County of Montgomery’s frames cut

MORE than 107 years after the last set of frames were cut for a Great Western Railway ‘County’ class 4-4-0 at Swindon Works, the 41st member of the class officially came into being today (November 13) with the cutting of the main frames for No. 3840 County of Montgomery at TATA Steel, Wednesfield.

The frame plates of No. 3840 being plasma cut by TATA Steel on November 13. GARY BOYD-HOPE

Plasma cutting of the 1 1/4in (31.75mm) plate, which had been specially rolled by Liberty Steel of Motherwell, commenced at 14.00; both 22ft-long frame plates being cut from the same sheet. The process took around 40 minutes to complete, after which the newly-cut frames were lifted from the machine bed and left to cool.

CCT directors David Bradshaw and Gary Boyd-Hope were on hand to witness this historic moment for the County of Montgomery build, which came just eight months after the launch of the project in The Railway Magazine.

“Seeing the frames for No. 3840 take shape beneath the plasma cutters was quite extraordinary,” said Gary. “It took the ‘County’ off the drawing board and brought it into existence as something tangible. Although we already have a number of components for the loco courtesy of the Great Western Society, these all come from other GWR locos of various identities. These frames, however, are unique to County of Montgomery, so it’s fair to say that – from today – No. 3840 exists.”

The accuracy of the plasma cutting can be clearly seen here around the axlebox cut-outs. A far cry from how it was done in 1911. GARY BOYD-HOPE

The frames will now be shot-blasted and painted prior to being sent for drilling and machining. Fund-raising is still ongoing for this important stage through the ‘100 Hundreds Appeal’, which seeks to attract one hundred donors to each donate £100. The initial response to the appeal has been encouraging, but we are still some way off the £10,000 required to complete the work. Donors receive and A4-sized mounted print of No. 3840 by artist Jonathan Clay plus a year’s membership of the CCT.

“We have taken a massive step forward today, which would not have been possible without the support of our members and founders,” added Gary. “Having the frames cut proves that we are proactively moving ahead with the build, and I’d encourage anyone who would like to help us maintain this momentum to join us or make a donation. We’ve got a loco to finish!”

For more images and video of the frame cutting, see our Facebook and Instagram pages.

One of the two frame plates awaits lifting from the cutting bed immediately following cutting. The cut-outs for the axles and the rear bogie wheelset can clearly be seen. GARY BOYD-HOPE