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Steam engine maintenance & preparation

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Steam-engine-maintenanceIn our last blog post we spoke to Bressingham’s Chief Engineer, Philip Gray, about the work he does maintaining and renovating our steam engines.

He had so much to say we thought we’d carry on asking questions about how he goes about keeping all the engines and rides in tip-top condition.

How much work goes into preparing the trains and rides at Bressingham?

The day-to-day preparation is done by the drivers - it’s mainly just lubricating, cleaning and getting ready for the day’s work.

The longer term preparations are done in the workshops.

All our engines have to have a 10 year overhaul, that’s when we strip everything out, go through it with a fine toothed comb and put it all back together again.

Every year before the start of season the engines have a thorough inspection from an outside boiler inspector who comes in to make sure they are safe.

During the season I have them in every now and again to try and prevent any things that can come up in future.

What sort of things commonly go wrong, and how do you fix them?

The type of things that could happen would be perhaps a thread might go in a valve, or an injector will block - the same type of things that happen on British Rail!

Has there ever been a situation which took you by surprise and didn’t prepare for?

No, not really - after 40 years of working with engines they don’t do many things you’re unaware of.

We try to head off any problems long before they happen.

Our drivers have to fill in sheets at the end of the day - if they think they’ve had any problems they will note down and we’ll investigate it.

Heat wave or Torrential Rain?

Heat waves don’t really affect us a lot.  The drivers don’t like it - working with steam engines in a heatwave is not very nice!

Torrential rain can be quite a problem, it brings down tree branches onto the track and with had incidents of flooding we would have to stop trains before water got into the bearings.

So I choose heat wave.

Do you have any Steam Engine related questions or comments?

Do you have any experiences, comments or stories about steam engines?

Is there anything you think we should have mentioned?

If there is get in touch and let us know – you can also do it on Facebook or Twitter.


By Alastair Baker at 13 May 2015, 18:00 PM