Continuing the cooperation between the General Steam Navigation Locomotive Restoration Society and the Medway Queen Preservation Society (a GSN shipping Co ship) following the success of their previous wagons in both 00 and N gauges further new limited edition 00 gauge 7 plank open wagon have been produced to raise fund for both societies.
The model has been produced by Dapol and is based on their 00 gauge 7 plank open wagons with the lettering General Steam Navigation, Blunsdon & Gillingham Pier (the locations of the two Societies) and Number 22. The wagon is available in either black or green, both colours that were carried by 21c11 General Steam Navigation during her lifetime. The wagons include a coal load.
#OnThisDay in 1944, the first of the second batch of ten members of the new Merchant Navy class entered service. Numbered 21c11 and having been built at Eastleigh, to order 1189, in wartime black livery allocated to Nine Elms shed. She was slightly unique to other members of this batch in having a distinctive casing at the bottom of the cylinders to the front buffer beam. 21c11 was officially named ‘General Steam Navigation’ on 20th February 1945 at Waterloo Station by Mr R. Kelso the Chairman of the General Steam Navigation Company. She received full lined malachite livery in 11/01/47
After the formation of British Railways, she was renumbered to 35011 retaining lined malachite green with BR Gill Sans numerals and lettering. As with all members of the class the front of the cab was modified from the ‘flat front’ to the ‘wedge’ style to give improved forward visibility for the crew in September 1950. Unlike most members of the class, 35011 never carried British Railways Blue livery and was repainted into BR Breen November 1951. Following a brief three-month allocation to Bournemouth from January 1954 she was back at Nine Elms until being allocated to Exmouth Junction in June 1957.
All members of the merchant Navy class locomotives underwent rebuilding with no 35018 being the first so being treated. This process included: retaining the boiler, frames, outside cylinders, wheels, removing the oil sump and air smoothed casing and replacing the valve gear with three sets of Walschaerts gear, a new middle cylinder, reverser, smokebox, ashpan and grate. 35011 re-entered service on 4th July 1959 having run 670,782 miles in her original form. She was finally allocated to Bournemouth (some say her spiritual home) in March 1960.
35011 was withdrawn from service in February 1966 having run a total of 1,069,128 miles, with 398,346 in rebuilt form.
After a brief spell in store at Stewarts Lane she was moved Eastleigh Works where her centre crank axle was swapped for a plain axle. The crank axle was later fitted to 35026 at Weymouth.
Having been stored at Eastleigh she was sold to Woodhams Brothers in Barry in March 1967.
35011 was purchased for preservation and left Barry in March 1983 and was stored in Brighton Preston Park, then RAF Binbrook in Lincolnshire until 2007. She then moved to Williton on the West Somerset Railway, where a further axle swap took place this time with another plain axle from Bulleid Light Pacific West Country Class No. 34046 Braunton. She was then moved to a private site at Sellindge in Kent during 2009.
General Steam Navigation Locomotive Restoration Society
Ownership of 21c11 / 35011 was transferred to the current General Steam Navigation Locomotive Restoration Society in 2016 and the project to restore her to original air smoothed condition complete with new crank axle, middle cylinder and chain link valve gear in an oil bath began.
In April 2019 35011 was moved to her current home on the Swindon and Cricklade Railway, enabling her to be under cover for the first time since 1966 and enable the restoration to continue at a greater pace.
The boiler was lifted in October 2020, separating it from the frames for the first time in 61 years, to allow the full chassis restoration work to commence. The boiler has now had all the tubes removed and is awaiting an initial assessment by the boiler inspector.
In August 2021 due to the initial response of members joining the Trailing Truck Transformers Fund Club we have, been able to award the refurbishment contract to North Norfolk Railway Engineering.
With 2022 shaping up to be a landmark year for 35011 why not consider joining the Society and support our efforts to put the Steam back into General Steam Navigation. You can join by clicking here.
As 2021 draws to a close all of us at General Steam Navigation would like to wish all our members, supporters and your families a wonderful Christmas time. We hope 2022 brings you and GSN, health, wealth and happiness. During the last year we have really started to make progress with the restoration of 35011 to her 1950’s condition and we are sure with your continued support this will further accelerate throughout 2022. If you are not already a member please seriously consider joining this amazing project. Details on the Web Site here.
In case you haven’t seen it, please watch this fantastic video presented by Andrew Collett which looks at the various engineering achievements of the past few months. We also will be doing a question and answer session at the start of 2022 so please do send us any questions you might have.
My final personal wish to you all is that you may never be too grown up to search the skies on Christmas Eve. You never know you might just see a red flash or hear bells ringing and Angels singing.
