North Eastern Locomotive Preservation Group

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J72 Blog

A log of activities relating to the J72 69023 'Joem'.

The J72 returned to Hopetown on 4th January 2018. Our boiler inspector visited Hopetown to examine the J72.  His advice was to withdraw the loco and begin the ten yearly overhaul, available finance and volunteer resources permitting. He was unable to offer any other course of action, as access to the inside of the boiler was impossible without the removal of several longitudinal stays. The locomotive has been dismantled, the boiler sent to a contractor, and many of the mechanical parts serviced. The cylinder block has been extracted and a pattern is being manufactured to enable a new cylinder block to be cast.

The immediate concern is the termination of our tenancy of Hopetown Carriage Works and the need to remove all of the components to an alternative workshop.

Thursday 14th October 2021


A status report


At the end of August, following the removal of the J72’s inner firebox, Douglas Pegler, from our insurer Bureau Veritas (BV), met with Paul Hutchinson, and with Danny Dymott from Northern Steam (NSEL), to present the proposed form of repair for the J72 boiler.

A key decision, given the extent of the work required, was how the repair would be classified (i.e., was it a like for like repair, or was it a new design needing to be submitted to an approval process?). Whilst there will be some welded elements to the boiler barrel and outer wrappers, verification of the boiler will be demonstrated by working to the 1949 J72 boiler drawing. BV has confirmed that the work constitutes a repair.

On the basis of this insurance examination, NSEL is to provide costs for the additional elements in relation to the copper firebox and outer steel firebox. In terms of the copper renewal, we are seeking prices both for a complete renewal of the sides and crown as one piece of copper, and for an option to retain the copper crown with side sheet renewals. The copper backhead is in good condition and is to be retained. We are also looking to retain the outer steel crown, subject to NDT testing. The dome has been removed from the old barrel and minor welding repairs to the dome will be required.

Once these costs are received, we will be in a position to evaluate their impact in relation to the project costs, present these to the Trustees for acceptance, which in turn will allow the preparation of a motion for members to (hopefully) approve the necessary additional expenditure.

Cylinder Block

Pattern making by South Lincs Foundry (SLF) has taken longer than expected, but should be complete, by the time you read this. Consideration of the chemical composition of the casting itself continues, with input from a respected metallurgist.

Material costs for the casting itself have increased, in common with increases across the engineering sector. However, on recalculating the volume of the pour, SLF has found that it exceeds their capability and the actual casting will be subcontracted by them.


After the fitting of the last horn guide bolt (#06 by John's ear). L to R are Maurice Bell, Ed Bolam, Arthur Jenkins and John Jones - Nigel Hall

Good progress has been made on fixing the fitted bolts (both plain and countersunk types) to the horn guides. The horn stays are being welded up and machined back to size, to deal with some slackness in the fitting.

The axles have had a UAT (Ultrasonic Axle Test) carried out. This is to check for any cracks in the axle and under where the wheel is pressed on. They have also been tested using Eddy Current - this is to test for any surface cracks in the axle. All results came back clear.

A number of other parts requiring NDT have also passed testing.

The wheel sets have been prepared for transportation and are now ready for despatch. Potential contractors for the tyre turning and boss face skimming are being considered.

Last Updated on Friday, 29 October 2021 19:29

Thursday 12th November 2020


I called in at NSEL, had a word with Adam re a boiler insurance exam shortly after December 2nd.

I also took some photos of the progress on the boiler. Copper tubeplate removed an all girders out.


Fire box from below showing position of the tube plate - Ian Storey

Fire box from barrel showing girder stays removed - Ian Storey

The firebox tube plate - Ian Storey

Last Updated on Sunday, 24 January 2021 19:52

14th October 2020


Arthur Jenkins and Ed Bolam set out cones on Station Road from McNay Street to the field gates, on the evening of the 13th, to preserve access for the HIAB truck ordered by Dave Pennock for the J72 boiler move next day.

The following day, amid frequent heavy showers, a small rostered working party, consisting of Ed Bolam, Arthur Jenkins, Terry Newman (RO), Richard Pearson, Malcky Simpson and Dave Wright, shunted the Weltrol wagon holding the boiler, using the DRPS diesel shunter, ready for collection of the boiler by Corners Transport.

