10 Year Overhaul
Running In
Railmotor 93
News from 2011
News from 2010
2009 News Page
Starring 5542
BSK 34991

News Page

This page has the latest news about 5542 apart from news about the boiler overhaul which you can see on 2011/12 10 Year Boiler Overhaul, older news can be seen on News from 2011, News from 2010 and 2009 News Page

August 2019

We have today (1 August 2019) concluded an agreement whereby 5542 will be operated and maintained by the South Devon Railway for the next 30 years.  It means that the long term future of nit only our steam loco but also our other rolling stock currently located on the SDR will be maintained and, if necessary restored, using their resources.  The deal will see 5542 in particular guaranteed a long period of activity potentially on railways all around the country.  The agreement recognises our origins on the WSR and the input of many WSR supporters in its restoration.  We believe this secures the best possible future for Locomotive 5542 Ltd.

September 2016

5542 has finished her summer holiday on the Torbay and Dartmouth Railway, yet another successful visit to new territories where she has been well received by staff and visitors alike. She has again proven how well she handles big loads on difficult gradients including hauling 9 Mark 1s on a number of occasions - see various You tube films for evidence!

So we now move back home to the WSR for a few weeks at the end of next week where 5542 should see 25+ days of activity. We are looking forward to the Autumn Gala where our loco will be joined for the first time by Auto 233 as on Thursday 5th and Friday 6th October our pair will be working from Bishops Lydeard to Norton and then onto the long head shunt which is the remains of the Barnstaple Branch that closed on 1st October 1966 (almost 50 years to the day) Norton Fitzwarren station had closed 5 years earlier, so a couple of anniversaries there, not to mention the opening of the Barnstaple Branch 145 years earlier on 1st November 1871. Hopefully some of you will be able to get a taste of Auto travel in our newly restored coach. We are hoping to arrange a friends and members trip in it during its visit and I will let you know as soon as details are confirmed but it is likely to be a late afternoon or evening trip so is likely to be in darkness I'm afraid. The carriage is only scheduled for use on public trains during the Gala. Saturday and Sunday's work is yet to be decided, so if you want to get a taste of what a fine restoration has been achieved then do try and get to the Gala days.

Once the WSR visit is completed both loco and carriage will return to Buckfastleigh where 5542 will undergo a program of winter maintenance and renewals ready to return to action next Spring. more details of where and when nearer the time.

In the meantime, here's some photos of her time time by the sea starting with this view of her at Saltern Cove.

Passing Goodrington Sands beach having just left the halt.

Arriving at Churston with a down train.

Besides the River Dart approaching Higher Ferry crossing.

Photos by Nathan Williamson

At Waterside.

Photo by Phil Seymour

May 2016

Updates have been few and far between recently due to your webmaster's now hopefully cured health problems, 5542 has now moved from the GWSR to the Torbay & Dartmouth Railway.   But first a view by Steve Hilton of 5542 between two Auto-trailers, something we'll be able to do with our own Autos in time!

John Wood our chairman had a day out with 5542 on the Torbay and Dartmouth Railway on 26 April, here's a selection of his photos starting with a view from the train of the PFP running through the Devon countryside.

Another view from the train, this time alongside the Dart approaching Kingswear.

Running round at Kingswear.

Looking along the train by the Dart on the way back with the "Devon Belle" observation car next to the loco.

Two views of 5542 at Goodrington.

Another view of 5542 at Goodrington this time double heading with 7827 Lydham Manor on a test run on 13 April.

Two views of 5542 arriving at Churston on 4 April.

The PFP being cleaned at Toddington, GWSR, before leaving for Devon.

A set of 8 views of 5542 on her last day of service on the GWSR.

January 2016

With the final figures for 2015 now received 5542's activity during the last 12 months looks as follows:-

- The loco worked on 126 days, exactly the same as the previous 12 months but covered 7732 miles compared with 7138 in 2014.

- The loco worked on 4 different railways during the year, the GWSR 95 days, WSR 25 days and 3 each on the Mid Norfolk and Llangollen railways.

- Total days worked on the current boiler certificate is exactly 400 and miles covered is 23283.

During this '10 year' certificate, total use has the GWSR at 241 days, SDR 80, WSR 60, Battlefield, Mid Norfolk and Llangollen 3 days each. The locomotive remains a favourite with crews and travellers alike and has received glowing reports from the railway's visited for the first time in 2015. 5542 performed very well last year as you would expect from the above figures but some overdue routine maintenance work was completed in November and will continue during the Annual boiler exam period in January.

Preparation work for this year's annual boiler exam started on 6th January with 5 workers at Toddington for 2 days of work. First up was a thorough boiler washout along with the removal of all spark arresting gear from the smokebox and the firegrate from the firebox. We were keen to check all side rod and big end bearings for wear particularly those fitted with Vesconite bearing material, so removal of all side and connecting rods was undertaken followed by careful measurement of each. We are very pleased to report that after 23000 miles of use on one side and 18,000 on the other, the wear on these bearings is negligible and they are all more than suitable to continue for a further lengthy spell of use. Smokebox, firebox, backhead fittings and safety valve preparation was also completed.

