This months picture…
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.
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.
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
As I hinted in my Workbench Witterings #10 Forward dating @Hornby Bulleid Merchant Navy 21c7 to 1947 condition post here, I also intended to do the same with my R3435 21C3 ‘Royal Mail’ model.
Like the latest Hornby model of 21c7 the previously released model R3435 21C3 ‘Royal Mail’ model has been produced in her early condition, with the ‘widows peak’ and without smoke deflectors. 21c3 was introduced in September 1941 in malachite green livery but repainted in plain black as a wartime measure in May 1943. Changes to the smoke deflection stated in September 1944 when she was fitted with the top cowl and short flared deflectors. 21c3 was repainted malachite green in November 1945 and was subsequently fitted with standard length and style of smoke detectors in May 1947. She stayed in this condition until June 1948 when she was renumbered 35003 and British Railways in SR style sunshine lettering.
I have therefore took the razor to hand and modelled 21c3 in her May 1947 condition just after she received freshly painted new standard deflectors, complete with the baton along the top for mounting the Devon Belle wing plates as a per a photograph of her that I have in my collection.
Like my 21c7 conversion I have used etched smoke deflectors, electric lamps and a replacement smoke box dart from the excellent Albert Goodall range supplied by my friends at RT Models. The replacement lamp irons are simply staples cut to length and I have replaced the flat printed nameplates and smokebox door roundel with etched versions from Fox Transfers.
I have followed the same steps as per my Workbench Witterings #10 post here so will not repeat the stage by stage details. Who knows when we might see this version from Hornby, as I said in the #10 post once you get over the brave step of putting a razor saw to a brand new model the modification is reasonably quick and easy to complete.
As per my review, here, of the Hornby Bulleid Merchant Navy R3717 21c7 Aberdeen Commonwealth in SR wartime black, the model has been produced in her early condition, with the ‘widows peak’ without smoke deflectors. 21c7 was one of the first batch of ten Merchant Navy pacifics, she was introduced in June 1942 in malachite green livery but was quickly repainted in plain black as a wartime measure. 21c7 remained in this condition until August 1944 when she gained the more familiar cowl above the smokebox and also received short flared smoke deflectors. She gained the to become standard length and style of smoke detectors whilst still in black in June 1947.
As my usual modelling period is between 1946 and 1949 I have forward dated 21c7 to the condition she was just before being outshopped in malachite green at the end of June 1947. This requires the fitting of the cowl above the smokebox, in place of the ‘widows peak’, the fitting of standard smoke deflectors, with electric lamps attached. The middle position lamp irons were also moved to the smokebox door once smoke deflectors were fitted.
For this relatively simple forward dating process I have used the following items: etched smoke deflectors, electric lamps and a replacement smoke box dart from the excellent Albert Goodall range supplied by my friends at RT Models. The replacement lamp irons are simply staples cut to length and I have replaced the flat printed nameplates and smokebox door roundel with etched versions from Fox Transfers.
The Hornby nameplates come off quite easily, they are held in place by three small lugs, one in the centre and one towards each end of the arms. I slide a sharp knife underneath from one side to the other to lift the plates. I then ensure any remaining lug was carefully cut flush to the side. I affix the etched plates using a very small amount of superglue applied with a cocktail stick (some people prefer to use a small amount of varnish instead of glue).
The first step was to fold up and solder the brackets just below the top inside edge of the etched brass deflectors. The deflectors were then bent to both their correct vertical shape and also the curve at the bottom edge to match the existing fairing. I then used the deflectors to mark the position of the horizontal cut required in the existing front fairing. An Albert Goodall electric lamp was glued on the inside front edge of each deflector lining up with bottom of the two rivets on the outside of the deflector. I then used Halfords spray cans to first prime using etched primer before top coats of satin black.
Next I took a deep breath and using a razor saw, cut horizontally, along the previously marked lines, the fairing back to the smoke box face and then vertically downwards level with the smokebox front, this removes both the ‘widows peak and the sides to meet the horizontal cuts. I also removed the Hornby printed roundel and the smokebox door dart. The sides of the slot in front of the chimney was also filed to match the rest of the opening. With all cuts cleaned up with a fine file, I also bevelled the remaining front fairings to give them a thinner edge appearance.
