North Eastern Locomotive Preservation Group

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J27 Blog

A log of activity concerning the J27.

Wednesday 9th May 2018


Just a short report this week. John Furness completed the painting and varnishing of the J27 on Tuesday. There are one or two small patches under the running plate which are our responsibility still needing attention, but Nigel Hall has those in hand. Nigel has also put a coat of black gloss on the BR style dome which remains in Deviation Shed. The locomotive has now been moved out of Deviation Shed and into the running shed, where a warming fire was due to be lit last night, ready for a second steam test today, essentially to check that the rectification work carried out on the safety valves had been successful and they could be set satisfactorily.

Subject to that, then the official steam test with the boiler inspector is scheduled for the morning of Monday 14th, which will be witnessed by Richard Pearson. He will also carry out a technical inspection on behalf of the Group, as part of the acceptance process. If those are all completed successfully, then it is the intention to keep the locomotive in steam all week for running up and down the yard, and, if that does not throw up any problems, then trips up and down the bank to Goathland in the spare timetable paths will follow as part of the running in process. Assuming all that goes to plan - and there are a number of ifs there - then playtime, for those who have indicated they want to have the opportunity, looks as if it is going to be next week. So be warned please. I know this is not convenient for all, but, dependent on how things go, there may be opportunities later on as running in progresses.

Once we have got past Monday, and have agreed arrangements with Piglet, I will email those concerned directly with the details. If anyone else wishes to be involved therefore, then please let me know before then.

I will circulate further progress (hopefully!) reports over the next few days as events unfold.



Wednesday 2nd May 2018


J27 at Grosmont ready for final painting by John Furness 2 May 2018 - Roy Marshall

Most of the work identified for rectification following the initial steam test has now been completed. Machining the safety valves has yet to be finished, and the nipping of a small leak in the steam pipe has yet to be tested before the bottom of the smokebox is concreted.

Weighing was successfully carried out on 1 May. The ash pan screens and basket have to be installed, along with one final union for the pipework in the cab. Piglet is planning to carry out another steam test in the latter part of next week, and the formal boiler inspector steam test has been arranged for 14 May. Subject to that being successful, running in can start, and, assuming no problems emerge, the J27 seems likely to be in service before the end of the month.

Playtime opportunities are dependent on the boiler inspector. If he is content that the J27 can be run up and down the MPD yard before 14 May, then it may be possible to do something towards the end of next week. If not, then it will be the week after, once the formal steam test has been successfully carried out. I will let know those who have indicated their wish to be involved as soon as I have anything definite. If anyone else wants to take up the opportunity, then please let me know as soon as possible.

In the meantime, the immediate focus is on finishing the painting of the locomotive. The back of the running shed was not suitable for that to be done, and while John Furness was able to prep the paintwork there, he wanted it moved to Deviation Shed once yesterday's rain had stopped, so he could work there uninterrupted. The rain duly stopped at lunchtime, and the traumas that occurred in making that move are recorded in my note on the Q6 activities yesterday (which I should correct in that it was the left hand side valve that was put in, not the right - the Q6 is smokebox first to Grosmont at the moment!) which I circulated this morning. While the J27 was stood outside the coaling plant waiting for the rest of the move to take place however, Roy Marshall took the attached photo for the record. It is now safely in Deviation Shed, and John Furness was going to give it a coat of black gloss today. He would then be back on Tuesday to varnish it, and once that has had an opportunity to harden, the second test steaming will take place.

In the interim, Devaition Shed will be open on Saturday, both for a Q6 working party, and also for the public 'Behind the Scenes Weekend'. It is important therefore that anyone there resists the temptation to touch the J27 paintwork or climb in the cab, either of which could damage the paintwork - hugely admire from afar please! Visitors will also be disappointed to see that the Shed inside swimming pool has disappeared.

Following the replacement of the missing guttering on Deviation Shed, the pit is now completely dry, in spite of the recent rain, and once we get a chance, the pit concrete floor can be swept and cleaned. The pump is also having a welcome break from action.


Friday 27th April 2018


A successful initial steam test has been held today. As expected, lots of little bits and pieces need adjustment and fettling, but Piglet said it was pretty good - the main measure of success was whether the fire had to be thrown out because problems had arisen: the J27 fire is still in!


