The Falcon Locomotive

The Falcon Locomotive.

Our new steam locomotive, No. 10 – The Falcon, has now been completed by Alan Keef Ltd and was delivered to Maespoeth Junction on August 30th 2023. Running in and crew familiarisation has been taking place and the Falcon will head passenger trains in 2023 on September 9th, 10th, 16th, 17th, 23rd, 24th and October 7th, 14th and 21st.

This is good news but it means that the final invoices will be coming in. Help with these will be appreciated and can be made online here. Or if you prefer more traditional means cheques payable to Corris Railway can be sent to Rosie Guest, 38 Underwood Close, Callow Hill, Redditch, B97 5YS.

The story to date can be read below.

Reasons for having a second locomotive.

Back in 2006 discussion centred around the idea of having another locomotive on the Corris Railway. A second locomotive would take pressure off the `Tattoo’ when maintenance and repair work became necessary, especially important when it came to the 10 year overhauls of No. 7, the next of which is due in 2024. Additionally, by having a second locomotive, the work involved in operating the railway could be shared and there would be extra visitor interest.

What sort of locomotive would we have?
To build another Tattoo might be considered sensible because the design had been accepted by HMRI, but the opportunity to build a locomotive which would closely resemble the original Corris No.3, a Falcon, although fraught with difficulties, was an opportunity not to be missed. To have an appropriately modernised replica of a Falcon would be an advantage to give the railway variety in motive power. Our photo charter friends would love it, the visual display would be more satisfying than two identical twins and it would improve the profile of the railway as a national tourist attraction.
After a poll of the CRS members the decision was taken in the spring of 2007 to build a replica of No 3.

Lack of plans for No 3.
The builder of Corris locomotives 1, 2 & 3 delivered in November 1878, was the Hughes’ Locomotive & Tramway Engine Works, Loughborough. It eventually became part of the Brush Electrical Machines Ltd, Falcon Works, Loughborough and still exists today. The researcher George Toms assured the Society that no plans exist of the locomotive. To obtain drawings the extant locomotive at the Talyllyn Railway had to be surveyed (with permission).

Appointment of design & build consultants.
Reluctantly our Tattoo Locomotive consultant, Colin Blackwell, had decided for family reasons to take a back seat with regard to the Falcon Project. Fortunately Graham Morris, our boiler inspector, agreed to take responsibility for the project along with a colleague of his, David Potter. In August 2008 they began work on producing drawings by visiting the museum at Corris and then travelling on to Pendre, Tywyn to meet David Scotson (Chief Mechanical Engineer) and John Bate (former Chief Engineer) of the Talyllyn Railway. So began the complicated task of surveying the locomotive and producing drawings. This lasted for nine months and in September 2009 the drawings were complete at a cost of £26,000.

Society members were encouraged to make a gift aided one-off donation or donations by standing order and by November 2008 the fund had reached £22,000. Nineteen members had taken out standing orders. The number has happily increased since then which helps to have a consistent income flow. Since then members have been encouraged to sponsor parts of the loco and an updated list of parts is included below including some that can be sponsored retrospectively. Anybody taking out a Standing Order of £20 or more for a period of 30 months will receive a limited edition print by Jonathan Clay.

Manufacture of the Locomotive.
The decision was taken in 2009 to make the boiler the first item to be built and our two consultants obtained a suitable quote (one of several) from Israel Newton, a 200 year old firm of boiler-makers in Bradford, for £31,250.00 plus VAT. Click here to see this being reported in the Bradford Telegraph and Argus.

Progress to date.
The boiler was completed by Israel Newton and was brought to Maespoeth in the late summer of 2012. A good number of other smaller components were also produced. Once the boiler was received the next move was the cutting of the main frame plates for the locomotive which was done using the water jet method to produce the outside profiles and also all holes needed for bolts and rivets. The frame plates were taken to the workshops of Alan Keef Ltd in Herefordshire for erection.

The driving wheels on the Corris “Falcons” as built in 1878 are unusual for a small narrow gauge tank engine by being larger than the norm at 30” diameter and solid with spokes cast on (rather reminiscent to the onlooker of the original Tri-ang model railway locomotives of the 1950’s). By way of contrast the wheels on the trailing pony truck which converted the original 0-4-0ST’s to 0-4-2ST’s with a view to making the original trio of engines ride more steadily were very small with a 10” diameter, but No. 10 will have slightly larger ones of 12” diameter. The wheel centre castings for the driving wheels were produced and drilled ready to accept axles and crank pins at Keef’s workshops. Steel tyres were produced in South Africa and were fitted to the driving wheels in November 2017.

