has now been removed, after a lot of hard work, but the other - after a promising initial twist on the handrail, refuses to budge. Next step will be the application of heat which should, in theory, release it. Watch this space!

Update 12th May 2014

posted 12 May 2014, 14:16 by Derek TP   [ updated 12 May 2014, 14:32 ]

Swanage Diesel Gala weekend, and "May" has been moved up the line to Corfe Castle. Located at the end of the old goods shed road, this move involved a bit of "bulldozing" through overgrowth but she's on display there, and over the weekend we had many visitors. As you'll see from the pictures, all four bonnet top panels are bolted on (albeit with some adjustments needed) and even over the weekend further work continued, with the left-hand wheels now into grey undercoat. The cab windows have been temporarily refitted to give some weather-proofing whilst out in the open again. 

Thanks to all the Sygnets who have worked so hard to get May to this stage, in which she received many kind words and compliments. 

On the Tuesday prior to diesel gala, a convoy of vehicles including both "May" and the prototype HST power car 41001 were moved up from Swanage to Corfe.  What a privilege to be coupled to a celebrity engine like that; bet the Project Miller guys never expected that!  :-)

Update - 8th March 2014

posted 2 Apr 2014, 05:28 by Derek TP

It's amazing the amount of progress that can be made some days compared to others. It's nothing to do with the amount of effort put in, but some days there seems little to show for a days' hard graft, other days the difference is clear. Last Sygnet's working day was one of the latter, with a small team making a big difference to the loco's appearance.

Firstly, the front buffer beam was given a good wash in hot soapy water and thoroughly dried off, then red undercoat applied. This really brightens the front aspect up and gives an idea of how the final buffer beam red top-coat will look. In preparation for more red undercoat, the coupling and connecting rods on both sides were cleaned with parafin to remove oily residue from her last move. Since then the remaining bit of right-hand conn rod has been stripped and primed as well, so all the rods can go into red undercoat next time. 

The three prepared bonnet top panels were all painted into green primer, and since then the remaining panel has been cleaned up, ferricon'ed and primed also, so all the bonnet tops are matching. Further work was done on the cabsides to touch up some areas that already had rust appearing in places, and a further coat of primer applied. Subsequently further remedial work has been done. The final top section of the cab rear completed stripping the old paint and rust removal, and was prepared with primer; last week the grey undercoat was applied so the whole cab rear is now in uniform grey. 

Various other components were cleaned, primed or undercoated; and also the air brake cylinder cover, already in undercoat, was carefully lowered back into position (temporarily without the internal piston return spring) so that the brake rigging again appears complete. Finally we also offered up 5 of the 7 primed bonnet side panels. These all went in fine but will be fairly regularly taken out in the next few working parties to allow further progress on the top panels and of course access to the engine itself. 

buffer beam in primer
With just one more Sygnets' working party before the Diesel Gala (May 9th - 11th) we're hoping progress will be similarly rapid next time, as the hope is that this year May will be on show to the public, either at Swanage or Corfe Castle stations. The aim is to get her looking presentable for then, even though she will be far from complete. Before the diesel gala I'll aim to update this site so you'll know where she is!
               side panels in place   Cab rear almost painted

Update - 8th Feb 2014

posted 20 Feb 2014, 14:03 by Derek TP   [ updated 20 Feb 2014, 14:20 ]

Finally got around to a progress update! Since the last report in October a lot has gone on, including:
  • Welding up of both lower step replacements onto the main step assemblies
  • Fitting tread grips onto the new cab step treads
  • Painting lower cab rear into undercoat
  • Undercoating both long bonnet handrails and cab handrail
  • Spot-welding the first of the four replacement roof sections back into place, after first fitting a new stretcher bar above the doorway
  • Drilling fixing holes for the first of the replacement bonnet sections
  • Cutting large hole in new bonnet section for radiator filler
  • Removal, cleaning, ferriconing and painting into primer of more cab electrical switchboxes
  • Cleaning and ferriconning replacement bonnet sections
  • Painting into undercoat of r/h wheels
  • Undercoating various other components such as the air brake cylinder end cover
  • Priming and undercoating much of the bonnet supporting framework
  • Cleaning off most of the remaining old paint from the upper cab rear
(Not to mention the Sygnets' party in December, several leaders' meetings plus the consumption of countless doughnuts!)
We're hopeful that this year May really will be on public display during the railway's Diesel Gala weekend (8th - 11th May), probably in the "Squint" - the short headshunt partially occupied by the Bird's Nest Buffet, and directly opposite platform 2 at Swanage. Ideally May would be in all-over undercoat at that time, but realistically it's unlikely that the remaining roof work and fixing of the new bonnet covers can be completed in time - with just two more Sygnets' meetings between now and then!

However we plan to be there regardless, and we'll be around certainly all day on the Saturday and probably much of Friday too, so do come along and say hello and see for yourself how the restoration is progressing.

Leaders Rob, Michael and Liz worked on into the evening after the last meeting...

Update - 26th October

posted 28 Oct 2013, 02:59 by Derek TP

Many thanks to Rob who came to the Goods Shed for a while on Saturday and has made an excellent start on the work to the cab roof. Getting easier access to the roof was the main reason we needed to be in shed, so it's great to see good progress in just an afternoon. Rob's made a start on cutting  out the rotted lower sections of the cab roof, ready for the replacement sections - already available and rolled to the the right curve - to be welded into place. The photos show May's new "sun roof".