The first fire - Terry Newman

The cab fittings and clack boxes were all fine, the front safety valve needs dismantling and fettling as does the whistle, the injectors worked but started leaking, the brakes have been adjusted, and Terry Newman drove it up the yard to Deviation Shed and back to demonstrate that the J27 had some chuff. Andy Lowes was also present all day and gave invaluable help to Piglet in dealing with issues as they arose - many thanks to him.


Mark OBrien and Paul Middleton make checks before first movement - Terry Newman

Piglet is going to let me have a note on the days' activities later on tonight, identifying the work that now needs to be done, but he has emphasised that it is all little jobs and nothing to be worried about.

Those should be dealt with next week, which will also enable the painting to be completed by John Furness. The J27 will not therefore be steamed next week, so no potential playtime until at least after the Bank Holiday. There may be another in house steam test to check on the remedial work in the post Bank Holiday week, but the next main step is the steam test for the boiler inspector, for which efforts continue to be made to get a date in the diary. Running in and play time after that hopefully, before return to service, possibly in the week beginning 14 May?

Last Updated on Sunday, 29 April 2018 21:24

Thursday 26th April 2018


In spite of Mark O'Brien's best efforts last night, he could not get a fire in the J27 after all, because of problems with boiler water filling. However, those have been overcome today and the locomotive is reported this evening to be sitting in the running shed with a fire in and smoke coming out of the chimney - its own this time rather than in my photo last month of it standing at the coaling plant with 76079 hidden behind!


At 15:50 this Afternoon the J27 stands in the running shed, a fire in its belly - Mark O Brien

The plan is to give it a full steam test tomorrow, set the safety valves, make sure the injectors work, and find any leaks etc. Further report tomorrow night therefore.

Last Updated on Thursday, 26 April 2018 20:16

Wednesday 25th April 2018


Another hive of activity round the J27 today as every effort was being made to prepare the engine for a warming fire to be lit tonight, ready for a first steam test tomorrow.

The steam pipe was successfully NDT'd, then hydraulic'd and was being refitted as we left this evening. The chimney was then to be refitted, centred and bolted down. The blower ring had been repaired and was also ready to go on. The ashpan sprays were successfully dealt with to enable the damper doors to operate, and the two small pieces of cladding to fit round the firebox had been made and attached. The handrails, now in place on both sides, will be trimmed slightly to end nearer the middle of the smokebox, and round ends be manufactured to go on the end of the handrail. The cab floor has been installed following delivery of the parts from Deviation Shed on Saturday. The tender has been coupled back up to the engine using the old drawbar pins on a temporary basis while waiting the delivery of the material to make the replacement ones, ready for the move into the running shed. Joining up the tender however, also allowed Roy Marshal to check his final measurements for the replacement storm sheet which will now be ordered. Once the locomotive is in the running shed and on the pit, the hopper door will be fitted and a complete check of pins, cotters etc carried out underneath.

On the cosmetic side, John Furness was painting the left hand side cladding in undercoat - the right side will be started once the ejector pipe has been securely fitted and no more fitting work is required. He has also put a first coat of heat resistant paint on the smokebox and door. Up at Deviation Shed, the BR style dome was retrieved from the upstairs store and Nigel Hall stripped off the old paint and gave it a coat of primer. For the moment however, the NER style dome which was delivered from Hopetown and painted by John Furness, has been attached to the J27, and will continue in use during running in.

Although Mark O'Brien was still hard at work in the smokebox this evening, he was determined that the work would be finished tonight to enable the locomotive to be moved into the running shed and a warming fire lit as planned. On that assumption, the steam test will be tomorrow, followed by the fixing of any leaks and then weighing. After that, it will be case of getting the boiler inspector in for the official steam test - attempts continue to contact him and agree a date.

Once that has been successfully carried out, running in can begin.

So we are very nearly there - reports of further progress will follow as soon as I hear of it.


