The West Somerset Railway's Head of Mechanical Engineering has kindly provided an update on the current situation...
Just to advise where we are currently with locos and to shed some more light on our current challenges - 7820 in traffic, 53808 in traffic, 44422 now due a washout, 53809 shortly to complete washout, 6960 stopped for attention to springs, whilst waiting for these to be removed and repaired, and because the loco is going to be our 'no 1' standby engine during Flying Scotsman week, we are taking the opportunity to complete some preventative maintenance which was deferred from the winter period - by doing a valve exam (remove valves, inspect, clean up, fit new sleeves, refit). Oh and it's also due a washout now too.
7822 expected to arrive and be in traffic by 28 August, will provide much needed support to the fleet.
Rest assured the loco department is working very hard to overcome the present difficulties. It has been a challenging year for loco availability perhaps without precedent on the WSR in recent times.
Please note: It is mandatory for our locos to be washed out every 28 steaming days in order to prevent the build-up of scale and sludge, which is potentially damaging as it can reduce heat transfer and therefore cause localised heat stress. Also it is necessary to ensure an adequate frequency of boiler internal inspection. Under normal circumstances we look to balance the washouts so that there is never more than one taking place per week, but unfortunately due to various prior circumstances we have three becoming due in a two-week period (53809, 44422 and 6960). A washout normally takes between 5-7 days given our current staffing levels and allowing for the loco to be cooled down and warmed up slowly at either end of it (which is obviously much kinder on the boiler). This is also assuming nothing else is found that needs rectifying during the washout inspection.
If it hadn't been for 6960's broken springs on Sunday, we would have been able to maintain a normal three loco steam service today (7 Aug) and tomorrow (8 Aug).
8 August 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc