The Move to Wales

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The front engine unit at Boston Lodge with K1 team during their
first working party there. (Photo: Andy Rutter)

K1 moved to Wales for completion of the overhaul in Easter 2000. The power units went straight to Boston Lodge Works on the Ffestiniog Railway, where one is seen (right) during the K1 team's first working party there in May 2000, with some jobs being subcontracted to ESCA and other firms.

The boiler frame was moved straight to Dinas from Tyseley in late April 2000, together with the old tanks and major boiler components, joining the extensive collection of smaller parts which had already been moved there from Tyseley.

Boiler frame at Dinas, 30th April 2000 (Photo: Ben Fisher)

The boiler frame, however, only stayed at Dinas for a few weeks, before also being moved to Boston Lodge. It was found that this was a more convenient way to proceed. The boiler frames were re-united with the power units in mid-summer 2000.

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K1 being moved at Harbour Station, 8th October 2000
(Photo: Ben Fisher)

At the FR Vintage Weekend in early October 2000, K1 was displayed - minus boiler - at Porthmadog Harbour Station, close to the spot where it stood for some time following delivery from Manchester in 1966. It is seen on the left coupled to another form of articulated locomotive, the Double Fairlie Earl of Merioneth, which returned the Garratt to Boston Lodge at the end of the event for restoration work to continue. The picture also highlights that the size of K1 is becoming apparent when compared to the Double Fairlie, the Earl of Merioneth being one of the the Ffestiniog Railway's largest locomotives. The tanks had been refitted for the event, though work still remained to be done on these.

In May 2001 the cab and tanks had been lifted off again, with the top plates of the tanks removed to give access for the patching work that would allow the original 1909 tanks to be reused; at that time it being thought that replacements would be necessary.

The First Movements

Although numerous jobs remained to be done, the major parts of the loco below footplate level were complete; despite the lack of a boiler, K1 moved under power in March 2001, for the first time in perhaps 70 years - towing a diesel loco, and the air compressor that was supplying power to K1's cylinders.

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The progress on K1 as seen in June 2001 on the occasion of the K1 Group's AGM. (Photos: Robin Rees-Jones)   


New Boiler

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Boiler components at Israel Newton - 12th Dec 2001 (Photos: Robin Rees-Jones)
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K1's boiler under construction in Bradford on March 21st 2002. (Photos: Robin Rees-Jones)

With the decision made to go for a new boiler whilst the loco was still based at Tyseley, it was not until the loco was in Wales that the insurers, in early April 2001, eventually approved the design for production. This was to be an all-welded construction and as many components had already been made under the Winson Engineering contract, a new contract to assemble the boiler was let to Israel Newton & Sons of Bradford. This is the same firm which at that time had already built new boilers for other Edwardian products of Beyer Peacock, namely The Earl and The Countess at the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway.

The already manufactured components were moved to Israel Newton at Idle, Bradford and by the time of a visit on December 12th 2001 progress had been made with the manufacture of the remaining pieces as can be seen in the photos upper right.

The pictures lower right are also of K1's boiler under construction in Bradford (also by Robin Rees-Jones) and show progress by March 21st 2002. The assembly of barrel, outer firebox and front tubeplate was essentially complete; it will be noted that on K1 the smokebox forms an integral part of the boiler barrel, rather than a separate component. The inner firebox was in the process of being welded up prior to being located in the outer wrapper for marking up and drilling for stays. Tube holes were being drilled in the rear tubeplate, i.e. the forward surface of the inner firebox.

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Penetrating dye test (Photo: Paul Lewin)

Hydraulic Test

Once completed the new boiler passed its hydraulic test (i.e. testing the boiler with water pressurised to well above the working steam pressure) at Israel Newton's works on August 8th. This left just a few days' work for Newton's (fitting the foam plate and steam collection pipes) prior to transportation to Boston Lodge. As part of the completion exercise before the hydraulic test was to check for structural integrity, cracks etc. The pictures below show the completed boiler being tested with dye penetrant.

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The boiler being prepared for its steam test.
(Photo: Andy Rutter)

The completed new boiler arrived at Boston Lodge on the morning of August 15th 2002, and was unloaded in the yard. The K1 Group working party on the following weekend started work preparing the boiler for its steam test and fitment to the locomotive. Work commenced levelling the boiler and starting to attach the various fittings including the chimney - that happened to be from K2!

