K1 in WHR Service

In WHR Service
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K1 made its long-awaited entry into ordinary WHR revenue-earning service on Friday October 19th 2007, working all the day's services without problems. The train comprised the E Set (six carriages plus bicycle wagon), which is a little heavier than the F Set with which it had run previous tests.

The loco is seen below in service on October 29th 2007.

Following attention to a hot axlebox, K1 had another outing on the afternoon train on November 1st 2007, piloting 143 from Dinas to Rhyd Ddu and back. The loco ran without problems and reportedly did a lot of the work.

K1 Group Chairman Andy Rutter comments on the axleboxes, and other matters being attended to on the loco at this point:

K1 and K2 were designed with top lubrication gravity fed axle boxes, and the oil flowed down around the journals to the pad that spread the oil evenly at the bottom of the journals; the pad was kept in place by a sprung former and a "keep". As far as we are aware this worked OK in Tasmania, although the small oil reservoirs above each axle would have required regular topping-up and can suffer from water ingress if the brass lids are not secure (or if water leaks down from the tanks as happened at Super Power 2006). A decision was made to convert to underfeed lubrication using reservoirs feeding oil through flexible pipes into the bottom of the journals with the pads acting as wicks drawing the oil in capillary action. The top reservoir feeds were sealed and they remain out of use. There a number of variables on how good or bad this system is at maintaining oil around the journal, and all are being considered. The flexible pipes could be too small in diameter, not allowing free flow of oil quickly enough from the reservoir to the keep. The pads may be too thick and compressed, losing their capillary action. The oil may not be of the correct viscosity. When the oil is topped-up the night before service the loco will run 100 miles or more without problems, so, oiling just before daily service seems to not allow enough time for the oil to permeate the pads. Axle no 3 is nearest the ashpan and firebox bottom and may suffer from more heat radiation, possibly drying-up more rapidly, although this seems unlikely. A hot box seems to happen quite randomly. There was a shim in one axle box that was dislocated and wound slivers of metal around the axle adjacent to the journal; this has been dealt with.

Apart from this annoying problem a lot has been achieved improving performance - traction is excellent, and steam sanding is a boon. Steaming is better with coal as the vacuum produced in the smokebox is better, and the compounding is improved, giving better economy with the adjustment of the valve timing, though there is still work to do on this. Coal consumption seems very acceptable with possibly a daily saving of 150 - 200 over the equivalent in oil costs. Obviously K1's water tanks are small, but there doesn't seem to be an issue of lack of water as long as the tanks are topped up regularly; the railway has plenty of water tanks. By creating a vent in the water discharge pipe from the injectors they have been made far less temperamental, though there is still work to do on the driver's side injector, with the cones, etc.

K1 took a special to Waunfawr on November 4th 2007, in connection with the annual roving "Narrow Gauge Get-Together" event which was being hosted by the FR.

K1 ran two test trains to Rhyd Ddu on Friday November 9th 2007, and is seen below on the second trip. Reportedly, the bearings behaved themselves.

The loco was in charge of service trains two days later.

On Saturday November 17th 2007 volunteers took the opportunity to tidy up some remaining jobs. An interesting task that delighted all that saw it was to mount an almost complete reproduction acetylene headlamp on K1's front tank. It was wired up with battery and lamp, and although it still required the front door assembly with lens, it looked most impressive. The group are delighted with craftsman Stuart Fletcher's work on these lamps. The second lamp was left in his workshop and is at a similar stage of construction. It proved possible to ascertain ways and means to mount the lamps and support them from beneath, although with the amount of coal carried in the rear tank/bunker, thoughts will be directed as to how that lamp can be protected from the coal. The turbo generator will be mounted on the cradle that can be seen in the view of Martin Page drilling the adjacent frame (third picture). The fourth picture shows John Startin fixing up the protective collar on the receiver pipe that will keep the sliding joint clean. On the left of the same photo, the safety chain and bar can be seen that act as a cradle should the receiver pipe come adrift from its ball joint assembly. A safety bar for the same purpose was also fitted at the ashpan end of the pipe.

The following day the K1 team were able, at long last, to take turns riding on K1's footplate and enjoying the locomotive's performance after twelve years of rebuilding.

The lamps will find a practical use as soon as they are ready - locos have to carry a headlight in winter, and the point where this came into force was K1's trains on November 24th and 25th 2007 - the loco was carrying modern portable headlights front and rear. The diesel pilot seen in the first picture was insurance against leaf fall problems on the climb through the woods, and was detached at Waunfawr.

K1 worked the weekend service again on December 1st and 2nd 2007.

On December 6th 2007 K1 went out on a load test run between Caernarfon and Waunfawr, hauling seven carriages, three B wagons and the tool van. The test went well, with no slipping, and the train was able to maintain normal line speed. It is rostered to haul Santa Trains to Waunfawr, and these comprise up to seven carriages, two more than the shortened E set normally used in winter.

