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46235 City of Birmingham

Discussion in 'Steam Traction' started by Linesider, Jan 11, 2009.

  1. Linesider

    Linesider Well-Known Member

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    Reading Andrew Roden's excellent 2008 book 'The Duchesses: The Story Of Britain's Ultimate Steam locomotives', I was intrigued to learn that it is rumoured that 46235 City of Birmingham (on static display in Thinktank, Birmingham), is in full working order and could in theory be fired up and in steam without the need for any work. I always knew it was cosmetically restored by BR in the '60s, but had never heard that, due to the long time 46235 was in Crewe works for relatively straightforward work, it is rumoured that they fully overhauled her for old times' sake. Does anyone have any further light to shed on this story?
     
  2. Impala

    Impala Member

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    I don't think so. It was merely painted in patches, and in fact it was a rather poor job as well, with bad matching to the existing paintwork. Which makes rather a mockery of the contention by the museum staff that it is a "time capsule" and therefore must not be disturbed at any cost.

    However, it was one of the better condition examples of the class taken out of service in Sep 1964, so yes it probably could be steamed. Though of course inspection and insurance protocols would prevent that idea being tested.

    During the 1985 - 1990 overhaul of 46229, at the time when the engine was bought from Butlins. It was very much the hope of the senior NRM staff that 46235 would be resurrected so that they wouldn't have the responsibility of ever running 46229 again after it's ticket ran out. In the event, it was 6233 that came to their 'rescue'.
     
  3. david1984

    david1984 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Whether it was put in steamable condition when originally placed on display or not, it almost certainly isn't now, why ?, well those of you who remember 46235 in her previous sceince museuem home will recall occasionally she moved up and down her short length of track curtesey of an electric motor, now surely this motor had to be housed somewhere in the loco, not to mention the question of tranmission to the wheels.

    Although shes definetly static in her new home, is all the elecrtric gubbins still in situ ?.
     
  4. peckett2004

    peckett2004 New Member

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    no it was moved by a hydrolic ram
     
  5. peckett2004

    peckett2004 New Member

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    when city of birmingham was it the old science museum it was moved by a hydrolic ram not a electric motor
     
  6. Linesider

    Linesider Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Bongo - you're always a valuable source when it comes to the Duchesses. I've not seen 46235 myself, so it's interesting to hear that the paint job was only a touch up operation.
     
  7. Roobarb

    Roobarb New Member

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    If I recall correctly, it has an almost new inner firebox and having been stored under cover will mean that is all in fairly good condition. Not forgetting that as it was never a scrap yard wreck, still has all its motion and fittings.
    From the way it looked when I saw it in Thinktank, tucked away in a corner and looking slightly unkempt, it would be a better advert for the city if it were to be restored and run on the mainline.
     
  8. Bob Meanley

    Bob Meanley New Member

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    As with a number of the other Coronation pacifics, 6235 was in pretty good condition when withdrawn. My late friend Jack Street who was one of the Crewe boiler inspectors always insisted that at its last general repair, it was given the last "Big lizzie" boiler to be fitted with a new firebox, and certainly from a cursory look at it some years ago it is in very good condition. As for getting it out and just steaming it, that would be a pretty foolhardy idea with a loco as big as this. Without taking out at least some tubes there is no telling what corrosion from its service period prior to withdrawl together with the years of storage have done. Then the safety valves would have to be stripped and there are dozens of items that will probably have seized up, to say nothing of internal corrosion and loose scale in superheater elements and steam pipes, which would get down into the valve rings. And then there is the question as to if the valve and piston rings were adequately lubricated during the years it spent going up and down half a turn or so of the wheels in Newhall Street. All that is if you could or would want to get round current legislation. As for the work at Crewe it appears to have been pretty well cosmetic, and don't forget that it spent a fair time after withdrawl in the back of Nuneaton shed before it was called on to Crewe works for the work to be done on it, so it certainly wasn't at Crewe for anything like the 18 months or so between withdrawl and delivery to Birmingham. All in all it would need some quite extensive stripping of various parts, and examination before steaming could even be contemplated if further damage was to be avoided.
     
  9. Dave Roderick

    Dave Roderick New Member

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    Wasn't Thinktank completed after the loco was moved into position thereby making its egress almost impossible without demolishing part of the museum?
     
  10. Ben Fisher

    Ben Fisher Member

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    Maybe worth a quick reminder that City of Birmingham spent some time effectively outdoors (but carefully sheeted over) after its original delivery to Newhall Street, while the new part of the old Science Museum (which I still miss...) was built around it. It would seem surprising if it didn't need some touching up, as well as a lot of polish, at the end of that period. And yes, it was a hydraulic cylinder that moved the loco back and forth, IIRC once every half an hour.

    The notion of claiming "time capsule" status wasn't limited to CoB - I can remember that the description next to the 0-6-0WT Secundus nearby claimed it was in full working order - on the very shaky basis that it had worked up to withdrawal in the 1950s (not sure if it was just the cladding, but the boiler looked a bit banana-shaped!).
     
