North Eastern Locomotive Preservation Group

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J27 Blog

A log of activity concerning the J27.

Wednesday 7th March 2018


Not much progress was possible on the locomotive last week because of the bad weather, although, as previously reported, we managed to get the final bits of the J27 down to Grosmont by the end of the week, thanks to the efforts of all concerned, and an easing of the impact of the 'Beast from the East'. Since then however, there has been considerable activity. Phil Naylor has finished de-rivetting the old smokebox wrapper and started preparing the smokebox for fitting the new one. The smokebox door front plate has been re-erected (see photo taken on Wednesday) and squared off ready to receive the new wrapper which was delivered from Teesside on Wednesday afternoon. It is in two halves for ease of fitting, and that is expected to start next week.

A view of the door plate - Chris Lawson

The top part of the cab has been secured and work is progressing on fitting the cab pipework (see photo taken on Wednesday). Subject to that, John Furness hopes to paint the cab next week. For the rest of the locomotive, he has asked for 5 clear days once all the work has been finished, to complete the painting. The tender was due to be filled with coal and water and weighed by the end of this week.

The cab is now attached and work preogressing with the pipework - Chris Lawson

The postponed hydraulic test was also successfully carried out yesterday (Thursday 8th) in the presence of the boiler inspector, so the ticket has now restarted and we have therefore regained the time lost since the previous hydraulic at Crewe and its time at Hopetown.

Back at Hopetown, Derek Norris has been working on replacing the glass in one of the cab sliding windows, and Roy Marshall is pursuing the supply of a new storm sheet.

Further progress report next week, but bear in mind that jobs are being carried out not necessarily in the strict order set out in the project plan I circulated on 20 February, but as practicalities and resources dictate. 8 April remains the target completion date, but the impact of the recent bad weather has still to be assessed. However, we are in discussion with the NYMR about possible events for Hopetown volunteers at Grosmont with the J27 during the planned running in period in April - watch this space.


Saturday 3rd March 2018


Act 1

07:30 and Nigel, Arthur Jenkins and Steve Hyman arrive at Hopetown. Fire lit, kettle boiled, then down to the business of the day. Rails joined, connected and, oh dear, much snow to be cleared from the rails and the loading point before the rail trolleys with components are pushed out. Nicky and Daryl arrive with the hiab shortly after 08:00. Cab, chimney and sand boxes loaded on board whilst Steve and Arthur lift the 4 springs with the frame onto the last trolley. By 09:00 everything is on board and being strapped down. Tea is being made when a cry of anguish comes from the mess room - no sugar, two require it for their tea. Fortunately the corner shop is now open and matter soon resolved. By 10:00 Nicky and Daryl have left for Grosmont and the rest tidy up and sign out.

The last bits of the J27 have now left Hopetown.

Act 2

Approaching Scaling Dam, Nigel catches sight of a familiar cab on the back of a hiab up ahead. Cars overtake the hiab, and the van is eventually on its tail. After we make the right turn for Egton, Nicky signals to come through and guide. The snow situation is much easier today – the only uncleared road is along the old track from Esk Valley to the shed. We arrive before noon to find a silent MPD, but very active working party inside Deviation Shed. The new arrivals accept the offer of tea and biscuits, before the working party goes for its lunch.

Daryl and Mark O Brien guide the J27 cab into position at Grosmont, whilst Nicky controls the movement using the hiab play station - Nigel Hall

Mark O'Brien opens up the door to No 2 road, but the shunter he brings from No 5 road has great difficulty moving back up the yard. Out with the shovels to clear ice from the rails and try again. Success. The J27 is dragged out of the fab shop and the cab lifted straight on from the hiab (see photo). Springs, sand boxes and chimney unloaded and by 13:30 the hiab was on its way home. Trevor and Ian help to unload the Q6 piston valves.

Last Updated on Saturday, 10 March 2018 21:26

Wednesday 28th February


As reported last night by Nigel, we both managed to get to Grosmont yesterday, Nigel via Teesside and Egton Bank (which he described as 'challenging') and myself via the A169 and Eskdaleside via Sleights - and no I haven't got a 4 x 4, nor had the buses, trucks and other cars I saw on the main road. It was lovely and sunny, with no snow showers while we were there for a couple of hours in the middle of the day, but no time for cups of tea and no mice. We wanted to get our jobs done and away before the weather deteriorated as was forecast. If we had tried to do the journeys today we would have failed as the conditions were really bad on the Moors overnight.

