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.
Whilst Covid19 has been affecting both our financial and engineering efforts, the Society is delighted to report that new parts continue to be constructed. Recently the front bogie spring beams were delivered by Ashbrook Engineering Ltd; the Society is extremely grateful to Mr Alan Dixon who sponsored their construction. Along with the efforts of Mr Tony Simmonds who is machining the spring hangers for the Society, work on the bogie is progressing at a good pace.
Work continues with converting the BPLA drawings of the frames & valve gear into CAD to allow us to have replacement parts manufactured. This is a lengthy process, but one that is vital for our goal of reengineering the existing frames to a condition where they can accommodate the original chain-driven valve gear and replacing the middle cylinder. In time we will also have the drawings of the smokebox and air-smoothed casing transferred to CAD for the same reason.
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 initial number of members who have signed up for blocks but are under no illusions that its still along way from being funded. 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.
The 35011 Twenty Twenty Club winners have been drawn for January.
Congratulations go to:
1st Prize – David Oborn, 2nd Prize – Simon Shutt, 3rd Prize Allan Bott
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.
2021 is shaping up to be a very important year for the project with some big goals in mind. You can help support us in many ways if you are not already a Society member you can sign up for membership for currently only £12 per year here, or donate to the Society here or even better become a shareholder here.
Finally some of our trustees will be making a guest appearance on the “Railwaymania” podcast and will be answering questions from members and the general public. If you have any questions you’d like answering please send them to us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or through our website and we’ll ensure as are answered on the podcast as possible.
Work on the 35011 project has continued despite the latest national lockdown putting a halt to all working parties on the engine. Members will soon be receiving on their doorsteps or inboxes the latest Issue 14 of our membership magazine ‘The Packet’
This issue is over 25% larger than the previous issue with lots of exciting news from the engineering, fundraising, PR and membership teams. If you’re not a member and would like to receive a copy and be among the first to know you join our Society for just £12 by clicking here.
At our final working weekend of 2020 we were filmed & interviewed by a TV crew for a program to be aired in late 2021 which will be great publicity for our project. We have more volunteers waiting to join our working parties once social distancing becomes a thing of the past which will speed up the rate of restoration. At this moment in time GSN is a dormant creature, waiting for its time to live again and with your help we can do just that. No matter what skills you have we can use your help. Please contact our volunteer liaison officer Mr Andrew Collett at email@example.com if you fancy getting your hands dirty.
At the start of the month Hornby announced that a new model of General Steam Navigation will be joining the Hornby Dublo range. The model will be limited to 500 models and feature a diecast boiler. The locomotive is wearing the BR Brunswick green livery and looks brilliant. You can find out more on the Hornby website here.
The 35011 Twenty Twenty Club winners have been drawn for November and December.
Congratulations go to:
December 2020 – 1st Prize – Chris Mileman, 2nd Prize – David Oborn, 3rd Prize – Andrew Collett
November 2020 – 1st Prize – Chris Mileman, 2nd Prize – Steve Raply, 3rd Prize – Simon Strachan
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.
2021 is shaping up to be a very important year for the project with some big goals in mind. You can help support us in many ways if you are not already a Society member you can sign up for membership for only £12 per year here, or donate to the Society here or even better join us as a shareholder here.
Work on the locomotive progressed at a great rate prior to the start of the latest government lockdown. The weekend before the lockdown saw the project pass another important landmark with the removal of the final tube from the boiler that contained 40 large diameter tube and approx. 100 small diameter tubes. Once the current Covid restrictions have been relaxed our volunteers will carry on with their efforts to prepare the boiler for inspection and NDTs in early 2021.
The trailing truck was also the focus of the efforts of our volunteers in October. The trailing truck is being cleaned up and assessed prior to restoration next year. We are currently seeking donations towards the cost of the transportation and overhauling of the trailing truck axle and the front bogie axles. You can donate to the appeal on our justgiving page here, any funds would be extremely appreciated.
