Wadebridge Report

New Door For Wadebridge

Wadebridge with the old door
Wadebridge with the old door

One of the most recognizable features on Oliver Bulleid's Merchant Navy and West Country/Battle of Britain class locomotives is the elliptical smokebox door which was retained even after most of them were rebuilt to a conventional design.

We have been looking for a supplier willing to take on the challenge of manufacturing new door for  Wadebridge which is worn out and when Wadebridge was appearing at the West Somerset Railways Spring steam Gala they fitted one of the original ACE head boards on the Smokebox door and the weight of it proved too much and ripped lamp brackets out of the door. To keep the loco in service they patched the door to make it airtight.

With the need for a new door now urgent Rob Le Chevalier at South Devon Railway Engineering agreed to take on the challenge for the first time in preservation of pressing out the doors out of one piece of steel as part of a group order arranged though the Bulleid Loco Owners Association. 

Rob designed and manufactured a new press tool to fit in their 700 ton John Shaw vicing press.

Its hot work heating the door
Its hot work heating the door

The door blank is first heated with the warming torches in the press to help achieve a good pressing once the dome of the door is pressed the press is reset to form the sealing lip around the edge of the door.    

Pressing the sealing lip
Pressing the sealing lip

Removing the Door from the press
Removing the Door from the press

The New Door Cooling in front of the press
The New Door Cooling in front of the press

It takes Time to set the press right
It takes Time to set the press right