Steam locomotive Lilla returns to service after just 1 year overhaul

Lilla steam test
Credit: Paul Lewin

The Ffestiniog Railway has announced that Hunslet 0-4-0ST ‘Lilla’, built-in 1891, has returned to service following a successful steam test.

Just under a year ago RailAdvent reported Lilla bowing out of traffic for a ten-year overhaul.

Fast forward the 12 months and now she is set for her first turn in service, running at a private photo charter with a rake of newly overhauled skip wagons.

Time was lost in stripping the locomotive as the Lilla group volunteers weighed in on winter weekends. The loco was dismantled and the boiler lifted out in December last year. January saw a battle of removing the boiler tubes, this was a tough job to complete!

Lilla tubes
Credit: Paul Lewin

By spring the boiler was cleaned out, inspected and tested. The only work needed was a re-tube. The hydraulic test took place in June and reassembly immediately followed.

The engine was 90% complete by the end of July thanks to the efforts of the volunteers. Pressure on space at Boston Lodge and the demands of the high summer service saw a break in progress until mid-September when work started once again.

In addition to the boiler work, a pair of new injectors have been machined to the original drawings to replace the worn ones currently fitted – one of which was believed to be an original fitting. This work involved making drawings, patterns and having special reamers made. They will be fitted and tested in the next month or so.

The final run-up to steam testing has taken place in the last two weeks with volunteers and staff working closely together.

Lilla is expected to appear on a limited no of ‘Skip Shunt’ driver experience course in 2020. Watch the Festrail web site for more details.

What did the officials say?

FR GM and Lilla Group Chairman, Paul Lewin comments:

The operation smaller locos on the FR is made possible by the efforts of their supporting groups. Whilst Lilla is not required for passenger services on the railway it really adds to the rich tapestry of the FR and gives opportunities for so many people to get a close experience with a loco. The loco is regularly used for footplate rides and is taken to events away from the railway for PR purposes.

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