Friday 20th April 2018


The J27, reunited with tender,stands on No.2 road outside the boiler shop - Adrian Dennis

An extra progress update from Grosmont today. As forecast in my previous note, the tender was moved from Deviation Shed on Friday and coupled up to the engine. In the meantime, the blast pipe had been squared off, centralised and fitted and the bottoms of the smokebox painted to enable the sandboxes to be attached along with various bits of pipework. The ensemble was then pulled out of the Fabrication Shop and the attached photographs taken in the glorious sunshine on Friday morning. Much better quality than my phone's efforts, and quite a sight for sore eyes! Note though that the handrail is fitted only on the left hand side, and it is also only on that side that paint has been applied round to the top of the smokebox. And yes, we know that the dome is the NER style one and needs to be replaced by the BR one, but as John Furness had cleaned and painted it, it was decided to fit it temporarily for steam tests and running in, while the BR one is found, painted and then fitted, hopefully before the J27 returns to service.

A view of the right hand side - Adrian Dennis

The two bits of cladding round the firebox sides are still missing, and Piglet is still anxious to try and find them before having to make new. If anyone knows where they may be, can they please let me know as soon as possible. The blower ring has also been found to be unserviceable, and new parts are being made for it as it is essential this is fitted before any steaming takes place. The mechanism for operating the sandboxes has also been found to require some adjustment following their installation. The many parts of the cab floor were moved from Deviation Shed today and put by the engine in the Fabrication Shop, ready for the MPD staff to put the jigsaw together, aided by those of the original numbers that have survived on each one.

Another view of the left hand side - Ian Pearson

Subject to those and the other tasks identified in my note earlier this week, the current plan is for a warming fire to be put in next Wednesday night with a view to an initial steaming on Thursday. Then will follow the inevitable checking, tightening adjusting and finishing off before a formal steam test with the boiler inspector and the start of running in - up and down the shed yard initially, then up and down to Goathland in spare paths, and once 500 miles or so have been successfully completed, then final painting and into service. The 8 May target may not be quite achieved, but its first service train should only be a few days later, provided all goes well in the interim.

During the running in period, Piglet has agreed that the locomotive will be available to us to 'play' with in the MPD yard and up the headshunt, and the Committee is anxious that all those volunteers who laboured so long at Hopetown, and without whose efforts the locomotive would not be on the point of returning to service, should have the opportunity of doing so, both as would have occurred should completion been achieved at Hopetown, and as a way of thanking them and recognising their contribution to the overhaul. In spite of the disenchantment that many feel about the way the decision to move the locomotive to Grosmont was handled, we hope that a number of the Hopetown volunteers will still want to take up this offer. The Owner's Representative footplate pass will also be available for footplate trips up to Goathland and back. At the moment, we cannot be certain when all this will take place, and it is likely to be at short notice, but certainly we will try to have at least one evening available as well as during the day. If any of the Hopetown volunteers want to participate therefore, could they please let me know (email or phone will be fine), preferably with an indication of preference for day or evening, and day of the week.

The formal launch train, originally pencilled in for 18 May, will now be held in mid June, and Dave Pennock is pursuing the arrangements with the NYMR. As well as inviting the press, this is intended to thank all those who have contributed to the overhaul over the thirteen years, so invitees will include grant awarding bodies, benefactors and volunteers, but if there are any particular groups or individuals you think should be included, then, again, please let me or Dave Pennock know.

More progress reported in the J27 blog.

Last Updated on Monday, 07 May 2018 15:41

Wednesday 18th April 2018


In spite of strenuous efforts by the MPD staff, the J27 will not be steamed this week. There is still too much to do at the smokebox end and, although a fire could be lit now, it would serve no useful purpose and just cover everything in dirt and delay work even further. It is very disappointing news, but is in the best interests of getting the overhaul completed as quickly as we can. As it is, I have been assured that that first steaming will be done by the end of next week at the latest, provided no further problems arise - and I have been told that the J27 is fighting hard every inch of the way. However, contact is now being made with Glyn Coxhill, the boiler inspector, to get him booked in for the formal steam test as soon as he can after the initial one has been completed, so it cannot be too far away now!

The J27 nears completion in he boiler shop at Grosmont - Chris Lawson

At the smokebox, the steam pipe welding has been completed, the NDT is due to be carried out next Wednesday to be followed by the hydraulic.