Ian Ferguson one of our skilled volunteers has completed the machining of the shut off valves that attach to the main steam manifold. The amount of skilled put into them is impressive and we are extremely grateful for all his hard work.
The Society has been paid £49.92 through EasyFundraising. Thanks to everyone who helped to raise these funds. If you’re not supporting 35011 General Steam Navigation, please sign up now. It takes 2 minutes & 4,300+ shops will donate to us for free every time you shop with them! You can sign up using the link here. With Christmas and Black Friday coming up by signing up to EasyFundraising you’ll be able to help restore GSN without any costs or hassle to you.
The winners of our first 35011 Twenty Twenty Club have been drawn for October.
Congratulations go to:
1st Prize – Dereck Preece
2nd Prize – Simon Strachan
3rd Prize – David Oborn
We still have the last few places remaing find out how to join here
You can help support us in many ways if you are not already a Society member you can sign up for membership for only £12 per year here, or donate to the Society here or even better join us as a shareholder here.
In June a few select volunteers restarted stripping down work on GSN. Numbers are being strictly limited to begin with to comply with social distancing so it may be a little while before we can welcome new members to our working parties. Thank you to those that have recently sent in their volunteer forms to join the ranks of our working members, we will welcome you to Blunsdon as soon as we are able.
Most of the work focused on getting our container set up which included the installation of the container lights and electrical sockets, at the request of the railway painting the outside green and various other small tasks. Work did progress on the locomotive with the removal of the springs that attach to the centre driving wheels. A preliminary visual inspection suggests they are good condition considering their age.
Although we await the installation of a permanent electrical feed, we have a temporary connection to our newly installed consumer unit to give us both lighting and a ring main in the container. We have included RCD protected sockets for external tool use, sockets by the desk including USB charging points and sockets for the kindly donated microwave oven, fridge and kettle!
The stripping down also saw the right hand side piston and cover being removed. These have now been put into storage and will their condition will be assessed.
The Society is happy to report that it was able to purchase some new components for the locomotive in the form of a Speedo drive, cut off indicator quadrant & part of the steam turbo generator. The components were from an enthusiast’s collection who offered them to the Society for an incredibly reasonable price.
Work in July was mostly focused around preparing for the boiler lift with some of the more troublesome boiler mounts being removed. The front boiler mounts proved especially resistant to being removed but after some head scratching a plan was devised and carried out that saw the mounts being separated.
The main engineering highlight for this issue was the new front end casing which was successfully test fitted in July. The casing was originally built to be a surprise for our members at the cancelled AGM earlier in the year. The casing was built by the team at Leaky Finders who did another fantastic job for us.
The two outside pieces are slightly bigger then they were originally built, we felt it was a sensible decision to make them bigger then we need to allow us trim them down during their final fitting and make a perfect joint to the rest of the casing. For the same reason none of the fitting holes were drilled, this meant we had to use some wooden props to display the pieces on the locomotive. The most complex part of the casing manufacture was the lamp irons which required machining to get the side profiles right before beginning to be bent into their into the final shape.
The “Sponsor an inch or more” campaign that was masterminded by Graham Muspratt was a huge success with the Society raising just under £2,000. The Society would like to thank Graham and all those who donated to the appeal. Getting the funding in place so quickly has made the planning for the boiler lift far simpler. At the time of publication a date has been agreed for the lift prior to the rearranged AGM although for health and safety reasons the Society will not be publishing the exact date.
With the relaxation of lockdown rules our volunteers have been hard at work preparing for the boiler lift. Our aim is to get all the remaining small boiler tubes cut and removed from the boiler before the day of the lift. The majority of the securing bolts have been removed with the remaining ones being left in for safety reasons. Our volunteers will remove all the final securing bolts the day before the lift.
