Steve Cooper kindly took the time to answer some questions about the Holden F5 project.

f5-front-elevationWhen did project start, and how?

The project started in 2000 as the result of a glib conversation between Graham Rowland (our original CME) and Steve Cooper. “Graham do you fancy building an F5?” Graham: “Well, I do have a drawing.” We opened a bank account, visited Steam on the Met with a stand selling second-hand books, and distributed membership forms. We incorporated in 2001 as a company limited by guarantee and were granted charitable status shortly after. The original directors/ trustees were Derek Mullet (a retired solicitor,) Graham Rowland (employed by the Ford Motor Company as a CAD engineer) and Steve Cooper, a Travel Advisor.

Why an F5?
Steve Cooper was the founder of The Ongar Railway Preservation Society (ORPS) and had become aware of the F5’s significance with the Epping to Ongar branch in Essex. The last of the F5s was scrapped in 1958, therefore a locomotive that had served so well throughout East Anglia and east London deserved to be resurrected from the history books and so it was. Steve Cooper began selling the project and organising the administration and day to day running of the company, Graham Rowland commenced researching and procurement of drawings whilst Derek Mullett advised us on legal matters.

The project now has input from Tyseley – how did that come about, and how much of a shift was that?
Holden was provided temporary accommodation in a workshop at Ovington, Essex. Due to the pending demolition of that structure the Trust relocated to Mangapps museum in Essex for exhibition of our F5 components such as smoke box, bunker, chimney, buffer beams, valences, frame plates plus a collection of sundry items and tools. Derek Mullett passed away, Bob Ayton (a retired local government officer) joined our board then Graham Rowland resigned from the Trust due to lack of time. Our company mem-arts stipulate that we require a minimum of three trustees hence Aiden Kelley joined the board.

The project stalled, Mangapps lost patience with the lack of progress and we were instructed to vacate the site in August 2013

Steve Cooper contacted Tyseley. In October Steve had a very productive meeting with Bob Meanley, CME of Tyseley. It was suggested that the project would attract greater public interest by rebranding from F5 67218 to GER 789. On the 30th January 2014 the project moved from Mangapps to Tyseley.

Within a few weeks Bob Meanley had introduced Kevin West, a freelance CAD engineer, to the Trust, who subsequently produced several CAD models, ie cylinder block halves, tank supports, diamond stay and an amended design for the horn blocks. Kevin West appointed Première Pattern and Castings to manufacture the polymer patterns, a sub contractor undertook castings and Harco Engineering machine finished the castings. Alas Kevin ran out of F5 time due to his workload with the Patriot project however Kevin introduced another freelance CAD engineer, Elliot Powick, to the Trust.

How much of the locomotive currently exists?
Fully machined cylinder block, diamond stay and tank supports, chimney, complete smoke box, buffer beams, frame plates, valences, bunker, leading and trailing wheel pattern plus a collection of sundry items. Elliot Powick continues discussions with Tyseley and is further progressing CAD models with input from Bob and Alistair Meanley.

What’s the estimated total cost for the completion of the loco? How much have you raised, and how much remains to go?
Total cost estimated at £750,000.00. The advent of polymer patterns has significantly reduced projected costs and expedited production of components. An example of expenditure reduction is the polymer patterns manufactured for the cylinder block halves. A traditional wooden pattern may have cost the Trust in excess of £35,000.00 We paid £2,100.00 for the polymer patterns. The total spend to date is approximately £40,000.00 with a large reserve on standby.

f5-framesYour August news update says you are working towards creating the loco as a rolling chassis – when are you aiming to get this done by, and what’s next after that?
The frames are on target for assembly at Tyseley in 2017. Elliot Powick with input from Tyseley continues to design the final components that will be necessary to facilitate the frames assembly. Tyseley will shortly commence manufacturing gussets etc before the year end. Elliot Powick has invited quotes for wheel components. Full details on our website

What’s your fundraising strategy – what kind of person is donating the money, how do you find them, what are the revenue streams? Has you appeal for legacy donations been successful? Does it imply that completion of the locomotive remains a long way off?
Donations, gift aid, Just Giving, our Information stand, merchandise and any means of raising money. Type of donors? They emanate from a broad church!

How big is the group of active supporters? Who does the work on the locomotive?
Approximately 15 active supporters. All engineering is undertaken by contractors.

What’s the biggest obstacle you’ve overcome so far?
No obstacle appears to have been insurmountable. This may be attributed to the management of the Trust and the locomotive being constructed. The F5 will weigh approximately 65 tons in working order; a go anywhere locomotive (on preserved railways) and filling a gap in our locomotive heritage.

Photos courtesy of the Holden F5 Locomotive Trust.