North Eastern Locomotive Preservation Group

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J27 Blog

A log of activity concerning the J27.

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

Wednesday 28th February


As reported last night by Nigel, we both managed to get to Grosmont yesterday, Nigel via Teesside and Egton Bank (which he described as 'challenging') and myself via the A169 and Eskdaleside via Sleights - and no I haven't got a 4 x 4, nor had the buses, trucks and other cars I saw on the main road. It was lovely and sunny, with no snow showers while we were there for a couple of hours in the middle of the day, but no time for cups of tea and no mice. We wanted to get our jobs done and away before the weather deteriorated as was forecast. If we had tried to do the journeys today we would have failed as the conditions were really bad on the Moors overnight.

For the J27, Nigel had brought another van load of parts from Hopetown and these were unloaded and taken up to Deviation Shed (the wooden flooring put next to the bench on No 8 road and the black dumpy bag with the plates for the cab roof and other small items by the desk in the upstairs store room) or the Fabrication Shop (the spare lagging and the other photo album). On the locomotive itself, the steam brake has now been fitted and the smokebox is in the final stages of being taken apart. It has been decided that it will be more economic and quicker to replace the smokebox wrapper. This was ordered last Friday and was due for delivery by the end of this week, but the weather has scuppered that and I now understand that delivery is due next week. The lap plates also seem to have disappeared, and new ones will need to be manufactured if a further check at Hopetown fails to find them. The hydraulic planned for today has had to be postponed because of the weather, as the boiler inspector could not get to Grosmont. John Furness has agreed to paint the engine once the overhaul work has been completed. The certification for the new steam pipe has been provided and Mark O'Brien will be arranging for an external welder to come in to make it up and then for it be NDT'd before fitting.

Again, subject to the weather, the cab roof, chimney, sandboxes and springs are due to be delivered to Grosmont on Saturday by hiab and Nigel is separately making the necessary arrangements for their collection from Hopetown first thing on Saturday. When they arrive at the MPD, Mark O'Brien wants to put the cab straight on the locomotive. This will mean pulling out the J27 but avoid a separate later lift and it taking up valuable space on the floor.

Elsewhere, Tornado was sat in the running shed having recently arrived for next week's operations. They are due to start on Saturday and run for most of the next week - weather permitting! The B1 was outside the running shed (see photo), resplendent in its new LNER livery. A steam test is planned for tomorrow and the brick arch was being put in. Not many MPD staff around because of the travel difficulties, but a core are staying in the volunteer accomodation to make sure that priority work can continue, preparing for operations this weekend. Inevitably though it means that progress elsewhere has slowed. The implications of this for target dates cannot be assessed until the cold weather has finished, and there is no sign of the end as yet.

And don't forget that the Channel 5 fly on the wall documentary filmed last year about the NYMR starts this Friday at 8pm, featuring among others the 'chirpy engineer' aka Piglet, and no doubt other well known characters may be spotted in the background.

Last Updated on Saturday, 10 March 2018 21:17

Wednesday 21st February 2018


Having moved the engine into the Fabrication Shop, and the tender into Deviation Shed (which now looks more like a North Eastern Shed with the Q6 already there), items 1 - 5 on the project plan have been completed. The smokebox has been removed (see photos).

The J27 with smokebox removed stands in the fab shop on No 2 road - Chris Lawson

The smoke box on the ground again - Chris Lawson

The J27 tender stands next to the Q6 tender inside Deviation Shed - Chris Lawson

Today was spent by some of the Q6 team in unloading the remaining items from the J27 tender in Deviation Shed, and moving them into the Fabrication Shop where they have been placed on the ground behind the cab. The tender is now empty and ready for filling with water and coal and then weighing (item 26). Those parts that were unloaded by Paul Hutchinson over the weekend and put under the Q6's new small tubes were also moved down to the Fabrication Shop. In addition, Nigel brought down a van load of parts from Hopetown and these were unloaded and put with the other items, except for the cab spectacle plates which have been put in the upstairs store at Deviation Shed, against the wall down by the office desk.

Nigel has taken the NYMR van this evening and will be collecting the cladding, the bags of lagging, and possibly the chimney, tomorrow to bring back to Grosmont. That will complete item 6. The cab and sandboxes are due to be collected on 3 March and delivered to Grosmont which will complete item 7.

5 rocking grate bars are due to be delivered to Grosmont in the next few days. One of these is for the B1 and the other 4 are for the J27. The J27’s side bearers are already fitted and 4 rocking grate bars (one of which has the crank removed so that it forms a fixed section at the back of the grate) were brought in the tender and are now with the engine– the rest of the grate was scrap.

The hydraulic has been arranged for 1 March (item 13).

Last Updated on Saturday, 24 February 2018 22:22

19th February 2018


As you are aware from Nigel Hall's recent emails, the J27 was successfully delivered to New Bridge by Friday of last week, in spite of various delays and difficulties. Can I thank everyone who was involved in any way with that move, but particularly Nigel for masterminding the exercise, for all your hard work and contribution to achieve that, in what, I know have been very difficult circumstances.