For the J27, Nigel had brought another van load of parts from Hopetown and these were unloaded and taken up to Deviation Shed (the wooden flooring put next to the bench on No 8 road and the black dumpy bag with the plates for the cab roof and other small items by the desk in the upstairs store room) or the Fabrication Shop (the spare lagging and the other photo album). On the locomotive itself, the steam brake has now been fitted and the smokebox is in the final stages of being taken apart. It has been decided that it will be more economic and quicker to replace the smokebox wrapper. This was ordered last Friday and was due for delivery by the end of this week, but the weather has scuppered that and I now understand that delivery is due next week. The lap plates also seem to have disappeared, and new ones will need to be manufactured if a further check at Hopetown fails to find them. The hydraulic planned for today has had to be postponed because of the weather, as the boiler inspector could not get to Grosmont. John Furness has agreed to paint the engine once the overhaul work has been completed. The certification for the new steam pipe has been provided and Mark O'Brien will be arranging for an external welder to come in to make it up and then for it be NDT'd before fitting.

Again, subject to the weather, the cab roof, chimney, sandboxes and springs are due to be delivered to Grosmont on Saturday by hiab and Nigel is separately making the necessary arrangements for their collection from Hopetown first thing on Saturday. When they arrive at the MPD, Mark O'Brien wants to put the cab straight on the locomotive. This will mean pulling out the J27 but avoid a separate later lift and it taking up valuable space on the floor.

Elsewhere, Tornado was sat in the running shed having recently arrived for next week's operations. They are due to start on Saturday and run for most of the next week - weather permitting! The B1 was outside the running shed (see photo), resplendent in its new LNER livery. A steam test is planned for tomorrow and the brick arch was being put in. Not many MPD staff around because of the travel difficulties, but a core are staying in the volunteer accomodation to make sure that priority work can continue, preparing for operations this weekend. Inevitably though it means that progress elsewhere has slowed. The implications of this for target dates cannot be assessed until the cold weather has finished, and there is no sign of the end as yet.

And don't forget that the Channel 5 fly on the wall documentary filmed last year about the NYMR starts this Friday at 8pm, featuring among others the 'chirpy engineer' aka Piglet, and no doubt other well known characters may be spotted in the background.

Last Updated on Saturday, 10 March 2018 21:17

Wednesday 21st February 2018


Having moved the engine into the Fabrication Shop, and the tender into Deviation Shed (which now looks more like a North Eastern Shed with the Q6 already there), items 1 - 5 on the project plan have been completed. The smokebox has been removed (see photos).

The J27 with smokebox removed stands in the fab shop on No 2 road - Chris Lawson

The smoke box on the ground again - Chris Lawson

The J27 tender stands next to the Q6 tender inside Deviation Shed - Chris Lawson

Today was spent by some of the Q6 team in unloading the remaining items from the J27 tender in Deviation Shed, and moving them into the Fabrication Shop where they have been placed on the ground behind the cab. The tender is now empty and ready for filling with water and coal and then weighing (item 26). Those parts that were unloaded by Paul Hutchinson over the weekend and put under the Q6's new small tubes were also moved down to the Fabrication Shop. In addition, Nigel brought down a van load of parts from Hopetown and these were unloaded and put with the other items, except for the cab spectacle plates which have been put in the upstairs store at Deviation Shed, against the wall down by the office desk.

Nigel has taken the NYMR van this evening and will be collecting the cladding, the bags of lagging, and possibly the chimney, tomorrow to bring back to Grosmont. That will complete item 6. The cab and sandboxes are due to be collected on 3 March and delivered to Grosmont which will complete item 7.

5 rocking grate bars are due to be delivered to Grosmont in the next few days. One of these is for the B1 and the other 4 are for the J27. The J27’s side bearers are already fitted and 4 rocking grate bars (one of which has the crank removed so that it forms a fixed section at the back of the grate) were brought in the tender and are now with the engine– the rest of the grate was scrap.

The hydraulic has been arranged for 1 March (item 13).

Last Updated on Saturday, 24 February 2018 22:22

19th February 2018


As you are aware from Nigel Hall's recent emails, the J27 was successfully delivered to New Bridge by Friday of last week, in spite of various delays and difficulties. Can I thank everyone who was involved in any way with that move, but particularly Nigel for masterminding the exercise, for all your hard work and contribution to achieve that, in what, I know have been very difficult circumstances.

The J27 tender is loaded in the dying light of the day at Hopetown on Thursday 15th February. It would soon crunch its way over the newly formed ice and depart for New Bridge - Nigel Hall

Having got to New Bridge, the engine and tender were coupled up on Friday, and attached is a photograph of the locomotive in the compound at New Bridge.

On Saturdsy 17th February the locomotive and tender can be seen joined together over the pit at New Bridge - Dave Pennock

On Sunday, Paul Hutchinson and Angie went down to check over the locomotive and oil round before the move to Grosmont the next day. Everything was fine, but Paul commented that he had forgotten how little room there is to oil up between the frames.