The Society have been debating the possibility of removing both the trailing truck and front bogie whilst the crane is on site for the boiler lift. The agreed plan is to attempt to remove the trailing truck but we’ll leave the front bogie in place. There are several reasons for this decision with the main factor being the Society is not in a position where we can make the locomotive immobile. The weight of the front end of the locomotive would require us to pack behind the bufferbeam in order to prevent the possibility GSN pivoting on her front drive axle. If GSN had a crank axle in place along side the rear drive wheel would have created a counter weight to balance the locomotive without either the bogie or trailing truck needing to be in place. The safest option we are taking is to remove the trailing truck and leave the bogie in place as this will allow us to push the locomotive back under cover once the lifts have been completed.
All the generous people who donated to the appeal will be entered into a free draw to win a number of prizes, including: a star prize of a Graham Farish N Gauge Merchant Navy Pacific locomotive, a years free membership to the GSNLR society, GSN merchandise and other prizes.
The raffle will be drawn at random at pivotal points during the boiler lift such as: The moment the first inch has been lifted, point of maximum lift, being clear of the chassis and then lowered to its new location. If you have donated and not contacted us to confirm your raffle entry with us please do at the earliest opportunity in order to ensure you don’t miss out.
How you can help us.
With so much engineering progress being made with the restoration of 21c11 / 35011 back to original condition complete with air smoothed casing and chain drive valve gear you can help us in several different ways:
No matter what skills you have we can use your help. Please contact our volunteer liaison officer Mr Andrew Collett at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are considering a donation to the project or buying some shares today is the perfect time to do it.
The project is heading into some very exciting times and any financial contributions would be greatly appreciated.
The Society is pleased to report that we be restarting working parties in July. Numbers will be strictly limited to begin with to comply with social distancing so it may be a little while before we can welcome new members to our working parties. Thank you to those that have recently sent in their volunteer forms to join the ranks of our working members, we will welcome you to Blunsdon as soon as we are able.
In June a few select volunteers restarted stripping down work on the GSN. Most of the work focused on getting our container set up which included the installation of the container lights and electrical sockets, at the request of the railway painting the outside green and various other small tasks. Work did progress on the locomotive with the removal of the springs that attach to the center drive wheels. A preliminary visual inspection suggests they are good condition considering their age.
The Society also gained a new component in June that was originally fitted to sister Merchant Navy 35023 ‘Holland Afrika Line’. Not many parts of 35023 survived the scrapyard, but luckily after the last fires were dropped from the engines at Nine Elms, souvenirs from the locomotives were recovered, this includes the boiler pressure gauge from 35023, which had recently resurfaced from an old drivers collection. This historic component has now been secured for future use on GSN thanks to the very kind donation of one of our members.
You can now look great whilst supporting the restoration of 21c11 / 35011.
As you are probably aware we have had to reschedule our four day fund raising coach trip to Yorkshire,which subject to getting sufficient numbers will now take place on Friday 16th October.
Profits for the trip will be split between GSN & The Swindon & Cricklade Railway.In my professional capacity as a coach driver I will behind the wheel for the trip so it will be a great way to meet fellow members & raise money at the same time.
We will travel on 3 steam railways,visit the National Railway Museum* at York & generally have a fun weekend. We will be based at the Best Western Guide Post hotel on the outskirts of Bradford for 3 nights on a half board basis.
The program is as follows:
Fri 16th Oct. Travel from Blunsdon to Bradford
Sat 17th Oct Steam Journey on the Bolton & Embsay Railway followed by a journey from Rawtenstall to Bury on the East Lancs Steam Railway.
Sun 18th Oct Steam journey from Pickering to Whitby on the North Yorks Moors Railway.
Mon 19th Oct Visit to the NRM York (Subject to NRM reopening after corona virus shut down) before returning to Blunsdon.
Price £299pp. This includes all train fares. There is a £50 single Supplement.
This trip is run in conjunction with Holidays & Cruises in Melksham . To Book please call them on 01225 865725 option 3.
