42968 (LMS 13268, LMS 2968 & BR 42968)

42968uuu.jpg

3268 was built in Crewe and entered traffic in 1934 and was originally allocated to Willesden shed. It was always a Western Division engine and spent ten years based at Crewe South shed, and after renumbering to 42968 was the penultimate class member in service, lasting until 31st December 1966.

Highlights of its career were use on the 8.40 Bournemouth – Bradford Exchange express via the Lickey Incline in 1959, working the train from Bath probably as far as Derby; In 1958 42968 took over from 46239 City of Chester when this engine failed at Carnforth with a hot big end, working the train forward as far as Crewe where a more appropriate 46220 Coronation relieved it.

42968 had covered 713,561 miles for the LMS and BR by the end of 1960, when records ceased. It carried six boilers throughout its life, the last one being fitted during a heavy general overhaul in 1957.

BR motive power depot allocations from 1948.

Date Arrived Depot
January 1948 Crewe South
May 1958 Crewe North
June 1961 Birkenkead
June 1962 Nuneaton
June 1963 Mold Junction
May 1964 Wigan Spring Branch
May 1965 Gorton
June 1965 Heaton Mersey
January 1966 Wigan Spring Branch

Following withdrawal from Wigan Springs Branch in January 1966, 42968 was towed in company with 46447 and 47298 to Woodham Brothers scrapyard in Barry in June 1967. All three have since been preserved.

42968 was noticed in late 1969, by which time all other members of the class had been scrapped. As the sole survivor of Stanier’s first design of locomotive, its historical importance was recognised and the Stanier Mogul Fund was founded in 1970 to raise the money needed to purchase it and move it to the Severn Valley Railway where restoration to working order would begin.

The quoted purchases price was £3,250 but outside pressures to increase this came to bear. A rise in the price of scrap metal was imminent, as was the introduction of VAT. Fund raising was sufficiently successful to avoid the former but not the latter. On 31st August 1973, a cheque for £3,575 was handed over and the engine finally belonged to the Fund. 42968 left Barry in December 1973.

Working parties of Fund members regularly visited the engine and both kept it tidy by regular cleaning (it was considered to be the best kept engine in the yard), removing valuable copper and brass fitments which might otherwise be stolen, and checking and repairing any parts of its running gear which might otherwise run hot on the journey to the Severn Valley Railway (SVR).

It had been decided that the engine would be transported by rail on its own wheels, and since 42968 was largely complete, it represented about ninety tons of dead weight which had to be moved in one piece. The fourteen hour movement took place overnight on 13/14th December 1973 – at the start of an ASLEF work to rule. It was drawn away from Barry locomotive shed, where final preparations for the movement were made, by Brush type 4 1909 (later 47 232), as far as Cardiff Canton, where 37 300 took over for the run to Kidderminster. Type 2 7640 (later 25 290) then arrived and propelled the engine to Bewdley for onwards transmission to Bridgnorth, Bewdley at that time still being a BR operational station. The arrival at Bewdley, Severn Valley Railway, was about twelve hours late and in the nick of time; another half hour would have left it stranded at Kidderminster by the dispute.

42968 was moved to the SVR main engineering centre at Bridgnorth in 1974.

Despite some very over-optimistic forecasts of both time and money required to return 42968 to running order, the engine moved for the first time under its own steam in November 1990 having cost £200,000. The total cost of restoration was in the region of six figures if labour costs were allowed for. Much of the costs were taken up in replacing the many copper and brass fittings that had been stolen during its stay at Barry scrapyard, while over £25,000 was required for the boiler overhaul alone.

Following running-in and completion of outstanding work over the following winter, 42968 formally entered SVR traffic the following in April 1991.

A cause for concern had always been the condition of the engine’s tyres which were worn to their limit. It was known that new tyres would be required by the time of its next ten-yearly overhaul, but the left-hand trailing coupled wheel tyre’s working loose caused its withdrawal from service in December 1993. New tyres were fitted at a cost of over £15,000 and the engine re-entered traffic a year later. The tender tank was also due for replacement and so the tender fitted was not its own Fowler type but a Stanier tender borrowed from black five 45110. 42968 is the only member of the class known to have run with a Stanier tender.

From its earliest days, it was always hoped that one day 42968 would return to the main lines to haul heavy trains at high speeds. But main line running is a very expensive pursuit, and it was soon realised that the costs involved could not be justified, especially as there was no guarantee that customers could be persuaded to buy seats behind a member of a class which, it must be admitted, did not enjoy tremendous support from the average enthusiast in the 1960s. The hope was sadly abandoned.

