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GWR “2884” class 2-8-0 No 3803
3803 as she arrived from Barry Scrap YardPhoto ©G. Bishop

3803, purchased by the SDR from Barry in 1984, has returned to Buckfastleigh where the overhaul, begun at Tyseley on a contract basis in 1986, will now be continued by the railway's own volunteer labour force. With the original plan to restore the engine for use on the P&DR becoming redundant when the SDR took over the running of the Buckfastleigh line in 1991, the contract at Tyseley was suspended whilst matters went under review.

Now that the SDR has been upgraded to take 18 ton axle weights it makes sense for the work to be continued. But the engine will never be a 'day to day' engine and with the costs of restoration of ex-scrapyard engines climbing ever higher continuing the work by contract is no longer an option.

The SDR has progressed the work so far in several ways. The chassis has been extensively overhauled - wheels reprofiled, axleboxes white metalled, machined and fitted, springs retempered and refitted, piston valves rebored and new valves fitted, cylinders rebored, crank pins reground, vacuum cylinder overhauled plus repairs to the frame and cylinder casting. The 4000 gallon tender bought from Barry was resold and a 3000 gallon example obtained in its place. This has been overhauled and has been earning useful income from a three year hire to the Dinmore Manor Fund pending repair of their own tender. The wheels on 3803 will not take a further turn although there will be a good 50,000 miles of life in the present set. The chassis of 2873 was obtained to provide a source of a really first class set of wheels in due course. A deal has also been done whereby 3803 now has a far better Standard No.1 boiler than the one that was on the engine at Barry.

A few trips will now need to made to Tyseley to repatriate the remaining parts of the engine - except for the connecting rods for the engine which were lent to 4936 “Kinlet Hall” pending the manufacture of a new set for that engine. The wonders of GWR standardisation!

On the 4th February 2022 it was announced that 2873 and 3803 had been sold to the Dartmouth Steam Railway; their original destination before the then Dart Valley Railway split the business and sold the Ashburton Branch to the South Devon Railway.

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