The axleboxes and bearings were produced and fitted to the frames and two Corris volunteers with engineering skills constructed the pony truck and delivered it with wheels in place I to Alan Keef’s.. Cylinders were cast in Wolverhampton during 2017. They were machined in May 2018 which took the project closer to the “rolling chassis” stage. A generous individual donation paid for the casting and machining of the cylinders, plus production of the cylinder covers. Motion parts were being manufactured to be fitted in the narrow area between the frames and a further individual donation helped towards production of the connecting rods. It was estimated that the manufacture and erection of coupling rods and the motion had cost £53,000. Once the motion, including the gear in the narrow area between the frame plates, is completed then the frames can be united with the boiler after the smokebox has been constructed. It has been agreed that the smokebox will be constructed by Corris volunteers as would the cab and brake gear.

Steam engines, even small ones like No. 10, are expensive items to build and once these stages of the construction have taken place it will take expenditure to date to over £200,000. Estimates to complete the contruction work suggest that it could be around another £70,000 that will be needed and the time taken until the engine leaves the Alan Keef workshops and commences work in the Dulas Valley will be determined by the rate of fund raising.

As at the end of September 2018 the driving wheels were in the frames and the trailing truck wheels machined along with their axle ready to join the pony truck. Further components that had been produced and were at Alan Keef’s were as follows:-

2 x Coupling rods: 4 x Coupling rod bushes; 4 x Coupling rod oil pot covers
2 x Connecting rods; 2 x Split big-end bearings c/w oil pot lid and tube
2 x Big-end cap plates; 2 x Big-end spacers; 2 x Little-end bushes
2 x Valve spindle guides; 2 x Valve spindles (await final machining upon assembly)
2 x Valve drive rod (part machined)’ 2 x RH/LH valve adjusters
2 x RH Lock nuts; 2 x LH Lock nuts; 2 x Valve spindle glands
2 x Piston rod glands; 4 x Slide bars; 4 x Slide bar mounting angles
8 x Slide bar fitted bolts

In addition to the components above, Keef’s had finish machined the axleboxes, fitted the bronze wear plates and fitted them to their respective hornguides. That had allowed the wheelsets to be finish fitted and dropped into the frames. They had also set up a datum wire line for the centreline to set up the alignment of the cylinders and wheelsets. The expansion links and die blocks were being manufactured by a wire-erosion sub-contractor.
The above steps come to a total cost of £29,315.00 plus VAT. The axlebox completion and wheelset fitting was previously offered at £5,500 and the coupling and connecting rods at £12,000.

In mid-October 2019 Keef’s quoted a sum of £44,000 to complete the locomotive to the “rolling chassis” stage with the hope that this could be seen operating under compressed air at their open day in September 2020. 

In November 2019 a meeting was held between representatives of the Corris Railway and Alan Keef’s and it was confirmed that Corris volunteers would construct some components for the locomotive including the cab and brake gear while work continued on the “underneath” of the engine at Keef’s. Work by CR volunteers will reduce the cost of the overall construction by over £30,000. This volunteer work will include construction of the cab and bunker. The cab will have an outline similar to that originally fitted to the “Falcons” but will stand taller to accommodate 21st century footplate crews.

The next stages for the loco, and the best way of maintaining the current momentum were judged to be as follows as at November 2019:-
Crossheads and Slidebars:- The slidebars and mounting brackets for this element were completed, and Keef’s were awaiting the castings for the crosshead body. These would need machining, gudgeon pins machining to suit, and a set of bronze slippers machining to suit. All components would need assembly onto the cylinders and motion brackets. This would effectively complete the outside motion.
Outstanding Budget Cost: £7,500 – £8,000.

Inside Valvegear:- There was already a significant collection of components completed or near completed. This included expansion links and die-blocks, valve spindle components and guide bushes, along with part completed eccentric rods. The major elements outstanding were the eccentrics and straps, weighshaft, bearings and links and reverser lever, quadrant and reach rod. All components would need to be assembled onto the driving axle and frame. This would complete the inside valvegear.
Outstanding Budget Cost: £21,000 – £22,000.

Pistons and Valves:- To this date, rather less had been completed in this area, the valve spindles were part completed, and Keef’s were awaiting the valve castings. The piston heads were part machined. All these elements would require completion, plus machining of new piston rods and setting of ‘bump’ clearances, supply and fitting of piston rings. All components would require assembly, along with new cylinder gaskets, and final setting of the valves.
Outstanding Budget Cost: £8,000 – £8,500.

Brakegear:- No work had been undertaken on this element. As previously discussed, this is relatively ‘low-tech’ element which Corris volunteers could potentially undertake ‘in house’, which would only require final assembly and fitting
Potential Cost with Corris Input: £2,500 – £3,000.

