Preparing for the move to Dinas

After the initial commissioning stages out of Boston Lodge, and with the Welsh Highland Railway still in the process of being rebuilt, K1 was prepared to be moved by road to Dinas for the continuation of trials and thus for its eventual return to service there on the line so far restored.

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K1 stripped of cab, dome and chimney ready
to move to Minffordd for the transfer to Dinas.
(Photo: Colin Hill)

It had previously been thought that K1 would have to be removed from the FR via Harbour Station, as it was believed to be too large to reach Minffordd, the usual loading and unloading point for stock and locomotives. Following careful measurements however, it was found that there is - by the tiniest margin - horizontal clearance for the loco to pass through the worst restriction, Rhiw Plas bridge, and thus reach Minffordd. It was known that there is clearance for it to be shunted between the FR main line and the yard at Minffordd as this was done in 1995. However this movement required removing not only the chimney but also the dome and cab.

The necessary components were therefore removed at Boston Lodge over the weekend of September 18-19th 2004, as seen in Colin Hill's picture on the right.

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K1 at Minffordd awaiting it move to Dinas.
(Photo: Ben Fisher)
Cab components having already
been moved to Dinas.
(Photo: Ben Fisher)

The loco was successfully moved to Minffordd Yard on September 22nd. The move went well, with no scrapes, though clearances were found to be tight - as expected. At Minffordd, the loco was stored out of public view, down in the "coal hole" sidings.

The dismantled sections of the cab were moved to Dinas the day before the loco itself; the other removed parts stayed with the loco.

The move to Dinas

K1 was moved by road to Dinas on Saturday October 2nd. Conway Castle and a B wagon were coupled to K1 for its first contact with WHR metals, and Upnor Castle later performed a shunt via the bay platform to release Conway Castle and then the wagon, before shunting K1 into its new home in the Goods Shed. For the first time since leaving Zeehan in 1947, K1 had found a permanent home after its long and distant wanderings.

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K1 arriving at Dinas on the low-loader and
being positioned ready for unloading.
(Photo: John Peduzzi)
Rails being laid ready for unloading.
(Photo: John Peduzzi)
Conway Castle and a B wagon being used to
unload K1.
(Photo: John Peduzzi)
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K1 in the bay platform at Dinas after being
unloaded.
(Photo: Ben Fisher)
K1 being eased into the goods shed, to be its
home for the next phase of the work.
(Photo: John Peduzzi)
 
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In the goods shed 9th October 2004 during the
first working party after arrival at Dinas.
(Photo: Ben Fisher)

The following weekend K1 Group volunteers were at work on the loco, with further painting in hand on the cab panels before their later reassembly. By this point all parts and stores for K1 had been delivered to Dinas.

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The rear power unit with its motion removed
for further attention.
(Photo: Ben Fisher)
K1 being worked on outside the goods shed
17th October 2004.
(Photo: Ben Fisher)

In addition to reassembly of the parts stripped for transport there was still some work to be done on the loco before WHR line trials, such as final rectification of the coupling rod bearing which ran hot in trials on the Cob. The necessary rods had been removed from the loco when it was seen on October 17th; the steam dome and cab were back in place, and volunteers were refitting associated components.

Initial gauging & steam tests

The motion and other parts were back in place by the end of October, and the loco made its first excursion from Dinas on November 2nd, propelled "cold" up the line as far as Castell Cidwm for gauging tests. It was reported as "a bit tight" in one or two places, especially Castell Cidwm Bridge. After this trip K1 was returned to the loco shed rather than the Goods Shed, fully fuelled and watered ready for steam testing.

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K1 being prepared into steam - 4th November 2004.
(Photo :Cliff Garnett)

K1 was first steamed on the WHR on Thursday November 4th, and the photograph right shows it being prepared outsde the loco shed at Dinas. Its smaller size against the later NGG16 class being very apparent. The steam test was prior to an HMRI inspection to confirm the loco's Type Approval for entry into service; approval in principle was granted back in March 1997.