December 2015

5542 has had a very busy main operating season and is now at Toddington on the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway. Advantage was taken of a short interval until she's needed for Santa Train duties to catch-up with some planned maintenance. Amongst other work done, some copper welding and rivet repair has been done in the firebox and a new firebrick arch has been fitted.

A new floor in the cab has been put down.

Advantage of the new inspection pit in the steam shed at Toddington was taken for a brightly-lit look underneath the locomotive.

Photos © Nick Jones

May 2015

Having completed her 6 week stint on the West Somerset Railway 5542 is now back on the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway, her she's seen at Toddington with Chairman John Wood on the footplate.

Photo © Mike Dunse

A selection of photos of her stay on the WSR:-

In the loco compound at Bishops Lydeard awaiting transport to Toddington.

Photo © John Wood

The final stages of 5542's restoration were completed at Washford so this view of her calling there with a down train brought back happy memories for the team!

Photo courtesy Somerset and Dorset Railway Trust

5542 heading south from Williton with an up train.

Photo © Mike Dunse

Steam in hand while waiting the off at Williton.

Photo © Mike Dunse

Looking back for the guards flag at Williton.

Photo © Mike Dunse

April 2015

5542 is currently in service on the WSR, this video shows her and the Somerset countryside to full advantage.

Year End summary for 2014

With the final figures in for last year now received I can report that 5542 was in use for 125 steaming days (over a third of the year!) during 2014. The 4 railways worked during the year were GWSR, Battlefield Line, South Devon and West Somerset with 7198 miles of use. This is the highest usage of the loco since 2006. Since overhaul in 2012 the loco has worked 274 days (plus 2 in 2015) and has covered 15551 miles (126 so far in 2015). Next year will take a huge effort to achieve similar levels but we are we look forward to the challenges of 2015 which should also see our Autotrailer 233 also in operation, perhaps pulled (and pushed) by our own locomotive. The loco will be at the WSR during the Spring before continuing with the GWSR contract from mid May. Visits to other railways are 'in the pipeline' for later in the year.

2 November 2014

After 24 days and about 1500 miles of use 5542 has been prepared for departure from Bishops Lydeard next week. We are pleased our loco has fulfilled all its rostered duties without incident and look forward to returning for next years' 6 week visit in time for the 2015 Spring's Gala.  We would like to thank everyone at the West Somerset Railway who have made us so welcome over the last few weeks and all the crews, passengers, friends and followers who have passed very positive comment about our loco.  Many thanks also to all the photographers who have so ably recorded our loco's activities by way of the various railway associated media sites.  Some advanced preparation work has now been undertaken at Bishops Lydeard for the forthcoming annual boiler exam which will take place on the GWSR at Toddington during the next few weeks, prior to the Christmas and New Year trains program. Some other planned routine maintenance work will take place in the New Year.

John Wood

Chairman Locomotive 5542 Ltd

22 October 2014

5542 was in service on the WSR yesterday making two full round trips and reports are that it was in fine voice attacking Washford bank and on the climbs to Crowcombe.

Approaching Williton with the up Dunster Castle Express.

Bufferbeam and Taunton shed code,

After arrival at Bishops Lydeard with the up Dunster Castle Express

It's a common misconception that steam locos are fuelled by coal, in fact they need tea to fuel the crew!  The TTI is seen here handing the crew of a down train their cuppa at Williton.

20 October 2014

This year's annual Carriage Restoration Convention was excellently hosted by the Llangollen Railway and, as is now customary, 5542 Ltd were there along with around 50 other delegates from heritage railway groups and organisations from as far apart as Aberdeen and the Volks Electric Railway in Brighton. The programme of illustrated talks and demonstrations was centred on the Railway's carriage workshops located beside their running line some distance from Llangollen Station comprising an excellent three road covered workshop and extensive siding accommodation that allows them to undertake restoration of rolling stock for their own line and other owners. The income generated here and in the locomotive workshops is the force that drives the Railway forward. Predictably a major source of interest to us was the presence of Collett auto coaches 163, 167 and 174, close relatives but, as ever with GWR carriages, not quite identical twins of our own 169.

Tony displays components made for 233 and 169

Two members of the 169/233 team left the West Country long before dawn in time to set up a small display with illustrations and examples of what we have achieved. Tony Brooks was able to demonstrate that we can hold our heads high with the quality of our work at least equal to the work of professionals and fellow amateurs. In particular we were able to advise other groups on our success with the steam bending and lamination of structural timbers using epoxy resin adhesives. Whilst no longer alone in bringing these techniques to the heritage railway world from the construction and marine industries it is clear that we can be proud of our advanced mix of these modern techniques along with our high standard of more traditional work. Any doubts on this score were dispelled by the requests to undertake work for other projects. The speed of our renovation of 233 along with the unique history of the vehicle has helped to raise our profile as serious players.

Various displays and demonstrations took place over the weekend

Our thanks go to the Llangollen Railway for their friendly informal atmosphere and the varied programme with something for all, not forgetting the fine quality of the Ludlow Gold beer on the Saturday night Real Ale train where we delegates had our own reserved first class carriage.

