2005 - 2006


After Camelot was withdrawn from service the first priority was conservation of its structure. Some small parts were removed for safe keeping, a regular schedule of oiling was started and the tender coal space and tank were emptied and inspected. The coal space was repainted and underneath, the tank was cleaned and painted where required. The tender brake gear was dismantled, overhauled and refitted. All this was done by the end of 2006.



Attention now turned to the locomotive. The brake gear was dismantled, overhauled and stored until such time as the locomotive was rewheeled. The boiler tubes and superheaters were removed and, being in poor condition after ten years' use, scrapped. The sanding pipework was removed, cleaned, painted and stored. Smokebox fittings were removed to allow the boiler lift to take place.

On 19th November a milestone was reached when the boiler was lifted out of the frames. Afterwards, the cladding was removed and an assessment made of the work required on the boiler. It was noted that a new smokebox was needed.



Most of the year was spent steadily stripping and dismantling the many fittings and fixtures from the locomotive, both below the frames and in the cab, whilst James Kidd, the Bluebell Railway's Workshop Manager, got to grips with the boiler. These activities included stripping all cladding, footplating, cab fittings such as the brake pedestal, water valves, rocking grate mechanism, live and exhaust steam injectors and associated pipework, reversing wheel, cab windows etc. What helped though was the use of stainless steel bolts first time around, when we restored the engine, enabling us to remove parts fairly easily. Some work required raising the frames with jacks and applying heat and more than a little brute force. All the coupling and connecting rods were removed and stored. On the bogie, the flexible pipework was detached and the central pin released.

The boiler also made significant progress. The cladding and crinolines were removed and the lagging beneath disposed of safely. The chimney, having been unbolted, was found to have several large cracks in it. Initial thoughts concentrated on receiving quotes for a new one. However, with the advance of welding technology for cast iron, it was realised that the original could be repaired at a cost effective price. Likewise, the original ejector exhaust ring was found to be beyond repair. Luckily the society had another one, which, although needing specialist welding, like the chimney; was judged to be in better condition.

One major task was removing the smokebox and front tube plate. The smokebox was found to be beyond repair and an order was placed to roll a new one, by a firm of Devon shipbuilders. The front smokebox ring and door were found to be reusable.

With the smokebox removed, James was able to cut out the rivets holding the front tube plate, which had become thin in parts and badly worn, having been fitted as long ago as 1963 at Eastleigh Works. The fun bit was pulling and pushing the plate out. Heat and jacks were applied and after a titanic battle, which included member Niall Davitt getting stuck in the boiler, a lead hammer did the job. An engineering firm in the Midlands was contacted to produce a new blank tubeplate. Once we were able to climb inside, a large amount of scale was removed, but the boiler itself, originally off 73088 Joyous Gard, appeared to be in good condition.

Once again technology came to the aid of the overhaul, with the use of water blasting to descale the outside of the boiler. This was done at a pressure of 60,000+ psi and left the metal in a superb, good as new state; ready to be painted with special heatproof grey paint. This was the first time the Bluebell had agreed to the use of this method.

As it was planned to fit working AWS, some parts were acquired to complete the system.

The Bluebell Railway 9F Club offers the opportunity for young adults to get involved in locomotive department activities. Under the expert guidance and supervision of Katy and Rupert, club members cleaned up numerous bits and pieces from our van body and all were a credit to the railway. They really helped and made a difference. Thanks to: Adam, Daniel, Georgia, Jack, Hamish, Louise, and Mark. Well done all of you!



For the first few months of the year, whilst waiting for the frame to be lifted off the wheels, work was concentrated on cleaning and painting parts. Our contractors Slinden Services completed a welding repair on the chimney.

The lift took place on 19 May. Many Camelot stalwarts turned out at short notice to work alongside our close friends and fellow preservationists in the Maunsell Locomotive Society to put their S15 847 back on her wheels and take Camelot apart; placing our frames in the space vacated by 847 in the yard at Sheffield Park.