The Albert Goodall cast white metal cowl was filed to suit the slot in front of the chimney and glued into place using superglue. I drilled holes in the smokebox door for the two lamp irons and the replacement door dart. The finish painted deflectors were glued into place with the top brackets affixed to the top edge of the flat top gutter strip.
The Hornby model as supplied has an all over slightly matt finish, in reality the flat top, cab room and middle section of the tender cab roof were matt, whilst the sides were more of a satin finish and the front cowl also tended to be satin. I repainted the top and the smokebox front and door matt black. Before applying the etched nameplates and roundel I masked the matt areas and sprayed the sides of the model with Halfords satin lacquer. Once the nameplates and roundel were fitted the final tasks were to fit the new Albert Goodall smokebox door dart and the Hornby supplied cylinder drain cocks.
Once you get over the brave step of putting a razor saw to a brand new model the modification is reasonably quick and easy to complete. I will at some stage do the same to my malachite green R3435 21C3 ‘Royal Mail’ model!
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 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.
By the very nature of the fact that you read this blog of mine, you will I am sure like me not help but admire the Bulleid Merchant Navy paciifics in either original air smoothed or their later rebuilt form. It is of course great that a number have been preserved and are at various stages of restoration / preservation. Regular readers of this blog will know, via the two dedicated pages that I have been for a while a shareholder in both 35006 Peninsular & Oriental S. N. Co. and 35011 General Steam Navigation. I am also a member of the Merchant Navy Locomotive Preservation Society that maintains and operates 35028 Clan Line in such wonderful running condition on the main line.
The General Steam Navigation Locomotive Restoration Society that has relocated, in April this year, to its new home at the Swindon and Cricklade Railway (yes it is in Swindon but not on that railway but the old Midland and South Westen Junctin Railway!) which enables a wider range of work to be carried on the locomotive was not practical at its previous temporary location.
Work has started in ernest to remove items that either need restoration or due to her be being restored in the Bulleid original condition are no longer required for this locomotive. Removal of the boiler tubes has also started prior to the boiler being lifted in due course to allow full restoration work on the chassis to commence.
In additon to being able to enjoy getting my hands dirty on the 1:1 scale locomotive going back to my engineering roots, I am delighted to be able to announce that I accepted a request by the The General Steam Navigation Locomotive Restoration Society and the General Steam Navigation Community Interest Company (CIC) to become both a trustee of the Restoration Society and a Board Director of the CIC.
Membership of the Society costs only £12 per year and full details on how to become a member can be found here. Also full updates on progress can be found on the 35001 Society website here.
As I reported last month the 3rd September is now, since the year 2000, recognised as being Merchant Navy Day with its’ slogan ‘ Fly the Red Ensign for Merchant Navy Day – 3rd September’.
Merchant Navy Day has honoured the brave men and women who kept our ‘island nation’ afloat during both World Wars, and celebrated our dependence on modern day merchant seafarers who are responsible for 95% of the UK’s imports.
This year Merchant Navy Locomotive 35006 ‘Peninsular & Oriental SN Co’ ran on the Gloucestershire and Warwickshire Steam Railway on Merchant Navy Day.
She was suitably decorated for the day with a specially commissioned ‘Merchant Navy’ headboard and flying the Red Ensign flags for the occasion. The day started with a brief remembrance service at 9.30 am for members of the Merchant Navy Association, at Toddington station, before pulling the 10am departure for Cheltenham. I spent an enjoyable day as a guest on the train and also took the opportunity later in the day to photograph her from vantage points along the line.
Lastly, in the company of my parents spent a very enjoyable day travelling over 400 miles and 14 hours behind the splendid Merchant Navy pacific 35028 ‘Clan Line’ on the UK Railtours ‘Atlantic Coast Express’ that although it didn’t actually reach the coast, headed from Waterloo to
Exeter via Salisbury down the South Western, returning via Bristol, Bath and Westbury to Salisbury before returning up the South Western back to Waterloo.
35028 ‘Clan Line’ is a credit to the Merchant Navy Locomotive Preservation Society , and whose professionalism, superb condition, upkeep and operation is something that all persevered locomotive operators must aspire to. She performed fantastically well, unassisted with 12 coaches in tow, with some very spirited running regularly hitting 75mph for prolonged running and also topping Honiton Bank from a standing start at the end of Axminister loop in the rain (where we stopped to allow a up service to leave the section) at around 27mph, as well as looking great she sounded fantastic too!
