Volunteer Work Input As Work Continues On “Falcon” No. 10 For Corris Railway

Despite disruptions and some “stop/start” episodes inevitable in the Covid 19 affected world of 2020 work has continued with the construction of the new Falcon locomotive 0-4-2ST for the revival of the Corris Railway.

Following the movement of the boiler and smokebox components to the workshops of Alan Keef Limited near Ross-on-Wye these are now in position to be mounted when work on the chassis, motion and valve gear is completed. At the start of November the castings for the eccentric sheaves and eccentric straps had been machined. This was part of component production including:-

Casting for one eccentric strap including supplying the pattern4 No. in total
Machining one pair of cast iron eccentric straps4 No. in total
Machining an eccentric strap special bolt8 No. in total
Machining a pair of eccentric sheaves4 No. in total
Machining and fabrication of draincock linkage, brackets and rod1 set

The cost of the above including VAT was just over £10,000.

Away from the Keef’s workshops Corris Railway Society volunteers have been progressing work on some components. An East Midlands member, Ian Cross, has produced patterns for the brake blocks and the brake stem in his home workshop. These have been cast at the Manor Foundry in Ilkeston at the start of November and will be taken to Ross in due course for final machining as required. These components have cost £800. Steel has been delivered to the Maespoeth Junction workshops where other engineering volunteers will produce the brake gear.

In the middle of November CAD drawings for the new cab were completed by Graham French and this will be manufactured by CRS volunteers. The cab will have an outline similar to that of the original trio of “Falcons” in their final form on the Corris. But will be taller than the original to accommodate 21st century footplate men who are physically larger than their predecessors who drove and fired locos in the Dulas Valley between 1878 and 1948.

As always the date of the entry of No. 10 into traffic in the Dulas Valley and on the extended section of running line depends on the rate of fund raising. Online donations can be made via www.corris.co.uk or cheques payable to Corris Railway can be sent to Peter Guest, 38 Underwood Close, Callow Hill, Redditch, Worcestershire, B97 5YS

Progress And Caution At The Corris Railway

Although it was unable to run its planned 2020 train services after assessing the potential problems caused by Covid-19, progress has been made on the Corris Railway with both ongoing projects and maintenance.

On the maintenance front the running line has seen attention to sleepers and rail joints and the removal of the former LNER lever frame from Corris station for refurbishment. A very welcome development has been the “Sundae Gang”, a group of generally young volunteers, who have tackled both trackwork and lineside vegetation including opening out some views. Working on Sundays they have acquired their name from “refuelling breaks” that involve cake consumption.

A spell of dry weather in September, after a disappointing August, allowed more construction work on the embankment south of Maespoeth Junction and utilisation of more of the material available from Dolgellau. With the new-build steam locomotive “Falcon” number 10 a volunteer based in the East Midlands has produced patterns for the brake blocks and the brake column stem.

At Maespoeth Junction volunteers have continued to bring new build carriage number 23 closer to being able to enter traffic when services resume and there has been work on heritage waggons. A “working week” by a number of other volunteers greatly advanced the construction of the shelter for the waggons which will free valuable space in the carriage shed.

However in the latest edition of the Corris Railway Society magazine the “Corris-Pondent” Chairman Richard Hamilton-Foyn advised members that should the pandemic enforce restrictions on running passenger trains and “Railway For The Day” experiences continuing into 2021 then hard decisions may have to be made both to safeguard what has already been achieved with the revival of the Corris and its future. The lack of operations has cut out fares, on-site donations, and on day sales and although there have been generous donations from members and others, plus useful income from sales via the online shop this has not fully compensated. Richard emphasised his reluctance to “go cap in hand” to members and supporters but there is uncertainty ahead and help is appreciated.

Any donations to specific projects or general funds will be welcome. They can be made via www.corris.co.uk or cheques payable to “Corris Railway” can be sent to the Corris Railway, Station Yard, Corris, Machynlleth, SY20 9SH.

Volunteer Work Begins As Progress Continues With Construction Of New Steam Locomotive For Corris Railway

RH piston rod

Following the departure of the boiler and smokebox of the new build “Falcon” 0-4-2ST from the carriage shed at Maespoeth Junction work will soon be getting underway there on the brake gear for the locomotive. This will be carried out by two or three of the team who have previously made brake components for the carriages constructed in the workshops at the Junction. Meanwhile another Corris Railway Society volunteer will be working in the East Midlands to produce patterns for the brake blocks and the cast iron brake stand to support the shaft and handle. This work will save money as construction proceeds.

Meanwhile in late August at Alan Keef’s workshops near Ross-on-Wye, as the boiler and smokebox were arriving, work was continuing on the motion for the “Falcon”. Castings for the eccentrics had arrived from the foundry and the crossheads had been trial fitted. Most recently the righthand sidepiston rod was in place so that the slide bar alignment could be checked. Once the slide bars have beenfinally aligned and bolted the crosshead slippers would be machined to suit. The valve buckles had beenexternally machined and some weeks earlier sent away for the insides to be wire cut out.