Early in the morning we unbolted the axlebox horn stays and shunted the locomotive into place next to the crane. The actual lift could not have been easier, any fears of jammed wheelsets in the frames were dispelled as the frame lifted cleanly into the air, leaving a bogie and three sets of wheels behind. The frames were placed on jacks and packing and the wheelsets were rolled into place, just to the side of the frames. The bogie was taken off the rails and also placed alongside. All was finished by 5.00 pm, a big step forward for the overhaul.

Cleaning the frames started the next Sunday. The wheelsets were water-jet cleaned to remove grease, prior to been sent to the South Devon Railway for fitting of new tyres and profiling. The bogie was dismantled with the wheelsets and compensation beams being removed in early July. The cab was removed from the frames and placed on timbers to be worked on more easily.

During the winter we continued to clean up and paint various components and put them away to be ready for starting reassembly. The locomotive frames had some attention, cleaning up and painting the outsides and the spring hangers.


The bogie and driving wheelsets were sent to the South Devon Railway for reprofiling. The driving wheels were also retyred. At the same time, the cannon boxes were repaired and the bearings repacked with grease.

At Sheffield Park, we continued to clean up and paint various components and put them away so that they are ready for when we start reassembly. The locomotive frames had some attention, cleaning up and painting the outsides and the spring hangers. The new smokebox was undercoated.


The South Devon Railway workshop completed work on the wheelsets. Unfortunately, as the work progressed, more was found to be necessary. For example, when the cannon boxes were dismantled, the bearings and rollers needed attention. The wheelsets were back at Sheffield Park by the end of the year.

At the Bluebell workshops, work continued on the small parts and the frames. On the frames, we started work on the stretchers and hornguides.

A drawing for the rear dragbox was obtained so we could get some quotes in for fabricating a new one on contract. A quote was received for a pressed front tubeplate for the boiler.



The wheelsets returned by the South Devon Railway were repainted and the cannon boxes cleaned and repacked.

A new front tubeplate was pressed on contract by the South Devon Railway. The South Devon also constructed a new firebox backhead. A new rear dragbox was constructed by workshop staff, using a water jet cutting method that saved significant costs.

Work continued on the small parts. Many steam fittings were inspected and overhauled and the mechanical lubricators completed, ready to go back on the engine. The steam brake required new flanges for the trunnions, as the old ones had corroded to the point of cracking.

On the frames, work continued on the hornguides. It soon became apparent that most, if not all, would have to be removed from the frames for the flexible stretcher pin holes to be bored true before rebushing. The front right hand hornguides required more work as they had both fretted against the frame. Sometime in BR service work was done using oversize rivets so the opportunity was taken to return the rivet size to normal. This caused extra machining work as the holes in the hornguides had to be bushed to reduce their size. For the new frame sections, these were drilled for the correct size rivets.

At the end of the year it was decided that the Bluebell Railway would fund boiler repairs, to be carried out on contract.



The contract to repair the boiler was let to the London and North Western Railway and the boiler was sent off to Crewe. By the end of the year, the Society's Chairman, Peter Gibbs, and the Bluebell Railway's Workshop Manager had made two inspection visits to Crewe. Here is Peter's report from the second visit:

"A second visit to Crewe took place on 28th November to view progress on the boiler: on this visit, I was accompanied by Chris Shepherd and Andy Kelly from the Bluebell Railway Locomotive Workshop. The copper doorplate with the new lap inserts welded in, which have been checked ultrasonically, was having the top lap built up with copper weld. This will be ground back to the correct profile.

Inside the firebox the rear left side copper plate has been built up and caulked and, at the front, the left side lap seam has had 75% of the rivets replaced. Part of the lap is being replaced with a new insert and this will be rivetted once the insert has been welded in. The steel backhead has had the areas of grooving ground out and welded up on the left side. The boiler will have to be turned over for the right side to be repaired in a similar fashion.

