C2 Project News

Hunslet 125

Happy Birthday Linda and Blanche

The weekend of 22-24 June saw a big celebration of the 125th birthdays of Hunslet locos ‘Linda’ and ‘Blanche’. These two locos were built in 1893 for the Penrhyn Quarry Railway, where whey worked hauling slate trains until 1962. They were then bought by the newly-reopened Ffestiniog Railway, where they have been an important element of the loco fleet ever since. By now, they’ve probably run more miles on the FR than the PQR.
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The birthday girls Linda and Blanche storm out of Minffordd with a service train.
For the celebration weekend, the centre of attractions was in Minffordd Yard, while the workshops at Boston Lodge were closed to the public. About six months ago it became clear that if we wanted to show off the C2 to the visiting public, we had to go to Minffordd. It’s just over a mile by rail, but the line down into Minffordd Yard is one of the sharpest curves on the entire Ff&WHR. Could we get the loco and tender chassis finished in time, and would they go round the curve?
This has been the target of our work for the first half of 2018. You’ll have read in last month’s update that we got the tender on its wheels, and that the chopper couplings were complete. We had also done some detailed surveys of the Minffordd Yard curve and identified the tight spots, then drawn it all up on CAD. It looked like the loco ought to just get round the curve, so it was worth a try.
On 14th and 15th June, Paul and Jon worked to fit the couplings including the loco-tender drawbar, and deal with a few snags that had been identified at the previous working party.

On Friday afternoon, we presented the C2 to John Whalley, the railway’s Chief Mechanical Engineer. He made a detailed inspection from above and below, and observed it being shunted over some of the most challenging curves and points in Boston Lodge Yard. Happily he was satisfied and signed it off as fit to be moved on the FR main line. We had also arranged a path and an engineering possession of the line for this out-of-course move on the evening of Saturday 16th.
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The C2 loco and tender, coupled together on 2-foot gauge track for the first time. They were being shunted onto an inspection pit ready for their fitness to run examination.
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On the principle that ‘if you take an umbrella it won’t rain’, on Saturday morning we filled an open wagon with jacks, packing, crowbars, steel plates, and all the other equipment that’s useful for re-railing. After all the service trains had finished for the day, we took the C2 frames for their first run out on their 2-foot gauge wheelsets. Jon drove our trusty shunter ‘Moel-y-Gest’, while Paul rode in the open wagon observing the riding of the loco. Alan, Andy, Dandan and Rob recorded the event with photos and video.
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Setting off from Boston Lodge (Photo: Rob Collins)
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We paused to check the bearings just after passing under the main road at Rhiw Plas bridge.
We paused a couple of times en route to check the bearings, with no problems observed. Arriving at Minffordd Station we were met by the Ff&WHR’s general manager, Paul Lewin, who was pleased to see that we had made the journey safely.
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Approaching Minffordd, our trusty shunter Moel-y-gest propels the C2 frames. The open wagon provided a safe place from which to observe the loco, an extra handbrake, and a place to put some re-railing gear that fortunately wasn't needed! (Photo: Rob Collins)
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A nicely framed shot of the C2 at Minffordd Station. Paul Lewin and Jon Walsh discuss the move. (Photo: Rob Collins)
Then it was time for the most difficult part of the journey, around the 190 degree curve into Minffordd Yard. In theory this has an average radius of 35m, but the tightest spots are only 26m, quite a challenge for a loco with a nominal minimum radius of 40m. We took it very slowly, keeping an eye on the wheels and couplings. Happily all was well, and we soon had the loco shunted into its temporary home in the Maenofferen Shed.
Then it was back to Boston Lodge and then Spooner’s for a few well-earned pints!
A few days later we were back again for the big birthday event. Andrew, Jon, both Daves, Erle and Paul 2 were around, but were often required on the lococrew or brakesman rosters. Paul 1 had got his driving turns out of the way before the start of the main event, so he took charge on the C2 project display stand. We found that our tender frames make an excellent sales table!
We had a great deal of interest in the C2 over the 3 days of the event. Many thanks to all of you who came to say hello, made a donation or bought some merchandise. As soon as the sun came out, we sold out of hats, and the purchasers then provided us with mobile advertising for the rest of the weekend. If you missed out, remember you can still buy merchandise online.
Thanks also to Erika who brought along some more of her In Slate merchandise for us to sell – these were very popular. The total of sales and donations was nearly £1000, giving a welcome boost to the project bank account. We also had some people interested in volunteering with us, or with specialist technical expertise to offer. We look forward to hearing from you again.
The rest of the Hunslet 125 event went really well too, and it was great to see so many little locos in action, as well as some big ones.

Another exciting recent development is that we now have improved communications in the C2 shed, with a fibre-optic cable and Wifi.

As I write, the C2 is still at Minffordd, but we’re making plans to take it back home to Boston Lodge soon. We’ve made some more friends at other 2-foot gauge railways so maybe one day we’ll take the C2 a lot further from home?

Plans for the rest of 2018 include completing work on the brake gear, and getting on with the cylinders, motion bracket, slidebar and rods. Maybe also the loco and tender crash-beams. Watch this space for more updates!
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What's all this then? Well the C2 shed finally has a Wifi connection - here Tim is terminating the fibre-optic data cable. This isn't just for our benefit - it will also serve the new carriage shed being built on the seaward side of our shed.
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The weekend was really all about these two ladies, but it was great for the C2 to be part of it. The birthday girls double-head the 10:05 service train from Porthmadog on 25th June, seen here crossing Gwyndy Bank.
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Hunslet 125 exhibitor's plaque. We'll probably put this up in our shed for now.
July 2018 
May 2018