HRMI inspection

The HMRI visit took place on Monday November 8th2004. The photos below right show the loco on both the inspection day and the day before.

The result of the November 8th inspection was a "partial pass". This means that upon completion of a few small jobs specified by HMRI the loco is considered passed for test trains, and if wanted, to double-head service trains. A further HMRI inspection following completion of a further small "snagging list" would still be required to certify K1 for entry into service as sole motive power on passenger trains. Given that K1 is a complex and unique locomotive, these further tasks can fairly be regarded as "par for the course". Prior to the next HMRI inspection there was still the need for a full gauging trial over the entire line that was restored and open at that time.

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K1 being brought into steam on the 7th November
as NGG16 No143 passes with the service train.
(Photo: Andy Rutter)
8th November and HRMI inspection day.
K1 in the release road with a short test train.
(Photo: Andy Rutter)

The loco was then moved back to the Goods Shed for volunteers to work on the remaining items needing attention.

K1 in the Good Shed 21st November 2004
K1 in the Good Shed 21st November 2004
(Photo: Ben Fisher)

 

The first test trains

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K1 with a test train at Dinas 1st December 2004.
(Photo: Andy Rutter)
K1 taking water at Caernarfon 1st December 2004.
(Photo: Jon March)

K1 hauled its first trains out on the Welsh Highland Railway main line on Tuesday November 30th 2004, at the start of a programme of weekday tests between Dinas and Caernarfon. On the first day the loco notched up 15 miles, hauling four empty carriages, №s. 2020, 2021, 2022 and 100. A further test took place on Wednesday December 1st, when carriages 26 and 24 were added; only one morning return trip was done in the owing to a hot axlebox on the rear engine, but otherwise K1 proved at ease with the load of six carriages; the climb up out of Caernarfon includes some of the steepest gradients on the Railway. After the bearing had cooled down over lunchtime a light engine run was made to Bontnewydd and back (seen in the last picture below) however, the bearing ran hot again and thus required attention before further test runs.

Further tests took place on Wednesday 8th and Thursday 9th December, and included the loco's first powered run to Waunfawr, running light engine on the 9th. The hot axlebox problem recurred. In January 2005 K1 was moved into the Carriage Shed, as the Goods Shed was required for work on diesel Castell Caernarfon.

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K1 approaching Snowdon Ranger with
Conway Castle on the 14th February 2005.
(Photo: Peter Jones)

K1 was due to run daily line trials between February 14-20th, but in the event only ran on those two dates. The first run, on Monday February 14th, was done (almost) light engine, with diesel Conway Castle taken along as insurance (which was not needed). There was recurrence of the hot box problem from the December tests, which led to the return run terminating at Dinas.

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K1 having its axlebox attended to on the
wheel drop in Dinas Loco Shed.
(Photo: Rob Bradley)

It was decided to make a full investigation of the problem axlebox at this stage; previously it had been hoped that it might bed in with use and additional lubrication. Therefore K1 was jacked up in the following days to drop the axle, and repairs were made; fortunately it was not necessary to re-cast the white metal liner.

K1 was thus ready for further trials on the afternoon of Sunday February 20th. After runs up and down Dinas loop to get early indications that all was well, the loco ran its first full trial with carriages over the whole line. A run down to Caernarfon crossed with the last service train of the day after returning to Dinas, and then proceeded to Waunfawr - with a stop at Tryfan Junction to check all was well - and then on to Rhyd Ddu as dusk fell (as did a little snow). Although some items still required attention, on the move K1 gave a very lively performance indeed, and amply demonstrated that the loco is capable of hauling a useful load at line speed.

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K1 with a nice pose at Tryfan Junction
At the time, a sign of things to come.
(Photo: Alf Williams)

 

Recognition of K1's heritage

During February of that year, the plan to name K1 as Herbert William Garratt was dropped, in the interests of keeping this unique and historically important locomotive in as close to original condition as possible. The following press release was issued on February 28th 2005:

The board of the Ffestiniog Railway Company resolved at its last meeting on 18th February that K1 would not bear a name but that it would be dedicated at an appropriate ceremony to all the work carried out by all at Beyer Peacock in recognition that it was the first Garratt built.