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The fire is lit for the first time
on the 15th September 2002.
(Photo: Andy Rutter)
On the 7th October 2002 this time a
steam test for the boiler inspector.
(Photo: Andy Rutter)

Steam Test

With all the fittings in place, the fire was lit for the first time. This preliminary steam test took place successfully on Sunday September 15th 2002, with a view to a formal test and inspection soon afterwards for the insurer's Inspecting Engineer.

The official steam test duly happened on the 7th October 2002 in the presence of the boiler inspector with the new boiler passing all the requirements.

On the following Friday, the 11th October 2002, the boiler was duly lifted into the frames, followed by the cab.

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The boiler being lowered into the frames, followed by the cab being attached. (Photo's Andy Rutter)


Reassembly Continues

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K1 in the erecting shop at Boston Lodge
(Photo: Ben Fisher)

After the new boiler and the cab were lifted into place, K1 moved back indoors. The chimney had to be removed temporarily to allow the loco back into the Erecting Shop, as it is too tall to fit through the door; the cab is just low enough to pass. Also, a packing plate has to be fitted at the base of the chimney, one of the various new pieces of platework to be fitted to the smokebox. The picture on the right shows the loco in the erecting shop the following day.

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K1's cab at Boston Lodge May 5th 2002.
(Photos: Ben Fisher)

K1's cab is seen right at Boston Lodge on May 5th 2002. The "step" in the rear of the cab fits over the forward edge of the rear tank structure; the apertures visible are for access to the handbrake, and (in the original arrangement) the coal bunker.

Completing the loco was not just a simple matter of lighting it up; in addition to plumbing and cladding of the boiler, there were many small and hidden parts of this complex piece of machinery to complete, notably a maze of copper piping and the associated fittings, together with various components still to be fitted. Two of these are shown below, either in the Erecting Shop, or the bench allocated to K1 in the adjacent Machine Shop at Boston Lodge.

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 Brass fittings ready for installing onto K1.
(Photo: Ben Fisher)

The oil firing Pan Plate being manufactured.
(Photo: Ben Fisher)

At this stage of K1's restoration the Welsh Highland and Ffestiniog Railways were using oil as the fuel for their steam locos. One important component therefore, was the special oil burner; K1 cannot use the same design as the NGG16s, as the pipe which carries steam from the high- to the low-pressure cylinders passes directly below the firebox. Several designs were considered, and the final choice was a special low-height single rotary burner.

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The cab fittings in place
(Photo: Chris Price)

The picture, right, shows the progress with the interior of K1's cab in December 2002, with work well advanced on cab fittings and plumbing, but before lagging was done. This scene is very different from the largely bare backhead of the old boiler as received back from York in 1995. One of the new components (seen above left) is now installed in its proper place.

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K1 at the end December 2012
(Photo: Marcus Ingram)

Later in the same month the firebox had received its insulation and cladding, and the framework structures known as crinolines were in place ready for the same to be done on the boiler barrel.

Unfortunately as the rebuild approached completion, funds became ever tighter, and in late December 2002 the reluctant decision was made to halt paid work by Boston Lodge staff for a time, and to seek fresh funding. K1 was therefore shunted from its previous position in the works and into No. 3 road at Boston Lodge to await the resumption of work.

It was intended for some time that K1 would be named after its designer, Herbert William Garratt and so the proposal was put forward by the K1 Group at its June 2002 AGM, and announced at the WHRS AGM in September. However, the plan was later dropped.

Work Re-commences

In late January 2004 funding arrangements reached the stage where an immediate vacancy was announced for an engineer to work on the completion and commissioning of K1 under a five-month contract. A number of applications were received, all immediately after this was announced, and at the end of the application period Roland Doyle was appointed to the post, starting work on March 1st. In addition to his experience on WHR construction (he remained manager of construction arm WHLR Ltd on a part-time basis), Roland is a well known face at Boston Lodge, where he played key rôles in completing the rebuild of Palmerston, and the design and building of Taliesin. He worked alongside Ian Harthill, who had been working part-time on K1 since November 2003, and the volunteer effort under Project Leader Colin Hill.

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 New backhead cladding.
(Photo: Andy Rutter)
 The completed front unit with tank fitted.
(Photo: Andy Rutter)

With work now back in full swing, Andy Rutter's pictures on the right show a couple of views taken over the weekend of April 17-18th. With the front engine complete and the front tank finally permanently refitted. With the firebox cladding complete, the boiler backhead was having the final fitting of its various gauges, valves etc, with the cab spectacle plate removed for access; the cab is being painted prior to final reassembly. Smokebox cladding was complete, and boiler cladding was also almost done.

