T&I News 25 2019...

T&I News 25 2019…

Having featured buses quite extensively in recent weeks, we return, in this post, to matters of steam, with some updates on locomotive projects underway at or on behalf of Beamish…

A reminder that with the new WordPress format, the captions are now below the images!


It has been a little while since Dunrobin’s comprehensive restoration was updated on here, so these notes are intended to serve as an update on progress and look ahead to developments over the next 12 – 16 months on this project.

Dunrobin’s new tanks have been primed and undercoated, as seen here. It is easy to forget about just how much work has already been completed on the locomotive – and items such as these will ensure its longevity in use at Beamish.
Longevity wasn’t quite in mind when the new coupled wheelsets were manufactured, but we really had no choice! We also have brand new wheels, with new crankpins, front axle and crank axle-stubs so should be able to look forward to very many years of service from this investment…
Progress on the boiler is also notable, with the front angle ring riveted onto the barrel, as seen here.
A side view of the new angle ring, as attached to the new barrel.
Looking through the barrel, it is easy to see just how much new metal there is in this boiler now – only the outer wrapper of the firebox (at the bottom here!) and the backhead are original. The stay holes have been bushed and the lower sections of the outer wrapper replaced (see next photos).
The inner firebox (left) has been riveted back together, ready for fitting into the boiler. This view shows the bushed stay holes in the outer wrapper (the section presenting its face to the photograph above). Note the new outer wrapper, painted white, without the bushes evident to restore the original stay size.
The new girder stays have been fitted to the inner, copper, firebox.
The new foundation ring has been fitted to the inner firebox, and now to the outer firebox, as shown here. It is bolted, in readiness for riveting when the inner box is placed within it. Again the weld lines where the outer wrapper has been replaced can clearly be seen.
With the foundation ring in place, the new side plates are being dressed to profile, the stub shown here showing the previous profile.
A view of the barrel, now riveted into the throatplate, and also another view of the bushed stay holes and new outer wrapper sections. The boiler is also receiving a new regulator J pipe, as well as new longitudinal stays. Needless to say, new tubes are also being fitted and a new regulator rod will also be included. In reality this leaves very little of the original boiler left, and what components there are left over have been very heavily rebuilt. This shows the reality of repairing Victorian (and later) steam boilers. However, the near £100,000 investment in the boiler will ensure we have a vessel that should, particularly with the use of water treatment, endure for decades to come.

Of course, the inevitable question arises – when will Dunrobin steam again? At this stage we are cautious about making any commitment to a date, but early 2021 would seem to be realistic based on current progress and maintaining the momentum of work. At the point of launch at Beamish we will have owned the locomotive for nearly ten years – which really does show that these projects can be beset with delays and challenges that cannot be foreseen in the outset. A new cylinder block and new coupled wheels were not in the plan! However, the objective has always been to produce the very highest quality of work and a reliable locomotive that will serve Beamish for many many years to come – and I think we are very much on track for that. Wheels apart, it is also matching its budget projections well, which is something of a comfort!

Kerr Stuart 721

Having described the work to investigate the condition of the ex Dundee Gas Works 0-4-0WT previously, here are a couple of views showing the strip-down underway to enable the locomotive’s condition to be assessed with a view to possible restoration to working order.

721 has a very small boiler!
One of the challenges for any potential restoration of 721 will be extracting the well tank (which sits between the frames beneath the smokebox saddle) for repairs to a fairly significant puncture to the front side (no doubt the close proximity to the coupling and buffer beam is not unrelated!). The actual mechanical element of 721, once the enormous overhang to the rear of the back axle, is even more compact and diminutive than it looks with the boiler in place.
This is what sits between the frames, and is largely hidden with the boiler in situ.
Zoe, who’s apprentice-piece this project may become, washes out the boiler as part of the assessment process.


This winter Samson is receiving some modifications… Recently the slide valve was investigated to see if it could be part of the reluctance to start (as a single cylinder locomotive this is important!) and also apparent lack of power. Following some measurement at the suggestion of a number of traction engine operators who encountered Samson in Kent during its visit to the Richmond Light Railway, it was decided to shorten the valve by 1/16″ at each end – the result has transformed Samson into a much stronger locomotive and one far happier to set off without the previous centring problems.

The locomotive has been placed onto the flat waggon within the Colliery Engine Works for display this winter (and for its annual boiler exam). Whilst here, some other work is being carried out in light of operating experience. One element, given the new power available, is increasing the weight at the front end. We are going to have a cast buffer-beam with projecting buffing face, to better recreate that fitted to the original Samson and also to add substantial weight to keep the front end down. The additional power has increased the tendency to rear up when starting, as well as for the locomotive to slip (it was never powerful enough to achieve this previously!). The rear bufferbeam will also be modified, along with the tender drawbar arrangement to make a more satisfactory arrangement for propelling loads in reverse.

Additionally I am planning to complete the white lining on the front boiler band – one of those jobs that never quite got finished! It will also make Samson 2.0 more readily identifiable! We also hope to improve the blower arrangement to create a more efficient design. It is anticipated that Samson will see more use in coming years, and it really has to be a more capable performer in the hands of a wider variety of crews, whence the continued resolve to develop and refine the locomotive’s performance.

Samson is seen atop the flat waggon within the Colliery Engine Works, sans front buffer beam and prepared for boiler examination.

Annual Boiler Exams

As well as overhaul work, this time of year sees an intensive effort to prepare the working locomotive fleet for annual boiler examination. This firstly entails stripping the fittings required to grant access for internal examination. The firebars/ashpans will be removed and the locomotives are also cleaned. Once the boiler inspector has made a cold examination, he will return once the boilers have been reassembled to witness them in steam. Upon completion of that test, the new period of insurance commences again and runs for 14 months. We actually work to a 12 month inspection so as to avoid engines being out of service during the summer months.

Coffee Pot No.1 and No.18 are seen inside the Colliery Engine Works following cleaning and preparation for their annual cold boiler examination.

From the Machine Shop…

These aluminium castings have been produced to enable repair of the commonly seen Davy lamps used around the Museum. Fresh from the foundry (on the right), the castings await drilling of mounting holes and then installation onto the light fittings.
Matt has been pushing Gateshead 10’s overhaul forwards personally, and has now manufactured new frame stretcher stays for the bogies. The aim is to progress the bogies towards a trial reassembly in first part of 2020. They can then be dismantled for painting before final assembly sees the completion of these components.
Dave Young has received more homework – these castings being handed over late last week for machining…
Dave completed the work over the weekend – they are fittings for the water system of the Savage Centre Engine ‘May Queen’.


A recent and very exciting arrival at Beamish has been a consignment of overhead electrical equipment (OLE) from New Zealand. We have taken this opportunity to increase our spares stocks as we probably won’t get such a good opportunity again and were very fortunate that upon closure of the Wellington Trolleybus system on the North Island in 2017 a lot of equipment was made available to the Wellington Tramway Museum. Not requiring it all for their own purposes they made a list available globally, to all interested parties, from which we were able to select a quantity of suitable spares and items for future development. We are enormously grateful to the WTM for sharing their ‘bounty’ and in particular to Allan Neilson there, who took so much trouble to arrange the purchase and packaging of our equipment.

Two cases of components were delivered to Beamish (along with items that are continuing their journey to our colleagues in another museum). There is a myriad of items, including fittings and fastenings, frog (the points on the wires for route changes) components and insulators.
Just some of the contents of one crate – being inspected and assimilated into the existing tramway OLE stores…