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Having reduced the thickness of the extension frame plates where needed they were then set up flat on the milling machine table to create a curved profile where the thickness had been changed. This can just be seen above the lower handwheel.  The machine spindle below the upper handwheel is fitted with a profiled milling cutter to generate the shape required.


This photograph shows the profile milling cutter in action during the early stages of this machining


Having completed the shaping of the extension frame plates the next step was to drill each plate ready for where the 4561’s front buffer beam and leading pony truck frame stretcher will be fitted.

The 8 holes on the left will be used for the buffer beam angles and the 11 holes centre and right are for the stretcher.


The all new pony truck stretcher is tried in position against one of the extension frame plates fitted to the cylinder block to confirm alignment and dimensions are to drawing. The team has fabricated the stretcher from a central casting bolted into an assembly of steel plates and angles riveted and/or welded together.  The frame plate mating faces have been machined to ensure a good fit between the 2 extension frame plates to ensure they are supported the correct distance apart.


This photo. shows the assembly so far from the rear. It also shows the new rear cylinder covers in position on each cylinder

210108 7. Ext. frame assembly a

This photo. shows the assembly so far from the rear. It also shows the new rear cylinder covers in position on each cylinder


A lockdown challenge for you:

This photo. is taken from the front through one cylinder and shows the rear cover in position at the back. The central hole is where the piston rod will go. Bearing in mind that the cylinder block assembly is upside down what are the two holes to the left of the piston rod for – one in the back cover, the other in the cylinder wall?

43. 201222 Frame Extensions 1

As can be seen a frame extension (orange) is not simply a flat piece of steel plate. It is profiled to fit beneath the cylinder block but in front of that it has to be cut away to clear the leading pony truck wheels before being shaped to fit the front buffer in due course. With the cylinders upside down on the floor the LH extension is seen in position having been aligned and fitted to the block ready for all bolt holes to be reamed ready for the securing bolts to be made.

44. 201222 Frame Extensions 2

This view of the front of the extension frame shows how it is not part of a flat plate but has also to  be tapered  in thickness from the front of the block and joggled inwards to increase clearance for the pony truck wheels. This part of the work was done by our supplier. Apart from not wasting steel the reduction in thickness helps to keep weight distribution under control.

45. 201222 Frame Extensions 3

At the back of the cylinder block the frame extension is deeper where it will be bolted to the main frame plate in due course. In the photo. this section is still full thickness but this has to be reduced in order to provide clearance for 4561’s leading sandbox which will be fitted between the frames. This machining has to be finished in such a way as to minimise the possibility of creating any stress raisers that could cause frame cracking under heavy shunting impacts. The old extension frames are shown in the next photo. where it can be seen how this reduction in thickness has to be  blended into the main part of the extension frame plate.

46. 201222 frame Extensions 4

The old plates do show evidence of past cracking and bending under shunting impacts and the new plates are being thickened in this area to minimise this possibility in the future.

47. 201222 Frame Extensions 5

This photo. shows the back of the other, R.H. frame extension set up on our large milling machine for the thickness to be gradually reduced in a series of steps using a slab mill. Once this has been done down to finished size the plate will be laid down flat on the machine table to be profiled to removed the cut edges and provide a smooth transition from the thinner section to full thickness.


37. 201211 Cylinder assembly + frameplate

The next job was to make and permanently insert the fitted bolts and nuts for the cylinder joint. The cylinder block was then taken off the ‘coffee table’ and turned over to stand on the floor upside down as seen in the photo. One of the extension frame blanks has been placed where it has to be fitted when after machining


Each end of each cylinder bore 5 studs have to be fitted to reinforce the casting around the steam ports. Three of these studs are shown during manufacture – the one with the plain section to be fitted across a steam port. The ends are finished with square sections used to drive the studs into position when the squares are then cut off.


This photo. shows one cylinder end with the 5 studs in position and the ends dressed off. 3 can just be seen within the steam port and 2 between the cylinder bore and the steam chest below.


A close up view of the steam port showing the studs in position.

41. 201211 Ext. frame on Mill

This photo shows one new extension frame plate on the milling machine preparatory to being set up for machining to size.