The team had arrived early, to provide contingency, in case of problems, but, in the event, the truck was late and there was more than enough time. Better safe than sorry though!

The boiler was delivered by Corners to Northern Steam Engineering Limited (NSEL) later the same afternoon. NSEL has been selected to carry out the boiler repair, following a competitive tender exercise.

Some photographs of the day from Terry Newman:

Malky Aimpson drives the shunter whilst Ed Bowlam walks to the next point - Terry Newman

Terry Newman brings the shunt to a stop at the loading point

Strops being attached - Terry Newman

Ready to lift - Terry Newman

On its way - Terry Newman

Lowering onto wagon - Terry Nman

Om the waggon, returning for the door - Terry Newman

Door on waggon -Terry Newman

Last Updated on Sunday, 24 January 2021 19:46

Thursday 27th August 2020


James Piercy, Arthur Jenkins, Malky Simpson and Terry Newman attended Hopetown to demonstrate that the shunter was fit for service. The diesel shunter worked and we ran it over the system. All points were operated.

In the process of doing that we managed to shunt the bogie bolster wagon from its  normal resting position on cross over down on to the brake van at the south end of the site. Makes future shunting much easier.


Tursday 20th August 2020


Ed Bolam, Harry Sams, Colin Bowman, Dave Wright, Allan Wilson, Andy Bell, Arthur and dog present.

All except Arthur and Ed finished off the gardening and very well it looks.

Ed turned up with a joint from the Q6 and needed 2 blanking plates with the same hole centres. We found one that would fit in a box under the storage racking but had to make another one from a piece of suitable plate. By the time it was finished there wasn't much point in doing anything outside. Everybody was gone by 2.45pm.


Monday 17th August 2020


A small group of us came to Hopetown in the murk this morning in order to progress a few small jobs.

  1. I got a second varnish coat on the inside of the cab. That’s the inside finished (I hope).
  2. Arthur Jenkins and Ed Bolam went through the rotten sleepers on the wagon outside the A1SLT half of the building. They have retrieved the chairs and bolts for further use. The sleepers are now in a neat pile. They establish that the Whessoe wagon would move now using a pull lift.
  3. Colin Bowman gave up on the mixer tap problem in the toilet and called across the road at the Malbra Kitchen shop to find an expert. Chap there kindly came across to look at it. It’s a fancy mixer tap and pressure relief valve. He may be able to get new innards at ~£80, or a replacement tap at £150. He said that he could get firm prices. But: he advised that as we would be leaving the building in a couple of years, do we really need to spend so much money on an item which is only there for disabled access. He advised that we leave the cold water shut off at the ball valve and the hot on to provide the required pressure relief for the water heater should its thermostatic control fail. This has been done and the tap and sink labelled as out of use.
  4. Colin spent the afternoon clearing the jungle south of the crossing to allow vehicles to be shunted there.

Arthur will lead a small team on Thursday to continue the track related work.

There’s a glut of ripe blackberries. They are at their best now.

It’s interesting that our neighbours are so well informed about our future at Hopetown …

Last Updated on Monday, 17 August 2020 19:03

Monday 3rd and 10th August 2020


A group of 8 volunteers came equiped with gardening tools to clear the jungle. They needed to work separatly and conform to the new Covid-19 control measures.

The same party gathered at Hopetown for a little more gardening. As the back door was opened the rain descended. We found odd jobs, drank coffee, socially distanced chat, etc for about 30 minutes, watching the rain descend. Just like a test match without needing to pay. Then the rain cleared, the sun came out, and off we started with the loppers. The large yellow wagon was pinch bared by a length towards the building to allow access to the brambles underneath.  Allan and Colin spent the day with shovels trying to clear the ballast away from the track inner edge after pulling up the weeds near the crossing. All now quite neat. Sorry the photo is a bit shaken but the magnification is about x7.

The brambles now cleared 4' from the rail - Nigel Hall

The blackberries were picked. I’m expecting some with my dinner, others are on trays ready to go into the freezer.

