Welcome to this Summer 2023 engineering update from the General Steam Navigation project. Progress has been made on various engineering fronts on the project over the past few months and with some of our background efforts about to bear fruit we’ll have some brilliant work to share over the coming months.
Boiler Since the last packet, there has been no further progress on the boiler, but we are working on scheduling the boiler washout. This was originally planned for February, but was postponed due to a combination of personal circumstances. Mother nature had a go at helping with the washout recently, but photos from inside the boiler show everything remains dry. The Boiler washout actually took place at the beginning of August with the grateful assistance of our friends within the Swindon & Cricklade Railway Steam loco department. Details of the Boiler Inspectors preliminary inspection report will be in the next issue of our Members Magazine The Packet, if you not already a member join here today to get the latest news first.
Trailing Truck Progress on the trailing truck has been slim since provided in the last Members Magazine The Packet, as the NNRE have had other tasks taking higher priority. Following the previous issue of The Packet, we have had some helpful insight into the weldability of gunmetal (and leaded gunmetal) which is proving very useful.
Crank Axle Physical progress with the crank axle continues to be impacted by geopolitical events causing volatility in the price of steel, after discussions with our friends in the B17 Steam Locomotive Trust project & A1 Steam Locomotive Trust, with whom we were planning to place a group order for A4T forgings for the stub axles, we are pausing the ordering process until we have greater certainty over the price. Whilst it is disappointing to not be placing an order for these crucial parts of our locomotive, it feels more prudent to wait, saving us money in the long run. During this self-imposed delay, we continue to use the time to produce the engineering justification for manufacture of the stub axles in A4T & the sweep webs in 817m40, so that when we are happy with prices, we can proceed.
We are also continuing with the initial design of the new chain-driver sprocket to fit the balanced crank axle design. The design fitted to the original unbalanced crank won’t fit the balanced crank design, as the stub axles are wider & the mounting points were changed. There was a design for the sprocket for the balanced crank axle, but it is not in any drawing collection that we are aware of, and is assumed lost. The design we are working on will be based upon the original sprocket along with the mounting design for the eccentric fitted on rebuilding to drive the inner motion, as we know the mounting points were broadly the same.
Work has started on taking off the removable parts of the bogie, to reduce the work that would be done when it is sent away. The key component is the side control unit. Our leading bogie was attached to the frames via a pin and bush arrangement, similar to the trailing truck. On both of these, the pin is firmly attached to the frame of the locomotive, but the bush can slide laterally within the side control unit. Either side of the bush is a spring in compression. As the locomotive enters a curve, the frames will want to continue in a straight line, whilst the bogie will follow the curve. This will compress the spring on the outside of the curve, and extend that on the inside of the curve, helping to steer the front of the locomotive through the curve. We have started taking the side control unit apart, so it can begin to be cleaned & restored.
The main activity at recent working weekends, beyond the leading bogie, has been on the frames. As we will eventually need to remove all three cylinders from the frames as part of the process of replacing the middle one, we are starting to remove, clean and replace/refix all the nuts & bolts that hold the cylinders to the frames.
This will mean that when we are ready to remove the cylinders, we should be able to detach them quickly. It will take some time to do this, but will save time in the long run. The middle cylinder is being replaced, with a new one to be manufactured to the original design, with outside admission. Removing the outer ones will make removing the middle one easier, and will give us the opportunity to
Welcome to this autumn engineering update from the General Steam Navigation project. Progress has been made on various engineering fronts on the project over the past few months and with some of our background efforts about to bear fruit we’ll have some brilliant work to share over the coming months.
The boiler tubes are gone! After many months of hard work by our small band of volunteers, the job is done. Work has continued on removing rust from the inside of the firebox, descaling the inside of the boiler, and generally cleaning the inside of the boiler and firebox ahead of a planned inspection later this year. Still to do is sourcing the right tool for removing the thermal-syphon inspection plugs, so that we can wash out the boiler, and then plan the inspection.
Progress with the crank axle has been limited in the past few months; geopolitical events has caused the price of steel to become volatile, after discussions with our friends in the B17 project & A1 Steam Trust, with whom we were planning to place a group order for A4T forgings for the stub axles, we are pausing the ordering process until we have greater certainty over the price. Whilst it is disappointing to not be placing an order for these crucial parts of our locomotive, it feels more prudent to wait, saving us money in the long run. During this self-imposed delay, we are using the time to produce the engineering justification for manufacture of the stub axles in A4T & the sweep webs in 817m40, so that when we are happy with prices, we can proceed.