The two pictures below were taken on May 2nd 2004. The hind water tank is seen in the yard, together with the new fuel oil tank which will fit in the former coal space. On the loco, pipework and boiler cladding had progressed still further. Note that one of K1's unusual features is thermal cladding of the smokebox as well as of the main boiler barrel, with which the smokebox is integral. The large insulated pipe lying on the footplate in the right hand picture, when fitted in position underneath the loco, transfers exhaust steam from the high-pressure rear cylinders to the low-pressure front cylinders when working in compound mode.

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The hind water tank and fuel oil tank.
(Photo: Ben Fisher)
Boiler and smokebox cladding in progress.
(Photo: Ben Fisher)

Later in May, the 15-16th, the hind tank was not yet fitted, as there were some logistics to work out. The water tank was the easy part; the oil feeds (etc) had to be run in, the oil bunker fitted into the coal bunker, but also the brake staff at the rear of the cab had to be fitted permanently. All this had to come together in more or less one operation. In anticipation of this the team had K1 outside (dwarfing Moelwyn!) to pressure clean all the cylinders ready for the valve and piston covers, and the valves and pistons themselves. Final cladding and clothing of the boiler was in hand. Cylinder drain valves were also being fitted up. The water tank was also being painted, inside and out.

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Insulating and cladding the boiler.
(Photo: Andy Rutter)
K1 being wored on in the yard at Boston Lodge.
(Photo: Andy Rutter)
Pressure cleaning.
(Photo: Andy Rutter)

The refractory firebrick arch was installed in the firebox on June 19th, and over the same weekend brake tests were carried out, and lagging of the dome was in progress, that of the boiler being complete.

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 The brick arch in place.
(Photo: Andy Rutter)
 Lifting the pan plate into position.
(Photo: Andy Rutter)
 Pressure gauges in the cab.
(Photo: Andy Rutter)
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The rear tank in place.
(Photo: Ben Fisher)

The rear tank was finally in place by July 17th 2004 and represented the last major item to be refitted to the loco. By the end of the weekend, all water connections were in place and several inches of water were put in the tanks, completing the water system. The oil tank system was also complete, as were steam and oil piping to the burner.

The Return to Steam

The Boiler Inspector carried out a "cold" test in the week beginning July 12th 2004, and this marked the start of the ten-year boiler "ticket". The first steaming was a low pressure test up to about 50 psi on July 20th, to test the firing system. The first full pressure test up to 220 psi took place on the 22nd, with the safety valves lifting at about 2.05pm, and the firing system working at maximum output. Early impressions were that the boiler is responsive and free steaming, taking about two hours to raise steam.

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The picture that says it all - 23rd July 2014
(Photo Ben Fisher)

The boiler inspector returned at lunchtime on Friday July 23rd to inspect the loco in steam - and granted full approval. K1 is seen below still in steam shortly after the conclusion of the inspection. After some 75 years, and on the other side of the world from where it last steamed, K1 was at last well and truly back to life.

However..........There was still plenty to be done before the loco could move under its own power, and these tasks were progressed by paid staff, leading up to what would probably be the K1 Group's last major working party at Boston Lodge, over an extended weekend four weeks after the boiler test.

The pictures below show various last few tasks in progress.

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Fitting the last low pressure piston.
(Photo: Andy Rutter)
Fitting the Cab floor.
(Photo: Andy Rutter)
Lifting the front tank top into place.
(Photo: Andy Rutter)
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K1's first movement under its own power since 1929.
(Photo: Andy Rutter)

By the end of Sunday August 22nd enough had been done for the loco to be towed out and steamed again.

At about 7pm on the Sunday evening, as the light was failing and with about 160psi on the dial, K1 moved under its own power for the first time since 1929. K1 was coupled to a Hunslet diesel as a safety back up in case of a failure, and about half a dozen short runs were completed within the confines of Boston Lodge yard, using the High Pressure cylinders only. A pipe still needed to be connected so that the change valve could be used to control compounding and allow the Low Pressure cylinders to be used, with the intention that the loco would be tested on all four cylinders shortly after.

Successful completion of initial trials at Boston Lodge and across the Cob paved the way for the loco to be cleared to move to Dinas for the final stage of its restoration.