Great Western Society 47XX Project
Recreating Churchward's final masterpiece

Origins of the 47XX Project
Website by Knowles Cadbury Brown

The seed of 4709 was sown in 2002, but not until 2010 were the necessary conditions of germination beginning to stir.  Long and far-sighted negotiations with the Vale of Glamorgan Council culminated in an Agreement whereby the GWS acquired 4115, 5227 and 2861, enabling the appointment of Paul Carpenter as Project Engineering Manager. A small Core Team tackled the tedium of gathering Swindon drawings and assessing recoverable and compliant components, in a deliberate attempt to incorporate as many genuine Swindon items as possible from the donor locomotives in recognition of the Council’s generosity.

Serious planning and the creation of a Swindon-based modular scheme began immediately.  Much work and 12 months later, 4115 arrived at Llangollen Railway – our esteemed contractors, whose skills have carefully dismantled 4115.  All Swindon parts have been saved irrespective of which projects will benefit and only badly wasted steel sheet has been abandoned. Apart from the cylinder block, the whole front end structure including the extension frame forgings is almost identical to the 47xx. This enables us to reverse the Swindon practice of renewing a whole front end by using the unit as a jig on which to graft the new mainframe plates during the vital alignment stage. Later, the unit will be refurbished with the confidence that a trial assembly has already been successful.

The new 31’ 1” mainframes, in a high specification steel, have been rolled and plasma profiled by a most understanding and generous Tata Steel and these were passed to the enthusiastic and helpful TM Engineering, who machined the frames and drilled over 200 holes.  The Black Country, thoroughly uprated with the most modern CNC machinery, still has the expertise gained over two centuries.

In the meantime, 5227 arrived to donate axleboxes, horns and numerous items, including the special fourth axle unique to the 42xx and 47xx.  The wheelset for the fourth axle will, of course, be new and in addition to those yielded by 4115. Already, the necessary wheel pattern has been accomplished by Caddick & Moss of Bristol – yet another company keen to be associated with this exciting project.

With generous individual support, that early seed has flowered quickly in the last 6 or 7 months and gives confidence in the future.

Resident Engineer

April 2012