The replica lamps are seen in Stuart Fletcher's workshop on December 7th 2007, almost complete but still needing the lenses and bezels to be made.

K1 was in charge of a six-carriage Santa Train on December 9th 2007.

The loco hauled all the 2007 Santa trains, including the additional one run on Friday December 21st 2007 for a school party. K1 also worked passenger services from December 27th 2007 to January 1st 2008.

The working party on January 26-7th 2008 saw K1 being fitted with the first of the headlamps and mounting brackets, after which the lamps were returned to Worcestershire for finishing assembly of the lenses, hence the blank front door assembly in the photos. The front tank was fitted with "U" brackets reproducing the originals; the rear tank would need modifications to the coal rails to fit the other lamp. The lamps will not be left in unfinished brass, but will be finished in black in the original style. The rear reverser lubricator below the coal bunker was fitted up to new pipelines, and the inspection plates and cover were fixed with screws to allow for better access. The bunker had to be emptied of coal to achieve all of this in a confined space (second picture).

One of the lamps is seen below in Stuart Fletcher's workshop on February 6th 2008, complete with bezel, lens assembly and reproduction "PHOS PAT" plate on the carbide door. The next tasks would be for preparation for service, including wiring and painting.

K1 is rostered to work the February 2008 half-term service, and is seen at Rhyd Ddu on the first day of these operations.

These shots were taken the next day by volunteers working on nos. 138 and 143 at Dinas, while K1 worked the service train - a neat reversal of fortune! The second and third rows of pictures at and near Rhyd Ddu were taken on February 11th and 13th 2008.

These pictures show K1 on the afternoon train on February 17th 2008.

With K1 in regular service, the working party on February 23-4th 2008 was expected to be the last for the foreseeable future, and the opportunity was taken to progress the installation of the headlamps and associated equipment. The rear tank lamp U-brackets were fixed in place and the alterations to the coal bunker rails were decided upon, but not yet tackled this weekend. The lamps were now complete with lenses and polished reflectors and one was tried out on K1 with batteries. Frank Colin had restored the Stone's generator to service; this was assembled with the steam turbine, mounted on the cradle, and trial fitted to the boiler frame to assess where the steam connections will be located. It fits quite unobtrusively below the boiler and the team were able to jack up the whole cradle with turbo quite readily into position. It would be fitted permanentlt once all the wiring could be completed and the steam supply and exhaust piped. The lamps would be finished in black, wired permanently with batteries, and cable connections to the locomotive would be designed. The wiring circuit on K1 will be in conduit with flexible connections between the boiler frame and engine units. The cab will have a switch to charge the batteries when the turbo-generator is running, a switch for each lamp, (whether travelling forward or bunker first), and probably an LED cab and gauge illumination set of lamps that can be run from the 24v supply.

A recent improvement to K1's operation had been the fitting of a displacement lubricator on the regulator housing. Without it the regulator was far too stiff, and it was an early modification on the K class in service on the NEDT in Tasmania. So almost 100 years later, the WHR has made the same modification.

The completed front lamp was fitted to the loco and brought into use on April 5th 2008; a decision remained to be made on how to provide adequate protection for the rear one.

K1 is seen hauling an evening Guest Driver special on May 6th 2008.

These pictures were taken on May 7th 2008.

The following week the loco gave a further demonstration of its capabilities on a train extended to cope with passenger demand to nine carriages plus a bicycle wagon; the train arrived at Rhyd Ddu five minutes early, after leaving Waunfawr on time.

The 1355 train from Caernarfon on May 17th 2008 was strengthened to eleven carriages (the maximum length Caernarfon can take, and then only if carriages 23 and 24 are included) for a large excursion party. K1 proved equal to the longest and heaviest train it has hauled in Wales, and perhaps in its entire life; there was a little slipping from the rear power unit on some departures and some of the longer climbs were taken quite slowly, but the loco's ability to cope was never in doubt; although some time was lost between Caernarfon and Waunfawr, the train ran from Waunfawr to Rhyd Ddu in the usual booked time, and reached the crossing with no. 143's train at Waunfawr some minutes before the NGG16 arrived from Caernarfon.

Shortly before this, ancillary arrangements for K1's operations were improved by the installation of an electric belt-driven coal loader at Dinas, replacing the wooden wheelbarrow ramp. Coal now only needed shovelling into the mechanism's feed hopper, which discharged into K1's bunker.

K1 is seen below passing Castell Cidwm bridge on May 24th 2008.

