Hogwarts Castle, the locomotive from the Harry Potter films, arrived in the Museum on Tuesday. She was grubby as expected for a working steam locomotive (maybe a bit more than expected). We immediately got busy in order to give her a good scrub and tidy up the cab for the rest of the summer holidays.
The Museum’s conservation team has prepared working locomotives before – but, boy, that was very different. Olton Hall (the other name for Hogwarts Castle) had to be almost dug out of a thick coat of grime – the sort of thing only a steam loco can create.
We certainly had our fun, although the weather was not on our side. Before getting the loco inside, we had to do some prep work outside. Graham, Nema and myself took the brunt of the downpour on Wednesday morning. I was hoping that I could just use a pressure steam washer to get her nice and shiny in no time. But according to our engineers, pressure washers and steam locomotives are sworn enemies – one of the worst things you can do to a loco is to send water under pressure straight inside the bearings. This meant going back to the traditional rug, brush and scraper, with some help of modern water-based industrial degreasers.
Three people would not be enough to get the wizard’s train ready for our young enthusiasts. Fortunately, our colleagues and volunteers here at the National Railway Museum were more than happy to spend a couple of hours in the front line; our call to arms brought a crowd of brave volunteers. Suited with bunny suits and gloves, they attacked the soot and muck with fierce determination. Six hours later, Hogwarts Castle stood proud and almost gleaming.
By Friday afternoon, the cab was finally ready, along with the bulk of the chassis and cladding.
Monday and Tuesday will be the time for cosmetic work. The nameplates and other brass fittings will be polished and from Wednesday 11 August, everybody will have a chance to climb into the cab.