Category Archives: Monthly updates

March Update 2020 – Boiler Lift Appeal

 Boiler lift “Sponsor an inch or more” and prize draw.

As with all things in life what goes up must come down… and the boiler is no different. It will need to be lifted clear of the chassis, swung away, and then lowered to its new temporary location.

The approximate cost of the crane hire will be £1500 that also equates to approximately the distance in actual up and down travel of 150 inches of the boiler by the time it has been raised to clear the chassis and lowered again.

We are therefore offering supporters the opportunity to sponsor a part of the lift for as little as £10 per inch, of course supporters can also sponsor multiple inches!

How to “Sponsor an inch or more”

To “Sponsor an inch or more” head to our campaign ‘JustGiving’ page here  to complete your sponsorship.

Free prize draw

Every “inch or more” sponsored will be entered into a free draw to win a number of prizes, be drawn at random at pivotal points during the boiler lift, including: model railway locomotives in N and 00 gauges including a star prize of a Graham Farish N Gauge Merchant Navy Pacific locomotive, a year’s free membership of the GSNLR Society, General Stream Navigation merchandise and other prizes.

The more inches sponsored increases your winning chances.

Note: the prize draw is registered with Plymouth City Council in accordance with the Gambling Act 2005 for non-commercial Society’s

Click here to sponsor an inch

AGM Cancelled

We also regret to inform you that we have had to cancel our Society and C.I.C. AGM’s planned for Saturday March 28th. The Swindon and Cricklade Railway have cancelled their Steam Gala and all trains until at least the end of April as a precaution against Covid-19 and your Board has decided that we should follow their very sensible lead.

We hope to be able to arrange the AGM’s for a later date when the current situation resolves itself and we shall announce a new date in a future edition of The Packet and will be writing to all shareholders as well. We apologise for any inconvenience caused to any of you who intended to attend the AGM’s but I am sure you will understand our decision under the circumstances.


Our volunteers have also been hard at work removing various components off the locomotive including the rear and middle brake hangers on the right hand side, the remaining parts of the slide bars from both sides, the outside exhaust steam pipes, the reversing screw and the regulator operating bar from inside the boiler. All of the removed components are then assessed, put into storage and if they are a component that is exclusive to the rebuilds they are offered to other Bullied owners group.

Trailing Truck

 Work was not just focused on removing components but also saw our volunteers test fit some of the components the Society had made last year. The main highlight was the trail fitting of all the components for the trailing truck. The spring beams were successfully installed with the hangers. The Society needs to acquire some new springs but was able to use the bogie springs for the test fiting. The axle box cover and dust cover were fitted which gave us the slight of a fully equipped fabricated trailing truck for the first time since the 1960s when GSN had the covers removed at Barry. The Society would once again like to thank all the members who sponsored the various components for the trailing truck.


The main focus on the work on the locomotive has been centred around detubing the boiler ready for the boiler lift. As it stands all of the bigger boiler tubes have been removed from the boiler and our volunteers have a start removing the small tubes.

The boiler lift will be part of a big on-site move so getting the boiler prepared and the funds in place beforehand will be key. Once again if you like to help fund the boiler you can “Sponsor an inch or more”  by donating to our campaign ‘JustGiving’ page here  to complete your sponsorship.

As always thank you for your continued support.

January 2020 Update

January 2020 Update

Looking back to progress in 2019

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 for a volunteer form to fill out.

Please note that as well as being a member of us you will also need to be a member of and or join the Swindon & Cricklade Railway.

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.

As always thank you for your continued support.

