2013 Prince George

2013 Prince George Smokebox

Latest developments for the LNWR George V 4-4-0 are that the smokebox has been on display at Quorn on the Great Central Railway (pictured above – photo by Geoffrey Wilkins, reproduced by permission), and the pattern for, and casting of, the four bogie wheels have been ordered. A potential problem had been on the cards for this, as it was believed that the drawings held by the NRM might be incomplete; however, this has clearly been overcome, either by the drawings in fact being usable, or by making use of additional evidence from photographs or other LNWR locomotives. The project now has both a page and a group on Facebook.

2007 Prince of Wales
The schedule for completing the P2 by 2021 requires it to be wheeled this year, and to this end the project has launched the Mikado Club, aiming to raise £200,000 from 160 donors giving £1,000 each (plus Gift Aid). Benefits to membership include a reserved seat on 2007’s first main line train, and first choice of other components to sponsor. Over £60,000 has been pledged so far.

Meanwhile, updates on social media have included a request for information on the whereabouts of any surviving LNER type headlamps as used on the original P2s (not the replicas currently on the N2), and news of the start of hot riveting on the cab roof panels. Meanwhile, an article on the engineering approach to the project can be read in Rail Engineer magazine (much of which will be familiar to regular readers of this site, although there are plenty of interesting details). This news item also gives an overview of the latest details in the construction process, with plenty of photographs.

45551 The Unknown Warrior
The Patriot returned to Llangollen on March 24th, and has now ended its travels before completion. It was due to be lifted off its wheels and bogie to enable access to the chassis; the bogie will be stored and painted while not under the locomotive.

The last major job at Tyseley before the move was the fitting of the valve liners, which were shrunk into the cylinders using liquid nitrogen and subsequently bored.

As ever, the latest engineering update contains an abundance of detail. To take one strand of work, progress continues on the boiler and firebox. The firebox doorplate was formed at Tyseley in April, in a process if heating and hammering that required £3,000 worth of gas. The four cast forming blocks for the outer throatplate – which forms the join from the firebox to the barrel – were also delivered to Tyseley, for assembly and then delivery to Crewe. Meanwhile, up at Crewe, this Facebook update shows the boiler barrel sections being riveted together at LNWR Heritage. The engineering team, LNWR Heritage and boiler inspectors were scheduled to meet to finalise the design and production methods for several key components, including the dome design, and to confirm the build plan and inspection requirements up to completion of the boiler.

Things have progressed less smoothly on the tender. Removal of the rear buffer beam, as part of work to replace some rivets with wasted heads, revealed more corrosion on the outer rear drag boxes than previously observed. These are now being replaced completely, and remedial work is also needed on localised wastage on the adjacent areas of the main frames – the engineering update expresses disappointment that this work was not pointed out when the chassis was surveyed by the Vehicle Acceptance Body.

The project is also busy in other, non-engineering areas. It has announced that its members will get to vote for the first livery to be carried by the locomotive, with the winning colour scheme to be announced AGM in November; an unscientific peruse of Facebook comments suggests LMS crimson may be in the lead.

Additionally, as part of their work to document the project Oakwood Visuals are appealing for ex-Crewe Works employees to speak to them, to offer a comparison of the modern construction approach to the traditional LMS operation. And last but not least, it has been suggested that a beer may be brewed in association with the project – a popular promotional item, no doubt.

1014 County of Glamorgan
The County project has reported the sad news that their project leader, Lieutenant Colonel Michael Cooper MBE, Retired, died in March. He had led the project since 2007, having previously worked at Didcot on Pendennis Castle.

New project leader Dicky Boast is quoted on the group’s website as saying: “Mike was an inspiration and is a hard act to follow. We are not just refurbishing a loco, we are not just building a loco. We are changing a loco and incorporating parts from different classes in the best way we can. Mike’s military career enabled him to take this in his stride. My military career means that this is a vertical learning curve. […] We have had a difficult month following Mike’s death, but the team have always pulled closely together and we are determined to do Mike proud.”

The latest news update shows continued progress. The locomotive has been partially re-wheeled, with one slightly recalcitrant axle still to be fitted. At Crewe, the ex-8F firebox requires only a few stays to be riveted for the modification work to be completed. A contract has been signed for the rolling of the boiler barrel.

Limited access to the wheel-drop has led the group to concentrate somewhat on the tender, with the wheels to be fitted to the locomotive ‘one axle at a time’ at a convenient pace. The areas of the frames that will be inaccessible once the wheels are in place are being painted. Funding for the major boiler components has been approved, design work on the barrel, front tube plate and smokebox wrapper ‘cranked up’ and a contract signed for rolling the barrel.

6880 Betton Grange
The Grange project is another of those encountering the occasional trials associated with heritage railway engineering, having announced on May 10th that an anomaly has been found with the axle boxes on the left hand side of the locomotive. Rectifying this requires the locomotive to be lifted off its wheels, and accordingly the removal of the cylinders, springs, hornstays and bogie.

The hope is that the engine will be re-assembled to its previous state in time for the AGM, and also for its planned exhibition at the Warley model railway exhibition in Birmingham on November 26th and 27th. The plan is for the ‘bottom end’ to be complete by then, and the boiler from Cogan Hall mounted in the frames, both for display purposes and subsequently to allow for pipe runs to be set out in preparation for the installation of the refurbished boiler from Willington Hall.

In other news, the project has also launched a ‘club’-type fundraising initiative, inviting supporters to ‘Adopt a Grange‘: for a total donation of £1,000, supporters can ‘adopt’ one of the 80 class members, and receive other benefits including priority booking for 6880’s first main line train.

