Simon’s journey into the world of Volunteering – Entry 7


Roger Smith

We are back after a quick rest and various illnesses, so it is quite appropriate that today’s first photo features Canadian Pacific getting some TLC.  The blue-liveried Southern Region Merchant Navy was being maintained in the carriage sidings at Gloucester Central in 1994  as she prepares for the return leg of her railtour from London. 


I had a nice surprise on the way to work on Canadian Pacific on Tuesday in the form of 2 class 50s in the shed. They belong to the Fifty Fund who are a great society and can be found here. There was also another surprise in the form of BR Class 108 units 51933+56504. The unit is owned by the Swanage Railway and they have sent their set to Eastleigh to undergo a  major overhaul/refurbishment to mainline condition.

But back to the beast and my first job of the day was a fun one, sitting on top of the boiler reattaching a panel on the cab roof. It is not until you sit on top of a Merchant Navy that you realise how big they actually are and how much attention you have to pay so that you don’t accidentally drop anything off it. After this work I then shifted to removing the splash plates above the bogie wheels, which was an easy job as they were both held in with just 2 nuts. The final job of the day was a bit more of a complex challenge – removing the brakes from the front driving wheel. This is normally a simple job but with the Walschaerts valve gear in the way it a little harder, but sure enough with a little bit of elbow grease and various expletives  they came off.


As you can tell from the photos the team have achieved a lot recently in the stripping down of 35005, with all the motion being removed, running plates all taken off, all the pipes that go from the cab to the frames have been detached so she is starting to look like a Barry wreck. It is hard to think that 6 months ago she looked like Clan Line (a lot  dirtier though) and I’d like to think my own skills have developed at a similar rate.


Due to the popularity of these volunteer diaries I decided to do a series of posts looking at the history of the locomotive from her construction as a spam can, rebuilding under British Railways and her life after withdrawal and preservation.

Part 1: The Spam Can Years

 A certain other Merchant Navy might have been the centre of attention at the Mid Hants gala this month, but people were also very interested in the lines own resident Merchant Navy Canadian Pacific. Hopefully the sight of this majestic locomotive has inspired people to dig deep and help fund the restoration of 35005 so we can see a similar site a lot more often. As I have mentioned before the boiler work alone is expected to exceed £100,000; so anything you can give will be gratefully appreciated no matter how small you think it might be.


Please click here to contribute towards the fund via secure online payment.

Download the appeal form.

Both links take you to the Mid Hants Railway Website which is where you can find out more information on how you can help.  Thank you.

Don’t Forget to check out the Brookes Castle – Volunteer Diary to catch up on previous posts!

Thanks for reading