Photos © Mike Dunse

11 October 2014

A few photos of the PFP during the West Somerset Railway's Autumn Steam Gala starting with her arriving at Crowcombe Heathfield with a down train.

Heading down the bank towards Blue Anchor.

Exchanging the tokens on arrival at Blue Anchor with a down train.

Waiting time in the Somerset sun.

The driver looks to be enjoying himself as 5542 leaves Blue Anchor for Dunster and Minehead.

5542 being turned on Minehead turntable, with the triangle at Norton Fitzwarren WSR Galas can all chimney first!

Two views of 5542 arriving at Norton Fitzwarren while 7820 Dinmore Manor waits to come on the back of her train for the return journey.

5542 at the platform at Norton Fitzwarren.

5542 on the back about to pass Allerford Junction recreating the Wellington banker.

A video by Ray Lee shows them running through Bishops Lydeard.

A last one of 5542 out in the Somerset countryside.

20 September 2014

5542 has arrived at the WSR and entered service on 20 September, here's some photos of her at Bishops Lydeard (alongside 4936 Kinlet Hall )

A last one for now of the 5542, this time at Minehead.

Photos © Ray Lee

13 September 2014

Look out for 5542 arriving on the West Somerset Railway early next week for a 6 week stay and please drop in for a chat and perhaps a purchase or 2 at our usual stand at Williton during Saturday and Sunday 4th and 5th October. We will be pleased to see you and receive any suitable transport related items for resale, or if you have surplus hardwood or tools we will also be happy to relieve you of them.

10 September 2014

With work still continuing on 233 in the window and underframe departments it was time to turn some time to our loco. Following a recent washout some routine maintenance was carried out on Tuesday with 3 of us, Dave, Gil and I attending to various small jobs. On Wednesday the appropriately named 'Wednesday Gang' attended to get stuck in to the important but unsung work of cleaning not just the external 'shiny' bits but the normally unseen 'greasy' bits. The 2 Ians, John and Brian were very busy as shown in these pictures (Brian took them so isn't shown)

Not to be outdone Gil then returned for the second time in 3 days to complete the remainder of the cleaning ably assisted by Les. Well done guys a great job.

Look out for 5542 arriving on the West Somerset Railway early next week for a 6 week stay and please drop in for a chat and perhaps a purchase or 2 at our usual stand at Williton during Saturday and Sunday 4th and 5th October. We will be pleased to see you and receive any suitable transport related items for resale, or if you have surplus hardwood or tools we will also be happy to relieve you of them.

4 September 2014

5542 has been used today on a special photoshoot for next year's South Devon Railway's dining train brochure. The picture shows 5542 ahead of the SDR 5 coach dining train setting off to Staverton where much of the shoot took place. For those with Facebook access there are a number of other shots on the South Devon Railway site.

17 August 2014

5542 can be seen next to the river Dart at Woodville on the South Devon Railway working the 14.15 Buckfastleigh to Totnes service on Sunday 17th August 2014

Photo © Colin Wallace

A slightly closer view of the same train from Colin's friend John Leonard, she looks good in the sunshine!

Photo © John Leonard - both photographers hold current PTS and Lineside Permits for the SDR which was needed for this location

3 August 2014

As every year we had our stand at the WSRA Steam Fayre on 2 & 3 August.

Confirmed Steam Men Lee and Dorrington Donking The Diesel on the 5542 Stand

John Wood and Tony Brooks displaying a new droplight for Autocoach 233 built and glazed in the 5542 workshop.

Flying High in 2014. 5542 Ltd have supported every WSRA Steam Fayre since 1979

Busy times at the tea and cake counter in the 5542 Marquee - somewhere in this photo your webmaster can be seen enjoying tea and cake while sheltering from the rain!


20 June 2014

5542 was used today in conjunction with a local Buckfastleigh schools education project. After taking the Queens Shilling and a bit or Route Marching, 5542 then transported the new conscripts off the the First World War trenches.

Photos © Ray Lee

17 June 2014

John Leonard and Colin Wallace must have been standing close to each other when they took these shots of 5542 leaving Staverton for Totnes on 9 June:

First Colin's photo at this lovely location on the South Devon Railway.

And a wider view from John including a Toad brakevan in the siding.

And now something rather different from 29 June 2013

Karen and Dave Radcliffe got married at Warwick registry office and travelled down to the Cotswolds to celebrate their wedding breakfast at the GWR.

They told me "We were pulled by 5542, so it has become rather special to us.  As you can see, we had a fantastic and memorable day so thanks to everyone who made it possible."

12 May 2014

The loco continues to be in regular use on the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway where it hauled our own Friends/Supporters Fish and Chip train on Saturday last. The train was enjoyed by about 100 travellers. 5542 is due to remain at Toddington until the beginning of June, when, in an arrangement made between ourselves, the GWR and the SDR it will move to Buckfastleigh for the main part of the summer season before moving on for our regular WSR visit in September and October. We hope to have the opportunity whilst the loco is at Buckfastleigh to have a run along the River Dart with 233 in full Auto operation. Unless there is any unforeseen locomotive shortages beforehand it will next return to the GWR in early Spring 2015 to resume the remaining 2 years of our contract with them.

