North Eastern Locomotive Preservation Group

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J27 Blog

A log of activity concerning the J27.

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

J27 Wednesday 21st March 2018


Much new to be seen this week. The new smokebox wrapper is making good progress with bolts up to the 8.00 position. The cab is now in undercoat and the buffer beam preparatory work progressing.

I want a steam test too. The J27 stands next to the standard 4 on steam test over the ash pit. The J27 has been dragged out to allow Eric Tracy to move to road No 4 for a boiler lift - Nigel Hall

There was also lots of shunting round the MPD moving the J27 out so Eric Treacy could be put outside ready for its boiler lift .

The weighing blances under the tender wheels - Steve Hyman

A call came from the MPD mid-morning asking if we could spare a couple of our team to help Andrew Jeffery and Jamie Lazenby down at the MPD on No 5 road to weigh the J27 tender. So Steve Hyman and Jon Bradley spent three parts of the day at the MPD. After completing the weighing Andrew gave us a copy of the weighing results; the photo shows the weighing results on the electronic display.

The weights displayed on the control pannel - Steve Hyman

Chris lawson visited on thursday and reports that the tender has now been filled with water and coal, weighed, and is now standing in No5 road in the MPD (see photo). There are some minor water leaks which are being attended to.


J27 tender in No 5 road at NYMR MPD after weighing - Chris Lawson

On the locomotive, the pipework in the cab is all but finished, with the brake valve reservoir release trigger now fitted. The cab sides have been prepped and the first paint applied (see photo). The broken glass in the sliding cab windows has been replaced by Derek Norris at Hopetown, and are due to be delivered to Grosmont by Nigel Hall in the next few days. Underneath the locomotive, Sean has started the checks of pins and cotters, replacing where necessary, but this is a continuing task, and will be made easier once the locomotive moves out of the boiler shop and onto the pit in the running shed. The ash pan sprays are being redesigned as it was found that they went through the space where the rocking grate linkage should go. Then the grate will follow and the brick arch.


J27 cabsides prepped and first coat of undercoat - Chris Lawson

At the smokebox, Phil Naylor has now bolted on the left hand side of the wrapper and is well on with the right hand side (see photo). The tops are currently overlapped and will be cut when fully fitted and tightened, to provide a clean line for welding together. That is expected to be completed early next week and the hole will then be cut for the chimney, making sure it is placed centrally on the top of the smokebox. That will allow the blast pipe and steam pipe to be positioned and any adjustments made next week before they are finally fitted - in the case of the steam pipe before it is finally welded together.


J27 Phil Naylor working on right hand side of smokebox wrapper - Chris Lawson

Work is just about on target, but some of the rocking grate and damper linkage is missing which will require replacement parts to be made. That has slightly delayed completion of those elements of the plan, but that is expected to be quickly caught up, and the steam test is still on schedule for the week beginning 8 April. However, as reported in the separate Q6 note yesterday, the J27 was moved out of the boiler shop on Wednesday to allow Eric Treacy to be moved for its boiler lift (which was successfully carried out yesterday to the great interest of the many visitors).

Last Updated on Saturday, 07 April 2018 10:16

Wednesday 14th March 2018


he J27 in the erecting shop at Grosmont - Chris Lawson

Work continues apace on the J27. The cab has now been fully secured, the beading added and the heads ground, ready for John Furness to hopefully paint it next week. The ejector pipe work is in and finished, and the reservoir release trigger was due to be delivered from Paul Hutchinson's workshop to Grosmont today. The gradable steam brake operating valve (which includes the pilot valve) has been fitted, all the gauges calibrated, and the driver's side front spectatcle plate also fitted.

The cladding is proving a challenge to fit however, particularly over the manifold, and will require some adjustments and remedial work to make a neat job.

At the smokebox, following advice from Richard Pearson, the front plate has been measured and found to be needing lifting by half an inch. That has been done, and Phil Naylor is now on with fitting the LHS half of the new wrapper (see photo). This is currently being tacked in position to allow accurate positioning before drilling the holes to fix it to the smokebox. It will be bolted on with rivet headed bolts, rather than being rivetted, as that will make it easier to remove if access is needed to the bottom tubes for any reason. The JVs also stripped the red oxide primer off the front plate at the weekend, and it is now in black undercoat.