2009 is the centenary of K1. The K1 Group of the WHRS are very much looking forward to her second century of operation, and with that in mind is launching an appeal to raise funds over the next few years from supporters old and new, to keep K1 steaming. The K1 Group works closely with the WHR locomotive staff to maintain the engine in good condition, and are looking ahead to what will be needed after the current project to equip headlamps and lighting generator is completed. The water tanks are the originals, as is the coal bunker, and they will reach the end of their useful life in the not too distant future. With that in mind a start is being made on gathering estimates for replacements, and also to plan for the eventual 10-year boiler overhaul. The group has produced a leaflet (PDF) showing how supporters may help.

Over the weekend of November 15-16th 2008 a working party of 10 or 11 volunteers from the K1 Group were able to tackle a list of maintenance items that had accumulated after K1's very successful season. The fire bars are to be raised in light of operating problems with accumulation of ash in the ash pan; so this was removed from the bottom of the firebox. The rocking grate is likely to be abandoned as well. The receiver (or intermediate pressure) pipe had to be removed and as it required attention to the damaged cladding, an inspection revealed considerable wastage of the steel pipe. It is hoped that because of water retention in the insulation that wraps around the pipe it will be replaced with stainless steel. The injector drains are not satisfactory so investigations into size and shape of pipework and location of drainage to below the cab floor is being considered. The cab floor itself is usually very wet owing to drainage issues so "marine scuppers" are being procured to drain the wooden floor through the steel footplate beneath. There was an issue with the front brakes, so the front tank was made ready to lift to allow for access. The front buffer plate was also removed for inspection of the vacuum cylinder. The rear tank coal rails are to be modified for space to allow the rear lamp to be fitted. This will be protected by a box section and lid that allows access but protects during coaling and the wooden mock-up was used to check the location, etc. Also an improvement to climbing into the coal bunker was worked out and steps, grab rails and a wider chequer plate for the fireman's side footplate on the tank were decided upon. The chimney was removed for a new funnel section which was about to be rolled. The existing cast bottom was being repaired as it had cracked, and the top would have its customary beading refitted. The cylinder drain cocks had been blowing the ballast around, especially under the high pressure engine; modifications to correct this were proposed, and the NGG16s were looked at to gain ideas. One of the expansion links was taken down to assess wear in the bearings, which is also a problem on the other three. A plan to grind the pins to a new dimension and re-bush with phosphor bronze was being planned. A change to grease instead of oil lubrication is envisaged. Also the reversing "trigger & link" mechanism had worn, and this would be attended to with improvements to lubrication as one of this pair lies under the coal bunker. The team also liaised with the NG15 team so that they can utilize more of the stores space and kit that was used during the K1 rebuild and is no longer required. Quite a long list, apart from the ongoing project of generation of electricity for the lamps, so more working parties would be planned to follow up a very productive weekend.

The front tank had been lifted off the loco using the gantry in the North Yard by December 16th 2008.

K1 Working Party Report for January 24-25th 2009:

Expansion Links: All four have been taken down with a better than expected result. The front right is badly worn, bush and pin, as we knew. The remaining three pins are undersize from the nominal 1.750" by 0.001", i.e. a running clearance. The bushes have about twice the clearance based on 0.001" per inch. The carrying brackets have been taken down with a tube and press tool accessories provided to remove and replace the bushes. A jig has been completed to carry the one link and the assembly delivered to Halesowen Engineering for grinding. This done, the new diameter will be communicated back to the workshop for the bush to be completed. The worn bush has created separation of the white metal bearing in the valve rod from the backing and needs replacement. The pin appears uniformly worn. Second, the excess play has resulted in the drive to the mechanical lubricator making contact with the rods. Metal has been removed from both drive pieces to improve clearances for the future.

Reversing linkage between the Engine Frame and the Power Units: Work on the front end is well in hand as the tank has been removed. The condition or the rear linkage is no better than the front. To that end the rear water tank has been released from the engine unit to await lifting. The tank top and the water filler have suffered in contact with the coal. The coal rails are in the process of modification to fit the rear lamp. The access afforded by the absence of the front tank has allowed a pilot drain hole to be drilled into the centre chamber. This needs completion on the next visit and repeating for the hind engine. This simple job took half a day! The cross member is of cast steel and for whatever reason is very hard. The limited access adds to the difficulty. Nobby's perseverance was finally rewarded by water draining from the centre chamber and this will for the future prevent damage to the centre bearing of the reversing shaft. The removal of the original due to corrosion was one of the single most difficult tasks faced during dismantling.

Cab Floor: This is now fitted with two "scuppers" purchased from the boating world to drain water collecting in the well of the cab floor. Drain pipes pass through the steel floor below. Crews should not now suffer from "Trench Foot!" Scurvy can be dealt with by other methods - eat more oranges! Matelots were suitably attired for the work involved.