In 1996, however, the Severn Valley Railway with Past-Time Rail took the plunge, and the engine was prepared for its MT276 certification. This done, a main line test run was required, in this case to Gloucester and return, and using some of the route it had taken on its way from Barry nearly 23 years before.

But it was high summer and steam movements over the main line were banned owing to the risk of lineside fires. Twice the test run was cancelled at short notice, but a period of rain towards the end of August allowed a temporary easing of the restriction, so in 1996 a successful trial run was completed to Gloucester.

The first main line service train was run in thick fog from Dorridge to Lincoln and return later in 1996 which was followed by hauling the Christmas Cumbrian Mountain Express where it substituted for A4 pacific 60009 Union of South Africa. 2968 continue to operate on the main line in 1997 including working over the Lickey incline in combination with GWR 4300 class locomotive 7325 when approximately three thousand people lined the track side to witness the event. Main line operation continued in 1998 until a boiler examination showed that the crown stays had deteriorated to below a point acceptable to Railtrack for main line operation.

2968’s crown stays were still acceptable for its use on the Severn Valley Railway and, it transpired, on London Transport’s ‘Steam on the Met’ extravaganza. With other invited steam locomotives based on Neasden, it took its turns at running on the main lines.

In November 1997 it became the first steam train in preservation to tackle the Lickey Incline.

It was withdrawn from service in 1998 due to deterioration of the firebox stays. A full overhaul lasted until March 2003, when it re-entered traffic wearing the later BR livery of black, lined red, cream and grey.

In the fourteen months from December 1996 to the end of January 1998, 2968 participated in fourteen main line runs, taking it to Carlisle in the North and Weymouth in the South; from Holyhead in the West to York in the East, covering many lines over which the class had never previously worked. Throughout this period there was not a single failure booked against it. It was involved in many ‘firsts’: opening new lines to preserved steam traction; working the first steam hauled train up the Lickey Incline (along with 7325); working the first eastbound steam over Copy Pit since 1968; and taking part in the first diverted steam special in preservation history. It was the locomotives performances during this period that drew enthusiasts’ attention to the merits of its class, and opened up the way for future visits to other preserved lines.

As well as service on its home SVR, 42968 has visited the Gloucester and Warwickshire Railway, Crewe Works, the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway, Great Central Railway, Llangollen Railway and West Somerset Railway.

In June 2010 it was discovered the tyres on the tender wheels, which had not been replaced at the same time as the engine’s in 1994, had developed bad flats. The tender was withdrawn and that from 45110 was again attached to allow 42968 to remain in service. The tender’s tyres were replaced and the tender given a full overhaul during 2011-12, the engine regaining its correct tender in March 2012.

The SVR installed a wheel drop in 2010, and 42968 was the first engine to make use of the new facility. In July that year, the trailing coupled wheelset was dropped out and repairs made to the white metal of the bearings. Following this, all other wheelsets were dropped in turn to allow any necessary repairs, along with repair to the ashpan and a small frame crack. This was to allow the engine to remain in traffic for the full ten years of its boiler certificate which expired in 2012.

The overhaul of 42968 began with the removal of components to prepare it for entry into the workshops, which happened in early 2014. In August 2016 the boiler was taken into the workshops at Bridgnorth for overhaul which is expected to be completed in 2018. In late 2017 it was stated that the locomotive would not be back in service until late spring or early summer in 2019. The delay was due to additional work being undertaken at Bridgnorth on 75069.

As part of the overhaul about two feet of the right hand frame has been replaced which means that the frames now date from 1934, 1957 and 2017/18. It was estimated that having to undertake this work would delayed the completion of the overhaul by six to eight weeks. By May 2018 the wheels had been returned from South Devon Railway Engineering after having their tyres turned. Work had also started on stripping the boiler which it was hoped would be in good condition as the SVR was using reverse osmosis-treated (Water purification technology to remove ions, molecules and larger particles) water throughout its previous operating period.

Looking further ahead, the next general overhaul is due in approximately 2025-30 and the Fund hopes to successfully complete this and see the engine in traffic for its 100th anniversary in 2034.

 

Home Base Current Status Owner
Severn Valley Railway Under overhaul Stanier Mogul Fund
42968 at Bridgnorth-2011.jpg 42968 at Bridgnorth on the Severn Valley Railway-2011
42968 at Bridgnorth-2012.jpg 42968 at Bridgnorth on the Severn Valley Railway-2012
42968 at Highley-2012.jpg 42968 at Highley on the Severn Valley Railway-2012
42968 Bewdley 2012.jpg 42968 at Bewdley on the Severn Valley Railway-2012
42968 Highley 2012.jpg 42968 at Highley on the Severn Valley Railway-2012

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