The chimney has been fitted and centralised, but the blast pipe still needs adjusting to get it to sit square and central to the chimney. Some machining may be required, but that is still being measured and assessed. The smokebox door has now been adjusted to make it steam tight, and the smokebox number plate and 52G shed plate attached. The bottom of the smokebox wrapper has been prepared for painting on both sides so that the sandboxes can be fitted, and John Furness was painting them ready yesterday afternoon. The buffers have been retensioned and refitted.

Down at the other end, the brick arch has gone in, but the ashpan spray still needs to be repositioned to get the damper doors to operate properly. The drawbar pins are to be replaced as the old ones are badly worn and bent. Various bits of pipework and the handrails need to be fitted, but the cladding is now all on, except for the two small pieces round the firebox which will need to be made new. The cab sides have been rubbed down ready for varnishing. So it now looks more like a steam engine - see photo - but the tender is due to be brought down from Deviation Shed today or tomorrow to complete the picture.

Mark O'Brien is away for the next few days with the B1 in Scotland on GBXI (various parts were passed on its way by road to Bowness yesterday), but work will continue by the fitters in his absence, with Barney and Piglet keeping an eye on progress.

Last Updated on Sunday, 22 April 2018 21:45

Wednesday 11th April 2018


J27 steam pipe ready for final welding - Chris Lawson

With Mark O'Brien's return from paternity leave yesterday, he checked over the trial fitting of the steam pipe, and once satisfied, removed it and it is now on a jig in the Fabrication Shop ready to be welded up (see photo). Once that has been completed (hopefully today), it will then have to be NDT'd before being refitted and hydraulic'd. The blast pipe (whose alignment will need some adjustment) and chimney will then follow (the hole for the chimney has already been cut) and a steam test carried out to make sure the assembly is steam tight, before the smokebox base is concreted. The smokebox door has also been fitted but the brackets need adjusting to ensure a tight fit all round. The buffers have been removed to be re-tensioned.

General view of J27  -  Chris Lawson

The two firebox cladding sheets are now fitted and strapped. A new longitudinal crinoline strip for the bottom of the boiler was being made yesterday, following which the rest of the cladding will be fitted. The brass ring at the back of the smokebox has been put on but just left loose until the rest of the cladding has been fitted. Two new sheets will be need to be made to go round the corners of the firebox under the boiler, as the originals cannot be found. John Furness gave the dome a coat of gloss paint last night (see photo). Following a visit by Nick Raisby last week, the grate is now in, but has had to be adjusted as the rocker only worked one way, and the damper door is not working properly so the ashpan sprays may also need adjusting. The brick arch can go in any time.

In the cab, the sliding windows are now installed, along with the cab seats, although some damage was done to the outside of the right hand cab side in fitting the latter: that has now been rectified by John Furness. The cab floor is due to be brought down from Deviation Shed, and a check is to be made with LNWR Crewe to see if they have the whistle linkage. If not, a replacement will have to be made. Once the bottom of the new smokebox wrapper has been prepared and painted, the sandboxes can be attached and the locomotive will then be ready to be moved to the pit in the Running Shed, where access underneath for final checks of pins and cotters etc will be much easier. A general photo of the locomotive yesterday is attached.

John Furness painting J27 dome cover - Chris Lawson

John Furness would be delighted if any volunteers were available on Saturday to prep the bottom of both sides of the smokebox wrapper for him. They will need needle gunning to remove the mill scale and then wire brushing to get the rust off and restore bright metal. He has emphasised though to only work on the bare new wrapper and not touch any of the already painted areas, and not to apply any paint - that will be for him to do. As there will be a Q6 working party this Saturday, any volunteers coming for this work should report first to Ian Pearson or Bill Dobson in Deviation Shed to record their presence on site, and collect the necessary tools and instructions for the work. On those occasions when volunteers attend to work on the J27 and there is no Q6 working party, can they please make sure they report to the MPD Office or Duty Fitter for the same purposes.

