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Bluebell Motive Power

Discussion in 'Steam Traction' started by Orion, Nov 14, 2011.

  1. Jdwitts

    Jdwitts New Member

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    What sort of condition is 541 in? I seem to recall reading that it is being given a light overhaul with the hope that it will be in service for 5/6 years, but could be mistaken on that. I guess this would count as a 'large' loco(?) as last time it was in service it seemed pretty happy hauling a full compliment of MK1's.
     
  2. David-Haggar

    David-Haggar New Member

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    It's being given a mini or "quickie" overhaul so it'll steam for only about 5 years, although Lewis did say on the Bluebell group that after the 5 years the condition of the loco will be assessed so hopefully they can get another couple of years out of it. I guess Tom can probably give us a more accurate update on 541 please?
     
  3. std tank

    std tank Member

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    Surely the number of years it runs is down to the boiler inspector passing it as fit to run initialy and at each of the subsequent 14 monthly inspections.
     
  4. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    Yes and no. If the boiler keeps passing its inspection, and nothing else breaks, then she will keep running, possibly up to ten years (or even beyond that, as 80151 did).

    However, Bluebell policy (as stated in the past by Lewis) is that during a restoration, not everything is returned to "brand new" condition, particularly if it is felt there is worthwhile life left in a component. That makes snese when you think about components like cylinders, tyres etc which have finite working lives, but those lives are longer than 10 years. So for example, we reckon locomotive tyres have approximately 40 years' life on our railway. But if during overhaul you looked at the tyres and reckoned they had, say, 6 years' left, then what do you do? Basically one of three things:

    - Replace them during the overhaul, which means you throw 6 years of life away
    - Don't replace them, and try to manage the mileage run to eek them out for ten years
    - Don't replace them, and reckon on the engine having a useful life of, say, 6 rather than 10 years - and then being pleased that anything extra is a bonus

    In practice we try to steer a course between the second and third options. So 541 is having a "quickie" overhaul that should see it last five years: it might last longer if it is nursed a bit. My understanding is that the main issue is actually with the tender, where both the frames and the body are near life expired. (The tank is still the original she had when she came out of Barry AFAIK). Conceivably (enters Maunsell tender-compatibility minefield), if the tender did fail in five years time but the rest of the engine was still sound, she could borrow one from one of the U Boats.

    You win some, lose some with that policy. 178 went back into service with known cylinder problems. We got two or three years out of her, but then they failed. Fortunately, a liner (which is a temporary repair, not a permanent one) had already been procured, so the time out of service was unfortunate, but not massively long. But the liner is really to see her to the end of her "ten years". After that, she will certainly need new cylinders. Had the failure occurred maybe 8 or 9 years into her ticket, she probably wouldn't have had the repair done with the liner: that is what happened to 9017 - when she had boiler problems about 8 years into a ticket, the rest of her was sufficiently worn out that it wasn't worth repairing the boiler, just to run the risk that something else broke afew months later.

    I think what this whole discussion does show is just how complex running a big heritage railway is, and the kind of trade-offs and compromises that have to be made. Should we do a proper job on 541 now? Probably yes, but we need her next year, not in 2014 or 2015. Will that decision be more expensive in the long term - possibly, but how do you quantify the cost of not having enough engines to run the service? Should we put more money into the loco works? Yes, but where is that money going to come from? Hopefully increased passenger revenue when we get to EG, but there will be a lag between any increased revenue and the ability to translate that cash into extra engines.

    There is a school of thought that reckons actually our most pressing need in the loco department is to put money into relaying Freshfield Bank, because the number of broken springs that need replacing is expensive both in cash and, even worse, loss of workshop productivity restoring engines. (We still have LBSCR chairs in places in the loco yard, which shows just how old some of the track is. Lots of Freshfield Bank is still as left by BR, and we have been running for fifty two years since then). But relaying track costs something like £350,000 per mile just for materials and in any case, our skilled P/Way workforce are fully committed "up north". And anyway, with a year-round operation, when do you find the time to close the line to do a proper job on Freshfield Bank? We could close between say Christmas and Easter to do the job once and for all, but that hits revenue...

    Bean Counter would probably agree: running a railway is a seriously complex business, and whatever you do (short of having a generous benefactor drop a spare £10million or so into your lap, saying "get on with it") will probably upset more people than it pleases. I don't envy the directors and trustees...

    Tom
     
  5. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    Now confirmed - 3650 is coming on 26th Sept and staying until the end of the year.

    Tom
     
  6. A1X

    A1X Member

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    A Pannier eh? Very Folkestone Harbour.

    Still, nice to see a new class visiting. Don't recall a Pannier visiting before..?
     
