Well here goes with the first offering off the presses of the new team heading the new build BR Standard class 3 tank engine project. This is the same scheme introduced to the world at large in 1998 by John Besley, a South Devon Railway fireman and we are here now at his request following his decision in early 2003 to reduce his railway activities. It is our belief that a BR Standard class 3 tank engine is the ideal locomotive for everyday timetabled services on many of the UK's heritage railways and as such was too good an idea to be allowed to fizzle out.
John Besley had formed a merger with the new build BR class 6 pacific (Clan) group. However this merger has now been disbanded by mutual agreement leaving both projects free to press ahead with their own individual identities.
As Severn Valley Railway people it was always our hope that 82045 could find a home on the Severn Valley Railway and we are encouraged by the support and advice received from there during talks in recent months.
John Besley had acquired various second hand parts a selection of which includes the chimney off 77014, a set of buffers, a pair of boiler water level gauges, sanding equipment and he had also had various new parts manufactured such as the drivers vacuum brake valve, firehole doors, cab door catches, all foot steps and handrails for the bunker. This is not an exhaustive list but just a hint of past activity. All these parts have now moved from Devon to Cheshire. John had also been busy on the engineering drawings front and we have continued with this.
We are members of the BR Standard Locomotive Owners Group and that organization has a favourable arrangement for its members with the National Railway Museum at York for access to engineering drawings for BR Standard locomotives.
We have obtained approximate costings for all major components of the locomotive and are at present awaiting a detailed estimate from a well known UK steam engineering company in respect of a boiler with copper firebox. More about this in the next newsletter. We are also awaiting a quote for the fabrication of the drivers pedestal from an engineering company in South Wales. We are negotiating for a pair of 5' 3" BR Standard driving wheels which have survived to the present day. However there is a possibility that the owner may require a replacement pair of steam locomotive wheels in exchange, although the type and condition may not be too important.
The main priority for the present time is to recruit new members and attract additional funding. The drawings exist, the engineering expertise exists within the UK, but for a BR class 3 tank engine to exist again we need money.
From little acorns big oaks can and do grow and we believe that the 82045 project is a winner, both in its own right - it is the only current new build plan aimed specifically at creating a modest locomotive suitable for operating on a heritage railway - and in the longer term interests of operating standard gauge steam in the UK.