EXCITING times lie ahead over the next few months for the impressive steam locomotive fleet based on the Bodmin & Wenford Railway.
The only surviving London & South Western Railway T9 Class 4-4-0 locomotive No 30120 arrived back at Bodmin in mid-August after a heavy general overhaul undertaken by engineers at The Flour Mill workshop in the Forest of Dean. The locomotive, which has been entrusted by the National Railway Museum to the Bodmin & Wenford Railway for at least the next ten years, will be formally re-launched back into service at a ceremony at Bodmin General Station on Thursday 2 September. No 30120 will be in action on all four days of the Steam Gala & Real Ale Festival over the first weekend of September and, thereafter, will become a regular member of the BWR steam fleet.
The most powerful locomotive currently based on the BWR – GWR 42xx Class 2-8-0T No 4247 (built at Swindon in 1916) – will shortly be sent to the Flour Mill where it will undergo a full ten-year boiler overhaul. Following its last period in service during the first half of August, BWR engineers discovered a crack from a washout plug on the boiler backhead. After subsequent discussion with the Railway’s insurance company boiler inspector it was agreed that the best course of action would be for No 4247 to be withdrawn from service and sent to the Flour Mill immediately, as their workshop has some spare capacity following the recent return of No 30120 to the BWR.
The boiler was last overhauled in 2000 as part of No 4247’s original restoration from scrapyard condition, and – whilst some further minor boiler work was carried out at the Flour Mill in 2005, before the locomotive arrived on the BWR – the boiler tubes have lasted almost ten years and would thus have been shortly due for replacement in any case.
Following arrival at the Flour Mill, No 4247’s boiler will be lifted from the frames for overhaul. The work to be carried out will include repairs to the backhead and to grooving, both on the throatplate and the outer plates of the firebox, together with a full re-tube. It is anticipated that the locomotive will return to the BWR by mid-May 2011 in time for the main daily running season over the summer.
No 4247 has in effect now “swapped places” with GWR 57xx Class 0-6-0PT No 4612, which was to have been withdrawn from service in October 2010 and sent to the Flour Mill for a ten-year overhaul.
No 4612 – the first ex-British Railways engine owned by the Bodmin & Wenford Railway Trust to return to steam on the 6½-mile line – will now remain in service until the expiry of its current boiler ticket in May 2011. However, despite the news over No 4247, the BWR will still be pressing ahead with its plan for the 1942-built pannier tank to be given a quick repaint into BR unlined black livery, complete with the early “cycling lion” crest on the tank sides, in time to star at the Railway’s Branch Line Weekend on 9-10 October 2010.
The Branch Line Weekend – which this year is being themed “Wadebridge Shed 1962 – will see the ‘new’ BR black pannier work alongside a trio of former LSWR engines, T9 No 30120 and the only surviving pair of Beattie well tanks, Nos 30585 & 30587. The four black locomotives will make an impressive sight at the head of the BWR’s rake of passenger stock in early British Railways carmine and cream livery.
“We are obviously all disappointed to receive the news about No 4247, particularly during our busiest time of the year,” comments BWR General Manager, Richard Jones, “but with the eagerly anticipated debut of T9 No 30120, the quartet of LSWR engines in action at the September Steam Gala, not to mention the forthcoming repaint of No 4612 and an impressive collection of seven working steam locomotives, means our visitors will still have a great deal to savour and enjoy over the next few months.” “It is a measure of how far the BWR has come over recent years that we are able to overcome such issues in a calm and professional manner.”