Friday 16th March 2018 was quite a big day for the club’s steam section. Alan’s engine, Lady Doreen, was scheduled to have her first firing since she was bought from a local Sheffield auction last year. But as none of us knew too much about the firing of such a complex model, we drafted in help from a member of the local model engineering society.
As the light began to fade on Friday afternoon, the moment of first firing drew ever closer. But as it did so, it also became apparent that the allegedly un-steamed Lady Doreen might actually have run previously after all. The first clue was some dried up orange scum in the belly tank, which definitely looked like it had been full of water before. Then, as we tried to use the tiny hand pump to fill the boiler, it became apparent that the boiler was already full! This water must have been in there since before the engine was auctioned off, but the problem nowwas that the boiler was over full, with no way of getting any of the excess water out. A quick telephone call to Markie, who made the engine, resulted in the advice thatw e would have to steam her and let the excess water get thrown out that way. So the gas cart was filled with butane, the pipe conections made and finally the fire was lit.
After about ten minutes the piston spluttered into life, running more on hot water than on steam. Despite our best efforts we couldn’t get the engine to run for more than a few seconds, perhaps because there wasn’t enough space in the boiler to make any steam. Darkness was approaching fast now, so we decided to call it a day. The plan is now to run her again until the water in the boiler gets down to a sensible level. Once the correct level is reached she should run well. At least we now know that all the motion turns and she will go. But with her public debut now less than a fortnight away, it’s all hands quite literally to the pump to get Lady Doreen running reliably.
If you want to see if lady Doreen does indeed make it to her first public event, come and see us at Heeley City Farm in Sheffield on Saturday 31st March.