Catch Me Who Can, from the 1808 admission ticket - from a public domain image at Wikimedia Commons


Latest News — 20th July 2021

Catch Me Who Can is looking a little weather-beaten in parts, and we are giving the woodwork in particular some timely maintenance. The paint on the lagging is flaking in a few places, and is being carefully scraped, rubbed down and patched. The hardwood strips are fortunately dry and remain in very good condition. After nine years, this speaks well for the Idigbo timber used, and its original treatment with aluminium primer.

The same cannot be said for the boxes that hold the engine's name plates. These have already been removed and re-varnished twice since they were first fitted about 8 years ago. The problem with them is in their construction. The material was a chance salvage of parts of a mahogany bureau that had been broken up and put on the loco lighting-up firewood pile. The wood, mainly from the bureau flap, provided sufficient material to build up the boxes. However, despite care in the construction, seasonal movement of the wood results in the varnish breaking down at the joints. These boxes are now beyond sensible repair. A nice piece of Sapele has been donated, and new, slightly larger, and, we hope, more durable boxes are being made out of the solid.

Progress Report — 22nd March 2021

Well, what with one thing and another … we have not been able to do much work on Catch Me Who Can lately.

We aim to get back on it as soon as we are allowed, and the first job will be to spruce the engine up for Richard Trevithick's 250th birthday, on 13 April.

There is a brilliant article on Trevithick, with excellent coverage of our Catch Me Who Can, in the March-April 2021 issue of Heritage Railway magazine.

Progress Report - 9th August 2019

Work on the brakes continues. The top bracket has been made for the handbrake handle, and everything painted. The handle is now fitted on the loco. It goes round, but does not do anything else yet.

The caliper mounting frame is finished and ready to fit, but before it can go on the keys need to be made to transmit the drive from the axle to the brake discs. The keys need to be finished by hand to a close fit in the keyways in the axle, and the frame would get in the way. To get the frame in place, the front of the boiler will temporarily need to be raised a couple of inches off the axle.

Mounted in its normal position on the caliper, the air brake actuator would not fit in to the space available. It needs to be repositioned on the other side of the caliper. The 18 March 2018 photo below shows the unmodified caliper, with its actuator mounting bracket at the back.

A new mounting pad has been milled on the cast front of the caliper, and a new mounting plate made for the actuator. (This plate is made from a small piece of the frame plate that was replaced on the 42968/13268. Waste not want not!) For neatness, the old bracket has been cut down, so that now it serves merely as a cover over the self-adjusting mechanism inside the brake caliper.

The actuator push rod (the goldy looking bit with the forked end and pin through it, or 'clevis' for the initiated) needs to be extended, or more likely replaced, to reach to the actuating lever. There is an additional complication, that is not worth going into here, except to say that the trial assembly shown here was useful in discussing the options.

Progress Report - 2nd May 2019

In a new departure for this website we have here video footage of the brake mounting bracket pins being 'trued up' after welding. They are set up on the smaller horizontal borer so that the pins can be turned. It was just possible to machine both pins at one setting, but it required careful setting up as the machine table had less than 3mm of side-to-side travel to spare. This allowed the digital readout on the machine to be used to get an accurate measurement of the actual distance between the finished pins.

Once the bracket pins had been machined, the corresponding holes in the caliper mounting frame could be bored to match each bracket, using the same machine.

After finishing the rectangular drawbar hole by filing, and drilling the inner round hole, this frame is at last finished and off to the paint shop.

Other items finished and ready for painting are the handbrake handle and shaft, and the sheet steel splashers which cover the large rectangular openings in the top of the caliper mounting frame, to keep oil drips away from the brake discs. The splashers are shown sand-blasted ready for primer.

Progress Report - 8th February 2019

The brake caliper mounting frame is finally fully welded. Here it is seen on its side, being given a gentle stretch by a large hydraulic jack. This is to correct the slight distortion that is inevitable in any welded fabrication, in this case the outer ends of the end plates were out of square by about 1mm. Correcting something like this is a matter of judicious trial and error, as the spring in the part is much greater than the amount of permanent movement needed.

The handbrake handle has also been completed, and its vertical shaft is almost done. We need a bracket fixed to the rear handrail to support the top end of the shaft, so that it can be tried in place to find a comfortable final length.

Progress Report - 31st August 2018

We are making steady progress on the braking system. The photo shows the completed handbrake screw sub-assembly ready for a lick of paint. This will be bolted to the inside of the buffer beam, below the back of the footplate. The screw will be turned by a long vertical shaft with a handle at the top of the rear railings. While the general idea that the screw pulls the brakes on is simple enough, the details are more difficult to explain and will become apparent as (quite a lot) more parts are made.

This year our stand for the SVR Autumn Gala will again be on Kidderminster station concourse. We look forward to meeting you there.

Progress Report - 22nd May 2018

Here we have a couple of recent machine-shop photos showing work being done on the brakes. The top one shows the brake caliper mounting plates having the large holes drilled, their last machining operation. They are now ready for welding.

The second photo shows the thread being cut on the handbrake actuating screw. For scale, the threaded length is 4¼″ (11cm) long. This is what converts turning the handbrake handle into a linear motion to pull the brake on with a force of up to about a ton.