Draincocks and linkage:- Again much of the linkage components, brackets etc. is a ‘low-tech’ element with potential for Corris to undertake in house. Keef’s would then undertake assembly and fitting of the modified commercial valves and pipework.
Potential Cost with Corris Input: £2,000 – £2,500.

To complete all of the above would effectively achieve the ‘holy-grail’ of a fully rolling chassis that could potentially be demonstrated running on compressed air. Only the buffers and drawgear would remain outstanding.

By March 2020 the locomotive was an 0-4-2 for the first time in the history of the project and the latest components to be manufactured were the crossheads and slide valves.

£30,000 of the £44,000 target to pay for the completion of the “bottom half” of the loco had been raised by the end of March 2020 and the crossheads and slide valves had been completed at a cost of £2.150 each for the crossheads and £785 each for the slidevalves. After this the next items to be made were:-
Valve spindle guides
Guide rods
Eccentric rods
Cylinder cover gaskets
Valve buckles
The volunteer built pony truck was due to be primed and painted.

The next stage of construction after the “bottom part” of the loco was completed would be the smokebox. Five quotes were sought for the work. This was to create the stainless steel smokebox wrapper, front plate and some small flats needed. In April 2020 some of these costs were quoted as:-

Stainless steel for the smokebox wrapper:- £400.00
Stainless steel and laser cutting for the smokebox front plate:- £330.00
Rolling the wrapper:-£190.00
Stainless steel flats to make up the weld on flanges:- £60.00

Overall a touch under £1000

As it transpired in the Covid-19 pandemic the smokebox was made before the “bottom half” was completed. At the end of May 2020 the smokebox wrapper and front plate had been manufactured. In addition the dished plate which will form the main part of the smokebox door had been ordered at a cost of £412. This was made by Purdie Dished Ends of Bradford and was collected from their works on Friday June 26th 2020.

Meanwhile at this stage Alan Keef’s workshops were progressing with the eccentric straps but work had been slowed by the effects of the pandemic.

CAD drawings of the cab and saddle tank were advancing well thanks to Graham French.

In mid-July 2020 the smokebox was taken to Maespoeth Junction and was united with the boiler. Although the chimney was there it was felt that its weight would be problematic if it toppled and the pattern was mounted on the smokebox instead.

This turned out to be a brief interlude as on August 13th there was a lorry in the Mid Wales area looking for a “return load” after taking a Talyllyn (originally Corris) carriage back to Tywyn after overhaul in Haltwhistle. Keef’s agreed to take delivery of and store the boiler, smokebox and other components and they departed at this point. The movement cost just over £400 including VAT.

At the end of August 2020 the castings for the eccentrics for the inside motion were delivered to Keef’s from a foundry. At the same time the following was also afoot.

Work was continuing on the main build of the loco at Alan Keef Ltd to complete the motion with the aim of reaching a point where it could be “run” on compressed air hopefully before the end of the year. The original plan was to make this a feature of their open day usually held every other September but was not surprisingly cancelled for 2020 and work had been slowed by the pandemic. A further Autumn lockdown then further slowed progress.

The crossheads had been trial fitted and the right hand side piston rod was in place so that the slide bar alignment could be checked. Once the slide bars had been finally aligned and bolted the crosshead slippers could be machined to suit.

The valve buckles had been externally machined and sent away for the insides to be wire cut out.

Another part of the loco to be started was the Salter Spring Balances to control the safety valves.

With regard to the brake parts for the loco steel had been ordered so that Corris volunteers could begin work on these components at Maespoeth Junction. This was delivered to Maespoeth Junction at the start of September 2020.

Another volunteer had two items lined up to make, one being for the brake blocks which involved a trip to Keef’s and the other for the cast iron brake stand to support the shaft and handle. All this would be time consuming and therefore expensive work so it was great that there were volunteer members prepared to take on some of the work.

Discussions were ongoing about boiler fittings for the loco. Some were straightforward but others required careful consideration so that we get the parts which would not only do the job well but also look right. The aim was to put together a definitive list so that best prices can be sought.

A whistle for the loco was being sought, ideally being donated. A GWR whistle casing was available but would need work to create the working “innards”.

At the beginning of November 2020 the eccentric straps and sheaves had been machined and of course more of the money raised had been spent as follows;-

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

Also at this stage the patterns for the cast iron brake stand and brake blocks had been taken to Manor Foundry in Ilkeston and the casting was made. Cost of this foundry work was £800. They were due to go to Keef’s for machining and finishing.

In the last week of November 2020 the CAD design work for the cab showed some unusual features were planned as follows; It was the intention that despite the cab standing higher than the 1930’s version carried by No. 3 when it left for its post Corris career at the Talyllyn it would follow Corris practice by having the coal bunker inside the cab. At Tywyn No. 3’s is now outside the cab. To make coaling easier there would be a hinged sidesheet section on the left hand side of the cab.