I also admit that we travelled in first class dining so in addition to enjoying such Bulleid Brilliance we were extremely well fed and watered throughout.
My friend and fellow Bulleid fan Alex Clements captured 35028 at various locations, including climbing Honiton Bank, throughout the day and his excellent video can be seen below…enjoy!
I hope you enjoyed this Bulleid Brilliance update, if you are able to get involved in any way with any of the Locomotive societies, you will be made more than welcome and every little helps and it is also very rewarding.
[Apologies for the inital draft post going live and emailed to subscribers before it was intended and fully proof read!)
Further to my post here just last month about the planned move announced by The General Steam Navigation Locomotive Restoration Society that 35011 will be moving to its new base of the Swindon and Cricklade Railway, I am pleased to be able to advise that just only four weeks later, on Monday 15th April, the move has taken place, seeing No.11 unloaded at here new home. The Swindon and Cricklade Railway’s own volunteers have, with many thanks from The General Steam Navigation Locomotive Restoration Society, been splendidly working away to finish laying the new track and the completion of the covered accommodation in readiness for the arrival of No.11.
The intention of The General Steam Navigation Locomotive Restoration Society of course is to not only to return the Bulleid Merchant Navy Pacific 35011 General Steam Navigation to steam but also back to her original ‘Air Smoothed’ condition complete with Bulleid’s oil bath encased valve gear incorporating chain drive elements.
No. 11 will now be undercover within a shelter for the first time since she was in service. This will allow her to be fully dismantled, which was not possible to commence at its previous location. The boiler can then lifted allowing the rolling chassis to be moved into the Swindon and Cricklade Railway‘s main works.
Well done to the team at The General Steam Navigation Locomotive Restoration Society for their hard work and dedication to make today’s move and the start of a new chapter in the life of No.11 occur.
The Just giving page that has been set up here is still open to help raise funds for the cost of this move, perhaps you might be able to make a small donation to assist, as said, “every little helps”!
Hopefully this post and the continued progress being made might convince some of the readers of this blog to join the Society, membership costs only £10 per year and full details on how to become a member can be found here and be a part of this ambitious but serious and credible restoration project
All pictures courtesy and copyright The General Steam Navigation Locomotive Restoration Society
Regular readers of this blog will know, via its dedicated page here that I am shareholder in 35011 General Steam Navigation. The intention of The General Steam Navigation Locomotive Restoration Society of course is to not only to return the Bulleid Merchant Navy Pacific 35011 General Steam Navigation to steam but also back to her original ‘Air Smoothed’ condition complete with Bulleid’s oil bath encased valve gear incorporating chain drive elements.
I am pleased to advise a couple of great items of news,which are big steps in further establishing this as totally serious and well managed restoration project. The General Steam Navigation Locomotive Restoration Society have been able to this week announce that locomotive will be soon moving to its new base of the Swindon and Cricklade Railway. The locomotive will be based within a shelter and will be the first time since she was in service that she will be undercover. She will be fully dismantled, which was not possible to carry out at its current location, and the boiler lifted allowing the rolling chassis to be moved into the railway’s main works where there is already room enabling the main restoration work to commence.
A Just giving page has been set up here to help raise funds for the cost of the move, perhaps you might be able to make a small donation to assist, as said, “every little helps”!
Another major tipping point in this project has also been reached and that is the fact that The General Steam Navigation Locomotive Restoration Society now has the necessary funds to cover the cost of the construction of the missing main crank axle that really demonstrates the progress and support that the project has achieved.
In addition many original parts have been recently sourced and or manufactured and machined such as the spring beams for the bogie and trailing axle truck and the Kilinger Valves.
Hopefully this post and the progress being made might convince to join the Society, membership costs only £10 per year and full details on how to become a member can be found here.
You can not help but admire the Bulleid Merchant Navy paciifics in either original air smoothed or their later rebuilt form. Its it great that a number have been preserved and are at various stages of restoration / preservation. Regular readers of this blog will know, via the two dedicated pages that I am shareholder in both 35006 Peninsular & Oriental S. N. Co. and 35011 General Steam Navigation. I am also a member of the Merchant Navy Locomotive Preservation Society that maintains and operates 35028 Clan Line in such wonderful running condition on the main line. This my way of playing a small part in the preservation of these splendid machines.
