825 awaits transport from Queenborough in 1995 with its successors behind

The locomotives were deemed no longer required at Queenborough in 1995 and were purchased by myself and Nick Kelly, the considerable second-hand value of their Gardener engines meaning that they were not destined to sit abandoned as other worn out Queenborough locos have. On arrival at Isfield on the 5th November that year 825 went into service although a number of serious faults were evident. These included the right hand wheel flanges being worn to knife edges, poor starting due to lack of charging and life expired batteries, several inches of movement in one of the jack-shaft bearings, no drive in third gear and almost Ĺ" of play in the coupling and connecting rod bearings. The Railway's workshop department set about repairing the gearbox and dealing with the worst of the problems in the motion as well as a much needed quickie repaint but the serious problems clearly required the replacement of the wheel sets and breakage of an axle bearing resulted in the locomotive being withdrawn for attention in 1997.

825 in service in 1996 as received from Queenborough and in 1997 after a quick repaint (left Colin Tomlins, middle & right NEA Kelly)

In the meanwhile the need to acquire spares was clear so contact was made with the Army to see what was available with wheel sets being particularly required. By great good fortune a pair of wheel sets were still being held at Bicester, no longer required as the Army had withdrawn all surviving Standard machines by this time. Unfortunately the tender form for the wheel sets went astray and they were sold for scrap before we were able to act. A visit to Bicester for other reasons led to our discovering the sale, luckily before the wheels left the site. As the purchasing scrap yard was local we paid a visit the same day and established that the wheels could be sold on to us but only if the Army gave permission. This took some time but they arrived near Christmas 1997 and were fitted shortly after, the locomotive having stood off its wheels for many months by this time. A later Army tender list also provided spare gearbox components and bearings as well as some engine parts.

As the wheel sets acquired were refurbished the axles were full diameter and the existing bearings had to be ground to fit as well as having their worn out oil grooves reinstated. The bearing surfaces had been protected during the wheel's prolonged storage but at some point some damage due to careless use of lifting chains had occurred which had to be removed by careful filing. The replacement wheels were also different from the originals in that they did not allow sufficient clearance between wheel and axle box to replace the side rubbing plates originally fitted but worn to nothing at Queenborough. The original coupling and connecting rod bearings could be reused (no spares were available at the time) but they required white metaling and careful machining with final hand scraping to produce an acceptable fit on the crank pins. When the movement in the right hand fly crank was investigated it was revealed that the outer bearing had disintegrated while the inner one was badly damaged. This appeared to be due to a lack of any form of lubrication to the outer bearing which seemed to be a replacement presumably fitted during a major overhaul. Although the bearing housing was fitted with an oil feed this did not connect with any form of drilling in the actual bearing hence the outer bearing was running completely dry. As a relatively quick solution to this problem both bearings were replaced by the outer bearings from 830 although the outer one still required remetalling and very prolonged machining and fitting. To solve the oil feed problem a groove was milled in the outer bearing to allow the oil to run into the gap between the two bearings where a wool pad was added to help retain and spread the oil. Time will tell if this has improved matters but there were no problems during the locomotive's aborted return to traffic in 1999. With all this work done it became possible to reassemble the running gear - the maintenance difficulties posed by the lack of split bearings being clearly evidenced by the difficulties in lining the whole lot up but success eventually resulted. The brake gear was then replaced with new blocks being fitted.

The full seriousness of the 1950s accident was now obvious - the whole bake gear had been replaced with home welded equivalents and difficulties in lining it up correctly appear to be due to the whole locomotive's frame being somewhat twisted. A further problem was that Queenborough had replaced the brake blocks and supports using those from a BR class 03 or 04 which do not fit the hangers properly as well as lying slightly twisted (and to all those who have pointed it out NO the blocks are not on backwards!). Since we have a further spare set of blocks (and the patterns to cast more) to fit these hangers they will be left alone for now but at some time they will be bushed and modified to fit better or replaced with the correct pattern. At the same time investigation of the underside showed much damage to both the sub frame supporting the final drive and the gearbox mountings which have been partly replaced with rather inadequate bits of plate work which have themselves broken and been welded. This is probably due to the jack shaft damage which was causing the gearbox to move up to three inches when reversing direction.

