Watercress Line

80150 - Giant Steps

So much has happened since the last blog that it’s difficult to know where to start. Buoyed up by our successes at cleaning and painting the cab area and with more and more volunteers turning up, we have been able to turn our attention to other areas of the locomotive. The inside of the bunker was first for consideration and Vaughan has done a splendid job of descaling and painting. In line with what is becoming a common theme, its condition is remarkably good considering it has been exposed to the elements for the best part of 52 years. Mike has “adopted” the front end and with new paintwork on the buffer beam and frames it looked rather splendid in a recent photo in Steam Railway magazine. Richard has started from the back end and is gradually working his way along the “dark side” which is similarly gleaming.

Using money raised by our heroic sales stand team and aided by a most generous donation of tools by a group member, we have been able to access the electricity supply 50 yards away from the loco and this has speeded us up considerably.

The aim of making the locomotive moveable has not been forgotten and with the help of our friends from the Alresford C&W department we were able to transport and then manhandle the two ex-75079 leaf springs down to the locomotive ready to be fitted to the rear bogie. New spring links will need to be made but this is in hand.

Although our principal remit is to conserve the locomotive, it has become apparent that we will be able to achieve much more than that. We have access to the original BR drawings and having raised funds to buy materials, we are now gradually replacing missing parts which will improve access and safe working on the loco. The 75079 group had already made a set of front steps for 80150 and these were fitted in June. Since then, Jonny has been busy making a brand new set of cab steps and rear steps which have now also been fitted to the loco. If you are considering donating to the 80150 project, it’s worth noting that significant components can be made for not very much money – the material cost for the rear and cab steps was less than £100! We have our own fundraising page on the website now http://preservation.watercressline.co.uk/support#s1238

The latest work has involved descaling, cleaning and painting the wheels and tanks which is proceeding well. There are a few corrosion holes in the tops of the tanks but the bases and sides look generally sound. Another component we have acquired is a new handbrake handle (modified from a 9F water scoop handle) and we are busy working on freeing the handbrake mechanism. The damper assembly has now been removed from the loco and taken to Ropley for overhaul.

Next on our wish-list will be to fabricate and replace the missing platework from the front of the locomotive, which includes the centre platform, the right-hand running board step (we have one in store for the left side) and the angled cover plate up to the smokebox. Again, this will make 80150 safer to work on but has the additional benefit of providing a permanent cover for the pony truck which appears to be in excellent condition.

Until next time….

Martin 

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