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Fenchurch's New Wheels

[Updated 12 March]

Fenchurch was taken out of service in 1988 when a crack was found right through the hub of the right leading wheel, because this meant that the wheel could no longer be considered adequately fixed onto the axle. They are the engine's original wheels, made of separate hub spokes and rim, hand-forged by men with hammers. This technology is unavailable now, steel castings having been used for wheels since the 1890s. The only way Fenchurch would run again would be with a new set of wheels.

[View of wheel pattern assembly] As the money-raising proceeded, Brian Wilkie was prevailed upon to make a pattern for casting the new wheels. The picture shows Brian assembling one half of the casting pattern for the new wheels.
The new wheels were cast by a foundry and returned to Sheffield Park for machining. A secondhand axle was acquired which was machined down to the required size. [View of new wheel castings]
[View of wheel being machined] Martin Nichols watches as Brian machines the crankpin hole in one of the new wheels.

The machined wheels were assembled on the axle at Swindon, and returned to Sheffield Park. Some time was spent finding a supplier of tyres, and eventually a Belgian firm came up with the goods. The new wheelset was sent away again to have the tyres fitted. The other wheelsets were also sent, so that they all could have the tyres machined to the same profile; this means that the new tyres are not as thick as they could have been, but saves the expense of re-tyring the other four wheels. There is plenty of tyre thicknes there with their fairly low rate of wear.

[View of wheels in undercoat] The wheels are now being painted. This picture shows them in the undercoat, which looks quite like their original colour...
... and now in top-coat (revealing the livery being applied). [View of wheels in topcoat]
View of welded-in crankpin Almost the final job on the new wheelset - the backs of the crankpins have been welded into the wheel castings.
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