Thoughts are now turning towards other fittings and offsite work is underway also on the Salter Spring Balances which will control the safety valves in due course.

Discussions are ongoing about boiler fittings for the loco. Some are straightforward but others requirecareful consideration so that the parts which will not only do the job well but also look right. Theaim is to put together a definitive list so that best prices can be sought.

The work being carried out and the raw materials required for it are of course consuming funds and donations will be gratefully received. These can be made online via the “Falcon” section of the website www.corris.co.uk or cheques payable to Corris Railway can be sent to Peter Guest, 38 Underwood Close, Callow Hill, Redditch, Worcs, B97 5YS

Boiler And Smokebox For New Corris Railway Steam Engine Leave Display At Maespoeth Junction

Items for the Falcon Locomotive including the boiler, chimney and many other components head off to be delivered to Alan Keef’s at Lea Line, Nr Ross-on-Wye

Following some co-operation over low-loader movements the boiler and smokebox for the new Corris Railway steam engine “Falcon” No. 10 have left storage and display in the carriage shed at Maepsoeth Junction for the workshops of Alan Keef Ltd near Ross-on-Wye.

It was intended that this phase of the new build project would take place once the construction of the “bottom half” of the locomotive was complete and with this point now approaching it was fortuitous that there was a lorry movement looking for a return load due in Mid Wales on August 12th and 13th. The lorry was bringing Talyllyn carriage number 17, one of two survivors of the original Corris fleet (the other is an exhibit in the Railway Museum at Corris), back from overhaul at Haltwhistle to Tywyn.

Andy Cooper of the Corris Railway Society was contacted about any item that might require movement and it was quickly agreed that the displayed components should make the move, with Corris volunteers acting quickly to shunt them from the carriage shed to the collection point ready for their onward journey to Herefordshire.

The relocation will also free up some space in the carriage shed where volunteers are continuing to work on new build carriages 23 and 24 and on waggon restoration.

Any contributions towards the movement costs will be welcome and can be made online via the “Falcon Locomotive” section of the corris.co.uk website or cheques payable to Corris Railway can be sent to Peter Guest, 38 Underwood Close, Callow Hill, Redditch, B97 5YS.

In the latest edition of the Newsletter sent out to current and previous subscribers to the construction of No. 10 Andy Cooper asked if anyone had a whistle available to donate to the project and who would like to hear it in due course echoing in the Dulas Valley. He can be contacted via andyc@corris.co.uk

Covid 19 And Progress On The Corris Railway

Thursday, 16.07.2020 All newly-fabricated parts of Falcon Locomotive No. 10 have been strapped together.

The Corris Railway has reluctantly had to join the list of lines that will not be re-opening for normal passenger trains in 2020 due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. However with the easing of restrictions in Wales the volunteer workforce has been able to progress various projects on the line to further improve the Railway ahead of 2021.

The problems with reopening are threefold. The recreation of the bogie coach carriages from the Corris’ first incarnation has led to an internal layout of open saloons accessed by a shared entrance in the centre of the vehicle. Possibilities of social distancing are further reduced by the tight loading gauge.

Social distancing is also a consideration with the talk and sheds tour which is offered to passengers arriving at Maespoeth Junction, and for passengers in the shop and refreshment area at Corris.  During wet weather, not exactly unknown in the Dulas Valley, passengers tend to use this as a waiting area until the train arrives.

However the volunteer workforce has pressed ahead with various projects. Construction of the new shelter for the heritage waggons at Maespoeth Jnc. is underway and once the waggons are in their new home more space in the carriage shed will be available. Carriage No. 23 is approaching completion and should be available for traffic in 2021, assuming no new restrictions on work inside the shed are imposed. Clerestory roofed carriage No. 24, which will eventually bring First Class travel to the Corris for the first time since 1930, is also progressing on both metal and wood working fronts.

Between Corris and the Junction work has also been carried out with vegetation clearance and track maintenance being undertaken.

The newly manufactured smokebox for new-build “Falcon” steam engine No. 10 has been taken to Maespoeth Junction and temporarily united with the boiler. Both will be taken to the workshops of Alan Keef near Ross-on-Wye when work on the bottom half of the locomotive is complete.

Donations towards the Corris General Fund, which will assist with the continuing costs during the suspension of operations and their eventual resumption, and also for the works on the ongoing Southern Extension can be made via Paypal at www.corris.co.uk

Corris Railway Needs “A Window” In The Weather And More Funding For Southern Extension Work

Having completed the wall of stone filled gabion baskets during the long spell of dry weather in May and early June the return of wetter conditions had left the Corris Railway looking for another sunny period in order to further advance work on the embankment south of Maespoeth Junction.