The board took advice on the proposed naming of the engine from the Heritage company which is responsible for monitoring the heritage fleet. The unanimous advice of the Heritage company and its archivist was that on account of the engine's historical significance being the first of its kind there was a responsibility to keep the appearance of the engine as original as possible. So, K1 will also be painted in its original livery.

Michael Whitehouse (Chairman, Festiniog Railway Company)
Gareth Williams (Chairman, Ffestiniog Railway Heritage Limited)

Shortly after the K1 Group issued a press release, in March 8th 2005 regarding Colin Hill, the lead project engineer:

The K1 project has steamed along since late 1995 and is nearing completion. For virtually all of these past nine years our project leader has been Colin Hill. He has led the team through every high and low point of the project with great determination and the results are for all to see, a restored K1 almost ready for service on the WHR. Colin has now decided that the time has come to hang up his overalls and retire from the project. We thank him for his tremendous energy and time devoted towards restoring K1, and his friendship to all. We wish him well in the future.

K1 Committee

Testing continues

The February tests led to a "snagging list" of items still requiring attention before the loco can be considered for service. In the interests of ensuring the loco's reliability, it was decided to remove the other wheelsets (in addition to the one dealt with in February) for careful examination of the axleboxes, and any rectification work that may be needed in light of the previous problems. The axleboxes were supplied by an external contractor at an early stage of the overhaul, replacing the originals which were beyond repair. This was be the most substantial single piece of work, but there are many other items, smaller but important, and the K1 Group is also paying close attention to the cosmetic details.

After a brief storage period outside K1 was moved back into the Goods Shed, where, on the 16th April volunteers worked on the oil firing system and fitting of the firebrick walls in the firebox, which were not yet in place for the earlier tests.

The K1 group spent the weekend of May 21st-22nd preparing the engine units ready for dropping the axles to inspect all of the axle boxes. A plan was devised in conjunction with Boston Lodge Works to manufacture beams that would lift the whole engine units, together with the boiler unit, up three feet or so, using Dinas's ex-Channel Tunnel jacks. With this method all axles can be rolled out for inspection at the same time. With this work in mind the volunteers removed all the coupling and connecting rods together with remaining brake gear to leave complete clearance under each engine unit. Preparations were also done to make the refractory brick walls for the firebox. Boston Lodge delivered the lifting beams in late July; they have been designed by Clive Briscoe of Team Wylfa, and they will also be capable of lifting an NG15 off its wheelsets. Before K1 could be lifted they had to go to a test house near Wigan for proof loading and certifying.

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K1 in the carriage shed having its motion removed.
(Photo: Andy Rutter)
With the new supporting beams in place
K1 is lifted of its wheels.
(Photo: Ben Fisher)

The loco was jacked up on the beams by August 4th, with all the wheelsets out for inspection of the bearings. It was found that there had been no damage to bearings or journals other than the one instance rectified in February. It was found however that the oilways on the other axleboxes were "as machined", and had not been hand-finished to eliminate sharp edges onto the surface of the white metal bearing liners; these sharp edges can prevent oil being drawn smoothly out of the oilway by the rotation of the axle. Fortunately, rectifying these sharp edges and providing a neat transition between oilway and bearing surface is a fairly straightforward job using scrapers. Other minor modifications to the lubrication system were being carried out at the same time.

The loco is seen left up on the jacks and beams during the August 20th-21st working party. The axleboxes were being modified to provide underfeed lubrication (as found on the NGG16s) in addition to the existing feeds from the top of the bearings. The loco was back down on its wheelsets by August 24th. Re-assembly of brake gear etc was then required in time for K1's visit to the "Great Gathering" at Crewe in September.

