Dunrobin – Phase 1 of project announced

A year since I first met Dunrobin in the flesh and eight months since it returned to the UK we are very pleased to announce that the first phase of the restoration of this 1895 built locomotive will shortly commence following the awarding of the boiler overhaul contract to the Severn Valley Railway at their Bridgnorth works.
Readers of this blog will recall that the locomotive as sent directly to the SVR upon arrival from Canada and that a comprehensive strip down and examination was embarked upon to make sure that the boiler and other aspects of the overhaul to come didn’t contain any (or many!) nasty surprises. A competitive tendering process followed the issue of expressions of interest (the Pre Qualifying Questionnaires) and preparation of a detailed brief by myself. The work has been broken into phases to suit the potential funding available, largely drawn from Beamish’s income and surplus from the past year. The Severn Valley Railway produced a tender which was competitive and comprehensive and as a result, Phase 1, restoration of the boiler, has been awarded.
Work on the boiler will be extensive and includes the following: New boiler barrel sections, new front tubeplate, new smokebox (though retaining the front, door and chimney), replacement foundation ring, outer wrapper side sheets, all stays (longitudinal, side and girder types), replacement of the LMS type washout plugs, relocation of the fusible plug and numerous other items requiring attention. This will be a comprehensive project resulting in an as-new boiler, though incorporating the original copper inner firebox (which was fortunately in good condition though will be completely dismantled and re-rivetted).
So, what of the rest of the loco? The main areas of work to consider are replacement of the cylinder block (the original being life expired and it is deemed prudent to replace it at this stage in Dunrobin’s Beamish career), heavy overhaul of the frames, work on the wheels (including turning to UK profile) and repairs to the tanks, cab and bunker. There are also numerous small jobs to attend to and, of course, the re-application of the glorious deep green livery originally carried when owned by the Duke of Sutherland.

As can be seen this will continue to be an exciting and comprehensive project which will result in a locomotive restored to the old main line standard MT276 and which will hopefully delight visitors to Beamish and other heritage venues in the UK for many many years to come. It represents a major commitment by the Museum and do remember if you are visiting that all of the proceeds from the gate, shops, tea rooms and chip shop all goes towards projects such as this one. It is also anticipated that the Museum’s own development trust will be able to contribute to the scheme.
In parallel we are working to overhaul and recommission the Duke’s saloon, No.58A, again to a very high standard – greatly aided by its already very good condition.

The million dollar question – when will it be finished? Well, as with all steam locomotive restoration projects there are many caveats to any date we might suggest, but the spring of 2014 would seem to be realistic assuming continued availability of funding.

Meanwhile, work on the restoration of the Lewin is reaching its climax, the Forcett coach restoration should be complete this spring, the Hodbarrow side tipper restoration is nearly finished and progress continues on the 1913 Ruston portable. Add to this the new workshop developments (which are now being planned in detail), some forthcoming news from the tramway and the looming Great North Steam Fair event and it can be seen that there is plenty of interest to the transport enthusiast at Beamish at the moment!