December 2013 Report

Welcome to the report for December.

The grinding bay is always busy on a Saturday


December has been busy in more ways than one. The Santa Specials are always a very busy time on the K&ESR and if there aren't any locos then there won't be any trains! So whilst of course keeping the fleet going is imperative we have also been in a very important milestone in 25 Northiam's overhaul (see more below).

There is so much work to be done, so many different tasks and projects to be undertaken. None of what we do could be possible without the many hours, we collectively, put in. We tend to notice there is a trend amongst railway media to over emphasise the project itself and ignore the people concerned. Quite simply without dedicated volunteers (and paid staff too!) the steam locomotive / heritage railways would be banished into the history books.

Advent / Christmas is always a time for people to come together in a special way. The Saturday Gang are no different. Many of our members finally get some free weekends in December so its a joyous time for all of us to meet again. It must be said that the Saturday Gang values all of its members, no matter how small the contribution. For many small acts or the odd few hours here and there combine to form a large and valuable good. Of course an added bonus is that the usual biscuits are supplemented with mince pies, chocolates (non alcoholic ones!), sweets and so on. It's a good job we're busy or otherwise we would probably need larger overalls at the turn of the year!

Onwards to the works section:

25 Northiam:



After months of preparation, trials and checks we have made some visible progress during December. All of the horn guides were prepared and within tolerance. Early during the month we re-positioned the rear jacks to allow the wheels to be rolled into position beneath the frames. During this time the motion re-assembly has continued aplenty and is looking far more complete. Just to name a few components that have been refitted, includes the cylinder cock mechanism & brake beam. 

Gently lowering 25's frames onto the wheels
After another short period of preparation we have begun the process of lowering 25 Northiam's frames back onto her wheels. This is a very delicate and logistically complex operation. It involves gradually lowering the wooden blocks that support the main frames and taking the slack on the jacks. It has to be a slow process otherwise undue stress will be placed on one part of the frames. 

DS238 Wainwright: 

Progress continues, the midweek loco dept teams have been doing an excellent job cleaning up the frames. The boiler is still being worked on but is getting there. 

753 P Class:

No progress to report. 

In the works / news

6619: Works are progressing as part of the boiler ticket extension. Repairs are ongoing to ensure the loco operates reliably during this new period of running.

6619 & Charwelton in the shed

14 Charwelton: Receiving some minor repairs / light maintenance. Charwelton is our loco of choice for the driving courses so it's essential Charwelton is back in service in the new year. 

23 Holman F Stephens: We featured 23 in our previous report. Works are completed and 23 is ok to be operated. 

376 Norwegian, 32670, 32678: Winterised. 

65 Maunsell & 1638: in service. 

Videos / Photos: 

Check out our youtube channel shortly for December's video report: Saturday Gang Youtube Channel

Photos as always can be found at: www.kesrloco.co.uk

A 2013 review will follow in due course. 

Many thanks for reading, 

Saturday Gang 


November 2013 Report

Welcome to the report for November.

Saturday Gang Volunteer preparing some platework for use


November was rather quiet compared to previous months. The K&ESR enjoyed a mini winter shutdown which meant all of the locos were in the yard (where we like them!). However to say November isn't a busy month for the Saturday Gang & the Loco Dept would be inaccurate. We have a small window to get our loco fleet ready for an intense period of running in December. The Santa Specials are an integral part of the K&ESR's business plan so without any locos that would cause issues!

November is also a rather grim time of month, it's been cold, raining and the days are short. However this is where all of us show our commitment, rather than pulling the duvet back over the head we get up and head out. We are a self motivated group, we really want to progress and make things happen. Not only that though there really is a social side to the Saturday Gang, the amount of laughter and noise would certainly suggest we're a bit more than colleagues. It's an opportunity for each of us to discuss and listen to others. Our new volunteers who have easily become a part of our group, yes we are a close knit group but that doesn't make us a clique. Really the point here is that its not just our enthusiasm for our work, but also the fun & friendship we have. This is what motivates us to come to Rolvenden rather than do the million other things available.

So if you're at all interested in locomotive overhaul's / maintenance then please get in touch. We are more than happy to show potential volunteers around and / or arrange taster days. You can contact us via email at saturdaygang@gmail.com.

Onwards to the works section.

