North Eastern Locomotive Preservation Group

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J27 Blog

A log of activity concerning the J27.

J27 pulls teak train to Pickering


Well, you do a report based on the latest plan and then, within hours you find that we have moved on to the next one! Today, the J27 has been to Pickering on the teak set with 80136 on the back.

J27 leaves Grosmont for its first run with the teak set to Pickering - Peter W. Robinson

The day started as expected, and Ian Pearson and Jon Bradley had a couple of light engine trips up towards Goathland with Neil Smedley and Les Harper - Steve Johnson also joined them for the first of those. The teak set then arrived at Grosmont with 80136 at 1205, the J27 backed on, and took the 1230 departure out to Pickering (see photos). It then came back on the rear of the train to Grosmont and up to the shed for disposal. It is now sitting on the wheeldrop road at the back of Deviation Shed. It will not be operating tomorrow, as an opportunity is required to sort out all the little jobs that have emerged form the last few days running. It is not clear at the moment whether it will be operating on Saturday, but it is booked to be working on Sunday with Terry Newman in charge. Then, subject to the usual caveats, it is still planned to have it in service on Monday, and subsequently, on the reduced formation teak set.


J27 stands at Pickering after its first run from Grosmont with the teak set

At that point, if it is then in service, these reports will cease, as its availability should appear on the NYMR website showing the locomotives in service each day. I will though report on any significant developments as and when they might occur.



J27 makes Light Engine runs to Goathland



J27 stands at Grosmont awaiting the off for a light engine run to Goathland 16 May 2018 - Ian Pearson

A day with a difference, where the NELPG's Q6 and J27 work came together, hence a combined report this week. A cool, grey, morning with a hint of rain, although it did clear up in the afternoon and there was even a touch of sun, when Ian Pearson, Jon Bradley, Bill Dobson, Steve Hyman, Alan Featonby (a member on a trip back home from Ontario, Canada) and myself gathered at Deviation Shed for the usual cup of tea. The plan was that Chris Cubitt and Charlie Woods would be taking the J27 up to Goathland on some light engine running in turns, and taking Steve and Alan with them. The rest of us would then continue working on the Q6.

However, Chris Cubitt was unavailable in the morning, and because Charlie had lots of electrical work to complete, he was pleased to find Ian and Jon were available to drive and fire the J27. Charlie already had oiled up the engine and Ian and Jon then took over the reins, and after some last minute fitting work and lots of successful vacuum tests, the J27 was ready to move down to the station, after getting water, by1120 am, taking Steve Hyman and Alan Featonby with them (see photos - don't they look happy!). With Ian driving the first two trips and Jon on the shovel, checks were made at regular intervals on bearing temperatures and all was found to be OK. Then, later on Jon drove and Steve fired, then Steve had a go driving with Jon tutoring him while Ian fired, and lastly Alan drove up to Goathland home signal tutored by Jon.

Steve Hyman Alan Featonby Ian Pearson and Jon Bradley on the J27 footplate at Grosmont 16 May 2018. - Ian Pearson

They were back on shed by 16.20 for disposal and with the fire dropped, the J27 was put back into the running shed on No 5 road and boiler filled. There were some problems with a sticking damper door at disposal, the ash pan sprays will need a little adjustment, and there is a list of other minor fettling jobs that were identified during running, but otherwise the locomotive was fine and ran very smoothly.

The same routine was to be followed today with Ian and Jon as crew, and, via the webcam, saw the J27 leave Grosmont light engine at 1100, with hopefully Neil Smedley and Les Harper on board, fitting in with available paths round the service trains. Assuming that concludes sucessfully, the next three days will see the J27 attached to the rear of service trains and getting in some mileage to Pickering, and, subject to no problems being identified, on Monday it will enter service on the Gresley teak set, which for operational reasons will be down to three coaches, as its regular daily turn. If anyone is out and about taking photographs of these events though, can I ask as Archivist, if any could be forwarded for me to go in the archive, as I will be away for the next week and will not be able to take any myself. I have also retrieved the J27 NER style dome from the boiler shop, and it is now on the floor just inside Deviation Shed by the gate next to No 5.

While several members were driving, firing and generally enjoying the fruits of a marathon 12 year overhaul of the P3/J27, Bill in the morning, and assisted by me after lunch, and even later in the afternoon by Chris Cubitt, set about the hydraulic testing of the Q6 superheater header. Bill had already asked Shaun Bowler of the NYMR to make 4 blanking plates and associated clamps last Friday, and these were used, together with 24 rubber "doggie balls" kindly lent by William Parish of the Essex Locomotive Society, currently working on the S15 boiler in Deviation Shed. The superheated side of the header was tackled first, and, after a number of tightenings of the enormous number of bolts and associated places for the rubber seals to leak, eventually a test pressure of 270 psi was reached, to the satisfaction of the NYMR boilersmith, Mark O'Brien.

The saturated side of the header is due to be tested on Saturday, so there will be a working party this Saturday after last week's late cancellation. There is also the stove chimney to finish off and get the flashing on the roof fixed before the stove itself dissolves in the rain - it is currently a very vivid orange colour! - never mind work to do on the Q6 itself.

Last Updated on Thursday, 17 May 2018 17:41

J27 passes formal steam test


Following a second succesful initial steam test last Friday at which the safety valves were set and a number of small rectification jobs identified, the J27 passed its formal steam test today in the presence of the boiler inspector. He pronounced himself very satisfied with what he saw. Richard Pearson was also present, and, with Paul Middleton, carried out an acceptance examination on behalf of the Group. Again, this identified a number of additional small jobs requiring attention, as would be expected after a major overhaul. In the afternoon, the locomotive was run up and down in the MPD yard, and, as no major issues came to light, went on a run up the bank light engine to Darnholm. That revealed no further problems and the bearings ran cool. Paul Middleton was very pleased with the way the locomotive ran and is looking forward to it being available for traffic.

The locomotive is now back on shed and will not be in steam tomorrow so that attention can be given to all the outstanding jobs. It will then be in steam on Wednesday, and possibly on Thursday, for running up and down the yard, and possibly up and down the bank to Goathland dependent on timing and availability of paths. The J27 will be out of steam Friday and over the weekend to allow for a water change, and hopefully will then start banking turns on service trains to get some running in mileage, before then taking charge of the teak set, either later in the week or early the one after. So it should be returned to traffic in the next ten days or so, barring any unexpected problems arising.

The way it has performed in these initial steamings is a great tribute to all those who have laboured so long and hard with the overhaul at Hopetown, so many thanks on behalf of the membership to them all.


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

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