With the refitting of the loco's plates, the opportunity has been taken to add a K2 plate on one side of the hind engine, and a K1 plate on the other. This reflects the fact that the loco is a mix of parts from the two locos; not only is the boiler frame from K2, its works number (5293) has also been found on some major motion components. As explained on the K1 in Tasmania page, it now seems clear that the boiler units were swapped between K1 and K2 while still in service (and not in 1947 as once thought); it is nevertheless possible that some parts from K2 (such as the motion parts) could have travelled back to the UK and formed part of Beyer Peacock's reassembly work, when much is known to have been done to the motion.

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K1's plated fitted to one side of the hind unit and K2's on the other.
(Photo: Ben Fisher)
The Garratt's patent plate fitted to
the front unit.
(Photo: Ben Fisher)

The plates on the front engine are not works plates but Garratt's patent plates, an interesting parallel with the "Fairlie's Patent" plates carried by the FR Double Fairlies. For security, all the plates are fitted in such a way that they cannot be removed from outside the tanks.

K1 on show

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K1 on show at Crew Works Great Gathering.
(Photo: Andy Rutter)
The WHR's SuperPower Gala in 2005 was
another event where K1 was on show.
(Photo: Peter Johnson)

K1's public profile was raised considerably in September 2005. First, it paid a visit to the highly successful "Great Gathering" event at Crewe Works.

The following weekend it appeared in light steam at Dinas as one of the Super Power Weekend attractions, making demonstration runs within the yard.

Work has continued on the many details needed to get the loco ready for further line trials and passenger service. Volunteers are seen below working on the loco over the carriage shed pit on October 16th. One task being attended to was the imperfect sealing of the smokebox door using the dart mechanism alone; this has been addressed by the same technique used on the loco in Tasmania, i.e. fitting additional "dog" catches around the door's edge - indeed the original dogs fitted in Tasmania were being put in place.

By November 6th K1 had been hauled cold for twelve miles, to test the axleboxes, motion and lubrication system, and all was found to be well with these previously troublesome areas. Also the refractory walls in the firebox had been cast, although one of them needed re-casting. The loco was tested under its own power on November 11th, between Dinas and Waunfawr.

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143 leading K1 on the way up to Rhyd Ddu
on the photo charter 12th November 2005.
(Photo: Ben Fisher)
K1 on its own with a rake of B wagons.
(Photo: Owen Chapman)

On November 12th K1 was at the heart of a photographers' charter freight special organised by 30742 Charters, making runs between Waunfawr and points close to Rhyd Ddu; the station was blocked off under the permanent way possession for the programme to extend and complete the loop and platform. In light of this and K1's HMRI status a rather involved formation was required, leading to some unusual sights. K1's freight (four B wagons and one DZ) was topped and tailed by NGG16 no. 143 at the front, and at the rear, two carriages for the photographers and Upnor Castle to pilot the train downhill, and also to shunt the carriages out of sight for K1's run-pasts. 143 ran ahead clear of the stretch used for run-pasts (from Glanrafon to Clogwyn y Gwîn), and stood alone while they took place. Pairing 143 with K1 is particularly appropriate, as they are the last and first Garratts built by Beyer Peacock.

K1 was reported to be steaming well, and almost all the leaks and other issues identified in the February tests had been eliminated; there was however steam leakage from the rear power unit, a feature visible in pictures of these locos in Tasmania, and possibly just an idiosyncrasy of this prototype design. One bearing ran very slightly warm, but not enough to be a significant concern. It was also noticeable that, as in February, the paint had burned away from parts of the chimney - the heat-resistant paint applied since February was clearly not heat-resistant enough!

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K1's Last outing for 2015 was leading 138
on the Santa Trains 17th December.
(Photo: John Peduzzi)

Trials which had been scheduled over the weekend of December 10-11th (K1 piloting one or more Santa Trains with an NGG16) were cancelled shortly beforehand owing to a faulty injector. K1 was then scheduled to pilot all six Caernarfon-Waunfawr Santa Trains the following weekend, and duly appeared on the first one on December 17th. During this run an axle bearing was found to be running warm enough to be a concern, and K1 was removed from the train at Dinas on the return working. A light engine run was then made south from Dinas, but on inspection at Tryfan Junction it was found that the bearing was no better, and a return to Dinas was made, crossing with the afternoon Santa before K1 went on shed. The footplate crew reported that K1 was running very well apart from the bearing problem. It was expected that the axle would have to be dropped again for investigation and rectification of the problem.

