Posts Tagged ‘General Steam Navigation’

Two major steps forward for the General Steam Navigation Locomotive Restoration Society (GSNLRS), that aims to restore the Merchant Navy locomotive 21c11 / 35011 to her original as built condition complete with air smooth casing and Bulleid’s unique chain driven valve gear, were announced at last weeks Annual General Meeting.
Regular readers of my blog will know that I am a Trustee of the Society and Board member of the locomotive owning Community Interest Company.

Firstly, 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.

The unique in preservation fabricated trailing truck

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, 35011’s 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.

Funding for the Trailing Truck restoration has been via the GSNLRS Trailing Truck Transformers Fund Club and ‘Lots’ being available for purchase to join the club. Membership of our Trailing Truck Transformer Fund Club is still available, for details click here.

The second announcement is with respect to the crank axle,

Since 1966, 35011 has been without it’s central crank axle as it was swapped with a plain axle following withdrawal for the crank axle to be used on classmate 35026. 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.

The FEA on the original Crank Axle design shows failure as per the failure on 35020 in 1953.

FEA of the balanced crank axle design as fitted to 35011 in 1954 with grade A4T steel showing no failure.

After many years of behind-the-scenes research in the Bulleid Pacific Locomotive Association 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.
This means the GSNLRS can proceed to final design of the central axle & balancing of the motion, and the order placement for the steel in the coming months and moving the project further forwards to a functioning original Merchant Navy once more.
More information on the University of Birmingham FEA Project can be read here.

These two announcements are major steps forward for the General Steam Navigation Restoration Society, for more information on how you can help support  the project click

 

 

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On Friday 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 boiler of 35011 is lifted from the frames for the first time since 1959

The frames are lifted to allow the trailing truck to be removed

The old smokebox is removed

The aim of the General Steam Navigation locomotive Restoration Society is to restore the Merchant Navy locomotive 21c11 / 35011 to her original as built condition complete with air smooth casing and Bulleids unique chain driven valve gear.

The trailing truck was also removed from the frames, utilising the crane on site as this will soon be moving off site to be fully restored.

The smokebox, that would have been unusable if we were restoring to as rebuilt condition, was also removed. A new smokebox to the original design will be fabricated in due course.

As a trustee and Director of the project it is an exciting time for the project and it allows us to concentrate on the restoration of the chassis which on its own is a big project and will take several years to complete.

We are in the early stages in the process of the manufacture of a new centre crank axle (she had the crank axle swapped for a plain axle just after withdrawal) and also the middle cylinder will need to be replaced to return her back to Bulleid’s original condition.  

With work on 35011 now being directed to the restoration of the chassis and further fund-raising campaigns will be launched in due course. The first of which is the wheelset tyre profiling fund here

We have been made very welcome by our friends at the Swindon and Cricklade Railway  and I am very pleased to be able to advise that following the forced closure of the line due to COVID-19 it is re-opening to passenger services this Sunday 4th October. 

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A new Society, The General Steam Navigation Locomotive Restoration Society, has been formed with the aim of not only restoring but more ambitiously returning Bulleid Merchant Navy Pacific 35011 General Steam Navigation into original air smoothed condition.  35011 was introduced in December 1944, as one of the second series built (described and illustrated in more detail in model form here), and subsequently like eventually all of the 30 strong Merchant Navy class she was rebuilt in July 1959. The rebuilding entailed the removal of the air smoothed casing and more fundamental the replacement of the chain driven valve gear encased within an oil bath with a full set of standard Walschaerts valve gear.

Although the current preservation scheme is not all that short of Bulleid’s creations, such as number 35006 of which I am shareholder and whose restoration is nearly compete, however there is of course a missing link. The lack of an original air smoothed and chain valve gear driven Merchant Navy is an obvious gap in the preservation scene of Southern Railway locomotives.

This video below illustrates the aims of the Society more succinctly than I can put into words.

The new Society has the backing of the current owners of 35011 who will put the locomotive into the trust of the Society if in the first instance a new location for her can be found which is currently one of the first priorities of the Society.  This month has seen the Society get fully up an running with membership now available for only £10 per year, full details on how to join can be found on their website here.  You can also follow the Society on Twitter @35011GSN It would certainly be good to see this missing link in preservation filled so please join the Society of you can.

 

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