4079 “Pendennis Castle ”

Latest News - December 2009

Since February’s update a great deal of progress has been made with the restoration of No. 4079. The tender has moved even closer to a finished vehicle. The internal pipe work for the water scoop has been removed and the hole in the floor of the tank blanked off. This will have the benefit of increasing the locomotive’s water reserves which is obviously of great benefit on the main line. The scoop casting itself has been restored and awaits a new scoop ‘blade’ to put it back to rights. The pipe and flange which connects it to the tender is very badly corroded and the newly acquired set of electrically powered rollers was used for the first time to begin the fabrication of its replacement. The tender has also been fitted with the pipes, valves and connectors that are required to connect it to water supplies such as hydrants and road side tankers in preparation for her main line operation. The mammoth job of preparing the sides of the tank to get the best possible finish on them continues. It is one of those jobs that just seem endless. Filling, painting rubbing down, filling, painting, rubbing down... you get the idea! We are determined that she look every inch the great GWR express locomotive that she is and it just takes a lot of time and effort to get there.

The boiler has made excellent progress as well. Dean Engineering were engaged to manufacture the new super heater flue tubes and this entailed the machining of the new bottle ends that screw into the firebox tube plate. These were then welded to the ends of the boiler tubes and they have now been screwed into the tube plate by members of the restoration team. They now await the ordering and delivery of the small tubes so that our boiler expert, Peter Gransden and his team can expand and bead them into place. The boiler is now looking very close to completion and requires new cladding sheets to go with the new crinolines that already await the locomotive’s completion. The new rolls may yet have other uses.

The locomotive frames and motion also have made great strides forwards. The engine now sports a fully restored set of cross heads and these have been joined to newly refurbished connecting rods as well. The inside connecting rods were challenging as they are not easy to manoeuvre in the confined space between the frames – even with the boiler out. One was particularly recalcitrant requiring a series of fittings – seriously tiring work but rewarding when it is completed. The eccentrics are also now connected to the expansion links via their attendant rods. The reverser mechanism has been cleaned and refurbished – the biggest problem found was that the thread that the nut screws onto that retains the handle of the reverser was badly damaged. This was built up and re - machined in order to prevent the embarrassing and potentially dangerous possibility of it coming adrift. The 5 ton saddle casting that received the complex and expensive repair to the exhaust steam pipe flange has been re-fitted. It is a testimony to the quality of the original engineering of the loco that the fit was so tight it took an entire day’s worth of hammering and cajoling to get the thing back in place. No. 4079 provides yet another very tiring but rewarding experience! Attention is now turning to the biggest stumbling block of the entire mechanical overhaul – the valve and cylinder liners. The test castings for the liners were recently received and after what seemed like an almost herculean effort to get the very heavy cylinder liner casting up the entrance stairs, the machining of the valve liner is ongoing.

The appeal continues to go well but we are still only at the half way point towards the steaming target of £60,000. There also still remains the £40,000 pounds required to take the queen of the Great Western back to the main line where she belongs so please continue to donate to the fund. We are winning the battles but the war to return Pendennis Castle to life continues. With your help we will achieve the goal that has been the dream of not just GWR fans like the restoration team and the society but rail enthusiasts all over the UK.

How you can help

Progress may not always have been as speedy as we would have liked but it has been steady and always in line with income received. Much of this has been achieved as a result of the regular payments which many members make by Bankers Order, often linked to the Gift Aid scheme, plus occasional donations.

There are two ways in which you may assist: any donation at this stage will be most welcome and will allow us to finish the work without having to resort to borrowing. Alternatively you may feel able to take out a Bankers Order to provide a boost to the regular income on which the Project relies for its long term completion.

If you would like further information on the project or feel that you could support Pendennis Castle by making a donation or regular monthly contributions, or joining the regular working parties, please contact: The Great Western Society, Didcot Railway Centre, Didcot, Oxfordshire, OX11 7NJ, England.
Tel: +44 (0) 1235 817200 or e-mail info@didcotrailwaycentre.org.uk

Download the Pendennis Castle appeal form (Word format)

Whatever help you are able to give will be most welcome and will move the Project forward considerably towards final completion.

