Canadian Pacific – Locomotive Profile – Part 2 The Rebuild


Welcome to this second post in our mini series looking at Merchant Navy class locomotive Canadian Pacific. My recent blogs posting about her stripping down for costing and parts inspection has proved very popular and have taken the decision to write a mini series looking at her history. The first post looked at her life with spam can casing (click here), this post will look at her time as a rebuild and the final part will look at life after withdrawal from BR service. 

Hope you enjoy

Canadian Pacific (21C5/S21C5) Locomotive Profile

Part 2:
The Rebuild


The Merchant Navy class in service proved to be a fast, free running and powerful class of steam locomotives however they were beset with irksome maintenance problems. A prime example is the oil bath which housed the drive chains proved impossible to keep oil tight and was known to leak of all its oil on a single trip between Waterloo and Bournemouth. The chains were also prone to stretching, the steam reverser approximate, the air -smoothed casing, while easy to keep clean proved a nightmare for access when things went wrong. Despite their performance locomotives spent much more time in the works having maintance done than they should.


Nigel Kendall

The problems were compounded in 1953 with the crank failure of 35020 Bibby Line at Crewkerne which resulted in the withdrawal of all Merchant Navy class locomotives from service whilst the cause was ascertained. An examination of other class members showed that the fracture, caused by metal fatigue, was a common fault. With the classes designer Oliver Bulleid leaving the railway in 1949 the discussion was taken to rebuild the class into more ‘conventional’ form rather than attempt to iron out the design creases. R G Jarvis (who would later oversee the development of the HST) took over from Bulleid and was incharge of the rebuilding project. His design featured many of the things typical from the ‘BR Standard’s classes, such as the Britannia’s, this included replacing the chain-driven valve gear with three separate sets of Walschaerts valve gear. A completely revised cylindrical smokebox, a new Lord Nelson-type chimney and LMS-style smoke deflectors. These improvements coupled with the lack of air-smoothed casing helped the problem of smoke and steam obscuring the driver’s vision of the line. Canadian Pacific entered Eastleigh works in May 1959 for the last time with its spam can casing having covered 632,322 miles since its construction. She was rebuilt and her tender water capacity increased to 5,250 gallons.

Nigel Kendall

35005 left Eastleigh works in her new form in November 1959 and was re-allocated to Bournemouth shed where she hauled fast expresses to London such as the ‘Bournemouth Belle’. The rebuilding project is said to have had a hugely positive effect on the Merchant Navys with 35003 Royal Mail recording the highest speed ever for the class when she reached a speed of 105.88mph. Canadian Pacific herself hit a top speed of around 105mph between Basingstoke and Winchester in May 1965, Dave Wilson the fireman on that run has written a brilliant article for us about it which can be found here.


Nigel Kendall

35005 returned to Eastleigh in November 1960 where she received a new speedometer as part of a light overhaul. Her final visit to Eastleigh works in BR service occured in 1964 when she was given some meduim maintance work. She was then transfered to Weymouth in September 1964 which would be her last home in BR service. Despite the fact that the class were only rebuilt in 1959, the Beeching Report accelerated the move to diesel and electric-powered trains, consequently leading to the removal of steam locomotives from British rails. The first member of the class to be withdrawn was 35015 Rotterdam Lloyd in February 1964 with Canadian Pacific being withdrawn in November 1965.  She was stored at Feltham between 10-1965, Weymouth between January and Wednesday 1966 before eventually being sold to Woodham Brothers Ltd in Barry.

In her career she had covered a total of 976,806 miles. The Merchant Navys could of easily carried on for another 15 years but the world had changed around them and the age of steam was over. Luckily for us 35005 was sold to Woodham Brothers Ltd in Barry and was eventually bought by preservationists and restored to steam, this story will feature in part 3 of the history of Canadian Pacific.

Thanks for reading.

Just a little reminder that the Mid Hants Railway are currently stripping her down for assessment of works and costing in Eastleigh and before they can start restoring  her we need to raise the funds.  This is where we still need your help. As I have mentioned before the boiler work is alone expect 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 the stripping down of Canadian Pacific at Eastleigh Works.