Changes to the Engineering team
Since commencing 4709, our project has been quietly working away with a very small engineering team, effectively Don Ashton and myself. Unfortunately Don has been suffering poor health for some 18 months now and has had to focus his efforts on his recovery. I'm delighted to say that he is now on the mend and we look forward to reengaging with him on the many technical issues we need to address.
Coincidently Dave Owen, the Llangollen CME for many years, has decided to take early retirement but has agreed to help our project by taking on the role of 4709 Resident Engineer. This is a great strengthening of the 4709 technical team and it means that Dave, who has been brilliant in overseeing all of the donor locomotive dismantling and component harvesting, will continue to ensure that all work on our engine is right first time and to mainline standards. He has been an essential part of the 'partnering' arrangements with the Llangollen Railway for the last six years and it can only benefit the project that he will continue to be involved as our frontline on the engine.
The new Llangollen CME is Graham Elwood and again we are fortunate, in that Graham has been working with Dave throughout the life of 4709 and knows our engine as well as anyone - welcome aboard, Graham. The handover has been seamless and the goodwill and partnering is ongoing. I feel very strongly that this is the key to technical delivery of the engine.
Don Ashton's title, which was Resident Engineer, will now become Design and Development Engineer and this more accurately describes his immense input to the project.
Available funds have been focused on preparing to complete the work on the wheelsets at the South Devon Railway which has meant that progress on other parts of the engine has necessarily been limited.
That said, Llangollen have been brilliant in agreeing to complete the Horn Grinding machine at their cost which will allow us to progress grinding of the Horns. This is a financial investment on their part in the order of £5k and the plan is that once our Horns have been completed the machine will be used commercially and the profits split between the railway and 4709.
Currently our wheelsets are still at the South Devon Railway (SDR) and agreement has been reached on the scope of work to be undertaken and the funding packages. We expect all the wheelsets to be returned to Llangollen by Easter 2017, sporting all new tyres and new crankpins with all bearing faces machined including our completely new fourth axle. Dave Owen has been dealing with SDR for many years (he actually provided them with their wheel turning lathe) and has kindly agreed to manage this package of work on our behalf.
In an ideal world we would be able to instruct Llangollen to refurbish all the axle boxes ready for the wheelsets at Easter. This work has been quoted at £20k. Once these two packages are delivered we should be in a position to wheel the engine. We have also just been authorised to progress and complete fitting of all horns so this will set us up to get the horns ground early in the new year.
As ever the key to progress is funding and therefore the team have been writing to individuals and companies seeking sponsorship for components, processes, publicity etc. Unfortunately we do not have dedicated specialists in this area and it is very noticeable that those projects who do have such people attract funding significantly greater than us. I'm very pleased to announce that we have entered into a partnership arrangement with The Railway Children Charity and we have sponsored a painting which is being used, initially as a Christmas Card, but is in fact useful for any occasion throughout the year. As the project's Christmas Card to you, an electronic copy of the painting is attached. It has been titled 'Coming up with the Goods' which accurately describes what the 47xx class did.
In our case it is also a rallying cry to mobilize funding for the project to allow real and rapid progress to be made. We are in the right construction works surrounded by the right engineers with the right commitment to deliver. The missing piece of the puzzle is the marketing team generating funding for the works.
Did you recognise the scene of the painting? At the end of the newsletter the scene is described.
The intention is for 2017 to be the year of events for the Night Owl. We have yet to stage an event at Llangollen and they are planning one of their galas to feature the Birkenhead/ Wirral area and acknowledging the reopening of Woodside Station. The 47xxs regularly ran on this route and so we plan to hold an open day for 4709 at Llangollen to promote this. We would welcome suggestions on the content of the day - I have suggested we fix our 4709 cab side number plates onto a 28xx hauling a freight train to conjure the imagination! (Baby Owl?)
I can also reveal that following extensive discussions and correspondence, the Llangollen Railway flagship engine 7822 Foxcote Manor will be visiting the Kent and East Sussex Railway for the whole of May 2017. We have many supporters in the South of the country and so this presents us with another opportunity to stage a 4709 event. Again suggestions on what you would like offered would be very welcome. We could certainly commission a train in association with our friends working on similar projects. This is a lovely part of the world featuring one of the GWR s most handsome engines! let s get together and enjoy.
One of our sponsors recently observed that our loco looked a long way from the finishing line. I can t deny this but would like to mention that we actually have a very large number of parts in store which will begin to be fitted once 4709 is on her wheels. We are going through that critical stage of building precision into alignment of the axles, horns, cylinders etc. which cannot be rushed. Hopefully the wheeling of 4709 will reveal just how advanced our project is, generate an upturn in funding and sponsorship which in turn will accelerate the rate of progress.
I would like to thank several 4709 club members who have been very generous in donating parts for our engine. These include Peter Partington, James Davies and Brian Rowe and a special mention for David Ball who exhibited his beautiful 5 1/4in gauge 4704 loco both at the London and Midland Model Engineering Exhibitions this year. This attracted a great deal of attention to our project. Not only that, he then donated his travelling expenses to 4709 - thank you Peter, James, Brian and David. Should you happen to own an engine part and are looking for a good home for it please keep us in mind.
I would very much hope that together we can make 2017 a significant year for 4709. The stage is set and the team are waiting to spring into action. All that is missing is a larger team of supporters, increased funding through sponsorship and activities. If you feel you can help with fundraising, marketing or any other aspect of the project, please don't hesitate to get in touch with Richard Croucher, either by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or through Didcot (01235 817200).
Best wishes for Christmas and the New Year, Paul Carpenter and the 4709 Team
'Coming Up with the Goods'
4709 is depicted racing up to London through Didcot Station with GWS headquarters in the background. The time is early evening /dusk and the down platform shows some rather smart but homeless children highlighting the plight of such children and the excellent work of The Railway Children Charity created by our good friend and supporter David Maidment.
Our sales stand was at the Didcot Gala on Saturday 27th August and despite a thunderstorm in the middle of the day, takings were good and a large number of people showed interest in the locomotive. Steve also took the 4709 stand to the West Somerset Railway Autumn Gala on 8 and 9 October and had two more successful days, raising significant sums which will be put towards the cab and footplate of the locomotive.
If you are interested in coming along to lend a hand with the stand at any future events, Steve will be delighted to hear from you by e-mail to email@example.com.
The next outing for the sales stand is likely to be to the West Somerset Spring Gala.