Having overcome a last minute problem with one of the signallers who had gone sick, the move to Grosmont went ahead yesterday morning as planned. Chris Cubitt and Charlie Wood were the diesel crew, with Dave Tibet as guard and Paul Hutchinson and Adrian Dennis as fitters travelling on the J27. Paul reports that all went very well with the move.

Mechanically it could hardly have been better. Only the left leading side rod bush got any more than cold. There was, however, nothing to worry about at any time and it had completely settled down by the time we got to Grosmont. The cylinder block warmed up a little (to 60 degrees C), but with the large volumes of air being shifted this was not surprising. I tried the at reverser various cut offs and the engine and I agreed that 50% was about right. We stopped regularly to check around and to dose the pistons and valves with lub oil. Speed was limited to around 10mph. We tried it at 15mph for a short while but it quickly became apparent that this was just a little too fast for the front end.

The engine and tender rode very well. All of this bodes well for when the engine runs under its own power. Well done to Neal who oversaw much of the work that was tested today.

The engine and tender were then split and the tender put into Deviation Shed behind the Q6 tender. The engine is now in the Fabrication Shop for checking over and the start of work. To achieve the necessary space, Hartland has been moved out of Deviation Shed and No 8 road has now been occupied by the No 29 Weltrol from behind the Q6, and Lucie which had been in the Fabrication Shop.

Before Paul left, he removed as much of the tender contents as he could, and has put them under the Q6's new small tubes. Only the new steam pipe, the firebars and Nigel's box of 'goodies' remain to be removed, and as soon as that is done - apparently it should take 3 people about 10 minutes - the Railway will coal the tender, fill it up with water and weigh it. Separately, Nigel took the old steam pipe and Terry’s shelf load of cab pipes to Grosmont on Saturday. The copper pipes are on pallets behind the workshop to avoid confusion with Q6 components, and the old steam pipe is up against No 5. He is planning to bring a van load of the remaining smaller components, mainly in the brass store at Hopetown, to Grosmont on Wednesday, along with the photo album to guide those fitting cab pipework.

Separately, I had a meeting with Paul Middleton, Barney Casey, and Kelvin Whitwell at the MPD on the Wednesday (14th) to discuss the project plan for completion of the J27 at Grosmont. Chris Price also happened to be present. Whilst Paul M was still confident that, subject to nothing unexpected arising, the Easter target date for completion was still achievable, in practice he wanted to plan on the basis of completion by the next week, 8 April, to give him both a week's contingency, but also to coincide with the drop from the Easter red timetable to the green timetable for the rest of the month. I was given a firm commitment that, with that proviso, that date would be met. The green timetable would give spare paths for running in and any other test running that was required, which would not be available in the previous week. Subject to that not revealing any problems, then the J27's first service train was scheduled for 8 May - the day after the early May Bank Holiday, although, if all went well, we could see it in service before then. That period in April would also give us the opportunity to 'play' with the locomotive, and we are hoping to arrange some events for the Hopetown volunteers as a way of thanking them for their efforts, in the manner that we would have done at Hopetown if the overhaul had been completed there, but with rather more scope for a greater range of activities.

As a result of our discussions, Paul Middleton and Kelvin have produced the attached first draft of the project plan. This is based on their initial understanding of the work that remains to be done, and is therefore subject to revision once they have checked over the engine, in the light of work that is found to have been done at Hopetown and not now needing to be done at Grosmont - for example the valve setting at item 10 has already been completed. I will be reviewing progress against the project plan on a weekly basis, by calling in to the MPD office on a Wednesday when I am down for the regular Q6 working party and will report back accordingly. Any technical issues that arise however, will be referred to Paul Hutchinson, Richard Pearson and John Graham for resolution. In all this, I pointed out the need to make sure that progress with the Q6 was not prejudiced and that it was equally important to ensure that the target date for its completion was also met.

Finally, Paul Middleton said he understood the sensitivities of the Hopetown volunteers surrounding the move of the J27 to Grosmont, but any volunteers who wished to continue to help with the overhaul would still be very welcome, although he recognised that, even though the NELPG car would be available from Teesside, this was unlikely to be a practical proposition.

Last Updated on Sunday, 20 May 2018 22:46

Hopetown: last Thursday J27 working Party


A set of photographs taken at the last J27 working party.

