It’s been a little while since we heard anything about the Moseley Railway Trust’s Hudswell Clark steam locomotive no.1238. You may recall that this loco was repatriated from Ghana in 2008. After spending a while at Apedale, the loco went on display at the Leighton Buzzard Light Railway (to help mark their 90th birthday) and then went into hiding – right? Well, sort of. When the loco was repatriated, there was no clear plan for its restoration. However, a very generous bequest from the estate of the late Terry Stanhope has allowed the project to progress earlier than we perhaps dared to hope. The restoration of the loco is now progressing apace. The loco had an exciting existence in Ghana, ending up upside down in a river with a dead driver (which probably rather spoiled his day). The condition of the loco after being stripped and assessed by competent engineers was “rough”. We pay these people by the word, like lawyers.
The loco dates from 1916; the main frames are only 1/2″ thick, probably as a wartime economy measure. Consequently, they are rather flimsy (by steam loco standards), and have needed a lot of corrective work. Equally, maintenance standards may not have been all that one could hope for – for example, a wheel had rubbed for many years on the frame and cut a significant groove into the frame. Amongst many other activities, the cylinders have been bored out and generally overhauled. The wheels have had their journals turned and the tyre profiles machined back on. A full set of new axlebox castings are now available along with new coil and leaf springs. The cab has also been dealt with. So, all-in-all, the project is not too far from being a rolling chassis. The next big step is to order a boiler, and we’re hoping to do that before much longer. The obvious big question is when will it be finished and hauling trainloads of happy punters up the Apedale Valley? The simple answer is “it depends”. It depends primarily on money – there’s still a funding gap, and work is ongoing to find means to close that gap without detracting from the site development projects for Apedale. Obviously, if you’ve just won the lottery, we’d be quite keen to hear from you – although (to be fair) we’re happy to hear from anyone – get in touch here.