May 2019 Update

Since the last update the Society the project has been incredibly busy with the biggest news being the locomotive has arrived at her new home on the Swindon and Cricklade Railway. The move which took 2 days and involved a crane, 2 low loaders and around 30 volunteers was a complete success with the locomotive arriving at the railway on the 20th April.  The Society would like to thank Reid freight and all the volunteers at Sellindge and Swindon for their help during the move. The Society is also incredibly grateful to all our members who donated towards the costs of the move and raised £1,700 in just under a week. You can still support our efforts to cover the move by donating at

General Steam Navigations move to the Swindon generated quite a bit of main stream media coverage for the project. The stand out achievement was a 3 minute feature on the local BBC 6pm news program ’Points West’. The feature included footage of the locomotive arriving, some old photos, interviews with Andrew Collett one of our trustees and Allan Bott one of the Swindon and Cricklade volunteers. Getting the feature was a great scoop for the project as the program gets an average of 580,000 people tuning in.

Andrew Collett and Allan Bott were also interviewed for BBC Radio Wiltshire’s  Drivetime program. General Steam Navigation also made the front page of the S&CRs local paper the ’Swindon Advertiser’. All this mainstream coverage is a great success for the project and our new hosts as we look to build our volunteer and supporters base in the local area.

The Society held its AGM on the 18th May at Blunsdon station on the Swindon and Cricklade Railway. This year’s event was the first time the Society has been able to hold the AGM with the locomotive present and was the majority of our members’ first time seeing 35011 in person. A full write up will appear in Issue 10 of the Packet out in the next couple of months.

If you are considering getting involved with the restoration of the locomotive joining today is the perfect opportunity to join. Working parties will be starting soon at the Swindon site and will make the next stage of her life and you could be part of that new chapter. For more details please do get in touch with us through our website or various social media platforms.

As always thank you for your continued support.

February 2019 Update

The General Steam Navigation Locomotive Restoration Society are delighted to report that on Wednesday 13th March the Society will be announcing the new base that the locomotive will be moving to. The new base will see the restoration and eventful running of the Society’s Merchant Navy class engine.

Issue 9 of the Packet which will be posted to members in the coming days will feature an indepth article on the new base and the exciting times that lay ahead for the project.

Feburary was a busy month for the projects engineering team with volunteers working on the locomotive at Sellindge to prepare her for the upcoming move.  We do have to inform our supporters that unfortunately we won’t be publicizing any dates for the physical move of the locomotive due to space requirements at both ends of the trip.

Ian Ferguson one of our expert machinists completed the work on the Klinger valves and have been collected by one of the Societys trustees. We’d like to thank Ian for all his hard work on the valves and the Society plan to fit them to the manifold during the AGM to display to our members,

Work on the bogie spring beams was progressing with the profiles being machined for us by Asbrook Engineering in Devon.  These beams are being made the same way as the beams for the trailing truck and should be delivered by the end of March.

As always thank you for your contuined support

January 2019 Update

At the start of a each year we tend to look back at the previous years achievements and 2018 was another stand out year. Amongst the highlights were the new nameplates for the locomotive which sponsored by 2 of our members and unveiled at the Societys in March. The biggest engineering success was gathering all the major components required to overhaul the trailing truck once the locomotive has been stripped down. Securing all the major parts for the trailing truck saw the project undertake many firsts including the first component made from our own patterns (axle box covers) and the first component made from Society generated CAD (trailing truck spring beams). All this work allowed us demonstrate the difference between our unique fabricated trailing truck and the far more common cast version. Work was also undertaken at Sellindge in the form of general maintenance and preparing the locomotive for a future move. Thanks to our amazing supporters we also secured many original parts for the locomotive including a whistle valve, lamps and a speedometer.

Work is on going with the machining of the Klinger Valves with Ian making steady progress. Inside the valve is what is known as a lantern. Its job is to apply pressure to the packing that seals the valve piston by allows steam to pass through it when the valve is open. It is not been possible to obtain stainless steel castings which meant Ian had to machine them out of a solid billet of stainless steel. The caps of the Klinger valves have been fully machined which was made easier through the use of special trapezoidal taps that sped up the process no end. At our AGM the Society plans to have the completed valves on display test fitted to the manifold. The machining of this particular component is very complex and the Society is extremely grateful to Ian for all his hard work over the past year.