25 Northiam: 

Saturday Gang volunteers preparing the horn guides for the axleboxes
The progress made was a continuation of what we started towards the end of October. We have been trial fitting the axleboxes, this usually requires a few attempts because as you can see the tolerances are very tight.

Further preparatory work has been undertaken to continue the motion reassembly and ultimately re-wheel (see December's report when it arrives!). Work was undertaken on the brake gear and hopefully this will be fitted during December. This includes tasks such as retrieving 25's springs and cleaning out the grease nipples. Although securely stored it doesn't take much to clog up these small parts.

DS238 Wainwright

DS238 under overhaul
Continued steady progress.

753 P Class

No progress since last report.

In the works / news

23 Holman F Stephens: The boiler washout & mechanical exam unearthed some issues and repairs that needed to be undertaken before Christmas rather than after. We detailed in the previous report many of the issues we had encountered. November saw us finishing off these repairs and re-assembling the loco. We were pleased these were completed at the end of November so 23 will be available for the Santa Specials. 

Two Saturday Gang volunteers refitting 23's dome cover

1638: A 12 month boiler ticket extension has been granted and all the necessary repair work has been carried out. The loco was steam tested and after some fettling returned to traffic. A decision was made to return 1638 to its original BR Black colour it arrived at the K&ESR wearing in 1992. 
1638: Back and in black.

6619: Repairs ongoing. 

Class 2 fleet (32670 Bodiam, 32678 Knowle, 14 Charwelton): Winterised and receiving some repairs / maintenance where required. 

32678: Winterised.

Video / Pictures from November

Below is the link to the video for November's report: Apologies but blogger but can't seem to find it to embed so just copy the link and it will take you to the video:
Saturday Gang Video Report November 2013

We have updated our photo website also so please visit: www.kesrloco.co.uk

If you haven't already please "like" us on Facebook: Saturday Gang Facebook Page

Many thanks for reading, December's report & a review of 2013 will appear in due course.

Saturday Gang


October 2013 Report

Welcome to the report for October.

Volunteer being trained in the skill of gas cutting
It's been an productive period for the Saturday Gang, with plenty of work to keep us occupied. We have welcomed back some old faces and been training our new volunteers. What's especially pleasing is it that most of this training has been provided / supervised by our younger members. So the skills they've been taught are almost immediately being passed on. Although it is true to say much of the work we do is laborious (reason why BR was so keen to be rid of steam) there is a huge amount of skillful engineering in what we do. All sorts of skills are taught and used, ranging from angle grinding, to using lathes, mechanical drills, welding basics to teamwork and communication. These are of course highly transferable skills, as many of our members have found, they started at Rolvenden and a few years later find themselves employed in the rail industry.

So if you're at all interested in railways, engineering then don't hesitate to get in touch. If you're not sure then come see us and get a little taste of what we do, no strings attached.

Onwards to the works section:

25 Northiam

Trial fitting one of 25's six axleboxes
The overhaul progresses step by step, little by little. Last month we covered the horn guides being installed and prepared. The keep boxes have also been machined and installed. With that completed our efforts have been focused on the axleboxes. Each of the 6 axleboxes has been under attention in the machine shop, various adjustments and smoothing out the wear has been undertaken. This will ensure the axlebox fits correctly in the frames and the wheels won't be "slopping" about when they are united. So although it may sound like we haven't done much this process of fitting the axleboxes involves much skilled machining, testing and a bit of trial fitting of the various component pieces. 

One of 25's axleboxes in the machine shop.
We have also completed the NDT (non destructive testing) on the wheels and progressed as far as possible on the motion inside the frames. 

To summarise the overhaul so far;
  • Boiler is complete
  • Wheels are ready
  • Frames have been de-rusted and painted
  • Cylinders have been rebored
  • Motion reassembly is under progress (as pictured and covered recently in the blog).

DS238 Wainwright

DS238 Wainwright - further steady progress
The overhaul continues to progress. Various components have been striped and work is taking place to refurbish / repair these. Much hard work and effort has been put in by the Loco Dept Team and the weekday volunteers.

753 P Class

753 P Class's boiler
The interfleet team (mentioned last month) have completed their placement and done excellent work on the P Class. Sadly their placement is over and the P Class is again in need of volunteer labour to progress the overhaul. As we keep saying when people ask the question of "when will the P Class steam again or when will the overhaul start?": "When we've finished 25 Northiam!". Always plenty of future projects for us though which is good. After all we couldn't possibly spend all day drinking tea and talking could we?!

