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1995 to 2011 Overhaul

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The new tender body was built at DG Welding in Gloucester and this view shows the work nearing completion on 16th March 1996. Photo Simon Marshall.

Once 2857’s boiler certificate expired in February 1995 we started steadily working on the Heavy General Overhaul, initially solely in a volunteer capacity. The first task was to start stripping the engine down at Bewdley whilst keeping the outward appearance as intact as possible. We also organised a new tender body, which was made by DG Welding at Innsworth Industrial Estate, Gloucester. The tender was transported by road to DG’s works on 4th March 1995 and quickly stripped down to a bare chassis. While the tender body was declared scrap it was retained as a pattern and also as a mine of all the various fittings, handrails, steps etc. After some severe de-rusting of the front structure (dragbox) housing the engine to tender buffers and coupling, it was decided that it could be re-used. The same could not be said of the rear dragbox and a new one was fabricated from steel sections and plate. The frames were given a thorough examination for cracks, using the magnetic particle technique, and any cracks were then welded up and some wasted areas also made good by welding. On dismantling it was found that the pivoting trunnions for the vacuum brake cylinder had seized up, causing the piston rod to become worn. The whole cylinder assembly was overhauled and tested by Joe Rosagro of Cheltenham as a separate contract and then re-fitted in the frames.

Over the summer of 1995 this tender was seen as something of a fill-in job by DG Welding and work slowed to a crawl, but the slow progress meant that our volunteers could assist at weekends, completing a vast array of the lower skilled de-rusting and painting tasks which were found to be needed. This then allowed DG staff to work unencumbered by wet paint on their higher skilled, higher cost areas during the week. In January 1996 full time work was re-started in earnest. Gradually the platework was built up, starting with the tender well between the frames, followed by the internal baffle plates. A problem was found with the side plates as first delivered – the curve for the flare at the top had been formed upside down! Replacements were quickly provided. The intention was to use welding for those parts which were not visible from the outside, but to use riveted construction on all visible surfaces. This necessitated some new skills to be learned by DG Welding staff and we were grateful to the SVR engineers who made themselves available for advice as the job progressed. One useful trick was to use bituminous paint in the joints, the heat from the red hot rivets then melting the bitumen into the joint and forming a water tight seal. The inside of the tank was painted using a black paint called ‘Intex’, manufactured by the Bitumastic Company, which had been specially formulated for protecting the inside of water tanks. To provide adequate ventilation for this job an elaborate pressure ventilation system was set up utilising the air output from the works heater piped directly into the tender water space, using specially made adaptors. The tender complete with new body was finally delivered back to the SVR on 30th March 1996, having taken rather in excess of the original 13 weeks estimate!

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A new petticoat pipe, or Chimney Bell, was required and the Society organised the tooling for a batch of new ones to be produced. The old and new are seen side by side at Bewdley on 4th April 1999. Photo Simon Marshall.

As well as the new tender we have provided or made various other new parts, including a new smokebox door, a new cab and a new petticoat pipe. This latter item was quite a major project in its own right. We contacted no less than 15 different metal spinning companies and boilermakers before finding one capable of producing such a heavy spun item at a reasonable price. Even so we had to invest over £2,000 in tooling costs, but were able to defray this by organising a batch quantity for a fair portion of all the suitable GW locos in preservation. Contacting all the loco owners was no mean task either. We are proud to have been able to help not only other owners of ex Barry scrapyard engines in this way but also the builders of the replica ‘Saint’ at Didcot and the replica ‘Grange’ at Llangollen, this spinning being the first piece of metal purchased for that project!

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The vacuum reservoir was life expired, and a replacement made in stainless steel is seen alongside the original on 19th November 2000. Photo Simon Marshall.

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A new cab was built by the volunteers at Bewdley and this is the newly finished result on 6th May 2002. Photo Simon Marshall.

Some of the original structural steelwork on the loco was terribly corroded, particularly the structure below the cab floor and the front dragbox and bufferbeam area, the front bufferbeam actually having become bent outwards. Drawings were prepared for new parts for the front dragbox and steel purchased ready cut to shape by laser, the resulting kit being welded up by the SVR coded welders at Bridgnorth. In order to reduce these corrosion problems for future restorers of our engine we have had as many as possible of these components galvanised. The vacuum reservoir, another item under the cab floor subject to much corrosive water and coal dust mixture, had also rusted very badly, and a new one was manufactured in October 2000 by Crossley’s of Stockport in stainless steel. New steps and the new cab were built entirely by the society volunteers at Bewdley and great delight was taken in copying various lop-sided idiosyncrasies as accurately as possible to preserve the unique character of our engine.

The valve liners had not lasted as well as had been hoped from the 1984 rebuild. Hardness testing on these liners indicated the grade of iron used was actually the same hardness as the original BR specification and therefore was unlikely to be the cause of the accelerated wear rates we had experienced. Two liners on one side had been subject to damage caused by a valve breaking up in service, and after sufficient machining to clean up the damage had been completed this left only enough material for one more lot of machining, and so these two liners were scheduled to be replaced. The two liners on the other side had sufficient metal for about three further lots of machining, given the use of improved boring equipment, and could be retained. However, we had new castings made for the total set of four and used a much harder grade of iron, interestingly based on David Wardale’s re-engineering work on the South African Railway’s class 26 ‘Red Devil’ 4-8-4, which we trust will give an improved life in the future, whatever the actual cause of the previous wear.