42. 201211 Old ext.frames

This photo shows the old extension frames which have been retained to act as patterns  for the machining. The new plates will be thicker to resist cracking and/or bending when 4561 is next in service.

The WSRA is pleased to announce that the recent fundraising campaign for the railway’s DMU (Diesel Multiple Unit) has now achieved its £5000 target. The West Somerset Railway is very grateful to everyone who donated to this appeal. The funds will be used to pay for repairs to the old door handles, locks and striker plates on the DMU to ensure that they are safe for passengers.

Work has already commenced to remove the old items and prepare them for sending away for refurbishment. Interim Operations Manager Paul Fleet said “This most welcome funding allows us to focus on some of the small, but nevertheless important components of the unit.
Our small team of dedicated volunteers are grateful for all of the donations, and would welcome offers of help to bring about a number of desired and long-overdue improvements that will keep the unit serviceable over the coming years.”


Having set the cylinders up the first check made was that both castings were sitting flat on the ‘table’. This was done between each casting and the ‘table’ top using a feeler gauge which was 0.002” thick – i.e. two-thousandths of an inch.


These photos show the joint between the cylinders secured with temporary bolts. In the centre is the hand tool made to skim the casting surfaces around each bolt hole to ensure that the fitted bolt heads and nuts when inserted can be tightened evenly onto the casting surfaces.


A further alignment check was made using a straight edge across the cylinder end faces and the edges of the cylinder flanges. The straight edge is an 8 feet long steel bar which has been ground true over its length which is kept solely for this sort of work. This check was also done using feeler gauges to ensure there were no unacceptable gaps compared with the GWR standard tolerances for machined parts.


Having prepared the two cylinder castings they were separated for the joint faces to be cleaned up ready for the application of the jointing compound. The photo shows the area involved.


This photo shows one of the cylinder faces liberally coated with the jointing compound.


The two castings were rejoined on the ‘table’ and the same alignment checks made to confirm all was well before the bolts were tightened. The photo shows the cylinder flanges with bolts in place and evidence that the jointing compound has squeezed all around the joint.

As members will be aware, the WSRA has welcomed the direction of the Bailey report and is working with the PLC and other members of the railway family towards implementing a new structure. The proposed structure would achieve a new charity to own the railway and the operating company and offer a home to the many special interest groups who contribute to the railway in their own way.

No heritage railway can raise enough income from fares alone to meet its costs. Ownership by a charity brings tax advantages (effectively adding 25% to all money donated by taxpayers) as well as access to funds from grant-giving bodies and organisations such as the National Lottery. While we and others have been successful in raising funds by this route in the past, the amounts raised have been far less than that achieved by many other heritage railways.

A successful restructuring will also bring the opportunity to resolve the internal strife which has plagued our railway for many years and the subsequent harm caused to our image, locally and nationally.

Clearly, there is a need to resolve many details, and to gain approval of regulators, such as the ORR & the Charity Commission, as well as taking shareholders, members, and our landlords on the journey with us. A good deal of work is needed to gain these agreements, and the WSRA trustees are keen to engage with that work. We are therefore asking members to complete a very simple initial survey to confirm their agreement to the proposed way forward and also to put forward any questions and suggestions you may have.

There is a members’ page on our website HERE dedicated to the proposed restructuring process. You will find links to the relevant documents and responses together with the initial survey. If you are unsure of any answers, there is an opportunity to explain your concerns and also scope for a wider response by completing a form or sending an email. Please do complete the basic survey as this will give us a simple basis of quantitative data from which to work.

We will keep members informed of progress and seek approval before any proposed change and modify/update our response in the light of members’ feedback.


If you are not yet a WSRA member but would like to become more involved with the railway you can join us HERE

29. Coffee table!

Machining of the surface table to form a level datum for assembling the cylinders has been completed and the resulting block mounted on a welded steel framework. It is now referred to as the ‘coffee table’ although it is considerably more substantial than these normally are!


A quick reminder that we still need more funds to help with this work so please give what you can.

