Dunrobin - summer 2023 update

Dunrobin – summer 2023 update

I’ve covered recent progress on Dunrobin’s restoration/overhaul in numerous posts, but being aware of the very specific interest in this locomotive, thought a summary of current progress in a single post would be useful.

Below: Looking at the striking livery of Deep Bronze Green with black and straw embellishments, it is worth recalling that these wheels (and tyres plus front axle) are brand new!  They were produced when it was discovered that the original coupled wheels were extensively cracked, and beyond economic repair.  The were manufactured for the project by South Devon Railway Engineering, and should last another century or more, giving Dunrobin the best chance of having a long working life ahead of it.

Below: The bogie wheels were in good condition, and the work on the bogie has been confined to a general overhaul, before repainting.  The cast pedestal which locates it under the rear end of the locomotive’s frames has required repair, being cracked through some unknown occurrence in the locomotive’s history.

Below:  The frames are seen here in the late spring, with the (new) cylinder block being aligned and fitted permanently.  The items associated with this alignment are seen across the open cylinder ends and also in the trailing coupled wheel hornguides (the bar projecting from the gap in the frames).  By this stage the frames had been externally painted and lining applied.

Below: A closer view of the new cylinder block – a substantial cost within the project that will be all-but invisible once the work is completed.  Again, we hope that such investment will create longevity, especially given the light duties the locomotive will enjoy for most of the time.

Below: A gathering of items, being prepared for fitting to the locomotive, or assessment for what repairs are needed.  The two sandboxes are particularly noticable in the foreground, and the front coupled-wheel splashers are to the right of them.

Below: The crankshaft is original, but has been overhauled and the journals skimmed.  The trailing coupled wheelset also has has the axleboxes sat on the journals in readiness for the frames being placed back onto them.

Below: At the beginning of June, 4085’s frames were lowered onto the coupled wheels and bogie – an assembly that is now permanent.  This marks a great step in the progress of the project as the locomotive’s overhauled components begin to come together.  Also of note here is the removal of the bunker/rear cab, which is to be replaced as the metal is fairly thin in the original components, and would have compromised the water tank at the base of the bunker, as well as rendering the coal space liable to perforation.

Below: The frames in the process of being lowered onto the wheelsets and bogie…

Below: The valve gear has received a great deal of attention already, the crosshead being seen following completion and awaiting installation (since completed).  Assembly of the motion/valve gear will form the next phase of work at Bridgnorth.

Below:  With the slidebars fitted and aligned, the crossheads are now in place.  Also of note are the seals around the axle collar/axlebox interface, to prevent accumulation of dirt and dust on the journals.

Below: A wider view of the slidebars and cylinder block in place.  In Canada, various means had been contrived to provide a lubrication system that could be used without a pit.  These modifications have been removed and the original (or close to) specification has been restored.

Below: The lubrication pipes for the bogie have been made, and terminated at the brass oil box, mounted on the frames.

Below: The bunker/cab components following removal and before dispatch to enable them to be copied and replaced, work that will be sub-contracted.

Below: New tanks and cabsides have already been manufactured by the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railway, and are stored at Bridgnorth in readiness for assembly onto the frames.  These were made a few years ago and have been given a protective coat of green paint – they will, of course, be fully repainted when fitted onto the locomotive.

Below: Progress on the boiler has reached the stage where it can readily be completed and tested.  The inner firebox has now been fitted and manufacture of stays is underway.  Further information on this can be found in the post for which the link appears further down this page.

For now, we are refraining from announcing any likely completion date for Dunrobin, but as you can see, the end is very much in sight, and is aligned with the planned reinstatement of steam operations at Rowley Station in 2025.  As with all transport news at Beamish, do keep checking the blog for the latest news…

Readers may be interested in this earlier review of the project’s progress.  They will also find all relevant posts under the heading ‘Dunrobin’, to the top left of this page.  I’ve noticed a few errors creeping into the specialist press reports regarding Dunrobin, not least the date it left Kent for Canada (which was 1965).

Dunrobin – ten years on…

With thanks to Duncan Ballard and Will Marsh for photographs included in this post.