News round-up (4), 2015

2013 Prince George
20150810 George Fifth buffer beamThe front buffer beam for 2013 was made in June, with thanks to George the Fifth group for the image (right).

GCR 567
The GCR 567 project has become the latest to pass the milestone of having its frames cut. The work was done on July 21st by PP Profiles in St Helens, Merseyside; the parts are no being inspected before being dressed and primed. Machining will then follow, with the rear of the frames including the hornguides to be done first, and the side plates and doublers then bent into shape.

There is activity elsewhere on the locomotive too. A build plate pattern has been made, and thoughts are turning to the second phase of construction, the bogie assembly. Some corrosion on the cylinder block – specifically, on the valve seats – was identified earlier in the year, and it is intended to have the corroded seal face machined at the same time as the frames, before the block is fitted.

2007 Prince of Wales
Measured by weight, the P2 is already over one third complete (39% of the locomotive’s weight of 96 tons, 17% of the tender’s weight of 28.4 tons, both as measured when empty, giving 34% overall). The permanent fitting of numerous completed and machined components to the frames is now underway; the bufferbeam stiffeners and front buffer spring casings have been fitted in order to square up the frames for this work. All fame paintwork and frame stays are to be ‘wet assembled’, as is common in the aviation industry: sophisticated interfay compounds are used in riveted aluminium alloy to inhibit corrosion, which was a problem during the construction of Tornado. Red metal primer is the interfay compound of choice for the P2. Plentiful images of the latest work can be found on the P2 website.

3MT 82045
Parts for 82045’s cab have been delivered to Bridgnorth from the laser profilers in ‘flat pack kit’ form and have had the first of several trial fittings to the chassis, to ensure accurate positioning and fitting relative to other components. They have been removed now but are expected to reappear periodically as work progresses – the group’s website has pictures.

In respect of the front of the locomotive, the patterns for the chimney and vacuum ejector exhaust ring have been delivered and prices for casting are awaited. The smokebox wrapper has been marked out for the drilling of holes to fit items such as the handrail pillars, and the smokebox door hinges and locking mechanism are now ready. Machining continues on components around the axelboxes, and work continues to balance the driving wheels at Buckfastleigh.

Funds are now available to cover a substantial portion of the boiler and firebox construction, and it is hope that work will have commenced by the end of September. The boiler appeal continues however, and planning is underway to raise the estimated £100,000 needed for the motion and valve gear.

6880 Betton Grange
Since the last New Build Steam update, more progress has been made on the Grange’s front-end plate work.

1014 County of Glamorgan
On the County, the cab floor is now complete, and the rear dragbox of the tender was recently removed to facilitate further work. Work on the firebox at Crewe has been paused at the group’s request, ahead of a meeting planned for August in which completion of the job and matters to do with the boiler barrel and smokebox were due to be discussed; these latter items were being priced up ahead of discussions.

F5 789
Also planning a meeting for late August to discuss next steps was the F5 group, this time at Tyseley, following the successful completion of machining of the cylinder block by Harco Engineering.

61662 Manchester United
Work by the Footballer group continues to concentrate on the tender, with a quote obtained for lining out the paintwork, and a vote opened up to supporters on whether to apply the early or later BR crest. By coincidence, a newly-discovered photograph of the original 61662 shows it just ten months prior to withdrawal, paired with a tender still sporting the older crest – did it ever carry the later one? Happily, the poll was overwhelmingly in support of the earlier crest being applied.

Less positively, the group has found that intruders have been in the cab and tender, which are stored in the open. Many of the project’s spares are stored in the tender, although none are reported as having been taken. New warning signs, a temporary wooden bulkeahd to the coal space and sheeting over the tender have been installed.

K3 Steam
A curious, and possibly new, website advertising a new build steam project has come to the attention of NBS: on it, a group claims to be planning to construct a new locomotive to break the steam speed record, based (curiously) on the distinctly non-express LNER K3 design. It promises that more details will be announced shortly, and suggests that the project will be crowdfunded, with the record attempt due in 2020-22. Given that the P2 is aiming for completion on the same timescale but is already, as reported above, one third complete in terms of manufactured parts, this timescale seems unlikely. Nor is it clear from the design of the single webpage currently online whether this is a new group or an old page that has simply not come to our attention before – there is no date on it, although the reference to crowdfunding suggests it dates from the last few years, even if it looks rather older. If the project does emerge as a serious undertaking, New Build Steam will report further developments. In the meantime, if Mallard’s record is under any threat it’s most likely from this American group as previously reported, which provides a successful example of modern crowdfunding techniques being used for specific components.

Off-topic: 35011 General Steam Navigation

35011 earlier in her post-Barry life, at Williton. By Rob Phillips on Flickr
35011 earlier in her post-Barry life, at Williton. By Rob Phillips on Flickr

There has been substantial activity online since May regarding the future of Merchant Navy pacific 35011 General Steam Navigation, currently stored at Sellindge in ex-Barry condition. The prospect of ‘de-building’ one of the numerous members of the class still to be restored into its unrebuilt condition, to Bulleid’s innovative original design, has been a much-discussed possibility among enthusiasts for some time. On May 23rd, a Facebook group was established proposing to do exactly that with 35011.

The locomotive has not changed hands and there is no new group or society associated with the project; rather, the originator of the Facebook group states that he and the owner, “wish to do something positive with the loco and restore it back to its original as built condition with air smoothed casing and chain driven valve gear.”

Given the enormous mountains that have already been climbed – from the restoration of Duke of Gloucester to the successful and imminent completion of numerous express locomotives – it is hard to doubt that such a feat can be achieved. The best of the new build projects have shown that effective leadership and high quality planning are vital: further essentials such as funding and facilities can readily be garnered once they are in place.

Interestingly, although the ‘de-building’ would effectively bring back into existence a class of locomotive currently extinct, comparable in some ways to some of the GWR projects using donor locomotives, the organiser appears not to construe it either as a new build type project or as a project on the same scale: asked what the ball-park costs might be, he expressly replied ‘less than a new build loco‘. Given that even the restoration of Flying Scotsman from a notably less delapidated state has cost more than it would have done to build a new A3 from scratch, this seems a questionable assumption.

Currently, the stated priority is to find a new base for the locomotive, and an appeal has been issued for support and suggestions. The need to locate original drawings has also been identified; questions around whether it will be permissible to run on the main line a class of locomotive that was ultimately rebuilt due to reliability issues appear not to have been addressed so far.

New Build Steam will monitor developments with interest, and may add the project to the list of those we regularly report on if it takes substantial strides.

Off-topics: Class 22 (Project 22)
In addition to updates on the Footballer project, the latest NBL Preservation Group newsletter contains an update on the project to build a new class 22 diesel; New Build Steam is grateful to NBLPG for forwarding the newsletter. The project has purchased an engine previously used in a Warship class diesel and believed to have been used in a class 22 before that, which has been in use subsequently at Barking docks and then in store at the East Lancashire Railway. Project 22, as the group is now known, is continuing to develop its business plan.

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