The embankment will be made up of stone, slate, earth and some geotextile material and when complete will be 170 metres long and up to 6 metres high in places. It will have steep sides to meet flood amelioration requirements in the Dulas Valley. Construction therefore will have to be by professional contractors using heavy plant and machinery. This will use the estimated 12,000 – 15,000 tonnes of material obtained from Dolgellau but will still leave some work to be done. There is a risk that if the construction is not able to advance the Corris Railway may lose the material, which will be frustrating as if work resumes this phase of the job can be done in around one working week.

There has been some optimistic talk among enthusiasts of having the embankment complete and the running line extended along its top by the end of 2020 but the Corris Railway is keen to point out that whilst this is not impossible (although potentially further complicated by Covid-19 and possible consequent limitations for volunteer workers) it will certainly not happen without enough money being available. Even with all the earthworks in place, ballast, sleepers and track fixings have to be purchased. A complete 10 metre length of the new track will cost £795, so that work will absorb around £13,500. The Corris Railway has a supply of rail in secure storage.

However current donors can be assured that all money received during this stage of the Southern Extension Project will go into materials and construction. The Corris Railway wants to be running its trains over a longer distance in the Dulas Valley as soon as possible. Track has already been laid, and used, on the northern part of embankment that has previously been constructed.

Donations for the Southern Extension and, if necessary, to help the Railway through the Covid-19 crisis, can be made via the Corris Railway website www.corris.co.uk. The website is updated with information and pictures as progress is made and video reports are posted via the Corris’ Facebook page and embedded in the website. Cheques, payable to Corris Railway, can be sent to Corris Railway, Station Yard, Corris, Machynlleth, Powys, SY20 9SH.

Smokebox Rolled And Smokebox Door Formed As Work Continues On “Falcon” No. 10 For Corris Railway

The stainless steel smokebox wrapper and front plate for No.10 supplied by Barnshaws Plate and Section Rollers near Wolverhampton

Construction work on the new steam locomotive for the Corris Railway “Falcon” No. 10 has taken some significant steps forward as the “bottom half” at Alan Keef Ltd near Ross-on-Wye continues, with work on the valve and running gear ongoing.

During May the stainless steel smokebox was formed at Barnshaws Plate and Section Rollers in Bilston with a section cut from its front which will act as the baffle plate behind the smokebox door in due course.

The smokebox door “dish” was produced in June by Purdie Dished Ends of Bradford and this extended the links between the West Yorkshire city and the Corris as the boiler for No. 10 was built by Israel Newton at an early stage of the new locomotive project. This was prior to the relocation of Newton’s to the Peak District.

The smokebox and door have cost over £1400 to produce but the construction of the smokebox will allow the boiler to be moved with it to Keef’s workshop when the work currently in progress there is completed. Without the smokebox the boiler could not be erected in the frames.

In another part of the project work on CAD drawings for the saddle tank and cab has been progressing. The cab’s appearance will resemble that of the originals carried by the 1878 built “Falcon” trio of engines of the Corris but will stand higher to accommodate 21st Century footplate crews.

As always the date of the entry of No. 10 into traffic in the Dulas Valley and on the extended section of running line depends on the rate of fund raising. Online donations can be made via www.corris.co.uk or cheques payable to Corris Railway can be sent to Peter Guest, 38 Underwood Close, Callow Hill, Redditch, Worcestershire, B97 5YS.

Corris Railway Society Model Railway Exhibition 2020 Cancelled

With the ongoing concerns over COVID-19 and the degree of social distancing that may be in force the Corris Railway Society has taken the decision to cancel its annual Model Railway Exhibition. This was scheduled to take place at Y Plas in Machynlleth on August 29th and 30th (Bank Holiday Weekend).

Exhibition Organiser Bill Newton commented:-

“As 2020 would have marked the 25th Anniversary of the Corris’ event we will miss this landmark but realistically we could not go ahead as planned. It is disappointing for all concerned including the exhibitors, the traders and would be visitors, and the funds that the Model Railway Exhibition raise make a contribution to the revival of the Corris Railway and ongoing projects. However, we look to be back with a MRE in 2021”.

Announcing A Special Centenary Celebration

2 Tattoos

With the cancellation of many events in 2020 the Talyllyn and Corris Railways are delighted to announce a series of special celebrations in 2021 to mark the centenary of Ex-Corris, and current Talyllyn Railway, locomotive No. 4 ‘Edward Thomas’. The first celebration will be on the Corris Railway over the 8/9th May 2021 Gala Weekend when No. 4 will return to its old haunts to work alongside new build sister, Corris Railway locomotive No. 7. Then at the beginning of June both locomotives will travel to Tywyn and the Talyllyn Railway where a special gala will be held on the weekend of 12/13 June 2021.