Last Updated on Thursday, 12 April 2018 11:54

Friday 6th April 2018


Progress continues to be made in spite of the absence of a number of key players on holiday. The position as of today is -

A view of the state of the smokebox showing the completed wrapper plate and Phil Naylor working on the main steam pipe - Chris Lawson

The smokebox wrapper is complete and fully bolted up. The smokebox bolts have also been filled and dressed to appear as rivets. The top hole is cut ready for the chimney. The main steam pipe is now ready to be welded together, and will be Mark O'Brien's first job when he returns from paternity leave on Wednesday (11th). The steam pipe was challenging to line up as the bends weren’t quite right, but after lots of careful tweaking by Phil Naylor (see photo) and re-machining of the flanges it is now a nice fit. Due to the stud positioning on the cylinder block some adjustments are required to make it possible to get the nuts on the studs. The blast pipe has also been trial fitted but doesn’t appear to be vertical (about 3/8" out at the top), but no alterations will be made until the alignment to the chimney has been checked. The smokebox door hinges need to be machined as they are too deep, preventing the door from pulling in tight on the hinge side. This will be done next week.

Cladding sheet 2 now in position - Chris Lawson

As previously reported, the cladding has proved a real challenge. Holes didn’t line up with the crinoline. This was not fitted in quite the right position and was twisted slightly to the left. Not by much but enough so the holes wouldn’t line up to bolt on the sheets. Chris Kelly has carefully managed to move and adjust it and is now making progress, with sheets 2 and 3 fettled and fitted loose. The cladding piece which goes in front of firebox is still missing, and if it can't be found a new one will have to be made.

Cab fittings almost complete - Chris Lawson

The cab is now very nearly finished, with all the cab valves in. A few nuts on the copper pipe work which had damaged threads, and some oversized so a very loose fit on the threads, have been replaced with new. All of the air-ministry joints have been adjusted as most were not correctly fitted with no sealant or grease on the threads. The ashpan spray is fitted and been tested to make sure it is working properly (see photo). The grate is now being fitted, which has been a bit slower than hoped as the rocking linkage was missing, but new linkage has now been made.

On the cosmetic front, the buffer beam has received a coat of red undercoat, the smokebox door one of black undercoat, and the cab side a coat of black gloss along with the cab side numbers (see photo).

Overall, work is behind plan, and the locomotive will not have a first steaming this weekend as initially hoped. Paul Middleton estimates that they are about 12 days behind schedule, mainly due to the the extra work required on the cladding, but are still on target for the locomotive to be in traffic for the red timetable starting on 8th of May and hauling the teak set.

Last Updated on Thursday, 19 April 2018 16:20

Wednesday 28th March 2018


Although Mark O'brien is now away for a fortnight on paternity leave (congratulations to him and Emma on the birth of their daughter Matilda on Monday morning), work continues apace on the J27.

Both sides of the smokebox wrapper have now been secured, the overlap at the top cut and the join welded and ground smooth (see photo). The steam pipe is now being prepared for welding together. The chimney is not now being fitted first as it will not leave enough room in the smokebox to do the work to fit the steam pipe and blast pipe along with any necessary adjustments. The ash pan sprays have now been fitted, and the brake valve reservoir refitted after installing the release trigger. The sliding windows for the cab were delivered by Nigel Hall last Saturday, and John Furness has applied another coat of paint to the cab exterior.

Top of the smokebox wrapper - Chris Lawson

He also now has the cab side number transfers.

Fitting the cladding is however, proving a problem. It appears that the top longitudinal crinoline running from the cab to the dome, is about half an inch out from centre at the dome end. Whilst it has been possible to fit the first cladding sheet, it has involved a lot of time consuming adjustment and redrilling of new fixing holes and filling of the old ones. The next sheet cannot be sufficiently adjusted to fit, so it has been decided to cut off the final section of crinoline and weld in a new piece to centre it and allow the cladding to be fitted (see photo of thought being given to the problem!).

What do we do now? - Chris Lawson

The tender has now been moved from the running shed to one of the back roads, and is butted up to the S15 tender such that John Furness cannot get in to complete painting the buffer beam.

In spite of this extra work, Paul Middleton is still confident the first fire will be lit on 8 April as planned, and the first booked service train will be on 8 May. In anticipation of that, discussions are under way with the NYMR about opportunities for those Hopetown volunteers who want to, to ride out on board while it is running in.

Last Updated on Thursday, 29 March 2018 17:20

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