The original chimney has corroded beyond repair and a new one was cast accurately to the original profile. This was done from a pattern kindly loaned by Peter Robinson, owner of sister loco 3814, at that time on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, but the pattern required further minor refinements to satisfy our exacting, some could say pedantic, standards!

While we undertook various rebuild tasks on our own, we were also pressing the SVR Company to honour its commitment to overhaul the locomotive. What is clearly general economic stringency of the tourist railway movement as a whole meant that our engine took something of a back seat in the SVR overhaul queue, several engines perceived at the time as being easy overhauls being leapfrogged ahead of ours.

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2857 Society volunteers work on the boiler inside Bridgnorth boilershop preparing the foundation ring for removal.

In June 2002 the engine was towed up to Bridgnorth for an assessment of work needed, but little practical progress started until January 2004 when the boiler was lifted out and placed on a Weltrol wagon. This enabled our volunteers to continue working descaling previously inaccessible areas on the underframe. We must have made some sort of impression on the powers-that-be as we were next asked to start stripping the boiler itself under their supervision. This met with such success that we were then, with yet more supervision, encouraged to carry on with the actual boiler overhaul, while the chassis was towed back to Bewdley. We would like to take this opportunity to thank Graham Beddow, the then SVR Boilersmith, for his tremendous support through what proved to be a fascinating experience, and by his action played a pivotal role in changing the perception of 2857 from a strange misconception of “too expensive to repair” to “best get on with the rest of it”, leading to the final completion of the overhaul. We started this in March 2004 as ‘green’ volunteer boilersmiths and over the next six years we did more and more, always with the help and supervision of the full time staff, to the extent that the boiler was rebuilt largely by volunteers. In summary we:

  • Stripped the boiler
  • Replaced 230 crown stays
  • Replaced 850 steel side stays
  • Replaced 575 copper side stays
  • Removed, repaired and then re-fitted the foundation ring
  • Repaired the throat plate
  • Replaced the copper tube plate
  • Repaired the outer firebox wrapper
  • Repaired the main internal steam pipe
  • Replaced the front tubeplate
  • Fitted 14 superheater flues
  • Fitted 200 fire tubes
  • Replaced the smokebox
  • Replaced the chimney
  • Replaced the petticoat pipe

We had anticipated that the copper tubeplate would require replacement and, on the recommendation of the then SVR GM Alun Rees, had purchased the material for the job some years previously when the price of copper had fallen temporarily. The price soon shot up again and so this proved to have been sound advice indeed. The tubeplate was formed on the SVR flanging block, this being adjusted by us from its previous job on the Stanier mogul No. 42968. While SVR staff and contractors completed the more specialist boiler jobs such as welding and riveting, the majority of the work was completed by Society members working, on the whole, just one day a week. Had we been able to work full time, this would have equated to just over 15 months’ worth of work.

The loco chassis was returned to Bridgnorth in October 2008, at which point we were delighted to welcome a huge team of Bridgnorth volunteers, on Tuesdays with the ‘Tuesday Gang’ as well as at weekends, together with most of the ‘Erlestoke Manor’ team. Over the next 3 years our work included the following tasks:

  • Strip down cylinders and crossheads
  • Strip down all the suspension gear
  • Strip down all the brake gear
  • Re-machine loco brake cylinder
  • Manufacture and fit replacement valve liners
  • Turning tender wheels, journals polished, axleboxes overhauled and re-metalled.
  • Springs re-tempered
  • Ultrasonic testing of axles
  • Overhaul of pony truck, including replacement of now unobtainable rubber springs with simple rubber rings in stacks.
  • Manufacture and fit replacement front horn guide, original having cracked in six places, thought to have been caused by collision damage in 1950s (1957?)
  • Survey of frame cracks, worst being about 40mm. Confirmed that 1983 repairs had been good and were still sound.
  • Horn bolts checked and two found broken.
  • Manufacture of crinoline frame for accurate fitting of the boiler cladding, based on dimensions of ‘Lode Star’ and 2818, both then at York – in the end not used owing to lack of time. Since adapted and re-used on loco 1501.
  • Manufacture of replacement hopper ashpan, repeat of Society’s 1985 design.
  • Addition of ashpan water spray.
  • Optical alignment of axleboxes, slidebars and frames.
  • Driving wheels turned and journals polished.
  • Axleboxes re-metalled and machined
  • Replacement of steam heat pipework
  • Addition of low-level tender filler pipes
  • Replacement of non-authentic brass tender plate with cast iron showing correct tender number, 2355.
  • Addition of grease supply pipes to tender brake cylinder trunnions

Bit by bit she was re-assembled and 2857 finally steamed again on 4th July 2011.

Unfortunately some of the boiler stays had been supplied too loose for their respective holes. It was hoped that they would seal up with caulking and scale, but this proved to be over-optimistic and in the end the difficult decision was made in April 2012 to lift the boiler again and sort the problem out with fresh material.

This brings the 2857 story up to August 2012 and we hope you have found this account interesting.


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