Thursday 19 May 2011

Off on the right foot

It's been awhile since I looked at the Ulpha Light Railway.  I tucked it away safely in the back of my garage (at the opposite end to the birdfood, so hopefully our resident woodland creatures don't mistake the scenery for a snack...) and have left it there until I feel that I can get the whole thing out and erect it for a couple of days.

However I have started work on the restoration of the infrastructure.  When I first brought it home, and did a test erection in the garage, I had no end of trouble getting it levelled out.  After a life of twenty years, even though each trestle leg was fitted with screw-adjustable feet, I found that they were dirty, corroded, jammed, or a combination of the three.  Something needed to be done to make them workable again.

My first thought was just to replace them, so I had a quick look on the web.  There are a number of suppliers out there, ranging from Screwfix to model railway specialists.  But generally the price per leg was £3-4 for each foot, and I needed 16 of them.  I didn't really want to pay around fifty quid if I could avoid it.

So on a sunny evening, I sat down and unscrewed them from the bottom of the trestles.  That in itself took some time, as the screws had also suffered from time.  Having got the feet off, I used spanners and a bit of brute force to separate them into separate components.  The locking nuts were discarded, as I'd already got replacement stainless steel ones from Screwfix - strongly recommended for this sort of stuff.

To clean all the dirt and clag off them, I popped all of the feet, and the mounts, in my ultrasonic bath with plain water and gave them a few cycles.  Then they went into a cooling oven (after dinner...) to dry them out thoroughly.  After that, the restoration could begin.

For working on motorbikes, I have a set of taps and dies:

So I ran the feet through the dies to clean up the threads and get rid of residual gunge and corrosion.  Now they are all back together, with new nuts, and a touch of grease on them, and I hope that they'll give many more years of service.

Next, onto the trestles themselves...

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