The firebox is mainly held in place with Monel stays (Monel is a nickel-copper alloy) and these are in good condition and will not need replacing. However, there are some copper stays as well and some of these have been found to be broken and all will be replaced. All the steel crown stays have been removed and new ones ordered. Some of the foundation ring rivets have been removed but the rest will be left in place until the ring is taken out: this will be done when the boiler is on its back, after the right side has been repaired. The new front boiler barrel section has been delivered and awaits fitting.

Overall, we were very impressed with the quality of the work carried out so far and Chris was able to authorise the next stages of the work on Camelot. We also took the opportunity to inspect Sir Archibald Sinclair's boiler and Chris gave Richard Watkins, LNWR Boilershop Manager, more information about the extent of the work previously undertaken and discussed what needs to be done now."

Back at Sheffield Park, the Workshop delivered the S15 locomotive 847 back into traffic. This left room to move the frames and wheelsets back inside.


LNWR Crewe worked on the boiler over this year, and by December, were ready to conduct the hydraulic and live steam tests.

At Sheffield Park, with the frames and wheelsets back under cover; work progressed to the point where the frames, wheels, cylinders, motion and cab were back together as a complete assembly by December. More images appear in the Photo Album Overhaul Days page.


The repaired boiler was tested at Crewe, and passed both the hydraulic and live steam tests. It was then returned to Sheffield Park and on 20 January was reunited with the frames.

We have a locomotive! Now we have to reattach the small parts in the right places. Forecast date for return to traffic: "Mid Year".

This is the situation at the end of April:

  • The boiler has been lifted from the frames again, to allow the smokebox to be partially attached, and to prepare for fitting a new ashpan.
  • The new ashpan has been fabricated.
  • The bogie has been run out from under the frames to be cleaned, checked, painted and re-assembled.
  • Work is progressing on the boiler cladding and connecting rods. The springs are finished, work on reprofiling the tender wheels tyres has to be started. This will now be subcontracted to Hitachi, Ashford Train Maintenance Centre.

Situation mid May:

  • The bogie has been painted in topcoat and is now back under the frames. The bogie and driving wheel springs have been fitted. The motion is back on the driving wheels.
  • The ashpan has been trial fitted to the firebox and after adjustment, has been fitted permanently.
  • Work has started on fitting pipework.
  • The boiler is expected to be back in the frames soon.
  • The overhaul is still expected to be completed later this year.

Situation mid June:

  • The boiler has been replaced in the frames and the cladding is complete.
  • The tender has been to Ashford, the wheel tyres have been reprofiled and the tender is back at Sheffield Park.
  • Work is continuing on the small bits.

Situation 10 July:

  • There are three 'big jobs' remaining; painting, fabricating new superheater elements and the final fixing of the smokebox door.
  • Everything else is just fitting small components. Some small bits may have to be made new if the old ones are found to be worn out or missing.
  • A batch of "Blackberry Black" paint has been ordered.
  • The locomotive has been temporarily moved to the Running Shed, to permit the re-cladding and re-roofing of the Workshop. A lighting rig has been put up so that we can see what we are doing and it looks like work will be able to proceed almost as quickly as if Camelot was still in the Workshop.

Situation 24 July (lots of progress on both the big jobs and the little jobs):

  • All the boiler cladding is in place.
  • The handrails are all on
  • A lot of work has been done on the smokebox; an access panel has been formed on top behind the chimney as per the original drawing which will ease access to the top of the superheater header.
  • The superheater header is now in place.
  • The regulator is in and boxed up.
  • The stuffing boxes have been fitted.
  • Pipework has been fitted under the footplating.
  • The water delivery pipes to the clacks are in position.
  • Various cab fittings are in place including pipework under the brake pedestal.
  • The cab floor has been completed with all-new wood and some new steel.
  • Superheater elements will be made at Bluebell Railway, a jig has been made for this purpose, about half the spear ends from the locomotive are re-usable and there are some spares already stored by the Society, new tube material is due for delivery soon, all clips will be newly made.
  • The tender has gone to Horsted Keynes for painting and lining by the Carriage and Wagon Works.

