Work during the month of September has consisted of building the main smokebox structure and the door assembly. The smokebox has been a challenging build as the drawings differed to the old smokebox quite considerably. The original smokebox we had was permanently attached to the boiler previously fitted to 76077 and 76012, before being finally fitted to 76077. Many of the holes that pass through the smokebox into the saddle had been butchered to get it to fit so we had to weld up a lot of the holes ready for re-drilling in the future when the smokebox and boiler are reunited on the frames.
The costs for the smokebox have risen and as a result this part of the build will go over budget. This is due to the original smokebox ring and door being lost, the additional work to make sense of the drawings and perhaps more alarmingly is the recent rise in the cost of materials. To give you an idea of this, we needed a new liner plate which fits in the bottom of the smokebox that acts as a sacrificial plate preventing corrosion of the main smokebox. LMS have previously had these steel plates rolled to the correct radius at an approx cost of £500. The latest one for our loco was nearly £1000. We are finding that certain grades of material are becoming scarce; the suppliers blaming both Brexit and COVID and consequently prices are rising at a considerable rate. This will have an impact of the total costs of restoring the locomotive. When originally budgeting the cost of restoring the loco a contingency of approx £80,000 was included, if prices continue to rise etc I can see us exceeding that contingency, only time will tell.
In addition to the smokebox, the front running boards which were started many years ago at Toddington, have now been completed and trial fitted. We have also repaired, and test fitted the original sloping footstep and the front footsteps. All this plate work has now been removed and shot blasted. Rob Southwell and Ian Crowder did a sterling job priming all this steelwork on 23rd September 2021, during one of our mid-week working parties. A great deal of painting is still needed and refitting of the running boards required in preparation for our open day on 2nd October. We are still just about on target for a completed front end of the locomotive.
On 24th September 2021, I visited Baldwin Design Services to view the progress on the cab rebuild and discuss various repair options. We have identified that a new roof is required, and this project is being worked on by Chris Baldwin and one of my Model Engineering friends David Dunphy. David is drawing the complete cab in Solid Works (A CAD package) as the original drawings are very poor and dimensions un-readable. We were hoping that the steel profile and rolling company would be able to work from the original roof sections, but they were not willing to take this on unless a CAD drawing was produced. Interestingly David and another model engineer are building a pair of 7 ¼” gauge 76xxx locomotives and have offered their help in return for site visits to measure various bits of 76077 where required. They have also offered us the possibility of displaying their models at future fund-raising events when they are substantially complete, which should be an impressive sight.
At some point our locomotive had lost its under seat toolbox on the driver’s side of the cab and was replaced by some angle brackets to support the seat. I don’t know for sure, but I wonder if this was done with the intension of putting the cut out in the side of the cab for single line token catching equipment. Many of the Scottish region locos were so fitted with this and Horwich built a batch of 76xxx locos around the same time as 76077 which were destined for Scotland so perhaps, they made it like it from new. Baldwin Design Services are going to build us a replacement tool locker to fit under the driver’s seat as this is very useful for storage of oil bottles and the driver’s lunch of course!!! We are also going to make a slight modification to the fireman’s seat, originally it was a wooden seat base and back, but we will upholster it with the same padding and leather covering as the drivers, after all we don’t want any fireman going on strike due to their seat being uncomfortable!! The additional work on the cab roof etc will mean that we are unlikely to see the cab returned until Christmas, it will then need to be riveted together at LMS before fitting on the locomotive.
We have also taken delivery from our friends at 76084 locomotive company of a replacement LH return crank rod and combination lever. The new cylinder cocks are likely to be machined over the winter, which means that the only outstanding loan parts are the return cranks. These are being worked on at Stephenson’s engineering, Manchester, together with a pair for the SVR’s new build Standard 3 tank 82045.
In partnership with the MHR we have been able to purchase a new pair of Tender water sump/filter box castings. These castings are the big box like parts which are mounted under the tank on the outside of the tender frames. At some point in the future, they will be machined ready to fit our tender when its construction begins.
Good work has been done at Toddington cleaning up the coupling rods, one is almost complete and a second started. A new belt sander and ceramic grit belts have been donated to speed up the removal of the pitting in the rods but unfortunately, we are now suffering from a lack of volunteers, as most of our loco department volunteers have been busy crewing the service trains. We need to try and recruit some more volunteers and arrange team leaders to attend on a Wednesday and Saturday to guide them in the tasks to be done.
Andrew Meredith 24.09.21