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Liam Pope applying gloss top coat to cab side sheets in reflective mood!

Finishing touches of Red gloss being applied to the buffer beam.

A fine example of the ingenuity required to machine some locomotive components on normal machine tools when in the past the railway works had bespoke machines for this type of work. Seen here is the crosshead being set up for machining the white-metalled sliding surfaces that run on the slide bars so that they are square and true to the attached piston rod. The whole crosshead/piston rod assembly then has to be turned over to machine the other sliding face to complete. All heavy work.

Expansion links for the Stephenson’s valve gear fitted with the new die blocks and side plates complete ready side plates to be riveted on, then painting and installation.

Front end view, hand rails fitted with new cast smoke box number plate fitted – 4561 plate used for bolt trial fitting while correct 9351 plate is awaited.

An unusual view of the locomotive end of the tender that will run with 9351 when initially out shopped, not normally seen when in service and close-coupled to locomotive. The intermediate buffers are shown, their job is to keep the engine/tender coupling tight to reduce “surging” when the locomotive is pulling hard.The “modern” GWR tenders were interchangeable to a degree thus tender swaps are possible.

This tender needs more work before it’s ready to run.


Cylinder looking down the bore to the piston head. As everything is newly machined, everything has been coated with cylinder oil to help bed everything in.





New blower ring ready to fit on the bottom of the new chimney. The small holes are for the blower used to control the draw on the fire. The larger hole are for the exhaust steam from the vacuum ejector.




An unusual view of the smoke box arrangement before the chimney, blower ring and chimney bell is fitted. This shows the complete regulator to cylinder steam pipe layout with the pipe work into and out of the super heater header. Also in view is the regulator valve and the end of the regulator rod as the cover plate has yet to be installed.



The next three photos show the almost complete drivers side motion with connecting rod being set up to carry out the bump test. This is to check how much clearance there is at each end of the stroke between the piston head face and the covers. The slide bars are marked with a centre punch at each end the cross head travel, the connection rod is then taken down and the extra travel of the cross head past the centre dot shows the clearance at each end. Adjustments can then be made.





















Cab fittings almost complete, copper pipe work is annealed prior to fitting  to reduce the possibility of cracking in the future, then polished.





Brake adjustment turnbuckles, 4 new lock nuts have been made, 2 off with a left hand thread and 2 off with a normal right hand thread. These lock the turnbuckle and hold a captive sliding key in place. All part of the railway belt and braces approach to engineering design.




The new iron chimney casting, fresh from the foundry, awaiting machining for the mounting bolts and the attachment holes for the blower ring.The recess for the fitment of the spun copper chimney cap is shown.

West Somerset Railway supporters have shown their commitment to the Railway and determination not to be beaten by vandals by donating over £1,000 to repair the damage in less than 24 hours.

Vandals sadly struck the West Somerset Railway (WSR) on 29th April at around 9pm with an attack on a railway coach stabled overnight at Bishops Lydeard.  They smashed three large carriage windows and two door windows in the attack which it is estimated will cost £1,000 to replace and repair.  The attackers posted a video of the attack on social media which has been widely circulated and even broadcast on BBC TV’s local ‘Points West’ programme.

The WSRA, the Railway’s supporting charity, responded by launching a facebook fundraising campaign to raise the money for the repairs.  In less than 24 hours over £1,100 had been raised and the total now stands at £1,248 with more to come from the government ‘gift aid’ scheme which adds 25% to donations from UK tax payers.  The fundraising campaign was launched with the suggestion that 100 people gave £10 each, to achieve the required £1000.  To date, 76 people have donated and the value of the donations ranged from £4 to £100.  The social media campaign allowed everyone of whatever means to make a valuable contribution and reflects the inclusive nature of the West Somerset Railway.

WSR plc chairman Jonathan Jones-Pratt said:

“This attack was horrible for the Railway’s dedicated staff and volunteers who put in many hours maintaining our vintage vehicles to give visitors a taste of nostalgia on a trip to the seaside.  Local people have rallied round and helped identify the perpetrators.  We have passed our information to the Somerset Police and trust that swift action will be taken.”

WSRA chairman Paul Whitehouse said:

“It was so heartening to see how folk have responded positively to this mindless destructive act.  We have had hundreds of messages of support.  We are engaged on a refurbishment and repainting programme for the Railway’s carriages at our Williton works, and it costs around £5,000 to paint each coach.  If supporters would like to mark their displeasure at this act of vandalism and support for the Railway, the appeal remains open until the end of May and any donation would be most welcome.  It will be used to enhance the Railway’s carriages so that some good can come out of this episode.”

Facebook users can donate at

Donations can also be made at


For further comment please contact:

For information about the Railway:


Carriage with broken windows






A recently refurbished carriage

Drivers side of loco showing the reach rod fitted as well as the covers on the side of the smoke box that cover the oil feed fittings to the steam pipe in the smokebox and the regulator valve (also in the smokebox)

Crosshead being trial fitted to check alignment and fit prior to painting plus the fitting of the felt pads that spread the oil across the flat surfaces.
The drive arm to the vacuum (air) pump will be fitted to this crosshead on the rear face.

Boiler barrel and firebox fully clad ready for Injector delivery pipes to be fitted.
Front cylinder cover removed to allow piston and piston rod to be trial fitted.

Boiler back head cladding plates fitted (an oversized jigsaw of separate pieces that can be removed without taking the boiler fittings off to allow access to boiler stays) Boiler fitting being trial fitted. The Hydrostatic lubricator for oil to the cylinders is lying on the footplate.