At the end of July:

  • The most recent activity is evident in the smokebox: the chimney is in place and the blastpipe (temporarily) fitted, the main steam pipes have had the external castings attached and these have been sealed to the smokebox and cylinders. The whistle valve is in place, also sealed on and the removable panel behind the chimney, complete with pedestal for the whistle mounting, has been fitted. The smokebox has been rubbed down and painted.
  • More of the water delivery pipe is in place on the right hand side.
  • In the cab the first of the gauges (the duplex vacuum gauge) has been mounted and pipes attached. The whistle operating rod, which goes across the firebox backhead, has been cleaned up and painted.

From the first weekend in August:

  • Camelot is back in the Locomotive Workshop, as the roof and wall above the Running Shed are complete.
  • The tender is fully gloss black and looks very good, see the image in the Overhaul Gallery. I think a couple more coats are required to finish it.
  • Work is continuing on preparing pipework for refitting, especially around the firebox, but the painting needs to be finished before it goes on.
  • Cladding has been fitted around the steam pipes outside the smokebox but we have hit a snag with the exhaust ejector ring (or snail drum). This needs some specialist welding to build up the cast iron lugs that attach it to the chimney, discussions on how to do this are ongoing. The petticoat which attaches to the snail drum was retrieved from the van body and needs some repairs.
  • The hoses and flexible pipes for connecting the loco and tender have been passed to the Workshop Staff, who will continue dealing with those items during the week.
  • The tube is on site for the superheater elements and a contractor is making up the new elements this week.
  • The whistle operating rod is in position across the firebox backhead.
  • The cab seats, backs and armrests are at the C&W Workshop in Horsted Keynes for the trimmers to work on.
  • Work is still ongoing in the smokebox and more of the pipework in the cab area is being prepared for fitting.

From 9 August

  • The cab roof has been placed in position but requires further work to fix it down.
  • The reverser is back in position and refitting of the pipework continues.
  • Preparation of the firebox for final painting is under way and, once this is done, the numerous pipes to the steam manifold, and the manifold itself, can be put up.
  • Assembly of the superheater elements is under way.

From 16 August

  • Most work is now around the smokebox, on the vacuum ejector. This is in place and the exhaust pipe and elbow are being fitted. A new pipe (in copper) is being made up for inside the smokebox to go between the elbow and the snail drum, as the original steel pipe is too corroded to reuse. The sloping plate below the smokebox has been bolted up.
  • The front buffer beam has been gloss painted and the tender buffer beam is in undercoat. The firebox has been rubbed down ready for final painting. A paint formulation has been arrived at which will give the correct final colour.
  • The cab roof is almost fully bolted down.
  • The chimney petticoat is good to reuse but has had to have a new top welded on.
  • The superheater elements have had all the spear ends welded to the plain tube and now require the necks and ball ends to be welded on.

From 23 August

  • The smokebox door has been fitted, together with the dart and locking bar, adjustment is required to get the door to seal properly onto the ring.
  • The ejector exhaust ring has been fitted to the chimney and the blower jets are in place on top of the blastpipe.
  • The top row of superheater elements have been completed and hydraulic tested but have yet to be fitted to the header in the smokebox.
  • Painting continues, the firebox is in gloss black (first coat, second to follow) and the rear buffer beam is now in red gloss.
  • The cab roof is bolted down all round and the cab windows are being prepared for fitting.
  • New hoses for the tender to loco water connections are being made up.
  • The tender fall plate has been put back on the tender.

From 30 August

  • The brake pull rods have been cleaned up and painted gloss black. The locking on the adjuster has been released.
  • The superheater elements are being fitted, having been tested and found to be satisfactory. The second row of elements in place but not yet fixed, the first row had already been fitted and bolted to the header.
  • The front of the tender shows the fall plate in position, new rubber draught shields on the cab doors and the new water connection hoses fitted and tied up to prevent damage.
  • The vacuum ejector is now complete and fitted to the smokebox.

