Overall Update March 2016

So we are into March and progress since the New Year has been good.

Tysley at last have completed the contracted work plus 12 other jobs and I am pleased to say at long last 7903 is now safely tucked up in the David Page shed at Toddington. The return trip did not go according to plan as the lorry due to collect 7903 never left their yard as it had electrical problems and would not start. She finally arrived at 18.00hrs just in time to be unloaded as it got dark, great!!!!

So what is there to do??

Well in simple terms we have to put back on all the parts that we took off. Most have these have received various levels of attention so in the main are ready to refit. One of the first major tasks will be to get the boiler lagged and the cladding re-instated. This in its own right will be a time consuming job. However as we have had two of the regulatory boiler examinations already the pressure will be on to get the job completed ASAP. Once the cladding is on the backhead we can have all the controls refitted and the pipework reinstated. The preliminary work on the backhead is underway already so we hope to make good progress in the next few sessions. We also have to make and fit a new wooden planked floor but the timber is in stock and Neil Cooper a member of the GWSR department has kindly agreed to do it for us when we are ready.

At the front end, the smokebox needed to have the chimney and blast pipe refitted and the two lined up. We have already lifted the chimney into place ready although alignment still has to be done. The regulator valve has been fitted and the cover plate for access to the Superheater header has been refitted. Work on the steam pipes is already well underway and as of today, 16th March both steam pipes have been finally refitted and the steam pipe sealing glands are in place. All we have left to do is fit the gland packing. There are various other fittings that have to go in the smokebox and the smokebox door needs some further work to get it to seal properly in the new smokebox door ring that Tysley fitted. Again today this work is underway by Steve Jones who did a session today before doing a PM shift firing on the Race trains. Hopefully Steve will finish this on Saturday.

Underneath there is quite a lot of work to do on the new ashpan to get the damper and hopper doors to operate. The ashpan is a different design to what we fitted originally. It is very similar to what Tysley have fitted to Rood Ashton Hall but with a John Hancock re-design. This will involve making new operating arms and generally getting everything connected and operational.  

We have started refitting the copper pipework that runs under the boiler cladding. As soon as these pipes are fitted then we can get the cladding on and the engine will start to look her old self.

Tim Pickthorn has started priming up the handrails so as soon as the cladding is on they can be refitted. Tim has done a large amount of cleaning and painting right from day one, along with a few others so we have a good stock of parts cleaned, painted and ready for refitting.

Bearing in mind it is only just over a week ago the engine arrived back at Toddington then good progress has been made already, with the team gaining momentum. Tomorrow, Saturday 19th March will be another on the job day.

When will 7903 be finished? As soon as we can, no date is set yet.

John Cruxon

Locomotive Manager