Inspection of 7A one morning revealed signs of corrosion right through the side of the chimney, something not best placed to improve drafting and therefore performance of the locomotive!
Due to the unavailability of a spare at the time – you can’t keep spares of everything, and it’s near impossible to predict what might fail at any given time – workshop staff were faced with the task of trying to attach a patch plate. In most circumstances this would be simple, but if you know anything about welding, you’ll understand that welding steel to rust isn’t much fun.
Weld it they did however, and it might not have been the prettiest job, but it lasted well enough until the new rolled steel tube arrived and could be fitted.
Note: We bought 2 rolled chimneys so hopefully we won’t have to witness the undignified sight of an NA running around with a patch plate on the chimney any time soon!
Why ‘Real Puffing Billy’ you might ask. Well 7A has been Graeme Daniel’s allocated engine for many years now, and as head driver up until recently his loco was, of course, considered the best, even if he did say so himself.
Whenever asked the innocent question ‘Which is the real Puffing Billy?’, his response is always the same – “This one!”