How you can help
You can help with the restoration of 21c11 / 35011 back to original condition complete with air smoothed casing and chain driven valve gear in several different ways.
In January and February work progressed on the locomotive at the Blunsdon site. The majority of the effort was focused on preparing the boiler for the lift later in the year. This saw our volunteers removing tubes from the boiler and the various bolts securing the boiler to the frames. The Society is happy to report that all the large boiler tubes have been removed with work now starting on the smaller tubes. It had been hoped the smaller tubes would be all removed before the boiler lift but with workings cancelled until further notice that might not be possible. Whilst our volunteers have removed the majority of the bolts securing the boiler to the frames, several have been left in for safety reasons. Once the boiler lift gets closer the last of these bolts will then be removed and the remainder of the smokebox will also be removed.
The stripping down of the locomotive has also seen progress with the ash pans on both sides now removed. Whilst the crane is on site for the boiler lift the Society also plans remove the front bogie and trailing truck. Once these have been removed the bogie, which appears to be in better condition then the trailing truck, will become the main focus of our restoration efforts. It is the aim to restore the trailing truck at the same time although his will depend on the cost effectiveness of the exercise. It is believed once the Society has delivered a major restored component our credibility will improve and more serious investment will come in.
During the shut down the Society has also been able to agree a very good value-for-money deal that will see our entire frames, stretchers, bufferbeam and both the front and rear dragboxs drawn up in CAD. Once the boiler has been lifted and the frames stripped back this CAD will then be used to check the frames. The Society has had some CAD produced in the past such as the boiler support which forms the back of the oil bath that contains the chain driven valve gear, mounts the inside slidebar and holds the plunger that transfers the valve motion to the piston valves (see right). The Society will need to check that the locomotive’s frames actually match the CAD and the drawings. Once the frames have been scanned to ensure they are in good condition (and fingers crossed, no cracks or damage) the CAD will then be used to cast any stretchers that will need replacing, along with a new dragbox and the boiler support. The cost of getting the frame CADs done was agreed for a price for £1,500. With funds being very tight after the AGM’s cancellation if anyone would like to contribute towards the cost of the CAD project please do get in touch using the contacts details on our website.
The Society had also hoped to unveil some of the front cladding with fitted lamp irons at the AGM in March. The cladding had been produced in order to give the locomotive her face and the start of the outline unique to an original condition Merchant Navy. To create the look some wooden frame extensions were fabricated in order to temporarily fit the new cladding. The cladding had been completed in time for the AGM but with the Covid-19 lock down the Society have been unable to send someone down to collect the finished project. Until the big unveiling the completed cladding will be kept under wraps. The Society would just like to thank Leaky Finders for there hard work constructing the cladding in record time.
The Society was able to acquire a new original electric headlight for the locomotive. At this point the Society now has 5 brass lamps and 1 steel one. The Society has also agreed a price for a Smiths speedometer axle box generator and a cut-off indictor plate for the steam reverser which we will be collecting later in the year.
At this moment in time GSN is a dormant creature, waiting for its time to live again & with your help we can do just that. No matter what skills you have we can use your help. Please contact our volunteer liaison officer by email to Andrew Collett or write to him with your contact details if you fancy getting your hands dirty.
Issue 12 of the Packet
The latest issue of the Packet went out to our members this month and was another bumper issue. The issue features the latest news from the engineering team, the boiler lift appeal, GSNs backplate build up and much much more.
If you are not yet a member, it’s only £12 per year, you can sign up here. Membership in the Society ensures you’ll be kept up to date with the latest achievements, via our members magazine ‘The Packet’ published three times a year with progress reports on GSN and articles about Merchant Navy’s and the Light Pacifics, access to the locomotive when possible and the ability to get involved with the Society.
