Work has been progressing steadily on the Nippy. Now that most of the mechanical work is complete Steve has turned his attention to the cab. As was typical of the period the frame of the cab is from hardwood clad in metal. Much of the original material was decayed and has been replaced.
We recently had a quote for repair to the radiator grille for about £1600. This was outside our means, so we decided to do the repairs ourselves. The first stage was to weld repair the broken surround and tap out some of the dents. (On some lorries the surround was chromed, and on others painted black, so we shall see how well it can be finished before we decide to get it plated or not.)
The grille itself was rusted beyond further use so we guillotined new pieces, folded them and curved them to their final shape. These were then silver soldered to new cross pieces fitted into position in the surround. This is all slow work. Making all the new pieces, including formers, drill jigs and bending jigs took about 40 man–hours. Final assembly and silver soldering took a further six hours. A fair bit of work remains to be done on the surround. New stiffening strips have been made to replace those spot welded to the back and which were badly corroded. Spot welding prevents the two touching faces from being protected by paint or plating, so corrosion starts immediately at this point. We may bond the faces together with epoxy adhesive to prevent this.
Pump Trolley Restoration
In the early days of preservation on the S.V.R there were two pump trolleys. Now there is only one. Sadly the other was considered 'too far gone' to restore after a few years out in the weather, and was consigned to the bonfire many years ago.
Without the benefit of a crystal ball to see what the Severn Valley would become, it was all too easy to give up on what today would seem a priceless relic. Thankfully, a group of individuals at Highley in the 70's (? I am not sure of the date) decided one pump trolley was worth saving and went about rebuilding it. Every bit of timber was replaced. New wheel bearings fitted and the drive gear repaired where teeth had broken off. The trolley was finished in every available G.W paint colour with individual bits picked out in different shades. It became the source of a certain amount of fun before it became considered to be 'unsafe' and put away on a short piece of track at Kidderminster to slowly rot away. Finally it ended up in the junk by our storage shed. It needed to be rescued again! This time Steve Millington took it on with the help of Bob Brown and myself. It really was not too bad. Steve stripped it down and we all helped reassemble it with new decking, brakes, tie rods for the tower and new imperial fastenings throughout. The only tricky technical job was getting a broken tooth repaired on the cast iron drive gear. This was done by drilling and tapping holes in the gear along the line of the missing tooth. Then pegs were screwed into the holes and the new tooth was built up with SIF Bronze. Finally the tooth was carefully filed to shape taking care to produce an accurate form so that the gears meshed smoothly at that point. A bit like dentistry, really - but cheaper.
Bob managed to source some 'proper' paint and soon the Trolley looked its old self again. As it was to be a museum exhibit and for safety reasons it was immobilised. We never got to have a 'play' on it!
Water Bowser Repairs
A water bowser which has been in store for many years has been brought out 'for the treatment'. It is not complete, but is in far better condition than the example on the platform, so we decided to make the missing parts and bring it up to display standard.
As we live in an age where we have to continually think about Health and Safety, the first item on the agenda was a guard for the gear wheels on the pump which are like magnets to straying fingers ( " Ouch!! Now let's claim compensation " ).
A cardboard replica was made, and when satisfactory a steel version followed. Bob Brown welded it all up with his MIG welder. The tank had to be drilled to fit the guard, it had never been fitted with one before.
The pump itself is a vane type, that is to say it has vanes inside – rather than being puffed up with its own self–importance. The rotor and vanes had seized up preventing it from turning so the pump was dismantled and serviced. We would like the bowser to work even though it will not get much use as the carriages are filled from stand pipes in the track and even the flower beds have their own water taps!
Charley, our new helper, has spent a lot of time on rubbing down and preparing parts ready for painting. As our group seems to have a short attention span, as soon as the weather turned sunny we dropped this project to begin working on the end screen. Our British summers are such that we must work on outside jobs whenever the weather is good enough. There are plenty of cold or wet days to do inside projects. No doubt work on the bowser will resume sooner rather than later!