Wednesday, 11 December 2019

Putting up the Shutters

Disclaimer first! No rain forests have been harmed in the restoration of this locomotive. Drawing 21372 is quite clear what material the cab louvres are made of:

Teak is a hardwood that comes from Burma. So at one level sourcing it is both politically and environmentally insensitive. Fortunately, a form of ‘carbon capture’ popular with men of a certain age is to store away nice looking bits of wood in garages with that false promise to the wife that "I’ll do something with it someday". Thirty odd years and no bookshelves later, the spectre of 4415 has lumbered over the horizon.
We don’t need a lot of teak, but we do want teak because we’re trying to get those details right.

There must be quite a lot of those unstarted bookcase projects out there, as an appeal in the Ffestiniog Railway Magazine brought in more offers than we could possibly expect. So, with materials to hand, Clive Bickley has set to and made the frames.

As Clive said in his e mail with the progress photos, that’s the easy bit done, now he has to make 42 slats and then the 84 mortise and tenon joints!

This is the finished product we are looking for.
Feel free to correspond re the above photograph. It is of 4415; yes, we are fitting the shutters and no, we are not fitting the double skinned roof.
Will we be putting 24nr ½” holes in the roof for no particular reason? Of course. I assume that the double skin roof would not go under the NWNGR bridges, as in the photos of the loco at Dinas it does not have a second skin.

Thursday, 21 November 2019

Cloning progress

The blog report for May outlined plans to clone the parts of the MDB2 from the road roller which we
do not have drawings for. The first item to be tackled was the rocker covers and our pattern maker,
Bob Smith has come up trumps. Great news for the project and good to have Bob getting into the swing of things…

Because the next thing we would like him to have a pop at is the rather substantial and quite
complicated body for the fuel pump & governor. 
This is the casing from the MDB2 engine after it has been gutted:

It is quite a beast and it is not a pure replica that is required, as the fuel pumps themselves sit on top of the central block and as this is the block for an MDB2 and we need a unit for an MDB4 it will need stretching:

There is also an end cap, to go on the left hand end in the above photos:

And the governor itself (which sits in the right hand portion of the body) has two cast weights which and attached to another casting.

  Let’s all hope that Mrs Smith is a very tolerant woman!

Braking News!

Back in September Nutexa Frictions returned the band brake straps with their new Ferodo liners, which has prompted Rick to crack on with another sub-assembly. After a day of prevarication and elliptical hole measuring he came to the conclusion that it would be easier to replace a substantial lump of the compensating mechanism than repair it:

As it measures 2”x 1¾” it’s a fair old chunk of steel, and I think he enjoyed the challenge of machining on the radiussed end that no-one will ever see:

This is the sub-assembly drawing:

A bit more grey paint, two more new pins and it will be ready for fitting:

Monday, 16 September 2019

Cab Heater and Band Brake

The refurbished radiator/ cab heater for KS4415 has been returned from Exeter & Newquay Radiators. It’s a beautiful thing and incorporates a header which came with the MDB4 from Armley Mills, the original header being in a bad way.

Clearly it now needs a great big plate, with a great big spelling mistake on it to reminder the driver of the Kerr Stuart Diesel Locomotive that the power under the bonnet (and half way into the cab) comes from McLaren.

Looking at the cab layout, if they hadn’t gone for the colonial shuttered look they could have made the cab heater a lot smaller.

Having said that, the standard gauge loco Kerr Stuart made for the Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway had a cab more suited to wetter climes, an MDB6 and still had the radiator in the cab.

We have now removed the ‘MacLaren’ plate from the roller radiator and our intention is to use this as a pattern to cast a replica. The 4415 Merchandising team think these are an ideal man-cave addition that all (well, one or two) 4415 enthusiasts will desire. Get in touch if you’re interested and we’ll confirm a price once contact has been made with a foundry.

Another ticked off job is the band brake straps which have been fitted with new Ferodo liners by Nutexa Frictions.

To put these components into context the band brake is a drum on the layshaft and these two shoes clasp onto it, the brake being operated by an impressive lever in the cab, all coloured a lovely sandy shade on the GA below.

In all the enthusiasm for painting things grey the drum for the band brake has been painted. It now needs un-painting. We have a method statement which involves a big bit of emery cloth, someone lying on their stomach and a trip to Porthmadog for the loco frames.  Unfortunately the accompanying risk assessment suggests that not all good ideas are actually good.

This was the complete, front-end assembly before restoration commenced, and apart from replacing the pins all of the components (including the turn buckle) are fit for re-use:

It makes a change from the usual closing shot of paint drying!

