Late Summer 2020
Hello to our latest news update, this year has been very difficult for the heritage industry of the UK; many lines have yet to reopen. Our friends at the SRPS also have suffered major landslips, these have added to their troubles and has prevented the opening of the railway. Only the Strathspey Railway, and Jacobite have operated regular steam in Scotland.
All of this has prevented us from getting our message out to the wider railway community of Scotland, we have accepted that all our plans for 2020 will now have to be rescheduled for 2021; lets hope next year we can get back to promoting the project. This hasn't meant that nothing is happening, first we have a new member to the team. Laura Duncan has joined us to take on the financial role within the management team, first she will ensure we comply with the requirements of rules for being a charity. Second is to sort out the applications to allow Gift Aid, as well as keeping an eye on the funds and their allocation to the right projects.
The Bogie fund is slowly growing, and as the bogie drawing is taking longer to sort, we are looking at other bogie components that can be acquired without compromising the frames when they are ready. We are hoping to have some news later this year, so please keep watch and donating.
2020 is slowly drawing to a close, and this has certainly been a year best forgotten for Heritage railways and projects, but we intend to leave this year on a high. We have been give the opportunity to use bogie wheel patterns from the GCR 567 locomotive Group - - By using their pattern this will provide us with a financial saving, as well as boost you profile from within the heritage railway movement. To enable us to use this generous offer we need to raise £7000 to have the 4 wheels cast, so we have launched our Wheel Appeal. click left for an appeal leaflet, we are asking for donations of £180 for a spoke, or you can make a single one off donation via our paypal button.
Welcome to all out followers, we hope everyone is well and managing to find a route through this lockdown.
Just over a month ago we posted our statement regarding the virus, and the possible effect that it could have for our project. The concern was that with the lockdown, the momentum that had slowly been building might stop. Many groups and heritage sites have closed and there is a very real threat that some could remain closed once the restrictions have been lifted! Our team were desperate to prevent the project from stagnating during these troubled time, so we have been working behind the scenes to continue to move forward.
All this does not mean we haven’t done anything during the time of ‘lockdown’, our
engineering and design team have continued to work on the original drawings we
have acquired for the Ben class. As you may recall we have already started working
on the front Bogie and spindle lubrication pots.
The news with the bogie is still very slow, the bend in the bogie’s frame is causing a
few problems in modern design; that said we do hope soon to be at a point where the
first draft of the drawings can be checked. We are also discussing with leading
members of our hobby to locate an independent advisor who will approve our final
drawings. This is important for the safety critical components, if we want to run on
heritage lines we need to prove our loco is safe and mechanically sound, utilising well
Luckily for us, not all the components are considered safety critical, and therefore we
can self-sign off a few smaller items. The first of these was the crew coat hooks and
rear buffer beam bush. A couple of other parts started, have been the oil pots, these have been design checked and the final drawings sent to a pattern maker. The patterns have recently been completed and will be sent to the foundry for casting. We have a foundry based in Glasgow that has given us a reasonable quote for the 2 pots needed.
Although the manufacture of the patterns has already been sponsored by one of our team, the next cost is the two castings at £250 each. If any supporters would be interested in helping towards this cost, we are offering 20 sponsorship slots at £25 each.
Again, as this article has been written two of our supporters has already offered to cover the first 3 slots, so only 17 slots remain! You can choose to pay in one lump sum, or £5 scattered over 5 months, please contact us via email - firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish to become a sponsor.
Work has also started on the drawings for the front splasher; these are considered to be
the iconic part of the Ben Class, due to the integrated sand box and delicately hand
painted with the Bens respective name. We are drawing these up and will manufacture
them to be used as promotional aids on our travels, as well as the possibility of acting as
collection boxes for loose change. When ready it is hoped we can find a sponsor for these,
which we anticipate will be in hot competition due to their uniqueness to many Scottish
locomotives, especially that of the Ben.
