Copyright © 2015-16 Stan Bell. All rights reserved.   stan.bell@systemsoft.co.uk

NVR 40t Steam Crane

Lifting Tackle inspected.


This is not one of the glamorous, dramatic picture-filled, sections but it is a vital step towards full operation.



6th October 2015

Back to Work


With fortunate coincidence, 92 Squadron have completed their out-of-frame work on their boiler just as the Steam Crane comes back into operation.


So, the first lift for the crane after overhaul is one of the largest that we undertake - a 20 ton boiler lift.


The first step is to raise the firebox end of the boiler sufficient to allow the ashpan to be fitted underneath, then the combined boiler and ashpan are lifted high enough to clear the crane’s front bogie and jib runner and the load is slewed, rotating the boiler as the jib turns so that the boiler and ashpan are correctly oriented for descent onto the chassis, which has been shunted out of the workshop and positioned on a yard road adjacent to the crane.


With some fine adjustment, using a shunter to move the chassis along the track, and the crane to adjust the boiler position across the track, the boiler was gently lowered into position and the fixing bolts part-tightened to confirm the location.


A little problem extracting the chains once the boiler was down was resolved at the third attempt - they were becoming trapped between the boiler and the upper edge of the frame.


All complete, the loco was shunted back into the workshop and the crane packed away, except that we left the jib raised as a sentinel to a good day’s work.

7th October 2015

At the start of the day, the jib was left up from the tackle inspection and Richard Busby has pulled the propping girders out. The fire is lit but there’s no steam yet.  Crane has new side panels fitted but more painting is needed, the roof is also still to be replaced. The boiler to be lifted can be seen in the background, the heat resistant paint looking very bright.


Note the very threatening grey sky.

Step one complete, Ashpan attached to boiler. David O’Connell gets into position before the slewing movement starts.

Barabel drags out the chassis, fabulous to see the huge connecting rod gliding back and forwards, round and round.

And down she goes, still a little rotation needed for correct alignment.


See how the blue sky appears just as the job nears completion.

Job’s a good ‘un.


Back in the workshop, there’s still a huge amount to do, but it’s beginning to look like a steam locomotive again.


The crane is inspected for it’s ability to safely lift up to it’s specification. The jib is raised to full height, then dropped to locate the lifting block directly above the lifting bar, which is attached and lifted to allow thorough examination.  Then, each chain in turn is lifted and inspected, link by link for signs of wear or corrosion. Next, the lifting rings and shackles are inspected and finally, the cranes is slewed through 360 degrees (i.e. rotated in a complete circle).




It’s a great relief to have all that checked out OK.



Now we’re fully operational.

14th October 2015

92 Squadron Tender onto its wheels


The tender has been on sleepers in the yard for the past year or so while the underside is completely overhauled. It is now a joy to behold, a shame it’ll not be seen for another 10 years! The wheels themselves have also been overhauled and the axleboxes cleaned.


Today’s job was to lift the tender, slew it around to the track on which the wheels had been placed, and then very slowly and gently lower the 20-ton load onto the waiting six axleboxes, pausing to allow positional adjustments as it comes down.


Notice how the standard Nene Valley lifting sky is again in attendance, and how blue patches re-appear once the lift is complete.

Step 1.  The tender is permanently fitted with 4 lifting loops, so it’s straightforward to attach 4 chains.


Step 2.  Take the strain.  Richard (white hat) signals to David O’Connell (driving the crane).  One of the 92 Squadron tender team, Ian (yellow hat) watches his pride and joy about to take to the air.

Step 3.  Slewing.  Bob shows off the best side of his new overalls as the tender squeezes between the weight-relieving bogie and the swan-neck.

Step 4.  Gently does it. Richard signals inch rope-down as David runs the crane super-slow. 92 Squadron are poised to ease the horns onto the axleboxes.

Done.  Smiling faces all round. Richard signals rope-down to slacken off the chains.  Tender looks out-of-vertical but that’s probably the yard track.