A New Boiler For a Steam Engine

If you’ve been following my posts for the last few weeks you will recall that this weekend was the Poole & District Model Railway Society’s annual exhibition and I have to say it was a great success.

So this week, while I’m recovering, I want to share with you what I think is a very worthy project.

For many years I’ve been involved with the Dean Forest Railway and back in July I posted about their Steam Gala which you can read about here.  The railway has several steam locomotives but one in particular; No. 3806 is named ‘Wilbert’.


This 0-6-0 Hunslet Austerity, originally built for the National Coal Board in 1953, was acquired by the DFR in 1976 and restored to working condition.

In August 1981 the loco was named “G.B. Keeling” after the first Chief Mechanical Engineer of the Severn & Wye Railway.  The S&Y was the original railway company through the forest where the DFR now runs.  The naming ceremony was carried out by the Rev. W. Awdry; following a members’ ballot for a name for the engine.

The Rev. W. Awdry, as well as being involved with the DFR, was the author of the original ‘Thomas The Tank Engine’ books.  On September 13th 1987 No. 3806 was renamed ‘Wilbert’ in honor of Rev. Wilbert Awdry and has carried the name ever since.


‘Wilbert’ has also appeared in several of the later ‘Thomas The Tank Engine’ stories as ‘Wilbert the Forest Engine’.

The locomotive has played a huge part in the history of the DFR; not just because for many years it was the only working locomotive, but also it’s a fantastic steamer, very reliable and surprising strong for its size.  Although it’s not the most glamourous or biggest of engines it’s popular with those of us who worked on and with it over the years, and this was the first steam locomotive I ever drove.


Currently ‘Wilbert’ is in need of a boiler restoration.  All steam engines go through this every ten years or so and it’s a costly operation.


So for the first time the DFR is running a crowdfunding campaign to raise the money to get ‘Wilbert’ steaming again.  The campaign is aiming to raise £5000 GBP to get the boiler repairs underway in the New Year.  The campaign can be found here.

For those that don’t know how these crowdfunding campaigns work I will give a brief explanation.  A target amount is set by the campaign, in this case £5000, as well as a deadline.  Then people can pledge any amount they wish to help with the campaign.  If the target is met by the deadline then the money is collected and the project goes ahead.  If not, then no money is collected and the project is stopped.

The campaign offers rewards depending on the size of the pledge.  In this case the DFR are offering membership to the society, among other things.   For a full list of the rewards please see the campaign page.

The deadline for the campaign is 6pm GMT on the 1st of January 2017 when, hopefully if successful, the work on the boiler will commence.

I can’t help by 3D printing a new boiler so I will be helping by pledging!

Interestingly a special run of OO/HO scale models have been made of ‘Wilbert’ and can be purchased from the DFR.  You can read more here.


Next weekend I will be at Hampton Court Model Railway Club’s exhibition ‘Tolworth Showtrain‘ with our large modular layout Solent Summit.