21 April 2014

Thanks to Nick Jones for this series of photos of 5542 at Toddington.


16 March 2014

5542 was in action today on the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway.  Yesterday was a day off after working the line's prestigious race-day special trains during the Cheltenham Gold Cup Week.

Photos © Nick Jones

8 March 2014

5542 on her first outing for the 2014 season at Toddington on the GWSR on 8 March 2014

Prairie 5542 at Toddington

Prairie 5542 at Toddington

29 November 2013

Following last weeks cold exam the annual steam test was successfully completed at Toddington today.

Early morning steam raising.

Graham toasts success.

Out on test.

Back "in service".

James prepares lunch.

Photos © Mike Dunse

25 November 2013

This years annual cold exam passed with flying colours, Here's a few pictures of prepartions. The in steam exam is in a couple of weeks.

Photos © John Hind

31 October 2013

With another 'Main Season' now passed and thoughts turning towards Christmas and Santa trains we are changing our Winter maintenance program a little this year. We would normally be undertaking the annual boiler exam and routine inspections during the period between January and March. However this year we are bringing that work forward and intend to have the boiler inspection work prepared, undertaken and completed during the November closedown period. We are optimistic that the work will be very much a routine operation and should be completed during that period ready for seasonal operations in December and early January. We have decided on this change as we are hoping to undertake a 'mini tour' of some railways 'up country' during the 'Winter Gala' season of January, February and early March. We will update the site as and when any arrangements are confirmed.

1 July 2013

A recent visit to Toddington allowed us to inspect our loco following its arrival and use for about 20 days.

We were particularly keen to inspect the new side rod bearing replaced at Buckfastleigh in April and having now completed about 1500 miles of use. These new Vesconite bearings, which were originally fitted during the Winter overhaul, have been proven very successful. 5 of the 6 bearings have now performed without issue for over 3000 miles.

However, the Left Hand trailing bush had caused us some problems during March and we needed to confirm the reason identified during work at Buckfastleigh was indeed the root of the issue. We are pleased to confirm all is now well and the bearing is performing exactly as expected. So we will continue to operate 5542 with these style bearings for the foreseeable future.

If you are interested to know more about the product please visit www.Vesconite.com We will be pleased to discuss our trial of this material with other loco or rolling stock owners who are interested in its use. There are large savings to be made in loco down time and bearing production costs compared with traditional white metal.

We also spent some time weighing the loco to establish what other work might be required during the next boiler washout stoppage.

June 2013

115 Friends Members and supporters enjoyed a very sunny evening trip behind their favourite loco on the Gloucester Warwickshire Railway last Saturday evening. The 7pm departure preceded a pleasant run to Cheltenham Racecourse where the evening's supper awaited. A 40 minute stop allowed those who wished to have a stroll and top up their glasses before setting off to return to Toddington and then on over the spectacular Stanway viaduct to the recently reopened extension terminating at Laverton. Sadly there is no platform at Laverton so while '42 ran around the train those on board could take in the views of the surrounding countryside under the final rays of the setting sun. Return to Toddington was just after 9.30 concluding a very pleasant evening enjoyed by all, and a good sum also raised for our ongoing projects. Thanks to all who travelled and to our friends at the GWSR for staffing the train.

A couple of photos of the evening © John Hind

Watch out for more details of our next event The Quiz Evening at Bishops Lydeard Village Hall on Saturday Evening 21st September

2nd Autotrailer purchased!

The Directors of Locomotive 5542 Limited are pleased to announce that we have reached agreement to purchase former British Railways (WR) Autotrailer W233W.

The carriage which spent much of its B.R. working life in the West Country later became Test Car 1 at Derby Research Centre before being sold to the group which amongst other items owns and operates former SDJR loco 53809. The carriage has been modified during its life at Derby with amongst other things Dual Air/Vacuum Brakes, B4 bogies and Oleo Buffers being fitted. Internally it was also refitted for its use as a freight wagon test vehicle but does retain many of its original features. It is our intention to return it to operational use as soon as possible, and it will be mainly based at the South Devon Railway but will be available for hire when not required by them.

The purchase has been made possible by a generous loan from a member and the directors will now be launching an appeal for funds to allow a quick return to operational use.


May 2013

As we approach the first anniversary of the return to steam of our locomotive it has seen 100 days or operation during that period, an annual total not reached for several years and the mileage figure in that time is also well over 5500.

We were disappointed that our WSR visit was curtailed when a problem with a side rod bearing manifested itself on the Friday of the second gala weekend. Excellent work by our support team, which included some rapid footplate roster changes by one of our younger members James Auton for which we are very grateful, enabled a repair and test to be completed by midday on Saturday. Auto duties were undertaken on Sunday between Minehead ad Dunster with the opportunity taken to attach Auto 178 to the smokebox end.

