We are very pleased and relieved to report that our wayward 33035 was moved from Soho LM Depot to Washwood Heath last night. This was only made possible by the support and co-operation of the staff at Soho, and a great new train operator British & American Railways who stepped up to the mark when others backed away.
Taking up the story from when 33035 arrived unexpectedly at Soho following a hot axlebox on 4 May, a set of tests were devised to assess the condition of the bearings. These took place on Tuesday 17th, concluding with some runs up and down the yard and reception line hauled by depot pilot 08805 “Concorde”. The shunter had been specially recommissioned for the day with a borrowed AVR from Tyseley. After accumulating about 2 miles of haulage, the axlebox remained cool, and it was considered that the locomotive had been demonstrated as safe to run at slow speeds. A detailed technical report can be downloaded from the Reports tab.
A rail move from the depot was our only option, as the road access is under a tunnel with insufficient headroom to take it out on a low loader. Although some of the depot staff may have been delighted to see 33035 become a permanent exhibit at Soho, just a couple of miles from its birthplace in Smethwick, we needed to say farewell and arranged a move to Washwood Heath. It was also important to beat the deadline of 24 May when the current Fitness to Run Certificate would expire and have to be renewed at further cost.
British & American Railways have just started operating under their own operator’s licence, and took up the challenge by arranging a train path, locomotive 31190 and crew. Just to be even safer, their technicians fitted a themocouple to the axlebox for monitoring the temperature during the journey. Departing Soho around 11pm, the convoy made its way via Bescot, Walsall and the freight line to Castle Bromwich Junction, finally propelling up the branch to the old Met-Camm works at Washwood Heath at 1am.
So another chapter begins, as 33035 is now under the care of Boden Rail Engineering. A plan will shortly be worked out for lifting the loco, removing the axlebox and stripping the bearings to look for any possible defect. In any case new bearings will be fitted to eliminate any further problems.
Our grateful thanks go to the heroes of the night: Alistair, Tim, Andy, Neil, Matthew, staff at Soho and the many behind the scenes people that made it all possible. Well done everybody!