4253 Locomotive
A not-for-profit company run entirely by volunteers
Contact us at: gwr4253@gmail.com


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What's Happening This Month




We have been investigating the advantages of sending our boiler away to finish its overhaul on the basis this will shorten the restoration by some 18/20 months and have decided on Heritage Boiler Steam Services to do the work for us.

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On Tuesday, some of the team travelled up to visit the company to see the premises and discuss procedures, materials and timescales etc.  This is a view of part of their workshop.

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On Friday, preparation work began for moving the boiler with the roof of the boiler house being lifted off

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which, once the end wall is also taken out, gives ample room to lift the boiler.

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On Sunday we started to accumulate all the bits that will have to go, with this showing the ten new longitudinal stays on the ground next to the boiler and the new front tube plate being secured to a wall upright.

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The sections of the new backhead were also assembled and placed next to the boiler house so that they can be easily lifted onto the transport.

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In between this activity we held our 8th AGM on Saturday where Operation Final Push to accelerate the restoration was unveiled with the engineering and finance directors explaining the costings, timescales and advantages and, following a vote, this received unanimous approval from the shareholders present.  As one element of the funding requirement we need to sell at least 100 new shares over this year so, if you have enjoyed following this project week on week, then this is your chance to become a part of it.  If you are already a shareholder then you have the opportunity to become an even bigger part of it!


Shares cost £250 each and you can pay in one instalment or by monthly standing order.  Please see this link www.4253.co.uk/Become_A_Shareholder/ If choosing to pay by monthly standing order, we would prefer if this could be over a maximum of ten months i.e £25 pm, given the short timescales involved. However if you wish to purchase at a lower monthly cost of between £10 and £25, we shall still be more than grateful to receive your application. Thank you for following our post each week - we now need your help to get the job done. Thank you in anticipation.


During the week most of the work went into cleaning, freeing up and sorting out various bits from 5668 which were taken out of storage and delivered by Land Rover.

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Given that none of these bits have moved for some 50 years everything took quite a bit of effort to dismantle.

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Eventually most of it succumbed to heat and/or brute force and the resultant components that were reusable were cleaned up and given a coat of red oxide for protection.

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Sunday's main event was the riveting of the palm stays to the boiler barrel which was accomplished without any hiccups with the rivet gun working perfectly after its recent stripdown, clean and overhaul.  This makes a change from spending more time getting the gun to work than doing the actual riveting job.

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This coming Saturday is our AGM when we shall be sharing some interesting news.



Christmas week but we still kept soldiering on.   Monday and Tuesday were the last two days of the Santa Specials so the sales team were kept fully occupied raising funds for the project.  A sincere thank you is in order to all those shareholders who turned out to help man the stand over the whole ten days.  Everyone took Christmas and Boxing days off (no committment!) but Friday saw people turning out to break down the stand and transport everything back into storage.

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Pending the riveting of the palm stays next weekend,

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work on Sunday was concentrated on various bits from 5668 that needed to be stripped down, cleaned and assessed.  This involved much time spent in freeing off components that haven't moved for some fifty years

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and the drilling out of many siezed taper pins.  A trip was made down to where 5668 is stored to assess what else can be removed and, having had a good look at the condition it's in, bought on a feeling of "here we go again".  Another pile of rust to restore.

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Finally, a big thank you to everyone who has worked on 4253 or helped raise funds for it, over the year to bring nearer the time when it will run on the K&ESR.  We have some interesting plans to announce in the new year so keep following us to fine out what they are.  In the interim - Happy New Year.


This week involved more fettling of the palm stays to ensure they all sat happily against the inside of the boiler barrel without fouling any of the throat plate rivets.

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Given the space constrictions in the boiler, only a couple of people were needed for this task so others started retrieving various bits of loco 5668 from storage to be dismantled, cleaned up and inspected including the gear operating the sanders, the reverser and quadrant and the handbrake column.  The last item is shown here being taken apart.

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The caulking of the last bit of the firebox lap seams and also the new barrel section was finished off.

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New copper stays were fitted between the front of the firebox and the palm stays and the latter were then bolted to the boiler barrel after all the fixing holes had been reamed through.  We are now ready to rivet them into place after Christmas.  This shot shows the ten palm stays in position along the top.

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Once again the sales team were in action at Tenterden over both Saturday and Sunday at the Santa Specials raising funds for the project and will also be in attendance for the final two days, Monday and Christmas Eve.


This week the boiler mud hole doors and the covers for them that attach to the cladding were taken out of storage and cleaned up.

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The prep work for fitting the palm stays has accupied a lot of time due to their needing to clear a number of the countersunk rivet heads on the inside of the boiler barrel.  This has required careful and minimal grinding back of some of the rivet heads

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and some fettling of the palm stays themselves.

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The stays are being number stamped as we go to ensure they end up in the right position. 

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The measuring of the rod bushes has now been completed and recorded so machining them is the next job.

Sunday was not a productive day.  We went up to Carriage & Wagon at Tenterden to put four rivets into a bogie out of the DMMU.  A quick job and then back to Rolvenden to get on - not so.  By lunch time we had managed two rivets because the rivet guns kept jamming needing constant attention.  

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The cause appeared to be the amount of water in the air line system which persisted even after we'd drained the compressor reservoir and blown down the lines.  We eventually gave up and the afternoon was spent with half the team getting on with the palm stays while others stripped, cleaned and reassembled the rivet guns.