In the works / news

Last month we wrote a feature about the maintenance work carried out on 65 Maunsell, the pendulum swung back to 23 Holman F Stephens which we wrote a feature on a few months ago. You may wonder why much of the work we focus on concentrates on our "bigger" locos - the simple truth is that these locos are regularly in service on the MK1 set, Pullman or other trains so require the most attention at the end of their cycle in service. 

Saturday Gang works on 23 Holman F Stephens
We found ourselves carrying out a boiler washout, followed by a mechanical exam. Attention was required in multiple areas. Of course there was the usual debris removal work such as sweeping the boiler tubes. However we carried out many mechanical tasks such as work on the safety valves (very important!), repairing and where required replacing gaskets (which cement a join between two valve faces). We also carried out a hydraulic test which involves checking for leakage and fault finding. Tests such as these can be long as of course steam locos don't have the sophisticated computer based systems modern rolling stock does. Upon inspection it was noticed that some of the leaf springs (which essentially are the equivalent of suspension in a car) were developing cracks. In order to remove these and replace the loco has to be jacked up and the pins holding them in place removed. It sounds simple but presents its own set of challenges. Even a relatively routine cycle of maintenance is different each time and uses many different skills - it never gets boring that's for sure!

Work continues on the boiler ticket extensions of 1638 / 6619. 

1638 Pannier - under repair
The process of winterising some of the locos has begun. Due to the lack of undercover space (if you have a few million quid floating about please buy us a larger shed!) the locos are stored in the open. This carries the risk of frost damage to various components but especially to cab fittings and the loco's motion. Hence it is necessary to remove components where possible for warm storage and sheet up what cannot be removed. This process has begun on some locos which are not expected to be used until the New Year. 

Below is the Video Report for October 2013:

Follow the link to our photo website: www.kesrloco.co.uk

If you haven't already please "like" us on facebook: Saturday Gang Facebook Page

Many thanks for reading, 

Saturday Gang 


September 2013 Report

Welcome to the report for September.

Volunteers creating new components for
25 Northiam, using skills recently learnt
So the main summer season has come to a close and it gives the Saturday Gang and indeed the entire loco dept a chance to breath. We go back to "green" service which sees one steam loco and the DMU in service, making our lives very much easier indeed! However don't be under the impression we're idle during the quieter times of year.

We have welcomed two new volunteers into our group. It's really pleasing to recruit new volunteers, not of course forgetting to value our existing ones! The more people that get involved in the Saturday Gang the more of the really important overhaul and maintenance work gets done. Although we write alot about the locos and the work we do it is fundamentally the people that are important. This is why we place a great emphasis on the social aspect and having a good laugh together.

What do you mean I missed a bit?!! 
25 Northiam overhaul

The overhaul continues apace. The wheels which have received alot of our attention recently are now in process of being inspected for flaws. The front bufferbeam which we showed fitted last month has received several top coats of red paint.

Further work has been going on in the machine shop with new keep boxes and new bushes for the brake gear being manufactured. The horn guides in the frames have been re-instated and welded into position. They have also been measured and have been angle grinded to smooth out the wear that has accumulated over the last 10 years.

Welding up the horn guides on 25 Northiam
The overhaul is progressing step by step and the mainframes are inching closer towards being complete. Of course once the frames and wheels are ready they can be reunited. Slow and steady progress but it is moving forward.

DS238 Wainwright

Work continues to progress on DS238, further works have been taking place to remove components and strip the loco down to the bare essentials. As you can see in the photo the front bufferbeam has been removed and further frame painting has taken place. Striping a loco is certainly quicker than putting it back together but there is an immense amount of work to do once the removal process is complete. Counteracting and repairing years of rust damage takes much hard physical labour and effort.

Further steady progress on DS238 Wainwright
753 P Class

The K&ESR is fortunate to have a good relationship with the consultancy Interfleet who send a team of graduates to us each year: the graduates gain hands on practical experience of engineering and the K&ESR happily uses their labour! Among many other projects carried out on the railway the graduates needle gunned and painted the P Class boiler. It is now better protected from the elements and and looks better too. Further progress on the overhaul depends on the availability of volunteers. Naturally if more of you joined the Saturday Gang then we might be able to work on the P Class alongside 25 Northiam!