Sean Bowler should be starting to do the checks of the motion - pistons, rods, valves etc - next week.

The tender has not yet been weighed because of the problems with the B1 weighing, but hopefully they will soon be resolved and the tender weighed next week. In the meantime, Nigel has prepped the tender rear buffer beam, ready for John Furness to paint it along with the front buffer beam on the locomotive.

Last Updated on Thursday, 15 March 2018 23:21

Wednesday 7th March 2018


Not much progress was possible on the locomotive last week because of the bad weather, although, as previously reported, we managed to get the final bits of the J27 down to Grosmont by the end of the week, thanks to the efforts of all concerned, and an easing of the impact of the 'Beast from the East'. Since then however, there has been considerable activity. Phil Naylor has finished de-rivetting the old smokebox wrapper and started preparing the smokebox for fitting the new one. The smokebox door front plate has been re-erected (see photo taken on Wednesday) and squared off ready to receive the new wrapper which was delivered from Teesside on Wednesday afternoon. It is in two halves for ease of fitting, and that is expected to start next week.

A view of the door plate - Chris Lawson

The top part of the cab has been secured and work is progressing on fitting the cab pipework (see photo taken on Wednesday). Subject to that, John Furness hopes to paint the cab next week. For the rest of the locomotive, he has asked for 5 clear days once all the work has been finished, to complete the painting. The tender was due to be filled with coal and water and weighed by the end of this week.

The cab is now attached and work preogressing with the pipework - Chris Lawson

The postponed hydraulic test was also successfully carried out yesterday (Thursday 8th) in the presence of the boiler inspector, so the ticket has now restarted and we have therefore regained the time lost since the previous hydraulic at Crewe and its time at Hopetown.

Back at Hopetown, Derek Norris has been working on replacing the glass in one of the cab sliding windows, and Roy Marshall is pursuing the supply of a new storm sheet.

Further progress report next week, but bear in mind that jobs are being carried out not necessarily in the strict order set out in the project plan I circulated on 20 February, but as practicalities and resources dictate. 8 April remains the target completion date, but the impact of the recent bad weather has still to be assessed. However, we are in discussion with the NYMR about possible events for Hopetown volunteers at Grosmont with the J27 during the planned running in period in April - watch this space.


Saturday 3rd March 2018


Act 1

07:30 and Nigel, Arthur Jenkins and Steve Hyman arrive at Hopetown. Fire lit, kettle boiled, then down to the business of the day. Rails joined, connected and, oh dear, much snow to be cleared from the rails and the loading point before the rail trolleys with components are pushed out. Nicky and Daryl arrive with the hiab shortly after 08:00. Cab, chimney and sand boxes loaded on board whilst Steve and Arthur lift the 4 springs with the frame onto the last trolley. By 09:00 everything is on board and being strapped down. Tea is being made when a cry of anguish comes from the mess room - no sugar, two require it for their tea. Fortunately the corner shop is now open and matter soon resolved. By 10:00 Nicky and Daryl have left for Grosmont and the rest tidy up and sign out.

The last bits of the J27 have now left Hopetown.

Act 2

Approaching Scaling Dam, Nigel catches sight of a familiar cab on the back of a hiab up ahead. Cars overtake the hiab, and the van is eventually on its tail. After we make the right turn for Egton, Nicky signals to come through and guide. The snow situation is much easier today – the only uncleared road is along the old track from Esk Valley to the shed. We arrive before noon to find a silent MPD, but very active working party inside Deviation Shed. The new arrivals accept the offer of tea and biscuits, before the working party goes for its lunch.

Daryl and Mark O Brien guide the J27 cab into position at Grosmont, whilst Nicky controls the movement using the hiab play station - Nigel Hall

Mark O'Brien opens up the door to No 2 road, but the shunter he brings from No 5 road has great difficulty moving back up the yard. Out with the shovels to clear ice from the rails and try again. Success. The J27 is dragged out of the fab shop and the cab lifted straight on from the hiab (see photo). Springs, sand boxes and chimney unloaded and by 13:30 the hiab was on its way home. Trevor and Ian help to unload the Q6 piston valves.

Last Updated on Saturday, 10 March 2018 21:26

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