It was decided further investigation was required to the bearing and following some discussions the WSR agreed to suspend the hire agreement that was in place so we could move '42 to Buckfastleigh for an in depth investigation into the cause of the problem. The loco returned to Bishops Lydeard to assist with loading duties of other Gala visiting locos before returning to Buckfastleigh on Thursday.

The loco did then see some service at the SDR Gala which allowed us to understand better the root of the problem. Following a 2 week spell in the 'shops for thorough investigation a problem with a gradient pin bush was subsequently identified as being the underlying cause of the problem. This has now been corrected and the loco has since run without incident. We are grateful for the assistance and enthusiasm of the SDR engineering team to help us identify and overcome the problem.

The loco returned to the GWSR in time to partake in their Britain at War Gala and since then has settled into the routine work of their railway. The Cotswold Festival of Steam Gala over the Witsun Bank Holiday is the next major event and we then have our Shareholders, Friends and Supporters evening Fish and Chip train on Saturday 15th June. Please contact us for more details and tickets

March 2013

30 March

5542 has left the WSR on completion of duties over the recent Spring Steam Gala event. After the Gala, Locomotive 5542 Ltd made the ever-popular Prairie tank available to the WSR for a few days to provide motive power for the loading of other locomotives and stock at Bishops Lydeard.

It has been agreed mutually between the WSR plc and Locomotive 5542 Ltd that the loco will not remain on the WSR for the full duration of the planned six week hire in Spring, 2013. Instead, she will be taken to Buckfastleigh on the South Devon Railway for some minor attention and will be working trains on the 7-mile Devon branch line for a short time.

The next move will be to Toddington, to take-up work on the existing hire agreement with the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway. 5542 will be appearing in the GWR's 1940's weekend (27 & 28th April 2013) and thereafter throughout their 2013 season.

This year's planned six week presence on the West Somerset Railway was one of four such visits programmed between 2013 and 2016, so the WSR's many fans and supporters of 5542 will not have to wait too long for her return to what many consider her "home territory".  There are photos of this visit on WSR 2013

On 6  March 5542 was loaded on to Antell's lowloader at Buckfastleigh for the move to the GWSR - see their web site for details of the historic event - were she will haul the first timetabled service train from Toddington to Cheltenham since April 2010.  It will also be the first timetabled round trip over the full 12-mile length of the line, taking in the new extension to Laverton.  It will also be the first scheduled steam-hauled service to use the Laverton extension.  There's some photos of the day on GWSR 2013

Loading a loco onto a lowloader isn't often photographed so here's a set of this happening:-

Loading 5542 on to a lowloader

Loading 5542 on to a lowloader

Loading 5542 on to a lowloader

Loading 5542 on to a lowloader

Loading 5542 on to a lowloader

Photos © Mike Dunse

February 2013

28 February

Final preparations for the 2013 season being carried out at Buckfastleigh:-

Painting boiler backhead

Roy painting the boiler backhead.

Work on the footplate

Fettling on the footplate.

Cleaning 5542's wheels

Jennie cleaning the wheels prior to painting.

Polishing brass on 5542

Mike aloft for a spot of brass rubbing. ©Mike Dunse

16 February

5542 was in action - with auto-trailers front and rear, photos on SDR 2013

10 February

With the completion of this year's annual steam test on Friday last, the 'big rush' has commenced to refit all the 'bits and pieces' that get removed for various reasons at these times.  We are scheduled to be in operation at the SDR Gala on Saturday 16th February, and yesterday was the first opportunity we have had to try out the new side and con rod bearings recently fitted.

We managed to get a short path to Bishops Bridge loop and back between the crew familiarisation trips that Railmotor 93 was undertaking.  The 5 mile round trip was completed with 3 coaches in tow along with numerous shunting movements before and after. The running produced no obvious problems with the loco steaming as well as ever.

The front end Auto gear is now in situ between front and cab with just final adjustments and the vertical rods to the regulator required.  The new firebars are due to arrive later this week which will make disposal of the loco far easier than previously.

As a bonus there's a page with a few photos of Railmotor 93 which was also in steam at Buckfastleigh.

Ray in 5542's cab

Ray looking serious in 5542's cab at Buckfastleigh.

5542 swathed in steam

5542 swathed in steam by the water tower at Buckfastleigh.

5542 framed by footbridge and signals

5542 framed by the footbridge during her manoeuvres around the station.

5542 coupled up

5542 coupled to her stock.

5542 and D8110

5542 face to face with D8110 during her manoeuvres.

Busy yard at Buckfastleigh

A busy scene in Buckfastleigh yard including 5542 and Railmotor 93.

5542 running round at Bishops Bridge 5542 running round at Bishops Bridge

5542 running round at Bishops Bridge loop during her test run.

5542 in action

5542 going well out on the line during her test run on the South Devon Railway.

View from the footplate

The view from 5542's footplate during the test run.

Checking bearings

A stop to check the bearing temperatures.

Checking bearing temperatures

Using digital technology to take the bearings temperatures - all OK.

5542 in the shed

5542 resting in Buckfastleigh shed.

Photos © John Wood and Mike Dunse.

