Beating the clouds (it was almost farcical)
It was a normal cold and wet February, but the forcast was for a warm, fine day, clouding over in the afternoon and heavy rain later on.
I was wanting to take a video of PYRTE to put on Youtube so that like minded steam engine builders could see what she was like and how she performed, so I thought I'd make use of this coming sunshine, nothing looks better than when the sun shines on it, especially here in the drab and dreary depths of winter.
So I set to cleaning her up, struggled a little getting her out of my steam shed and had her sitting on my plastic garden table out near the side of the house, which is just at a nice height for my convenience, filled her with boiling water, lit the gas, lubed her and had a brew while she started to build up pressure.
This was all around two in the afternoon with no sign of any cloud on the horizon.
All was going well. I'd got my camera handy with a new memory disc installed and battery fully charged, the sun was shining brightly and the pressure was building nicely, so everything looked hunky-dory.
When the pressure was up to 25lbs I lifted PYRTE onto the path intending to head straight out of the side gate to the front of the house, do a sharp left hand turn at the front of the house and head out onto the roadway for the filming.
The side gate would be about twelve feet or more from my starting point, then another twelve or fifteen feet to the left handed turn on the path, with another fifteen feet or so to the kerb at the edge of the roadway.
Setting off, my path goes downhill towards the gate by about three inches, then up another three to the front door, and from there sharp left towards the front gate, rising another four inches towards the kerb, with a quick drop over the kerb of five inches onto the tarmac roadway - no dropped crossings out here, you know.
With the pressure up to 30lbs I hitched up the trailer behind PYRTE and line her up to go through the gate, it was plenty wide enough so there shouldn't have been any problems, so I gave her a little push and she started to gather speed as there were no driving pins in the wheels. She was free-wheeling, and with the slack that normally comes with traction engine steering, she veered off course and the front right wheel caught the gate stump.
Well I thought nothing of it and pulled her back up the slope a little only to find the steering locked solid and pointing over to the right.
What had happened was the steering arm had bent the 3/16ths inch steering column sharply and that meant the steering wheel would not turn.
Looking up at the sky, it still seemed clear and blue, so I shut the gas off, uncoupled the trailer and got her back on my operating table for the necessary surgery. I took the rear wheel off and had to disconnect a large part of the steering mechanism and do my best to straighten the steering column in time, (a running repair, so to speak) so that I could get the filming done in bright sunshine.
Three quarters of an hour later she was back on the path with the trailer in tow and showing 25lbs pressure on the gauge and I tentatively got her through the gate, despite the steering being very stiff in an almost straight ahead direction.
At the front door she was man-handled to get her going in the right direction and was pushed towards the kerb.
The front wheels went over the edge of the kerb in a lovely manner. There was plenty of clearance, but as the rear wheels went onto the roadway, with the trailer still sat on my path and five inches higher, the corner of the kerb caught the jubilee clip under PYRTE's tender that holds the gas pipe onto the manifold to feed the burners.
Well that got snatched off big time and gas was escaping everywhere. Another annoying little problem to solve.
The sky was just showing signs of clouds forming and the wind was picking up, so I had to get cracking with this repair. It was off with the gas tap and struggle once again to reach the connection and fix it (the back's a bit on the stiff side, so anything below knee height is a hands and knees job these days).
Around half an hour later again I was sat on the trailer, drive pin engaged and waiting for the pressure to get up to 50lbs where it should be, and my gas was running out on the one cylinder I was using at the time, so had to be swapped, and all the time the clouds were getting thicker and darker.
In the end, with 35lbs on the gauge, it was a case of 'sod it', so I set off with the wife taking the video as can be seen here.
You will notice that as the journey went on I was veering over to the left hand kerb - steering problems, but that has been sorted now.
Eeeh. Nowt's straight forward is it? And all the fun we have?
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