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RPSI News
A photonews report from June 2011

As described on the events page we are still working behind the scenes to gain approval from the Railway Safety Commission, which will allow us to resume main line operations in the Republic of Ireland.  Our volunteers are also at work preparing carriages to be used on Dublin-based trains once approval is received.

Meanwhile our base at Whitehead continues to see a lot of activity as restoration projects, open days and main line operations are carried out.

Pictures by E Friel unless otherwise stated.


NCC Carriage 68
As some readers may have seen in 'Steam Railway' magazine, a project has been underway since year to overhaul NCC carriage 68.  This is the latest in a series of schemes to take advantage of grant money to look after parts of our collection which can not earn their keep on the main line.

The project has been partly funded by the Northern Ireland Museums Council and by several very generous donors.

In this shot, from March, the brake cylinders have been overhauled and the exterior painting complete other than markings.

NCC 68

The carriage began life in 1922 as No.3421 on the Midland Railway in England, and shortly afterwards was inherited by the London, Midland and Scottish Railway and renumbered 4914.

On Easter Tuesday 1941 Belfast was bombed by the Luftwaffe and many NCC carriages were destroyed.  The NCC's parent company, the LMS, shipped replacements from Britain - 4914 among them.  It soon received 5'3" bogies and a new number - 68.  68 remained in service until 1978, when it was acquired by the RPSI for main line steam trips.  She was in main line use until 2003.

She is seen here in April, freshly repainted into NCC maroon livery.

NCC 68
This livery matches that applied last year to dining car 87.  The two carriages will be in use together this year for Whitehead open days.
NCC 68
The project was well funded and this allowed the interior to be totally repainted according to the original specifications - here we see the first class section with handpainted walnut effect walls.
NCC 68
68 is unusual in having some one-sided 'half compartments' - better known as 'honeymoon compartments', since helpful railwaymen often made sure newlyweds got one to themselves!
NCC 68
The second-class section has mahogany-effect walls.  All the seats have been re-upholstered in a colour scheme closely matching the originals.
NCC 68
Mark, the project organiser, looks pleased with the results - and so he should!  The public were very impressed when 68 made its debut on April 26th.

68 will be in operation with the Guinness Engine and brake van 81 on all the remaining open days - the next one is on Father's Day, 19th June, when you can also see a classic routemaster bus and get a unique chance to see main line diesel locomotives - see below!
NCC 68


No.85 Merlin
Last April we reported on No.85 being lifted from her wheels. In recent months a lot of work has been done to the wheelsets, axleboxes and bogie.

Here Brian is at work machining one of the four driving wheel axleboxes.

Machining for 85
Nowadays work at Whitehead involves a lot more than polishing up old parts - the big end brass on the right is an original, while that on the left has been cast in our own foundry and then machined as seen here.

Picture by CP Friel.
Machining for 85
85's driving axle outside the workshop.  All of 85's wheels have now had the tyres reprofiled, and all the journals have been skimmed.  They have also been painted - it's a difficult job to do with them under the engine!

Picture by R Edwards.
85 driving axle
Since last April 85's frames have been sitting on temporary workshop bogies in the engine shed. Several jobs have been done here including rivet renewal and the fiddly task of removing carbon fouling from the steam passages to the cylinders.  The boiler is on stands to the left awaiting its turn in the workshop.

Picture by R Edwards.
85 in bits
On May 8th the frames and wheels were to be reunited.  First the wheels were moved from the workshop to the heavylift road, under the shear leg cranes.

Picture by R Edwards.
Reassembling 85
Individual wheelsets are difficult to wheel along by hand - they tend to derail easily.  The sheer size of 85's driving wheels, and their counterweights, would make them particularly awkward.  They were therefore moved by the Guinness engine and the mobile hand crane.

Picture by R Edwards.
Reassembling 85
The overhead workshop crane was then called upon to put the bogie back on its wheels.  The bogie frame had received a lot of attention, including welding work and renewal of slack rivets.

Picture by R Edwards.
Reassembling 85
With a little guidance, the axleboxes slide easily into the hornguides.  Volute springs and rubber dampers will be added at a later date.

Picture by R Edwards.
Reassembling 85
The four-wheeled bogie is rather more manageable  and pushing it into position by hand was fairly easy...

Picture by R Edwards.
Reassembling 85
..at least with gentle encouragement from the locomotive officer!

Picture by R Edwards.
Reassembling 85
Now... any volunteers to list all the missing parts?

Picture by R Edwards.
Reassembling 85
Here are some of them, anyway, as the Guinness brings 85's frames into position.

Picture by R Edwards.
Reassembling 85
The frames are lifted, wheels wheeled underneath, and the frames lowered on top.

Picture by R Edwards.
Reassembling 85
The wheels should now be fit for several years' main line service without needing any major attention.

Picture by R Edwards.
Reassembling 85


No.4 on Easter Trains
On April 25th No.4 hauled three trains between Belfast Central and Whitehead.  All were filled to capacity, and everyone seemed to enjoy their day.