Archive News - February 2009

‘Pendennis Castle’ is a legendary machine and she has a certain mystique about her. She has that extra something indefinable – perhaps it’s a sort of star quality (no pun intended!) or the fact that she spent so long away from the eyes of British enthusiasts. Ever since she beat Gresley’s A1s in the GWR/LNER exchange of 1925 she became a champion of the Great Western. A small team of dedicated workers, have toiled away in Didcot Locomotive Works for close on a decade now with one aim in mind – the return of the champion. So just what has caused the overhaul to take as long as it has?

The first and probably most important reason for the delay is just how tired and run down the engine was when it returned. This is not intended to be a disrespectful comment towards anyone that has been involved in her upkeep over the years but the locomotive was not the easy restoration project that everyone thought it would be. To the best of our knowledge she has not had a major mechanical overhaul since BR days. She was repaired and restored to GWR condition following failure on the famous 9th May 1964 railtour. Prior to that she had a Heavy Intermediate in mid 1961 and her last Heavy General was undertaken between July and September 1958! Boiler and other works were carried out both at Carnforth in 1977 and in Australia in 1984-87 but mechanical and structural work has been, on the whole remedial in nature which has allowed her to deteriorate mechanically. At no time in preservation has a full Heavy General been undertaken – until now. The second reason is that we took the decision early on that we should try and preserve as much of the historic fabric of the engine as we could. As it has not seen much overhaul work, a lot of the engine is in an ‘original’ state. We see it as vitally important that as much of this that can be saved as part of a working main line locomotive is put back on her for future generations to study and enjoy. We would not like to be thought of as tearing apart a machine such as ‘Pendennis’ and taking away her essential character and history. Thirdly, as far as possible, we are restoring the locomotive using traditional tools and methods in house at Didcot Works. This reduces costs and it makes us more skilled keepers for the engine into the future as well as increasing the sense of satisfaction that we get from doing the work but of course this takes time. We work on the engine on alternate Saturdays throughout the year and at other times as our personal schedules allow. Unlike a great many restorations, there are no full time workers on the project or regular weekly input and this means it will take longer to complete. It does however allow us to maintain our own personal commitments and fulfil our desire to be part of a major locomotive restoration.

The overhaul of ‘Pendennis’ is extensive and thorough. We would like to think that it is one of the most comprehensive that she will need for a significant time. With careful consideration to her operation and maintenance, she will not need such in depth work for a long time to come. Once the locomotive was checked for venomous Australian wildlife (wouldn’t you be cautious too?) and stripped down, the team was split up into several groups which have been set various mini projects that will one day all join up in the end to form a 1924 steam engine.

There were several areas of concern with the engine but thankfully the boiler wasn’t a major one. It has required (in GWS terms) little work and is all but ready for re-tubing, testing and re-commissioning. A new ashpan has been fabricated. The worst areas structurally were undoubtedly the cab floor and drag boxes on both the locomotive and the tender. This whole area required complete replacement. The front of tender structure and the whole cab floor area had to be replaced up to but not including the mainframes and the lower sections of the the cab sides were also wasted but instead of complete replacement, due to the fact that the cab sides are of an early date, we decided to just replace the lower sections. A previously welded cracked flange on the rear section of the smokebox saddle was found to have broken away and required a specialist repair off site. Whilst the saddle is not in the frames it makes the whole motion area far more accessible and it will not be replaced until the valve gear has been trial fitted. All her wheels required re-profiling and have been turned plus the tender wheels have been replaced with a set with better tyres that the Society had in stock. The bearing surfaces of the locomotive were in a terrible state and there are very few that were not beyond the wear tolerances stated in GWR documentation. We decided to ‘zero time’ her as far as possible and as a result the bearings and other moving surfaces have in the main been replaced. The axle boxes and bearings, suspension components and coupling rods have seen much attention and have been refitted to the locomotive. The crossheads are now the focus of attention of the motion gang and when finished, we will turn to the connecting rods.

