Aveling & Porter Traction Engine Rebuild - Part 1
I recently bought a second hand A & P Traction Engine and as with anything second hand, a certain amount of work was expected. How much depended on what was found during dismantling and in the event, what started off as a cosmetic job soon turned into a somewhat protracted rebuild.
The engine was bought as a going concern, complete with current boiler certificate and work started with the idea only of a re-paint. On running however, there was a knock coming from the crosshead area. This was fairly quickly rectified with a new bearing and some words of wisdom from Andy Probyn and the required work fell into a natural progression of working from front to back.
The work was done in stages so the engine could still be used and not become a heap of bits on the floor. The boiler lagging was removed and re-sprayed and the front end cleaned up. However, at this stage it was found that the crankshaft had been spot welded and had worked loose of its welds. A member of my local club had the necessary equipment, so was able to effect temporary repairs. It was felt that a permanent repair required either a replacement or it was back to the factory for Andy to work his magic on it. In the event it turned out to be the latter.
While all this was going on, the ashpan and grate looked as if they had been fitted when A & P first set up in business. The ashpan was held together with its own rust and the grate was somewhat melted, with a hole through its centre. So it was on to Maxitrak again and very soon replacements were in position. Andy said that the grate would need trimming and not having a high speed saw to trim it, I used a humble hacksaw. The job was completed after using only a dozen hacksaw blades, but we live and learn!
It was time now to look at the main stand, the area for the driver to stands and the tender. This had to come off in order to strip and paint it. Did you ever wish that you had never started a job in the first place? Not only do you have to remove six bolts, but the rear wheels, axle hubs and bearings as well! Unfortunately the hubs are attached to the axles by grub screws - not much on the face of it. But when you find that they have been fixed in place by something that defies everything to shift them and that one was even welded in place, what the ...... do you do?
Well they say "Nil carborundum ..." etc. etc. and the axle was finally removed, after much blue language. The axle showed only about an eighth of an inch play, mere bagatelle in engineering terms, but it also appeared that a rather large animal had been chewing it. I still fail to see how some of the indentations and marks came about, so once again it was "Hello Andy, I have a problem".
Other things which were done were:
· replacing a hand pump - the old one would not deliver the goods when the water was low
· resiting the pump - where it was placed caused fingers to be caught on the brake handle when pumping
· replacing pipework - worse for wear and too long in places
At this time, in the summer, the engine looked like it must have done when it came from Maxitrak, broken down into its component parts, but the corner had been turned. There was nothing else to take off or to pieces!
Most of the work had been done over the winter months but now pressure was being brought to bear because a local Garden Centre wanted their Father Christmas to arrive by steam hauled wagon. It does makes you want to get a move on though. Either way, by Spring a newly refurbished A & P Traction Engine emerged in time for the 1995 Steam Rallies.
Finally, I must thank Andy Probyn for all his help and advice and in particular, to Eric Penn, fellow Maxitrak owner, who has spent many hours giving practical help and advice in the rebuilding program, having gone out of his way to do it.
By Phil Scarborough