60163 Tornado, and LNER V4, V3

Tornado could soon be seen at even greater speeds on the main line. Photo by Smudge 9000 on Flickr.
Tornado could soon be seen at even greater speeds on the main line. Photo by Smudge 9000 on Flickr.

The most significant news in the world of new build steam over the last few months has undoubtedly been the ambitious vision announced by the A1 Steam Locomotive Trust at its annual convention on October 1st.

The most immediate item is that test runs will take place in spring next year to pave the way for the Trust’s flagship locomotive, 60163 Tornado, to run at 90mph on selected routes.

Also announced were plans for the Trust’s third and fourth locomotives, following the completion of 2007 Prince of Wales: these will be, in order, a Gresley V4 2-6-2 and a Gresley V3 2-6-2 tank. The V4 was Gresley’s final design, intended to provide much of the usefulness of his V2s but with reduced weight and therefore greater route availability. Two were built, but the design went no further after Gresley’s death, being dropped in favour of his successor’s more rugged B1 4-6-0s. Work on the locomotive’s 3D CAD design boom will be started within the next three months. This will eventually bring the Trust’s overall fleet to five locomotives, bearing in mind that it also manages B1 61306 on behalf of its owner.

The Trust has announced plans for other aspects of its operation to fit the intended scale and nature of its fleet. It is seeking a new site in or near Darlington, for which a detailed plan is ‘closed to being finalised’ following supportive discussions with Darlington Borough Council, Network Rail and the Heritage Lottery Fund. The new site will have larger facilities for construction and maintenance of locomotives, main line access, and the potential for both a turntable and a carriage shed.

The latter item is relevant because the Trust has announced its intention to create its own charter train, using Mk3 coaches currently operating services between London and East Anglia but about to be displaced by new rolling stock following franchise changes. The coaches will be refurbished and offer at-seat power points, improved facilities for disabled people, one or more kitchen cars and standard features of modern rolling stock such as central door locking and controlled emission toilets. They will also be fitted with both air conditioning and, for those who wish to hear the locomotive at work, opening windows – though it is not entirely clear how those two will be managed together. Wi-fi may also be provided, although the Trust is still considering this – this may be at odds with encouraging passengers to enjoy the experience of the journey, although not providing it may also be alienating to future (and currently younger) passengers, and reduce the potential for social media ‘buzz’ from passengers throughout a journey. A new support coach will also be created, and the rake will include a tank for extra water, to extend Tornado’s operating range to around 200 miles.

Overall the package of announcements sets out a forward-looking vision unmatched elsewhere in rail preservation in the UK, addressing and identifying solutions to challenging questions such as how viable steam operations will be in future on increasingly busy fast routes, and whether relying on ageing Mk1 stock will be possible on the main line over the long term.

There is some additional news relating to Tornado, however, as the locomotive’s RAF connections have been renewed and deepened. At a service held on the Nene Valley Railway on August 26th, it was affiliated to RAF Marham as part of that station’s centenary celebrations. The RAF link goes back to the infancy of the project, when the locomotive’s name was chosen in honour of the Tornado aircraft, and their crews, that were prominent in the then recent Gulf War. Its name plates were presented to the Trust in 1995 and bore the crests of RAF Cottesmore and the Tri-National Tornado Training Establishment. The latter’s crest was replaced by that of RAF Leeming, located near the Trust’s Darlington base and a Tornado base in the late 90s. RAF Marham’s crest now sits on the fireman’s-side nameplate.

45551 The Unknown Warrior
A vote among members of the LMS Patriot Company has decided that the first livery to be worn by the locomotive will be LMS Crimson Lake. Accordingly, The Unknown Warrior will wear the number 5551. Members were asked to choose between the four authentic options of Crimson Lake, LMS lined black, BR lined black and BR Express Green.

Meanwhile, on the build itself the latest engineering update outlines both significant progress and substantial frustrations of the sort that are inevitable on a project of this complexity. In particular, supply chain problems have delayed some items of work.

Fitting the cylinder liners. Photo courtesy of the LMS Patriot Project.
Fitting the cylinder liners. Photo courtesy of the LMS Patriot Project.

