An update on the Bluebell Railway Steam Locomotive fleet

73082
73082 "Camelot" // Credit Simon AC Martin

The Bluebell Railway has released an update on their fleet of steam locomotives, both at the railway and away from the railway.

The weather has been up and down for the past few months, but volunteers have been working on locomotives as and when they can.

The Locomotive Works has been busy with both maintenance and overhaul work, particularly, work has focused on maintaining the running fleet.

The S15 has suffered an issue with the brake ejector exhaust pipe back in April, which caused water to be exhausted from the ejector. After removing the pipe, which runs internally through the boiler of the locomotive, both ends of the pipe have been re-brazed. The pipe has been hydraulically tested.

The pipe is now re-fitted to the locomotive, which has been a time-consuming task as they needed to thread the pipe through the crown stays of the boiler. At the time of writing, the preparations are in place for the boilers hydraulic test.

Unfortunately, if you have been reading our news, you will know that the most reliable locomotive in the fleet, No.73082 Camelot, failed whilst working a service train (read more on that here). After the locomotive arrived back at Sheffield Park and the cylinder covers were removed, it was clear that something had caused the piston heads and cylinder covers to crack. The cause isn’t known yet, but new piston heads and cylinder covers castings have been ordered and these should arrive at the railway in the next few weeks.

A significant amount of machining will then be required for the cylinder relief valves, for stud holes, and to get a tight fit to the cylinder block.

With both of these locomotives out of action, the Q class has borne the brunt of the heavier trains, and she will be back in service after her boiler washout. All the other trains have been hauled by either the O1, the H class, or No. 323 “Bluebell”.

Work is progressing well with the boiler of No.80151. The task of drilling, reaming, tapping and fitting the boiler stays is ongoing. The throat plate area is now complete and the right-hand side is now 70% complete. Work has now started on the left-hand side, and when that is 70% complete the attention will then turn to the back head.

The chassis is now 95% complete, with the slidebars, crossheads, pistons and piston valves having been installed. The rods and remaining valve gear will be installed, once that is complete, the chassis can be pushed outside to await the boiler.

Away from the railway, the final welding to the inner firebox of ‘Stowe’ is underway and once complete the inner firebox will be riveted up and returned to Sheffield Park.

No.34059 ‘Sir Archibald Sinclair’s’ inner firebox is complete and has been trial fitted to the boiler and removed while the final adjustments are made to the throat plate.

Once all the dimensions such as the tube plate to tube plate length, water leg widths and firebox position have been checked, the inner firebox will be lowered back into position for final welding.

No. 928 ‘Stowe’s’ frames and wheels are progressing well. The overhaul of the front bogie has been completed. The driving wheels are undergoing prep and painting and the frames and being cleaned and painted.

Inside the machine shop, the axleboxes are being machined and once complete they will be trial fitted to the driving wheels ready for scraping. The railway’s plan is re-wheel the locomotive in the next two to three months.

In the loco yard, improvements have been made to the area where No.84030 is being constructed. The area has been levelled and concreted. The area has also seen the construction of the canopy. This will allow the wheels, pony truck frames and axleboxes to be fitted ready for the frames to be lowered on the wheels.

Can I help?

Yes, you can either apply to become a volunteer at the railway or, alternatively, you can simply have a ride on the railway and your ticket price will be put back into the railway!

Michael Holden avatar
I have had an interest in Railways for as long as I can remember. I am a member of a number of heritage railways and actively volunteer at 2 of them. I enjoy all types of railways, real life, model and simulations. I started RailAdvent in 2014 and am the main editor of the site.

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