South Devon Railway
3803 Nears completion 
Freight locomotive heads for stardom
Click for SDRT Home Page

The South Devon Railway's workshops are working flat out to complete their latest restoration project in time for the Bank Holiday Gala weekend at the end of May. The former Great Western 2-8-0 freight locomotive No. 3803 is lined up to work on the line's passenger services from the end of the month after a 23 year long restoration costing £350,000! The engine was more used to hauling coal trains from the South Wales coalfields to the Midlands, London and the South West before it was taken out of traffic in 1963. It was sold to a scrapyard in South Wales from where it was rescued in 1983 by the organisation that subsequently became the South Devon Railway. After some years in store it has been receiving attention at Buckfastleigh over the last two years to put it in action for its new role hauling tourists through the sylvan countryside of the Dart Valley.

It is planned to have it back in steam for the Gala Weekend at the end of May when it is hoped it will haul a special train of Great Western carriages as well as demonstrating what it was originally built for by hauling a train composed of as many of the South Devon Railway's wagon fleet as can be mustered for the occasion!
Whilst it may be a rather large locomotive for what was a branch line the South Devon Railway now rarely runs any of its trains with less than five carriages whereas in days of old it was usual to see just one small engine pottering around with one carriage, and that nearly empty as well. The railway's crews are looking forward to the challenge of driving and firing an engine that was quite at home with a train of 70 wagons. Summer Saturday's in the 1950's did though often see these freight locomotives pressed in to action of passenger trains when they managed to keep up with the timetable quite happily.
A visit to the works today ( 11th May) revealed the smokebox being equipped with the main steam pipes that have been manufactured in house, the locomotive in the process of being weighed using the Railway's own set of weighing gear that can measure the weigh on each of the wheels at the same time to facilitate adjustment and the first coat of topcoat green being applied. A test steaming is planned for some time next week. That will leave a spare week for shakedown trials, always necessary for a rebuild of this magnitude. A further update will be issued next week

Below are some pictures to show how things are progressing
View from the Gallery
Painting in progress
Steam Pipe being fitted
Weighing the Wheels
All items produced in house
Steam Pipe before fitting
Close up of Wheel being weighed

Return to Home Page
© South Devon Railway Trust 2006