For further information and lots more photo's of 34058, visit the web site www.34058.co.uk


A fabulous picture of 34058 'Sir Frederick Pile' heading away from Wimbledon with a boat train to Southampton sometime in the mid 1960's.  Photo - Alastair F Nisbet.

It seems ages since the last report on the progress of the big ex Southern Railway 4-6-2 'SIR FREDERICK PILE'. As ever progress of the small but highly dedicated restoration group is best described as steady and is moving along nicely in a number of areas:.

On the loco itself, those of you who visit the site from time to time may have noticed that the main frames are now starting to acquire their first cost of paint for many years - key assistance provided by Wayne Osborne on needle gun & paint pot, his previous experience on another Bulleid loco restoration project put to good use. Attention has also been given to repairing a number of weld defects found in the right hand side slidebar bracket following its cleaning and dye penetrant examination. It is pleasing to report that this is now fully repaired and in 'better than new' condition. The RHS rear brake hanger bracket has also been similarly treated.

Also at the front end of the loco, all the rivets have now been removed from the smokebox (the ones which hold it on to the boiler) in preparation for the hopefully imminent removal of old and trial fit of new smokebox. To give you an idea of what is involved in the time consuming process of removing seventy four hydraulically squeezed 5/8" rivets installed in 1960, the process is as follows; Grind off snap head on outside with angle grinder (whilst working in any position of the clock around the circumference of the boiler), drill 1/4" hole down the middle of the remains of the rivet, cut away core with oxy-acetylene torch, before tapping the remains of the rivet through with hammer. This method ensures that we don't damage the boiler tubeplate, and it also has the advantage of keeping the noise down (compared to say a 'rivet buster' or belting things with air/lump hammers) as we try to be good neighbours, and the now tubeless boiler acts like a giant and very loud drum when hit!

Acquisition of cab fittings continues, the latest being an original BR AWS driver's Sunflower 'black box' as fitted in the cab, which amazingly appears to be in full working order - it goes without saying that this will be required for mainline operation - amazing what turns up at railwayana auctions. Various other fittings have been made in the group's London works, mainly for the loco lubrication system - and production of these continues when time allows.

Another highly significant step forward has been the ordering of a complete set of tender wheelsets (six wheels and three axles), from Southern Locomotives Ltd to the original B-F-B pattern. The manufacture of these is currently progressing, and delivery is expected soon. The wheels, complete with the recent delivery of horn guides and spring hanger pocket castings, gives us almost all the running gear required for the tender. That, and the custom rolled 7/8" thick steel plate for the tender frames means that effectively the tender chassis is now collated in kit form - all we have to do is assemble it. The continued co-operation with Southern Locomotives is pleasing and hopefully mutually beneficial with regard to getting Bulleid Pacifics running again.

Congratulations are due to Southern Locomotives Ltd on the recent completion of sister loco 34028 'Eddystone' to running condition at Swanage. (Who do we need to ask to let us borrow it for a bit?)

James Fibbens.

LOADS more pictures and details of restoration of 'Sir Frederick Pile' can be found at www.34058.co.uk

Cleaning out of the smokebox saddle continues with a start made on needle gunning prior to applying a protective coat of paint. On the tender, an order has recently been placed with Southern Locomotives Ltd for a set of tender spring hangers and tender horn guides as part of a bulk purchase of these items. We have also acquired a copy of the Railtrack approved welding procedure for repairing cracks in Bulleid Boxpok wheels. At the time of writing it is not known whether '58 has any wheel cracks, but we now have the procedure to repair them should it prove so.

James Fibbens.

34058 in unmodified form double heading a 3 coach Ilfracombe - Exeter train up the 1 in 36 to Morthoe with sister loco 34052 'Lord Dowding'.  It's not that the Bulleids struggled with 3 coaches -  34058 would have been attached to the front of the train to get it back to where it came from as a 'balancing' move. Photo - S.Creer.

Before I start with the latest restoration update, some readers might be interested in a little bit more of the locomotive history, so here are two photographs from the archives that may be of interest.

View of the nameplate and crest as fitted to the unrebuilt locomotive, taken shortly after the naming ceremony on 28th April 1948 which was performed by General Pile at Waterloo Station.

Moving on to the restoration of the locomotive - things have been going quite well in recent months, with some excellent forward progress being made;

The most interesting sign of life to the casual visitor to the site will be the painting of the boiler. After some preparatory work (which included undertaking a risk assessment and manufacture of the necessary screens and scaffolds), the boiler was grit blasted and painted over two days in the first week in September.  The results of all this hard work speak for themselves, as you can see from these photographs.

Blasting being carried out by a specialist contractor.  Photo - James Fibbens.

In addition to the excellent progress made with the protection of the boiler, the other significant item of note to report is the rolling and delivery of the new smokebox.  This will replace the badly corroded original and is currently stored vertically in front of the engine, to be fitted when the original has been removed along with the superheater header.

