Author Topic: FR to build new double Fairlie  (Read 1340 times)

John L Dobson

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FR to build new double Fairlie
« on: March 25, 2016, 10:26:08 PM »
It has recently been announced that the Ffestiniog Railway is to build a new double Fairlie to replace the Earl of Merioneth, built in 1979. The announcement states:

Having served the railway well for many years, Earl of Merioneth needs a new boiler and, as one of the locomotives that the railway relies on very heavily, it needs to be given priority. Although the boiler is of similar vintage to that on Merddin Emrys, which has just been successfully overhauled for a fourth ten-year period in service, Earl of Merioneth’s boiler looks like it needs much more work. We have therefore decided to replace it, with the old boiler being kept so that the option for repair is kept open.

We also need to replace Earl of Merioneth’s water tanks. The square tanks provided when she was built were made of poor quality, thin material, acquired ‘advantageously’, as Mr Dukes (the then Works Manager) would have said, from various sources in the late seventies when the railway was short of money. They were heavily reworked for the conversion from oil to coal firing ten years ago and could be repaired once more, but the most cost-effective option is replacement.

The Works fitters have also asked that the boiler cradle (the main frame in a double Fairlie) should be replaced as this has been cut and welded many times over the years and it will not cost much to re-create it with clean metal. The net result is that we will build a new double Fairlie superstructure on the existing power bogies, and put Earl of Merioneth’s tired parts to one side in much the same way as happened with Livingston Thompson back in the 1970s. As this process will produce what is essentially a new locomotive, it will receive a ‘new’ name, James Spooner, and will be No.8 in the fleet list.

The re-use of existing power bogies for the new locomotive is a good example of the parallels between the double Fairlie design and a modern diesel-electric locomotive. Bogies are regularly swapped between the FR's Fairlies during overhauls, which can produce a situation where the newest locomotive is sitting on the oldest bogies. Two new sets of power bogies have been built over the past fifteen years and the oldest (possibly 19th century) set was only retired a year or so ago.

It is intended to build the new boiler for James Spooner 'in house' at Boston Lodge.
« Last Edit: March 25, 2016, 10:34:59 PM by John L Dobson »
John L Dobson
Editor, FR Magazine

Ira Schreiber

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Re: FR to build new double Fairlie
« Reply #1 on: March 25, 2016, 10:53:43 PM »
Great news, John.
My best wishes for success in the forthcoming project.
James Spooner is a proud name.

Dylan Lambert

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Re: FR to build new double Fairlie
« Reply #2 on: March 29, 2016, 11:36:00 PM »
Out of curiosity, what happens to the Earl's bits down the road? Use them to make a static engine or recycle them among the rest of the fleet?

John L Dobson

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Re: FR to build new double Fairlie
« Reply #3 on: March 30, 2016, 01:30:53 PM »
The worn out Earl of Merioneth bits will be put on one side and will most likely go on static display mounted on a pair of equally worn out power bogies. This will preserve it for possible future renovation if anyone becomes sufficiently interested to provide the finance
John L Dobson
Editor, FR Magazine