We are also fortunate that 35018 British India Line privately owned by Dave Smith of West Coast Railways is now, like 35028 regularly performing on the Main Line. 35005 Canadian Pacific is currently undergoing a major overhaul at Eastleigh works before returning to service on the Mid Hants, Watercress, Railway. You can add your support to 35005 here.
The purpose of this post is to assist with the awareness and publicity of these wonderful locomotives, especially No.6 and No.11, you can tell I like them can’t you…
As can be read on my dedicated page, updated today, for 35006 Peninsular & Oriental S. N. Co the evening of the 14th July 2018 was the annual members day event with a dedicated special train purely for members and shareholders of the 35006 Society.
No.6 had been in service on the Gloucestershire and Warwickshire Steam Railway during the day and between here last service run and the private train she was coaled and positioned for viewing at Toddington, where even her nameplate received an additional polish.
She certainly looked as seen above splendid in the bright and hot summer sunshine.
Once coupled to the members train she ran non stop to Cheltenham racecourse station where she took on water.
Having run round she took the train tender first, again non stop, back past Toddington and on to the new extension, only opened at Easter this year, to the wonderfully recreated, Broadway station which looked fantastic in the evening setting sunshine. The 14 miles end to end gives a nice 28 mile round trip, and a couple of nice gradients thrown into the mix, with some great views across the Cotswolds.
The run from Broadway back to Toddington was certainly a spirited one, having spoken to the driver on arrival at Toddington about the likely speed, he replied with a grin on his face that the gauge didn’t go over 21 at any point (is it a co-incidence that the vacuum brake gauge would have been showing 21inches..?)
It was certainly a great day and evenings run, with No.6 looking great and running superbly and a credit to the 35006 Society and the running staff of the Gloucestershire and Warwickshire Steam Railway
It was also great to be able to get up close to 35006 and hopefully some of the pictures illustrating this post shows the impressiveness of her and also the impressive level of restoration and maintenance that has gone into this complex piece of engineering Bulleid Brilliance (with a little bit of Jarvis thrown in, I will concede).
35006 is currently restored for steaming this month on 18th, 19th, 21st, 22nd, 23rd, 24th and 25th. But for the very latest information on loco rostering check the GWSR website here
The General Steam Navigation Locomotive Restoration Society was formed at the end of 2015 with the aim of taking over 35011 from her then owners and commence full restoration once a new location for this to take place can be found. The first major milestone of the new 35011 Locomotive Society of talking over ownership of 35011 took place in August 2016.
A number of working parties have already taken place at the current site, although a new site is required before more major work can be carried out. the boiler receiving a further coat of protective paint and work on the trailing truck (being the only surviving fabricated style trailing struck). Also a variety of components have been sourced and machined, including impressive new nameplates and also injector valve handles (to which I contributed to the fund to sponsor these items.
The Society have also acquired a brass lamp fitted with the bullseye lens, toggle switch to side and bulb holder inside (as per the one shown on 35006 pictured above). The lamp is reported to have come off Merchant Navy’ Class No. 35024 “East Asiatic Company”. Gaining the lamp is fantastic news for the project as the use of original components helps add character to the locomotive.
This week saw the first of the new Hornby ‘Original’ Merchant Navy Pacifics hitting the retailers, see my Talking Stock #35 post here for more details and also the full size ‘Rebuilt’ Merchant Navy Pacific 35006 Peninsular & Oriental S. N. Co. steaming in public service for the first time in 2017 on the Gloucestershire and Warwickshire Railway (GWSR) for the week of services allied with the Cheltenham Races Festival. With this in mind I thought it was time that firstly I finished my model of 35006 in her as preserved guise (being a shareholder), and also that I mentioned the Rebuilt Merchant Navy Pacifics on this blog, although they are of course out of my usual 1946-49 modelling period.
