Welcome to the final update of 2011. It has clearly been a busy month for many projects, so here’s an overview of the latest developments – after an update looking back just a little further…

Worsdell G5
The last New Build Steam update gave the G5 as an example of a project where the official website did not offer regular (or at least well-signposted) updates; no sooner had this gone live than we were pointed towards this video from March, giving an overview of the project from the time when the rear bogie was on display at the NRM in Shildon (in front of the APT-E, which arguably doesn’t augur well, but no matter…).

The lack of website updates clearly belies considerable progress on the project; the low priority afforded to online updates will of course be amply justified if the locomotive is soon completed. The video set a timeframe of two years, which now amounts to 15 months – so we’re looking at March 2013. This is subject to funding, which the group is still having to raise: £400,000 has been spent out of an anticipated total of £800,000 or so. The video also says the build has reached the stage of the many manufactured components being assembled, and subsequent internet reports suggest the boiler was due to undergo a pressure test before the end of 2011. Could this project be the next to reach completion?

6880 Betton Grange
Plenty of progress has been reported on Betton Grange. Several updates to the official website during December show progress on the frames, ‘dog leg’ springer hangers and racking plate. This is summarised in the below video.

Over on the unofficial ‘friends’ site, there are interesting details of a boiler inspection. The boiler, last in service on 7927 Wilmington Hall, is from the last batch built at Swindon to number 1 design, and one of the newest and least-travelled boilers in preservation (certainly the newest and least-travelled boiler of its type). The inspection was not exhaustive, but shows some promising preliminary findings about the state of the boiler.

3MT 82045
The November and December updates for 82045 have both been published since the last update here. The December round-up includes information on further progress on the chassis, a review of 2011, from the copper theft to the latest development – the news that the order has been placed for the pattern and casting of the cylinder assemblies.

60163 Tornado
The latest Tornado Telegraph  emphasises that the financial work to pay for the A1 and its running is not over, with a reminder that new covenantors are welcome, an update on the continuing appeal to fund the new support coach, and the announcement that, “income was considerably down over the first half of 2011.” With the fundraising climate for all charities tough at present, and a plethora of other new build projects clamouring for support, it’s easy to see how donations to the A1 might have slackened off. The Trust is clearly responding, however, with a legacy giving programme now in place and other developments as noted in the previous update.

45551 The Unknown Warrior
A new blog has been established for the Patriot project (link also included on the left), which so far contains a look back over 2011 and pictures of the axle-box bearings and keeps.

2MT 84030
The December newsletter for this project shows that the frame extensions have now been welded on (unfortunately the link didn’t work when last tried [EDIT it appears to be working again now – take your chances!]; a brief update and link appear on this page )

8783 Phoenix
It is now the stated aim of this project to have the locomotive completed for 2023, the centenary of the LNER and of the demise of the GER (or “demise if the GER” according to their website – like the J39 project, the Claud Hamilton would do well to use a spell-checker and/or solicit some help with proof-reading!).

An appeal has been launched, titled ‘Get our Wheels Turning’, to pay for the locomotive’s bogie wheels. A chairman’s statement has also been issued (available on this page – it’s curiously hard to provide direct links to their website): it is quite an informal thing, but confirms group is seaching for a base in which to assemble the locomotive and have identified some probably quite achievable components to prioritise for manufacture (snifter valves, whistle, chimney caps) – hopefully these will be useful publicity tools for when the group approaches the bulk of the build.

J39 64960
The J39 group had an update on their website, but unfortunately there seems to be a problem with it now and at the time of writing it is not available. The project continues to divide opinion online, as does the Claud Hamilton to a large extent, as sketchy details and questionable commitments (eg a proposed copper boiler) appear to cast doubt on the abilities of the young group. None of this, of course, precludes the group from acquiring experience, raising funds and building the locomotive – it simply remains unclear what path that journey might take.

1014 County of Glamorgan
The County’s wheels are now at Didcot, and the group’s November update  includes news on planning for the boiler, which is expected to move to Crewe for work around the middle of 2012.

61600 Sandringham
There were changes to the B17 project early in 2011, and unfortunately New Build Steam did not pick up on them until some press coverage emerged more recently. The B17 Steam Locomotive Trust has been formed to take the project over, and now has a web presence here (New Build Steam did a considerable double-take at this, as the site looks like it dates from the late 1990s; from its content however, it does indeed appear to be brand new!). Unfortunately the old Sandringham Locomotive Company website remains online with no indication of any change having taken place. The links on the left-hand sidebar of this site have, however, been updated.

In terms of the build, the Trust has been offered siding space at the Mid Norfolk Railway for its two tenders, and now appears to be aiming to construct only one locomotive and not the previously proposed static replica (probably very sensibly – it is hard to see how this extra construction could have recouped any money). The existence of two tenders will allow it to be presented in ‘footballer’ or ‘Sandringham’ guise, although the build standard will be to 1935 ‘footballer’ design rather than the first order of ten locos from North British in 1928.

The new website does not appear to commit to styling the new locomotive 61600 Sandringham as previously seemed to be the idea. In the absence of another proposed designation, this site will continue to use that styling in its menus etc. for the time being.

F5 67218
An engineering update brings the news that the orders have been placed for the frame plates, mid-frame stretcher and rail guards.

… And finally
Many thanks to everyone who has read this blog since its launch in February, offered supportive comments and politely put us straight in the event of errors (in fact, the extremely low number of aggressive comments has been a pleasant surprise).

As a final tweak for the year, following a suggestion in the comments, the links on the left-hand side have been updated so that if you hover your cursor over them you will see a description of the site a given link will take you to. It might not be obvious that, for instance, if you want to go to the official site for 72010 Hengist you need to click on ‘Standard Steam Locomotive Company’ so hopefully this will make the links more useful.

It seems unlikely that 2012 will bring us another standard gauge new build engine in steam, but it seems certain that it will be a year in which many projects make major strides – perhaps, in one or two cases, to the point of being set to steam in 2013. Best of luck to everyone working on these exciting projects over the next year and beyond.