WORK on building a £300,000 replica steam train for a heritage railway has temporarily hit the buffers, as an appeal is made for funds to complete the 15-year project.

Railway and locomotive builders Alan Keef Ltd, who operate out of Lea Lines in Lea, near Ross-on-Wye, are building a new Falcon narrow gauge steam engine for the Corris Railway in North Wales.

They had hoped to unveil the completed engine at their open day in August, but railway bosses now need more funds to finish the job and have temporarily halted work.

Founded in 1859 as a horse tramway, the Corris Railway served the local slate quarries running from quays on the Afon Dyfi west of Machynlleth.

Tracks able to support locos were laid down in the 1870s, and three Falcon engines arrived in 1878, which enabled passenger traffic.

But in 1930 it stopped ferrying passengers and closed completely in 1948, with its locos later acquired by the Talyllyn Railway.

Sixteen years later, a group of enthusiasts led by Alan Meaden formed the Corris Society with the aim of preserving and restoring what was left of the railway.

Later renamed the Corris Railway Society, it acquired a new loco in 2005, and the idea of having a replica of its original No 3 Falcon loco to share the load then fired up steam fans to start a new round of fundraising.

The No 10 project is now close to fruition, with Alan Keef having fitted the boiler and cab on frames for checking and modifications, and the rolling chassis, wheels and motion operated by compressed air, already completed.

But funds have been exhausted and the work has temporarily been shunted into the sidings while an appeal gets under way.

CRS spokesman John Simms said the recreation of a complex steam locomotive dating from 1878, albeit a small one, is costly and time-consuming, with the saddle tank and making and fitting the cab and boiler fittings still to be done.

"The project has been temporarily suspended to allow replenishment of the fund specifically dedicated to the construction of the locomotive, whilst other parts of the revival of the Corris Railway continue," he added.

"Apart from the cab roof and the water tank, all the large, visible components for No 10 have been produced, but many smaller components are needed to complete the engine and have it hauling trains in the Dulas Valley.

"Many of these are one-offs and, as a result, expensive. For example, various control valves need to be provided at a total cost of £7,000.

"If anyone would like to make a contribution, large or small, this can be done via the Falcon Locomotive section of our website."

Original plans of the Falcon engines no longer exist, and drawings costing nearly £30,000 had to be made up from studies of the Talyllyn-based former Corris No 3 loco.

Family-owned Lea business Alan Keef Ltd was founded in 1968, and is run today by managing director Patrick Keef and Alan’s daughter Alice Basey as chief design engineer.

The boiler was recently trial fitted to the chassis, while work on a taller version of the cab carried by the original trio of Corris locos was undertaken last year.

An initial trial assembly took place in the workshop of a CRD volunteer in Nottingham before the sections were taken to Keef’s, where they were placed on the frames for the first time, which showed that some minor adjustments were needed.

Meanwhile, a Derby-based CRS volunteer has been working with Keef’s to produce components for the brake gear.

Other items produced by volunteers are the buffers, which have been sent from the railway’s workshops at Maespoeth Junction to Keef’s.

Footplate sections are also in place, as well as some pipe runs that will fit beneath them.

Drawhook blanks have been delivered ready for machining, and the regulator quadrant has also been produced.

A spokesperson for Alan Keef said: "Our work on heritage narrow gauge railways has been recognised and utilised around the world where sound historical understanding of the railways needs to be melded with craftsmanship and modern engineering.

"We undertake complete projects from initial inspection and survey through to restoration and installation or can work on a consultancy only basis to provide specialist teams with the back-up and knowledge they need to make their project a complete success."

To donate to the CRS Falcon No 10 project, go to