In addition, the sales team were not only in action all Saturday and Sunday at the Santa Specials but also did a session on Friday evening providing mulled wine and hot chestnuts for the Norwegian Trust members train.



The new steam heat shut-off valves had gaskets made and were then fitted to the loco followed by cleaning up and painting of the connecting ends for the steam hoses.

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The crank pins on the wheels and the bush housings on the rods were all measured in preparation for machining the bushes.

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On sunday, we riveted the throatplate to the boiler barrel leaving the fitting of the palm stays as the next job.

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Once again, the sales team were manning our stand at Tenterden for the whole weekend.



Despite working on five days this week we haven't actually done anything on the loco.  Reason is that this is our busiest fundraising period with ten days of manning our sales stand during the running of the Santa Specials.  Tuesday involved gathering together all the stuff we were going to need, Thursday was transporting and erecting the gazebo at Tenterden Station with Friday spent fitting out and installing and checking the electrics.  There was a bit of time left over that day so a start was made on making a towing connection so that our sales trailer can be moved around the field by the JCB loading shovel.

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Saturday and Sunday were spent manning the stall with Saturday being a day set aside for special needs children so was a bit quieter.  Sunday however was manic with everyone kept busy for the nine hours we were there.  The following shots show the duty team on Sunday, a typical queue at the Tombola and one of the day's prize winners.  Certainly looks as if it's got his Christmas off to a good start.  

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We expect normal servive on the loco to be resumed next week.


This week we continued with the cleaning and painting of various bits from the 108 DMMU to speed its return to traffic and they are now all finished and ready to go back.

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Friday, Saturday and Sunday was the Tenterden Christmas Market so some of the team set up our sales and information stand on Friday morning and manned it throughout the weekend.  Our coded welder arrived on Friday to weld in the sides of the new throat plate with this shot showing the beginning of the root run

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and this the subsequent testing of the weld.

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With that done we could crack on with the fixing of the throat plate to the barrel so, on Sunday, we started by reaming out some of the rivet holes, countersinking the ones where the palm stays would sit over them and then bolting them up tight.

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After that, the remaining holes had their bolts removed and were then in turn reamed out.

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We are now ready to rivet the throat plate and then move on to the palm stays.  Finally, here's a shot of the Christmas Market showing how busy it was.

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On Tuesday the cutting out of the new backhead cladding was started,

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the main boiler steam pipe was descaled and inspected and

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the front of the firebox was also descaled.

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On Friday, the brake brackets from the class 108 DMMU were delivered as we had agreed to scrap off years of accumulated crud and then clean and paint them to help progress the refurb.  A start was also made on machining the new brasses for the side rods.

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On Sunday, the DMMU brackets received more paint and a small area of the boiler was heated and dressed to align it with the new throat plate prior to welding in next week.

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More of the backhead cladding was cut out including a 17" diameter hole for which we made a simple jig of a steel strip bolted to the centre point with a hole at the other end to hold and guide the plasma cutter nozzle.

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This week we've had a visit from Somers Forge to look at and check dimensions of the two rods we need - we know that someone out there has rods lying around, if you know who they are, please let us know.  The finished tool boxes have been bubble wrapped and placed into storage together with the new bits of cylinder cladding that aren't needed yet.  The firehole door mechanism was taken out of storage and stripped down after some effort so that cleaning up, assessment and overhaul can be undertaken.  We also laid out the rusted pieces of backhead cladding we have to give us a pattern

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after which a start was made on marking out and cutting the new pieces.

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The needle gunning of the inside of the boiler barrel has finally been finished to everyone's relief given the amount of noise and effort involved.

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There has been much other work on the boiler with the foundation ring bolted to the old backhead,

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the lap seams all caukled in (more noise) following the rivet replacement

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and the front of the foundation ring given a final fettling before the throat plate was lifted into position and bolted down to the boiler and the foundation ring.

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It is now ready for the specialist welder to join the sides before we rivet it to the barrel and then fit the palm stays.

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Once that's done it can safely be moved for further work to be undertaken.


A lot of effort has been expended this week on needle gunning the inside of the boiler barrel to remove all the old scale which is uncomfortable, unpleasant, tiring and very noisy work so involved a number of people taking turns to spread out the misery.

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Alongside this job various pieces of tooling were being made and trial fitted to hold up the remaining firebox lap seam rivets on the top corners.  Also, the new tool boxes were receiving a final fettling to remove welding blemishes etc. ready for top coating.  The main steam pipe was laid out to measure up for new bolts

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and the longitudinal stays were given a coat of paint.  On Sunday the tool boxes received their first top coat and are looking quite smart.

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The riveting team spent all day putting in the last of the firebox lap seam rivets which numbered less than ten but were extremely difficult to hold up with each of the corner ones needing different blocks, wedges etc. to be constructed so we could get the hydraulic jack to both fit in the gap and sit square on the rivet head.

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The final rivet was supposed to be the easy one - replacing one on the side where access was easy but the pneumatic holding up gun refused to work properly (as did the spare) so it took almost an hour to strip it down, clean all the components, reassemble it and make it work.  The actual rivet replacement took barely 30 seconds.

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Next week isn't likely to be much quieter as we now need to caulk in all those firebox seams.