1014 The G.W. County Project
March and April

On Monday 4 April a good number of Didcot workers, including most of the County Project Team, met at Abbotts Ann Parish Church with many others, to say and sing our farewells to Mike Cooper. It was a pleasant service, during which Mike's brother-in-law told us of Mike's life, work in the Army, love of rugby football and Lambrettas, meeting and marrying Pauline, the children Sarah and Elizabeth, their son's-in-law, Poppy their granddaughter, etc. all rounded off by reference to his most recent activities at Didcot Railway Centre, leading the GW County Project. The ceremony concluded with two buglers playing the 'Last Post'.
Thereafter, we were invited to join the family and a range of well-wishers to a delightful and sumptuous buffet at Abbotts Ann Village Hall, where another of Mike's accomplishments was on view - histories of those named on the War Memorial. When the family returned from the Crematorium, County Setters were privileged to be able to speak to Pauline Cooper and one of Mike and Pauline's daughters. We were encouraged to hear they considered Mike's work on the County Project was also a family affair, they were eager to see the project completed and dedicate it, notably for their grandchildren, as 'Granddad's engine!
All too soon, the time for departing came, conversations concluded and guests departed whence they came, glad that Mike's life had been celebrated in style.

Message from the new Project Manager, Dicky Boast:

As has already mentioned, the Project Team were all shocked and saddened at the news of Mike's passing.
Mike was an inspiration and is a hard act to follow. We are not just refurbishing a loco, we are not just building a loco. We are changing a loco and incorporating parts from different classes in the best way we can.
Mike's military career enabled him to take this in his stride. My military career means that this is a vertical learning curve.
There is a wonderful phrase "Grandfathers Rights" which means that refurbishing a part is quite acceptable, whereas changing it is subject to all sorts of permissions. Thus it must be decided if the parts being built will be based on a Modified Hall or a County.

Locomotive Progress

The 'big' news, is that despite the aforementioned events, the Project Team were able to start the re-wheeling process in late April as shown in the series of images shown below, courtesy of Frank Dumbleton.

Frames ready for wheeling

23/04/2016 - 1014's frames in Didcot running shed ready for re-wheeling.


1014 chassis ready

23/04/2016 - 1014's frames outside the works ready to be wheeled.

Wheels on wheel drop

23/04/2016 - first set of wheels positions on the wheel drop.

Wheel set dropping

23/04/2016 - going down first set of wheels being lowered into the wheel drop.

Reassembling wheel drop

23/04/2016 - reassembling the removable set of rails over the wheel drop, in readiness for the next set of wheels.

Roling in next set

23/04/2016 - County setters hard at work rolling in the next set of driving wheels.

Frames moving in

23/04/2016 - with three sets of driving wheels in the wheel drop, 1014's frames are gently moved in, over the wheel drop, by the GWS 08 shunter.

Frames over wheel drop

23/04/2016 - 1014's frames positioned over wheel drop.

One in second on way

23/04/2016 - with one set of wheels lifted into position, the second (middle) set of driving wheels rising up to its position.

LaDonna fixing axlebox

23/04/2016 - LaDonna close-up and personal with an axlebox following the lift of this wheel set.


One set to go

23/04/2016 - two wheel sets in, one to go!

Third will not go

23/04/2016 - mm! Two 'up' one to go, but it will not go in.

1014 - 4-4-0!

23/04/2016 - as Dicky Boast said, the first 4-4-0 County seen since 1933! Only the front set of driving wheels to fit, but we have a rolling chassis.

Mike Cooper would be delighted!

At Crewe Works, the redesigned 8F firebox is nearing completion with a few stays to be riveted in place. There has been much welding of new plates and all new crown stays fitted.
The contract for the barrel to be rolled has been signed and that should not take too long.

Almost complete firebox

23/04/2016 - the almost complete firebox at Crewe.

Tender Progress:

First wheel rolling under

26/03/2016 - first set of wheels being rolled under raised underframe.

Raising under frame higher

26/03/2016 - raising the underframes high to enable first set of wheel to reach the front axle box.

Lowering the underframe

26/03/2016 - lowering the underframes onto the wheels, checking alignment of axles and axleboxes.

Checking axles & axleboxes

26/03/2016 - almost there - axle and axlebox alignment being checked.

Gary machining tender bearing

23/04/2016 - Gary setting-up axlebox bearing.

Final word from Dicky Boast - "We have had a difficult month following Mike's death, but the team have always pulled closely together and we are determined to do Mike proud".