The reappearance of a 1915 Wallis & Steevens engine was a highlight of Ian Langley’s recent, invitation-only event, as Colin Tyson reports.
The first outside appearance in steam on August 7th-8th when of the Casey family’s completed 1915 Wallis & Steevens oilbath compound tractor, No. 7487, took place at Ian Langley’s invitation-only event near Danehill, East Sussex, early in August. This First World War built engine was new to Edwin Hughes of Wokingham, a builder, sanitary engineer and stonemason, on contract hire until 1923. It was then converted to roller form and sold to Parr-Head & Clements, Knowling Ltd of Derwent Yard, Ealing, W5, and driven by Patsy Tew until 1963, when sold at auction to J Ullmann.
It was taken to Fred Pegden’s yard at Elham, Kent, for work and then purchased by steam engineer Steve Casey in 1982 in ‘as found’ condition, after standing in a field for many years.
When initially exhibited in derelict condition at the Old Glory marquee at the 2014 GDSF it had not been seen in public since attending its one and only rally at Acrise, near Folkestone, Kent, in 1966. It was then exhibited by this magazine at subsequent Dorset shows to show ‘restoration in progress’ until 2019.
Always a personal family project that was worked on at weekends while Steve attended to other people’s engines in the week (latterly Allan Marchington’s Fowler Girlie and members of the nearby RH&DR’s loco fleet) it’s certainly been a long-term project.
With a made-up smokebox and front end to make it ‘moveable,’ the rear wheels and a new rear axle were made from drawings available from Reading University, followed by the boiler, firebox, barrel and front tubeplate. Being an oilbath engine, the original bearings were in good condition. Then it was build-up the end of the crankshaft; rebore and refit the flywheel; spray and grind the metal piston rods and side rods. Everything inside the cylinder block is original, as is the smokebox door. Notable was considerable corrosion to the throatplate and steering bracket, due no doubt to the long-time driver’s penchant for ‘relieving himself’ in the same place!
The family eventually settled for a black livery, as per the build sheet, topped off with the original brass boiler bands and a whistle from an ‘Advance’ roller called Smokey. With a worksplate made from a cast pattern, the icing on the cake was the return of the original registration ME 6536 from DVLA thanks to RLS Records Officer Andy Wells and Sandra Marder.
Steve wishes to place on record his thanks to Ben Webster, a retired engineer who developed a liking for making Whitworth nuts and bolts; Steve Parker for the loan of various patterns and encouragement; Mark and James Loader, and his ever-suffering wife Kath and daughters Hannah and Megan.
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