January 2013

26 January

This week has seen the annual 'cold' boiler exam completed.  Work is now underway to refit components to allow the Steam Test in about 10 days time and to that end the Gauge Frame has been receiving a full 'once over' from Mike (see pictures) along with joint lapping on the Left Hand injector.

5542's gauge frame receives attention

5542's gauge frame

Work continues on the Auto Gear installation and Tony is seen making some adjustments to one of the components. The L.H side and connecting rods have also been refitted this week.

19 January

Work at Buckfastleigh continued today in bitterly cold conditions and unfortunately not in heated workshop conditions, with 3 areas receiving attention.

Ongoing work continues on fitting the Front End Auto Gear with the routing and operation conundrums just about completed it just remains to finish the fitting work. Picture shows the main components completed at the bufferbeam end. Whistle connection arrangements are something that also requires some serious consideration to enable operation from either end in isolation and also from the cab without hindrance.

Front autogear fittings on 5542

Ray inspects progress.

5542 autogear

Sparks fly as Auto Gear construction continues.

With this year's annual boiler exam due this week preparation work was underway ready for that, with the smokebox tubeplate being prepared. Picture shows Mike Dunse in his usual 'January' position 'Feet out of smokebox'.

Working in 5542 smokebox

The right hand side and connecting rods are all refitted following various work to replace some bushes. Left side due for reassembly soon.

5542 rods refitted

Other work underway was routine maintenance on the injectors ensuring valve seats were sound to avoid unnecessary water leakage. Picture shows components after seat 'lapping'.

Photos © John Wood

December 2012

The planned winter work on 5542 is well underway at Buckfastleigh with the Big End and Side Rod bearings being the main focus of attention at present.  We are hoping that work on those items will be completed to allow some short test running prior to the SDR winter track maintenance period starts.

Work on the Auto Gear is also 'in progress' and continues to test the ingenuity of those working on it, but it will be completed and operational by the early spring. (I am assured).  I'm sorry we have no pictures at this time of current work but hopefully will be able to produce a fully illustrated report on these and one or two other items soon after Christmas, in the meantime we wish all of our friends and supporters a Very Happy Christmas and Prosperous New Year.

If you're out and about at the WSR Winter Gala Weekend our 169 sales and Info stand should be open for business at Williton, courtesy of our DEPG friends who have kindly offered us some covered accommodation in their workshop/display area. Why not pop in and catch up on the latest 5542/169 news and refresh your bookshelf at the same time?

November 2012

We have now completed the final arrangements for use of 5542 during the period March 2013 until the end of the 2016 season.

We are pleased that 5542 will again regularly be seen at work on the West Somerset Railway. Between 2013 and the end of the 2016 operating season our already agreed work on the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway will be supplemented with a 6 week spell on the WSR each year. The WSR visit will be based around either the Spring or Autumn Gala with up to 28 days of operation planned. Which period will be spent on the WSR will be agreed in late Autumn of the preceding year and 2013 will probably see the WSR visit in the Spring although final details of exact dates are still being arranged, to ensure we do everything possible to support the needs of our main hirers.

Short term Gala visits to other railways may be arranged as and when operating requirements allow.

We are looking forward to working with both railways over the next few years and hope that 5542 will continue to prove a popular, reliable and economic locomotive for these operations.

We will be undertaking winter maintenance work at the South Devon Railway commencing in the next few days and intend to complete, amongst other outstanding work, the front and rear Auto gear assembly.

5542 with auto 178 at Donniford Halt, WSR

A special working with autotrailer 178 seen at Donniford Halt, WSR, on 7 December 2003 Photo © Steve Huddy

October 2012

5542 has continued to operate on the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway where she is popular with the crews and has appeared in many pictures on other sites. 

5542 will shortly leave the GWSR and return to Buckfastleigh where we will undertake the 'usual' winter maintenance work program along with a final attempt to complete all the jobs that we never quite get around to.

So apart from completion of the Auto Gear (yes, we really will have Front and Rear operational gear by the Spring!) we are going to give one or two bearings some attention, postponed from last winter, and after Christmas the first Annual boiler exam will be due. We are grateful to the G/WR in allowing us to return our loco to the SDR a few weeks earlier than originally planned to press on with the required work.

Our departure will only be 'Au Revoir' as opposed to 'Farewell' as we are pleased to have agreed a deal that will see '42 spend a few more years shining the metals twixt Cheltenham and Laverton or perhaps even Broadway, before too long. The exact date of our return in Spring 2013 will be confirmed in a few weeks. The new agreement will also allow for short and extended visits to other railways and we hope to be able to release further details about some of these shortly.

The Auto 169 team have been doing some work on our Vanfit at Williton on the West Somerset Railway, which we use as a store and is normally part of the WSR's Heritage Goods Train.  It had recently been shunted to an area where a start could be made on dealing with a vacuum brake problem.

Vanfit under repair

Vanfit under repair


Just a quick update on things 5542.

Since return to steam on 31st May, up to and including 31st August the loco had operated on 42 days clocking up 2754 miles at an average of over 65 miles per day of use, which is very close the average figure achieved during the previous 'ticket'. A further 6 or 7 days of use has already occurred in September, so over 3000 miles has now been accumulated and the next boiler washout looms on the horizon. So we continue where we left off in October last, with the loco performing well and being in great demand. The economics of its operation being an even greater benefit in the current economic climate.