We are gradually building an accurate computer model of Catch Me Who Can using 3-D CAD. The third image, taken from the CAD model, shows how the mounting plates fit into the brake mounting frame. This frame also forms a front end drag box, with the thick thrust plate at the centre of the frame and a rectangular socket for the drawbar at the front.

Progress Report - 9th March 2018

For the forthcoming SVR Spring Gala we will again have our stand on Kidderminster station concourse. We look forward to seeing you there.

Work has now started in earnest on the braking system. The first photo show one of the pair of commercial vehicle brake calipers we are using.

The calipers will be mounted at the front of the engine on a frame that also forms the front drag-box. The second photo shows nearly all of the cut pieces of steel needed for this frame. There is a fair amount of further work to be done on them before they can be welded together. For scale, the longer pieces of angle on the left are 2' (60cm) long and the U-shaped plates 15" (40cm) wide.

We have also made a start on some of the smaller turned parts for the handbrake linkage.

Progress Report - 23rd November 2017

The drawbar assembly, consisting of 24 items, plus stock fasteners, is now in place, as can be seen in this worm's eye view of the footplate. While some calculation was possible, there was an element of educated guesswork in choosing the size and number of rubber cushions required, and the design deliberately allowed for easy alteration in the light of experience.

As it happens, a movement of the restoration carriages took place the day after the drawbar was reassembled after painting, and for this to happen Catch Me Who Can has to be shunted out of the way first. The meant that we could observe how well the rubber cushions were working. It is with some relief that we can report that the arrangement does seem to have a satisfactory degree of resilience.

With that job done, the brake design is sufficiently advanced that work has started in a small way in the workshop.

We had a good time at Kidderminster at the autumn gala. The station staff could not have been more helpful, and made space for us on an already well occupied concourse, for which many thanks. We sold more than has lately been the case, which made up for our slight feelings of guilt over leaving the engine all on its own at Bridgnorth. We have booked with alacrity a pitch for the Spring Gala.

Severn Valley Railway Autumn Gala, 21-24 September 2017

Visitors to the SVR Autumn Gala please be advised that our sales stand will be on Kidderminster Station concourse this year. The engine remains on view at Bridgnorth, but it will not be manned, so please come and talk to us at Kiddy. Among our interesting range of goods, our jams, which trustees make themselves, are rightly becoming highly regarded, and we again have a good supply. Sadly, this year our damson crop has been pitiful, but we have an excellent alternative of… come and see!

Progress Report - 21st September 2017

The footplate is now completed as far as it can go at this stage. There are elegantly curved brace irons to go on the back of the rear railings, but they cannot be fitted just yet.

The drawbar is made of a piece of high-tensile steel, probably unnecessarily high in retrospect, and this very simple part proved a devil to machine, mainly because of its length and slenderness. It has taken up far too much of our time this year, but it is finished now, and is shown here (with temporary spacer tubes).

These tubes will be replaced with a stack of rubber cushioning rings. These rings are being fashioned out of 25mm thick rubber sheet — another job we have never done before, but for which experience and ingenuity have found a solution. The first attempt is shown, in a photograph for which we apologise, with steel spacer washers and a stub of drawbar-sized steel bar.

Meanwhile, a lot of thought has been given to the physical layout and operation of the brakes. Like numerous other early locomotive replicas, such as those on the Pockerley Waggonway at Beamish Museum, we are fitting disc brakes and making use of commercially available air-brake system components. We have had a kit of commercial vehicle air brake parts in stock for some time, but how best to fit them on to the engine to produce an unobtrusive and effective system has been a challenging design exercise. Ideas are now starting to gel, and we are hoping to have a workable design fairly soon.

Progress Report - 24th August 2016

The railings for the back of the footplate are now welded up, primed and undercoated. The hoops, or 'portholes' according to the Works Manager, are provided to allow better access with fire irons and cleaning tools to the firebox and return flue. The bar for the hoops was much too thick for the small bending rolls, so it had to bent hot, but that meant having something to bend it round. Fortunately the SVR keeps numerous sizes of short cast iron tubes for making piston rings out of. We found one just the right size, and were given permission to misuse it a bit. The actual process of bending was an interesting job, as it required one hand to hold the oxy-propane torch just ahead of the bend, one to steadily pull the bar round the former as it softened under the heat, and one to deploy a copper mallet to remove any bulges. Equipped with but the normal two, your very amateur blacksmith found his hands full. One of the rings was not quite good enough at the first go, so it was given a re-heat and adjustment after welding. Welding the whole thing was entrusted to Brian Humphries of the SVR paid staff who kindly gave up several lunch breaks to do a brilliant job for us.

The ashpan has been installed. There is an enthralling video of the door mechanism in operation on You-Tube.

Progress Report - 18th March 2016

The ashpan and its door mechanism, which was surprisingly complicated to make, are at last complete (almost) and in the paint shop.

So attention has returned to the railings. The parts have been lying around for far too long, and we have at last started joining then together. They are shown temporarily assembled for the Spring Gala. A small number of other parts need to be made before the assembly can be permanently fitted.

The more modern cab of the other Bridgnorth new build project, 82045, is also temporarily mounted in situ, and being conveniently adjacent, provides quite a contrast.

Older reports can be found on the Old News page.