#OnThisDay in 1926, the first Atlantic Coast Express ran between London Waterloo and the West Country. Originally named the ”North Cornwall & Bude Express” the service ran from 1907, until, as part of a publicity drive by Southern Railways, the 11 o’clock from Waterloo to the West Country was named the “Atlantic Coast Express” in July 1926. The new name was chosen as the result of a competition run in the staff magazine and the winning entry was submitted by Mr F. Rowland, a guard from Woking who won a prize of three guineas for suggesting Atlantic Coast Express. He was soon to move to Great Torrington in North Devon; he was killed in a shunting accident there six years later. The “Atlantic Coast Express’ very soon became affectionately known to many travellers and enthusiasts as the “ACE”, the shortened version of its full title.
The route was always heavily reliant on holiday passengers which meant that the volume of traffic was very seasonal. On Summer Saturdays, the ACE consisted of up to five trains departing from Waterloo in the 40 minutes before 11:00, stretching resources on the long single-track branch lines to the limit. In the winter timetable, one train was sufficient for all of the branches, and stops were made at all but the most insignificant stations west of Exeter. Significant delays were frequent at the junctions, as coaches were detached or attached and shunted between the various sections of the train, belying the name of “Express”.
In later years, a carriage was detached at Salisbury to join a following stopping train along the main line, and two carriages were detached at Sidmouth Junction, one for Sidmouth and one for Exmouth via Budleigh Salterton. The restaurant and buffet cars were normally removed during the major division at Exeter Central.
Saturdays were always the busiest and in August 1939 the ACE was shown in Bradshaw’s Guide as five separate trains departing from Waterloo; serving Ilfracombe (10:36), Padstow (10:40), Ilfracombe again (10:47), Bude (10:54) and a final departure at 11.00 with portions for Padstow Bude and Plymouth.
Services continued in much the same pattern until the outbreak of World War II, which necessitated longer trains and substantial deceleration on all lines, rendering named trains no longer appropriate.
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.
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 email@example.com
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.
The draw for prizes was made at significant points during the boiler lift and winners are:
Crane set up and ready to lift – GSN Pint Glass – Shaun Bradbury
First Inch lifted – GSN Mug – Ian Comley
Maximum lift point of the boiler reached – A years free Society Membership – Alex Clements
Boiler lifted clear of frames – A Graham Farish N gauge Merchant Navy Pacific model – Michael Hampton
Last inch of lift completed – GSN Mug – Andrew Charmer-Stevens
Boiler in new resting place – A Bachmann 00 gauge H2 Class locomotive – Alex Clements
Crane released from boiler – GSN Pint Glass – Simon Shutt
Boiler lift success – Bottle of Veuve Clicquot Champagne – Andrew Stokes
All the winners will be contacted by email on the next few days to make arrangements to send the prizes.
The major boiler lift milestone allows the project to more onto the next exciting stages of restoration and details of how you can get involved with future fund raising campaigns and be a part of the success of the project will be announced soon.
As always 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.
On 2nd October 2020, the boiler of Ex-SR Bulleid Merchant Navy Class, 35011 “General Steam Navigation” was successfully lifted from its frames for the first time since 1959.
The boiler was built by North British in Glasgow in January 1941 and has been attached for a total of 61 years since its last overhaul in July 1959.
The lift of the boiler followed a successful fund raising “sponsor and inch or more” campaign and prize draw to cover the cost of the suitable crane hire to lift the boiler. A fully tubed boiler weighs 24 tonnes, however the tubes, despite the restrictions due to Cocid-19, were removed by volunteers of the society reducing the weight to around 20 tonnes.
“It’s a very exciting time for everyone involved in the 35011 General Steam Navigation restoration project,” said Andy Collett Chairman of the CIC. “The removal of the boiler is a big turning point as it allows us to commence the restoration of the chassis, which will be a big project in itself, taking several years to complete.”
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.
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
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.
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.