During 2012 and 2013, explorations and enquiries were made about obtaining existing 15” gauge locomotives. Proposals were invited and discussed at the December 2013 Council meeting, which included a general review of options. The meeting heard that a Krauss locomotive was apparently for sale in Spain as part of a job-lot. In early 2015 the possibility of acquiring the ‘Spanish Krauss’ was raised again. The situation had changed with the job-lot now being offered for sale individually. In particular, a sister locomotive, No. 8455 Santa Maria, had been sold to the Killesbergbahn in Stuttgart in 2014. No.8457 was now being offered for sale for €200k. The acquisition of an existing locomotive from Europe also offered an interesting heritage angle which could add to the locomotive’s attraction at the railway and be beneficial during fundraising.
In October 2015, a team of four travelled to Mataró, near Barcelona, to visit the locomotive. The review team found that the locomotive was in excellent condition and in nearly complete state. Considerable work had been undertaken by the Spanish group including fitting new tyres and roller bearings to the main driving wheels. The boiler and frames were in a condition consistent with low use over the first year of its life in the late 1920s and subsequent storage in dry conditions, and are effectively ‘as new’. The locomotive had been changed cosmetically to something approaching a British-style outline. The boiler inspector considered that the boiler and firebox were in excellent condition with minimal signs of wear on rivets and stays. Spot thickness measurements were as expected. The inspector considered that boiler certification can be achieved readily and the boiler should provide many years of service.
The team who visited Spain reported back to the Society Council. A special teleconference meeting endorsed the recommendations of the review team to acquire the locomotive. However, due to the scale of the expenditure, it was decided to hold an Extraordinary General Meeting to offer Society members a say in the decision. The Extraordinary General Meeting was held on 15 December 2015. A postal vote attracted votes from an unprecedented 43% of adult members, with 99% in favour of the proposal. A budget of £250k was set for the project. A sale agreement was drafted and signed with the vendors on 17 December 2015 confirming the contract to purchase the locomotive and making a deposit payment.