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5643 restoration complete!

5643 is back5643 hauled its first passenger train in 43 years - ably taking the 1405 Haverthwaite to Lakeside and return on 1st September 2006. There had been an enforced period of limbo since the first test steamings and its first test run under its own steam, the previous November - because it emerged during the early part of 2006 that the regulator that controls the flow of steam into the cylinders had developed a small crack that could not be repaired. The only option was to have a pattern made and a new regulator cast, machined, fettled and installed. All this took considerable time, effort and money.

In the meantime, the locomotive was painted in fully lined British Railways green livery, with later BR crest on the tank sides, and other issues have been addressed.

The debut passenger run threw up a few small problems to fix, and the engine duly arrived at the Llangollen Railway for the steam gala on September 9/10th, and a period of running in, and hauling passenger trains, up until April 2007. During the running in period at Llangollen, the engine has received further attention to its braking system and an axlebox that had a tendency to run hot.

5643 had first turned a wheel under its own steam 80 years to the month since it entered service in October 1925. The test steaming established there were no major flaws in the locomotive. A blocked blower and the cylinder lubricator needed attention. Once these were rectified, the locomotive was steamed to the satisfaction of the insurance company's boiler inspector, and a test run carried out on the full length of the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway.

5643 pat Linsty Green on the way to Lakeside

After this succesful test run, on November 16th, the boiler was drained to avoid ice damage during what can often be a harsh winter in this part of the Lake District.

5643 in November 2004The restoration team had spent 2005 fitting the myriad of pipework that links all the fixtures and fittings. Attention was also given to the paintwork, and to a persistent leak in the water tank underneath the coal space in the bunker.

The final lap of the restoration project had been made possible thanks to the reinstating of the tanks and cab in November 2004, as shown in this photograph. Because the Trust took the precaution of making all the components for the pipework before the boiler was sent away for repair, this job was easier, although it still took almost a year for the team to achieve this, alongside the other tasks that remained to be done.

The boiler work was the biggest hurdle in the restoration project. The contractors at Carnforth had to fit a new front tube plate, and replace the bottom row of stays in the firebox (these join the inner and outer walls of the firebox).

5643 boiler passes its steam testThe boiler goes back into the framesThis culminated in the boiler it passing its out-of-frames hydraulic and full pressure steam tests, to the satisfaction of our boiler inspector in February 2004, see photograph (left). With the superheater elements fitted, it was returned to Haverthwaite and lifted into the frames on March 9th 2004, see photograph (right).

The opportunity had been taken at Haverthwaite during the 18 months the boiler was away to complete the rolling chassis, fitting the connecting and couple rods, and the rest of the motion parts, whilst the frames were unencumbered by a massive boiler!

To allow the boiler to be sent away, all the fittings like cladding, tanks, and pipes all had to come off again after their trial fitting. This might seem like unnecessary expenditure of effort, but it means that, once the boiler was returned, the locomotive could be assembled as quickly as possible. This is not just a morale-booster - the clock on a boiler's 10 year "ticket" starts ticking from the moment the boiler is steam-tested out of the frames, so it was in everyone's interest to get it back in place, and the engine running, as soon as possible, to get as much value out of the ticket as possible.

5643 with cladding in place for trial fittingOne departure from the original design is the fitting of a new rocking grate mechanism in the front half of the firebox, and a hopper ashpan. This is to make life easier for the crews when putting the engine "to bed" at the end of the day. Similar equipment has been fitted to a number of other former Great Western Railway locomotives.

This system allows the remaining fire to be dropped straight down and doesn't have to be laboriously dug out. The British Railways firebars have the advantage over earlier models in that the cast bars are divided into segments across the firebox. This means when a breakage occurs, only a small portion, not an entire bar, needs to be replaced.

Many new parts were required during the restoration: we used two brake blocks from the tender of another of our engines, Number 4979 "Wootton Hall", to complete the set of six required. We borrowed the pull rods from sister locomotive Number 6619 from the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, which at the time was also under overhaul at Carnforth. After a successful fitting, two new pull rods were ordered from the forgers in Barrow. 6619's panel that covers the cab reversing lever was also borrowed to allow a copy to be made - many thanks to Kevin Gould from that team for his indulgence.

The missing footplate section that covers the cylinders was also made from a plate of 8mm mild steel.

The main work for a long period of time was the test installation cab fittings, in particular the many lengths of pipework. Slowly the maze of copper came together - thanks to the efforts of Keith Brewer and Alan Middleton. Special tools had to be made to flare the ends of the small copper pipes to allow a good connection in the glands.

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5643 Restoration project - how it was achieved