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Help Please! Canadian Pacific boiler shop update

In the previous overhaul update, we mentioned that the condition of Canadian Pacific’s firebox was worse than previously anticipated.  In this blog post we look at the extent of the condition and what we are planning to do about it – and how you can help us. 

The firebox holds and contains the locomotive’s fire. It is a structure composed of two layers of metal plate known as the inner and outer firebox.  They are held together by a vast number of stays (around 2200). Water passes between the inner and outer firebox, an extra element to add to the intense heat that it is subject to.  Over the past few months a huge amount of effort has been put into drilling out the stays from the firebox to dismantle it and so reveal the condition of the plate in between inner and out firebox.  Unfortunately, what has been revealed is that the condition of the firebox is much worse than was indicated by pre-overhaul analysis.  Indeed, the inner firebox is in horrendous condition.

In the case of Merchant Navy class locomotives, the firebox is made of steel (rather than copper as is used on many other types).  Although a cheaper metal than copper, Steel is particularly susceptible to corrosion by water, especially when used with hard and often untreated water over a long lifetime of use.  We have found that the levels of corrosion inside Canadian Pacific’s inner firebox is very significant.  As more plate was cut away, the option to repair existing plate became less attractive, due to the lack of plate in good condition.  It is for this reason that we have made the decision to replace the inner firebox.  Considering the longer term running of CanPac and learning from experiences of similar repairs conducted elsewhere, we feel that it is most sensible decision.

Replacing the inner firebox has repercussions both in terms of cost and timescales.  This is why we need your support more than ever. Please help us fulfil the aim of our project to bring our flagship steam locomotive back to life.  We have launched a “sponsor a stay” campaign.  Each stay costs on average £25 and so you can sponsor stays in multiples of £25.  To sponsor a stay please click here or download, fill in and post the below form.

We've got a number of pictures and two videos of CanPac’s boiler being turned.  The video above shows the boiler being lifted in preparation for the turn whilst the turn itself is shown below.

To find out more about the Canadian Pacific project, check out our new website at www.watercressline.co.uk/canpac.  We are still accepting other donations for the project, so please click here to do so.  Finally, to sign up to our newsletter, please click here,

Photo gallery

  • Boiler and Firebox

  • Side of Firebox

  • Front View

  • Stays between the outer and inner firebox

  • Looking up inside the firebox

  • A view through the firebox and boiler with the back end cut out

  • CanPac's boiler awaiting to be pulled out into the sunshine to be turned

  • Mr Chambers at the controls of his wonderful crane

  • Another view of Ransome and Rapier 45 ton steam crane DS1580

  • The boiler being prepared for the lift

  • The boiler on its side

  • The boiler is inverted

  • The scale of the firebox can really be appreciated when inverted

  • The front view of the inverted boiler

Return to the Can Pac site