It had also been decided to have a removable backsheet to the cab. This would make life more comfortable for the footplate crew on hot sunny days in the Dulas Valley. And when it was not in place passengers in the front carriage en route to Corris would be able to see the crew at work and how the engine was handled.

At the end of January 2021 the order for the purchase and cutting of the steel for the cab, apart from the roof and upper cab backsheet had been at an estimated cost of circa £2,000. This was delivered in February to the East Midlands where two Corris volunteers with engineering skills and workshop facilities would construct the cab. They were also busy with work on hinges and fittings for the smokebox door.

Photographs received from Alan Keef Ltd at the start of March 2021 showed that the connecting rods and outside motion for the locomotive was nearly complete, taking the bottom half construction a welcome step closer to completion. Although most of the main parts had already been made as some may know often the final machining of mating parts in a one off build such as this loco is carried out at the assembly stage. The slidebars had been finish fitted, the bronze crosshead slippers were machined and fitted, the gudgeon pins had been made and the pistons and piston rods had been fitted presumably so that finish measuring and setting could be carried out. Then at the end of the first week in March came a photograph that had been eagerly awaited, the wheels and cylinders with the connecting rods and outside motion in place.

Other components that were being produced and worked on included the hinges for the smokebox door which were to be shaped to follow the curve of the door as another engineering job.

Nearer the back end of the loco the top plate for the brake stand along with the fixing studs had been made. A thrust washer and locking ring were needed after which these parts along with the previously cast brake column could be delivered, any lockdown permitting, to an engineering firm near Keefs who will bore out the centre of the casting.

Moving on by mid-April 2021 the outside motion was complete and between the frames work at Keef’s was being done on the weigh shaft and keys were being machined into the eccentrics.

When the inside motion is complete the plan was to make the slide block and fixings to mount the pony truck on the loco then some necessary sections of foot plate followed by a start on mounting the boiler. So overall there was some very visible progress coming closer.

Another Covid-rooted change of plan was the production of the brake gear for No. 10. This was going to be carried out by the volunteers in the Maespoeth Junction workshops but with restrictions on access there the plan changed so that East Midlands volunteers would assist by doing part of the work in Derby and Nottingham. Other jobs that they had performed included the shaping of the hinges to fit the curves of the smokebox door mentioned above.

Costings had been obtained for upcoming components and these are shown below:

Main Steam Valve£720
Injector steam control valve (1 of 2)£480
Injector steam control valve (2 of 2)£480
Air pump isolation valve£120
Boiler blowdown valve (with operating key)£696
Combined clack and boiler feed isolation valve (1 of 2)£780
Combined clack and boiler feed isolation valve (2 of 2)£780
Whistle operating valve£108
Whistle isolation valve£48
Inspectors test cock (for Pressure gauge)£56
Washout plugs (1 of 2)£90
Washout plugs (2 of 2)£90
Injector water feed isolation valve (1 of 2)£48
Injector water feed isolation valve (2 of 2)£48
Air pump auto control valve£120
Feed water injector (1 of 2)£780
Feed water injector (2 of 2)£780
Boiler water level gauge glass protector (1 of 3)£168
Boiler water level gauge glass protector (2 of 3)£168
Boiler water level gauge glass protector (3 of 3)£168
Boiler fusible plug£160
Ref: JS - 03/08/2021 Rev:1.0

The smokebox door fittings were completed in mid May 2021 and the door was ready for fitting to the smokebox in due course. Work was continuing on the brake gear components.

At the end of the last week in June 2021 another crucial milestone on the progress with the locomotive was reached. A video was posted by Alan Keef Ltd showing the wheels in motion moving for the first time, courtesy of compressed air. Fine tuning would be necessary but it meant that the bottom half of the loco was close to completion. The video can be viewed by clicking on this link: Falcon in motion 24/06/21.

In the same week parts for the brake gear, constructed by volunteers, was delivered to Keef’s whilst the brake stem casting was being finished.

After the successful first running of the wheels and motion work continued at Alan Keef’s. The boiler was trial fitted into the frames which necessitated some minor, and expected adjustments to the frame and, following some measuring of number 3 at Tywyn, to the valve gear. To take the project forward to the point where the boiler could be permanently mounted sections of the footplate were produced. Another job completed at Keef’s during July/August 2021 was the construction of the mounting block for the rear pony truck which was then put in place.

Work by volunteers and Alan Keef’s staff on the brake gear continued through August 2021.

The summer work after the first running cost fourteen thousand pounds including VAT.

Meanwhile in a volunteer’s workshop in Nottingham the cab components were being readied, machined and trial assembled.

