Them’s the breaks

We had hoped that this week, we would be writing about the visit of the Kerr Stuart Joffre locomotive to the Golden Valley Light Railway. Unfortunately, when dealing with almost 100 hundred year old machinery, nothing is ever quite straightforward. Last weekend, a crack was noticed in one of the cylinder castings. This led to a considerable debate within the MRT engineering team. Had the crack been there before but noticed? Did we have any data to support a propagation rate? Did the crack really matter – was it a safety matter? Could anyone remember anything from the fracture mechanics option course at University? The eventual decision was to abort the visit to GVLR. This was not lightly arrived, and caused a lot of disappointment and heartache, not only to the loco owners but also to the team at GVLR who were looking forward to the first “new” engine for a while. However, ultimately, these decisions have to be made in the best interest of the asset itself.  To paraphrase someone, we do not own the locomotive, we merely look after for the next owners. And so, a baking hot weekend at Apedale has been spent stripping down the loco and working to remove the offending cylinder. This will now be shipped off to a specialist contractor (in Coalville). Fingers crossed, the Joffre will be back in business before too long. In the meantime, steam services at Apedale will be maintained the “Stanhope” – the stalwart war horse. At least the CME managed to smile briefly yesterday whilst he attempted to  use the Force to weld the crack up. On reflection, we are probably better off with the nice people in Coalville rather than SciFi fantasy. If you disagree, or are wiser in the ways of the Force than the CME, get in touch here.