The February 2006 working party was spent looking at the errant axle box, the regulator and high pressure steam rotating joint. The brake gear was dismantled in readiness to drop the motion and then the axle. Lubrication problems were noticed on partial strip down. Alignments associated with the horn face and axle box were questionable. The regulator was known to be stiff when in steam, and although the brass valve was not picking up on the case, the shaft gland packing area was not good and the shaft may require replacement with one made of stainless steel. The high pressure steam joint required dismantling, and the clearances increased between the rotating plates as there was evidence of a steam leak.

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In the air again for further work on the
axle box and lubrication.
(Photo: Andy Rutter)

Paid staff work on K1 resumed in May 2006, having been delayed by urgent attention needed to Castell Caernarfon. K1 was lifted off its wheelsets again on May 19th, and inspections were made of the axle box and springs. It was expected that there would be more to report on this axle box within days; it was believed that the problem was not now lubrication but the alignment of the bearing. The axlebox was to be taken to Boston Lodge for any re-machining required. The May 20th-21st K1 Group working party was spent checking the mechanical lubrication system; in particular the feeds to the steam ball joints on the receiver pipe and changeover valve. The injectors were dismantled to assess what work is needed to improve their reliability and to measure them accurately to make new cones. The main steam pipe was removed to attend to the flange that leaks large clouds of steam from the hind engine from time to time. The regulator stiffens in use and has been dismantled for attention to its shaft.

A K1 team of two, Martin Page & Andy Rutter, worked on K1 over the weekend of June 17-18th 2006. The high pressure steam pipes and ball joint assembly were assembled and fitted up to the locomotive. This assembly had been leaking on previous steam trials, so attention was given to skimming the face of the loose flange plate giving an even clearance around the ball joint assembly and improving the amount of oil that resides in the oil bath within this housing. Joints in the pipes were also refurbished and resealed. All axle boxes were dismantled and inspected. The two from the problem axle were being rectified at Boston Lodge Works, and were expected back at Dinas shortly. The remaining six were substantially OK, and well oiled, but were to be inspected by workshop staff. The safety valves had received some attention to their seats to reduce steam leakage, and the regulator housing had been removed to Boston Lodge for the fitting of a bearing bush for the shaft. The original bearing hole in the casting had become oval - this was sticking when hot, making K1 quite exciting to drive!

K1 was back on its wheels by July 15th, with motion being reassembled. The regulator was not yet back in place.

With motion and regulator back in place, further trials could be undertaken. The loco was put into light steam on July 31st, although this revealed a cracked body on the boiler blowdown ball valve. With these items attended to, K1 was steamed on August 4th, and ran light engine tests in Dinas yard, and a trip down to Caernarfon and back. The loco performed well, with only a few minor steam leaks and adjustment of the injectors still requiring attention, and no causes for concerns were found with the axleboxes.

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Rounding Ffridd Isaf on a light engine trip
to Rhyd Ddu on the 8th August 2006.
(Photo: Stewart Macfarlane)

Following the August 4th run it was however found necessary to replace the blowdown valve completely, and this was done using a valve imported from Poland and previously intended for use on no. 134. K1 was then given an "early bird" light engine test to Rhyd Ddu on August 8th, with departure from Dinas planned for around 0730, and the loco was observed on its way back from Rhyd Ddu before 0900.

K1 ran more light engine trips between Dinas, Waunfawr and Caernarfon between service trains on August 9th, before taking an evening light loaded run from Dinas to Rhyd Ddu, hauling the tool van and carriage 1001, crossing the last two returning service trains at Dinas and Waunfawr. The loco's performance was felt to be very promising, the main remaining concerns being the injectors; only one of the pair was functional, and its operation remained a little temperamental; it was also recognised that the injector overflow pipe would need adjustment to avoid melting tarmac platforms! Further running-in turns were envisaged.