During September 2021 work at Keef’s included the fitting of the brake blocks and initial work on the drain cocks. Some plating had been fitted for the front of the footplate and the regulator housing was fitted to the boiler.

On October 14th 2021 the cab components were taken to Alan Keef’s and trial erected on the frames. As expected this showed that some adjustments would be required but nothing major. At the same time volunteer constructed draw gear and buffers were delivered for fitting along with the smokebox door and its fittings.

Most of the progress made on building No.10 during November and December 2021 was connected in some way with the braking system. One job that hadn’t been anticipated was the need to modify the volunteer built trailing truck so it would clear the main brake cross shaft. As said above as originally built the Falcon locos, Corris numbers 1,2 and 3, were 0-4-0s converted to 0-4-2s a little later for stability. When our version was drawn up the decision was made to base the trailing truck design on a straightforward ALCO (American Locomotive Co.) version being easy to build and maintain. In an ideal world the lack of clearance between it and the brake shaft would have been noticed and rectified earlier but only became apparent at the building stage meaning that Vince at Alan Keef Ltd. sorted the problem by re-shaping part of the bridle of the truck. Also staying with that part of the loco the brackets to locate one end of each side control spring were fitted to the loco’s frames and some part of the angles to support foot plating were modified to suit. More foot plates have also been made, shaped as needed and various holes for fixing down and mounting brake gear added.

Back to the braking system much of the mechanicals, as opposed to the air operating side, has now been completed so that the various cranks and levers volunteer made by Ian Cross have moved on to completion and assembly at Keef’s as planned.

This had included cutting all of the keyways, completing the cross shafts, making the pull rods and all of the adjusters which are basically large precise turnbuckles so that accurate setting up of the brakes could be done and adjusted later as parts wear in service. The handbrake and linkage was also well on and the handbrake column and screw had been mounted on the footplate.

Another job recently completed at Keef’s was the fabricated pockets that the drawhooks sit in on the front and rear buffer beams. The drawhooks themselves were part made.

The next current volunteer job was to make parts for the safety valve assembly. Gunmetal castings for the safety valves had been produced by Barr & Grosvenor in Wolverhampton from our pattern and materials for the link arms, bracket and anchor pins for the Salter spring balances had been bought in sponsored by the makers. In early February, the main bracket had been made along with various pins and a large spacer that sits between the steam dome and the mounting bracket. The anchor pins had been machined as far as possible awaiting collection of the spring balances.

At the end of February 2022 the following progress was reported:

Other areas of the build still progressing fell into two categories. The first are where orders had already been placed and the second depended on offers of funds to cover that specific cost. With regard to orders already placed one such case is the brass castings that Graham French has had made that will be riveted to the cab sides to form the curved beading. Quite a job in themselves given that once CAD drawn out with sufficient allowance for shrinkage the patterns were 3D printed by Henry Mountain, a colleague of Graham’s in the film industry before being cast by Procast Foundry in West Yorkshire. Also already made but awaiting collection were the previously mentioned Salter spring balances which were collected from Bishop Auckland in mid-February.

They had been made for the loco by Graham Redfearn who did lovely job. He usually repairs and restores clocks but has a certain reputation for making this type of spring balances having previously made them for various locos connected with the Beamish Museum. Even though he had no previous connection to the Corris he has made them for an excellent price, especially when you consider the many hours involved, of £700 for both including the cost of the materials.

One of the current self-funded volunteer jobs was to make parts for the safety valve assembly in a member’s workshop in Derby. Gunmetal castings for the safety valves had been produced by Barr & Grosvenor in Wolverhampton from a CR pattern and materials for the link arms, bracket and anchor pins for the Salter spring balances had been bought in, sponsored by the makers. In mid- February, the main bracket had been made along with various pins and a large spacer that sits between the steam dome and the mounting bracket. The anchor pins had been machined as far as possible. The safety valve castings had been machined along with the phosphor bronze valve seats which are a press fit in the steel. With typical ingenuity a method was arrived at to expand the dome top and shrink the valve seats sufficiently to largely fit the valve seats. Kitchen engineering at its best, the valve seats were left in the freezer for a day or two and the initial plan was to heat the dome on a steel plate set up on a domestic gas cooker.

Unfortunately, he found the dome too heavy to carry out of the workshop, up the steps, across the garden railway and into the kitchen so came up with a “Plan B” which involved burning a whole bag of nightlights under the dome in the workshop. Amazingly this gave off enough heat to expand the steel ever so slightly and when combined with the now freezing valve seat the desired fit was achieved. Time was not wasted waiting for the heating process as the opportunity was taken to turn up the handle for the Firehole door which along with the guides and linkages would be the next job.

