Armoured Simplex restored to original appearance

The Greensand Railway Museum Trust (GRMT) is very pleased to announce the launch into public service of the 40hp Armoured Simplex LR2182 which is due to take place at 11.00 on May 6th 2019. This completes the restoration of this unique locomotive which begun in 2016.

The work included the stripping down and rebuilding of the original Dorman petrol engine, replacement of rusted chassis members and the fabrication in steel of the distinctive cupola roof and doors, replacing wooden replicas. In addition the gearbox has been overhauled, the radiator repaired and many other components renovated or replaced.

The work was aided by the provision of a PRISM grant which covered the cost of the work on the engine and a grant from The Association of Industrial Archaeology but other funding came from donations from supporters of the project. Much of the work has been carried out by volunteers from the Leighton Buzzard Narrow Gauge Railway where the locomotive is based.

Only two examples of this armoured form of the 40hp Simplex locomotive survive in the world. This locomotive, LR2182, is the only example still with its original Dorman petrol engine, the only survivor to be presenting an original unmodified appearance and the only operational example of the armoured type. The bodywork of the other survivor of this type was modified during its days of sugar industry service in Antigua and is now cosmetically restored, retaining this modified form, in Antigua

LR2182 background history

LR2182 was built to work on WW1 trench supply railways and seems to have arrived in France in time to serve on the battlefields during the final year of WW1. Post-WW1 it worked in industrial service between about 1921 and the mid-1960s during which time it lost its distinctive upper bodywork. It entered preservation in 1971, initially being displayed at the (then) Narrow Gauge Railway Centre at Gloddfa Ganol (Blaenau Ffestiniog) before going to the Museum of Army Transport at Beverley. Here, it was displayed with a wooden replica of the distinctive roof, known as a ‘cupola’ by Motor Rail. Its private owner donated LR2182 to the Army in December 2001

The Army placed LR2182 on loan to Leighton Buzzard Railway in March 2005, but contractors undertaking the move to Bedfordshire caused serious damage including destruction of the wooden replica cupola. The Army subsequently donated the historic loco, as it stood, to Leighton Buzzard Railway and in 2009 ownership was transferred to Greensand Railway Museum Trust which undertook to restore it to operation in its original form. Volunteers reconstructed the upper part of the loco, again in wood, to present 2182 in its original form pending commencement of a full restoration project.

The locomotive made its debut in operational condition for the first time in preservation during Moseley Railway Trust’s 13-15 July 2018 ‘Tracks to the Trenches’ event, although at that stage without the distinctive upper bodywork and much work remaining to be done.