Work also continues on some of the smaller components, the most recent items being finished being the first of the brake gear adjuster 'Crosshead Guides' which have been 100% pressed, fabricated and machined on site at Bitton.

In addition to all this, the locomotive has been fitted with a notice board giving some information on its history and the restoration to date. This seems to have been well received by the everyday 'punters', but don't take my word for it, why not pop down to the railway and take a look yourself?

James Fibbens

BELOW - Spring 2001 Restoration Update

Work continues on 34058 - Sir Frederick Pile, and since the latest report in 'Semaphore Online', things have been concentrating on the tender (which readers will remember is being constructed totally from scratch at Bitton) and also protecting the boiler from further corrosion.

What it will look like when it's done! - 34058 'Sir Frederick Pile' at Eastleigh in May 1963.
(Very keen eyed readers will notice that the locomotive carries the RAF crest from 34068 'Kenley' that was incorrectly fitted at its rebuild in October 1960).
Photo - R K Blencowe Collection

The operating linkages for the tender handbrake run from the tender footplate where the handbrake operating lever is located, down the right hand side of the tender, through an intermediate link, a bell crank and yet another link where they reach the main cross frame brake operating shaft (which is where the two vacuum brake cylinders are attached).

It is on these linkages and the supporting bracketry that the main effort on the tender has been focused in recent weeks, and we are now on the way to having a full set of handbrake gear from the front of the tender to the back, with a start soon to be made on the main tender brake shaft.

As so often the case in locomotive preservation, we have no original items to work from, so it's back to the drawing board, or at least the Bulleid pacific drawing list to dig out the correct Eastleigh or Brighton works drawing. From this a review of the drawing is made to ensure that it will all fit together once built, and then it's on to cutting metal and after many hours of work, a component approaching something near the finished article is produced.

We are also fortunate to be able to visit other locomotives to take measurements. The Bluebell railway is only some 8 miles away from my house, so it's not too much of a problem to pop in there from time to time. Our sincere thanks is due to the Bluebell and 34023 and 34059 group for their kind assistance.

The bellcrank and handbrake operating linkage at the rear of the tender on sister locomotive 34059 at the Bluebell Railway. Can you spot the deliberate mistake?
Photo - James Fibbens

With all the tubes removed, the boiler has been jacked up in situ on the engine onto it's specially made supports to be prepared for grit blasting and painting when the weather gets better. Most of the newly made running plates have also been removed from the engine so that they don't get covered in grit/paint. All but two of the non-ferrous fittings have been removed from the boiler including the large washout plugs that lead to the thermic siphons in the firebox. The lack of any scale in this area confirms that the Southern's water treatment programme worked very well indeed which will hopefully stand us in good stead when it comes to the boiler restoration.

The tedious task of digging out some 4 years (Oct 1960-Sep1964) worth of ash and soot from the smokebox saddle has commenced and it's hard work. This is some 8 inches deep in places and has solidified into a kind of horrible paste/grease/mud/ash/sulphuresque combination. If anybody wants some to put on their garden, please let me know! It's probably got quite a high iron content as well!

James Fibbens

BELOW - Winter 2000 Restoration Update

Since the last update in Semaphore, work has continued steadily on the restoration of Battle of Britain Pacific No. 34058 - 'Sir Frederick Pile'.

On the locomotive itself, work has recently been concentrating on the boiler. After considerable effort all the large and small diameter tubes have been removed (for the first time in about 40 years!). Most of them were extracted easily, but some of the small tubes, being clogged solid with soot and ash, took a lot of persuasion to get out.

Carl Hellings wields the gas axe to remove some of the last remaining small tubes from the smokebox end of the boiler.  Photo - James Fibbens.

For the first time, we have been able to get our first proper look inside the boiler, and the general condition seems to be encouragingly good. The relatively small amount of scale, and the good condition of the flue tubes shows that the Water treatment applied by the Southern appears to have done it's job.

The boiler is seen jacked up on it's specially made supports which will allow it to be shot blasted where it sits on the frames rather than take up valuable space in the yard.
Photo - James Fibbens

The boiler has been jacked up by about 12 inches to allow better access for grit blasting and painting - which will hopefully take place in the spring with the better weather. It is hoped that this can be arranged at the same time as the blasting of the 8F boiler. Also, if we ask nicely, it is hoped that the railway's crane can be used to assist with the removal of the somewhat heavy (1/2 ton) superheater from the smokebox.

On the Tender front, the vast majority of the various linkages and pins that make up the operating gear for the handbrake are in the final stages of construction and machining. A start is being made on the main brakeshaft and lever arms that connect the 21" vacuum cylinders to the brake blocks, as well as various brackets and bits of steel that make up the back of the tender.

James Fibbens.

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This page last updated by Tony Wray on 7/11/2003.