‘Poplar’ overhaul – an update

Last month a number of milestones were reached in the overhaul of ‘Poplar’ as work continues towards her return to steam at The Kent & East Sussex Railway’s ‘Best of British’ event – 2 to 5 June 2022 – which marks the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

The engine is currently at the Weybourne works of the North Norfolk Railway, where the contract mechanical restoration is being carried out by Keith Ashford and his team on behalf of The Kent & East Sussex Railway, who are managing the works under agreement with loco owners, The Terrier Trust.

All parts for the frames apart from the coupling rods have been overhauled and tested and are ready for reassembly. The new coupling rods (the rods which connect the wheels together on the outside of the locomotive) are in final manufacture and will head up to Norfolk shortly.

On Thursday 10 March the boiler passed its hydraulic test, which involves filling the boiler with water under high pressure to test that it is sealed properly and does not leak. Subsequently on 17 March, a fire was lit in the firebox and the boiler brought up to working temperature and pressure with live steam. This ‘out of frames’ steam test was a success, so now the boiler can be mounted back in the frames and tested again.

A small group of volunteers from the K&ESR travelled up to Norfolk in the middle of March to paint the parts of the loco which will be impossible or difficult to paint when the loco is reassembled. When ‘Poplar’ was last in use she carried the British Railways ‘lined black’ livery in which she appeared at the very end of her normal working life in the 1960’s. This time she will emerge in the much ‘showier’ livery she carried when first built in the 1870’s. This is mostly in a light ‘earthy’ brown, known curiously as ‘improved engine green’ because Stroudley, the engineer of the London Brighton & South Coast Railway who built ‘Poplar’, agreed with the instruction from his Board of Directors to paint his engines ‘green’ but favoured this attractive shade of brown.

The Terrier Trust maintain a blog of the overhaul progress here.

The current schedule of events where you can see Terriers running in 2022 is here.

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