Rebuilding the Merchant Navy’s
Although in general the Merchant Navy class as introduced were a success, proving to be powerful and very free steaming, one of the outcomes of the less than scientifically carried out Locomotive Exchange trails in 1948 and further performance and efficiency tests carried out at the Rugby Stationary Test Plant between March 1952 and January 1952, showed them to be costing a lot in: coal, water, oil and secondly maintenance when compared to other classes. These costs along with issues of leakage of oil from the enclosed motion oil baths and the reliability and accuracy of the steam reverser / cut off setting led to the Southern Region looking at options to improve the engines. The option chosen as opposed to trying to overcome the individual issues was to rebuild the engines with more ‘standard parts’.
The task was given, in 1954, to R.G. Jarvis of the Chief Mechanical and Electrical Engineer’s Department at Brighton, his new design replaced the encased oil bath and chain driven valve gear with three sets of more traditional Walschaerts valve gear, new style piston heads and rods, regulator and a screw-link type reverser. The ashpan and grate were also replaced and included hopper bottom doors and front and rear dampers. A new fabricated smokebox, superheater header and steam pipes were also fitted.
The frames, outside cylinders, boilers were retained along with the: Bullied-Firth-Brown wheels (although now needing balance weights to be fitted), axleboxes, the efficient ‘clasp’ locomotive brakes and the ‘Stones’ steam generator for electric lighting both for the engine headsignals and in cab lighting. The same tenders were utilised, albeit with the side raves cut down to ease water filling access and reverse running view. The drawbar between the loco and tender however was replaced.
Externally the ‘Air Smoothed’ casing was removed giving the look common to the recently introduced BR standard classes, although the characteristic oval shaped smokebox door was kept. Sanding, from replacement sandboxes, was also added to the leading driving axle, whilst rearward application was incorporated to the middle driving axle and new mechanical lubricators were accessibly mounted on the running plate alongside the boiler.
In 1955 the British Railways Board gave authority for fifteen of the class to be modified and authority for rebuilding the remainder swiftly followed. In February 1956 Eastleigh works released 35018 British India Line in its newly modified form (35018 as the prototype rebuild remained unique to the rest of the class as the front sandbox filler position and injector pipework differed), by October 1959 all the class had been rebuilt.
Performance of the rebuilt engines was indeed successful, solving most of the maintenance issues, although one drawback was that they put greater loads on the track, than the largely self balanced originals, as a result of increased hammerblow, caused by the balance weights required for the Walschaerts valve gear.
My model of rebuilt 35006 as preserved
The release by Hornby in the year 2000 of the rebuilt Merchant Navy locomotive heralded a new generation of model steam locomotives by Hornby and was a step change of standard of models reactive to competition in the market place and gave us a new super detail standard featuring blackened finish handrails and wheels with etched brass valve gear, detailed cab interior, and a five pole motor housed and driving within the locomotive itself. Over the years a number of the class have been released with a few modifications to the tooling along the way, although as yet none of the first series engines as rebuilt have been released as the 5000 gallon style tenders they were paired with have not been tooled.
As 35006 in preservation has been paired to a brand new built larger 5100 style tender I have used a Hornby R1038 35012 United States Lines (split from a train pack) locomotive as the basis for my model.
Firstly I removed the cabside number numbers via my usual method of soaking the Hornby printing in enamel thinners and rubbing off with a cotton bud and replacing with HMRS Pressfix decals.
New nameplates and smokebox door number plates were fitted along with an extched 72B Salisbury shedcode plate on the smokebox in the slightly higher position than usual, level with the lower smokebox hinge, on 35006 which was a charactoristic of her when in service. All the plates were obtained from Fox Transfers.
I replaced the front steps as supplied by Hornby by the more robust lost wax cast versions, along with a set of the cylinder drain pipes to complete the front end look, obtained through RT Models, from his excellent Albert Goodall range.
As I am modelling 35006 in her preserved condition I want to to also represent her superb external paintwork finish with a reflective and classic oily rag polished hue and have therefore given the model a coat of Kleer floor polish to give a such a finish to the paintwork (and also seal in the decals).
More details of 35006 and the locomotive Society can be found on my dedicated page here. Also it is worth mentioning the 35011 The General Steam Navigation Locomotive Restoration Society that was formed last year with the intention of not only restoring 35011 back to working order but doing so back in original air smoothed condition condition complete with Bulleid’s oil bath encased valve gear incorporating chain drive elements to fill the gap in preserved examples left by the entire class having been rebuilt.