A brief period of running was now carried out to establish if the refitted bearings were performing correctly, this proved to be the case, a slight tendency to run warm disappearing as things bedded down. With luck the major problems have been solved but only time will tell if the damage remaining from nearly fifty years ago will allow the repairs to last a reasonable time.

In primer in summer 1998

At this point (March 1998) the question of the locomotive returning to traffic was raised. Although the faults directly leading to withdrawal had been resolved much else remained wrong and it was decided to finish the job in a single process. The cab was stripped and repainted with all the various pipes and conduits in the correct colours - a long job given the difficulties of removing the many layers of paint and the generally low standard of construction. Two broken windows were also replaced - again crudeness of original construction meant that one window cracked on replacement (despite laminated glass being used) as the cab front is far from flat. Making the best of a bad job the rotten sliding windows were replaced with new although the crude design means they will still leak, experience since being that they will have to be replaced with something better to prevent water damage destroying them - at least all the rust affected metal has now been painted, however. Painting of the outside of the locomotive has been a very protracted process. This was due to the need to tackle various dents and areas of corrosion as well as many layers of paint made worse by lack of time caused by an enforced job and house move on my part in 1998. However top coat has now been applied and once rubbed down and final coated will be declared complete (a brief excursion into leprechaun green not withstanding!). The final result is fairly close to the lowest layer of paint found during repair although the overall effect at present is somewhere between NE apple green and Toytown! Congratulations are due to Nick for dealing with the awkward area under the frames - not a job to do too often!

Not the colour I meant to use - this green lasted two days!

A set of batteries and an alternator had been donated (thanks Aiden) and were fitted during the work on the wheels while a bodged flexible coupling in the auxiliary drive shaft was also replaced. The generator and its control box having been removed it was realised that the wiring generally was in very poor condition. There were various piecemeal replacements and additions using everything from single strand domestic cable to steel braided nuclear blast resistant military specification multi-core, some in conduit, some tied to anything convenient then painted over and every thing in between. Not surprisingly much of it didn'tít work and short circuits had melted some of the wire into a solid mass. The dash was also in very untidy condition as various replacement switches had been grafted into and around it. The main on-off switch had also lost its cover (not dangerous at 24v but not a pretty sight). Not surprisingly very few of the lights not broken worked and fitting the alternator had rendered the cab ammeter unsuitable. The windscreen wipers fitted in the late 60s (they are not in the 1964 photo) did not work and their switches were nailed(!) to the side of the dash. The flashing roof beacon was missing as were the rear marker lights, while the cab heater and rear red lights were present but damaged. It was decided to remove the heater, the ten foot long unlagged pipes supplying it can hardly have provided a lot of heat in any case and their removal tided up the engine compartment considerably. The wipers were removed and their motors dismantled for overhaul - luckily only the rust resulting from years of disuse was preventing them working. To tidy the wiring it was decided not to replace the flashing beacon while the wiper switches were remounted on the dash in a new connection box. The ammeter was replaced with a suitably calibrated voltmeter and the main switch replaced with a key switch and relay. The original pressure gauges were cleaned up and refitted while the dash was fitted with a new cover. To minimise the amount of wire running the full length of the locomotive the separate marker light, red light and headlight connections were replaced with a single pair (using a relay and diodes to allow fully functional lighting with the head and tail lights automatically correct for the direction selected by the gear lever). This allowed all the wire to be inserted in the original conduits which had been fitted to suit a single headlamp each end only. Assessment of all the lights available from both locomotives revealed that a pair of original head lamps in good order could be made from the bits available but that only a single red light could be repaired (like the heater and wipers only 825 ever had these). It was decided to replace the headlights on 825 with new, keeping the original ones for 830 which retained brackets for oil tail lights, while new marker lights and a red tail light were obtained from autojumbles or donated. The front lights had a very odd construction where they were fitted to the mounting bolts on a radiator segment - this dates from the rebuild but looked absurd so the bracket was modified to allow an appearance closer to that of the original design. At present a few bits of new conduit are still required to replace some which were welded to the running boards but these should not be hard to sort out. 

