August 2004

A long awaited clean up of the Goods Shed has begun, with a view to making more space and getting rid of unwanted clutter. Assistance in this task will be both welcome and necessary. That includes all members of the Department - and any other Department.

Whilst on the subject of the Goods Shed, could we politely remind anyone using tools from the shed to return them after use. There have been one or two examples recently where tools have been borrowed and left around the site on another job, something which delays work until the tools can be found. You are more than welcome to use them - JUST MAKE SURE THAT THEY COME BACK!!!!

Another area which needs attention is the rest of the yard from the Goods shed onwards. As was discussed at the Operating Meeting, this is A Big Job and there will be a designated Clean Up Day at some point in the future. In the meantime, please remember that the Metal skip is for just that - metal! Please don't use it for general rubbish.

RSH - has been running well until developing a bad boiler leak in July. This has now been mended and the boiler is awaiting a steam test. The loco should be back in service by 15th August

Ferrum - work on lubricating the axle boxes has now been completed and a new brake column has been fitted (donated by Grumpy). The boiler has returned to the Flour Mill in the Forest of Dean, where new tubes will be fitted, followed by a steam test. It's hoped that she'll be back by the end of September.

Avonside (Edwin Hulse) - work is progressing slowly, with the cab and bunker now painted in primer. Axle boxes are being fitted and, after close inspection of the journals on the wheels, it will be necessary to send them to be skimmed and polished. The boiler is now in the final stages of being dismantled ready for inspection and repair.

NB : This is a Trust engine and donations towards the repairs will be very gratefully received by the Trust.

Meteor - a new bunker and cab floor are currently under construction.

No 70 - has also been performing well, before developing a bad knock on the small end bearing on the cross head. Thanks to help from the owner Colin Hatchett, the problem was overcome in seven days and the engine returned to traffic the following weekend.

Two views of No. 70 working trains at Bitton over the last few weeks.
Photo's - Tony Wray.


With the new season fast approaching our locos are in now fair trim thanks to lots of Tender Loving Care.

RSH – is ready for traffic and has passed its annual boiler test.

No 70 - the axle box and bearing repairs have been completed and she has also passed her boiler test.

Ferrum – is now living comfortably in the Goods Shed and awaiting lubrication and axle box inspection. John Miles reports that getting the loco into the shed was an interesting experience. Due to having a very wide frame - there was only ¼ inch clearance going through the door. Her boiler is now being welded in Hull and should be back in June.

Avonside – work continues, albeit slowly because of recent commitments to work at Avon Riverside.


Apart from a slight problem on one occasion with leaking tubes on the 1F, the Santa Specials were successfully looked after by the 1F and RSH.  Copious amounts of atmospheric steam were enjoyed by all passengers.

RSH – has now been stripped down for its 12 monthly examination.

1F – all the leaking tubes which had been blanked off have now been removed for inspection. It is likely that all tubes will need to be replaced.

70 Phoenix – still available for traffic.

Ferrum – has had new outsides riveted onto the firebox and is about to go to Hull to have the outer firebox plates welded on and new stays fitted and welded. However she should be back by Easter and ready for steaming by the Polish Day in early summer (see News From Development Manager)

Avonside – work is progressing …slowly. At some point in the future money will be needed for a new firebox.


Another busy season comes to an end apart from the Santa Specials with the RSH doing all the work early on in the season but being relieved by the arrival of the 1F in August.  Also in August the loco fleet was joined by an ex Manchester Ship Canal 0-6-0T Hudswell Clarke No. 70 'Phoenix'.


Progress has been slow in the last few months.  We have now received a new smoke box door which is now ready to be fitted.  Materiel is now in stock ready to machine new piston rods.  The saddle tank has now received some investigation work, where some half of the tank will need replacing.  On the boiler front we have decided to replace the firebox at an approximate cost of £7,000 - any donations towards the firebox, please send to the Avon Valley Railway Heritage Trust.

RSH 7151

Running well this season, the loco has received some minor work and it is hoped to fit a new smoke box door during the winter period.


Still out of traffic waiting for boiler repairs at Bream.  The firebox has now been removed.  After some investigation work it has now been decided to replace the outer side of the outer box, and some minor plate of the inner firebox.  It is hoped the boiler will return about April next year.


Hudswell Clarke, built 1921, arrived at the railway in September.  Unfortunately the engine arrived with a hot axlebox after a short running weekend at the Swindon & Cricklade Railway.  After inspection it was found that all the white metal on the axle bearings had lost its bonding.  The loco has now been jacked up and all the bearings removed ready to be re-white metalled, as can be seen in the photo below by Tony Wray.

Although the engine looks small it is a large, powerful engine that could be used on the Manchester Ship Canal, for which it was designed for.  Subject to load trials, it is hoped to use the loco next year.

John Miles.



At the beginning of 2002 we started work on a new cab and bunker assembly.  This didn't get very far as other commitments came up.  We therefore started 2003 with a bit more determination and by Mid-March had a practically complete new cab and bunker, although still requiring detail finishing.  We then moved on to a new smokebox.  This is now 90% finished - a new door is needed, and costings are being looked into.

