So, popular former GWR loco No. 1369 ran its long-awaited first revenue earning train in just over two years since May 2017 on Saturday 5 October. But the loco’s first passenger run along the line was on Friday 4th October, when it double-headed with 57xx L92 on the 14.35 from Buckfastleigh .
On the Saturday, it worked an SDR five-coach set on the Red four-train timetable whilst 57xx No. L92 was suitably in charge of special 50th anniversary workings for the owners, the Worcester Locomotive Society.
1369 also had a test run on Thursday 3rd Oct light engine. It performed admirably admirable apparently but there are a few minor snags to resolve, although nothing serious, much as you would expect after a major overhaul.
A minor vacuum leak is yet to be traced with consequent fettling needed to the braking system. A slide bar ran a bit warm after the first trip but this has settled down. No tubes leaking or stays, but it had a good few days being tested out of the frames beforehand to make sure leaks and weeps were sorted. 1369 had a series of small test fires lit in it during the week to ascertain where any leaks might be found and dealt with accordingly which is quite normal after overhaul.
We do still need to finish the paint job. It is in GW green and will have the 1930’s GWR shirt-button monogram emblem. For the weekend it had GWR vinyl magnetic letters attached (normally reserved for quick livery changes for the likes of photo-charters or film companies). And we do need to fit the number plates and the brass bell as worn when threading through the streets of Weymouth.
The loco has been brought back to life thanks to a dedicated team of both volunteers and paid staff in a project that saw 1369’s boiler and firebox comprehensively rebuilt, together with fitting new side tanks and refurbishment of the motion, axle boxes and the chassis.
The boiler proved to be the main challenge. It received a three-quarter back-head and partial new sides. The inner copper box received a lot of fettling to give it another ten years life. The bottom end was in pretty good order but the axle-boxes were re-metalled and machined. Generally, the brake gear etc was re-bushed and so on. The fittings overhauled and of course new pannier tanks.
It was hoped the job would have been even quicker but, as with most overhauls these days, the repair list got longer the further the project went on. The costs came mainly out of revenue. The SDRA covered the cost of the material for the new pannier tanks from the proceeds of an Annual Draw.
Now that the 13 is back in traffic, next up should see 1420 being a focus of attention in the workshops. The chassis is well advanced and in good condition as a result of the major work carried out on it at its last major overhaul when the rear end of the frames were renewed.
The 14’s boiler, though, is a different kettle of fish and requires major replacements. The copper for a new inner firebox is on order and the steel for a new front tube-plate, new barrel, front throat-plate and outer wrapper are to hand. A new back-head has already been pressed. The SDRA are funding the new materials required.
After 6412 had left for the WSR Autumn steam gala early in the week, then B&WR loco No. 4612 also left Buckfastleigh later for the WSR gala after having had a slipped tyre hastily replaced and some boiler repairs sorted by SDR Engineering against the clock. The job was squeezed in amongst finishing off 1369, probably in record time of about ten days, including stripping and reassembly and a test run to Totnes and back. The loco team from Bodmin also helped us to make it happen.