Back to Bulleid (with 35011 GSN Locomotive Restoration Society)

Episode 17,   Mar 05, 2021, 08:00 AM

At the height of World War Two, the Southern Railway introduced its first pacific tender locos, the Merchant Navy Class.
Bulleid was always seeking to push the envelope with locomotive development, and the 3-cylinder Merchant Navy was packed full of features and innovations to enable more power, different maintenance regimes, and to lessen the effect the locos had on the permanent way.
The locomotives were extremely powerful and capable of incredible performances, but drew criticism for several issues, notably fires which broke out within the air-smoothed casing around the boiler, a tendency for high coal and water consumption, and the restricted visibility from the casing.
Between 1956 and 1960, British Railways extensively rebuilt all 30 members of the class, removing the distinctive casing, and replacing the Bulleid chain-driven valve gear with three sets of independent Walschaerts.
11 rebuilt Merchant Navies still exist today. 35011 ‘General Steam Navigation’ is one of the preserved members, but the owning group has a rather different plan to the other members of the class. ‘Number 11’ is going to have the rebuilding reversed, and be returned to its as-built condition.

Thanks to Andy, Graham and Steve for coming on the podcast!

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