Looking forward to seeing some of you at the Quiz at Bishops Lydeard on Friday (still room for a few more to join, let me know ASAP if you want to come, we'll find you a team!)

On a sadder, note a good friend of 5542 and one of the early W.S.R stalwarts, Don Haynes, passed away last Friday. His 'down to earth' and calm approach to all things railway orientated will be sadly missed by us all.

07/09/2012 photos of her at Winchcombe and Cheltenham Racecourse added to GWSR 2012

If you would like to help financially please see Donations

Friday 14th September 2012 sees the first of what we hope will become an annual Quiz Evening. It is being held at Bishops Lydeard Village Hall and all are welcome to join in. Please see attached poster for all the details. Teams can be any number up to 6, However if you would like to join in, but can't get a full team together we will make up some teams on the night. Just let us know if you want to be included. The cost £5 per head to include a light buffet and some prizes for the top teams. Please bring your own drinks. Surplus funds will go towards restoration of GWR Autotrailer 169.
Please let me know if you would like to come along for a Friendly and Fun evening, by email as soon as possible but by 9th September at the latest.
Why not get a team together from your group or department?
The quiz will cover a full range of subjects so Everyone can join in. It will be 'hosted' by 'Quiz Guru' Magda Davies and her assistant(s)

Please register your team by phoning Magda on 01823 354515 or John 07712 072100 or e mail chairman5542ltd@aol.com before 10/09/2012

15/08/2012 photos of her at Winchcombe added to GWSR 2012

News Update 13/08/2012

Video of 5542 on the Gloucestershire Warwickshire  Railway added to GWSR 2012

News Update 08/08/2012

Last weekend was the West Somerset Railway Association's 25th Steam and Vintage Vehicle Rally held at the Association's fields at Norton Fitzwarren near Taunton.  John Wood, Chairman of 5542 Ltd, received a token of appreciation from the West Somerset Railway Association in recognition of the company's support of the Steam Fayre since 1979.

John Wood receives a token of appreciation

Stalwarts of the 5542 and 169 stand at the WSRA Steam Fayre celebrate a very successful Saturday with the customary picnic supper joined by David Williams, WSRA chairman and journal editor.
Supper at the Rally

Setting up the stall - before the weather changed for the worse.

Setting up the stall

News Update 17/07/2012

5542 has now clocked up well over 1200 miles of service and is already getting much positive feedback from all who work with her. She is this week undergoing the first routine washout of the new 'ticket' and should be ready to return to service within a few days.

The loco had the unusual attentions of sound recorders last Friday, (13th). The day was spent on the GWR, recording sounds to be used on a new Small Prairie model being released next year with full authentic sounds. Watch out for more details when we have them.
Its good to see 5542 features in an advertisement in this month's 'Somerset Life' magazine

5542 at Cheltenham Race Course

5542 at Cheltenham Race Course station, GWSR

Recording the sound of 5542.

Recording the sound of 5542's vacuum pump at Winchcombe.

Photos © Richard Webster

News update 15/06/2012

5542 arrived on the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway at 2pm on 14/06/2012 for a stay until at least January 2013.

5542 arriving at Winchcombe

5542 arriving at Winchcombe.

5542 at Winchcombe

Above and  below In the yard at Winchcombe.

5542 in the yard at Winchcombe

Photos © Ray Lee

5542 being lit up at Winchcombe

5542 being lit up on the morning of 15 June at Winchcombe ready for tests prior to entering service.

5542 being lit up

©Nick Jones

News update 11/06/2012

The Final weekend working party at Buckfastleigh for the time being took place today where various odds and ends were attended to, following 9 days and 420 miles of running in. New front Sand pipes were made and fitted, cylinder and valve covers were checked and cladding refitted. The Right Hand Piston Gland was repacked together with adjustments to the hand brake. It is planned to operate the loco on one further day at the SDR prior to transporting to the G/WR on Thursday/Friday ready to enter service there from Saturday.

Tony finishes production of the new Front Sand Pipe while Jennie looks on.

Mike tightens the Piston Gland following repacking.

5542 and 6412 at Buckfastleigh

5542 and 6412 share shed space for the last time for a while.

Reassembling spark arrestor

Chairman and Chief Engineer reassemble spark arrestor.

Making adjustments

Jennie tries out the latest carbon facial!

Adjusting piston packing

Ray adjusts the R.H piston packing.

News update 04/06/2012

5542 has been working trains on the South Devon Railway over the Diamond Jubilee Weekend

News update 31/05/2012

With the overhaul now complete 5542 has been out on the South Devon Railway this afternoon.

At around 14.45 this afternoon 5542 emerged from the sheds at Buckfastleigh on the South Devon Railway with the Victorian coach in tow and set off for Staverton - three and a half miles up the line.

At 15.36 returned to BFL having piloted 1369 on the service train from Staverton.

These and more photos of 5542's return to traffic are on Running In

5542 with Victorian carriage

Photo © Ray Lee


5542 ar Buckfastleigh, South Devon Railway.

