I paid a visit to Washwood Heath last Thursday to see progress on D9016 ‘Gordon Highlander’. Work has been progressing steadily since January 2015, the images show how far the job has come since then. Initial work focussed around the Number 2 end cab, as can be seen, the fabrication work on most of this has been completed. As would be expected with any similar job, the time involved in restoring minor details can be huge and generally take far more time than the main visible work. Brand new sound proofing fire proof and non-water retaining insulation is fitted between the 2 skins. The cab windows were taken away by one of our team to have new clear curved panels made and re-assembled, at this stage we are waiting their return so that Number 2 end cab can be completed.
The driver’s side at Number 1 end has had most of the outer skin work completed, the image showing the red primer shows the internal cab side without the inner skin fitted, there is still a bit of detail work to be completed there before the inner skin is fitted. The secondman’s side remains pretty much as it was, except where rotten bits have been removed. Work should start on this corner after the Number 2 end cab has been re-assembled and readied for painting.
The cost so far has been a five figure sum and funds raised towards the work remains just a three figure sum!! As can be seen we have so far barely scratched the surface and the vast bulk of the bodywork remains to be completed. I have to question the logic in progressing with this and spending what could become well in excess of £100,000.00 on a loco that would possibly fetch in maybe £3,000.00 a year after all the work is finalised. Additionally most heritage restoration jobs once finished are preserved in a suitable location providing protection against the weather. This is not the case with heritage diesel locomotives, which unfortunately do not generally benefit from being stored under cover in a similar fashion to often plain and ordinary steam locos!! As such, I fear that even when work is completed the loco would soon require more expensive attention due to further corrosion.
A fund was established 5 years ago to raise cash towards work on ‘Gordon’, this has seen around £500.00 received in donations, which have been very much appreciated and many thanks to those who have done so. Raising money towards the huge costs involved in restoring the loco has certainly been difficult as expected, I soon learnt that getting money in was hard during my years as Chairman of the Class 40 Preservation Society. Some fantastic gestures have been made, but the harsh reality is that money in and out are simply worlds apart.
There has been mention ‘if everyone on our Facebook pages donated a tenner each’ this would solve the problem and the loco would soon be completed!! Thanks very much for the idea, which I am Sorry to say, but even that is way off the mark. If all the 1,703 current members of the Group actually did that, we’d have £17,300.00 which is a drop in the ocean compared to what the actual costs are. In fact, thinking about it, that amount would just about pay for the external painting required at the end. We all know that unfortunately the vast majority of Facebook Group members would not be prepared to donate, even if the funds did add up. The 2017 ‘Felix the Huddersfield Station Cat’s’ calendar sold 500 copies in 8 hours and sold out the same day, bless him. We have sold 46 copies up till now of our 2017 Deltic Calendar and the money raised from that will go a small way towards the £1,083.60 invoice just paid out today for 2 train brake valves to be serviced for 55 022.
As many know, both bogies and all wheelsets on D9016 are in tip top as new condition and bearing in mind that those under 55 022 are soon going to require overhaul, it would make sense to use those under 16, which would save a huge bill well in excess of £100,000.00. Add to this the massive amount of work required on the bodywork and I am finding it difficult to justify further investment.
At the end of the day, it’s not exactly money that is causing an issue with the time being taken on Gordon’s bodywork, I feel that it has probably come time for someone else to take over custodianship/ownership soon. Personally, it’s a shame that so many negative comments were made on the internet regarding my lack of care for Gordon’s bodywork, which resulted in the loco being taken out of operational service. As mentioned at the time, in my opinion, the loco was fine to operate on preserved railways and should have been left alone to continue doing just that and putting smiles on genuine fans faces!! Fingers crossed, someone will step forward with the necessary resources to ensure that this will happen well in to the future…..