  7. cct man

    cct man New Member

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    Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah, Stepneys here again, welcome back Chris:

    Regards
    Chris:
     
  8. 46118

    46118 New Member

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    Just to confirm, 3650 was stopped recently at the SVR and required a metal stitching repair to a cylinder, but this was carried out quickly by a specialist and was soon back in service. Was certainly working through last weekend's SVR Gala. Great little engine. Had a superb ride behind it a few weeks ago one quiet Saturday. Struggled a little with the heavier coach sets, but should be ideal on the Bluebell.
     
  9. Dan Hill

    Dan Hill Member

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    Not that I know of. Small Prairie 4561 (in 1996), Larger Prairie 5199 (in 2008), 14xx 1450 (again in 2008), 3440 City of Truro (in 2006) are all GWR loocos that have visited the Bluebell (that I can remember anyway).
     
  10. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    Not forgetting 9017 of course!

    The larger GWR outside cylinder engines tend to be a bit tight for our platforms, especially 4/5 at HK. I seem to recall 5199 was banned from that route, which at least kept the signalmen on their toes...

    Tom
     
  11. Dan Hill

    Dan Hill Member

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    I was only counting the visitors but yes there is 9017. I think most GWR locos have been banned from Platform's 4/5. I think it was the same story for 3440.
     
  12. Funnell

    Funnell New Member

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    3650 was unloaded this morning at Sheffield Park, in the pouring rain. She faces North.
     
  13. David-Haggar

    David-Haggar New Member

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    Many thanks for the update, do you know if 3650 would be operating this Saturday by chance?
     
  14. David-Haggar

    David-Haggar New Member

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    Apologies for the shameless plug but just to say that my Dad's article re:Final Years of Steam at Eastbourne is featured in this October's edition of British Railways Illustrated on pages 42-47. The magazine should be in the shops this Friday.

    Cheers
     
  15. Pannier Man

    Pannier Man New Member

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    So far I've been told 3650's steam test and FTR are scheduled for next week (which I'll be there for), so the earliest would be Sat 6th (unless something un-toward happens and 3650 is needed earlier).
     
  16. David-Haggar

    David-Haggar New Member

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    Thanks for letting us know, the wife and her mum have planned to go shopping this Saturday and with the weather looking potentially half decent I was hoping it was going to be running. However fingers crossed for Sat 6th for the Pannier hauling her first service trains.


    Cheers
     
  17. Dan Hill

    Dan Hill Member

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    Off topic but as David has brought it up has reminded me of a few things about the Cuckoo Line.

    I think you could go one better with the 'Hailsham Flyer' than 34059. If I'm not mistaken I saw one or two images of 34027 Taw Valley in a book on her on the Cuckoo Line with 2 coaches which is possibly the Hailsham Flyer David mentions. If 34027 could be brought back for a visit in a few years that would be a great sight to see. In one of the pictures 34027 is running tender first. Funny thing for me is that my Grandad now lives in Hailsham and I have had a little walk to Hellingly a few times with him on the Cuckoo Trail and also my other Grandparents have a friend who has one of the Heathfield totem signs.

    Anyway I think I'm going to plan a visit down to the line soon and have a trip or two behind the Pannier.
     
  18. David-Haggar

    David-Haggar New Member

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    Yes we certainly would love to see Taw Valley back at the Bluebell and in particular recreate a "Hailsham Flyer" type train combination. I've always felt it was a damn shame that no part of the Cuckoo Line ever managed to get preserved especially with some of the stiff gradients the line had. A Hailsham to Rotherfield preserved railway would've made a superb journey and I'm sure could've been right up there with the other premier league preserved lines. I guess though that with the Bluebell not that great distance away there just wasn't the support to save another closed down section of railway.
     
  19. John Petley

    John Petley Well-Known Member

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    Absolutely - the Cuckoo Line would have made a wonderful preserved line - gradients almost as steep as the NYMR, superb sceenery and the potential for some local traffic from Heathfield and Hailsham to Polegate. The recently-publiushed DVDs of the line in the 1960s just prove the point of what a lovely line it was. To me, the Cuckoo line comes in the S&DJR/Waverley route category as one of the saddest losses to the national network. I did talk to a Spa Valley volunteer a few years back who expressed hope of entending from Eridge southwards. I'm sure he was not talking in any sort of official capacity, and the obstacles to reaching Rotherfield & Mark Cross, let alone "Mayfield North Parkway" are immense. The run-round at Eridge is challenge enough for the Spa Valley at the moment! Still, we can but dream......
     
  20. WB2624

    WB2624 New Member

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    The Hawkhurst branch would also have made an excellent preserved line - some steep gradients, a good length at about 10 miles or so with beautiful scenery and even the possibility of commuter traffic to/from Paddock Wood. BR did in fact offer the line to the original KESR Preservation Society when it looked like that railway would not be able to be preserved. At that time the 01, C class and H class would have been available - now that could well have been a 'premier league' railway!

    Nigel
     

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