June 2015 Newsletter

Prepared by AST Chairman John Hind

Group Status – Paul Hibberd and Mike Horne are currently working on the transition from 5AT Group to the AST Trust and Services.  Both are now registered with Companies House, currently with them as the Directors.

Mike will be sending out details of the changeover shortly.  Basically members of 5AT team will be invited to become members of AST Trust and the current Officers of 5AT group will be invited to become Trustees of the Trust.

A press release has been prepared for the ‘railway press’ announcing the formation of ASST, hopefully we should see it in the Railway Press during the coming weeks.

ASTT Inaugural MeetingWe are proposing that this takes place on the afternoon of the Saturday 24/10/2015 at Howarth.  This coincides with the KWVR Beer & Music Festival which runs from the 22nd of October through to the 25th of October.  The Beer and Music Festival runs all day and into the evening.  As well as the trains running there is beer and music at the stations.  Last year the timetable was more intensive than a gala, with plenty of opportunity for atmospheric evening running.

Holding the inaugural meeting in conjunction with an event like Beer and Music Festival makes it more worthwhile to those travelling a long distance and gives us the chance for a social event with a lot of atmosphere in the evening.

S160 – 5820 Project – we’ve just heard that a date in November has been set aside as the date for testing 5820’s new exhaust system.  Despite the uncertainty, we have had started making preparations and Richard has made a set of brackets for mounting the draw-string potentiometer to the crosshead.

Kirklees Light RailwayThis is linked to the S160 testing.  As testing 5820 is going to be a unique opportunity, unlikely to be repeated, it’s best if we can get a chance to try out instrumentation on another railway or engine and learn from that.  After looking round for a suitable cooperative railway, one of our network suggested the Kirklees Light Railway and through him contact was made with their Operations Manager, Ian Screeton.  They have made some new blast nozzles for one of their engines and would like the vacuum measuring.  This is a win/win situation as we all benefit.

Chris Corney, Mike Horne, Iain Jack, David Pawson and John Hind visited on Saturday 6/5/15 and had a productive afternoon discussing what Ian would like testing and also additional measurements that we would like to do to prove our equipment and techniques.

The line climbs continuously at 1 in 72, though with some easing at loops and stations.  Line speed is 15 MPH and a single journey takes 20 minutes.  Driving wheel diameter is 11″ and the engines run at circa 400 rpm.  Although narrow gauge, they work hard for their living!.

The engines are fitted with GPCS and in addition to smokebox vacuum Ian Screeton would like to better understand vacuum in the firebox and ashpan.  We will have to buy more instrumentation, but we will be able to use it on the S160 and hopefully other engines. Mike is currently updating the instrumentation shopping list.

The KLR give the impression of being very flexible, interested and willing.  Ian Screeton is currently rebuilding an engine and could be interested in trying out improved features, which may be an opportunity for trying out enhancements to the exhaust system.  Over the years they have had to rebuild their engines to improve reliability and they incorporate modern steam features, such as Lempor exhaust systems, GPCS, roller bearings, compensated springing with coil springs, self adjusting wedges on the axleboxes.

Clan Project – after burning some midnight (and beyond) oil, we issued this to the Clan Project on 9/4/15.  It is 94 pages, has 34 charts, tables and CAD Images and 29 specific recommendations.  Many thanks to all who contributed to this, which together with the S160 helps to demonstrate that we deliver what we commit to.

The recommendations were aimed at improving performance to Britannia levels and improve reliability.  Principal recommendations are;

  • increase boiler pressure
  • installation of a single Lempor Exhaust System
  • remove stress raisers from the frames
  • fit multi-ring narrow piston valve rings including bronze ones
  • adopt direct oil injection rather than atomisation for piston and valve lubrication
  • steam injection into the primary air supply to eliminate clinkering and improve grate life
  • adoption of a number of detail design changes to improve on BR Standard design features.

In carrying out the study through the use of 21st century problem solving techniques and CAD, we established a likely cause of the poor piston ring wear experienced with BR Standards that had the single slidebar arrangement.  Piston rings required changing on average at 10,000 to 12,000 mile intervals and exceptionally at 5,000 to 6,000 miles whereas other BR standard classes achieved 25,000 to 36,000 miles.  This is a problem that existed in the 1950’s when they were first introduced and is still with us in the 21st Century.  We have suggested a modification to the slidebars supports and if it is adopted the ultimate proof will be actual piston ring ring wear.   The same modification should also work on Duke of Gloucester, the Britannia’s and BR5s.

The report has been well received and we have been told verbally that the Clan Project want to adopt all the proposals.  Their AGM is on 11/7/2015 at the Bluebell Railway and, post this meeting, there may be some movement. Clan Group have now paid the agreed fee which is now in the AST Services account, more on this later.

To date the Clan Project has acquired £400,000 worth of components and their current focus is on completing the frames, so they have something tangible to show for their efforts.

Other Projects –  We are talking to two other new-build projects to see if they have opportunities for AST to have an involvement.

5AT FDC Publication Chris Newman has recently published the 5AT Fundamental Calculations as a book.  It is a weighty tome of 556 pages and not easy bedside reading!   It is on sale to the public through the ASTT website for £45 plus postage and packing.  All proceeds are going into AST Services’ bank account for use on AST projects.  Copies of the book have been donated to the NRM and to the National Library.  Only small batches are printed to meet customer orders so that minimal funds tied up in stock.  The book is also being sold through Camden Miniature Steam.

Paypal & Bank Accounts  – Paul has now established bank accounts for the Trust and its Services Company.  To facilitate sales of the 5AT FDCs, a PayPal account has been set up by Chris.

The 5AT Group funds will be transferred AST Services’ account, ASTS being the trading arm of the Trust.  ASTS’ account will also receive the funds raised from the CLIP Project and the funds from the sales of books.

Having these bank accounts moves us out of the ‘black economy’ of the Heritage Railway movement and is already showing benefits in the way we deal with our customers and suppliers.

Volunteers needed for “Back Office” Activities the ‘back office’ activities now take on a new importance and volunteers who step forward to help managing these are just as important as those who do the ‘frontline’ engineering work.  Volunteers are urgently needed as follows:

  • Communications or Publicity Manager: A volunteer is needed to edit newsletters and take responsibility for press releases.  Both are infrequent tasks but take time and are important.
  • Assistant Webmaster: An assistant to (or stand-in for) Chris is urgently needed to help with the management the website.
  • Assistant Treasurer: We now have to file annual returns to HMRC (the first one for the Trust is now due), so a volunteer is urgently to help Paul and to learn what is required.  If we do not make returns on time, the Trust or the Services Company could be fined.

SustainabilityOver the coming years it is essential that we train successors to run the Trust and carry on the work that we are doing.  This can only be done by attracting new and younger members.  One potential source of news members are those who purchased the re-prints of the Red Devil and/or the 5AT FDCs.  Another is the younger generation of steam enthusiasts who have grown up in the Heritage Movement and have an interest in improving steam.

We need to encourage younger enthusiasts and invite them to join our group. Ian Jack’s 5AT Facebook Group has a number of younger members who are volunteers in the Heritage Railway movement and are interested in what we are doing.  We need to encourage their interest in joining us.  The formal launch of the AST Trust will present an opportunity to recruit new members.

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