Injectors: Significant information has been collected by the Group and Tony Williams on how this type of injector shall be fitted and used. The warming cock handles are in the wrong orientation to permit their use, though we remain uncertain as to their full purpose. The length and bends in the overflow are accepted as wrong, but shortening and the cutting of observation holes has not solved the problems. The feed to the driver's side passes very close to the back head and would benefit from being lagged. Splitting the use alternately between the two injectors is recommended. Most of the pipes appear to have adequate diameters but closer investigation reveals a problem. The overflow is 1.375" into a 1.75" pipe on the fireman's side. The pipe to railroad flange in one case is 1.25". The driver's side drain appears to be a smaller diameter. In short the correct and matching diameter adapters need to be fitted to the correct pipes. There are holes for the overflows to pass through the floor into the "two foot". The proposals include "cups" for sight of the overflow to be placed immediately below the injector. With the fireman's side fitted with an additional railroad joint above the floor that section may be removed to permit the firebox door assembly to be removed for access. The drain from the fireman's side gauge glass need a small diversion. The original drain pipes are inside the firebox cladding and somewhat inaccessible and with a pair of right angles in the run cannot be drawn out. The resultant loose ends need to be fixed in some way to prevent chafing to other pipes.

Rear bunker access: A "swimming pool" type ladder will be erected up the rear face of the hind unit so that crew can access the bunker with safety.

Front Water Tank: The front tank would benefit from a footstep and a hand hold opposite the smokebox door for better access to the water filler. This would be incorporated in the design for the new tank.

Smokebox Door: This was fitted with "dogs" not long after being built but the sealing of the door remains unsatisfactory. The proposal is to fit the door with an internal U-seal as trialled on the NGG16.

A working party weekend on Feb 7/8th followed, with the principal jobs being: the valve gear to be re-erected; continue with coal rails; continue with the drain holes in the cross members; paint water filler; reduce the exposed stud lengths; complete design of lamp enclosure and begin construction; sever injector old drains; quantify fittings needed.

K1's front tank was back on the loco by March 23rd 2009, and the loco was being prepared for re-entering service.

K1 ran to Boston Lodge on April 17th 2009 (see Latest News for many pictures of the run), for repainting into its original TGR livery of black with lining out in red and gamboge (yellow), in good time for its centenary celebrations later in the year. The pictures below show the loco first being washed down, and then having its existing paint stripped using steam pressure.

By the end of April 2009 K1 was in undercoat, giving a temporary impression of an altogether different livery.

The start of May 2009 saw the black undercoat applied over the green shown above; it was still wet when the following pictures were taken, a few days before the top coats were due to go on.

When seen on May 6th 2009 the second top coat of gloss black was nearly finished. Lining was due to start the next day and take four days, to be followed by varnishing and replacing parts removed in the course of the paint job, before the loco's return trip up the line to Dinas.

K1 emerged from Boston Lodge in its full 1910 TGR livery on May 13th 2009, with the varnish just about dry. The loco steamed back north the next day.

K1's first passenger working after its return from Boston Lodge was a special from Caernarfon to Hafod y Llyn and back on May 17th 2009. As the photos show, the weather deteriorated badly for the almost continuous 1 in 40 uphill run from Nantmor Bank to the summit. Seven loaded carriages proved a challenge on wet rails, particularly as the loco's sanders proved to be blocked, and slipping led to an unscheduled pause at Meillionen Halt to refill the boiler.

With NGG16 Garratt No. 87 now in revenue earning service it's is expected that K1 will not have covered as many miles as it did in 2008 before the reopening of the Phase 4 section to Beddgelert and Hafod y Llyn.

K1 competed it's second full year of service on the railway and is now undergoing it's annual  winter maintenance. Full details of these can be found on the Society's K1 pages.

12 August 2010. K1 has been out of service for repairs since 2009. Accounts of work on the locomotive can be found on the  Society's K1 pages.  In particular the locomotive suffered a cracked blast pipe and a replacement has had to be  made.  The new pipe has now been fitted and the locomotive has been undergoing tests with a view to being passed for a return to service soon.

The Loco is seen on the 21st of August at Rhyd Ddu hauling the service train with Vale of Ffestiniog.

K1 at Rhyd Ddu with Vale of Ffestiniog. (Photo: S.Melhuish)K1 at Rhyd Ddu with Vale of Ffestiniog. (Photo: S.Melhuish)K1 at Rhyd Ddu with Vale of Ffestiniog. (Photo: S.Melhuish)

Recent information on the K1 project is now held on the Society's website in the K1 project pages

K1: Introduction
K1 in Tasmania
K1 back in the UK
Rebuilding the Chassis
The New Boiler
Completing the Rebuild
In WHR Service
Help to keep K1 running - Appeal.

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Authored by Ben Fisher; last updated January 27th 2012 by David Tidy