WORK to build a £300,000 replica steam train for a heritage railway has temporarily hit the buffers as there is an appeal for funds to complete the 15-year project.
Railway and locomotive builders Alan Keef Ltd, which operate from Lea Lines in Lea, near Ross-on-Wye, are building a new Falcon narrow gauge steam engine for the Corris Railway in the north of Wales.
They had hoped to unveil the completed engine at their open house in August, but railway bosses now need more funds to complete the job and have temporarily halted work.
Founded in 1859 as a horse-drawn tram, the Corris Railway served the local slate quarries running from the quays of the Afon Dyfi west of Machynlleth.
Tracks capable of supporting locomotives were laid in the 1870s and three Falcon engines arrived in 1878, allowing passenger traffic.
But in 1930 it stopped carrying passengers and closed completely in 1948, with its locomotives later acquired by the Talyllyn Railway.
Sixteen years later, a group of enthusiasts led by Alan Meaden formed the Corris Society with the aim of preserving and restoring what was left of the railway.
Later renamed the Corris Railway Society, it acquired a new locomotive in 2005, and the idea of having a replica of its original No. 3 Falcon locomotive to share the load then fired up steam fans to launch a new round of Fund raising.
Project No 10 is now close to fruition, with Alan Keef having fitted the boiler and cabin to the frames for checking and modifications, and the rolling frame, wheels and air-driven movement, already completed.
But funds have run out and work has been temporarily moved to sidings while an appeal is pending.
CRS spokesman John Simms said recreating a complex 1878 steam locomotive, though small, is expensive and time-consuming, with the saddle tank and the fabrication and assembly of the cabin and boiler that remain to be done.
“The project has been temporarily put on hold to allow the fund specifically dedicated to building the locomotive to be replenished, while other parts of the Corris Railway relaunch continue,” he added.
“Apart from the cabin roof and water tank, all the major visible components of No 10 have been produced, but many smaller components are needed to complete the engine and make it tow trains in the Dulas Valley .
“Many of these are unique and therefore expensive. For example, various control valves have to be supplied at a total cost of £7,000.
“If anyone would like to make a contribution, large or small, it can be done through the Falcon Locomotive section of our website.”
The original plans for the Falcon engines no longer exist, and drawings costing almost £30,000 must have been put together from studies of the former Talyllyn-based Corris No 3 locomotive.
Family business Lea Alan Keef Ltd was founded in 1968 and is today run by Managing Director Patrick Keef and Alan’s daughter Alice Basey as Chief Design Engineer.
The boiler was recently trial fitted to the chassis, while work on a taller version of the cab carried by the original trio of Corris locomotives was undertaken last year.
An initial trial assembly took place in a CRD volunteer’s workshop in Nottingham before the sections were taken to Keef’s where they were first placed on the frames, which showed that a few minor adjustments were needed.
Meanwhile, a CRS volunteer based in Derby worked with Keef’s to produce components for the brake gear.
Other items produced by volunteers are stamps, which were sent from the railway workshops at Maespoeth Junction to Keef’s.
Footpeg sections are also in place, along with pipe runs that will fit underneath.
The hook blanks were delivered ready to be machined, and the regulator quadrant was also produced.
A spokesperson for Alan Keef said: “Our work on heritage narrow gauge railways has been recognized and used around the world, where a solid historical understanding of railways must be combined with craftsmanship and to modern engineering.
“We undertake full projects, from initial inspection and survey to restoration and installation, or can work on a consultancy-only basis to provide specialist teams with the support and knowledge they need. to make their project a complete success.”
To donate to the CRS Falcon No 10 project, go to www.corris.co.uk
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