From 6 September:

  • The Smokebox Door is still being fitted: the door is supported by the crane while the hinges are adjusted.
  • The Locomotive and Tender have been pushed closer together but are not yet coupled up.
  • Work continues in the cab and firebox area refitting pipework.
  • A new silencer has been fabricated for the blowdown valve and the valve itself has been fitted to the front of the firebox at its lowest point, just above the foundation ring.
  • Fabrication of the superheater elements continues and should be finished in the next few days.
  • The AWS battery box has been cleaned up and a start made on painting it.

From 13 September:

  • Work continues on refitting pipework, most visible are the lagged pipes from the manifold on top of the firebox to the injector steam valves and the pipe from the carriage warming valve to the T-piece below the footplating.
  • With the fitting of the right hand clack valve and delivery pipe the pipework on the right side is almost complete.
  • Work continues in the smokebox on the ejector pipes and the last row of superheater elements are almost finished. The smokebox has been painted black and the door is now hanging correctly. Work is still going on with the ejector pipes.
  • The sand ejectors have been fitted to the ends of the delivery pipes and the blowdown valve is in place. The mechanism to operate this is being put back together and mounted between the frames.
  • On the tender, the water level indicating mechanism was found to have seized so this has been freed up and is now working correctly.
  • Superheater elements are almost finished.
  • Fitting the battery box below the cab found that corrosion of the back has caused distortion which prevents it sitting properly on the bracket. Workshop staff are fitting a new back.

From 20th September:

  • The smokebox is now complete, with all superheater elements fabricated, tested and fitted.
  • The pipework to the vacuum ejector along the left side of the boiler has been fitted and the delivery pipe to the clack valve has been bolted on. The pipework for the whistle and steam lance cock have been annealed and are ready for fitting to the right side of the smokebox.
  • Work continues on the blowdown valve with final reassembly and fitting of the exhaust pipe taking place on 20th September.
  • In the cab, the driver's and fireman's seats and armrests have been fitted following re-upholstering at Horsted Keynes. The sliding cab windows (wooden frames) have been re-varnished and put back into the runners.
  • The regulator rod and lever are now in position.
  • Rubbing down is continuing in preparation for final painting.

From 10 October:

  • Camelot was steamed for the first time since 2005 on 28 September. A leak in the regulator rod stuffing box was fixed by the workshop staff and the locomotive moved under her own power into the yard, up to the end of the headshunt.
  • On 29 September, the locomotive was steamed again for the boiler inspector and was given a new 10 year certificate.
  • She then moved right through the station to the water column and refilled the tender tank.
  • Workshop fixed another problem in the superheater header.
  • The Heritage Painting gang then moved in and completed the exterior paintwork with six final coats.

At 19 October:

  • Front End all done
  • Tender Springs adjusted
  • Bogie Springs replaced
  • Re-weighing completed
  • AWS battery box repaired
  • Camelot is just about ready to go

At 23 October:

  • Camelot made a light engine run to Horsted Keynes on 19 October
  • Load testing started on 20 October, one run to Kingscot, then two to East Grinstead.
  • Further test running on 21 October revealed a fault with the little end bush on the right side connecting rod. This was fixed on 22 October.
  • No more test runs are scheduled, she should be good for "Giants of Steam".

25 October: Camelot hauled the Society's AGM Special.

27 October: Still some work to be done! This is a report from Peter Gibbs:

  • Camelot was outside the running shed having various small jobs carried out so Jon repainted the tender axlebox covers and the water level indicator. I was painting nuts and bolt heads that had not yet received any paint to prevent them going rusty.

  • The nameplates were prepared for fitting and were bolted on (for half an hour!) to check alignment - they will be fitted later on in readiness for the Giants of Steam weekend.

2 November: Camelot returned to regular service on 31 October. Here ends the story of the Second Overhaul.