Work on the frames continues at a good pace with our volunteers working hard to clean up the frames in preparation for assessment of their condition. With over 50 years of grime to remove on the frames its not a particularly glamorous job but is very important and we are extremely grateful to all our hard workers. We have also removed the brake cylinders from the frames as they wont be required for an original condition Merchant Navy. The cylinders will be cleaned up and stored should a rebuilt Bulleid require them in the future.
Sponsorship component of the month
For those that want to make a more tangible contribution towards putting the steam back in General Steam Navigation we have relaunched the ‘Component Sponsorship’ scheme.
Each month the Society will highlight one particular component. The scheme will allow generous sponsors to cover the cost of individual parts that range from few pounds to several thousands.
Our generous sponsors will receive a certificate describing the part sponsored, be named on the roll of honour on this website and gracious thanks from all those who wish to see General Steam Navigation back in operation.
This month we are starting with the steam chest covers for the outside cylinders. The steam chest covers are a relativity simple component to produce being machined from plate steel. 35011 will require 4 of these in total with the covers being fitted to the front and rear of the cylinder on both sides .The cost of these covers are £250 each. For a full list of the currently available component and how to sponsor them please visit the component sponsorship page.
The question that has been asked a few times, both within our project, and outside it, is why we are considering modifications to the exhaust, especially as Bulleid pacifics had a reputation for being free-steaming, if hungry locomotives. The reason is buried in that last statement. Consider how a steam locomotive, especially its combustion system works: exhausting steam in the smokebox produces a draught, sucking air into the firebox for the coal to burn. How much air the locomotive supplies to the fire will impact its fuel combustion. Too little, and you have rich combustion, which releases a lot of heat from the coal, but at the expense of high fuel consumption. Too much air, and you have overly lean combustion, which is cleaner (less production of carbon monoxide), but it can lead to high fuel consumption as well, as the extra air cools the hot air from the fire, reducing the heat transferred to the water in the boiler, meaning more coal is needed to be burnt to produce the same heat transfer to the steam. The reputation, coupled with data from the Rugby reports, suggests that at most of the steaming rates GSN is likely to operate, the combustion is too rich. The perfect air:fuel mass ratio for stochiometric combustion of coal is approximately 11.2:1. It is normal to supply more air than is necessary, to ensure all of the fuel sees sufficient air, normal practise for combustion of coal is to have approximately 30% extra air, so the ratio becomes 14.6:1. Data from the Rugby reports show the original locomotives ran with a ratio of between 11:1 & 17:1, with drop off in performance for steaming rates above 18,000lb/hr, which is where we can expect to operate. The rebuilt design exhaust was much less variable to incomplete combustion, and had higher air:fuel ratio. The data also suggests that these locomotives need to run with significant excess air, far more than the 30% recommendation. The rebuilt design can actually be seen to be broadly similar to how 71000 operated in BR service, suggesting that we can achieve similar performance with 35011 if we can emulate the performance of 71000s twin Kylchap design. By redesigning the exhaust, we should be able to achieve two things: (1) maintain closer to 50% excess air across the power range, reducing fuel consumption and (2) increase the total flow area of the blast nozzles, reducing the cylinder back pressure.
Our current plan for working weekends in 2022 is as follows:
15th /16th October
12th /13th November
10th /11th December
14th /15th January 2023
11th /12th February 2023
11th /12th March 2023
As always, any members who would be interested in being involved with the engineering of our project, please do get in touch. Our CME Dr Steve Rapley does need some support on the engineering of this project, especially at the moment with weld design, so if you have any experience in this area, please do get in touch. Similarly, if you have any question or comment on the Engineering report or the engineering in general, please do get in touch at by email to Dr Steve Rapley here.
Work continues on the boiler with the last of the remaining boiler tube stubs being removed last month. A big thank you goes out to the sterling work by our volunteers (including Paul G, David O, Geoff A & Jack G) who completed this strenuous task. Work has started on removing rust from the inside of the firebox, descaling the inside of the boiler, and generally cleaning the inside of the boiler and firebox ahead of a planned inspection. 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 takes time for the fruit of their labours to become apparent.