Both celebrations will offer special photographic and other opportunities to mark the centenary of locomotive No. 4. During the Corris celebration No. 4 will be seen hauling a rake of recreated Corris carriages and also some vintage waggons, including some double heading with No. 7. It is also hoped that there will be other attractions for visitors to enjoy.

On the Talyllyn Nos. 4 and 7 will be seen alongside the other surviving original Corris locomotive, the Talyllyn’s No. 3 ‘Sir Haydn’. There will also be photographic opportunities to see all three locomotives along with, the then newly back in service, original Corris carriage No. 17. This is currently undergoing restoration work at Stanegate Restorations, and also the original Corris Brake Van now Talyllyn Van No. 6, also currently being restored. This event will also include model ‘Tattoos’ and other attractions.

This will be a second visit to the Talyllyn for Corris No. 7. Its previous visit highlighted the need for improvements to be made to some of its original front end design. Therefore, it will be interesting to see how the locomotive performs on its return visit and when it is able to ‘stretch its wheels’ again.

Built by Kerr Stuart as one of their ‘Tattoo’ class locomotives No. 4 was delivered new to the then independent Corris Railway in early June 1921. It subsequently passed into the hands of the Great Western Railway when it purchased the Corris in 1930. When Nationalisation came it was transferred to British Railways, and it and No. 3 were sold to the then fledgling preserved Talyllyn Railway for £25 each. No. 4 entered service on the Talyllyn in 1952 following a rebuild at Hunslet works in Leeds, and was able to take on most of the train services from the then ailing No. 2 ‘Dolgoch’, thus playing an important role in the early history of Railway preservation.

Corris Railway No. 7 is a 20th Century version of the Kerr Stuart “Tattoo” design and entered CR service in 2005.

2021 also marks the 70th Anniversary on 14 May 1951 of the first train to be operated by a Railway Preservation Society following the Talyllyn Railway Preservation Society taking over the operation of the line. The Talyllyn will be marking the anniversary with some special celebrations over the weekend of 14/15/16 May 2021, further details of which will be announced later.

Of course at this time one has to add the caveat that all these celebrations will be subject to the current crisis having passed, but hopefully they will mark the triumphant return to full operations for both Railways.

Work As The Corris Railway Looks To Extend Southwards From Maespoeth Junction

Southern Extension. Pont y Goedwig Deviation Project. Sunday, 1.3.2020

It was four decades ago that works to improve the A487 Dolgellau – Machynlleth road saw removal of part of the trackbed of the former Corris Railway, closed in 1948, and left a costly problem for the present day revival of the oldest narrow gauge railway in Mid Wales. Although the Corris trackbed is largely intact southwards of Maespoeth Junction there is a need to build a new embankment including a bridge over the Nant Goedwig stream to allow the Southern Extension of the line to regain the original route.

The embankment will be some 440 metres in length and will need to be steeply sided as part of flood protection in the valley of the river Dulas. Many years of work has had to be carried out to obtain various permissions and licences ahead of work commencing and work has been carried out as resources and suitable materials have come to hand. Sections of new embankment have been built but a gap of some 300 metres remains to be filled together with the construction of the bridge over the Goedwig.

A major step forward took place at the end of March when a quantity of suitable material to extend the embankment was located near Dolgellau. Also a local contractor with the required plant and machinery was available and able to work within the current Government restrictions. Construction of the next portion of the Southern Extension has therefore started. It is intended that some of the rock will be used to create gabions (baskets filled with stone) to support the base of the embankment.

Corris Railway Chairman Richard Hamilton-Foyn explained that although this is very welcome progress there is still plenty to do before trains can travel over the new section of line which includes gradients of up to 1 in 30. This will be a good test for the Corris’ steam engines “Tattoo” No. 7 and, when it is complete, “Falcon” No.  10. “We have built up financial reserves for the Southern Extension and thank the many people who have supported us with donations over the years. Although these reserves amount to a six figure sum the present works are costing at least £70,000 and that means that most of our funds will have been spent with more very costly work, including the bridge, still to be done.”

Richard continued “Although this is not the largest proposed extension in the world of heritage railways it is very important for the future revival of the Corris Railway and will take us a good way towards our next target of doubling the length of our operating line. Our ultimate aim is to extend southwards at least as far as the Centre for Alternative Technology. This will provide a splendidly scenic journey along one of the most attractive valleys in Mid Wales with steep gradients and riverside scenery. It will also provide a valuable transport link between the various attractions in the Dulas Valley. We already maintain the former Corris Railway station at Esgairgeiliog and it awaits its first trains since 1948. We now need assistance to get there.”

Donations for the Southern Extension and, if necessary, to help the Railway through the current crisis can be made via the Corris Railway website www.corris.co.uk or cheques payable to Corris Railway can be sent to Corris Railway, Station Yard, Corris, Machynlleth, Powys, SY20 9SH.