Friday, 25 September 2015

Weekly Update with some more pictures

Preparation for repairing the cracks in the frames

The historical weld repair adjacent to the middle driving axle on the RH side (Photo: Clive Emsley)
The photograph above shows the area of a welded repair that was carried out many years ago.  The weld has been ground flush with the surrounding material and cleaned ready for cleaning out and re-welding to improve the integrity and appearance (not that many people will see it once it is reassembled!).  The top two bolts restraining the horn guides have been removed and the remaining three will, hopefully, have been removed by the time this is read. Once the horn guide has been taken off, a weld will be possible.

The newly discovered crack adjacent to the middle driving wheel on the LH side (Photo: Clive Emsley)
Similarly, the newly discovered crack on the opposite side of the frames has been cleaned ready for repair.  The crack will need to be ground out to enable a good weld to be made which will vastly improve the integrity and looks of the area. Again the horn guide will need to be removed prior to any welding taking place.

Matt beavering away getting the frames cleaned up (Photo: Clive Emsley)
The picture above show Matt Holloway cleaning up the frames prior to painting, the picture was taken a couple of weeks ago but I have included it here as it shows the work in progress and the dedication of the small group of regular volunteers working on the loco.

If you would like to help us in any way with the restoration, sales or administration please contact

We are on target to get a coat or two of gloss black on the frames before the worst of the winter sets in.  This will allow us to keep the frames protected over the winter whilst we carry on with the smaller parts inside the villa. 

It is also hoped to clean up the wheel sets in the not too distant future and get a few coats of paint on them up to a coat of Maunsell (Ashford) green gloss - a clue to the ultimate livery of the loco!

The tank on the platform displayed as a tribute to the SECR's time in Boulogne during the Great War is in need of some minor work to the paint owing to persons unknown damaging it by scrapping something over it.  This is relatively minor, but very irritating!

We will be putting on a small display of items during the Giants of Steam Weekend.  We will be having a stand close to the loco frames where we will be on hand to answer your questions and show you what is happening.  We are located on the route to Atlantic House which is also open during the weekend. we look forward to seeing you there.

Friday, 18 September 2015

Mini Update Friday 18th.

Frame Painting

The frames have now been cleaned and a coat or two of red oxide has been applied to the complete frame assembly.  We will now continue with the painting of the frames to get them into a top coat of gloss black before the winter sets in.  This will (hopefully) prevent any more corrosion of the frames and be ready for final painting when the time arises.  Matt has spent some days off work from his day job at Horsted Keynes to progress the painting.

New Picture

A new photograph of 27 has come to light. it was taken in October 1980 and shows the loco in a very shabby state.  It is seen outside the (then) new workshop at Sheffield Park a couple of years before it was dismantled.  just visible in the picture can be seen the front buffers of 1638 at that time a recent arrival from Barry.  Beyond 27 the smokebox from Stepney can be seen when it was used as a collecting box to raise funds for the restoration of that loco.

SECR No27 at Sheffield Park on 19th of October 1980 (photo reproduced here by kind permission of David)
For more pictures in David's collection please go to his gallery at the link below.
click on the link to 35mm Photo Galleries, then Railways to find more Bluebell (and other heritage) pictures

Hopefully I will be able to produce another update during next week with some more pictures of the continuing work.

Monday, 14 September 2015

Stuart has a bolt loose

Well he has two loose actually!

The horn guide bolts to be removed to facilitate the weld repair (Photo: Clive Emsley)
 Stuart has made a good start on removing the fitted bolts that hold the horn guide in place. This needs to be remopved to facilitate the weld replair to the crack at the top corner of the cut out in the frames.  To ensure the frames do not twist or sag, an additional frame stand has been located to support the crack.  our thanks must go to the Atlantic Project for the loanm of the stands, without which the job would be much more difficult.
Once the frames have been prepared a skilled welder will perform the repair and it will be fully tested before the painting of the frames is completed.

Matt cleaning grease and "gunge" from the frames (Photo Clive: Emsley)
Matt has continued cleaning and painting the frames. As can be seen in the picture above, this process starts with a thorough de-grease of the surfaces especially around bolts and rivets where oil and detruitus can amalgamate and penetrate any gaps.  This is a laborious and long process but it pays dividends when it comes to the needle gun and wire brush stage.  as soon as the needle gunning and wire brushing has been completed an initial coat of red oxide paint is applied.  It is hoped to get the frames up to at least one coat of gloss paint before the worst of the winter weather sets in. this will stiop the penetration of the weather and save having to do more wire brushing and cleaning of rust in the spring.
Matt's handywork between the frames (Photo: Clive Emsley)
Another little job that has been carried out has been the cleaning of paint from the ends of the axles and crankpins to allow an ultrasonic test of them to take place in the not to distant future.  The cleaned surfaces have been protected with a film of grease until the test has been completed, following which they will be dereased and painted.

The right hand end of the trailing axle cleaned ready for ultrasonic testing (Photo: Clive Emsley)
The picture not only shows the end of the axle cleaned ready for testing but also allows the axle number to be seen (No.3838).  The test is expected to take place shortly.

We will be having a sales and information stand at the giants of steam weekend where we hope to be able to display some of the parts of the loco.  we are also hoping to show small groups or individuals around the loco restoration.
Of course we will have a fund raising stand selling all of the usual items, we hope to see you there.  We will be situated close to the loco frames on the walking route to Atlantic House where, I understand, there may be something exciting to see!