An interesting fact that has come to light recently is clear evidence that the original design for the Merchant Navy had a balanced crank axle. This was mentioned briefly in the Crewkerne report, in going through drawings of the chain- driven valve gear, one early drawing clearly shows a balanced crank axle. There are no other drawings showing this, it is understood that an unbalanced design was introduced to reduce the weight of the locomotive, but it’s interesting to think what could have been, with a balanced crank axle, Crewkerne may never have happened, which was a key driver in the rebuilding process.
Progress on designing the crank axle continues, we have now converted the original drawing into an electronic CAD file. The next step with the axle will be to design the chain-driver sprocket, for which no drawing exists of one that would fit the balanced crank, and to start conversations with a forger & manufacturer to develop forging & manufacturing drawings.
A question of balance
As progress continues with design work for the new crank axle, our thoughts are turning to the balancing design. As members will be aware, one of the changes that was obvious on a rebuilt Merchant Navy were the external balance weights on all 3 axles. Our plan is to remove the weight added in 1958 on the leading & trailing axles and rebalance the wheels with weight in the pockets again, if possible. We still need to decide on the shape & material of the coupling rods, which will impact on the amount of balancing needed on these axles, but aesthetically we want to restore that classic Bulleid appearance with no visible balancing. The central driving axle is another question. Originally the crank webs & inside connecting rod were balanced on the wheel rim, with a large plate on the rear face of the wheels and lead in the pockets. The question that arises is what would have been done to that lead when the balanced design was fitted to 35011 before rebuilding? At first inspection, one would think a significant amount of that lead would have simply been removed. However, it’s slightly more complicated than that. All steam 7 locomotives have an amount of balancing on their wheels, to counteract the rotating masses of the coupling and/or connecting rods, as well as, where necessary, the valve gear. Some locomotives, especially 2-cylinder designs, attempt to partially balance the reciprocating (backwards & forwards) masses, to reduce the front-end oscillation that occurs. This balancing can only be perfectly conducted for a given speed, so the engineer has to decide what speed to balance at, and the percentage of reciprocating masses balanced is usually limited to reduce the hammer-blow on the track from these additional rotating masses. Bulleid reasoned that for a 3-cylinder locomotive the reciprocating masses were to a certain extent self-balanced within the mechanics of the machine, as the longitudinal motion of one cylinder is always partially opposed by the other two, and so didn’t add any additional mass to balance the reciprocating forces. For stability purposes, rotating imbalances on one wheel were balanced on the other, so the left-hand balance weight balances the right-hand motion (and viceversa). By studying & understanding the designs for the original & rebuilt locomotives, we’ve managed to determine how to rebalance the driving axle; it will likely have slightly greater mass (approximately 1062 lbs vs. 942 lbs) on it than on the original design, but it will be at a different location (175° vs 140° from the crank); compared to the rebuilt design the location is similar, but the mass is reduced by around 6%. Geometrically, it can be seen how this works out in the drawing of the original design, by balancing the crank webs with counterweights, we have removed the line labelled middle (GH, the righthand side of the polygon), the closure line is then from A to G & is slightly longer than the line AH, at a shallower angle. The leading & trailing wheels from a mechanical perspective won’t need rebalancing, though from an aesthetic perspective we will plan to do this. We also plan to fit the plain rods that were fitted in 1956, as they have greater tensile strength and are less prone to bending. The next step with the balancing is finer detail; we need to determine the disposition of lead in the pockets to achieve the desired counterbalance. For the leading & trailing wheels, this is little more than a tweak to the original design. The central wheel needs some more design to determine the centre of gravity of the lead pockets and the balance weight plate, it is anticipated this will be completed in the coming weeks.
A key event in the process of unrebuilding 35011 occurred at the November working weekend when, with the very welcome assistance of the Swindon & Cricklade Railway, and after many, many weekends of effort, the 5 large brackets that held the external valve gear & screw reverser were lifted off the frames. As we are planning to construct Bulleid’s chain drive valve gear (& fit a steam reverser) these brackets are now surplus to requirements. They are in excellent condition, so we are offering them for sale to any interested parties. By removing these, we made it easier to access other areas of the frame, and quickly removed the last of the brake blocks & arms from the leading & trailing axles. The plan now is to continue 10 removing all the parts hanging off the frames; later in 2022 we should then be able to lift the frames, releasing the leading bogie, leading axle & trailing axle. The leading bogie will then be assessed and prepared for professional restoration to mainline condition, whilst the driving wheels will be sent to South Devon Railway Engineering for rebalancing & profiling.
