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A ‘hole’ lot of trouble for loco rebuild fixed

04 January 2021

A steam train not seen since the 1960s is being rebuilt by a group of engineering enthusiasts with the help of industrial laser scanning experts at the University of Sheffield AMRC.

The Standard Steam Locomotive Company group has set itself the ambitious challenge to recreate, operate and maintain a lost class of British steam train – a British Railways' Standard Class 6 'Clan'. They will use the original 1950s design drawings and 21st century engineering, incorporating modern design and manufacturing techniques and technologies into the build.

The University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) was involved in a major frame alignment measuring exercise for the project after a review of the build inventory showed critical gaps in the documentation for some of the key parts relating to the locomotive's frames. 
 
Dr Phil Yates is a Chartered Engineer at the AMRC, working on regional and SME development within Factory 2050. He is a member of the volunteer group whose headquarters are located at specialist engineering firm CTL Seal Ltd in Sheffield, which has generously allocated an area of its shop floor to give the volunteer team a dedicated space in which to assemble the lost locomotive. 

Dr Yates said the critical gaps in documentation for some of the parts are thought to be due to the fact that, 80 years ago, there was no direct link between the drawing office and shop floor as the locomotive was designed and constructed in separate locations some 50 miles apart. 

"The Standard Class was designed at the drawing office of the Derby Works while the locomotives were constructed at British Railways' Crewe Works between 1951 and 1954. So, the drawing office was nowhere near where they made the locomotive and back then, people made stuff based on what they knew rather than what was in the drawing. You have to bear in mind the drawing does not show how a part is manufactured.

"In some ways, the drawings were a wish of intent. By the time they got to the shop floor – some 50 miles away in Crewe – if there was a mistake, they would correct it and make a note of it in a little black book which, more often than not, never made it back to the drawing office for the error to be corrected in the original drawings.

"That’s what these errors are – they show the disconnect between the drawing office and the shop floor. In those days, people just had their little black books of how to make stuff. It was all the tacit knowledge on the shop floor that actually made it work. So, when people left, how to make these bits just went with them.”

Read the full article in the January issue of DPA





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