There’s plenty of interesting material in this month’s update, though as now seems to be usual it includes several apologies for missing updates earlier in the year. As this is site run purely on an amateur basis that benefits from just enough man-hours to do a monthly update and really not much more, it’s reliant on published information, and on that information being readily accessible online. Sometimes the information is thoroughly squirrelled away on project websites, and other times it’s simply New Build Steam’s fault for missing it – the aim is for a reasonable degree of comprehensiveness even if not speed, so as ever corrections and additional information are welcome. Hopefully the developments here will be no less interesting for being, in a few cases, a bit late.

Photo by Gav106 on NatPres
45551's wheels, with thanks to Gav106 on NatPres

45551 The Unknown Warrior
There has been quite a bit of news about this project recently, much of it emerging at the time of NBS’s last update. Official announcements came out just after the last update went up, so it’s a bit belated – but still very positive.

The progress diagram on the website now shows an impressive amount done.  Most significantly, the locomotive’s driving wheels (pictured) have been completed at the Boro Foundry and taken to the South Devon Railway to be turned into completed wheelsets, with the fitting of tyres, axles, a crank axle and crank pins. This brings the project close to having a complete rolling chassis, with all the necessary components either manufactured or ordered.

An original Patriot chimney, previously fitted to 45539 E.C. Trench, has also been acquired at auction, although bidding for its whistle unfortunately took it beyond the project’s reach. The chimney may or may not be used on the locomotive, depending on what approach is adopted for reducing its overall height to meet Network Rail’s maximum permitted height – even in the event that it is not used, however, it will be of use for reference in fabricating a new chimney.

The group also held its AGM on November 12th, which confirmed that the aim is for the locomotive to be named on November 11th 2018. To meet this target, the engine will realistically have to be completed 12 months in advance of that – in a mere six years from now! It will be a truly impressive feat if achieved, and the project certainly appears to have significant momentum behind it.

2MT 84030
Like the Brighton Atlantic project, 84030 has progress reported on a dedicated page on the Bluebell’s website, which New Build Steam had missed until recently (there is now a link on the left-hand sidebar, along with all the other project sites we’re aware of) – there is abundant detail on it, so it is well worth a read for those interested in this project. There has clearly been much headway made, with a September update showing the new rear frame extension and front dragbox.

72010 Hengist
There have already been a couple of updates on Hengist since the company’s AGM, which is a very positive increase in the rate at which news emerges – and hopefully an indication of an increased pace in progressing the project too. The first stretcher pattern was due for collection this month, earlier than anticipated. An annual subscription for membership of the group is also being introduced.

The 5AT project group appear to have redesigned their website’s front page recently, adding a dedicated panel for news updates. This reveals an update from May, which New Build Steam had somehow missed despite poking around the site for signs of news when compiling every monthly update. Still, the content might explain why there’s been no news since May: long-standing project coordinator Alan Fozard has stepped down from his role. The group is appealing for a volunteer or volunteers with the necessary skills to boost its promotion and fundraising activities.

6880 Betton Grange
The Betton Grange project boasts not one but two new websites, after a fashion. The new official site is certainly a step forward from its predecessor, while an unofficial site has also been set up by a ‘friends’ group. There was a small amount of online ‘noise’ about the launch of the new official site, so it is to be hoped that the existence of two sites does not indicate discord in the 6880 camp – though there’s not much evidence of it on the ‘friends’ site certainly, which promises to deliver on the social side of the web. As regular readers of New Build Steam will be aware, that’s very much welcome news in these quarters!

Meanwhile, the official site continues to provide extremely informative newsletters, which are happily now much easier to find (are they emailed out to supporters? New Build Steam wouldn’t mind being on the list, if news sources are also included). And there is significant news to report: the locomotive’s wheels have been moved to the South Devon Railway, who as has already been reported are also working on the Patriot’s wheels. 6880’s wheels had been in use under GWR mogul 7325/9303 early in its preserved life on the Severn Valley Railway, until replaced by a set with thicker tyres three decades ago. They have been stored at the SVR out of use since then, and are now under long-term loan for use under 6880.

Work has also been taking place on the bogie recovered from 5952 Cogan Hall, and revealed that it was also used under 6811 Leaton Grange, 6875 Hindford Grange and 7036 Taunton Castle at different times in its life. There is plenty more detail on the project in its newsletters.

1014 County of Glamorgan
The County project is in a push to create a rolling chassis, with the wheels now having arrived at Didcot and work focusing on the bogie and main axleboxes. New frames have also been ordered for the tender, and a meeting with the Vehicle Acceptance Body was due this month, as serious thought begins to turn towards the not insignificant matter of the boiler. There is plenty more detail, including pictures of the wheels’ arrival, in the October update.

New websites and online initiatives
There has been a rash of online developments, in addition to the Grange websites already reported, which are being grouped together here as they mostly do not directly bear on locomotive construction.

First among them are new websites for the J39 and Claud Hamilton groups. The J39 site includes details of the group’s presence at various future events, and contains a link to sign up for a newsletter, in exchange for a subscription. New Build Steam will be interested to see how successful this model of fundraising proves to be – though note you need to go via the Facebook page , and can’t do it via the website (where details are a little obscurely located). While the youth of this group has been noted before, and one tries not to be unfair on the subject, it is notable that they are raising funds without any sort of business plan or strategy having been published as far as New Build Steam is aware (as, it seems, is the Claud Hamilton project).

The new Claud Hamilton site can be found here and via the link on the left-hand side of this site; the previous site has not been taken down but advises of the new one, which includes a rather nice gallery of Clauds.

A Facebook page has also been set up relating to a project to build a replica of sole GWR pacific The Great Bear. The project appears not to extend any further than the Facebook page and so is not currently listed in any further detail on this site.

Turning from the newest groups to the best-established new build project, the A1 Trust have begun using Easy Search and Easy Fundraising, so supporters can channel funding to them via their web activity and without spending money themselves. They have also announced that their dedicated donation facility will close at the end of the year – this allowed supporters to sponsor a particular component, though there is still time to do so if you wish.

More generally, there has overall clearly been some good progress on the web front in respect of new builds, though some projects still lack dedicated sites (which is fine if the finance and support needed to complete them is already in place, but surely a bit unwise if not), while other sites make it impressively difficult to tell whether there is any progress to report – the G5 site, for instance, has an excellent section detailing work so far… but no dates anywhere! As far as New Build Steam can tell it has not been updated for some time, but we are happy to hear updates if there is news to report.

Unusually, New Build Steam’s monthly update is being published ahead of the 82045 group’s so there’s no news from them to report – though their consistent information provision, clear website and visible progress remain impressive.

Finally, there is now a Twitter list of accounts for new build projects on the New Build Steam account, which Twitter users can follow. There are only three on there so far, however! If there are any other groups using Twitter that have been missed, we’ll be happy to add them.