Southern Locomotives: December 2020 update
Southern Locomotives Limited (SLL) continue to make excellent progress on the restoration of Eddystone, alongside their other locomotives. Southern Locomotives is a separate organization but has a long association with the Swanage Railway and provide many of the steam locomotives that operate on the Railway.
The reports below are taken from SLL most recent update and focuses on the news relevant to Swanage. For updates on the other SLL locomotives and more photographs, visit their web page at https://southern-locomotives.co.uk/News/news.html
During the second lockdown Herston remained open for our staff and a limited number of volunteers. We have focussed on Eddystone's overhaul which should be finished early in 2021. In recent weeks Chris Hardy and Geoff Reber have completed the conduit runs and electrics whilst Dave Ensor and Mike Frackiewicz have been leading the painting of the locomotive. Bailey England and Andy Crooks have completed all the pipework and are working on the atomisers and anti-carbonisers.
Graham Froud is organising a further hydraulic test so that the start date of the boiler ticket will be as late as possible. Ron Neal is completing all the machining work on the final fittings such as the new water couplings for the tender and once these tasks are completed all the staff will be tasked with fitting the remaining smokebox components, the door and the smoke deflectors, once the hydraulic test is completed.
Eddystone will then be complete apart from the new (and complicated to manufacture) reversing screw which will be delivered fairly soon. The screw and die block convert the rotation of the shaft from the reverser wheel in the cab into lateral movement of the reach rod which is linked to the reverser shaft. We had several older sets of the screw and die block, but all were worn beyond the tight tolerence between the screw and the die block which permits fine cut off adjustment and avoids 'chatter' between the links.
Eddystone's tender will be brought into the goods shed for repainting and will be reunited with the locomotive in late February or early March to allow a few weeks running in prior to Easter which is the first weekend of April.
34053 Sir Keith Park
Many will have seen pictures of Sir Keith Park operating on the Spa Valley Railway on its first weekend out, soon after arrival at Tunbridge Wells West. However, there haven't been many published of its second outing after staff at 75F had given it the Spa Valley treatment - it looked almost as good as the day it left Herston Works, which after nine years service proves what a fantastic job was made of it by the late and much missed Ron Bennett, along with the other regulars who paint the locomotives to perfection
Currently Sir Keith is not only in the depot but also covered with a tarpaulin should the occasional pigeon dare to despoil the paintwork. It has passed its annual boiler examination and is receiving some maintenance so should be good for traffic until early 2022. The railway has come up with Covid compliant plans for use over the Christmas period, in which Sir Keith will feature. The whole of the Spa Valley operation is run by volunteers so if you would like to assist on any of these Christmas trains you will be more than welcome. Without doubt the arrival of a working Bulleid in Kent has had a very positive affect on the Spa Valley with far higher takings over some weekends than in 2019, which given the circumstances is extraordinary.
34072 257 Squadron
34072 has been sharing steam operations at Swanage with the 'U' Class since re-opening in July, however there's currently a problem; some rivets have come loose on the bogie. Owning several Bulleids will help us as the plan is to build up Sidmouth's bogie and then swap it with 257's. Sidmouth's bogie, trailing truck and driving wheels have all been stripped down to bare metal and primered over the past year or two by our volunteers.
As well as getting 257 Squadron back into service this will ensure that Sidmouth's bogie will be ready and waiting for reinstatement as soon as needed. We intend to bring Sidmouth's frames into the Works on Eddystone's departure which will keep our staff and volunteers fully employed! One issue yet to be addressed is that ultimately we'll need a high sided tender to run with 257 Squadron or Manston.
The other locomotive which we hope will be in traffic in the near future is Manston which has been languishing at Tyseley Works for rather longer than we would have wished. However, with the return to work of key staff the locomotive was moved to the wheel drop for the bearings and axle boxes to be examined. First indications are that there isn't a huge amount of work to do although the front two axleboxes will need to be remetalled as whitemetal has come slightly adrift. The other four are apparently fine. The centre piston is being removed for inspection as it may be necessary to bore the inside cylinder. We will take Tyseley's advice on this. Manston came out of traffic in 2018 when our plan had been simply to retube the boiler, and the work being done at this stage is an additional cost. We still aim to have this work completed in time for Manston to be in service for the 2021 season.
80104's boiler ticket runs until May 2021 and it's hoped it can be brought into service while 34072 is without its bogie. Because of existing commitments to work on other locos there must be a delay before we can start work on 80104. The repairs to the copper firebox, etc, will cost a six figure sum, and we need to get other locos into service before we can fund that work - unless someone knows where there's a money tree.
The work described above on Sidmouth's boiler and bogie is not for the immediate benefit of Sidmouth, however by helping to keep two other locos in service it certainly brings forward the day when it will be the focus of our resources. The intention is to bring the frames into Herston after Eddystone has left, in the first half of 2021.
All photographs are by and copyright of Southern Locomotives Ltd. and their contributors