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Quainton News Archive - Quainton News No. 73 - September 1993
GWR 57XX Class 0-6-0PT No. 7715 (L.99)
Few would dispute that one of the most significant achievements of the year so far at BRC has been the restoration of 0-6-0 pannier tank L99 to main line standard by John Carter and his hard-working team of volunteers. This locomotive, an example of the Collett 57xx class, was built for the GWR in 1930 as 7715. London Transport purchased it from BR in 1963, and it ran on their metals until 1969. The locomotive has been at Quainton Road since 1970. In 1979 she received a heavy overhaul; many will remember her working in the down yard in rather faded GWR livery. The boiler had not been passed fit for BR, so in 1988 the decision was taken to lift the boiler from the frames, repair it and get the loco back in running order for the Chesham Centenary in 1989. However, as is often the way with such projects, once the boiler was in pieces it was discovered that there was a great deal of work needed - re-staying mostly (approx. 500 steel stays, 30-40 copper stays) but also 200+ foundation ring rivets and all large flues needed replacement. As JC says "it was patently obvious that we would never make 1989", so it was decided not only to do a full job on the boiler but also to strip down the chassis so that it would be good for the 7-10 year boiler life. Once detubed, the boiler was sent to Roger Pridham's in Devon, where work progressed as funds allowed. In the meantime the chassis was worked on by JC and his team so that it would be ready for re-uniting with the boiler. As with many restoration jobs, the pace of work was dictated by cash flow. Matters were not helped either by having to do major work on Met 1 (necessitating jacking this loco up 'high in the air') halfway through the restoration job.
Some significant problems were encountered but were overcome by the engineering skills of JC and his gang. Most notably, a special jig was developed so that out-of-parallel horn faces could be ground true. One horn guide was found to be cracked - this was removed and repaired by welding. A driving horn guide was discovered to be loose on the frames. This was corrected by reaming out the bolt holes and using new fitted bolts. Crossheads and eccentric straps were remetalled off site. The cylinder bores were cleaned and new piston rings fitted. Examination of the slide valves showed them to be in good condition; they are still good and steam-tight. To remove slop, the braking gear was stripped and re-bushed then fitted with new pins and two new brake beams - all made on site. A significant job done in-house was the re-metalling and machining of the two driving axle boxes. This was not straightforward however for the electric (thermostatically controlled) melting pot ordered for the job from a supplier and paid for was never supplied. Eventually one was bought from the manufacturers: the wrangling about the double payment is still unfortunately going on. There was another problem when the coil springs were sent away for load testing - one collapsed. Fortunately, Brian Thompson of GWS Didcot very kindly offered a replacement from 3650 - subsequently L99 ran on the Met. Events on this borrowed one. Another item was a new set of pannier tanks made (with a welded finish - purists eat your heart out) by Banbury Fabrications who did an excellent job.
The boiler passed its hydraulic test just before Christmas 1992 (see photo in Quainton News 72, and its steam test in early March 1993. As JC remarks "the frenzy of activity actually began in October 1992." It reached a crescendo when in one day this spring, the boiler was put back in the frames, lagged, and the tanks and cabs replaced. I am told that it was a somewhat long working day! The crane driver was also very busy that historic day, for in addition to the work on L99 he removed the side tanks from the Ivatt loco of the Ivatt Trust, and also lifted off the body of Peter Bishop's Picnic Saloon!
The lining out was completed on the Thursday before the launch day of April 30, when L99, now in authentic LT livery, proudly steamed along the down yard metals, (the sharp-eyed among you will have noted that the toolboxes still awaited re-fitting!) bringing to an end a five-year restoration costing in excess of £50K.
Shortly after, L99 took up duties on the Watford-Amersham route where she performed faultlessly - a marvellous tribute to the engineering skill and dedication of John and his team. But this main-line caper, is, as they say another story ...
Text © Quainton Railway Society / Photographs © Quainton Railway Society or referenced photographer
Page Updated: 27 July 2018