27.Cylinder blocks
28. cylinder blocks

Two photos that show the new cylinders having been set up on the ‘table’ with temporary nuts and bolts through the central flanges to hold the two castings steady. Once Ryan is satisfied that these are correctly aligned he will make and fit new fitted bolts for these flanges to hold the two cylinders together in service. Note that a small screw jack has been set up under each cylinder casting to take some of the weight to assist making any movements needed.


Work on the horn blocks and stays has now been completed and all have been fitted as can be seen in the photo. of the mainframe. This has enabled adjustment of the frame stands to leave clearance for the fitting of the spring hangers, two of which can be seen in position painted in light green primer.


The new cylinder castings have been brought into the workshop ready for work to start on joining them together. The photo. shows the two castings each of which consists of one cylinder plus half the locomotive’s smokebox saddle. The two halves have to be joined by bolting through the central vertical flanges front and back for which a set of 10 fitted bolts and nuts are to be made. The blanks for these have been cut and initial machining undertaken as seen in second photo.


In order to align the cylinders accurately they will be set up using a known level flat surface table with square sides to act as a datum base. This is shown in the photo.  under preparation on the horizontal milling machine where one side is being machined square.


Once the cylinders have been joined the next step is to fit 4561’s new extension frames and front bufferbeam. The two partially prepared extension pieces and the buffer plank have been brought into the workshop in readiness.


During October Ryan and Don visited the South Devon Railway at Buckfastleigh to discuss the possible needs for steel plates when work resumes on 4561’s boiler and firebox. These plates have now been delivered and are seen in Williton yard.

The West Somerset Railway Association are delighted to announce they have received £50,000 funding from Julia and Hans Rausing’s Charity Survival Fund. This kind and generous grant has been donated in order to mitigate the economic impact of the Covid 19 pandemic and to support the charity in covering their core costs. We are all thrilled with this donation and hope the Trustees will come and visit us over the next financial year so we can demonstrate the importance of our heritage line.


During this very difficult year, the WSRA also gratefully acknowledges the following donations from Trusts and Foundations:

Transport Trust   £1,500 towards the restoration of 4561
Hastoe Housing Assoc  £250 towards first aid costs for the Steam Rally
Somerset Community Foundation £250 for WSR TV equipment
Skipton  £427.50  for WSR TV equipment
Elmgrant Trust £1400 towards the restoration of 4561
Aviva Community Fund £1040.67 towards the restoration of 4561
Calor rural community fund £92.90 for the Hawksworth Saloon
Card Factory £1,000 towards volunter recruitment and training costs
Aurelius Charitable trust £3,500 towards the restoration of 4561
Medlock Charitable Trust £2,500 towards the restoration of 4561
Prudential (MGP community) £2000 towards volunteer recruitment and training costs
Hilary Awdry Charitable Trust £2000 towards the restoration of 4561
29th May 1961 Charitable Trust £1000 towards the restoration of 4561
Verina Black Charitable Trust £2000 towards the restoration of 4561
Veronica Awdry Charitable Trust £3000 towards the restoration of 4561

18. 201020 RL Horn stay fitted 11 JAG adj

Ryan has made good progress with fitting the horn stays. This photo shows the RL Horn with its stay as fitted. The upright mating faces of the horn block and  horn stay are machined at an angle of 2 degrees from the vertical such that when the retaining nuts are tightened these faces become the register for locating the stay. A gap is left between the bottom horizontal face of the horn block and the matching face of the stay. This allows for adjustment when 4561 is in service should a stay show any signs of loosening under the pounding this part of the main frames have to sustain when the locomotive is working.

19. 201020 Machining Horn stay 12 JAG adj

This photo shows how the upright faces of the stay are machined. The normally vertical spindle of the milling machine has been set over at the 2 degree angle to cut the stay face as it is traversed past the cutter. This is a separate operation for each of the 4 upright faces of the stay.

20. 201020 Fitted Horn Stays 13 JAG adj

Here we can see the other 4 horn stays which, having been fitted and marked for each of their particular locations, have been put to one side pending the next operation. So far these stays have been fitted using one stud in each horn block but to complete the installation a second stud is required in each horn block,  i.e. a further 12 studs have to be made and fitted.