I would like to start this update by thanking the small army of supporters who have come on board in recent months. We now started a steady stream of income coming in every month and have received a number of one off donations as well.
All this income is vitally needed to ensure we stay on target. If we have all the money we would be looking at a completion date of Spring 2021. However, if the income doesn’t pick up then we expect to have to push that date back, possibly all the way to late 2022.
Over the last few months, remarkable progress has been made. The Flour Mill engineering team have been getting on really well and in late September the 563LG team visited to see the progress.
The locomotive is now completely stripped and painted in undercoat. A rundown of the recent work is as follows:
- Boiler outer firebox – Both sides of old steel three quarter sides cut off and new steel fitted up and tack welded in position. One side has already been generously sponsored!
- All copper for the new inner copper firebox is now in hand, all £30,000 worth. Bought and paid for thanks to the generosity of our supporters and the SRT.
- Wheelsets shot blasted, NDT tested and now in undercoat.
- Frames, shot blasted, painted and running boards repaired around the buffer beam.
- All parts, now cleaned, painted and stored ready for refitting.
- Splashers and cab, now repaired and slightly modified to allow easier extraction of the boiler in future. Currently the whole assembly, the cab, splashers and parts of the running board needs to be removed to extract the boiler. Thanks to the insertion of two hinged plates, the boiler can now be removed without the need to take absolutely everything off! This will likely be a massive help in the future.
There are a few things that have come up which we were not expecting and will incur additional costs.
The major thing being the discovery of cracking in the outer back head. We are currently in discussions with the boiler inspector and think it will be repairable by grinding out the crack and getting a coded welder in to fill it in.
In addition, the firebox has some fairly complex staying arrangements with large girder stays, all of which we had hoped to reuse, however they are now all deemed scrap including the fixings that hold it all in place! This is a major cost and one that now must be added to the project.
By the time the boiler is complete we can expect the following work to have been undertaken on it.
- Brand new inner copper firebox.
- All new side stays, girder stays, longitudinal stays and crown stays.
- New three quarter steel sides on the outer firebox.
- New Front Tube plate.
- Re-bushed throatplate.
- New tubes
- New smokebox
- Repaired back head
- New foundation ring.
Basically, the boiler is having major surgery and we expect it to take almost half of the entire budget. However, this level of work means that we will have a robust, solid boiler that we can expect between 25-30 years of useful life out of. So although the cost is large, the benefit of the investment now will pay dividends in the future.
Additionally on the locomotive chassis, a horn stay, which is basically a bar that holds the axle box in place at the bottom of the horn is also cracked and will need replacement, we are likely to replace all horn stays as a result.
The tender is also on the to do list. Having had a quote we have decided to strip the tender at the railway using volunteers. This could save us thousands of pounds. Even so, we still expect the tender to cost around £50,000 to put right. It isn’t a total rust bucket, but we need to replace all its brake rigging as this arrived at the railway damaged. The old rigging is all wrought and isn’t acceptable today.
Furthermore, we also intend to lower the firing position a little. If you have been on the T3 you will have noticed just how high up the coal is stored. When the fireman wishes to fire he or she has to lift the coal down, before throwing it in the fire. We will make some minor adjustments that place the shovel plate further down, thus aiding all future firemen on No.563.
We are happy to say that the project is largely de risked, we know what needs doing, we know how much it is going to cost in the worst case and we are cracking on.
We are also delighted to welcome Sir Philip Williams to the 563 Locomotive Group, he will be assuming the role of president and we are absolutely delighted to have him on the team.
Your support going forward is vital. We all wish to see No.563 return to steam, why not jump on board and bring that exciting day closer!