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Boiler Repairs and Competency - ex Lottery turns down funding for GCR Museum

Discussion in 'Steam Traction' started by 30854, Jul 30, 2018.

  1. marshall5

    marshall5 Well-Known Member

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    With respect. don't believe everything that you are told. The regulations for "locomotive type" boilers are exactly the same whether they are for road or rail and the boiler inspectors are often the same chaps who inspect both. In fact when I owned full size road and railway engines they had the same inspector. I can name (but not on here) at least one supposedly "competent person" who I wouldn't trust to inspect a Mamod but he doesn't just do road steam.... I don't know of the incidents at U.S. power stations you mention but the traction and loco incidents to which, I assume, you were referring were as a result of multiple examples of negligence and sheer stupidity. Whilst some regulation varies from state to state, from what I have seen, I don't think that, overall, their regulation is any less stringent than ours and has certainly been tightened up since those incidents.
    Ray.
     
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  2. Steve

    Steve Part of the furniture Friend

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    There are inspectors and there are inspectors. They can go from one extreme to the other as it is largely a subjective thing. I know of one loco where it was provided with a new barrel because the inspector condemned it. When cut up, there was essentially nothing wrong with it. Anyone can condemn something and it can be difficult to argue against it. At the other extreme inspectors can miss things .A good inspector is one who can make the right judgement call. Having said that, the responsible owner should have a good idea of the condition of his boiler in the first place and the formal inspection should be more of a confirmation inspection.
     
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  3. marshall5

    marshall5 Well-Known Member

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    Couldn't agree more, Steve.
    Ray.
     
  4. Monkey Magic

    Monkey Magic Part of the furniture

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    Israel Newton?

    Does the Ffestiniog do boilers?
     
  5. estwdjhn

    estwdjhn Member

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    Israel Newton definitely do boilers, although not larger main line overhauls - more narrow gauge stuff and SG industrials. Also do quite a lot of press work, and have recently invested in a much bigger press to allow production of pressed (rather than hammered) flanged plates for bigger SG boilers. (Full disclosure - I work for them!)

    Ffestiniog do boilers, but not many external jobs bs I think - I get the impression that at the moment they're flat out and beyond doing their own stuff (I think there are 3 ng16 boilers currently with external contractors at the moment - I can't see they would be doing that and bidding on much external work at the same time).
     
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  6. 26D_M

    26D_M Well-Known Member

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    CRRES at Carnforth seems still to undertake some external contract work, with 61306 there at the moment but I think the boiler went elsewhere? Some LHR work has been done at Carnforth but I think John Fowler Engineering is doing work for them now too eg 46441?
     
  7. martin1656

    martin1656 Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    Most of our premier heritage railways now are taking boiler work in house where they can, the problem with outsourcing is one of maintaining compliance over the standard of work, some are very good, because they have an reputation to uphold, a good name built up over years, it only takes one job not done right to lose it, and of course you only get the work you pay for done, going back into my past, I can remember when 73096 went away for a contract boiler job, and when it came back our own boilersmith and shed staff had to carry out a lot of remedial work, because it was done to a cost, not to a standard, it was after this that attention turned to having a boiler shop at Ropley to ensure that the railway could ensure its own very high standards did not slip, other railways also have found out that when it comes to boiler work, in house is the only way you can control the standard of work, and when work gets contracted out, its only to a small group of workshops that you can trust to have, or in some cases improve on those standards you expect.
     
  8. Monkey Magic

    Monkey Magic Part of the furniture

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    It is perhaps one of the things that the larger railways who have a professional staff can take in house, but perhaps the smaller lines that are more dependent on volunteer labour can't do.

    I think this was also one of the areas that came out in the report into Flying Scotsman - ie small cottage industry and problems with supply chains, reliability, quality of work etc.
     
  9. Robin

    Robin Well-Known Member

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    (Snipped for brevity).

    There is an article by Engineering services manager Neil Taylor entitled "Success in reducing the backlog in the boiler shop" in this month's 'Branch lines' . It mentions that the boiler shop has an ongoing contract with the Isle of Man but is otherwise turning away contract work. Indeed Neil has recently outsourced 4930's boiler to Northern Steam Engineering so it can be done in parallel with 4150 and 82045 in house.

    The full article can be read here: https://www.svrlive.com/blaugust18
     
  10. Dinmore Manor Ltd.

    Dinmore Manor Ltd. New Member

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    You are quite right Keith, we certainly do, for both the doorplate and throatplate. So far Erlestoke Manor Fund and Foxcote Manor Society have made use of our tooling in exchange for a fee that helps offset a little of the significant 5 figure sum the tooling cost us in the first place. Over time we may well regain the majority of the initial outlay whilst at the same time being able to save money for the groups that are in need of such platework.


