RID­DLES RE­VIVAL: 75069 IN STEAM AGAIN AF­TER 24 YEARS

Re­build of stan­dard ‘4MT’ 4-6-0 is “prob­a­bly big­gest we’ve ever done” says pro­ject leader.

Steam Railway (UK) - - NEWS | FOCUS -

LOOK­ING INTO THE SMOKE­BOX, LIT­ER­ALLY EV­ERY­THING YOU SEE IS NEW – EX­CEPT FOR THE SUPERHEATER HEADER

MARTIN WHITE

When ‘4MT’ No. 75069 last ran in 1994, Bri­tish Rail was still in ex­is­tence, the Chan­nel Tun­nel had just opened, and John Ma­jor was four years into his ten­ure as Prime Min­is­ter.

Now, a new gen­er­a­tion of vol­un­teers at the Sev­ern Val­ley Rail­way are see­ing the BR Stan­dard 4‑6‑0 in ac­tion for the first time in their life­times.

It moved un­der its own steam for the first time since over­haul on De­cem­ber 11 – the same day as Wightwick Hall made its first moves at Quain­ton Road (see page 10).

Said Bridg­north Works Plan­ner Martin White: “We’ve got a num­ber of passed clean­ers who weren’t even born when it last steamed,” while Will Marsh, who has over­seen its me­chan­i­cal over­haul, was just three years old in 1994.

Mr Marsh, who started at the SVR as an ap­pren­tice and now leads the run­ning main­te­nance team at Bridg­north, said that it was “pretty awe­some” to see No. 75069 in steam – “and a re­lief!” he added.

“It’s prob­a­bly the big­gest over­haul we’ve done here – it’s not re­ally an over­haul but a re­build.” In­deed, he has ap­plied a work­splate read­ing ‘Re­built Bridg­north 2017’ on one side.

The ‘re­build’ has taken nearly a decade – and two at­tempts. Work com­menced in June 2009 (SR365), but hav­ing been stored out­side since with­drawal, the Rid­dles en­gine was found to need such ex­ten­sive at­ten­tion that it was side­lined again un­til 2013 (SR414) with 0‑6‑0PT No. 1501 tak­ing its place in the over­haul queue.

Ex­plained Mr White: “The mo­ment we took the first roll of boiler cladding off, we thought ‘this doesn’t look good at all…’

“I’ve never seen scale like it; wa­ter got in, the glass fi­bre lag­ging ab­sorbed it and it never dried out, even in sum­mer – it was al­ways in a hu­mid at­mos­phere.

“We got as far as lift­ing the boiler and then put it back in the frames again, be­cause we re­alised it needed way more work than we imag­ined.”

The cor­ro­sion meant that the en­tire boiler bar­rel had to be re­placed, to­gether with ex­ten­sive re­pairs to the fire­box wrap­per. Said Mr White: “Look­ing into the smoke­box, lit­er­ally ev­ery­thing you see is new – ex­cept for the superheater header.”

As of De­cem­ber 17, the en­gine had un­der­taken 108 miles of light en­gine tri­als, with the only sig­nif­i­cant glitch hav­ing been a crosshead re­quir­ing ad­just­ment af­ter run­ning warm. Loaded test runs were due to take place on De­cem­ber 19‑21.

How­ever, Mr White cau­tioned: “We’ll have to see how those go be­fore we know what comes next or com­mit to any­thing” – but he did not rule out the pos­si­bil­ity that No. 75069 could haul a rev­enue‑earn­ing train be­fore the end of the year or dur­ing Fe­bru­ary half‑term. Its of­fi­cial launch is planned for the SVR’s Spring Steam Gala of March 15‑17.

A fur­ther cel­e­bra­tion for the former Dover and Ste­warts Lane en­gine will take place at the au­tumn gala on Septem­ber 19‑22, which, Event Co‑or­di­na­tor Lewis Mad­dox hints, “will (hope­fully) fo­cus on BR Stan­dards with a South­ern twist. We have at least three vis­it­ing en­gines in the pipe­line.”

BOb SWeet

BR ‘4mt’ 4‑6‑0 No. 75069 rolls through Bewd­ley sta­tion dur­ing a light en­gine trial run on De­cem­ber 14.

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