Monday, 5 August 2019


KS4415 It’s a bit of niche market and if you are keen enough to be following this you’ve probably got the books already. If not, why not? All items available from the Ffestiniog Railway Heritage Group website Payment by Paypal

R.E.V. GOMM Badges:


There is only one way to really mark a railway locomotive restoration project; A genuine Gomm badge. These little gems are only available from the FR Heritage Group and all profits will go to the restoration of Kerr Stuart 4415.

Available in original grey livery £5.00 including p&p or £4.00 for cash if we can arrange to meet in the back room of some Porthmadog pub!

As you can only buy them from the FR Heritage Group this could be termed an exclusive offer, but the exclusive offer comes with a limited edition, exclusive offer!

We have a limited edition of 50 badges in the Mauritian Green livery. These are also available at £4.00 cash/£5.00 including P&P.

Do you go grey or do you go limited edition green? To make the choice easier, you can only buy a green one if you buy a grey one. If you think that is unreasonable look at it from this perspective, the more badges you buy the sooner we will all see the engine running!

Fifteen Shillings Change by Kerr Stuart & Co Ltd. Re-printed by the Industrial Railway Society. ISBN 1901556575 Softback 280mm x 21mm, 30 pages, 14 illustrations

Thursday, 18 July 2019

A rush of cash to the head!

Thanks to the generosity of the Ffestiniog Railway Society some more funding has been made available to the project. The KS4415 Appeal ( ) has so far raised around £10,000 of its £30,000 target which leads to the conclusion that if more people had those 1920s trousers that went up to their nipples they might be able to reach their wallets.. Anyone contributing over £100 will get a free copy of the Kerr Stuart "15 Shillings Change" brochure, and there are Gift Aid opportunities. I think this means that if you put £400 in we have to send a copy of "15 Shillings Change" to Philip Hammond.

Enough on fund raising, let's crack on with the serious business of spending money. The tasks to restore the locomotive can be broken down in three ways; those which require effort, those which require thinking and those which require money. So far we have expended a lot of effort, and applied some thinking in sorting out the drawgear and gearbox mounting. While there are still tasks which fit the first of these two categories (restoring the body needs effort, providing new injectors and fuel pumps need thinking), we do have quite a few components which need specialist input and therefore good old fashioned cash.

Number One is the crankshaft, dispatched to Farndon Engineering in October. They are now very close to forging the new shaft:

(That’s not little grub screws holding it together that you can see, they are plugs in the end of the oilway passages.)

Let’s hope that Nutexa Frictions appreciate the quality of the box the band brake shoes have been dispatched in for new linings to be fitted:

The packaging for the radiator, off to Exeter & Newquay Radiators is more mundane:

Also off for specialist attention are the cylinder heads to T&L Engineering:

In the thinking category, the pistons from cylinders 1, 3 & 4 have been crack tested. We’re pondering if cylinder Nr2 can be repaired or if it needs replacing:

The cylinder liners have also been removed for assessment:

One of the big challenges is the injectors (or ‘atomisers’) as they were termed at the time. Rick has stripped down one from the MDB2 engine (out of the roller), made a couple of new components and got it working.

The exciting little video of it on the Facebook page provides a real contrast to the pathetic snot of Diesel which it blew out on the first attempt. Fortunately McLaren drawing DL1693 provides the manufacturing details for all of these components and with increased confidence regarding how they work, we are getting close to the point of manufacture.

The governor & fuel pump assembly is the other thing which needs some thinking about. We do not have a full set of drawings for this unit. This is the assembly from the MDB2:

The governor is in the body on the right, which transfers and combines with the movement of the throttle in the body on the left, which then adjusts the stroke of the fuel pumps by raising and lowering the upper assembly in the centre box, which is operated by the cams on the centre shaft in the photo below:

If you compare this photo with the drawing in the 25th May entry, you can see that while the general principles remain the same there are some fundamental differences. On the GA drawing there are 75 different part numbers. Fathoming out how to re-create this may take some time.

It might need money and thinking, but it also still needs effort. Martin Greenland applies another coat of paint to smarten up the frames for the WHR Past, Present & Future event in June:

Saturday, 25 May 2019

Hello Dolly!