    I note with interest comments regarding working together, bulk purchasing items for the future etc. It is certainly something that happens relatively frequently (currently there is a bulk order of shackles being looked in to for example) but from experience when you get to items that are large four or five figure sums and may not be required by another group for many a year maybe because they are currently in a museum, just started running again after an overhaul or laid up awaiting funds, trying to get others to invest for the future can be difficult. Don't get me wrong, this isn't because they may not be interested or being short sighted or anything like that but usually down to what is available in the '££££ pot' at the time, all got to do the best we can with the resources we have available, usually not enough.....!

    We would like to do more boiler work ourselves at some point in the future, I see no issue doing so if people are suitably trained/skilled, we did much of the stripping of 3850's boiler ourselves as do many other groups to save some pennies. Working together with our friends in the 2874 Trust boiler skills training is something we are currently looking at being able to provide for our volunteers who have shown interest, in very round figures with steel stays being around £40 each and copper £70 each by the time they are fitted, often with more than a thousand to be replaced (mix of steel and copper) even the most hardened Treasurer starts to squirm, ours we have scared to death many a time!

    Pictured is the first trial fit of our throatplate fresh off of our forming tool back when 7820's boiler was being repaired, forming done by Tyseley Locomotive Works, fitting by Riley & Son Eng.

    Mike Solloway
    DMLL
     

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  11. rreed

    rreed New Member

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    So the question is then, if demand outweighs supply, where is the investment by the industry to expand capacity? There is obviously a market for these services.
     
  12. estwdjhn

    estwdjhn Member

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    Demand at current prices outweighs supply.

    To significantly increase the workforce is only going to be achieved by significant increases in wages. This will put the cost of work through the roof, at which point demand will probably drop off.

    At the moment, most people prefer to wait their turn in a queue, rather than doubling what they pay...
     
  13. Fred Kerr

    Fred Kerr Part of the furniture

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    But the problem is that the demand is not constant (i.e. work can be undertaken as a continuous flow) hence subject to peaks and troughs that cause delays and cost variations.
     
  14. 1472

    1472 Well-Known Member

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    That is an oversimplification. Workshops generally cost jobs by using a man hour rate in which there is the cost of pay & benefits of the employee, an appropriate contribution towards the cost of premises tools, general consumables and administration. This currently appears to come out at a figure of between £32 & £40 per hour for this type of work ( I am assuming we are talking about major boiler repair contractors with their own premises not jobbing boilersmiths operating out of the back of a van). The employees receive only a modest proportion of that figure and the cost of premises is largely fixed whether they are used for 8, 16 or even 24 hrs per day on 5, 6 or 7 days per week. A significant increase in pay perhaps introducing 2 shift working could be achieved without large overall cost increases to customers - if enough new skilled employees could be found.
     
  15. Monkey Magic

    Monkey Magic Part of the furniture

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    To echo your point - the MHR advertised for an apprentice boilersmith - the salary was £8000 - 10,500. Which is not great money.

    https://preservation.watercressline.co.uk/news/entry/apprentice-engineer-vacancy
     
  16. The Saggin' Dragon

    The Saggin' Dragon Part of the furniture Staff Member Moderator

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  17. Steve

    Steve Part of the furniture Friend

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    I don't see how you can say that the demand isn't constant when there has been a waiting list for years.
     
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  18. Monkey Magic

    Monkey Magic Part of the furniture

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    I don't know but given rents and cost of living in the South-East on that kind of money, things would be very tight. It must be very close to minimum wage, although on the plus side it is not zero-hour.

    I don't know if this is the going rate.
     
  19. The Saggin' Dragon

    The Saggin' Dragon Part of the furniture Staff Member Moderator

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    I am guessing that it is being pitched at a school leaver who is still living in the family home locally.
     
  20. estwdjhn

    estwdjhn Member

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    It's an oversimplification, but not that much of one.
    Put bluntly, the reason there aren't enough boilersmiths is because even good ones are paid £20-25k pa, and in the modern world that's not very much - thus most of the boilersmiths who work in the industry do so because they like the industry (and usually they've ended up in it more or less by fluke - certainly that's the case for several I know).

    In a lot of similar trades, a good bloke can currently earn £30-40k - to attract these sorts of people into boiler work is going to mean paying them at those sorts of rates. Put say a 1/3rd on the wages component and the current typical £35 ends up nearly at £50 - that takes a £100k overhaul to £140k, which is a significant increase.
     

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