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Acquiring a steam engine

Discussion in 'Steam Traction' started by John Honeychurch-Kyle, Jun 6, 2021.

  1. John Honeychurch-Kyle

    John Honeychurch-Kyle New Member

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    I am looking at getting hold of a steam engine as I have an engineering project that would need one for research purposes. I have absolutely no idea about the process here so I am wondering about how much you have to pay, ideally it would need complete restoration and so really I'm looking to become custodian of something somebody is in need to move on. Any help and advice is appreciated
     
  2. Russ Bulley

    Russ Bulley New Member

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    My advice is go to a museum running engines and give them a donation which they will be happy to accept. Before that are you sure you are on new ground? Many have been there before you...

    Russ
     
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  3. MG 7305

    MG 7305 New Member

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    What is your budget and engineering experience? You can start with a Mamod model or a "project" mainline locomotive with everything in between. The difference in time, money and effort can be large.
     
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  4. Flying Phil

    Flying Phil Part of the furniture

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    Hi John
    When you say "Steam engine" the range and variety is huge so it is difficult to help. If you could be more specific that would help ie Stationary size 5 H.P. or scale model approx 12" sq with boiler like a Mamod model....or 5" gauge steam locomotive 0-6-0 tank......
     
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  5. Steve

    Steve Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    I’m sure that there are people on here who can give words of wisdom and advice but your initial request is far too vague for that to happen with any seriousness. For example, what do you mean by ‘steam engine’? That can be anything from a small model to a huge mill engine or do you actually mean steam locomotive? Even this requires more information on size and probably more on the hopes for the project.
     
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  6. sleepermonster

    sleepermonster Member

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    "Complete restoration" is a vague term which can mean salvaging a few parts for incorporation in what is really a new locomotive. Your best advance estimate of costs probably needs to be multiplied by at least 4, timescale by about the same amount. Restoration means anything from fixing a locomotive so it looks pretty and can stagger about for a few days each year before expiring before the next 10 year examination, to going right back to basics, and recreating a thoroughly sound locomotive which will work reliably year after year. Any locomotive you can buy now will have exceeded its design life by a considerable margin, and warranties are generally not provided by the seller, buyer beware.

    As an example, a run down austerity may cost you £25-£35K. Restoration to option 2: £0,25M and 8 years, with nearly all mechanical work carried out FOC by very skilled volunteers.

    My advice would be to join an existing group and learn from them as much as possible. You may then get some basic knowledge of and contacts in the locomotive world, and you may just get to hear of something you feel you can take on. Otherwise you are likely to find yourself scratching at the rust and wondering what on earth to do next.
     
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  7. Jimc

    Jimc Part of the furniture

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    Acquiring a full size steam locomotive is the easy and (relatively) cheap bit... Its the ongoing cost of ownership that really kills it. Even as simple a thing as keeping it somewhere can land you with crippling expense.
     
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  8. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Noting the OP's location, Ropley might be the best 1st call to learn about the reality of what's asked.
     
  9. John Honeychurch-Kyle

    John Honeychurch-Kyle New Member

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    I'd consider getting one requiring full restoration as I need one for an experimental piece of research, so really if it accidentally ended up irreparable beyond repair. What would be the cheapest option in this instance?
     
  10. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Nat Pres stalwart

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    You still haven't given any indication of size, you can buy a hornby live steam locomotive for a couple of hundred quid or a large mainline steam locomotive for several hundred thousand pounds, or literally any size in between.
     
  11. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Part of the furniture

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    Whats the 'experiment'?
     
  12. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

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    There are several fitting that description, former chunks of riverbank, to be found in New Zealand. TBH, the suggestion that you're looking at sacrificing something potentially restorable in it's own right is highly likely to put a few folks off.

    From a practical standpoint, wouldn't you be better off using components written off for economic reasons? You might, for instance, find an old boiler which was judged cheaper to completely replace in another restoration. That'd be a damned sight less contentious than totalling a complete loco in your search for knowledge, plus giving you precisely the valuable sort of learning exercise you seek.

    If you can resurrect a boiler from such a condition (remembering just what a successfully restored boiler indicates for any project), satisfying a boiler inspector that you know what you're doing will render taking next steps infinitely easier. The same would apply to restoring a 'written off' engine, by which I mean the cylinders and valve assemblies. Going down such a route would not only earn the credibility and goodwill anyone doing what you propose would need, it'd also give you some saleable components to put towards the cost of your main course.

    Just have a look at the 'Current and Proposed New Build' thread for the manifold pitfalls which catch out the most skilled and knowledgeable of our number (i.e. not me!). In many ways, building new can be a simpler proposition than de-knackering something.

    There have been instances of locos restored by those starting with next to no experience, a couple of quarry Hunslets come to mind, but those took decades to complete (and involved professional boilersmiths in the latter stages). They also didn't involve sacrificing another loco en route to restoration.
     
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  13. Jordan Leeds

    Jordan Leeds New Member

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    There are no cheap locomotives... Nobody sells a good engine they all need money.

    It has often been related that having a locomotive is akin to holding the bank vault door open and watching the money slowly disappear.

    Your experiments and such may be best discussed privately if you wish
     
  14. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    I think you are asking in the wrong place, as this forum has by it's nature an audience who do not wish ill to artefacts that have survived the rigours of normal use to go into preservation.

    More generally, there's been a lot of good - though I suspect for you discouraging - advice on here. I'd go in a slightly different angle, and look up the threads about locomotive restorations, and see which names crop up - then talk to them. Before you do, I'd read the report commissioned by the NRM into the problems with the restoration of "Flying Scotsman" (https://www.sciencemuseumgroup.org....17/06/flying_scotsman_report_october_2012.pdf), and have a think about what that says about how preservation operates
     
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  15. Flying Phil

    Flying Phil Part of the furniture

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    This has obviously aroused a lot of interest and several offers of advice.......but it would be very interesting to have a bit/lot more information from the OP. I'm sure there will not be too much commercial sensitivity affecting "steam engines" these days??
     
  16. ross

    ross Well-Known Member

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    Thomas Muirs of have a few Barclay locomotives that no-one seems to want sitting in a yard at Kirkaldy. They are small industrial types- at the "budget" end of locomotive ownership, but restoration costs would still be eye-watering and beyond the purse of most people.
     
  17. 5944

    5944 Part of the furniture

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    Plenty of people want them, but not at the price they're asking for the condition they're in.
     
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  18. Footbridge

    Footbridge Member

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    When I was about 10 years old, I fancied buying an 0-4-0 and putting it my dads garden. Obviously I had no idea of finance, logistics and practicalities back then.

    (Of course back in the 60's there was no internet to ask :rolleyes:)
     
  19. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Despite their current status, I believe these are regarded as Scottish icons i.e. woe betide any Sassenach with designs on them.
     
  20. marshall5

    marshall5 Part of the furniture

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    ..... but he's previously sold several to buyers south of the border before....
    A private owner at Pontypool & Blaenavon recently sold a pair of 12" Barclays for quite reasonable prices.
    Ray.
     

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