K1 was due to run double-headed with an NGG16 on a number of passenger turns on Thursday August 17th, but the loco was failed before departure when it was found on inspection that it had lost the cap from the leading right-hand crankpin on the front power unit, and that the cast iron crosshead slipper (which fits between the crosshead and slidebar) had cracked on the same corner of the loco. A new crankpin cap was being machined the same day, but the crosshead slipper would take a few days to replace. Following reassembly of the crosshead (with the new slipper) and motion, K1 went out on test southwards from Dinas on September 4th.

The loco was then subjected to testing (with two wagons) by HMRI on September 5th 2006 with a view to certifying it for solo passenger working. The outcome was successful. There would be modifications needed in due course to the injector drains (see above under August 9th) so that they discharge behind the steps; the boiler frame (ex-K2) bears some evidence of a similar modification having been done previously in Tasmania.

With clearance in place, the K1 supporters' special - long promised as its first solo passenger run - took place on September 8th 2006. K1 had received a fresh coat of gloss black paint, and the buffer beams had been repainted in full red at the last minute - the previous yellow stripes on the edges indicated its status as not passed for solo passenger trains.

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K1 with the supporters train at Caernarfon.
(Photo: Andy Rutter)
Approaching Rhyd Ddu with the supporters' train on
the 8th September 2006.
(Photo: Chris Price)
K1 resting in the sunshine at Rhyd Ddu.
(Photo: Andy Rutter)

Tasmania was represented not only by its flag but also by Michael De Bomford, secretary of the Tasmanian Association for Tourist Railways.

 The message below was read out to supporters on the occasion of the special, and also at the WHRS AGM the next day:

A message from Charles Smith, the retired Chief Engineer of Australian National Railways, Tasmania (formerly Tasmanian Government Railways):

I congratulate all the dedicated people who have contributed to this momentous occasion. For the very first locomotive of such an important type to be still in existence after ninety-seven years and to be re-entering revenue service must surely be unique. I consider K1 to be the most important Garratt in the world.

I have a special interest in K1 as I had a role in its preservation. As a junior assistant engineer I went to Tasmania's west coast to initiate feed water treatment for steam locomotives subject to boiler corrosion from the acid feed water of that region. In the workshop was K1, complete, just as it had ceased operation 15 years before. At this time I was unaware of its existence. I took photos for my own information that later proved helpful towards preservation.

K2 was outside in the yard separated into three units. I found that the Tasmanian Government Railways had tried to sell the Ks without success and scrapping was being considered.

About this time Beyer Peacock wrote to TGR asking if the nameplates of K1 were in existence as they would like to purchase them for their museum in the works at Manchester. There seemed no possibility of preservation in Tasmania and I saw this as a possible way of saving this important locomotive. I discussed the situation with the chief draftsman, Douglas Wherrett, and we went together to the chief engineer, Mr. George Mullins, who gave us permission to write a letter to Beyer Peacock, for his signature, offering K1 for purchase at scrap value and enclosing my photos to show its completeness.

Beyer Peacock purchased K1 and arranged shipping through the Emu Bay Railway Company.

I have followed restoration progress with great interest by means of your website. When I saw K1 in 1945 I could not have anticipated that it would return to service 61 years later. What a marvellous achievement this is, which I am sure will draw enthusiasts from all over the world. Once again, my congratulations to all concerned.

Charles Smith, OAM MIE Aust, CPE

The loco duly entered public service the next day, 9th September 2006, working shuttles at Super Power Weekend. The shrill whistle previously fitted was replaced with a Stanier hooter between the special on the 8th and the loco's weekend duties.

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K1 in sole command of its passenger train near Gwredog Isaf during SuperPower on the 10th September 2006.
(Photo: Ben Fisher)