CLAN LINE RETURN WITHIN SIGHT AT CREWE

Published at 12:00 on Monday 8th May 2017
Tags: Clan Line, Main Line Steam, Crewe

SR Merchant Navy Class Pacific No. 35028 Clan Line climbs effortlessly up the grade at Shere on 22nd May 2015, with the ‘Belmond British Pullman’ from London Victoria. With the locomotive due to return to the main line in the coming weeks, scenes like this should once again become a familiar sight. Brian Kennedy

There is good news for fans of Bulleid Pacifics, as rebuilt SR Merchant Navy class No. 35028 Clan Line is at last nearing completion at LNWR Heritage in Crewe, and is expected to make a return to the main line later this month.


The locomotive’s boiler was readied for its out-of-frames steam test at the beginning of March, and this was duly passed following a thorough inspection. Meanwhile, the smokebox was rebuilt, with the bottom half having been replaced due to excessive corrosion. The opportunity was also taken to return the smokebox to its correct diameter, as it had previously been around half-an-inch smaller than the one that was originally fitted. While this in itself was not a major task, it entailed a considerable amount of work to the internal fittings, including the spark arrestor screens and associated brackets, to make sure that everything fitted as tightly as it should. The newly resized smokebox now presents a much better fit to the saddle. The boiler has now been refitted to the frames, lagged and fitted with its cladding, and the final ancillary items, including the grate, damper control linkages and the remaining pipework, are being fettled and fitted.

The first fire has yet to be lit in the locomotive, but this is expected in the coming days after the boiler has been reunited with the chassis, ahead of Clan Line being gauged and weighed, the latter process needed to allow the locomotive springs to be adjusted. The final coats of paint are being applied, and ‘light’ and ‘loaded’ tests are expected to take place over the coming weeks.

Unfortunately, although tantalisingly near to completion it will not be able to take up its first two booked duties, these being the Belmond British Pullman trip on 17th May, and UK Railtours’ ‘Atlantic Coast Express’ on 27th May, with the latter now having been rescheduled for 23rd September.

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