With the Covid-19 lockdown in place the Society’s finances are under great strain following the lose revenue generated from our sales stand visiting heritage railway gala events over the year. To help ensure work can continue following the lockdown the Society does ask to consider supporting us if your able to and any support would be gratefully appreciated. You can sign up for membership for only £12 per year here, donate to the Society here or even better join us as a shareholder here.
Since the move of General Steam Navigation our new home at the Swindon and Cricklade Railway in April 2019 we have held a number of enjoyable and productive working parties made all the more effective by being at our new permanent base, see also our May 2019 update here.
Working alongside our friends at the Swindon and Cricklade Railway we have obtained and installed a new 20ft storage container alongside 35011 in the Barn at Blunsdon. This gives us a secure base for our tools, equipment and most importantly storage of many of the components that have been removed from the locomotive to enable the next steps of restoration to take place.
In preparation of lifting the boiler during 2020 we have continued to remove the boiler tubes, with the majority of the large tubes now removed. We also removed the top of the old smokebox, this being both badly corroded and also a of a rebuilt type and therefore not suitable for 35011 when restored to original form, this have given us easier and safer access to the boiler front tubeplate. All the boiler mounting points have been regularly oiled up to enable easier removal of the boiler later this year.
As with a restoration of this kind there are many components that need to be removed from the locomotive as part of the process, some of these items will be restored and reused whilst others being for the engine in her rebuilt form will not be required and where possible a offered to other locomotive owners. All the components so far removed have been catalogued and securely stored. These items have included: slide bars, reverser, cylinder and valve chest covers, glands and packing and brake gear.
We also have continued to work on the production of new items including a wide range of new castings, Klinger valves and bogie and pony truck spring beams and hangers being machined, and trial fitted. Research and Design work and material sourcing is continuing in earnest for the new centre crank axle and new tyres have been ordered for the wheels for the centre axle.
At our November working party that coincided with Remembrance Sunday, those attending marked the occasion by observing a 2 minutes silence, to remember specifically all those in the Merchant Navy whom lost their lives alongside our service personnel. 35011 was also suitably adorned with the Red Ensign flag of the Merchant Navy.
More details and information about the progress being made on 35011 General Steam Navigation will be in the next issue of our members magazine the Packet due later this month.
If you are not yet a member, it’s only £12 per year, you can sign up here or even better become a shareholder here.
Upcoming dates in 2020
Our next planned working weekends are being held on 25th / 26th January & 29th and February / 1st March.
As always with our working weekends, no experience is necessary just enthusiasm and a willingness to get involved. If you are interested, please contact our chairman at email@example.com for a volunteer form to fill out.
Also our AGM will be held on the 28th March at the Swindon & Cricklade Railway, where all members and shareholders are invited to join us. We have a guest speaker from Steam Railway Magazine and it is also a Gala Weekend on the Swindon & Cricklade Railway , so along with seeing the progress that has been made on No.11 there will be plenty going on to make the visit worthwhile.
The formal AGM notice will be in the next issue of the members magazine the Packet.
August has been another busy month on the engineering front of the project. North Bay Engineering Services in Darlington have been making serious progress with the trailing truck spring beams for GSN. The beams which were water cut using CAD made by a society volunteer are currently being machined to the required specifications and should be delivered by the middle of September. The beams are the first ones made for a Merchant Navy for over 50 years and the biggest component we needed to replace on the trailing truck.
Our next working weekend will be held at Sellindge between the 28th and 30th September to which all our members are invited to attend. At this working weekend we plan to trial fit all the various components for the trailing truck should the hangers and fittings be completed in time. One of the components we have been recently working on is the axle box covers which we got cast earlier in the year. They have now been machined for us by Leaky Finders in Devon with the covers requiring the oil feed hole boring, the fixing holes reamed and the back edges milled flat to create a tight fit against the axle box. The work was done in a timely manner and ready to be fitted to the locomotive.
In July we mentioned that the Society was loaned an original Bulleid electric lamp to be use on the locomotive. The Society has now got the lamp all wired up and working to display at various stands and Society events.