The last update of the year is a bumper one, with progress from many of the projects and a wrap-up of the year’s news.

60163 Tornado
The A1 has made its debut runs in BR blue, starting with the Cathedrals Express on November 24th. It has been abundantly photographed and videoed already; as but one selection, the video below gives a great impression of the locomotive at speed.

In related news, Chairman of the A1 Steam Locomotive Trust Mark Allatt has been elected Chairman of the LNER Society, and has pledged to implement, “exciting plans to help and encourage railway enthusiast and modellers find out more about the history of this most important of Britain’s railways.”

3MT 82045
The latest engineering progress on the 3MT includes work on the horn blocks for the centre driving wheels, rivet work for the smokebox saddle and the connecting rods. Sponsorship for individual components has also been secured to the impressive value of over £13,000, with more expected to follow. The group also plans to order components for the rear pony truck assembly jointly with another locomotive group whose engine has the same rear pony assembly, hopefully resulting in savings for both groups.

72010 Hengist
The Clan Project’s website has been revamped somewhat, to include a well-presented news section and new blog (making redundant?). The news section includes an item on the future build plan for the locomotive, although it then says, “Please note this is privileged information, please do not repost to any public forum.” It is unclear whether this has been published in error. The PDF included in the post contains a Gantt chart giving the projected schedule for the build, with construction of the boiler scheduled from Q4 2020 to Q3 2024 and running-in for Q2 to Q4 2026.

In other Hengist news, Wayne Jones and Partners have been appointed as the project’s certification body, and the project has announced a partnership with Heritage Hub (details of what this will entail are not specified, other than the it does not come at a cost to the project).

6880 Betton Grange
Several items of news have been published regarding the Grange project. Its website includes an update on reaming work ahead of riveting of the locomotive’s frames, with a view to wheeling it in 2013. Additionally, the group has secured a new storage container for both parts and merchandise; while this may sound mundane, the Scotsman report has made clear the importance of basics like storing parts in an organised way.

A news item in Heritage Railway magazine gives further details . The wheels of Large Prairie 5199, which has recently come out of traffic at Llangollen, have been secured for use under the Grange. This follows the finding that the wheels obtained from Collett mogul 7325 at the Severn Valley Railway were found to have casting flaws which would have required the manufacture and fitting of new balance weights and balancing in order to meet Network Rail standards. The swap will minimise the axlebox work required by both groups, and give Betton Grange wheels fit for use on the main line.

The Night Owl group have issued customarily in-depth update on progress. This includes: progress on securing the necessary accuracy in machining plates for stretchers; a solution for replacing the compensated springing fitted to the original locomotives and removed from all other classes but curiously not the 47xxs; the new buffer beam; and the horn castings.

1014 County of Glamorgan
The latest update on the County shows progress in many areas, though curiously it begins by observing that activity “remains slow” – it certainly doesn’t seem it from the number of items listed! These include work on the main frame horn guides and axleboxes, which are the current priority; a laser has been set up to given an accurate centre axle height; a detailed report on the boiler confirms that the firebox is in good condition, with new crown stays required but not new monel metal stays; barring the completion of some minor bracketry, the cab is ready to be disassembled, cleaned, primed and riveted; a vacuum pump has been located for the engine; and numerous further items are detailed.

2999 Lady of Legend
There continues to be progress on the Saint project: the two connecting rods have been prepared for polishing prior to fitting; work continues on multiple components of the cab and tender; the buffer assemblies are complete and ready for fitting, as are nearly all the boiler backhead fittings. Manufacture of the longitudinal stays between the firebox and the front tubeplate is among the jobs on the horizon.

P2 2001 Cock o’ the North
There has recently been a flurry of posts on the Facebook page of the Doncaster P2 Locomotive Trust, including numerous photographs of P2s at work. Progress on developing drawings for the locomotive is detailed, and a call has been issued for volunteer CAD draftsmen. A further post speculates that the problem of the P2s’ reputed tendency to damage the track could be solved by using a modified front pony truck of the type fitted to the V2s to solve a similar problem; computer modelling work recently reported by the A1 Trust for its P2 also appears to be addressing this problem, and to be well on the way towards a solution.

LNWR George the Fifth
The LNWR George the Fifth group have issued a clarification further to a recent news article in Steam Railway magazine: the article suggested that the somebox will be maufactured with 1930s LMS-era modifications, but it will in fact be to the original LNWR design, albeit working from an LMS drawing which shows both configurations. Work continues on the contract to manufacture the door, and the next component has been selected for manufacture – but so far, not announced. Members of the group have also presented the project to the annual lunch of the LNWR Society in Crewe.

LNWR Bloomer
There has traditionally been little information available online about the long-running project to build a new LNWR Bloomer, but it has recently been the subject of extensive discussion on the National Preservation forum. While many of the posts have amounted to little more than an unedifying spat, Tyseley’s Bob Meanley has made two highly interesting contributions, one outlining the project’s history and how it is intertwined with that of the centre at Tyseley, and another giving an update on progress.

The 5AT Group has announced that it will be re-printing David Wardale’s book ‘The Red Devil and Other Tales from the Age of Steam’. First published in 1998, the book is Wardale’s account of his career in steam engineering in South Africa from 1974 to 1989, during which he developed steam technology through his work in locomotives including the titular ‘Red Devil’.

Readers who are interested in ordering the book should email in the first instance. More detail is available on the 5AT website, where information on pricing will be published soon. A donation to the 5AT Group will be made from each purchase via the website.

Admin and AOB
The Clan project’s IT and web officer Dave Etheridge left an interesting clarification in the comments on last month’s update, in which it had been reported that the group had secured the rights to use the BR ‘cycling lion’ emblem. The rights to all BR logos and emblems rest not with one of the residual descendants of British Rail as speculated, but with the National Railway Museum.

Meanwhile, numerous new photos have been added to the Flickr group pool, including numerous shots of Tornado in blue, and CAD work from the Claud Hamilton group. Do please keep them coming.

Regular visitors to this site may have noticed the appearance of a new page: ‘What is new build steam?‘ It is intended to give an overview of the subject for readers not familiar with it, or with heritage rail in general, as the content of the site may seem disorientating to wholly new visitors.

Looking back on 2012, and ahead to 2013
It has been a pleasure to report on so much progress for so many projects in 2012, and to see so many people visiting this site to read about it. For some reason visitor numbers to the site shot up in February and have been at over 5,000 a month ever since; last month saw more than four times the number of visitors that November 2011 did, so thanks to all readers, and particularly everyone who has comments on the site, for stopping by.

What might next year bring for the new build movement? Is there a chance we might see another new build engine steam? No group has put its head above the parapet and declared a target to steam in 2013, although some are more open about their progress than others – with a boiler and other major components in place, is the G5 within 12 months of completion? Even if not, it seems the closest of them all, on the information in the public domain at any rate.

Even if we don’t see a completed locomotive in 2013, the time when multiple projects start to bear fruit is not far away. Aside from the G5, the Grange group have announced an expected completion date of 2016, while to be operational for the centenary of the end of World War I as planned, the Patriot will have to be moving under its own power by very early in 2018 at the latest. New build projects seem sure to become a more prominent part of the heritage rail scene in the UK over coming years – even in 2012, it seems subjectively that they are attracting more attention in the specialist press than ever before. The year, or years, until we have multiple new build locomotives running will no doubt pass quickly.