General Steam Navigation Locomotive Restoration Society
Work on General Steam Navigation has progressed at a pace over the last few months with our regular working parties at Blunsdon. The majority of the work has been focused around 35011s chassis in preparation for “crane day” that happened in November. With the help of our friends at the Swindon and Cricklade Railway steam department our volunteers were able to successfully remove the five frame hangers that won’t be required in the restoration of General Steam Navigation back to Bulleid’s original condition.
These components were: the slidebar bracket hangers (these were heavily modified upon rebuilding due to the outside valve gear) and outside motion brackets on each side; along with the screw reverser bracket on the left hand side.
In the spring of next year it is planned to remove 35011s remaining wheels and front bogie in order to enable a full assessment of her frames to be undertaken.
Preparation work for producing the components required for the chassis and the alternations to the existing metalwork is being undertaken at the moment. This will enable the work to restore the rolling chassis to be only limited by the amount of money that can be raised to pay for the work. To help this work the Society has set up a “Putting Funds into the Frames” appeal which enables people to donate as little or as much to the project with the guarantee that it’ll be spent on the frames. You can find out more here.
Supporters will be aware that when we lifted the boiler from the frames in October last year, we also lifted the rear of the frames to release the Trailing Truck. Since then, work has been undertaken to remove the majority of the components that make up the Trailing Truck.
Following an independent assessment, we undertook a competitive tender process and in August we awarded the contract for the full refurbishment, and certification of the Trailing Truck by specialist contractors North Norfolk Railway Engineering (NNE).The Trailing Truck left Blunsdon and arrived safely at NNE Weybourne on the 10th October.
Since then North Norfolk Engineering have provided the following update of their activities:
• Completed the dismantling of the main component parts, with the truck chassis now lifted off the wheelset in readiness for the complete set of main parts and wheelset being sent away for shot blasting.
• Undertaken a series of key dimensional measurements to assess the general condition and wear levels ahead of developing the engineering overhaul strategy.
• Removed the seized main pivot pin out from its bronze bush and assessed the reason for it seizing, as the bush appears has moved during its working life and rotated in the frame boss, blanking off the grease hole in the process, reducing lubrication.
The next key stage is to undertake Ultrasonic Axle Testing (UAT) of the axle and the axle to wheel interfaces to verify that no flaws are present. It will be carried out by a Rail Industry approved axle specialist early in the new year (at the same time as the annual check of all locomotives on the North Norfolk Railway to minimise cost).We are in the process of arranging the purchasing new suspension coil springs and are currently working with various suppliers. To help fund the restoration of the trailing truck the Society is offering a maximum of 30 members the opportunity to purchase a ‘Lot’ for £500. Members are welcome to purchase as many ‘Lots’ as they wish up to the maximum target amount.
Members of the Fund Group would receive a number of benefits including:
Certificate of membership of the ‘Trailing Truck Transformers’
Name engraved on a suitable brass plaque attached to the refurbished Trailing Truck
Regular updates on the refurbishment of the Trailing Truck
An invitation to a VIP day at the Swindon and Cricklade Railway to see the completed Trailing Truck once it is returned to the railway.
For details on how to become a Trailing Truck Transformer please click here.
In November our CME Dr Steve Rapley took a group of students from Loughborough University to look at the smokebox and exhaust of 34039 Boscastle. This was to aid their understanding of the geometry they’re studying as part of developing the Internal Aerodynamics and draughting of 335011 General Steam Navigation Locomotive Restoration Society. The Society would like thank Andy Morgan and Mike for hosting us.
Progress continues with the boiler, there are still some stubborn ends of tubes to remove, but it is down to a handful now. Sterling work by our volunteers (including Paul G, David O, Geoff A & Jack G) continues with this strenuous task, with the expectation that the remainder will be out in the coming months. Work has started on removing rust from the inside of the firebox, and generally cleaning the inside of the boiler and firebox ahead of a planned inspection early next year. It may seem that one paragraph seems like little progress on the boiler, but this work is very labour intensive, and with only a small band of volunteers, maintaining Covid safe practices, it takes time for the fruit of their labours to become apparent.
In order to keep moving forwards with our restoration activities, the society is looking for a qualified railway mechanical engineer, preferably with welding experience or weld design experience, to advise the CME & Engineering Sub-committee in this field. If you fit this description, or know someone who does, please get in touch with us via firstname.lastname@example.org
The momentum being generated by our engineering team means 2022 is going to be a very important year for the project with some big goals in mind. To achieve this we will need your help, you are able to support us in many ways if you are not already a Society member you can sign up for membership for currently only £15 per year here, or donate to the Society here or even better become a shareholder here.