The J27 tender is loaded in the dying light of the day at Hopetown on Thursday 15th February. It would soon crunch its way over the newly formed ice and depart for New Bridge - Nigel Hall

Having got to New Bridge, the engine and tender were coupled up on Friday, and attached is a photograph of the locomotive in the compound at New Bridge.

On Saturdsy 17th February the locomotive and tender can be seen joined together over the pit at New Bridge - Dave Pennock

On Sunday, Paul Hutchinson and Angie went down to check over the locomotive and oil round before the move to Grosmont the next day. Everything was fine, but Paul commented that he had forgotten how little room there is to oil up between the frames.

Having overcome a last minute problem with one of the signallers who had gone sick, the move to Grosmont went ahead yesterday morning as planned. Chris Cubitt and Charlie Wood were the diesel crew, with Dave Tibet as guard and Paul Hutchinson and Adrian Dennis as fitters travelling on the J27. Paul reports that all went very well with the move.

Mechanically it could hardly have been better. Only the left leading side rod bush got any more than cold. There was, however, nothing to worry about at any time and it had completely settled down by the time we got to Grosmont. The cylinder block warmed up a little (to 60 degrees C), but with the large volumes of air being shifted this was not surprising. I tried the at reverser various cut offs and the engine and I agreed that 50% was about right. We stopped regularly to check around and to dose the pistons and valves with lub oil. Speed was limited to around 10mph. We tried it at 15mph for a short while but it quickly became apparent that this was just a little too fast for the front end.

The engine and tender rode very well. All of this bodes well for when the engine runs under its own power. Well done to Neal who oversaw much of the work that was tested today.

The engine and tender were then split and the tender put into Deviation Shed behind the Q6 tender. The engine is now in the Fabrication Shop for checking over and the start of work. To achieve the necessary space, Hartland has been moved out of Deviation Shed and No 8 road has now been occupied by the No 29 Weltrol from behind the Q6, and Lucie which had been in the Fabrication Shop.

Before Paul left, he removed as much of the tender contents as he could, and has put them under the Q6's new small tubes. Only the new steam pipe, the firebars and Nigel's box of 'goodies' remain to be removed, and as soon as that is done - apparently it should take 3 people about 10 minutes - the Railway will coal the tender, fill it up with water and weigh it. Separately, Nigel took the old steam pipe and Terry’s shelf load of cab pipes to Grosmont on Saturday. The copper pipes are on pallets behind the workshop to avoid confusion with Q6 components, and the old steam pipe is up against No 5. He is planning to bring a van load of the remaining smaller components, mainly in the brass store at Hopetown, to Grosmont on Wednesday, along with the photo album to guide those fitting cab pipework.

Separately, I had a meeting with Paul Middleton, Barney Casey, and Kelvin Whitwell at the MPD on the Wednesday (14th) to discuss the project plan for completion of the J27 at Grosmont. Chris Price also happened to be present. Whilst Paul M was still confident that, subject to nothing unexpected arising, the Easter target date for completion was still achievable, in practice he wanted to plan on the basis of completion by the next week, 8 April, to give him both a week's contingency, but also to coincide with the drop from the Easter red timetable to the green timetable for the rest of the month. I was given a firm commitment that, with that proviso, that date would be met. The green timetable would give spare paths for running in and any other test running that was required, which would not be available in the previous week. Subject to that not revealing any problems, then the J27's first service train was scheduled for 8 May - the day after the early May Bank Holiday, although, if all went well, we could see it in service before then. That period in April would also give us the opportunity to 'play' with the locomotive, and we are hoping to arrange some events for the Hopetown volunteers as a way of thanking them for their efforts, in the manner that we would have done at Hopetown if the overhaul had been completed there, but with rather more scope for a greater range of activities.

As a result of our discussions, Paul Middleton and Kelvin have produced the attached first draft of the project plan. This is based on their initial understanding of the work that remains to be done, and is therefore subject to revision once they have checked over the engine, in the light of work that is found to have been done at Hopetown and not now needing to be done at Grosmont - for example the valve setting at item 10 has already been completed. I will be reviewing progress against the project plan on a weekly basis, by calling in to the MPD office on a Wednesday when I am down for the regular Q6 working party and will report back accordingly. Any technical issues that arise however, will be referred to Paul Hutchinson, Richard Pearson and John Graham for resolution. In all this, I pointed out the need to make sure that progress with the Q6 was not prejudiced and that it was equally important to ensure that the target date for its completion was also met.

Finally, Paul Middleton said he understood the sensitivities of the Hopetown volunteers surrounding the move of the J27 to Grosmont, but any volunteers who wished to continue to help with the overhaul would still be very welcome, although he recognised that, even though the NELPG car would be available from Teesside, this was unlikely to be a practical proposition.

Last Updated on Sunday, 20 May 2018 22:46

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