The third annual General Meeting of the Society will held on Saturday 18th May 2019 however the location cannot be revealed at this time. The Society is in the final stages of a agreeing a new base for the locomotive with the contract being discussed at this time. Its planned that the locomotive will be moved to the new site in time for the AGM to allow our members attending to see her and as many of the various parts the Society has gathered attached to her. This has also seen Issue 9 of the Packet being delayed until the contract is signed. The issue is ready to go to the printers so once the deal has been agreed our members will get the news on there doorsteps soon after. The Packet features some major updates on various fronts including the crank axle,  more original components, more parts made from scratch and the galas we are attending in the coming months.

As always thank you for your contuined support


November 2018 Update

November has been another productive month for the project with lots of work being carried out behind the scenes which should take the GSN project to the next level. We are quickly approaching our 3rd birthday and the Society is hopeful of announcing a new restoration base that we are currently in negotiations with. Should this be agreed and the deal signed the Society will launch an appeal to raise the approximately £7,000 required for the transportation costs and crane hire fees to move the J94 chassis and its boiler that‘s currently in front of 35011 at Sellindge. This could also see our AGM being delayed by a couple of months this year in order to have the event at the new base with the locomotive present. As soon as anything is agreed be assured our members will be the first to know.

The General Steam Navigation is delighted to announce the long term loan of some original Bulleid components to be used on 35011. Kindly lent to us by Eddie Wearing the components include a Smiths Speedometer that was removed from a Bulleid Pacific and 4 electric lamps. The Smiths Speedometer‘s were installed on all of the LNER‘s top link engines, the Bulleid Pacific’s and the BR Standard Class Locomotives such as the Britannia’s. This makes them a very sort after component item within the heritage railway sector as the supply of originals dries up so securing one for the locomotive is a great achievement. Before use the Speedometer will need to be sent to a specialist company such as Wayne Jones and Partners for overhaul, calibration and certification.

Last month we mentioned with with Christmas fast approaching it was the perfect time to join We were delighted to see several new supporters sign up which has led to an immediate increase in donations.  Easy Fundraising is a great way to raise money for charities, schools, sports clubs, community groups, Merchant Navy class steam locomotives, and other good causes just by shopping online and selecting your chosen charity, in our case General Steam Navigation.

As always thank you for your contuined support

October 2018 Update


October was a busy month for us with the Society stand visiting both the Mid Hants Railway Autumn steam gala and the Exeter Garden Model Railway show. These events were very successful for the project with the Society signing up several new members. The Society would like to take our stand out and visit more railways in 2019 but for that we need your help. Events on our wish list include the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railways May gala, the Severn Valley Railway and the Great Central Railway. The more railways we visit the more people will see our society and hopefully join which will be a major boost to our efforts to restore 35011. If you are interested in supporting GSNs restoration through manning a sales stand please do get in touch via the website.

Issue 8 of the Packet landed on our members doorsteps this weekend and was another bumper issue.  The Packet has updates from the engineering team. new original Bulleid components, another magazine scan from Southern Railway magazine and reports from all the various departments within the Society.

General Steam Navgation made a surprise TV appearance this week albeit in 00 gauge form. She appeared for a couple of seconds on Channel 5s Great Model Railway Challenge show when Team Tonbridge were testing the layout. Sadly Team Tonbridge didnt win there heat but seeing a model GSN was a nice surprise for us.

With Christmas fast approaching today is the perfect time to join Easy Fundraising is a great way to raise money for charities, schools, sports clubs, community groups, Merchant Navy class steam locomotives, and other good causes just by shopping online and selecting your chosen charity, in our case General Steam Navigation.

How it works

  1. First go to the easyfundraising website (
  2. Choose a link to any of the 2,700+ retailers (e.g. Amazon, Asda, M&S, Waterstones, etc) to be taken to the retailers own website
  3. Shop as normal

By registering General Steam Navigation as your good cause on the easyfundraising website, purchases that you make, after clicking through to any retailer from the easyfundraising website, will automatically provide a donation to us. It really is as simple as that! And if you install the easyfundraising Donation Reminder you don’t even have to remember to do steps 1 and 2! There is also an App for mobile devices. Refer to the easyfundraising website for any further details.

