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Full steam ahead as specialist product helps keep North Yorkshire Moors Railway engines on track

Fairgrieve Compression Moulding has been delighted to deliver a first batch of specially moulded parts to keep North Yorkshire Moors Railways historic steam engines on track.

The award winning 187-year old heritage railway attracts around 350,000 visitors annually and is run by a charitable trust which owns and operates around 18 miles of railway through the stunning North Yorkshire countryside between Pickering and Whitby.

We were contacted to provide assistance earlier this year by Armstrong Oilers, which is part of the North Yorkshire Moors Railways trust in Grosmont, near Whitby, as they were struggling to find a supplier able to manufacture a specialist part of the axle lubricating system for a steam engine.

General Manager Barry Davidson said: “This enquiry was such a contrast to the many modern, hi-tech challenges we are presented with at Fairgrieve Compression Moulding, as we are used to working in the development of aerospace parts, missile tips, marine engineering or electrical parts for hazardous mining environments.

“This was a project which tested our capabilities, as we had to get our heads into the days when British manufacturing and engineering was done with the highest standards of precision and quality in a world without the engineering software, computer modelling and cad/ cam design facilities, which we take for granted these days.” 

Materials specified for friction and thermal properties

Drawings and designs for tooling were submitted by the customer and tooling was manufactured by DSM Engineering, Fairgrieve’s retained toolmaking specialists. Raw materials were carefully specified based on friction and thermal properties before the product was trialled and tested ahead of being placed into full production.

Thanks to the specialist moulding skills of the Fairgrieves team, the parts were successfully manufactured and are expected to last for up to 20 years, despite the aggressive conditions they will be subjected to.

Mr Davidson and factory supervisor Jon Hutchinson personally delivered the product to the customer, taking the opportunity to take a tour of the facilities from business manager Brian Evans and meet the team of engineers who work so hard to restore, maintain and preserve many classic steam locomotives dating back more than a hundred years.

“We were like two little schoolboys,” said Mr Davidson.

“There steam locomotives and more modern diesel engines dating back to the 1950s are incredible pieces of British history and, as manufacturers and engineers ourselves, to see so many engineers and volunteers who give up their time to help support the full-time crews who help restore, maintain, and drive these beautiful steam engines from the past was humbling.

“Their work ensures these masterpieces of engineering never stop pulling in the crowds of steam train enthusiasts, families, schools, and tourists from all over the world.

“We are so proud to support Armstrong Oilers and the North Yorkshire Moors Railway in preserving these locomotives and keeping them running to keep history alive and allow so many more to enjoy the experience.

“Not many manufacturers can boast that there products will still be functioning in twenty years’ time, but when it comes to the North Yorkshire Moors Railways, every aspect is clearly made to stand the test of time.”

Find out more about North Yorkshire Moors Railway

Read how Fairgrieves manufactures terminal blocks used in rail sector signal technology

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