A few other tasks remained - the rotten cab floor was replaced and raised so that it is now possible to sweep dust out of the cab. Once the new bearings were run in the axle box oil pads were changed. The engine appears to be in good order but the oil and filter were changed before the locomotive entered full service.

The above takes the story to 1999 when a pressing need for traction saw 825 back in service although the repaint was unfinished and the cab doors were refitted despite their appalling condition.

In service in 1999 - this is as far as he repaint ever got

A number of problems occurred during 1999 which resulted in the locomotive having to be withdrawn once again. Just before the hoped-for shunter weekend in April the gearbox failed again, with loss of second gear. This proved to be due to the complete disintegration of the friction lining in this gear's brake band. Since all the bands were inspected when the worn out third gear was replaced (and the locomotive had only worked a few hundred hours since) it is clear that something serious is still wrong that was not detected previously. The gearbox was dismantled as far as possible in situ. Reference to the manual (not available when the job was last done) revealed that there is excessive end float in the gear brake drums causing 2nd and 3rd gear to try to drive simultaneously. This could not be adjusted out and replacement of the damaged band was not fully successful. As a result the gearbox had to be removed for complete dismantling and rebuilding. The intention was to use the spare gearbox destined for 830 in the mean time, with the rebuilt one going into 830 in due course. This proved impossible as when arrangements to collect it were attempted it appeared to have been stolen.  Thus the only option was to attempt a repair of the original (which actually belongs to 830 in any case).  Gearbox replacement is not easy as the upper body work and the fuel tank have to be removed for access which resulted in the final coat of paint being delayed until this work is completed.  The need to dispose of the remains of 73 004 and an attempt to make something of 03 037 and D2272 caused much delay and serious work on 825 only restarted after my acquisition of D2324 failed and two stores vans were finally obtained to allow both locos to be cleared of spare parts.  This takes the story to mid 2003 when an assessment of the work still required was made with the following quite daunting list produced:

1. Gearbox - complete strip the only option, some parts likely to need to be made.

2. Wiring - alternator and lights never finished, to be redone correctly.

3. Paint - deterioration in open store means starting again (at least it will not be necessary to strip it this time).

4. Cab - new doors, window frames and one window required.

5. Vacuum brake - vital if passenger use is to be considered, system incorporating proportional valve (to allow automatic control by the loco air brake), emergency valve, electric exhauster and deadmans control to be designed and fitted.

6. Gearbox mounting - fell apart on removal of the gearbox, will need to be rebuilt to a more sensible design.

7. Auxiliary shaft and pulleys - worn out and will have to be replaced.

8. Cooling system - all long flexible hoses to be replaced, one leaking radiator segment to be replaced.

Part way through another repaint, gearbox out to rebuild

At the time of writing (January 2005) the gearbox is out but it has proved so badly damaged that even dismantling has been impossible due to sized parts.  The vacuum system is largely complete, just needing piping up and wiring to complete.  The repaint has been started but much remains to be done.  The ex-class 73 cab doors have been fitted but need painting and fittings, the new cab windows are yet to be started.

Wasps at last!

UPDATE - Jan 2008

To my surprise it is now three years almost to the day since this site was last updated - and 825 is not quite finished even now..


The major task outstanding in 2005 was to rebuild the gearbox - an advert in Traction and Rolling Stock having turned up a suitable box from a later loco but which was known to have failed and caused the loco to be withdrawn then left outside for years.  Both the original box and the 'new' one were dismantled eventually although as both were seized this was not easy, shifting the coupling to the final drive took a 10ton puller as well as much heat.  The replacement gearbox had an utterly sized clutch which was finally dismantled by drilling through some of the rivets and drifting it apart.

Coupling to final drive removal                             Damaged clutch after removal                 

                                Water damage to replacement gearbox.                               