Ian Matthews applies the transfer to the tender side - Nigel Hall

The LHS transfer from the mess room window - Nigel Hall

The loco LHS showing cab fittings - Terry Newman

The completed tender, the coal space now being loaded with components - Terry Newman

The loco RHS with Arthur Jenkins, Tim Wilkinson and Steve Johnston tieing the ejector exhaust pipe to the running board for transport - Terry Newman

Derek Shorton cleaning the J72 blower ring - Terry Newman

The ghost of Hopetown hangs from the corner of the J27 cab, the J72 in the background - Terry Newman

Some of the components removed from the J72 - Terry Newman

Derek Shorton refurbishes the J72 blower ring whilst Tim Wilkinson, Arthur Jenkins and Steve Johnson check the security of the ejector exhaust pope on the J27 running board - Terry Newman

Last Updated on Saturday, 24 February 2018 22:07

Work starts to Level the Boiler


Matthew Storey surveys his handiwork - Terry Newman

Updated 11-11-2017. The boiler is being raised at the front to level its position on the rear sliders and to level the tube plate on the new cylinder casting ledge.

The work is being undertaken by Mathew Storey

The boiler was raised with jacks until the boiler was sat in the best position on the rear slides. Measurements were then taken to allow a the new piece of tubeplate to be formed which will be welded into position to make a good fit on the cylinder block. This should be completed on Saturday and should enable a lot of assembly work on the boiler to begin.

A view of the tubeplate to saddle joint on LHS of locomotive. The intended cut line is marked in yellow - Terry Newman

Close up view of the gap between tubeplate and cylinder casting shelf on RHS of locomotive - Terry Newman

View of tubeplate and cylinder block casting shelf on RHS of locomotive - Terry Newman

View from the smokebox side showing the bend in the tubeplate near frames - Terry Newman

Matthew Storey and Harry Sams insert lifting beam under the boiler - Terry Newman

View from under the boiler of the lifting beam in place - Terry Newman

The bottom of the tube plate removed. Pinocchio about to guillotine his nose - Terry Newman

Matthew Storey dressing the tube plate for welding - Terry Newman

On Saturday 11th November the new bottom section of the tube plate was bolted into position on the cylinder block casting shelf and then welded to the rest of the tube plate.

The new tube plate section in place viewed from the smokebox side - Richard Pearson

The new tube plate section viewed from the boiler side - Richard Pearson

The two sections of tube plate are welded together - Richard Pearson

Last Updated on Thursday, 07 December 2017 22:12

The Boiler Returns from Crewe


An early start to today's working party. With the crane in position, the cab was lifted and placed on a rail trolley.

Richard Pearson and Paul Hutchinson struggle to free the cab bolts - Nigel Hall

Free at last - Nigel Hall

The cab parked in the head shunt on rail trolly. Harry Sams struggles with ladder - Nigel Hall

At 10:30 the boiler arrived. All hands to the unloading of the loose components.

The boiler arrives. Ian Matthews assists unloading of components with the A1 fork lift- Nigel Hall

Boiler lifted, low loader departs - Nigel Hall

By 11:00 the low loader was ready for departure and the ash pan fitting gang ready to start, and after an hour's struggle the main action was about to begin.

Ash pan fitted, the boiler is slowly lowered into frames - Nigel Hall

Uh huh, found the first problem - Nigel Hall

Richard Pearson adjusts crinolyn band with grinder - Nigel Hall

That's better, it fits at cab end - Nigel Hall

Down we go, Trevor Wilford rests his weary bones on the GWR chimney - Nigel Hall

However, this was just the start of the struggle to fit the smoke box over the saddle. At the end of the day, the boiler is back on and all the components taken to the workshop. There will be lots of work to do during the comming weeks.

Last Updated on Thursday, 07 December 2017 22:11

Visit to Crewe


The J27’s boiler was successfully lifted at LNWR Crewe on Wednesday 17th May for the trial fitting of its ashpan.

27 Boiler lift LNWR Crewe 17th May 2017  Ashpan trial fit -Dave Pennock

J27 New smokebox front LNWR Crewe 17th May 2017 -Dave Pennock

27 Boiler lift LNWR Crewe 17th May 2017 -Dave Pennock

The boiler works are now complete and final fabrication work is in progress on the smokebox. The move of the boiler to Hopetown is now expected during June.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 25 April 2018 22:06

Saturday at Hopetown


Today we have been machining new fitted bolts for the slide bars. These were bought in as blanks with the fitted diameter rough turned and the thread finished.

The blank after the fitted diameter has been machined and the flats machined on - Neal Woofs

The bolt being set up to relive the thread - James Pearcy

James Pearcy mills the flats - Neal Woods

The finished job - Neal Woods

We also did some painting of the new tender tank, bolted the tank down to the frames, tapped out the water flange holes and measured up for the studs for the water flanges.


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