More volunteer jobs would be the ashpan and saddle tank as well as finishing the cab all of which should save a bit of money and therefore speed up completion. The ashpan was to be part made and tacked together in Nottingham but then physically trial fitted to the loco to check for clearance on other parts to avoid any mistakes. Work was underway on CAD drawings and laser cutting files for the saddle tank parts.

Turning to the boiler fittings, it had been possible to go ahead with ordering these now due to a very generous donation being received specifically to cover these costs.

The two springs for the drawhooks and four for the trailing truck had also been ordered again after specific funds were offered for these. Given extended delivery times and prices shooting up it was good to be able to get these on order.

At the end of April 2022 the firebox door assembly was taken to Keef’s together with the ashpan mock-up which was trial fitted as per plan to check clearances. The locomotive had had footplate components fitted whilst the cab components had been removed prior to final assembly.

During May and June 2022 steel for the saddletank was ordered and cut and some sections were sent for shaping by Barr and Grosvenor in Wolverhampton.The tank would cost two thousand five hundred pounds. Steel was ordered for the cab roof which would allow the permanent assembly of the cab.

With footplating in place work at Keef’s moved to the smokebox area and workers from Keef’s went to Tywyn to examine blastpipe arrangements on Corris number 3 at the Talyllyn Railway.

A mechanical lubricator had been delivered to Keef’s for fitting.

July 2022 saw a major milestone for the project when the boiler passed its hydraulic test. With the boiler out of the frames for this testing the ashpan could be put in place. Once the boiler was refitted work began to fit the smokebox parts. The control springs for the pony truck had been fitted.

A Corris volunteer in the East Midlands was assembling the saddle tank including the riveting. Tennant Rubber Company in Nottingham produced the necessary seals and the tank was internally primed and painted with underwater paint before being delivered to Keef’s on August 17th.

During September 2022 the saddle tank was mounted and the cab remounted. Injectors had been produced by the Talyllyn Railway and were delivered to Keef’s at the end of the first week in the month. Subsequently the dome was mounted along with the safety valves. The draincocks had been fitted.

During the third week in September 2022 the cab roof was delivered by Corris volunteers to Keef’s and the reverser had been mounted beside the firebox.

On September 21st 2022 the boiler passed its live steam test and received its certification and on September 24th made its first public appearance.

After the Open Day the engine returned to the workshop and the pace slowed a little. However the buffers, made by volunteers at the Corris were fitted as was the connecting mechanism for the drain cocks. The reverser in the cab was permanently connected to the motion.

Away from both Keef’s and Maespoeth Junction our friends at the Talyllyn Railway had taken the steam powered air pump for the brakes and refurbished it to their standards.

Further jobs carried out at Keef’s towards the end of 2022 included the production and mounting of the air tanks for the braking system inside the cab and the fitting of an access lid to the centre of the front footplate. The water balance pipe linking the two sides of the saddle tank was made and fitted and work began on the cab handrails.

One small problem which was highlighted at the first public steaming was limited clearance between the handle of the handbrake and the cab side. This was resolved by slightly increasing the height of the handle. The temporary reach rod from the reversing lever to the drain cocks was replaced with the finished item. As ever with number 10 the clearances between them is tight.

Volunteer input to getting the loco complete has also continued with production of the handrails that will be mounted on top of the saddle tank. After the ends had been turned down to the correct diameter and a thread started they were heated and bent to shape on a jig made for the purpose.

The valves to control the flow of water from the saddle tank to the injectors were fitted earlier. For initial steaming at the open day these could be controlled manually but now as one of the many “completion” jobs the linkages to the cab had been made.

On the driver’s side, and passing neatly through the cab front were the operating linkages for the reversing lever, water supply valve and cylinder drain cocks.

One useful bit of money saving came with the brake return spring fitted to the front of number 10. To have this made as a one off fitting would have cost three hundred pounds but in this case an off the shelf spring could do the job and has cost thirty pounds.

Andy Cooper, Patrick Jolley and Trefor Davies of the Corris visited the workshops of Alan Keef Ltd on Monday 23rd January 2023 to deliver various parts and discuss current progress with Patrick Keef. All was progressing well and the number of components that Corris members were responsible for was now in single figures.

One of the items that Patrick brought from Corris was a brake valve which would be an expensive item to buy but fortunately we had one at Maespoeth. It has been stripped, cleaned and modified as necessary.

Work had continued with the coal bunker. This is inside the cab as was the case with the Falcons during their time on the Corris and for coaling up purposes the upper left hand section of the side sheet is discreetly hinged to allow access. The weakness of this arrangement was that coal dust could build up in the bottom of the bunker and cause corrosion and when the Talyllyn built a new cab for number 3 they positioned the bunker outside the cab. The new construction has access to the lower section which will help with this and it sits on a removable false floor to allow access to an air valve.