One example of this has been the main driving wheel springs, which are now due to be based on the Black 5 design (springs of Jubilee design purchased several years ago have proved unsuitable, and the original drawings for the Patriot do not survive). A trial first spring took three months to be delivered but is now at Llangollen for fitting before, hopefully, the other five are ordered. Another hiccup occurred on the drilling of the slide bar bolt holes for the inside cylinder motion on the fourth frame stretcher: the company that had quoted for the work turned out to have sold the necessary milling machine, so another supplier had to be found. The work has now been completed. Fitting of the cylinder liners was also subject to delay, first while the locomotive was at Tyseley, and latterly when Tyseley’s own workload meant they could not send staff to Llangollen to complete the job as planned; Llangollen Railway Engineering and former Chief Mechanical Engineer Dave Owen stepped in and got the job done on October 12th.

CAD image courtesy of the LMS Patriot Project.

The boiler is advancing towards assembly: key components have been moving to and from Tyseley and Crewe, with all the major parts due to move to the former Crewe Diesel Depot for welding to commence.

Design is now underway on the parts needed inside the smokebox, plus the remaining valve gear parts and reverser – the latter a straight piece of LNWR design, from the Claughton class.

1014 County of Glamorgan
The last few months have been significant for the County. The locomotive and tender are now fully wheeled, after some reluctance from the front driving wheels, which were obstructed by a bracket supporting the running boards that offered enough clearance for the 6’0” wheels of a Modified Hall, but not for the extra inch and a half required by the County; some judicious grinding later, and the wheels were fitted.

This and other work led up to the ‘County Weekend’, during which the wheeled frames were put on the turntable at Didcot for display. In a gathering of supporters on August 27th, progress to date was reviewed and further tribute paid to the late Mike Cooper, project leader until his death earlier in the year. As an outcome of the event, Steam Railway Magazine have pledged to fund the manufacture of the locomotive’s smokebox door.

2999 Lady of Legend
A news article dated August outlines current and recent work on the Saint, including: the cylinder cladding has been cut to shape and is being fitted, with the cladding on the boiler backhead to follow; the tender and locomotive frames have now had the vacuum train piping fitted; the new fire iron rack has been fitted to the tender.

6880 Betton Grange
The Grange was re-wheeled on September 6th, and work since then has focused to a large extent on readying it for display at the Warley National Model Railway Exhibition on November 26th-27th.

The boiler from 5952 Cogan Hall has been placed in the Grange’s frames for display purposes, but will be swapped out again afterwards (although Cogan Hall is donating some parts, including front bogie and tender, to 6880, it will subsequently be restored in its own right). This Facebook update shows a boiler in the frames of a Grange for the first time in decades.

72010 Hengist
The major focus for the Clan project is the assembly of the frames, to which end extensive work is now well underway. The final components needed are being machined, and then all the parts need to be brought together. A build plan has been drafted and is being finalised between the project team and Riley & Sons, while the certification body are of course also involved. The expected cost is £50,000, of which over £42,000 had been raised by September. There will be an event for members and press to unveil the assembled frames.

3MT 82045
The latest progress on the 3MT tank includes the successful joining of the two sections of the boiler barrel, and the fitting of the newly painted cab to the chassis. The horn guides have now been machined and the project is moving towards fitting the axleboxes in them. Holes have been added to the smokebox wrapper, including for the chimney and vacuum ejector exhaust. The back head has been the first part of the firebox to arrive in Bridgnorth from South Devon Railway Engineering, and machining is ongoing on various other components for the engine.

This Q+A with the project has more detail on its origins, progress and trajectory.

3MT 77021
The 3MT mogul continues to take steps. An LMR type lamp iron has been purchased from another group, to be fitted to the smokebox door, and the regulator body casting and smokebox door dart have now both been collected.

2MT 84030
The 2MT group on the Bluebell Railway published a news update, dated May, just too late for the last NBS round-up. There is plenty of detail in it, among which key points include the discovery of a lack of alignment in the trailing horn guides, which is being remedied. The defective casting for the truck cradle, delivered in 2013, has been replaced by the manufacturer, who worked to remedy the unexpected behaviour of the casting on cooling, with no extra cost to the project. Preparation for getting the engine wheeled is now being prioritised over the installation of lubrication pipework.