Friday, 4 September 2015

A further update on the frames

Some more information and pictures

Evidence of the non-destructive testing (Photo: Clive Emsley)
Some of the areas of non-destructive testing are shown in the picture above.  The testing involves the application of a penetrating fluid that is left for a short while before being wiped off and a developer applied.  If there are any cracks the developer will draw out the penetrating fluid, which then becomes a visible line on the surface.

The crack on the left hand side marked out ready for grinding and welding (Photo: Clive Emsley)
The known crack was confirmed as (fortunately) the only one on the frames. This has been marked ready for it to be ground out and filled with weld by a skilled welder.

The right side of the frames showing the approximate cut line (photo: Clive Emsley)
The approximate positions of the cut to remove the wasted rear end of the frames have been marked in chalk these marks are in the optimum position to allow for the corroded material to be removed and to make the strongest joint possible. The cut on the left side will be slightly different owing to a larger area of corrosion.

The left of the frames showing the longer area which needs to be cut out (Photo: Clive Emsley) 
A start has also been made on cleaning up and painting the inside of the frames. This has involved degreasing, scraping, and needle gunning before being given a coat of red oxide paint.

The inside of the frames at the front end showing the motion stretcher and left side (Photo: Clive Emsley)
During the cleaning of the frames the markings above were uncovered (Photo: Clive Emsley) 
The marks seen in the picture above were uncovered during the cleaning of the frames.  They are over the axle box on the left hand side.  It is not certain what they refer to, but it is suspected that the A refers to Ashford, the P for the class of loco and the number could either be a drawing number or possibly an order number.  We do not have any idea what the symbol and number above refers to.

Update on the Frames - Good News

Non Destructive Testing Completed

The Non-destructive testing of the frames has been completed recently, with the news that there are no cracks in he frames other than the repaired one and the one we knew about.  This has now confirmed that we will not be requiring a new set of frames for the loco.  We will still need to cut the rear section out and replace with new material, but this has always been the situation.  The cracks in the frames are shown in the pictures below.  

The crack at the front top corner of the Left Hand Centre driving axle box guide which will need repair (Photo Clive Emsley)
The existing repair at the rear top corner of the right hand centre axle box guide which will require grinding and testing
(Photo Clive Emsley)
The crack shown in the upper photograph will be prepared for repair by grinding out the crack with an angle suitable to take the weld.  It will be deep enough to provide a good repair once welded.  Before any welding takes place a thorough clean of the area will take place to ensure there is no contamination within the weld repair.

To facilitate the repair, the keeper plate and horn guides will need to be removed from the frames.  This can only be done following suitable support being provided to the frames, and we are again grateful to the Atlantic Group for the loan of two frame stands to provide this support.

It is likely that the repair will be carried out by the end of September, allowing the frames (apart from the bit being cut out) to be thoroughly cleaned and painted before the winter weather sets in. 

A start has been made at cleaning up the inside of the frames and the motion stretcher has been given a good clean and a coat of paint to protect it. Further works will continue with the other stretchers and the inside of the frames as the weather allows.  When the weather does get inclement we will be working on the smaller parts under cover. 

We are looking at having a sales and information stand by the loco during Giants of Steam weekend with some of the parts on display. We may be able to show people around the work, but this is to be confirmed.

If you would like to help with this project, please contact for information on how you can help us.

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Back from the World Tour of the British Isles

Lots of Loverly Locos to be restored!

I have spent the last two weeks travelling the British Isles (mainly on family business) trying to find locos that were older or in a worse state than No.27.

I popped into the Strathspey Railway where they were running the same loco as I saw exactly 12 months earlier! It was the Ivatt Class 2 2-6-0 as seen in the picture below.  Unfortunately I did not have chance to ride on the railway or to look at the locos etc at Boat of Garten, so this is the only view I had. This loco was newer and in better condition than 27!

46512 leaving Aviemore on the 10:30 train to Broomhill (Photo: Clive Emsley)
The only other encounters with Heritage trains was at Beamish and Locomotion both in County Durham.  At Beamish I encountered an excellent locomotive that would fit in beautifully for a "Gnats of Steam" weekend, the loco known as "Steam Elephant" a replica of an 1830s loco that worked in the area. Blooming Marvellous! This doesn't count as an older loco as it is a replica, and it is in better condition!
Steam Elephant at the Beamish Museum (Photo: Clive Emsley)
My quest to find a loco that is older and in a worse state than 27 was completed when I went on a walking tour of the historic part of the NRM "Locomotion" museum at Shildon where the group was shown a locomotive in the Soho Loco Shed, known as "Nelson". This loco was found at a colliery and rightly saved for the nation.  It is my considered belief that it is unlikely ever to steam again! It will make a great exhibit when the current re-jigging of the museum is complete.

Locomotive "Nelson" in Soho Shed Shildon (Photo: Clive Emsley)
The trip was rounded off with a steam related day out in Lincoln on Sunday when Claire and I attended the International Steampunk Festival! A great day out looking at many weird and whacky machines and costumes, now there is an idea for a day on the Bluebell! (for steampunk think Caractcus Potts or Willy Wonker or Heath Robinson, or even the bloke on Scrapheap Challenge! a sort of steam powered Victorian or wild west/science fiction - I might well add a couple of pictures of some of the people later!

Thanks must go to Brian Spurle who has consumed 24 bottles of Harvey's ales so that he could donate the empty bottles to the funds!  All I need to do now is to pop over to Lewes to take them back to the brewery, claim the reward - and try not to buy more!

I will update this blog once I have found out from the restoration team what has been happening whilst I have been away.