In order to help fund the work on the frames the Society has started a Funding the Frames appeal that will be essential for the successful restoration of GSN 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.
This a general fund with no minimum / maximum donation or number of contribution limits, all monies donated to the Fundiung the Frames appeal will be specifically ring fenced for the frames. If you are able to contribute to this project in any way however great or small, we thank you for your support. You can find out more here
We now have a further university project looking at the Internal Aerodynamics of a Merchant Navy. Building on lessons learnt last year, as well as better understanding of the test data that is available on both the original smokebox as well as the rebuilt design, they have made excellent progress simulating 3 baseline designs before moving onto some potential design improvements. The new designs they are looking at include some variations on the original exhaust design as well as variations on a Lempor exhaust, in both cases to understand the impact of nozzle size, angle & target upon the smokebox draught. Based on this work, we may run a final study in academic year 2022/3 to polish off the design as well as to understand how it impacts on the external aerodynamics of the locomotive.
Visit to Great Central & some tender parts
As part of the student project this year, I arranged a visit to Loughborough sheds with the students, to have a crawl around Rebuilt Light Pacific 34039 Boscastle. It was a very useful visit, giving the students a good insight into what they’re simulating, and why, and was also a helpful reminder as to how much pipe work and other gubbins there is on a complete locomotive. Whilst there, in chatting with their Chief Engineer, we were offered some left over parts from their tender for a very reasonable sum, including two front footsteps, two rear footsteps, two rear ladders, one tender tank filler and lid, three Vacuum Reservoir tanks with holding down straps and hardwood timber supports, one Vacuum Reservoir tank cover, one Vacuum Reservoir tank cover, 5 tender doors and two curved front corner pieces. These are all original parts from a 2nd series tender, which became spare when the tender tank was scrapped; the vacuum reservoirs are the wrong type for a Light Pacific, the footsteps & ladders were going to be reused but were inadvertently reordered as part of the manufacture of the tank. Whilst we are years from constructing our tender, and still need to flesh out our ideas for it, it is nice to be able to have some genuine parts that can one day be fitted to our machine.
We have also recently managed to purchase two electrical lamps for the locomotive, so we now have 6 lamps. The purchase of one was sponsored by one of our directors, but if you would like to sponsor the other, please do get in touch with us.
Other Engineering Progress
We have made a start on two other big engineering areas in the last few months. Firstly, members of the Engineering Sub-Committee have started creating an online Engineering Bill of Materials (EBoM). As members of the Bulleid Pacific Locomotives Association, we have access to the extensive collection of over 3000 drawings in their catalogue, but the way they are catalogued is not very easy for understanding the relationship between the drawings, nor for knowing what drawings we are missing. By producing the EBoM, in time we will be able to have a clear record of how many of each part we need, the drawings for them, records of when we order parts & how, records of manufacture where appropriate, etc. Those projects that have constructed (or are constructing) locomotives from scratch, such as 60163, 2007, 72010 have gone through a similar 13 process. By starting this, we are laying the foundations for our original Merchant Navy and starting to put the documentation in place we will need to be accepted for mainline running.
The second significant progress is in the subject of assurance, the process by which we demonstrate the locomotive meets the standards necessary for mainline running. After meetings with numerous potential assurance partners, and independent advice from others in the industry, we have appointed Ricardo Rail to be our assurance partner. They will give us the support to understand & produce the evidence we need to restore General Steam Navigation to original design conditions whilst meeting mainline standards, and document that process. They work with numerous similar projects and are a good fit for our project.
Finally, we are becoming involved in a forum of new-build steam locomotives, to look at ways of pooling knowledge and cost-saving between us. Whilst that title may bring howls of protest from some quarters, we have things we can learn from these groups in the assurance process. Where we are manufacturing components from scratch, we will need to demonstrate that the finished component doesn’t bring additional risk to the design compared to the original. Where we are restoring, we will need to demonstrate that our restoration has returned the components to a condition where it doesn’t bring additional risk to the locomotive.
As always, any members who would be interested in being involved with the engineering of our project, please do get in touch. I need some support on the engineering of this project, especially at the moment with weld design, so if you have any experience in this area, please do get in touch. We also need some additional support archiving drawings online into the EBoM, this is an opportunity to study some of the original drawings of a Bulleid pacific. Similarly, if you have any question or comment on the Engineering report or the engineering in general, please do email our CME (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.
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.
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.
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.
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 email@example.com. 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.