#ThisWeekIn 1951, 35011 General Steam Navigation left Eastleigh works following a light intermediate overhaul. During her visit to the works GSN had 400 steel stays repaired and 30 new “Howell” tubes installed. The major change was the new paint on the engine, gone was the Southern Railway malachite green replaced with the new British Railways Brunswick green.
General Steam Navigation was the last Merchant Navy built and operated by the Southern Railway to wear the malachite livery, having never worn the BR express blue livery. The short-lived British Railways express blue was dropped by the Southern Region as soon as it could with 35024 being repainted into the Brunswick Green livery in May 1951. General Steam Navigation would wear the Brunswick Green livery for another 15 years before being withdrawn in 1966.
Putting Funds into the Frames
Now that the boiler has been successfully removed from the frames for the first time in 61 years, see news item from 2nd October 2020 here, our attention is now turned to the restoration of the frames and the rear dragbox.
We have therefore set up a Fund for the Frames that will be essential for the successful restoration of 35011 back into her original condition. Not only do we need to clean and review the condition of the frames as they exist today, any corroded sections of the framework, the rear platform and dragbox will cut out and replaced. We also need to reverse some of the areas that were changed during rebuilding to allow a new middle cylinder to be installed and reinstate Bulleid’s unique patented chain driven valve gear.
Last week our Chief Mechanical Engineer took a group of students from Loughborough University to look at the smokebox and exhaust of Bulleid Light Pacific 34039 Boscastle that is currently undergoing overhaul on the Great Central Railway.
This was to aid their understanding of the geometry they’re studying as part of developing the internal aerodynamics and draughting of our 35011 General Steam Navigation.
#OnThisDay in 1948, General Steam Navigation re-entered service following an overhaul at Eastleigh works. The locomotive which now an updated livery featuring the BR Gills Sans numerals and lettering and the removal of the unique bulbous casing between the bufferbeam and outside cylinders. Colour photos of General Steam Navigation in his particular livery are hard to come by but thanks to our friends at “The Battle of Britain Locomotive Society” you can see 34081 92 Squadron in steam in this particular livery variant.
It was at this time that General Steam Navigation was re-numbered from 21c11 to 35011. When Oliver Bulleid built his new engines he adopted a new numbering scheme for all his locomotives based on Continental practice. The Southern Railway numbers followed an adaptation of the UIC classification system of using letters and numbers to designate the powered and unpowered axles, together with a running number. This first appeared on Bulleids Q1 class of engine where “C” refers to the number of coupled driving axles – in the Q1s case three. All these locomotives therefore carried numbers which started “C” followed by the individual identifier from C1 to C40. The first Merchant Navy built Channel Packet a pacific class 4-6-2 locomotive became 21C1 – where “2” and “1” refer to the number of unpowered leading and trailing axles respectively, and “C” again referring to the number of driving axles, in the Merchant Navys case three followed by the individual identifier. The remainder were numbered 21C2-21C20. The scheme was abandoned by British Railways in 1948 and the existing locomotives were renumbered under the British Railways standard system in the series 35001-35020; the final batch appeared in traffic as 35021-35030.
When General Steam Navigation returns to steam this livery is one of the choices our members will be able to pick from when voting but to do this we need your help. The Trailing Truck Transformers funding group continues to be our primary fundraising campaign with its objective of funding the restoration of GSNs trailing truck. The Society is pleased with the number of members who have signed up for blocks and with work due to start in the coming weeks at the North Norfolk we need to get as much funding in place as possible . We are offering a maximum of 30 members the opportunity to purchase a ‘Lot’ for £500. Members are welcome to purchase as many ‘Lots’ as they wish up to the maximum target amount.
Members of the Fund Group would receive a number of benefits including:
⚫Certificate of membership of the ‘Trailing Truck Transformers’
⚫Name engraved on a suitable brass plaque attached to the refurbished Trailing Truck
⚫Regular updates on the refurbishment of the Trailing Truck
⚫An invitation to a VIP day at the Swindon and Cricklade Railway to see the completed Trailing Truck once it is returned to the railway.
For details on how to become a Trailing Truck Transformer please click here
Photos courtesy of Transport of yesteryear through the lens, 35011 archives and A C Cawston.
On Monday 11th October, General Steam Navigation and our volunteers were featured in the first episode of the new behind the scenes documentary series looking at Hornby. Broadcasted on Yesterday ‘Hornby a Model World’ is a 10-part series following Hornby as it opens its doors to show the lengths its team of designers and engineers go to in scaling down locomotives, cars, aircraft and more to produce replica models as near perfect as possible. The first episode revolved around the development of the new Hornby Dublo General Steam Navigation and featured the Society’s efforts to restore our locomotive. The filming of the real General Steam Navigation on site at Blunsdon took place at the end of 2020 and focused on the stripping down of the frames and Trailing Truck. You can view the full episode on UKTV player here.
