It’s been a while since our last website update, so here is a brief one to bring us up to date. Like many other restoration projects, and due to the pandemic, we have unfortunately lost almost a year’s worth of progress due to the lockdowns, restricted access, and some of our members having to isolate. However, some work has continued, with some highlights as follows:
The tender is the prime focus of our attention, and in particular the construction of the new chassis. The structural riveting of the chassis is now essentially complete, with only a few of the 961 rivets still to do once it has been turned ‘right way up’, which will happen when we re-wheel it. In readiness for this, most of the recent focus has been on machining the new axleboxes and weld-repairing and skimming the hornguides prior to setting them up on the frames and riveting them into position, with Carl H, Lee W, and John F undertaking much of this skilled work.
To allow us to machine the inside faces of the axleboxes, we have acquired an 18” shaping machine, and with the assistance of Gillan H this was brought to the railway earlier in the year and cleaned-up by the mid-week gang to make it ready for action. Once we’ve made some room for it, it will come into our workshop, and we can complete the axleboxes and also machine the bearing blocks prior to whitemetalling.
Work has also focused on repairing and fitting up the remaining underkeeps, with the refurbished spring hangars having been riveted on earlier in the year. With the machining of various gunmetal castings by James F in his home workshop, all bar one of the steam fittings needed for the tender are now to hand, with the final item being the buffer beam steam heat valve, for which we hope to source a casting from the Severn Valley Railway, having already been given a drawing by the British Enginemen Steam Preservation Society at the Colne Valley Railway, who are restoring a Black 5.
The loco is generally on the backburner, although when they have not been engaged on other tasks our mid-week group (Patrick H, John T and Alans B & M) have gradually and literally been chipping away at it, by removing the debris in the cylinder casting/smokebox saddle. Some machining work on castings has also been carried out, with the prime focus being on various fittings associated with the Loco’s steam brake system. We have recently visited sister loco No. 4027 at the Vale of Berkeley Railway at Sharpness and have struck up a good relationship with their new team, following a change of personnel. 4027, being a complete loco, is a very handy point of reference for us, and being only 25 miles away from Bitton means we can easily visit for the purpose of taking measurements and seeing how things are arranged on the chassis. On the ‘admin’ side, Patrick has been working his way through photographing the large number of drawings we have on loan from the 44422 loco group, so soon we will have a full set of electronic drawings, which will essentially comprise all the available 4F drawings which are known to exist – a very useful resource.
Followers may recall that we purchased former Southern Railway Parcels & Miscellaneous Van No. S1153S some years ago, this being used as one of our main stores vehicles. Preservation of wooden bodied vehicles without covered storage is something of an endless task and a battle against the elements, and in the past 18 months, the PMV has had quite a lot of attention, including replacement of some rotten planking and window frames. It has also had repaint into early 1950s BR Crimson livery by Dave I – and what a cracking job he’s made of it. One side of the van has now been completed including being fully lettered in authentic style, and attention is now being turned to the other side. At some point we’re going to need to deal with the roof, which has sprung a few minor leaks!