A 73-year-old steam engine has recently emerged looking pristine from a six-year overhaul.

Much of the work on 9681 was carried out by volunteers of the Dean Forest Locomotive Group (DFLG).

The £320,000 re-fit was done at the Norchard headquarters of the Dean Forest Railway.

The locomotive group’s chief engineer on the project, Tom Holford, said: “This is the most comprehensive overhaul since Swindon Works days.

“Every mechanical part, every pin, every bush, every bit of plate work has been renewed.

“Every part of the motion and valve gear, the cylinders has all been looked at and re-lined and new pipe work put on.

“A lot of it was life-expired basically.”

Hundreds of rivets were put in using the traditional hot riveting technique.

Mr Halford said: “Nobody does hot riveting anymore but we do – each one is put in hot with a pneumatic hammer and knocked over on the other side (of the metal sheet).

More experienced members pass on their skills and knowledge to newer volunteers.

Mr Halford said they were expecting a long job when the project started,

He added: “We knew it was bad but you never expect it to be as bad as it is. Even as we were finishing it off we were finding bits.

‘‘We were trying to get it back to how it would have been ex-works.

“It’s probably the most comprehensive overhaul its had in preservation since the days of it running on the network with British Railways.”

The overhaul was 9681’s third since arriving at the Dean Forest Railway in October 1975.

Mr Halford explained: “This is our second engine – we make money by hiring engines to the railway.

“We are separate to the railway – the money goes back into the engines so we are not for profit

“To carry on restoring them they need to earn money so by getting this out it will start earning more money and we can carry on doing what we do because it is expensive and its getting more expensive every year.”

The DFLG’s next project is sister engine 9682.

The loco spent most of its working life in south Wales before it was withdrawn from service in 1965 still in good working order.