We are grateful to a number of railway publications for publishing our press release at the start of 2017 describing the radiator lift from 50030. We've deliberately held off putting anything on the Group website about this event in order to give the magazines some time to have exclusivity on the story. Now the story is well and truly out there, we feel it's time to revisit the day of the lift (23rd November 2016) in order to tell the story in a little more detail than the magazines sometimes have space for.
As longtime followers of the RRRG Restoration Diary will know, we carried out some preparation work including loosening off the radiator fan motor in case it was seized into its mounting ring (it was). We revisited this a few days before the planned lift, in case our tactic of wedging the fan motor above its mount with wooden chocks had not been entirely successful at preventing the motor from fusing into position again. It was just as well that we did as volunteer Dave Rolfe found that the fan motor had got stuck again; fortunately he was able to free it off and on the day the lift went smoothly without major delays.
After the radiator fan had come out, the lift moved on to the roof section covering the radiators. This was released without any hitches and the process moved on to the radiators themselves. The radiators on a Class 50 fit into a rather tight space and it was important that they did not sustain any damage during the lifting process. We also made a point of replacing the roof section after the radiator compartment was emptied because other Class 50 owners have experienced problems with roof panels left on the deck warping and not fitting correctly once lifted back into place. It also helps to weatherproof 50030 which does not currently have undercover accommodation.
All in all the day went very smoothly with work on site being finished by early afternoon and the radiators being at our contractors in Stoke by mid afternoon. The radiators have been separated, cleaned up inside and out and initial pressure tests performed. The prognosis was that the cores are in good condition but the lower tanks are heavily corroded as evinced by the pile of rust and dirt left inside the radiator room of the locomotive. One of the raditor louvres has already been overhauled and is now working properly but it won't be refitted to 50030 until cleaning and painting (plus lots of necessary welding work) has been carried out inside the radiator room. The current state of play is that we are waiting for a firm quotation from our contractors for welding work before the contract to overhaul the radiators can be formally placed.
Of course, if you've been following RRRG and our progress for any length of time, you will recall that although these radiators are the first items to be removed from 50030 for overhaul, they are far from the first items we've had overhauled. Our strategy with 50030 has been to acquire spare components from third party sources (effectively, whenever a component we are interested in comes up for sale, we seek to purchase it) and then have these components overhauled ready to be swapped into the locomotive as its restoration progresses. We have a large number of electrical components and machines such as CUxx control units, an ETH/auxiliary generator set, traction motor blowers, compressors and exhausters either overhauled and stored off site undercover in heated storage or at contractors being refurbished. The diesel engine formerly in 50008 Thunderer was acquired some ten years ago and is now almost fully overhauled and returned to "zero hours" condition ready to install into 50030.
A photo gallery of the radiator lift, the inside of 50030 before and following the lift and the pressure testing of the radiators is below.
Photo gallery of the lift process; as a favour to Peak Rail whilst our crane was on site we also lifted the cab roof of a Prairie tank on the railway.
The radiators removed from 50030 - close up images of their condition.