8th June 2023
Our sponsor Alex was over to see progress of the overhaul today at Riley's works at Haywood
For those who have not been following, on FB.
The inside cylinder block was removed due to corrosion where the steam pipes are mounted in the smokebox. On further examination they found cracking in other areas, We're probably going to send it away for specialist repair. We did look to have a new casting for the inside cylinder, but it could prove to be very challenging, to produce a successful casting due to the number of cores required.
It was also discovered that outside cylinders were loose, also had corrosion and cracking issues behind them, and to properly refit the inside cylinder they would need removing.
There are no other significant, issues with the boiler or the rest of the loco.
19th February 2023
Wadebridge Chairman’s Report
The great news is, of course, that Wadebridge’s overhaul is now under way. As David Ford explains in more detail, in the Engineering Report, the locomotive is being dismantled by Riley’s in Heywood and we are aiming for a return to service by the end of 2025 or early 2026. To say this is an exciting prospect is to put it mildly!
Our strategy is to conduct the overhaul in such a way as to keep open the possibility of operating Wadebridge on the main line as well as on the Watercress Line and other heritage railways. This means that we will be working with a Vehicle Acceptance Body to ensure that we properly record the detailed aspects of the work so that we can demonstrate that the specified standards are being met.
Any decision on ‘going main line’ will depend on judgements, nearer the time, about the technical and commercial wisdom of doing so. The modernisation of Network Rail’s signalling and traffic management systems could complicate the challenge of installing the required equipment on the locomotive. We would also need to develop a viable operations plan in concert with an established main line steam operator. Who knows what the market for steam charters will be in a few years’ time? We must always temper ambition with realism but, right now, we want to keep the main line option on the table.
As the project moves forward, we can allow ourselves the luxury of thinking about Wadebridge’s future livery. The locomotive will retain its standard-sized smoke deflectors, V-shaped cab, and high-sided tender. So that essentially gives us two choices: late 1940s malachite green, with the number ‘s21C107’ but without ‘Southern’ on the tender, or mid-1950s Brunswick green, numbered 34007 and with the original BR emblem on the tender. Minor variations on these themes would be possible and I predict some lively discussions about authenticity. We do not have to rush to a decision, but it will be ‘fun’ to talk through the options.
Current progress with the overhaul has been made possible through the extraordinary generosity of our Patron and Benefactor, Mr Alexander Choremi. Without his amazing donations, we would not have been able to sign contracts and press ahead with the work. However, we must all continue to support the Wadebridge project financially and in other ways. Returning our locomotive to steam and running it for the ten-year duration of its boiler certificate will necessitate a sustained collective effort.
The rewards of success will be plain to see – an immaculate Wadebridge in steam and demonstrating just what magnificent locomotives the unrebuilt Bulleids have always been. Let’s work together to make it happen!
19th February 2023
During 2021 the Company contracted Mid Hants Railway Ltd, Ropley Works, to undertake a full mechanical assessment of the loco. The loco was moved into the Yard and strip down included removing cab and boiler fittings, the cladding and some pipe work, whilst the boiler was de-tubed. With Covid, various lock-downs and staff illness it was not until the end of the year that a full report was provided which showed that in general terms the loco was in reasonable condition after 10 years use, well-worn in some areas but with no major surprises. However the middle cylinder was known to be loose, a common problem with Bulleids, and the condition of the steam-pipe flanges on the middle cylinder could only be assessed once the boiler was removed. Based on the report, that a further overhaul was feasible, a decision was made by the Wadebridge Board to appoint a Contractor to undertake the work on behalf of the Company.
During the early part of 2022 a number of possible Contractors were approached. The criteria included experience, timeliness, likely cost and the ability to take on the work during the second half of 2022. The Board decided to split the work between Riley & Son in Heywood, undertaking the heavy engineering of the frames, motion and boiler and Mid Hants Railway Ltd Ropley Works, completing the new build tender, overhauling the boiler and cab fittings and completing the reassembly once the loco returned from Heywood.
The loco arrived in Heywood on the 10th August 2022 and since that time the cab and boiler have been removed. The motion, brake gear and much pipework has been removed, cleaned and put into store. During November the middle cylinder was removed for assessment and at the time of writing, the frames were being prepared for lifting so that the wheels can be re-profiled, tyres are good, and the axle boxes etc. can be removed for repair/refurbishment as required. The boiler has been cleaned and NDT (None Destructive Testing) continues.
The current target date is for the loco heavy repair to be completed during 2024 with return to Ropley at the end of that year. Ropley will undertake reassembly during 2025. Over the next two years Ropley will continue with the new tender and fixtures and fittings to achieve same timeframes. These timeframes are targets and are subject to, and dependent on, the condition of the middle cylinder, and of course the general proviso of ‘that we don’t know what we don’t know’ at this stage of the overhaul.
26 September 2022
The Wadebridge boiler has been removed from the frame.