Six splashers have been fabricated and fitted, four to cover the driving wheels and two smaller versions to cover the clearance holes in the footplates needed for the connecting rod big ends.
Other jobs undertaken at Keef’s during January and February included completing more reach rods and associated mechanisms, brackets and stops to operate the water feed valves to the injectors from the cab. The cab panels which were previously temporarily bolted have been riveted together, beading added to the cab sides and rear lower panel.

Also in the cab locking pins have been made for the hinged upper side panel, now with modified clearance, to aid coaling up and arrangements have been finalised for the easily unboltable upper rear cab sheet. The intention being to create the ultimate in luxury for loco crews on those many hot sunny days in the Dulas Valley and is reminiscent of the cab arrangements on the Falcon locos around the year 1900. Most importantly especially for small children being given a look in the cab the whistle chain complete with a suitable brass ferrule has been added.

With regard to Corris member’s volunteer input in the first two months of 2023;-this was partly arranging delivery of most of the remaining items that we were responsible for and partly making a few items. As reported previously a suitable brake control valve was in stock at Maespoeth but needed to be stripped, checked and slightly modified by Phil Scott. This will be fully tested once the air brake system is built up on the loco but if found to be ok will have saved a considerable sum. Andy Cooper created the beading for the rear of the cab out of a laser cut ring and after having the ends turned down by a local engineering firm bent up and finished the saddle tank handrails previously mentioned.

We needed some special round headed bolts for the cab, basically modified 10mm coach bolts so after building up with weld and rough machining at Andy’s workshop they were finished off by Ian Cross having first made up a suitable lathe tool. Still to be made at that stage were the oil boxes for the driving wheel axle boxes and valve guides. The cab windows were being made by Graham French and after some research the first stage had been completed which was to make a pattern from which brass rings will be cast.

A brief summary of jobs still to do at Keef’s at the end of February 2023 included:-

    • Partially stripping the loco, so that the boiler cladding rings and sheets can be made and fitted.
    • Supply and fit the ceramic insulation.
    • Fit the outer sheets and cladding bands.
    • Fit cylinder cladding sheets and insulation.
    • Mount the steam driven air pump for the air brake system and create the steam feed to it.
    • Mount all of the air brake system components and create all of the pipework.
    • Fit the necessary electrics, conduit and junction boxes for the train communication equipment.
    • Fabricate the necessary sandboxes, pipework and ejectors for the air operated sanding equipment.

Then most of the loco will be dismantled so that everything can be de-burred and fettled ready for priming and painting followed by lining out and all brightwork polished or burnished as appropriate.

After that everything will be fully reassembled, final valve setting carried out and tested at Keef’s.

As March went on the boxes to contain the sand were fitted. These are accessed via the hatch which had been fitted in front of the smokebox door and so will sit behind the front buffer beam. The 1878 built Falcons had no sanding gear and this was never altered. On damp days the fireman, or in later years the guard, would perch on the front of the loco and pour sand from a watering can onto the railhead. The sand was kept in a large box which sat in front of the smokebox door. The arrangement on number 10 is rather safer and the piping to deliver the sand is in place.

At the other end of the weather scale we have a duty of care to the Corris’ neighbours not to start fires in dry spells and a spark arrestor has been made and fitted by Vince at Keef’s. It is designed to be easily removable during maintenance. Also fitted inside the smokebox is the blower ring.

In mid-March the drawhooks had been made and fitted and another visible feature put in place were the lamp brackets front and back. Mounting of lamps went out of fashion on the independent Corris Railway but was quickly enforced when the GWR took over in 1930. As the Great Western had its own design of lamp bracket it may be that new style ones were made in the mainline shed at Machynlleth.

At the workshops of Alan Keef Ltd. sand boxes were fabricated in May 2023 along with all pipework required to blow sand as required onto the rails directly in front of the leading driving wheels inside the smokebox the blower had been made and fitted along with the spark arrestor. The latter is of a rather more self-contained design than that fitted to Loco No.7 with an easily removable front section for cleaning. Also in the smokebox was the newly made exhaust chamber for the steam driven air pump. The pump itself has travelled many miles but mainly by road, it is of standard Talyllyn Railway design originally supplied to the rebuilders of the Lynton & Barnstaple Railway, then deemed not required so bought by the Corris for No.10. Recently overhauled and modified to up to date specification back at the Talyllyn, it was delivered to Keef’s where the necessary mountings were created on the footplate to the left of the smokebox. Next a whole host of pipework both to supply steam to it and take compressed air from it have been made up to what looks to be a very high standard.