We have also started to drill and fit the new running plates while the steam pipes and exhaust branches to and from the cylinder have been repaired, new studs fitted and then put into place above the cylinders.  Two new piston rods are needed, due to heavy pitting on the originals, meaning after machining they would be undersize.  Measurements are also being taken for the axleboxes to determine the amount of wear present.

Work has also taken place on the boiler, with the inner firebox being carefully extracted during May.  Upon inspection the sorry state of the inner box is apparent and a new firebox/tubeplate is needed.  Having done this on the RSH we are fairly knowledgeable in carrying out this work.

Finally, the engine has now come under the control of the AVR Heritage Trust, and if you would like to make donations to enable this excellent start to be maintained, then make cheques payable to the Avon Valley Railway Heritage Trust - with a note asking for it to be used for the Avonside's overhaul.

As well as this, we will always welcome new people who want to help rebuild an 85 year old Bristol Icon.


Unfortunately the Ferrum has been stopped for major boiler work which will possibly put it out of use for the rest of the season.  It returned to us in mid-January and upon a boiler exam in steam, several stays in the cab were seen to be leaking.  As normal, the more you look the more you find.  After changing the stays, another steam test saw more stays starting to leak.  A full ultrasonic test was undertaken, and a full firebox restay seemed inevitable.

The boiler was separated from the frames and the owner had it delivered to the Bream workshops of Bill Parker.  Upon inspection the engine will now receive new half sides on the outer box, as well as the restay.  It will return with a new boiler ticket.  This is one of those things that can and does happen.  The loco had another two years to run on its current ticket.  At the time of writing the work was waiting to commence.

RSH 7151

With the Ferrum out of the loop, and the 1F having been promised to the Dean Forest Railway, 7151 has been our only working steamer.  We are treating her gently, and with the loco currently having run 25 days it requires a washout in the near future.  There are some jobs that are required when we hopefully get the breathing space of another working steam loco.

Andy Beale.


1. Avonside smokebox

The new smokebox front piece was profile cut locally and is seen after delivery. It is now being drilled and fitted with the new rolled angles that support the smoke box wrapper (also new plate).

2. Avonside boiler

Work has started on removing the old inner firebox from the outer firebox.  Most of the crown stay nuts have been removed as well as the girder stay split pins - not an easy job.

Using a long reach oxy-acetylene torch all accessible firebox stays have been cut from inside the boiler barrel.

The outer fire box will require new plate on all four sides so we don't have to be quite as careful removing the foundation ring. To get the foundation ring rivets out the outer heads are ground flush, then the remaining stump burnt out with the oxy-acetylene torch before hammering the rest out with a large air powered hammer - not for the faint hearted!

3. Cab and frames

These pictures show the engine's stripped down chassis lying at the rear of the goods shed. In one shot Nigel Seville is measuring for the new smokebox, while in another picture Andrew Beale is shown in the new cab and bunker assembly. Due to corrosion and 'collision damage' we have only retained some 10% of the original structure.

Drawings were prepared and new angle and plate delivered with the profile cut to shape.

New running plates are to hand and one of these can be seen in the bottom left ready for drilling and fitting.

New cab steps are also ready to be ordered.

With completion of the cab and smokebox a start will be made on the chassis.  The horn guides (which the axleboxes slide up into) need attention as well as general cleaning and painting once the better weather is with us !?

Hopefully, as long as we can maintain progress, there will be regular updates appearing on this site, so keep watching.

Text - Andy Beale.  Photo's - Oliver Holmes.


RSH No 7151

Earlier in the summer the brick arch collapsed in the firebox (this is the device above the fire which helps combustion, keeps cold air off the tube plate and reduces the boiler cooling time) and with the time it takes to make a new one the RSH was finally stripped during August as running without the arch was causing leaking tubes and stays.  The  correct grade of fire cement was finally acquired and new sections cast ready for fitting.  With repairs to the stays and tubes completed the arch was refitted and the engine returned to traffic at the beginning of September - just in time for the 1F to depart for Workington.

During the down time the much talked about dampers were fitted to the rear axle - more adjustments are now needed but it is a little better.  Minor maintenance is now taking place ready for the Santa season.


The loco has been away on its summer travels, firstly to Barrow Hill, its old home shed until 1962.  Coming back to Bitton it then went north again at the beginning of September to Workington in Cumbria to star at the Corus steel rail making plant's 125th anniversary.  Avon Valley footplatemen crewed the engine over a three day period pulling wagons around the vast rail network that still exists.  Unfortunately the three days finished off the already low brake blocks and the engine upon return ran just at the Thomas weekend waiting for the new blocks to arrive.  It won't be too long before the roof is refitted - winter is definitely here!

1708 is due to work Santa trains in conjunction with 7151 before departing for (I think) the Chinnor and Princess Risborough Railway.

1798 Edwin Hulse

All remaining motion has been retrieved from store along with the eccentric straps which have been trial fitted to the crank axle - to see how bad they really are!  The crank axle wheelset has been brought down beside the goods shed and a start made on cleaning and painting.  Due to labour commitments over the Summer, no more work has been achieved.

Andy Beale.

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This page last updated by Tony Wray on 27/3/2004.

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