 
No.461
After 85 had been rewheeled, attention turned to the boiler of No.461.  Overhaul of this boiler has been morre extensive than any we have had to do before and the work has spanned seven years.

Recently a milestone was passed as the hydraulic test was completed, in which the boiler proved it could cope with being pumped up with water to a high pressure.

In this picture - a candidate for the web team's 'favourite photo of all time' - our 1897 workshop crane is in action lifting the boiler so it can be moved outside for the next stage, steam testing.

Picture by R Edwards.
461
Gingerly the precious boiler is lowered onto the works bogies removed from under 85. 

As a matter of interest, the larger bogie uses wheels from one of the scrapped sisters of No.4.

Picture by R Edwards.
461
The boiler on its bogies looks rather like a child's imitation of an engine - but it has everything it needs to make steam, and is much easier to inspect than if it was mounted in the frames.

A few weeks later the steam test was successfully carried out - possibly the most important milestone in 461's overhaul had been passed at last!
461
Mechanical work had also been progressing well - here we see a piston being refitted on April 4th.
461
At the start of June the shear legs were needed again - this time for 461's benefit.  Here the boiler has been lifted off the works bogies just enough to fit the ashpan underneath.

On the right is B142, currently in use as a Whitehead shunter but sitting this one out as the Guinness engine (rear) does the honours.

In the foreground is Hunslet 102 - of which more in a moment...
461
Here we see the view from the Guinness as 461's frames are slowly propelled under the dangling boiler.
461
The boiler is carefully lowered inch by inch into the frames.
461
Finally the boiler is resting solidly on its supports at each end, and quite suddenly 461 looks like herself again!
461
461 is brought back to the workshop where work will continue to get her back in action later in the year.
461

No.102 Falcon 
After lengthy consideration, the RPSI agreed earlier this year to a request from the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum that former NIR locomotive 102 be donated to them.

102 is now under cosmetic repair at Whitehead in preparation for being moved to the rail gallery at Cultra.

The work began outdoors with rusted sections of body panelling, large and small, being cut out and new sections welded in.  Some parts such as a headlight reflector and a broken window were replaced with spares recovered from sister 101 and from NIR stores.

Picture by CP Friel.
102
The museum has decided to display 102 in the original maroon livery from 1970.  Here the engine is in the loco workshop looking, for want of a better word, rather pretty in a pink undercoat!
102
The Hunslet has four access hatches in the roof, all of which had rusted through - in fact we had to wrap them in tarpaulins to keep the rain out of the engine room.  These hatches have now been renewed.  In the centre is one of the originals with three of the renewed hatches, which will use the original hinges and latches.
102
102 briefly outside, being moved from workshop to engine shed for painting to continue.

You can come and see how 102 is getting on on the next Whitehead open day on the 19th of June.
102

No.B113
Yet a third Bo-Bo diesel arrived at Whitehead in May.  CIE No.B113 is a real pioneer.  It was introduced in 1950, marking the start of a programme of mass dieselisation.

Until now B113 has been preserved by Iarnród Éireann, but now she, too has been donated to The Irish Railway Collection at Cultra.  She was moved from Inchicore to Whitehead by road.

At an unspecified date, NIR 110 class locomotives will move 102 and B113 from Whitehead to the UFTM rail gallery.

Oh, and despite what anyone tells you, we are not taking any steam engines home with us from Cultra!

Picture by P Scott
102


No.186 to Bangor
On Thursday 9th June 186 pulled a private charter from Belfast Central to Cultra.  This, of course, meant a trip form Whitehead to Bangor (so the engine could run round) and back again.
You too could hire our train to travel in style to your corporate event!



Steam and Jazz
The following night 186 was in action again for the first of this year's Steam & Jazz events, and as usual a good time was had by all.

Here we see 186 climbing the bank at Monkstown, northward bound.


The Portrush Flyer returns!
In 2007 we had to cancel our summer season of Portrush Flyers due to track maintenance issues, leading to speed restrictions and timetabling problems.  Last year we ran steam to Coleraine and transferred passengers to modern railcars to reach Portrush.

However, on Sunday 12th June, in our third main line operation in four days, No.4 made it back to Portrush for the first time in just over four years.

Picture by CP Friel
Portrush Flyer
The Portrush Flyer has been a popular family day out since 1973 and there are two more opportunities to enjoy it this year, on the 10th and 31st of July.

On the same days we will be running the Portrush Coaster, a short outing from Portrush to Coleraine and back.

Picture by CP Friel
Portrush Flyer

We were fairly fortunate with the weather, which was very pleasant in the morning - although the rain was on by the time we left Portrush, as seen in this video by J McKegney.


The RPSI is owned and run by volunteers.  Whether your skills are clerical or practical, in artistry or accountancy, you could be helping us to keep preserved trains on the main line, or carry out one of our many other projects.

We are always short of volunteers - the more we have the more we can achieve, and the more everyone can enjoy it!
Join us today!


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