“Team 45” – the group working on the privately-owned Class 45 locomotive – have been making good and steady progress since their arrival at North Weald in September 2014. The following article was provided by Robert Bish to update followers as to what has been taking place:
At the back end of 2014, we decided we could bring so many tasks to be worked on, back to Portsmouth (aka Pompey); I offered the use of my garage to facilitate this and, together with two new members – David (who is retired), and his son Paul (who is in the metal fabrication and engineering business), all the heavy fabrication work required on the loco has gone ahead apace.
The support group – “Team 45” as we like to call ourselves, or – officially – “45-132 Support Group” – consists of three members who can help us when on site at North Weald, and upwards of six in Pompey. Three to four of us work on Thursdays, and all of us get together on Saturdays. This has allowed us to get far more work completed to the high standards we have set ourselves, than if we worked only on site at North Weald.
I will start at the lower parts of the loco, namely the battery box trays. All four have been totally rebuilt to receive type 47 batteries – she had been using type 37, which were not up to the job. The four drop down tray covers have been fully stripped and refurbished (i.e., back to bare metal) and custom-built hasps to take security padlocks have been manufactured to fit these doors; all work completed in my garage.
All 14 floor plates were brought home and cleaned back to bare metal, replacement aluminium fabricated where required and all plates covered with new Lino; these are now fitted in the Loco.
All four cab seats have been refurbished and reupholstered; one set was installed earlier this year, whilst the others were kept stored with a number of other components. These are as follows: eight air filter boxes, sundry cab panels, one rocker cover, two generator cover components, 4 padlocks (together with the hasps), one cab handle assembly and two refurbished cab ceiling switch panel plates. Keith Hawkins, another gentleman who helps us, has a heavy engraver of the type that was in use in the 1960s. He will be able to make new identity labels for the Loco, including ones for the switch panels, so they should end up looking like new.
Now on to the heavy items:
The air filter assembly, refurbished, is in storage at Fareham.
The exhaust silencer (this was the big headache) has had a brand new baffle box fabricated by Paul. He and his dad have fitted this to a heavily rebuilt silencer assembly, which has had a coat of silver paint to finish it off. It looks like “The Cat’s Whiskers!”
The roof panel that bolts to the silencer has had an extensive amount of work done to it and fits properly; it is now painted as well.
The roof frame (yes, this is also in the garage, with not much room to move!) has also been heavily refurbished, with rusty and suspect parts replaced. It now awaits a final coat of paint.
And now to the final heavy metal component: The exhaust silencer pocket.
This is welded to the roof frame and the exhaust silencer sits between it and the roof; it has required some very careful measurements, but is now tack welded to the roof frame and ready for MIG seam welding. This should be ready within the next 2-3 weeks and, upon completion of this task, we will then have to transport the roof, roof frame and exhaust silencer over to Fareham, to test fit as one unit to the air filter assembly. If this is OK, then we will be in a position to return all these components to the Loco at North Weald.
We then have to order all 96! batteries (she is 220 Volt) and work on the triple pump (for oil, fuel and coolant), to allow the engine to have lubricant and coolant so we can bar the engine over. This will allow the final flange bolts attaching the generator to the gearbox to be tightened. We should have some idea then as to whether the engine is free to run. The Loco owner is looking into the possible use of Ultra Capacitors alongside the lead acid batteries. These seem to be able to aid starting the engine without draining the batteries that would normally be employed. It would also allow the Loco to shut down between operations, thereby saving fuel.
The exhausts are almost ready to be reconnected; we just need to obtain a couple of gaskets. One of our group who works on the Big Railway will be able to do most of the electrical testing, including the traction motors which are the last big question mark at present.
As for our future aims, IF all the “ifs” come together, we would hope to have 45-132 running on her second anniversary of arriving at the EOR, which is mid-September this year.