Following the commencement of the project to build BROWN BEAR the first steel was cut at the Workshops of the Isle of Man Steam Packet Co. in January 2013 when the main frame plates and the buffer beams were marked out and then plasma cut. The original Bagnall drawings show the original plate to be 3/8” which equates to 9.5mm in the modern metric world so the new plates were cut from 10mm plate as a matter of practicality.The Isle of Man Steam Packet Co. also cut out the holes for the steam pipes to pass to the cylinders, and the cylinder mounting holes, together with the circular 4” diameter holes for the main Bagnall Price Motion Bushes and slots for the Hornguides which will accommodate the axle boxes and the curved cut out for the pony truck/wheels. There is an access hole in the frames in between the driving wheels which was omitted from the initial cutting process, quite luckily it transpires. The drawing shows the ends of the oblong slot to be square, Sea Lion’s are square but inspection of photos of POLAR BEAR and e-mails to and from her ‘Keeper’ John Stanton determine that hers are semi-circular!!
On arrival at the Glen the plates were set up on a wagon chassis to ensure they would be mobile at all times and following the drawings, assembly commenced with cutting & drilling of the angle pieces that join the main plate frames and the buffer beams together. These were drilled in situ using our Magnetic Drill and bolted together on a temporary basis. Locomotive frames are riveted together and whilst we were pondering this task in the quest to ensure accuracy we were informed by Jack Dibnah that he owns the necessary hydraulic rivet press and he volunteered to hot rivet the frame, which he did and the work is completed.
The frame plates are braced by various stretchers between them, the Steam Packet produced the combination brace/pony truck pivot and the plate brace at the front of the footplate well. In addition to these are the ‘cast’ smokebox & firebox support saddles and the pony truck spring carrier. These were castings on the original, but one of our Friends and supporter, Nick Midgley of Midcam Engineering in Barnsley offered his skills to produce fabricated copies which were then machined to ensure a perfect fit between the frames. The result is excellent and once painted will be indistinguishable from castings. Again John Stanton e-mailed detailed photos of POLAR BEAR’s components.
With the frames coming on well thoughts turned to other components which would be required in the near future, starting with the wheels. The pony truck wheel at 9” diameter is the same as ANNIE’s so the pattern was sent to the foundry for two to be cast. The drivers are the same diameter but differ somewhat so the available pattern was of little use. Contact was made with James Waterfield in Lincolnshire who is building another Bagnall (an 0-4-0-Tank called SIPAT) which shared the correct wheels and whilst the new pattern he had made was at the Foundry 4 drivers were cast for BROWN BEAR. We are presently awaiting machining and pressing of these onto the axles to produce the three wheelsets, which after the boiler will be the next most expensive component.
Then we come to the cylinders, fortunately, James Waterfield has also been able to borrow the wooden patterns for genuine 5” diameter Bagnall Cylinders and again, whilst these are at the Foundry we use, Peak Patterns in Sheffield, a full set have been cast for the loco. These are complex castings and will now go to the Steam Packet Workshops for machining.
Work will continue as funds permit.