The two sections of boiler barrel have now been riveted together and the position of the dome marked out. The front ring of the smokebox has also been riveted into the wrapper and this has lead to the door being fitted and the hand rails. The smokebox has been placed on the saddle in the chassis and the chimney has been fitted. This is not a permanent fitting as the smokebox has to be fitted to the boiler barrel first before being properly secured to the saddle.
Some castings have been received for the reversing mechanism and machining is in progress. Some forgings are also involved in this component and various other machined parts.
The ashpan damper adjustment control mechanisms have been made.
Axlebox work continues as always.
I can say in all truthfulness that hardly a week has gone by in the life of the project that has not seen a lot of sheer hard graft, often unsung, often with little to show the casual observer. This has been particularly true over the past couple of years, during which the loco build has sometimes appeared to be grindingly slow, with the odd flurry of excitement when the bunker and cab were fitted, giving visitors a welcome flash of lined green bling. As is often the case, appearances are deceptive, and the huge amount of input needed in building 82045 cannot be underestimated. To give you just one example, our colleague Richard Fraser deserves a gong for the dogged patience he's demonstrated month in, month out on the interminable job of machining the engine's axle boxes from their original castings. All this work has been carried out quietly and out of sight of the public, and he must be feeling relieved that it is now nearly at an end. Two boxes have already been trial-fitted, with excellent results, and I'm sure that the most exacting Swindon machinist would be proud of the quality of the final job. This means that the wheeling of the chassis cannot now be far off.
That will be a momentous day in the life of the 82045 project, but in the meantime there is plenty to be pleased about. As you will see from the photographs in this month's updates, the locomotive now has its face: if you stand at the north (smokebox) end of our construction site, in line with the black shed, and half-close your eyes, you can almost imagine that a Riddles Class 3MT tank is back in the land of the living, especially when Dave Bates has been at work with his oily rags and smoke is belching from the chimney (qv). Open your eyes and move to one side, though, and the illusion is shattered by the yawning gap between smokebox and cab front! Nevertheless, this too will soon be addressed thanks to the efficiency of the SVR's Works Manager, Neil Taylor. Neil only took up office in late 2016, and up to now he has delivered on every promise he made us at the beginning of this year: the boiler barrel is riveted and work on the firebox is scheduled to start in the early autumn, with a view to our having the complete (but untubed) boiler and firebox unit by next summer. The fact that we can rely on Neil's support is a wonderful boost, and I for one feel happier about the project than I have for the last couple of years. Best not to say any more, perhaps, except that work is also proceeding apace on the side tanks at the WHR's Dinas shops, so with luck there should be a bit more lined green to show you before too long.
All this, of course, doth not an engine make, but it does demonstrate that 82045 is well on course to be one of the next new build engines to steam. We've done well financially - thanks both to the generosity of our supporters and to the skills of our engineering team - but there are no grounds for complacency, and so you should look out for a fair old 82045 show in the next-but-one issue of one of the leading hobby magazines. Again, I'm remaining stumm for the time being!
Some you win, some you don't, as the saying goes, and prospects are not looking great for the special train we have been planning in memory of Paul Anderson. We worked out that we would need to sell a minimum of eighty tickets to make the event worth running, both from a financial point of view and also so that passengers are not rattling around in two-thirds-empty coaches. Up to now, sales amount to about fifty, and Barbara Massau and I have to make a decision within the next week to ten days as to whether we proceed or not. If you would like a ticket, please get in touch with Barbara as soon as possible. If we have not sold enough tickets by the middle of August, we will start to organise refunds for those who had hoped to travel. I think it's a case of "back to the drawing board" with this one: we still plan to do something for Paul, but will need to have another think if we don't achieve our target.
82045 front end on “Peep Behind The Scenes” day. Photo: Tony Massau
Boiler barrel in the boiler shop after riveting. Photo: Tony Massau
View of 82045 with smokebox and chimney in situ. Photo: Tony Massau
Patterns and some castings for the driver’s reversing mechanism, including the handwheel for another locomotive organisation. Photo: Tony Massau
View of the upside down chimney, vacuum ejector exhaust ring and petticoat prior to fitting to the smokebox. Photo: Tony Massau