Many of No. 4079’s fittings have been or are in the process of being overhauled. One area that has required complete replacement has been the injectors. The Australians, after having a great many problems, replaced them with units of a type with which they were more familiar. It has been decided that rather than take the costly step of making another exhaust steam injector, she will for the time being at least, run with two brand new live steam injectors. This will allow her to steam and will be relatively easy to remedy at a later date when time and funds allow. She was also fitted with steam operated cylinder cocks. These have been removed and a set of new GWR linkage operated units are being fabricated by one of our machinists. The engine’s cladding has seen extensive repair work as the dreaded tin worm had had its wicked way with many of the panels and these have received repairs as needed with all of the mounting holes at the front end having been repaired as necessary. The boiler crinolines were in a poor state and new ones have been fabricated. There are, of course, dozens of components and systems, small and large which have been and continue to require cleaning, repair and repainting. One area that is now rapidly reaching completion is the tender. The tank had fortunately been the subject of a major repair in Australia including a new set of baffles fitted in 1983. The rest has seen a great deal of work and is now in the throes of final reassembly prior to being repainted. The locomotive has not yet been cut down to conform to the Network Rail 13’ 1’’ loading gauge as this can only be done accurately when the full weight of the engine is bearing down on her springs.  This will be done after the initial running in is undertaken, allowing us to display a full height ‘4073 Class’ Castle in operation. We are seriously considering the construction of new cab walls to prevent the original being irretrievably modified in the name of main line running and a similar procedure is mooted with the chimney although a loan of No. 5051’s for initial main line duties seems sensible.

As is to be expected with a restoration that has entailed far more work than was originally intended, the amount of time and money required to do the job has significantly increased. The boiler still requires the fitting of new tubes and other sundry items and all of the required insurance examinations, etc. We need to replace the main smokebox steam pipes; renewal of a number of the locomotive’s valve and cylinder liners and a new set of piston and valve rings are also needed. The new main line equipment such as air brakes, OTMR, TPWS and other modifications will incur much expense as will the initial test and certification period. This, alongside the myriad of other purchases that will no doubt be incurred will add up to a tidy sum. To date the restoration costs have been in the region of £100,000 plus some 20,000 hours of voluntary labour but we still need at least another £60,000 to let her steam, plus a further £40,000 in order to prepare her for the main line. We WILL complete her but we need your help. We have launched a new appeal in order that No. 4079 might be completed sooner rather than later and we would be most grateful for any donations, large or small. We would like to think that you appreciate the ethos behind our team and the care and attention that we apply to our ‘Great Western’. The estimates may have been inadequate but it is our sincere hope that within a few years, we can unleash ‘Pendennis Castle’ upon the main line to do what she does best. She is a legendary machine and we also hope you can join us in supporting this internationally important restoration. When completed, Team 4079 and the Society as a whole, will be able to take great pride in sharing the results of a 20,000 mile, decade long journey from Swindon’s prodigal daughter to the regaining of her rightful place as queen of the GWR main line.

How you can help

Progress may not always have been as speedy as we would have liked but it has been steady and always in line with income received. Much of this has been achieved as a result of the regular payments which many members make by Bankers Order, often linked to the Gift Aid scheme, plus occasional donations.

There are two ways in which you may assist: any donation at this stage will be most welcome and will allow us to finish the work without having to resort to borrowing. Alternatively you may feel able to take out a Bankers Order to provide a boost to the regular income on which the Project relies for its long term completion.

If you would like further information on the project or feel that you could support Pendennis Castle by making a donation or regular monthly contributions, or joining the regular working parties, please contact: The Great Western Society, Didcot Railway Centre, Didcot, Oxfordshire, OX11 7NJ, England.
Tel: +44 (0) 1235 817200 or e-mail info@didcotrailwaycentre.org.uk

Download the Pendennis Castle appeal form (Word format)

Whatever help you are able to give will be most welcome and will move the Project forward considerably towards final completion.

 

Page last updated:31-Dec-2009