  11. Linesider

    Linesider Well-Known Member

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    Thank you Bob for such a detailed and interesting response; it's good to find out further information about 46235 - especially regarding its last general repair, and what may have happened to the loco internally in the last 40 years stood cold.
     
  12. Impala

    Impala Member

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    That's another interesting story. I've heard in the past from various sources who should know, that it was very rare for a Stanier boiler to receive a new firebox. For example, it seems that only ten new class 3 replacement copper fireboxes were ever made, and they were only to replace the 10 steel ones fitted to class 3B boilers, eight of which were used for that purpose. Usually at heavy repairs when required, new sides were welded in, which was a common occurance for the big pacific boilers. So I seriously doubt that an Duchess boiler ever had a new firebox. But it's not impossible. I don't know which boiler 46235 has now - maybe Bob can supply that info? The last actual boiler change for the class was reputedly to 46245, which from then on saw rather light use, being the pet engine of the depot at which it was stationed. The last very heavy boiler repair was to the boiler fitted to 46238 up to January 1962, when it suffered a collapsed crown on the up midday Scot, and required very extensive work to repair. I don't know whether that particular boiler ended up on either 46235 or 46245 or not, because no-one appears to have kept any records. One of the particularly disappointing aspects of the withdrawal of the last Duchesses was that most of them were in very good order at the time.
     
  13. Sheddist

    Sheddist New Member

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    And to add to the cost of any attempt to overhaul or inspect there may well be the removal of asbestos.
    It is unfortunate that the "think tank", which was built near or on the site of the L+B good depot is now far from rail connected. It is also not the best place to visit, officially, photography is banned!
     
  14. John Elliot Jnr

    John Elliot Jnr Well-Known Member

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    What? In Thinktank? You sure?
     
  15. david1984

    david1984 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Cheers for putting me right, in my defence i was only about 7ish when i last saw it ](*,)
     
  16. andrewr

    andrewr New Member

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    Hi Linesider, and thanks for the praise! I tend to agree with other posters who suggest that the reason 46235 took so long to emerge from Crewe was that repainting was fitted in around other jobs - but the suggestion that it could have been overhauled is a tantalising one... and certainly too tantalising not to be included in the book. Thanks to everyone who's responded to Linesider's original post - there's some really fascinating insight into what was happening to the locomotive back then.

    It's just a personal view, but I'm not sure what benefit there'd be of steaming CoB. We've got an unstreamlined Duchess on the main line, and the possibility (how likely is, perhaps, a different question!) of a streamlined Duchess running in the future, so what would running City of Birmingham tell us that we don't already know about these wonderful locomotives?

    I suspect the locomotive will remain stuffed and mounted for good, but in the context of having two other Duchesses that have run or are running, I think she's probably as well off where she is, under cover and warm, though I realise I may be in a minority in that view!

    Andrew Roden
    Author, The Duchesses: the Story of Britain's Ultimate Steam Locomotives
     
  17. ZEP

    ZEP New Member

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  18. Impala

    Impala Member

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    Not exactly secure on the trailer. You'd definitely not get away with that these days.

    As a matter of interest - Does anyone on here know the number of the boiler which 46235 carries?
     
  19. 46203

    46203 Member

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    Boiler No. 9940 was fitted to 46235 when it visited Crewe Works before returning to traffic on 17.01.61.

    9940 was initially fitted to 6223 (Order No. B402 1937), then to 6228 (1940), 6226 (1942), 6245 (1943), 6230 (1948), 6237 (1952), 6223 (1955) then finally 6235.
    I would be a little more excited if it had been initially fitted to 6256 or 6257!

    Details were originally obtained from Crewe Works Boiler Allocation notebooks and subsequently reported upon by author Brian Radford (to give credit where credit is due).
     
  20. Impala

    Impala Member

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    The engine history card contains the same information. Unfortunately it doesn't confirm that the same boiler is still carried by the engine now. Although it is quite likely, there could have been another boiler change since 1961. 46238 received a fresh boiler in July 1961, and that only remained on the engine barely 6 months.

    46256/7 shared 3 boilers between them, so 46235 would never have carried any of them, nor any others of the class.

    In fact there were several detail differences in batches of the class, and boiler 9940 would have itself undergone changes during its life to accomodate those differences. For example, the first 13 engines built were fitted with a plain grate. 46229 and 46234 were fitted with a drop grate, as were further engines up to 46252. 46253 onwards were fitted with a rocking grate, but the earlier engines were not modified. Which must have made a lot of extra work as boilers were altered back and forth as they were fitted to different series engines. Thus 46229 now carries a boiler that was origianally fitted with a plain grate but now has the drop grate, whereas 6233 has a plain grate in a boiler originally fitted with a drop grate when new. interestingly the current custodians refused to alter the grate at the last overhaul when it was suggested it would make the engine easier to service. The reason being it would make the engine non authentic, though that didn't stop them making other modifications which have a lot more impact on its appearance. Seems like they are just as "up themselves" as the railway hierachy were regarding unapproved modifications.
     

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