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Service Experience, 1985 to 1995

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A stop was made at Gloucester on the return journey back to the SVR and 2857 is seen here ready to depart about 21-00 hours on 10th September 1985. Photo Graham Vincent.

On her return to the SVR after her high-profile trip to Newport in 1985, No. 2857 settled down into the general pool of Severn Valley Railway locos. However, three jobs were undertaken fairly promptly; first to set the valves, second to re-metal the coupling rod bushes and third to fit steam carriage heating apparatus. The need for proper valve setting had become obvious during the trip to Newport, when the beat tended to be very lame. The steam heating is non-authentic for a 28XX, but we feel reasonably satisfied that it is as discreet as possible, being disguised in the cab as the exhaust injector steam supply, with a standard Spirax Sarco industrial pressure reducing valve hidden below the floor.

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2857 departs from Bewdley on the occasion of the 70th anniversary Goods Train on 22nd May 1988. Photo Pete Skelton

During the nearly ten whole seasons she was in traffic various problems cropped up from time to time. One job was the manufacture of a new vacuum brake cylinder after finding that our original was cracked. As a result we can now supply the preservation movement with castings for the main cylinder barrel from our own pattern equipment. We have modified some of the axlebox suspension pins from the original plain Churchward type to the later Collett type with a head, after difficulty was experienced with the originals, and these have since proved trouble free. Probably the two most serious problems after entering traffic were the discovery that the new pistons had worked loose, and that there were some cracks in the copper tubeplate in the firebox. The former problem was believed to have been caused by inadequate tightening when Hugh Phillips Ltd. fitted the new pistons to the rods in 1984. These pistons had to be replaced with another pair of new castings. The work this time was carried out by the SVR, and has proved to be completely successful, being tightened onto the piston rods through the gearbox of an old lathe. The firebox was welded up by the SVR boilersmiths and gave no further trouble. The blower ring, much repaired at the initial restoration, finally corroded away, and we have organised pattern equipment for these complex castings, supplying many to fellow preservation groups.

At the end of the 1988 season it was found that the valves had become severely worn. One of the possible causes of this was thought to be lubrication problems arising from inferior water treatment at that time, giving rise to excess priming, where water from the boiler is carried over with the steam which can then wash the lubricating oil off the valve liners and cylinder walls. By 1990 a further inspection revealed even more wear which required extensive rectification work.

Over the winter of 1991 it was found that a couple of the small boiler tubes had failed and it was decided to completely replace all the small tubes to see out the remaining three years of the boiler certificate.

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Over the winter of 1991-2 the engine was repainted in BR black livery and she is seen here on one of her first workings in this new guise, emerging from Bewdley Tunnel on 21st March 1993. Photo Simon Marshall.

In 1992 we accepted the invitation from the Gloucestershire and Warwickshire Railway at Toddington, Gloucestershire, via the SVR Company, to take the engine there for the season. This proved to be a very enjoyable experience, and she was very ably looked after during her stay. Probably the most serious fault which developed at Toddington was in the water gauge frame. It was found that the gauge frame casting had fractured, causing the top valve to come away from the boiler. The fitting was repaired by the G&WR and re-fitted to the loco. In general she performed very reliably there and performed for a total of 77 days in operation, clocking up in the region of 3500 miles. When a measurement was made to check for tyre wear it was found to be negligible. This compared very favourably with a ‘Castle’ class which had run on the G&WR shortly before, where tyre wear was the cause of some concern after a far lower mileage. It is also curious to note that 2857’s tyre wear has proved to be much better than that of the LMS equivalent engine, 8F No. 8233 on the SVR, though no logical explanation for this has yet been found. This visit was followed in 1993 by an invitation from the East Lancashire Railway to feature in their "celebration", if that is the right word, of 25 years since the end of BR steam. This was only a short visit, but included the unique spectacle of seeing our engine double-headed with the only other steamable GW 2-8-0, no. 3822 from the GWS at Didcot.

The piston valves were inspected again at the end of the 1993 season and again were found to have worn badly, requiring a further re-boring. By 1993 the tender tank was becoming something of a liability and water could only be retained inside after annual bouts of welding of the tank bottom. Towards the end there were even leaks in the top of the tank, such that if a stop was made with a full tank a series of fountains would spring up! It was seen as something of an even handed race as to which would expire first, the tender or the boiler certificate. In the end the tender tank won, but was nevertheless declared scrap, for replacement during the next overhaul!

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A special goods train was organised to celebrate the end of 2857's ten-year boiler certificate and some carefully illuminated scenes were created in Bewdley Station in the evening of 30th December 1994, after which there was no further work until the certificate expired on 23rd February 1995. Photo: Simon Marshall.

On 30th December 1994 we arranged for a grand send-off for the old girl by staging several goods train runs up and down the length of the SVR for the benefit of photographers. Unfortunately the weather turned out to be absolutely diabolical, but the operation continued after dark, when flood lighting was arranged around Bewdley station, allowing many ‘master shots’ to be obtained after all. After that her fire was allowed to cool and, there being no further SVR work over the winter, her seasons of operation came to an end.

During her ten years in traffic, clocking up a total of 41,000 miles, 2857 was generally very well received by SVR crews as well as the crews from the railways she visited. She continued to amaze us, not just with her power, but with her free-steaming abilities and her fair turn of speed. She is a credit to her original designers and builders, and the design is all the more remarkable when it is considered that it pre-dates every other eight coupled engine in preservation!

Part 5 - Third Overhaul, 1995 to 2011


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