P Class boiler resplendent in silver paint
In the works / news

The usual running maintenance has been carried out and the Saturday Gang continues to support the K&ESR's operations in this manner.

65 Maunsell had done its turn in traffic and required its boiler washout, various mechanical exams and where required repairs or remedial action. The Saturday Gang removed 65's blastpipe to allow access to the tube plate. Whilst the blastpipe was removed we took the opportunity to remove the build up of ash in the corners. We swept out the tubes, which is a long physical job, removing the build of ash from the boiler tubes. Once completed Saturday Gang gave the smokebox a thorough clean because ash lingering for long periods can cause corrosion.

Saturday Gang works on 65 Maunsell
At the other end of the loco we also removed the old brick arch. It was crumbling and likely to fall apart in service. So after fetching some new firebricks we installed a new arch. Although its a relatively simple task you can probably imagine being inside a firebox is cramped, hot and very dusty. That's why we enjoy it so much!

Maintenance work ongoing - guess the Gang have gone to tea though!
Once all of the above was completed we tackled the boiler washout itself. The first job is to slacken all of the washout plugs which are dotted around the locomotive in various places. Sometimes these plugs can be very inaccessible as requires an array of tools and extension bars to gain access. Each plug is removed in turn and water flushed through the boiler, forcing the scale out (assuming the ashpan is open!).

Works continue on 1638 & 6619 to do the necessary to attain extensions to the boiler certificates.

Below is the Video Report for September 2013

Follow the link to our photo website: www.kesrloco.co.uk

Many thanks for reading.

Saturday Gang


June, July & August 2013 Report

Welcome to the Report for June, July & August. 
A volunteer looking for cracks in a leaf spring
We're into the summer season and the K&ESR is in full swing. Since the start of August we have been running our "red" service that sees two steam locomotives in operation. This puts extra pressure on the work that the loco dept does as availability levels have to be higher. Given we're not exactly flushed with operational locos either we need to do our job well!

25 Northiam overhaul

The Saturday Gang continues to work on 25 Northiam's overhaul. Progress has been slow and steady with further reassembly taking place. A key area of continued focus has been the wheelsets. As shown in the previous blog post we had stripped them down to the bare metal: during June this was completed and the wheels were progressively painted. A few coats of protective red oxide were applied, followed by grey primer. Once we got some slightly hotter weather in July we proceeded to paint them in a suitable black gloss paint. A seemingly small task like this can take up alot of resource!

Saturday Gang giving 25's wheels a gloss black top coat

25's wheels painted - with tape to stop
people from touching the paint!
However we haven't just been working on the wheels. Work continues to reassemble the frames and install newly repaired components back from where the came. The pistons & con rods have been connected up to the crosshead. The reverser mechanism has also been connected up to the crosshead. The "innerds" of 25 are slowly but surely being put back together.

Pistons now added (in the middle of the slide bars)
Crosshead fitted, reverser mechanism
(equivalent of gears in a car) connected
Attention is also being given to the axleboxes, we cannot lower the frames back onto the wheels without these. Checks have been made to determine the wear and any adjustments required.

Checking 25's axleboxes for wear
Works at the "front end" have been completed which has meant we have been able to reinstall the front bufferbeam. A small step perhaps but it does seem to, aesthetically at least, make 25 look a little more like a loco than just a large kit of parts.

Front bufferbeam refitted to 25 Northiam
Slowly but surely we are getting there! There's a fantastic spirit in the Gang at the moment as we continue to battle against the odds to return 25 to service. This is by far the hardest challenge we have had, much more extensive and complicated than Charwelton or Norwegian's tender overhaul. As always though we're rising to the challenge through a mixture of camaraderie, cake / biscuits, tea and appalling jokes! Special thanks is due to our steadfast regulars who keep the project going.

376 Norwegian

Just a brief update from the previous blog post, 376 Norwegian has been fully lined out and is in service. A point to note is that due to extensive frame strengthening works, Norwegian's power rating has been increased from a "3" to a "4". The number denotes how many MK1 carriages a loco can haul over the K&ESR. The highest we have is "5". This increased power rating has seen Norwegian haul the Pullman set, loads heavier than previous periods in service.