3MT 82045
In Bridgnorth, the boiler barrel segments are in the boiler shop to be fitted together, and to have the various necessary holes cut and prepared for the dome and other components. The cab was due, at the publication of the April news round-up, to be removed from the chassis for completion and painting. The coupled wheelsets are now fully painted.

From a combination of sponsorship of individual components and a successful ‘Eardington Flyer’ special on SVR metals, the group now has a sound financial basis for completing the motion and valve gear of the locomotive. Some components remain available for sponsorship.

A number of castings are on order, including the centre cradle for the rear pony truck, using a pattern from the 2MT group on the Bluebell, and a sample axlebox for the pony axles.

72010 Hengist
Numerous components for the Clan Pacific have recently been completed, with CTL Seal in Sheffield particularly busy. The left and right hand motion brackets were completed there, and work on the front firebox support with truck pivot also started. The 3D sand printed mould for the exhaust steam spider was delivered to The Boro’ Foundry, after a bit of redesign work to remove a couple of potential ‘hot spots’ which would have required remedial work after casting – modern technology allows for issues of this sort to be identified and addressed before any work with metal is done at all. The spider has subsequently been cast.

3MT 77021
The 3MT tender engine project is making modest but consistent strides: an agreement has been reached to but a pair of refurbished hinges for the smoke box door; and another group’s order for a regulator body will be ‘piggybacked’.

32424 Beachy Head
With the valves set and the coupling and connecting rods in place, the chassis of the Brighton Atlantic is in large measure complete, and the focus has now switched to the boiler. The superheater was received, already cast, machined and pressure tested, in March. Work on the challenging jobs of creating the regulator valve and safety valve columns is underway.

61662 Manchester United
The new buffer beam for the ‘Footballer’ has now been painted, fitted with its salvaged LNER buffers and erected on a new plinth at the Mizens Railway. The smokebox saddle has now been ordered, and the platework is on-site with a start already made on assembly.

8783 Phoenix
A few website and social media updates from the Claud Hamilton group show progress on CAD work for various components. A reproduction of a GER splasher crest from a Claud has also been obtained.

G5 1789
A couple of photographs of components for the G5 have been published on Facebook, including the axle box housings and the Wakefield lubricator. More substantially, Lincoln Crankshaft and Machine have been chosen to manufacture the crank axle.

F5 789
The cleaning up operation, following the welding of the cylinder port faces to repair previously reported pitting, has now been undertaken. A small amount of distortion was introduced by the heat required for the process, so the faces have been skimmed square and the ports re-machined.

The group has had discussions with Tyseley about erecting their frames, and are focusing on ensuring that CAD drawings for all the necessary components are present and correct as a precursor to this. Subsequently, they hope that the build can be pushed on with ‘in earnest’.

J38 1416
It has been announced that the A1 Steam Locomotive Trust’s next project will be a J38 0-6-0. However, the details of the announcement – specifically, that the project was to be funded by a legacy from Mr Joseph Kuhr of Aprilscherz in Germany – will have caused cautious readers to check its date – April 1st.

Earl of Merioneth

Earl of Merioneth
Earl of Merioneth in its original form, c.1988. By Roger Marks on Flickr.

The withdrawal of the Ffestiniog Railway’s Double Fairlie locomotive Earl of Merioneth was announced with the rather strange claim that it, “will hold a unique place in railway preservation history as the first new-build steam loco on any preserved line in the UK and the first to be withdrawn.” The second half of that claim may well be true, but the first half certainly isn’t.

Rather, this illustrates the difficulty of applying the term ‘new build’ to the world of narrow gauge: as this article explores, while explaining why narrow gauge locomotives are out of scope for this site, there is no clear dividing line between the end of construction of narrow gauge locomotives for non-heritage / non-preservation use and the commencement of their construction for preserved lines. But it might be observed that River Mite (1966) and Northern Rock (1976) on the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway for instance, both built during the line’s preservation era, have better claims to being the country’s first new build steam locos than Earl of Merioneth does.

The locomotive will be replaced by a new Double Fairlie named James Spooner, which will use the Earl’s power bogies (which have run under it only since the mid-1990s); the rest of the engine, which is judged to be essentially life-expired, will be stored on its original bogies to allow for possible future restoration.

Main line developments
Since we reported on developments in respect of main line operations in the previous New Build Steam round-up, things have returned to a more regular situation, with the prohibition notice on the West Coast Railway Company lifted on March 23rd. The Office of Road and Rail has received assurances from the company about the necessary changes to its procedures, in a letter from its Chairman.

The RAIB’s report into the Wootton Bassett SPAD incident was published on May 5th, and includes both a learning point and five recommendations. The latter mostly concern the same issue subsequently hammered out between WCRC and the ORR, including the company’s safety culture and procedures around route learning.

The Red Devil

Red Devil
The Red Devil in 2004, shortly after being laid aside. By Steve Crane on Flickr.

It has been announced that South African locomotive ‘The Red Devil’ is to be restored to working order. The engine was rebuilt by David Wardale, drawing on the work of LD Porta, in 1981 to showcase the most modern thinking on steam traction. It achieved remarkable improvements in power and efficiency over traditional steam designs, but the decision to move away from steam in South Africa had already been taken by the time it proved its worth. It was subsequently stripped of many of its modifications, and it is not clear whether it will be outshopped in its 1981 form or not. It last ran in 2003. The advances made on the Red Devil were to be implemented in the 5AT project in the UK, which aimed to develop steam to be competitive with modern traction, rather than rebuilding heritage forms of locomotive like other new build projects.