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News-Update from the North Norfolk Railway

News-Update from the North Norfolk Railway

From Mike Ellis

The last real news from the restoration of Rhätia focused on the transportation and safe delivery of the boiler to the North Norfolk Railway in England.
This report will bring our supporters up-to-date with the progress on the UK side of the project which is where your writer is chiefly involved.

The delivery of the boiler in December 2021 saw the start of quite a lot of workshop activity in Weybourne, at their NNR engineering site. The inner-firebox was removed, this involved cutting several hundred staybolts and lifting the inner-shell out of the outer wrapper. This then enabled us to gain access to the inner surfaces of the boiler.

Initial inspection was undertaken by the NNR team to enable a report to be written prior to a site visit from the project group in Landquart. This visit was made in May 2022.
The meeting group was brought up to date with the UK progress and shown the findings of the NNR engineers. The message from the engineers was very clear: this is an old boiler and repairs, in line with the restoration objectives, would be complicated. Most importantly however was that the restoration was realistic.
Our two-day visit was long, but fruitful and agreements were documented on the final methods and scope of repairs to be undertaken.
To round off the meeting we were treated to a return trip along the North Norfolk Railway, well worth a visit and a great example of a UK preserved steam railway if anyone is visiting the area.

Since May 2023 there has been considerable activity focussing on design and the creation of CAD plans for approval and manufacture of various components that are in need of replacement. This has not been an easy task, due to tolerances in 1888 being rather different to those in 2023. Peter Philips, the NNR boiler Engineer, has had plenty to consider during the past months!

The most significant aspect of the past 12 months on the project has been the knock-on effect of COVID. The cost of raw materials has simply exploded. Quotes for Arsinecopper (used in the firebox construction), have been very difficult to obtain. When we finally gave the expenditure clearance the quote we had was only valid for 48 hours! The delivery at least 36 weeks! (later amended to 19, which we hope will prove correct).
All in all, it has been a busy and turbulent period. But successful. We have a plan in place, we have end dates fixed to work against and, progress has started.

Looking forward, we plan to have materials arriving very soon and the boiler ready by mid 2024. At this time the frames will be shipped from Landquart to the UK to enable the smokebox, boiler and frames to be matched up and joined. Shortly thereafter we will have a hydraulic test to make and a steam test to document prior to the return of the whole packet to Landquart. This work is however still well in the future at this point in time.

If you’ve never been inside a loco boiler, I can assure you it is a tight fit…

Reto Mark (RhB) and Stephen Lathan (SRS) discuss the engineering detail in Weybourne.

This is the component that really costs money: the inner firebox and foundation ring, both of which will be replaced.

Getting it right isn’t always easy, having the right people helps.

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