46521

LMS Class 2 2-6-0 No.46521

British Railways
The locomotive was built at Swindon and completed on 19th February, 1953 at a cost of £13,756 and was initially allocated to Owestry. It spent almost its entire working life in Wales, but was transferred the the London Midland Region for maintenace on 7th July, 1962. She subsequently had Heavy Maintenace repairs at Crewe between 30th April and 1st June, 1963 probably because the locomotive was earmarked  for Royal Train duties in August 1963, when the Queen visted North Wales for three days. Its duties were positioning moves and overnight steam heating of the Royal Train stock.

She was withdrawn by LMR on 29th October, 1966 and arrived at Barry scrapyard in March, 1967, unusually still retaining its original boiler.

Severn Valley Railway
The locomotive was identified as a possible preservation project by Charles Newton in 1969 and was subsequently purchased and moved to the SVR in 1971.  All non-ferrous fittings had been removed, so some time was spent acquiring, via British Rail  and SVR contacts, all required fittings. After restoration, the locomotive was steamed and entered service on the SVR in July, 1974 and provided service until being withdrawn on 24th August, 1984. The engine was overhauled and again entered service on the SVR in the Autumn on 1991, running until being withdrawn with wasted firebox roof stays on 18th December, 2000. Its total mileage between 1974 and 2000 on the SVR was 84,031 miles, some of which were acquired working trains on the BR Network during 1992.

Great Central Railway
After negotiations between David Slack, representing Loughborough Standard Locomotives Group Ltd (LSLG) and Charles Newton, the locomotive was moved to the GCR for overhaul by LSLG in November, 2001 and is now owned in equal shares by LSLG and Charles Newton, in the same way that ownership of GCR based British Rail Standard Class 2 locomotive No.78019 is also arranged.

Overhaul
The overhaul did not really start in earnest until LSLG had completed the restoration from scrapyard condition of No.78019, but the locomotive was allocated space in the Locomotive Shed and stripping down began. It soon became clear that the locomotive chassis and tender would need a lot of work, but the major concern was the condition of the boiler. Little did we realise how much work was going to be required!

Chassis
The overhaul of the locomotive chassis was mostly straightforward. Once stripped down and cleaned, rectification started. All the locomotive wheel sets were re-profiled and the springs refurbished. The job of overhauling the horn guides and axle boxes and re-assembling the chassis back onto its wheels was given to David Wright of Locomotive Maintenance Services. The coupling and connecting rods had new brasses manufactured and the motion new pins and bushes where necessary. The crossheads were re-metalled and machined and the cylinders and valves checked and re-ringed. (The cylinders are both now over 17 inches in diameter following previous re-bores, so the locomotives reputation for being a strong member of the class is well founded!) The long valve rods on which the actual valve heads themselves are mounted had to be re-machined true, as did the piston rods themselves, before new glands were fitted. The lubrication system was cleaned out and checked and the brake gear re-bushed. The only initial headache was that the steam brake cylinder was damaged, but Cast Iron Welding Services in Coalville did a first class repair, so the problem was overcome. Everything was painted and attention turned to the tender.

Tender
This too was stripped and the wheel sets sent for re-profiling, axle boxes overhauled and the springs refurbished. The dragbox was found to be very badly corroded, but (in hindsight manufacturing and fitting a new one would have been easier!) after much new steel and a lot of welding, was made good. The compensated brake gear also benefited from new pins and bushes and the pipework for the train vacuum pipe renewed where it passed through the dragbox, where it had rusted all the way through. Attention then turned to the tank, which was also very badly corroded and wasted through in places. In the end, the front half of the entire floor, most of the coal space and the bunker sides were all renewed. The injector water valves were overhauled and trackside water fillers were also fitted for convenience in service, as was a coal space spray.

Boiler
As previously mentioned, this was the locomotive’s original and had many years of hard work behind it, so we knew this was going to be the expensive bit! Once the boiler was lifted from the frames, a thorough examination was conducted to work out the best way forward. Several solutions were considered, including sending the whole boiler to Meiningen in Germany for overhaul at the same works that built new A1 Pacific "Tornado’s" boiler, but contractual and type approval complexities ruled this avenue out. Eventually, L&NWR Co Ltd at Crewe Heritage Centre were selected for the boiler overhaul. In the meantime, LSLG members had stripped down the boiler as much as we then thought was required, removing the tubes, flues, foundation ring, firebox tube plate, roof stays and many side stays, before despatching the boiler to Crewe. At this point, as unfortunately is very normal with these things, further examination revealed rather more work required.

A brand new firebox copper tube plate was manufactured as the old one was completely worn out, but Crewe also had to remove the firebox copper doorplate to repair cracks and corrosion around the fire hole door on the inside of the steel backhead. The bottom half of the copper doorplate was replaced with new material and the firebox also had new copper half sides fitted. This was mainly due to very deep caulking grooves that during a previous life had been hammered into the plates whilst attempting to seal the firebox stays from leaking. The steel backhead below the fire hole, almost the entire steel throatplate and both outer firebox steel sides were renewed and the shoulder patches re-riveted back on. The foundation ring was repaired and replaced and all of the mud hole doors repaired, as well as a full set of new washout plugs fitted. All boiler fitting mounting pads were machined true and new cascade plates fitted in the boiler below the top feed (these items disperse water delivered from the injectors around the boiler as evenly as possible).

It was then time to replace the firebox stays where all of the new plates had been fitted. The roof stays were steel, but a great debate ensued about the material to be used for the firebox itself. As described above, the locomotive was originally fitted with monel metal (a form of nickel steel) stays, as the material never seems to wear or corrode (as we saw above, it tends to be the copper around the stay that gives in first!). But monel is a very expensive material and steel is a substitute frequently used for this application. However, steel does wear and corrode and we didn’t want to be doing the job again, especially bearing mind that all of the material around the stays had been renewed. So, we took the plunge and had new monel metal stays fitted, although the material costs alone were almost £8,000!

The fitting of the small tubes and the flues was straightforward and the boiler was then successfully hydraulically tested with water, before passing its steam test in early September, 2011. The boiler was then quickly despatched back the Loughborough.

Reassembly
As soon as the boiler returned, it was all hands on deck to put the locomotive back together. Whilst the boiler had been away, LSLG had prepared as many things as possible to ensure that everything was ready for its return – for example, a brand new hopper ashpan had been manufactured and all the insulation cladding was ready to be fitted. All the boiler fittings had been overhauled and preparations for fitting a steam chest pressure gauge made.

Everything went relatively smoothly and the locomotive moved under its own power for the first time in almost 11 years to the day just before Christmas, 2011. A few snags were ironed out over the next couple of weeks before the Pakes Painting Co took charge and produced the stunning result we can all enjoy today.

Summary
When the overhaul of No.46521 was started, we estimated that it would cost approximately £100,000, but we ended up spending over £170,000 on the boiler alone! Steam locomotives are not cheap, especially as they get older. However, the locomotive should now provide 10 years of economic and reliable service to the GCR and if its sister BR Standard 2 No.78019 is anything to go by, will be popular with both the public and footplate crews.

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