Saturday Gang 2013 Review

Another year is about to pass by so it's a good opportunity to reflect upon what we have achieved during 2013.

25 Northiam's overhaul:

Naturally our main focus and starting point for this review is to look at 25 Northiam. During 2013 we have continued our work on the frames and motion. We completed (started during 2012) the very arduous and long process of de-rusting the frames. Honestly removing 10 years worth of rust / dirt is challenging but immensely satisfying when seeing the finished product.

25's frames in early 2013.

We needed many tins of paint to complete this job!
A large part of the year has been taken up by the manufacture or repair of various components and then re-installing them. You would be surprised how many different components constitute a locomotive's motion. To name a few components that have been installed: pistons, slide valves, crossheads, reverser mechanism, brake gear. It certainly ends up becoming a rather large jigsaw puzzle, with each piece slotting into place - but it will only come together and work if installed correctly!

25's motion - mostly reassembled

Towards the end of the year we've been focusing on getting the loco re-wheeled and creating a "rolling frame". This involved much preparation, similarly to the frames the wheels required extensive de-rusting and cleaning. The axles had to be thoroughly checked for cracks and wear and then the axleboxes prepared accordingly. The horn guides (which sit inside the frames, interfacing with the axleboxes) had to be repaired and fitted within very fine tolerances.

Steam cleaning 25's wheels

All of the work we had done came together during December (hope you read the report!) and we were able to roll the wheels underneath the frames and lower 25's frames down (though not quite all the way). We hope this will be completed in January.

25 Northiam's frames - almost re-wheeled (Dec 2013)

376 Norwegian

We were also very pleased to see one of our previous projects return to service - 376 Norwegian's tender. We spent over a year working away, restoring the tender to operational condition. We did also assist on various tasks on the loco, but the tender project was exclusively ours. So when 376 returned to service we were delighted to see something else we've worked on back in use. It's really why we do what we do, to see our work bringing joy to the public.

376 Norwegian - back in service


Throughout the year we have assisted in the running maintenance of the K&ESR's fleet. Indeed on this blog we have run some mini features on 65 Maunsell & 23 Holman F Stephens washouts / repairs. This work is often the dirtiest and most difficult (locomotives are much easier to work on when all the components have been removed!). However it is entirely necessary in order for the K&ESR to run trains so it must be done.

One of the many boiler washouts / maintenance
projects completed during 2013


It is entirely accurate to say that none of the above would be possible without our dedicated members. The same guys (and girls!) come regularly to Rolvenden to play their part in keeping the K&ESR's fleet moving / providing motive power in future.

Many locomotive maintenance groups seem to be dour and seem to be simply an excuse for likeminded people to moan about the "modern world". That is not the Saturday Gang at all: we have a fantastic laugh and make our time at Rolvenden thoroughly enjoyable. There is no point in doing something if you don't enjoy it. So whilst we do work it is not to the detriment of the social element. You will often hear laughter / terrible jokes emanating from us as we enjoy a cup of tea and many many biscuits / cakes / sweets. Long term friendships have been built between members and we really are a community.

Saturday Gang teamwork - on the shop floor
It is pleasing to see the volunteering our members doing benefiting them in the world of work. During 2013 several more of our members successfully joined engineering companies and entered the world of work. The competition for jobs is fiercer than ever and apprenticeships have come back into fashion, whereas they were looked down upon before. It is important for any young applicant to have a "stand out" item on their CV. Time and again Saturday Gang members have risen above the ordinary academic talent to demonstrate a real practical passion for engineering.

So as you can see the Saturday Gang has many, many benefits. The friendship & sense of community, the lifeskills development and the increased chances of finding employment.

Therefore we extend an invitation to anybody with an interest in engineering, railways or even just needs something to occupy them on a Saturday: Come and join us. We need more volunteers to continue our work and there are of course benefits for you too (not to mention the tea & biscuits......).

Learn new skills 

So if at all interested or would like to know more, please don't hesitate to get in touch. Either leave a comment below or email us at saturdaygang@gmail.com

The Saturday Gang wish you a very happy and prosperous new year.

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