Preparing for boiler inspection

Now that the season has ended (well almost!) we are preparing both Ant and Bee for their annual boiler inspection. The steam dome has to be removed and it's cover taken off so that the internals of the boiler can be checked. The dome cladding is removed along with the regulator handle and the pressure guage. The dome cover and it's mating surface on the dome are both cleaned after the gasket has been removed ready for reassembly. 

The firebox has to be thoroughly cleaned and this entails removal of the grates, the firebox door assembly and a tube clean. The smoke box has to be cleaned so that the boiler tubes can be seen and checked. This entails removal of the water tank, the smokebox door and any ash that has built up over the season followed by a thorough clean of any deposits that have built up. 

Once the inspection has been carried out and (hopefully) passed, the engines have to be reassembled ready for a steam test. This is to ensure the boilers are steam tight and that the safety valve lifts at the required pressure. If all goes well the boilers will get their certificates for another years use. 

The gallery has a number of photos showing the initial strip down of both Ant and Bee ready for the boiler inspection to take place. 

Both And and Bee passed their annual boiler tests although during the inspection it was discovered that the leading wheel set of Bee one wheel had become loose on it's axle. This is now being repaired and it is hoped that this will be completed before that start of our operating season in April. As the leading wheel set is driven from the rear wheel set which has the crank axle, the job should be easier as there is only a plain axle to deal with. 

Interestingly, the same issue occurred with Ant shortly after she was delivered to the railway in 2004 and this too had to be sent away for repair.