Final dismantling of the original gearbox also revealed some horrors - the failure of second gear being explained by complete detachment of the (not very worn) brake band lining, while missing out some important spacers had caused one of the oil pumps to bend badly (as this was one of the things missing from the other original box I suspect not for the first time).  The input end ball bearing had at some time been replaced with a roller bearing which had shattered under the axial load - this left the remains of the outer race stuck in the housing with no easy means of removal.  In the end the only option was to drill through the outside of the casing to provide a couple of drift holes (I did consider using the front casting off the 1941 gearbox but this has a different piston and seal arrangement and was very water-damaged meaning much work would have been needed).

At this point it was realised that one good box could be made from the three but not two without making some parts (luckily the spares obtained from the Army included some new clutch plates).  The final list of work required to make two usable boxes was:

Combine new parts and some salvaged from the 1941 box to make one good clutch assembly, replace the wearing parts in the other with new.

Use a mixture of new and 1941 parts to make up a full set of brake drums, gears and brake bands for the 1945 casing, reline the other brake bands and fit to the replacement casing.

One new input bearing (luckily it is a standard size)

Replace all seals (the shaft seals are standard the remainder had to be made)

Make one new oil pump piston and weld to existing eccentric strap, make one new oil thrower ring and one new axial play tolerance ring.

Replace missing air regulator restrictors (probably the cause of some of the damage as their omission causes violent gear engagement).

Strip, clean, repaint and reassemble - this took two attempts because the axial clearances are not well designed and are affected by the thickness of the oil seals as well as the tolerance spacers supplied.

Parts for the replacement gearbox                                                       Pistons with new seals        

Repaired oil pump                                                   Relined brakeband assembly 

                  New clutch partly assembled                                      Gearbox being refitted

At the time of writing the rebuilt boxes appear to work but have yet to be tried under load.  825's has been fitted after a long delay waiting for the new mountings and machining of new brackets as well as welded repairs to the cracks in the sub-frame.  The revised design allows limited gearbox movement to damp out vibration and take up flexing of the loco chassis but should restrain the movement under load that was causing problems before.


The original was worn out so a replacement was machined, allowing replacement of the long bodged flexible coupling.  It turned out that a Triumph Vitesse rotoflex coupling has the correct hole spacing although one of the drive plates was also damaged beyond repair and a new one had to be made from a suitable casting.  The bearing was also changed as was one pulley to a larger one to speed up the drive to the alternator which has never charged at idle (it came off a bus with a higher speed engine).


Although already rebuilt this needed to be changed again as the vacuum brake controls needed to be added and I never liked the modern square voltmeter I used last time.  Changing the layout also allowed for all the controls to be grouped more logically and a proper charge warning light to be fitted.  As the wooden frame was in poor condition underneath the ply facing a complete new dash was built.

Dash as was after last repair

Dash replaced (temporary pipe work)


The engine and cab doors were taken home to paint - after several attempts I have a poor but acceptable finish and this will have to do until my painting skill improves. I have finally replaced the broken rear window and made a start on machining new alloy window frames for the sliding windows.  The cab roof has been top coated (very crudely as it is a total mess due to poor construction anyway) and the rest of the cab is in undercoat.

The start of the new window frames

To allow the locomotive to be used for my 40th birthday in 2008 the majority of the body was top coat painted and temporary windows were fitted, at the time of writing (Jan 2010) the final paint is still required.

Driveable (April 19th 2008)


The proportional valve, one pair of gauges and the emergency brake valve as well as the remainder of the 2" pipework have all been fitted and initially tested, it will need to be tried out on a train before the capacity of the pump to pull the brakes off can be assessed - more work may be needed here.


Electric vacuum pump under test


The leaking radiator and various hoses have been replaced - the engine has been run after basic servicing but may need some minor further work as it is not idling smoothly (the fuel pump has been bodged as some point so the governor is not set up properly).


Some of the leaks have been traced and attended to but more work is required, the new DSD has yet to be fitted.


The alternator was still working intermittently so it was replaced with a new one, needing further changes to the auxiliary shaft, new batteries have been fitted.

New alternator




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Copyright R. Hingley (2002-2010)