The blackberries are ripe - Nigel Hall

Inside, Ed and Arthur reported a ¼ brick landing by the J72 cab. No, not vandals throwing missiles through the door, but one falling from the wall supported by the joist which supports the central tower. Is this the first of an avalanche? Is the tower about to do a 9/11? I suppose that if structural engineers are visiting on Wednesday then they can be shown something to report upon.

Rob Williamson delivered the second rail trolly and the J72 chimney cap just after 18:00.

Long day.

Last Updated on Saturday, 15 August 2020 21:40

Thursday 12th March 2020


Still a good turn out on a breezy cold morning, though one absentee with a bad cold. After the fire was lit and Arthur’s latest load of pine logs was warming through the building, we pushed on with a few jobs before morning tea arrived.

Not a lot of work to do. As the keys had been extracted from the gudgeon pins on Monday night, these were lapped in to the cross heads. Ed managed t get a coat of undercoat on the last of the boiler cladding sheets. The access tower bits were brought back to the changing corner and reassembled. The machinists continued with the spring hanger and Q6 drain cocks. More firewood was cut. More brambles were cut back.

Bryan Orange joined us in the mess room at lunch time. The Wednesday’s Northern Echo article was raised: , and the remarkable generosity of Darlington Borough Council, as reported, was noted.

After lunch Nigel, Bryan, Arthur and Norman Wells spent the afternoon discussing Hopetown related safety issues.

Last Updated on Friday, 03 April 2020 18:14

Thursday 5th March 2020


A cold frosty start. 13 of us turned up. John Jones has returned after his bad back problem.

Arthur soon had the fire going. Tim Williamson, Ed Bolam and myself soon had the buffer beam back on, warming up for Allan Wilson’s 10:00 tea.

We had a visit from the scrap man, so now the scrap corner is a little tidier. He brought us an extra bin for swarf.

The boiler access scaffold has been dismantled and the boiler is ready to go – Nigel Hall


Tim and Norman Wells spent the day checking the cylinder casting against a couple of drawings. The castings need to be turned over to continue the process next week. Ed, John and myself dismantled the boiler access scaffold. Derek Shorton and Allan cut up some more firewood. Colin Smith extracted the gudgeon pins from the connecting rods and fitted them into the crossheads. As we cannot now understand what was required to lap these in the job was abandoned. Colin cleaned up the guard irons. Machinists corner was busy as usual.

Tim Williamson and Norman Wells checking the cylinder casting dimensions against a drawing – Nigel Hall

As lunch time approached, Arthur went to the wash room to sing happy birthday for 20 minutes.

After lunch Norman showed me what he had been able to capture of the project schedule and asked for assistance identifying certain tasks. Whilst we were in the mess room, Gordon Best arrived to check on the loco for a GA drawings that he was making and to collect some cylinder bolts for drawing. Tim didn’t know which bolts he was to draw, so Gordon went away empty handed. Sorry Gordon. Ed undercoated another cladding sheet, I managed to rub down and apply a first coat of varnish to the cab hatch. Colin Bowman arrived and has now managed to clear the brambles all the way along the Hopetown Lane wall. He did remark that spring had arrived and the blighters were starting to emerge from the ground again.

Ed Bolam, Derek Shorton and Harry Sams with a newly undercoated cladding sheet in the foreground – Nigel Hall

Last Updated on Sunday, 15 March 2020 21:04

Monday 2nd March 2020


Whilst I was varnishing inside the cab, Norman Wells, Ed Bolam, Arthur Jenkins and Tim Williamson whipped out the remaining cylinder block fitted bolts.

The cylinder block is lifted out of the frames - Nigel Nall

The block was then rolled over on the rail trolleys and all of the fitted bolts joining the two halfs were removed. By the end of the day the two halves of the cylinder block had been split.

The separated halves of the casting - Nigel Hall

The inner buffer beam was moved into position for mounting back on Thursday.

Neal Woods visited at tea time to brief people. A productive afternoon and evening.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 03 March 2020 13:05
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The overhaul of J72 No 69023 Joem is being supported by a restoration grant from the Association of Industrial Archaeology.