- Wheelsets bought from the Bluebell railway suit a BR2A tender
- Toddington Standard Locomotive Ltd to build new tender after 76077 returns to service
- ‘Sponsor a Spoke’ shareholder appeal raises cost of purchase and profiling
28 June 2023: Toddington Standard Locomotive Limited (TSLL), owner of standard class 4 2-6-0 no. 76077, has confirmed that the engine will be equipped with a new BR2A tender, the type coupled to the locomotive during its short BR career.
The new tender will use wheelsets purchased last month (May 2023) from the Bluebell Railway.
76077 lost its tender while at Woodhams’ Barry scrapyard, to sister 76017 – the first member of the four class survivors to leave the South Wales graveyard. 76017 had already lost its tender, which was sold to Duport’s Briton Ferry steelworks to be converted to a steel billet carrier, the fate of many tenders from Barry.
Before discovery of the wheelsets at the Bluebell and, in the absence of the correct axles and roller-bearing axle-boxes for a BR2A, TSLL’s directors favoured constructing a larger BR1B tender: a type used by the class on the SR and a decision largely supported by shareholders. Crucially, the group had already sourced suitable axles and axle-boxes from a Class 40 diesel. This would have brought a significant cost saving compared with having new BR2A-type axles and axle-boxes manufactured.
A survey amongst shareholders found that about a third strongly preferred a BR2A, while a third were in favour of the BR1B, largely on the grounds of economic benefit. The remainder were ambivalent – as one shareholder noted, “I don’t care which tender the engine has, so long as it has one!”
TSLL’s marketing director Ian Crowder points out: “The discovery of these wheelsets at the Bluebell was a welcome but unexpected opportunity and immediately made construction of a BR2A tender affordable.”
The Bluebell Railway acquired the wheelsets from Briton Ferry steelworks as potential spares for the BR2 tender behind Standard class 4 4-6-0 no. 75027. However, an approach last year led to the Bluebell agreeing that they were unlikely ever to use them and were happy to sell them to TSLL for an undisclosed sum. TSLL Engineering Director Andrew Meredith and Chairman Chris Irving inspected the wheelsets, which were found to be in generally good order despite having been stored outside for some 40 years.
Explains Andrew Meredith: “There remains plenty of wear on the tyres and we were still able to turn the axle-boxes by hand, even though the distinctive Timken covers are missing which allowed ingress of water. However, I suspect the bearings will need replacement.
“The agreement reached with the Bluebell Railway is of clear benefit to both organisations and we collected the wheelsets in early May. The tyres have since been re-profiled and the wheelsets delivered to LMS in Loughborough, where the axle boxes are now being removed for overhaul. The wheels and axles are being shot-blasted and painted ready for when they can be used in a new-build BR2A tender.”
Andrew Meredith points out that construction of the tender is likely to start after the locomotive returns to steam. He says: “The engine will initially run with a hired-in tender and I’m keen that this should be a BR1B – this means that the shareholders who were in favour of the larger tender will at least see their engine with one for a couple of years or so.”
Meanwhile, an appeal to shareholders and supporters to ‘buy a spoke’ for £350 (or half a spoke for £175) to meet the total cost of acquisition, transport and full refurbishment has already raised 75% of the total needed.
Paul Russell, Locomotive Engineering Director of Bluebell Railway Plc commented: “I am delighted that these wheelsets, which we acquired many years ago and are now unlikely ever to need, have found a good home and that we have been able to make a positive contribution to the restoration of 76077. I look forward to seeing 76077 enter service and I hope the locomotive will be able to visit the Bluebell one day.”
Adds Ian Crowder: “This is a magnificent result and it was enthusiastically embraced by our shareholders. We are extremely fortunate and grateful to have so many supporters keen to see 76077 returned to steam as soon as possible and I think the generous response for construction of a BR2A tender – the type that was attached to the engine from the beginning – really speaks for itself.”
What’s the origin of the wheelsets?
While cleaning up the accumulated surface rust from TSLL’s newly-acquired tender wheelsets, an intriguing range of stamped numbers and letters emerged including supplier names, part numbers, dates ranging from 1952 to 1954 and other information. From this it is clear that the axle boxes were made by Timken in 1952; the wheels were cast in 1953 by Coltness ironworks in Glasgow (closed in 1955) while the axles themselves were forged by Taylors of Loughborough (today Britain’s last bell foundry) in February 1954.
Among information discovered on the axles are references to ‘BR3’ and on two of them, the number 1092 is stamped while on the third, 1091. Tender no. 1092 was built in 1954 and attached to Standard Class 2 2-6-0 no. 78018 and was a BR3 type. The locomotive found its way to Barry scrapyard on withdrawal but is today in working order on the Great Central Railway with a new tender. While at Barry, 78018’s BR3 tender was sold to Briton Ferry steelworks and it is almost certain that this is the origin of the wheelsets. The one question is the number 1091, which coincides with the tender attached to long-scrapped 78017. However, it’s plausible that wheelsets became mixed up while the tenders were being assembled.
The BR3 tenders attached to the Standard 2 2-6-0s shared identical wheelsets with the BR2 and BR2A tenders.
Tender Wheel Spoke Sponsorship Appeal
This welcome but unexpected purchase needs to be paid for as we do not wish to redirect existing funds and jeopardise the current works on the locomotive. The wheels and axle boxes will be overhauled ready for use on our new tender construction.
The total cost to purchase, transport and overhaul the wheels has been broken down and can be sponsored per spoke (£350 each) or per half spoke (£175).
If you would like to sponsor half or more spokes, you can download the specific application form here.
Press Release Author: Ian Crowder
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