If you go back to 2/11/16 you may recall why the 4415 project team does not provide horse racing tips; having considered putting money into three different Diesel engines we decided to back the horse with the broken leg. This ‘horse’, the MDB4 engine had damage to the crank case, a broken crankshaft, a damaged piston, no injectors (atomisers in the language of 1928) and no fuel pump. While we have a very comprehensive set of drawings for the locomotive and some drawings for the engine, the set of engine drawings is incomplete. The drawings we have come from the McLaren archives held at Armley Mills museum, who also kindly donated the MDB4 engine to the project. In the back of another of their sheds was something to covet:

This particular wonky donkey of a horse is a Barford Perkins road roller. Precise vintage unknown, but the interest from the 4415 project perspective is that the motive power comes from a McLaren MDB2 engine, the two cylinder variant of the MDB4. The great thing about the roller engine is that it is substantially complete, with fuel pump, governor & atomisers. Obviously (by definition) there are not enough of the components the project needs for cannibalisation, but cloning is the technology of the future.

In line with the project ethos, recovery of the roller was done by the team in some style, that style being provided by Foden, courtesy of Dave Walker.

For the roller, there must be a sense of déjà vu, it does not look any happier in its new home in Wales:

The continued support of the Armley Mills museum to the project is greatly appreciated. The roller is on loan, to enable investigation and replication of the components missing from the MDB4 engine. The governor/ fuel pump assembly (in the photo below) is of particular interest and can be compared with illustration of the MDB4 from "15/- change":

When the two photos are compared, the fuel pump assemblies can be seen to be similar, but not identical, and it is not just that one has two fuel lines running from it and the other four. It might be because some of the McLaren drawings we have for the fuel pump are labelled ‘for Old Type Fuel Pump’ which infers that there is a new type too. We have some detail drawings and can be very confident that we can recognize an old type governor ball thrust when we see one; whether we can tell if the MDB2 fuel pump is ‘old type’ or ‘new type’ will require some expertise that merges the roles of diesel fitter & chicken sexer, and the governor ball thrust is very much an integral part of the whole fuel pump assembly.
Whether the drawing below represents the ‘new’ or the ‘old’ type unit we do not know, but there’s quite a bit of work in making one of these.

 We’ll keep you posted on progress.

The other main items of interest are the atomisers. We do have a good set of drawings for these, but it's nice to actually see one.

A reminder: MDB2. It has two cylinders and therefore two atomisers. It would have been nice if they were both the same; but which is the new, improved one?

The ones we are going to have made are the ones on the right; because we do have a set of drawings for that type.

Not all the bits that need to be cloned are complex precise bits of machining. We also need some interesting castings too. This is a rocker cover from the MDB2. We need four of these. We’re pleased to welcome Bob Smith to our team, with the hope that he will enjoy the title of ‘project patternmaker’, because this isn’t the only casting we need.

Finally from the roller, something that rocks our world. Proof that the pattern shop at McLarens did not have a proofreader. We don’t need to clone the radiator, but we do need to clone the spelling mistake:

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Gearbox fitted!

Rick, Matty & Monkey have overcome the interface issues which left the gearbox on physical chain block and storyline cliff hanger in the last report. Overcoming the interface issue, meant a trip for the clock side mounting plate.

In this view of the gearbox being finally lowered into the frames, the fact that the engine and gearbox are not on the centreline of the locomotive is all too apparent.

This photo shows the final drive gears (external to the gearbox) and the drive chain from the layshaft to the leading axle and gives an idea of how little room there is between the gearbox and longitudinal frame stretcher to squeeze the new clamping plate in. 

On the engine side there the clamping plate is positioned outside the frame stretcher (hence the need for the spacer ring described in the 11/10/18 report. As it is a new component the clamps are assembled with metric bolts.

There is a cast iron spacer which sits on the layshaft and holds the gearbox in place laterally. This has been trimmed back, so that it now locates on the clamping plate rather than the gearbox. Two flats have also been machined off to allow the spacer to fit between the clamp plate bosses.

With the gearbox now fitted the interior has been cleaned up. While the working of the gearbox was described in the 6th December 2017 report, it will not harm to describe it again. By moving the bevel gears on the upper shaft to the left or right (so that they engage with the unseen gear on the incoming drive shaft) the upper shaft can be made to rotate clockwise or anticlockwise. The motion is transmitted by chains to the lower shaft. On the bottom shaft whichever dog clutch is engaged determines if you are in the high or low gear.

Close up of the lower (speed) shaft. The splined output drive shaft cab be glimpsed between the dog clutch teeth on the left hand side. The selector (see image below) engages with the central groove to move the clutches left & right.

Close up view of the forward/ reverse gears. No work has been done to these gears, other than a clean-up.

Gearbox with chains and selectors re-fitted.

Crank operating the high/low gear selector, possibly made at Britannia Foundry (see 6th December 2017 report).

Oil filler re-fitted (original pot, replica cap, see 24th June 2017 report).

Matty eschews Ricks handiwork with the oil filler and pours another 5 gallons of oil into the ‘box.

Another milestone reached!