5542 at Buckfastleigh, South Devon Railway

5542 at Buckfastleigh

5542 with Victorian coach at Buckfastleigh

Photos © John Hallett

News update 28/05/2012

John Wood, Chairman of Locomotive 5542 Ltd writes:-

"I am pleased to report that following delivery of the replacement piston/crosshead assemblies to Buckfastleigh, along with their subsequent fitting late last week, 5542 moved under its own steam today, just 239 days since its last working.

Final boiler certification was required as, although the main boiler and fittings were passed as fit for use a few weeks ago, the missing pistons meant the superheater and elements were not able to be certified until today. The loco will now have the final odds and ends fitted and some 'running in' undertaken over the next few days.  We would like to record our thanks to everyone who has helped us to achieve this very rapid turnaround particularly the staff and management of the South Devon Railway and South Devon Railway Engineering along with our own volunteers and supporters.

We now look forward to a few days of SDR work at the forthcoming Jubilee Gala before returning to the Gloucestershire/Warwickshire Railway until early 2013. We hope the next 10 years will be as interesting and successful for 5542 as the first 10 and look forward to continued support from all our shareholders, friends and acquaintances."

News update 26/05/2012

More work done on the reassembly of the loco - see photos on 10 Year Overhaul

News update 22/05/2012

5542's new livery is finally revealed!  See photos on 10 Year Overhaul

News update 19/05/2012

Today's work has concentrated on painting - see 10 Year Overhaul

The SDR Jubilee Gala has 5542 rostered to work a regular 2 coach 'Branch Line' working during the event which runs for all 4 days of the Bank Holiday weekend. A real taste of how things used to be. The evening timetable sees us working until almost midnight on one of the days. Why not pay a visit?

News update 12/05/2012

A quick reminder to Shareholders and active members that our AGM is being held next Sunday afternoon 20th May, at the Bishops Lydeard Church Hall @ 2.45. Anyone is welcome to attend although only shareholders will be allow to vote on issues.

News and photos of this weeks work can be seen on 10 Year Overhaul

News update 05/05/2012

Following yesterday's successful steam test work today included further reassembly and painting, full details and photos on 10 Year Overhaul

News update 04/05/2012

5542 has passed her boiler insurance steam test, not much left to do now!  Photos on 10 Year Overhaul

News update 01/05/2012

Regular 5542 stalwart Graham Woolvin had the honour of lighting the fire that will raise steam for Friday's Steam test. The boiler will be gently warmed over the next few days until reaching full 200 psi working pressure.  Photos on 10 Year Overhaul

News update 29/04/2012

Further progress was made today with reassembling 5542 despite the weather making travel difficult, see 10 Year Overhaul

News update 21/04/2012

First the main news this week is that the penultimate insurance inspection of the overhaul was passed on Thursday 19th. This was the 'Final Internal' inspection and the date of the 'Final Steam Test' has been set for Friday 4th May.  By this date all boiler and associated steam fittings need to be in place, fully operative and in steam tight condition.

A lot of other work has also been carried out, full details and photos on 10 Year Overhaul

News update 14/04/2012

Good progress on reassembling the loco - see 10 Year Overhaul

News Update 07/04/2012

Details and photos of this weeks progress now on 10 Year Overhaul

News Update 03/04/2012

The tanks have been refitted - see 10 Year Overhaul

News Update 31/03/2012

Work has progressed on refitting the regulator, superheater and steam pipes.

News Update 24/03/2012

Work has included attaching the new smokebox to the boiler - see 10 Year Overhaul

News Update 20/03/2012

The boiler is now back in the frames - see photo on 10 Year Overhaul

News Update 15/03/2012

The first fire has been lit in the overhauled boiler see photos on 10 Year Overhaul

News Update 13/03/2012

Major news is that the boiler passed hydraulic test with flying colours - more plus photos on 10 Year Overhaul

Other news is that the valves have also been refitted today along with the side rods, so all in all 13th March has proved to be a 'big' day in the overhaul process.

News Update 10/03/2012

We will have a 5542/Auto 169 stand at Williton during weekends of the WSR Spring Steam Gala. Please look in for a chat and further news updates.

News Update 03/03/2012

2012 Contract Confirmed
We are please to report that 5542 will be revisiting the Gloucestershire/Warwickshire railway from early June until New Year 2013 where it will work on the Cheltenham to Winchcombe section along with 2807,7903 Foremark Hall and the Turkish liveried Stanier 8 F 8274.  Hopefully the recently started repair work to the 'Chicken Curve' embankment will be completed later in the year which will allow full line services to resume to include the northern extension 2 miles towards Broadway. 

Also an update on 2011/12 10 Year Boiler Overhaul

News Update 26/02/2012

We will shortly be able to announce details of agreements we have reached for the operation of 5542 during the remainder of 2012 and we hope to have secured a full and active program for the first leg of 'Chapter 2' of the 5542 story. In the meantime please continue to click the above link to view boiler overhaul progress which is now entering the final stages of the work. 5542 should resume active operation during April. 



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