The Trailing Truck has left Blunsdon and has arrived at the North Norfolk Railway where it will be restored by a specialist engineering team. Located at Weybourne Engineering works, North Norfolk Railway Engineering presented a strong bid for the work, with a high level of engineering detail, that respects the historical merit of the unique in preservation fabricated Merchant Navy trailing truck. The speed of the work is dependent on how quickly the Society can raise the funds. We do hope you consider supporting the work by joining our Trailing Truck Transformers Funding group, donating to the project or by purchasing shares in the engine. Thank you.
Issue 16 of our membership magazine ‘The Packet’ is at the printers and will be posted out to our members in the coming weeks. The 28-page issue features a detailed update from the engineering team looking at the trailing truck, frames, boiler and crank axle. Also featured are is the latest news from our finance, membership and fundraising teams. The highly successful coach trip and N gauge models are also discussed along with the minutes from the AGM. Membership in the General Steam Navigation Locomotive Restoration Society costs £15 a year with members receiving the Packet 3 times a year, access to the locomotive and the ability to get involved with the Society. For more information please visit our dedicated membership page here.
Following on from the success of our first two Limited Edition model wagons in 00 gauge we are pleased announce a new model this time in N gauge. Once again these models have been jointly produced in cooperation with the Medway Queen Preservation Society. They are in stock now and already selling well.
The new models have been produced by Dapol Ltd. and are based on there N Gauge Gun Powder Vans with the lettering “General Steam Navigation, No. 11, Blunsdon and Gillingham Pier.” They are available in either red or blue and are priced at £11.90 each excluding post and packing.
To purchase one or more these wagons go to our online shop where you also purchase our other merchandise such as mugs, pint glasses, pens and pin badges etc.
The 35011 Twenty Twenty Club winners have been drawn for September .
Congratulations go to:
1st Prize – David Taylor ,
2nd Prize – Denise Sexton,
3rd Prize – Derek Preece
The Twenty Twenty Club is a great way to help raise funds for the locomotive and at the same time have a little bit of fun. We still have the last few places remaining find out how to join here.
Hornby: A Model World’ will be coming to your TV screens on Monday 11th October at 9pm on Yesterday Channel as the first episode of the ten-part series goes live!
The new UKTV Original series features behind the scenes action at Hornby HQ, of what goes into making Hornby, Airfix, Scalextric and Corgi models.
From century old steam engines to cutting edge racing cars. Each programme follows the process from drawing board to perfect mini replica. The series observes the ups and downs of the design process as Hornby attempt to get the all important detail spot on, whether it is perfecting the sound of a 1930s steam loco or the stitching on a First World War fighter plane.In the first episode, the Hornby team go back to their illustrious past when they decide to launch a metal diecast replica of a 1940’s steam locomotive, our very own Merchant Navy, 35011 General Steam Navigation. It’s a passion project for Development Director Simon Kohler who fondly remembers his brother getting one for Christmas as a child.
UKTV cameras visited one of our working weekends earlier this year to feature our project to restore 35011 General Steam Navigation back to original air smoothed condition complete with Bulleid’s patented chain driven valve gear to view our progress in the restoration of the full size version of Hornby’s model. For more information on how you can help support the project click here.
At the Annual General Meetings of the General Steam Navigation Locomotive Restoration Society (GSNLRS) and General Steam Navigation CIC we were delighted to announce that following the removal of the trailing truck from the frames in October 2020 and months of preparatory work by their hard working volunteers, that the restoration contract for the trailing truck has been awarded after a tender process to North Norfolk Railway Engineering.
Located at Weybourne Engineering works, North Norfolk Railway Engineering presented a strong bid for the work, with a high level of engineering detail, that respects the historical merit of the unique in preservation fabricated Merchant Navy trailing truck.
Originally fitted to a series 3 Merchant Navy, our fabricated trailing truck is the last survivor of its kind. Lighter than the cast truck fitted to the other preserved Merchant Navy locomotives, longer than a Light Pacific’s truck, the GSNLRS are having this unique piece of Bulleid locomotive design restored to mainline standard, a crucial step towards GSNLRS’s vision of an original Merchant Navy with original air smoothed casing and Bulleid’s patented chain driven valve gear.
Since 1966, 35011 has been without it’s central crank axle. Alongside the missing valve gear, this has been the driving force behind the decision to return to original design condition, due to the cost of replacement to either design being similar.
After many years of behind-the-scenes research in the BPLA collection & National Archive in Kew, and recent detailed Finite Element Analysis conducted at the University of Birmingham, under the supervision of Professor Karl Dearn, has demonstrated that A4T steel is of a suitable grade for the correct balanced crank axle design for 35011 in original design condition.