Die block that drives the piston valve rod runs in the curved expansion link is being set up for machining an oil reservoir in the top.

Once the reservoir has been machined out, it will be closed off with a cover plate that is pressed in as sample alongside

Overview of reassembly work. Outside steam pipes to cylinders shown without cladding. The bolted joints are evident. Also in view is the safety valve/top feed casting on the top of the boiler barrel, feed pipes to be installed, normally this is hidden under the brass bonnet.

Crossheads have been fitted to piston rods, crossheads now being cleaned for painting then they will be split from rods again until piston/rod assembly is in the cylinder bore with the rod passing through the rear cylinder cover. Then the cross head is attached to the piston rod with a tapered key pulling the tapers on the piston rod and crosshead together.

Pipe work for the injector. Pipe work on every engine will be different. Curves in the pipe work allow for expansion as they heat up in use.

The boiler feed delivery pipes that curve around the side of the boiler barrel and connect to the safety valve and clack valve casting on the top of the boiler, normally covered by the brass bonnet.

Eccentric rods and the lifting link for the Stephenson’s valve gear awaiting fitting.

The West Somerset Railway Association are delighted to announce that they have met the fundraising target to put bring GWR locomotive 9351 back into service in time for the Summer Season.  When the West Somerset Railway plc ran into financial difficulties over the winter they asked the WSRA, the line’s principal supporters’ organisation to help.  This has involved raising over £18,000 from supporters in a few months and carrying out the work, including some complex engineering, at their restoration base at Williton.

Jonathan Jones-Pratt, Chairman of the West Somerset Railway plc said:

‘We are very grateful to the WSRA who rose to the challenge we set them, raised the money and are getting the work done.  It shows what we can achieve if we pull together as a united Railway.  I look forward to agreeing further fundraising targets with the WSRA in future.’

Paul Whitehouse, Chairman of the West Somerset Railway Association said:

‘We could not have done this without support from over 70 individual donors and the work of volunteers and staff, particularly Ryan Pope and his team at Williton Works.  Because we are a registered Charity the UK government has contributed over £3,000 of the total via the Gift Aid scheme which adds 25% to donations from UK tax payers.  We stand ready to help where needed.’

Loco 9351 is expected to be back in traffic by the end of May to assist with a busy summer season on the West Somerset Railway which reopens fully on 19 April.  Final stages of the restoration can be followed on the restoration blog at


Loco 9351 being reassembled at Williton








9351 in traffic on the WSRA before starting recent overhaul







Ryan Pope of WSRA Restorations with loco 9351 as she entered the works earlier in the year








For Further comment please contact:

Jacquie Green
WSRA General Manager
T: 01823 433856

New Bronze Die block being machined for fitting into the valve gear expansion link. Ultimately it will be machined with a pair of curved faces to fit the curve of the expansion link.






Boiler cladding sheets in position to be fasten onto the crinoline framing and then held in place by screws and the boiler bands yet to be added.

In the dark interior of the smoke box, the Super heater header casting has been mounted with the super heater flues fitted and the steam pipes to the cylinders installed.
The fitting on the right hand pipe is the inlet for the steam oil feed to lubricate the piston valve and cylinder.
The regulator body casting plus the steam pipes between it and the super heater header are yet to be fitted.

The WSRA Trusts and Foundations fundraiser, Kate Williams, has advised the Trustees that she has secured a grant of £10,000 towards the restoration of Small Prairie 4561, from the Swire Charitable Trust.

Earlier this month the new cylinder blocks left Williton for Harco Engineering for machining work.

The WSRA strives to be transparent, ethical and responsible in all fundraising activities.

In order to demonstrate this we have published our own fundraising policy and registered with the fundraising regulator, an independent, non-statutory body that regulates fundraising across the charitable sector in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.  The Fundraising regulator publishes a code of fundraising practice,  which we will abide by in all our fundraising activities.

The fundraising regulator promotes best practice in fundraising, in order to protect donors and support the vital work of fundraisers.  We are proud to carry the logo in our fundraising publicity.

An unusual view of the smoke box main steam pipe connected to the super heater header castings with the super heater elements attached.  The regulation housing would be fitted between the upper most flanges.

All of this is normally hidden in the smoke box and boiler flue tubes. It is assembled ready for hydraulic (water Pressure) test.

Items of note are the very convoluted main steam pipes, welded steel pipe fittings in this case however Swindon would form these from copper (somehow!)

The upper most ends have captive 3 bolt flanges and spherical olives that allow the joints to be accurately made against spherical seat rings on the regulator housing. The loose 3 bolt flanges have the same effect as a 3 legged stool.

The super heater header is a complex casting where “wet” steam from the boiler is kept separate from the superheated steam after passing through the super heating elements (the smaller tubes to the rear)

This is a single row, 6 element arrangement

Just waiting the chimney, regulator, main steam pipes and the superheating arrangement to be installed to complete.

Piston valves now all installed and clad. Shown here is the outer end of the valve spindle, the nut holds a replaceable ground sleeve on the valve rod on the exhaust (low pressure) side of the piston valve. There is one at both ends of the piston rod either side of the valve heads. The high pressure steam is between the 2 valve heads on the valve spindle within the piston valve assy.

The jumper ring on the blast pipe cleaned up ready for further service.
The jumper ring allows a sharp exhaust by the ring lifting under load to increasing the blast orifice but as the exhaust rate decreases, the ring drops back thus reducing the blast. This is a standard GWR fitting.

New Crank pin retaining washer being fitted, It is screwed onto the crank pin and “fitted” by machining the back face off until the tapered cotter pin (not shown) screws in correctly to lock the main washer onto the crank pin.