Published 19th March 2012
The new build steam locomotive, No. 60163 Tornado visited Wimbledon Electric train depot for a few days from March 13 for scheduled maintenance on the depot’s wheel lathe.
The engine arrived from The Mid Hants Railway where it had been undergoing routine winter maintenance followed by operating some services on the line.
Tornado was brought to the award winning Wimbledon Depot by a DB Shenker class 66 diesel along with two Support Coaches. The only main line approved Southern Slam door electric, the 1960s built blue liveried ‘4 VEP No. 3417 Gordon Pettit was also at the depot at the same time. This is owned by The Bluebell Railway and named after a highly respected railwayman, the former Southern Region General Manager, now in his 80s.
The locomotive had its driving rods removed to allow axles to be tuned independently on the lathe and at dawn on March 14 was shunted onto the wheel lathe at the back of the depot. The wheel lathe was built by Hegenscheidt of Germany.
The front axle of pony truck was positioned on the lathe and the finest trimming started by the experienced lathe operator. The Pony Truck takes a pounding as it ‘steers’ the locomotive along the track and from time to time has to be treated to ensure a smooth ride.
The lathe operator is positioned underneath the locomotive in a cabin and he watches the reprofiling of the wheels at close quarters wearing a protective mask. This ensures no swarf, or cuttings from the lathe and wheel come into contact with him.
The engine was then moved so the nest set of wheels were in position over the lathe, using a capstan and rope in traditional shunting mode.
The driving wheels also received remedial attention on the lathe with the minutest amount of metal cut from the wheels. This maintains the correct profile ensuring a smooth running engine which is also track-friendly.
This work also ensures that any metallic ‘hard spots’ are equalised on the wheels which reduces wear and vibration on the engine. This can in turn affect the suspension adversely so is a very important task to have done correctly.