376 Norwegian after a day on the "B" set

DS238 Wainwright

With 376 Norwegian's overhaul now firmly in the past, efforts have been stepping up to return DS238 to service. Works are centring around the firebox and frames. As you can see from the below photos: repairs are taking place to the outer firebox and the frames are being progressively cleaned and painted.

DS238 Wainwright under overhaul, note frames painted

In the works / news:

Inspecting 23's spring hangers
The Saturday Gang has been busy assisting in the running maintenance of the K&ESR. For example, after 28 days in steam a locomotive requires a boiler washout, a mechanical exam and usually some kind of repairs! We have been assisting the main loco dept in carrying out such maintenance / repairs. A example of this is the work that we have been doing on 23 Holman F Stephens (currently on washout having completed 28days in service). A mechanical exam has been carried out, the tubes swept out and removal of a broken spectacle plate. The aim is to ensure the locomotive continues to perform efficiently and ensuring that any potential issues are spotted before they cause damage. Often unseen but this work is essential. No maintenance - no trains!

A collage of scenes showing Sat Gang volunteers at
the controls of 23 HFS, under the supervision
of the K&ESR operating assistant
The Saturday Gang was privileged enough to be rewarded with our own equivalent to a "Railway Experience Day". As you know, we are not locomotive crew, we don't physically operate the locos. However on occasion we are given the chance to sample the fruits of our labour first hand. Supervised by qualified operating staff several of our members had the opportunity to drive 23 Holman F Stephens up and down a short section of line (Rolvenden station to Sewage Works siding). This serves as a wonderful reminder of why we do what we do. Without our works, the locos simply wouldn't run. Needless to say we all thoroughly enjoyed driving 23.

We are delighted to report that 65 Maunsell has returned from her holiday at the Embsay & Bolton Abbey Rly and will be back at the head of the MK1 or Pullman set in due course.
65 Maunsell - back from the E&BA Rly
6619 has had some remedial repairs carried out. Work has also been undertaken to prepare our resident Pannier (1638) for a boiler ticket extension. All being well the inspector will grant a further year of running.

Unfortunately Marcia suffered some issues some months ago, recent investigation found an issue with the firebox. This will necessitate the loco being stripped, the boiler lifted, and extensive repairs being carried out. A shame seeing as Marcia was only back a few months.

Marcia withdrawn with firebox problems

Can you help? 

Some of the Saturday Gang, pictured a few years ago
The Saturday Gang is made up almost entirely of volunteers. The loco dept provides skilled craftsmen to supervise and guide us in our work (hence why our regular cratfsmen are part of the gang!). However we are in real need of extra people. The workload is large and some more help would go along way. If you look at what we do and think "that looks interesting but I can't possibly do that" then don't worry! All of us started without experience and built up our skills through training and working with others. We train and teach people all the skills they need which come in very useful in all walks of life. If you're at all interested or would like to know more than leave a comment on the blog or email saturdaygang@gmail.com. If you're still not convinced we'd be happy to show you round the works and demonstrate what we do. So what are you waiting for people?!

Below are two videos showing some of our work during the last couple of months can be found embed below or by following the link: Saturday Gang June 2013 Video Report & Saturday Gang July 2013 Video Report

Further photos of our work can be found at: www.kesrloco.co.uk

If you haven't already please "like" us on facebook: Saturday Gang Facebook page

Many thanks for reading.

Saturday Gang

K&ESR Locomotive status August 2013

Here's an update (as of 18.08.13) with a photo of each of our locos in current condition.

Under overhaul / out of service

25 Northiam - boiler overhaul complete, frame & motion
reassembly in progress (see latest report for detailed update)

DS238 - boiler repairs continuing, frames progressively
being cleaned and painted

Marcia - withdrawn with firebox issues. Pending inspection

753 P Class - dismantled, awaiting overhaul to start

24 Rolvenden - in store awaiting overhaul to start

Under repair / boiler ticket extension work

1638 - Work is taking place to obtain an extension
to the boiler certificate, which has now expired

6619 - repairs are taking place in the firebox and works
are being undertaken to obtain a boiler ticket extension

In service

3 Bodiam: In service

32678 Knowle: In service: New late BR crests have been fitted
14 Charwelton: In service

376 Norwegian: In service
65 Maunsell: In service
23 Holman F Stephens: In service