231 – chasewater railway museum bits & pieces
from chasewater news – spring 2000 – part 3
Asbestos in the 21st Century
But only just!
Summer 1999: Hawthorn Leslie 0-4-0 Saddle Tank, 90 years old, withdrawn from traffic at Brownhills for its ten-yearly refit.
Having spent one third of its 30 years in traffic in preservation, the short-term future for the loco looked bleak. Worn bushes on the brake gear, rotten blast pipes and worn pipe runs were only a small part of the problem. We knew that the foundation ring was in poor condition, but removal of the boiler tubes and an inspection of the boiler and firebox revealed that the whole pressure vessel was virtually beyond economic repair. Everyone seemed a little numb at the thought that our faithful old lady appeared to be facing an uncertain future. Not only are we a small group, but the need to raise £33,000 for a new boiler (quoted by Chatham Steam) seemed to put a new boiler beyond our grasp.
The strip down of the loco had taken about four months, being delayed by the need to give urgent attention to Sentinel, which had failed with stay tube problems. By the time we knew the full extent of Asbestos’ problems, Christmas was drawing near. The omens had been poor from the start, however, and the news had got around the grapevine. Long-standing member Gary Kay had maintained contact with another Chasewater member in the model building world, a retired gentleman living in nearby Streetly. On hearing of the Railway’s predicament, Gary’s friend expressed an interest, and, after a couple of meetings, he came to Chasewater on the occasion of the visit by Chatham Steam to examine the boiler.
On 20th December, Christmas arrived early. Chatham Steam had capacity for the building of a new boiler, which was a better investment than repairing the old – and Asbestos had acquired a benefactor, who had agreed to finance the work with a staggering pledge of the whole of the cost. The agreement was reached during the morning, and the boiler left Chasewater just four hours later, at 3.00pm!
Work began in Chatham immediately after the Christmas break, and the front tubeplate and firebox are nearly complete. Meanwhile at Chasewater, Asbestos’ chassis and running gear are being overhauled. The entire footplate and running boards have been removed and the bearing frames de-rusted and prepared, with the new footplate, ready for fitting. Much work remains, but the future of Asbestos is looking a whole lot brighter than it did six months ago! Come and see how we are getting on…