Typical of the many smaller but still vital jobs were the two lamp brackets made and fitted front and rear. In addition a couple of shelves had been fabricated, inside the cab, one between the bunker and cab to keep the oil warm and the other on top of the bunker to store the small tools etc. that the loco crew need to be handy. The draw hooks were also now complete and fitted having arrived at Keef’s as flat blanks of the correct rough shape. The fixing sections were turned down and appropriate threads screw cut on the lathe before shaping the hook appropriately to accept a link coupling. Small steel angles had been added to the cab roof so that the rain will run off front and rear rather than dripping down the collar of the loco crew on the odd day there might be a spot of rain. Typical of the attention to detail one of the smoke box door hinges had been modified to create a stop so it can’t swing too far back.

Along with the coupling arrangements, to the best of our knowledge, everything else to connect the loco to a train was also now in place on the buffer beams. Compatible electrical plug sockets, conduit and wiring were in place running to a junction box in the cab ready for fitting the train communication system at Maespoeth and air brake pipes and fittings had all necessary holes drilled and fixings created ready for our standard hoses and palm couplings.

Corris members involved in the build had also not been idle. Having made the pattern for the cast brass cab window surrounds and hinges Graham French passed it to Ian Cross who organised having them cast. The rough castings were machined by them at Maespoeth using various clever jigs that Ian had made at home. The brass that was machined away was gathered up and sent to be recycled.

Ian also produced the oil pots with hinged lids that were needed for the driving wheel axle boxes now fitted to the splashers on the loco. It should be noted that their generosity not only relates to the time and skills but also financially covering the cost of materials for many of the parts. Last in this section but by no means least Phil Scott has made a lubricator and filter for the air pump for the loco. It had recently became apparent that we had rather overlooked these items so when commercial prices were sourced and found to be about another £1,000 of unplanned expense it was a bit of a blow. Fortunately, Phil agreed to make these for the loco in his workshop so for only the cost of materials the problem was sorted and the end results look absolutely looked superb.

Had anyone who has been following the progress with the construction called in at Alan Keef’s towards the end of June they could have been forgiven for thinking that a major problem had occurred as pieces you were sure had been fitted to number 10 weren’t there.

There was no cause for alarm. This was part of the final stages of the construction with the locomotive being partly disassembled ready for the boiler to be clad and painting to take place. The cylinder covers were in place.

Reassembly and painting took place as planned and No. 10 was delivered to the Corris at Maespoeth Junction on August 30th 2023. Crew familiarisation and testing began a day later.

There are many photos of the build as it progressed on the Corris Railway website.

We value ALL donations, small or large, so if you would like to help please click on the “Donation” button above or go back to the main page of the site and click on the appropriate icon there.

Thank you for everyone whose support and patience has brought back the regular sound of a Falcon at work in Dyffryn Dulas.

Donations paid by cheque towards the construction of No. 10 can be posted to Rosie Guest, 38 Underwood Close, Callow Hill, Redditch, B97 5YS. Cheques or postal ordes should be made payable to Corris Railway.

Your support would be very welcome if you feel able to click in the donations icon for one of the individual components listed below. Some of these are for parts that have already been manufactured but donors will be able to specifically identify “their” contribution and the money raised will take the project forward.

There are some sales items available from our web shop that specifically contribute towards the fund raising for No. 10. These include an enamel badge featuring the loco surrounded by the Corris Railway garter and the poster and postcards from the painting by Steve Butts.

Components available for sponsorship:Cost (each)
Safety valve assembly
Safety valve castings (1 of 2)£70.00
Safety valve castings (2 of 2)£70.00
Phosphor bronze for the valve seats (1 of 2)£57.00
Phosphor bronze for the valve seats (2 of 2)£57.00
Steel flat section for the link arms (1 of 2)£25.00
Steel flat section for the link arms (2 of 2)   £25.00
Manufacture and materials for the Salter spring balances (1 of 2)£350.00
Manufacture and materials for the Salter spring balances (2 of 2)£350.00
Springs for the Salter spring balances (1 of 4)£75.00
Springs for the Salter spring balances (2 of 4)£75.00
Springs for the Salter spring balances (3 of 4)£75.00
Springs for the Salter spring balances (4 of 4)£75.00
Trailing truck springs
Side load compression springs (1 of 2)£100.00
Side load compression springs (2 of 2)£100.00
Trailing truck axle box compression springs (1 of 2)£105.00
Trailing truck axle box compression springs (2 of 2)£105.00
Draw bar compression springs       
Draw bar compression springs (1 of 2)£220.00
Draw bar compression springs (2 of 2)£220.00
Cast beadings for the cab    
Cast beading for the cab (1 of 4)£120.00
Cast beading for the cab (2 of 4)£120.00
Cast beading for the cab (3 of 4)£120.00
Cast beading for the cab (4 of 4)£120.00
Ref: JS - 01/03/2022 Rev:1.0


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