6880 Betton Grange

Another new-build rolling chassis came into being last month, with the wheeling of Betton Grange on Monday 8th April at Llangollen (as it happened, the day after the last NBS news round-up was published). In addition to the video above, which shows the process in full, the work is described with photographs here.

After the wheeling, the buffers and spectacle plate were added over the weekend of April 20th–21st and the foot plating was painted.

61662 Manchester United
Ken Livermore of the Engine 61662 Appeal left a comment on the last update, drawing attention to a significant development: the group have successfully purchased an original LNER tender, discovered during the clearing of a Doncaster scrap yard.

Photo courtesy Ken LivermoreThe Appeal succeeded in raising £4,000 to buy the tender in something of a race against time, as the yard’s owner wished to clear the yard while the price of scrap metal remained high. Project Leader Ken Livermore commented: “This is a great day for us, the original engine and tender were scrapped in the 1960’s so to unearth an identical tender more than 50 years later to us is like discovering buried treasure!”

The photo, supplied by Ken, show operations to take the tender from the yard to the Mizens Railway, a 7.25” railway in Woking, for restoration.

GCR 567
The GCR 567 group has also kindly been in touch with an update on their project. Visitors to the GCR(N)’s Closing the Gap Gala this bank holiday weekend will have had the chance to see the drawings for the frame side plates; numerous other components are being drawn into the same cutting plan, to minimise waste from the 10m x 2.5m x 30mm plate.

The group have also stated that they are looking at ways to strengthen the frames at the front of the locomotive, in light particularly of the recent ‘heavy shunt’ incident on the North Norfolk Railway between 70000 Britannia and Standard 2MT 78019; with heritage line use likely to entail the locomotive running with its smokebox towards the train a lot of the time, the group wishes to ensure both ends of the locomotive are robust enough to guard against damage in incidents of this sort. With care, they believe modifications to achieve this should not be readily visible.

Other current considerations are the dragbox, which will be fabricated and suitably weighted in place of the original cast version, and the boiler. On the latter point, if a new round top firebox version is built, it may well have an additional set of crinolines and wrapper to give a Belpaire shape when running in the later GCR colours – the topic is still up for discussion while the project is at the design stage.

The group is also appealing for more engineers and draughtsmen with CAD experience to join the project, to help with the substantial task of going through the mass of documentation necessary to move the project on.

LNWR George the Fifth
This blog post contains an update on, and pictures of, the fabrication of the smokebox door.

Worsdell G5
The G5 project’s regular open days commenced on Saturday May 4th, and will be held on the first Saturday of the month until October at Rail Restorations North East Ltd in Shildon. Meanwhile, the grouo’s Flickr account documents work on the engine, including this picture of one of the driving wheels being worked on.

45551 The Unknown Warrior
Progress on the Patriot continues apace, both organisationally and in terms of engineering. The latest Facebook update stated, among other things, that the smokebox door was due for completion, axlebox machining is progressing, the second set of crankpins was due to be fitted, orders have been placed for outstanding motion parts and patterns for items for the bogie, and drawings for the running plate have been finished.

Meanwhile, Heritage Painting has been commissioned to paint the locomotive. The outfit has made a name for itself painting the A4s 4468 Mallard and 60008 Dwight D Eisenhower in York recently among other commissions. The cab sides are due to be fitted in time for the display of the chassis at the Warley Model Railway Exhibition in Birmingham, and will each be painted in different liveries. It is also planned for there to be a live demonstration of applying cabside numbers.

The final choice of livery for the locomotive has yet to be decided; there will be a vote among supporters after construction is completed (which suggests that the engine will have an interim test livery, similar to Tornado). The intended completion date is still 2017, subject to funds, with mainline operations due to follow in 2018 for the centenary of the Armistice.

3MT 82045
The latest engineering progress on the 3MT includes the placement South Devon Railway Engineering Ltd of a contract for the axles, tyres and associated machining for the driving wheels, and pattern-making for the underkeeps of the driving wheels and axleboxes.

The project also continues to show that there is more to a new build project than just engineering: the Trust has now been registered for VAT, which will allow it to claim back VAT on both future spending and on all items bought over the last four years. To give just one example, funds for the driving wheels are already in place inclusive of VAT; now, over £16,000 of these have been freed up. At the AGM on April 6th it was reported that the project had achieved the targets set in 2012; overall, the regular updates on the project’s site continue to paint a picture of a well-run project making admirable progress.

60163 Tornado
Tornado suffered a widely reported failure on April 20th while working the return leg of the Cathedrals Express from Holyhead back to Crewe, from where a diesel was due to take the train back to London. Its new air pump failed, causing a brake failure as the second pump normally carried by the locomotive was at Crewe undergoing repair. The train had to be rescued by a diesel – unfortunately none was close to hand, and the train was three hours late into Crewe, by which time an engineering possession meant it had to be terminated and passengers conveyed home by road. The delays to service trains along the north coast line were considerable – but while such incidents are highly unfortunate, it should be remembered that they can and do arise from failures by modern traction as well. The pump that failed is now back with the supplier, and Tornado is undergoing repairs at Crewe.

67002+60163 "Tornado" - Crewe
Tornado’s day ends ignominiously, with a tow back to Crewe by 67002. Photo by 60009 on Flickr.

East Coast Main Line speed limit
Network Rail has announced that it will temporarily raise the speed limit for steam operations on specified sections of the East Coast main line from 75mph to 90mph. The sections identified are both north and south of York, and the change will cover three railtours, on 29th June, 19th July and 27th July. Perhaps surprisingly, the locomotive in charge of all three runs is not the new build Tornado, but vintage A4 4464 Bittern – the occasion of course being the 75th anniversary of Mallard’s record-setting run. It should be noted that while the limit is being lifted that does not mean that Bittern will be pushed to hit 90mph for its own sake. The change will be subject to a test run on the Great Western main line.

Overall, this appears to be a positive sign of Network Rail’s attitude, after a period of bad headlines about lineside fires and delays caused by steam failures; it suggests NR have a proper perspective on these issues and are still friendly towards heritage operations on the ‘big railway’. Could it pave the way for higher speed running by Tornado? New Build Steam understands from previous online comment that the A1 Trust has been negotiating with Network Rail to enable Tornado to run at 90mph, which they feel it could readily achieve, and that these discussions have been progressing tentatively but positively.

Another new Facebook group – a J50?
A Facebook page has been set up for a putative project to build an LNER J50 tank engine. It remains to be seen whether this will go anywhere, or prove to be an aspiration confined to the internet. New Build Steam will report further if the project makes significant progress.