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Quainton News archive - Quainton News No. 34 - Spring 1978
Metropolitan Railway E Class 0-4-4T No. 1
The Restoration of Metropolitan No. 1
Eighty years ago Metropolitan Railway 0-4-4T, No. 1, was built at Neasden, the first of a Class of seven engines for use on the Company's underground and suburban passenger services. Six years later, on 4th July 1904, gaily decorated with flags and bunting it headed the first passenger train on the opening of the Uxbridge branch from Harrow on the Hill. Years of hard work followed for No. 1 on Metropolitan trains to Aylesbury. Forty years ago, in London Transport livery, she was pictured at the old Neasden shed by Henry Casserley.
Fourteen years ago L44, as she had been renumbered, was steamed for the last time when, on 26th March 1964, she made the journey from Neasden to the London Railway Preservation Society's temporary store at Skimpot Lane, Luton. While at this depot an attempt was made to prepare the locomotive for a live steam appearance at the Bedford Centenary Exhibition in October 1968. Some defective stays were replaced and the Bedford shed boilersmith made plans for a hydraulic test but unfortunately the locomotive was not permitted to be seen in action for the journey or in steam at the Exhibition.
On 23rd September 1970 after two years in store at Aylesbury, L44 arrived at Quainton Road and the photograph shows Sir Thomas pulling the 0-4-4T into the down yard during the track slew. Restoration couldn't be started until the overhaul of the Beattie was completed although basic preservation was done against corrosion. A real start was made on 13th August 1975 with the removal of the tanks and cab. In February 1976 the boiler was lifted out and the task was really underway.
Frank Boait is leading the Quainton restoration team which in the past six months has had some new faces and includes Trevor Paige, Del Etheridge, Mark Needham and Steve Love. Other members have also worked on No. 1 and all are contributing to bringing steam back into this wonderful Metropolitan octogenarian. Fortunately Frank is well supplied with many of the Neasden official drawings of the engine and these are of great value in the restoration work. Readers should refer to the Quainton Stockbook for the principal dimensions which are listed in the table of motive power.
The condition of the boiler of a preserved locomotive is of primary importance. In 1972, a hydraulic test was applied to L44's boiler and to everyone's consternation water was seen to be seeping from under the lagging. However a recent inspection by a boilersmith from Derby has reassured us that the missing rivet on the safety valve flange is not serious and a new rivet is to be made and fitted this year. Internally the boiler has been thoroughly cleaned with high pressure water jets and all loose scale has been removed. To make a proper job of the wash out 14 tubes have been taken out; the bottom row and five others. These will be replaced using tubes from the stock of 30 which we have for spares. Frank believes the boiler is pre-1920 but the firebox was probably made about 1940. A new concrete arch will be cast to replace the brick arch which has been broken out and a new set of firebars are available which will still leave us with one set spare.
When the boiler had been taken out, the frames were jacked up onto blocks and the bogie and the coupled wheels were run out. The leading driving boxes were found scored and these have been repaired and there was some wear in the front horns which has also been attended to. Two of the bogie axle boxes have been remetalled and the main frames, bogie, stretchers, spring assemblies and all the brackets and steelwork below. the running plate have been cleaned, inspected and repainted.
The inspection of the link motion and eccentrics showed quite a satisfactory state of affairs but the coupling rod bushes and the big end bushes are being remetalled. The condition of the cylinder bores is slightly dubious because there has been some corrosion pitting caused by water laying on the bottom. More cheerfully, the side valves have good faces and do not need any attention.
The examination of the general platework of the locomotive has not shown too much which will require replacement. We will need some new boiler lagging sheets and renewal of the top bunker extension plates has been carried out. In regard to fittings, these are all available except the original lubricator which was stolen from the engine when it was at Luton or Aylesbury. On Met No. 1 the vacuum controlled steam brake valve is a combination valve whereas on the Beattie the steam valve is separate. A trip cock is fitted and this is to be retained. Steam heating will also be kept available and might make a cosy ride for our visitors in the Gresley BSK at future Easter Open Days!
The major effort is to re-wheel the locomotive, hopefully by Easter. The frames are ready in brilliant top coat paint, there are no broken spring leaves and the bogie has already been completed. Although we had planned at one time to have the tyres reprofiled this is not really necessary at this stage. Incidentally, the tyres are secured on No. 1 by screws and not by Gibson rings; a point worth noting if BR running is contemplated.
The most valuable development at Quainton in progressing the restoration of our Metropolitan tank was the completion of the restoration building and the availability of electric drills, grinder, welding and cutting gear and workshop facilities. Later this year the team hope to be completing the fitting out and repainting in the splendid maroon livery of the 1934/5 period. It has not yet been decided how to finish off the tank sides, but Metropolitan 1, as shown below, plus a bunker crest is favourite. Without making any promises, Enthusiasts weekend on 23rd and 24th September should be well worth attending this year!
Text © Quainton Railway Society / Photographs © Quainton Railway Society or referenced photographer
Page Updated: 17 November 2017