Other work completed since the last Sygnets' meeting include getting the cab and main bonnet handrails, Ferricon'd at the last meeting, into primer; spot-filling some of the worst rust pock-marks on the cab side; cutting the smaller of two holes in the rearmost bonnet cover, for the fuel dip-stick; removing some of the screws from the cab instrument panel; and of course removing doors and windows in readiness for the cab roof work.

Update - 12th October 2013

posted 13 Oct 2013, 10:52 by Derek TP

Many thanks to all those Sygnets working on "May" this weekend (lots in the Undercoating the exhaustmorning, lots more in the afternoon). Our first working day in the goods shed, we now enjoy a truly weather-proofed (rain-proofed, anyway) environment plus the luxury of platforms both sides.

The morning saw all the dismantled components previously stored in the cab being offloaded onto shelving right next to the loco; this not only completely freed up the cab (allowing us to resume work on the cab interior and remaining fittings) but also allowing us to organise the components and find things much more easily.

Other jobs completed ranged from undercoating the whole exhaust + chimney, rubbing down and Ferricon'ing the handrails, clearing rust and gunk off the front of the footplate, right through to scraping off years of grime from the one remaining original cab window, plus a coat of primer on the inside of some of the bonnet framing. 

Finally, the seven bonnet side covers were retrieved from storage further up the line, and the two "new-build" covers made some years ago were put into undercoat, the others having been done a long time ago. 

Update - 9th September 2013

posted 13 Sep 2013, 15:04 by Derek TP

Steam gala weekend, so much of the Sygnets' working day spent watching the trains go by... :-)   However still plenty of time to make good progress, with a number of miscellaneous items cleaned up and into primer off the loco, plus a "freshen up" of the left-hand wheels (which had had some protective primer applied in 2010; this time around the underlying gunge has been removed first!)   The rear end of the airbrake cylinder was successfully removed, with the cover cleaned up and into primer, the piston removed, cleaned, and the cylinder greased up (all in remarkably good condition) and partially re-assembled.

Reassembly will now have to wait some weeks or months for completion, however, as on Monday May was shunted out of the loco shed and into the goods shed.  This new environment is warmer (marginally) and drier than the loco shed, being fully enclosed, and with platforms each side provides more convenient access to the upper body and engine bay.  It does of course mean we can't reach anything much below the running plate, however!

Update - 22nd August 2013

posted 5 Sep 2013, 03:11 by Derek TP

A bit of a delayed update this time, sorry!
It's been a lovely hot summer and being in the loco shed has meant some shade to work in and a cool breeze with the rear shed doors open. With a Sygnets' working party on the 8th, and a further small working party on the 22nd August plus some "individual" time, a number of jobs have progressed:
  • The remainder of the curved nose panelling has been stripped (outside surface only) and treated with Ferricon. Next tasks will be to fill some of the corroded areas, and cut out the parts that have rusted away (mainly the bottom edge). Then we'll be welding in a replacement section, cut from the old bonnet roof panels.
  • The rear light "cluster" has been removed, dismantled and is in the process of being cleaned up
  • The "U" shaped channels forming the runners for the cab doors have been de-rusted and Ferricon'd
  • The first of three large holes in the new bonnet roof sheeting have been cut. This was with some trepidation but we managed to not only cut it in the right place, but to the right size, round, and with reasonably smooth edges too!  A minor triumph! (Just the other two to do now...)
  • The right-hand side wheels have been de-painted, de-greased and completely de-gunged, and are now resplendent in green primer (see below)
  • Various other engine parts have been thoroughly cleaned and prepped
  • Five out of the six cylinder heads have been refitted, with brand new gaskets
  • Work has started on dismantling the air brake actuation cylinder
  • Further layers of undercoat applied to various components including the main water tank, the rear rerailing bar, and both sides of the running plate valance.
Freshly-primed wheels
We expect to move into the goods shed very shortly; this will prevent access below the footplate, but give much easier accessibility to the upper cab sides and roof, and make working on the engine bay and bonnet much easier.

Thanks to all - as ever - who have given up time over the summer to help move the project forwards.

Update - 13th July 2013

posted 16 Jul 2013, 13:32 by Derek Pattenson

A clear blue sky and baking temperatures... It's planned to move "May" from the loco shed, where she's been since December, into the goods shed very shortly. In preparation for that, and with the welcome assistance of some willing Sygnets, many of the major components that had found their way into the corners of (and behind) the loco shed were gathered together and lifted onto the loco, ready to move with it. Some items remain on the benches and the water tank is awaiting more lifting power, but otherwise we're good to go. 

The goods shed has been the subject of a major refurbishment, concentrating on a brand new roof. The loco shed had been similarly treated not long before our arrival, so we're staying at the "cutting edge" of workspaces on the railway! The new location gives us raised platforms each side to work from, enabling us to reach the top of the cab rear and roof for the first time. We'll not be able to work on below-footplate items but the brakes were sorted out whilst over the pit in the loco shed, and further cleaning and stripping of motion and frames will have to wait. Hopefully we can get in a few additional work sessions over the summer and make good progress!   

Watch this space for an updated "view from the cab" shortly...

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