On Thursday 17 June 2021, your locomotive passed a major milestone in its restoration.
The driving wheels and pony truck were installed under the frames of 76077, for the first time in more than 30 years. They were originally removed when the first restoration attempt started in 1989.
The re-wheeling was carried out in just 90 minutes in a well-planned and slick operation at Locomotive Maintenance Services (LMS) at Loughborough, under the direction of our Engineering Director, Andy Meredith.
A considerable amount of work, carried out by both volunteers and the professional services of LMS, preceded the event: not least refurbishment of the heavily corroded frames, a brand new fabricated rear dragbox, considerable new metal in the front dragbox, new buffer beams and buffers, new platework in the cab area as well as new horn stretchers. The pony truck has been completely rebuilt, reversing damage sustained following a suspected derailment; while the wheelsets were overhauled at the South Devon Railway.
Andrew Meredith, – who is also a member of staff at LMS commented: “Re-wheeling is a huge leap forward in our progress and although, thanks to Covid, this has happened about six months later than planned, it is nevertheless a tremendous step forward in the engine’s restoration.
“Unfortunately, there has been a further delay in that volunteer working parties have for the time being been suspended, thanks to a change of policy by LMS’s insurance company.
“However, the whole operation went extremely well. The newly-overhauled axle boxes were earlier fitted on to the driving axle journals and they slid perfectly between the refurbished horn faces. Similarly, the frames dropped on to the pony truck perfectly, albeit with a minor adjustment to the steam heat pipe which had previously been fitted under the frames.”
Added Ian Crowder, marketing director: “Watching the four jacks supporting the frames gently lower them on to the wheelsets, leaving them resting on their wheels for the first time in decades, was quite an emotional moment. It’s a huge boost to the restoration programme and great credit is due to both volunteer involvement and the engineering skill of the team at LMS.
“For our shareholders, who have placed their faith and money into TSLL, this is solid evidence of where their investment is going. Thanks to them, we have been able to make this rapid progress – albeit somewhat later than had been planned.”
There is a considerable amount of work remaining of course. Work will now press ahead with completion of the chassis including honing the valve and cylinder bores, assembling the valve gear and braking system, assembly of the cab and smokebox – for which a new door and chimney have already been delivered.
Meanwhile, the boiler – which remains at Toddington on the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway (GWSR) – is due to be professionally inspected later this year to assess the scale of work needed for its overhaul.
“All this future work will need funding, of course,” added Ian Crowder. “We will shortly be launching a push to attract new shareholders while our very successful component sponsorship scheme remains open. This enables investors to choose and ‘buy’ any of the many remaining components needed to complete the engine.
“We are using the best possible skills to see the engine overhauled to the highest standard for eventual use on the GWSR, which costs money. Provided we continue to attract investors then it’s not unrealistic to expect that the engine will be running in about five years.”
The management team would like to extend a warm vote of thanks to every supporter and shareholder. “Adds Ian: “Without your faith in our team effort to restore 76077, we would not be where we are now.
“We are well on the way to seeing our engine steaming again!
Author and Pictures by Ian Crowder