June / July 2020
Welcome to our latest news update, apologies for the delay in post our current news. Spring 2020 has been costly to the project in a way we could not have expected. In May the project leader’s wife passed away after a short fight with cancer, and within days we received the news that John Mackenzie also passed away. John was a great supporter of the project, he was given Membership No1 in recognition of his help in getting Ben Alder started; any questions we had regarding the Highland Railway or the Ben’s was always replied with a full and concise answer. His enthusiasm and knowledge of the old Highland gave us the drive to press on with a new build.
Our condolences are with both families at these difficult times.
These last few months have been very different to what we know as 'normal', all our plans to promote the project have been placed on hold; this has meant we haven't been able to attract the supporters and funding we had hoped for. This is the same for many projects and groups within the Heritage movement, we would like to ask anyone thinking of helping to download a supporters form or sign-up to the Bogie appeal.
We have had some good news, during the lockdown we dispatched the patterns made to Archibald Young, we received an email in early July to say they will be ready in a week. These are now in store, we will be looking to have these machined at a later date. We are still looking for help towards the cost of these, so any donations would be gratefully received via Paypal.
Jan / Feb 2020
Welcome to 2020, and this could become a pivotal year for the project.
The last 9 months have been nerve wracking for the project team, but thanks to our supporters, we are heading towards 2020 with great confidence and a growing desire to have some solid progress made as soon as possible. To this affect we have a couple of component schemes being worked on, first is the biggest, our bogie appeal. We are slowly raising the initial £10,000 required to get started on designing and acquiring the parts we will need to assemble the leading bogie.
The hope was to have the drawing ready by now to be sent for independent assessment, before getting the first metal cut. Our engineering team have stumbled on a small problem; the rear part of the bogie just above the axle box cut out has a slight 'joggle’. The frames bend slightly outwards to clear the motion plate, so one of our team is currently seeking information and quotes from engineering firms. Once this has been resolved, the drawings can be assessed, we can then make inquires to steel suppliers and eventually place the order for the frame plates.
The second item we are currently working on is the lubrication pots for the valve and piston rods; you may have seen the CAD drawing either on social media or our website. The drawings have been sent out for quotes to produce the patterns and core boxes, when this have been produced then they will be dispatched to a foundry for casting. Once we have a figure we will be looking for support in funding the castings, if you are interested please email the team via –
The next item to be looked at by our design team will be the leading wheel splasher, these are an iconic part of the engine as they carried the name. Once designed they will be made and used as promotional tools for our new base at Fife Heritage Railway in Leven.
Finally on the construction side we have something (very) solid to share with you all, the hind buffer beam draw hook bush. This was cast towards the end of last year by Ballantines in Bo’ness, it is only a small part of the tender, but it is the first part to be made. Two further pieces have also been made, these being the Driver and Fireman's coat hooks, again these were made using the original drawings.
All the work so far has been funded by our supporters, to ensure we can continue and push forward we need will need more donors and supporters. If you can help in any way, big or small, please consider signing up or making a donation via paypal
March / April 2020
This news update is a little different to the previous one we have posted, the start of the year has not quite gone as we all would have hoped! Early March did give us a glimmer of light, as the figures for February did added up to the best month for donations, and income was only better in November after the SRPS Steam Gala. Then the news of the nationwide shutdown as a result for the Corvid-19, hit the heritage railway movement. We are lucking still being rather small, so the effect has been an inconvenience rather that the financial nightmare it poses for larger groups and railways.
That said we have had our own problems, namely that one of our team has been hit by the virus and they have been rather ill with it; thankfully they have recovered, but are still suffering from the aftermath. Our design team also had problems, as the lockdown prevented them from accessing the the software to continue the design work; this has now been sorted and converting Peter Drummonds work to CAD restarted.
If during this time you wish to help us, the best and easiest way is to use our Easyfindraising link, by signing up to using this search format every purchase made via the site earns us a small donation. It cost nothing to join or to use the fund come via the retailer, so far we have received a total for £74.81 all at no cost to those using the service! Please use this link -
Thank you from the Ben Alder team, and please stay safe.