Click here to sign up.

As always thank you for your continued support


August 2018 Update

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.

As always thank you for your continued support





July 2018 Update

Work continues on the locomotive with progress being made on the machine shop front. With temperatures a little over 80 degF in Ians workshop at school it’s time to make some more progress on the Klinger valves. All 4 bodies have had all the internal machining completed and are ready to be drilled for the cap mounting stud holes. Just waiting for a drilling jig to be made. The 2 large caps are machined inside and out and are awaiting jig drilling plus the interesting part- Machining the metric trapezoidal thread. Another one of our members has volunteered to create all the spring hangers and fittings for the trailing truck and bogie. The Society has provided all the material for the work and if anyone would like to contribute towards the cost please do get in touch.

The project was featured in this month’s Heritage Railway magazine which was a roundup of the Society’s efforts over the last year. Its great being able to get some coverage in his particular title which will hopefully gain us some supporters.

The Society is delighted to announce we have acquired a brass lamp fitted with the bullseye lens, toggle switch to side and bulb holder inside. The lamp is reported to have come off Merchant Navy’ Class No. 35024 “East Asiatic Company” and was purchased at a recent Railwayana auction. Gaining the lamp is fantastic news for the project as the use of original components helps add character to the locomotive. The lamp is part of a number of items that have been loaned to the Society on a loan term lease by one of our members to be used on 35011. Members will be able to read about the other components in the next issue of the Packet out in late September.

Lastly the Society was saddened by the death this month of project supporter and Bulleid 4DD Double Deck EMU Supporters Group Committee Member Ian Ross. Ian was a great friend of the project and helped publicize the project in the early days.  His loss at such a young age came as a complete shock and our thoughts are with his family and friends at this terrible time.

As always thank you for your support.


June 2018 Update

The project has taken a major step forward with work being focused around General Steam Navigations trailing truck. With 35011 having the only surviving fabricated trailing truck the society has secured the matching fabricated dust covers for the spring beams. With the drawings for the cast versions not being available the society decided to go with the fabricated design which would improve the uniqueness of the locomotive rather than going down the extremely costly route of borrowing an existing cover, getting that made into a pattern, cast and then machined. The drawings for the fabricated dust covers were converted into a CAD file which enabled the pieces to be laser cut and then welded together. The two dust covers were completed in time to be taken down to the working party over the May bank holiday and were successfully test fitted to the locomotive.

Test fitting of the cover at Sellindge.

The Society has also ordered of a pair of spring beams for the trailing truck. The spring beams are traditionally created by forging the steel into the correct shape and then machining the piece to the required specification however with the introduction of water jet cutting GSNs spring beams will be cut out of a block of steel using and then machined to completion. What this allows us to do is created spring beams that will have the same strength as the forged versions but for around half the price. One of our volunteers, James Pearce, converted the drawings into a CAD file which was sent directly to the water jet company. Water cut beams is a common practice used on recent locomotive restorations although GSN will be the first Bulleid locomotive to feature one and should be delivered during the summer.

The CAD model of the spring beams (James Pearce)

Once the spring beams are completed we will have all the components required to successfully overhaul the trailing truck once it’s been released during the strip down stage. The only major remaining component will be the hangers for the springs which one of our volunteers has offered to machine and features in the machine shop section. We plan to get all the components together and test fitted on the trailing truck at Sellindge by the end of the year.

Issue 7 of the Packet was posted to our members in earlyJune which featured all the latest news from our AGM and updates on the engineering, crank and machine shop fronts. If you’d like to join the society this could be the perfect chance with GSN making excellent progress each and every month. More info on our membership can be found on our website.

As always thank you for your support.