2007 Prince of Wales
The P2’s ‘face’ is now complete, and attendees at the A1 Trust’s convention on October 1st were among the first to see a P2 front end of this design since 2001 Cock o’the North was rebuilt with conventional LNER streamlining in 1937.

On the engineering front, this article outlines how the balancing of the wheels for the P2 will be undertaken. This is to be entirely by calculation, avoiding the expensive weighing work undertaken for Tornado’s wheels. The centre of mass for each wheel will be calculated from the 3D CAD models, compared with 3D scans of each wheel to track variations from the casting process. Physical balancing of each wheel on a knife edge (on the back of the wheel boss) will back this up by finding the centre of mass in the plane of the wheel. All other components are machined to close tolerances, so their mass can be calculated accurately. In another departure from Tornado’s construction, the physical balancing of the wheels will be done by using built up balance weights with predetermined quantities of molten lead/antimony alloy poured into the cavities between the spokes and plates – this was standard practice on the LMS, GWR and BR, whereas Tornado used LNER practice of cast-in balance weights that are then adjusted by drilling holes.

Network Rail’s Wheelchex equipment, used on the main line mainly to spot freight wagons with serious wheel flats, found the track forces produced by Tornado to match the Trust’s calculations closely, so there is good reason to think that the new approach will also prove successful when tested on the main line.

Meanwhile, on the frames, components are being permanently bolted on, moving from the rear to the middle; permanent assembly of the front will follow only when the cylinders and outside motion brackets are fitted.

The October news update also includes details on the whistle, which will be tuned to C, F and A-flat on 250psi steam, the pre-war LNER tone.

F5 789
CAD work has been a major focus on the F5 recently, to ensure that costly remedying work is not necessary during construction. One result of this analysis has been that the cheaper option of running Joy valvegear has had to be rejected in favour of the later Stephenson design.

The F5 is also another project moving towards the erection of its frames. Planning with Tyseley for this is well underway, and the works will turn to it once several of the large projects it is currently seeing to a conclusion are out of the way. A start on the work is expected late this year or early next.

Quotes have been sought or obtained for the wheelsets plus crank axle, and the driving wheel pattern – the latter will mean that the Trust has patterns for all the wheels.

This Q+A provides more detail on how the project started and its ongoing progress.

61662 Manchester United
The smokebox for the B17 has now been delivered, trial fitted to the saddle and had rivet holes drilled. Measurements were confirmed by checking against the old smokebox of preserved B1 61264 (of the same type used on the ‘Footballers’), and an original smokebox door is in the society’s possession. Making the front ring and fitting the door are next on the list.

The first two sections of the front footplate have also been cut and trial fitted above the bufferbeam.

2001 Cock o’the North
The Doncaster P2 project has stated a desire to establish a railway museum in Doncaster, and is working towards both this goal and finding a ‘home’ for the locomotive. Its frames have been moved from Didcot to the South Yorkshire Aircraft Museum near Doncaster Racecourse.

G5 1759
There is little new information online about progress on the G5 build, although photos from August on Facebook show its smokebox on the frames, complete with chimney. It has also been announced that ACE trains have made an O gauge model of the locomotive, which can be purchased from either ACE or the G5 group and cost £450.

8783 Phoenix
The plate for the front bufferbeam was made on Augut 30th. While it still needs to be machined, this represents the first part of the locomotive to come into existence.

35011 General Steam Navigation
The planned share scheme to allow supporters to buy a take in 35011 has been launched, and succeeded in raising enough funds for a deposit on the bundle of components that the Society was offered by another Bulleid project. These include two cab oil trays and an oil pump, both unique components to the chain driven form of the pacifics. Further fundraising is ongoing to pay for the components in full.

Parts from the rebuilt locomotive that will not be needed for the restoration are available for purchase, and anyone interested is invited to contact the Society.

32424 Beachy Head
This update on the Brighton Atlantic outlines the ongoing work on the boiler, now that the chassis is essentially complete. Many of the specifics in it focus on small differences between the LNER Atlantics, for which the boiler was originally built (but never used), and the Brighton machines that were closely based on them but still features many differences. Extra work is needed, for instance, to route pipes to the back-head, which is of Brighton not LNER layout, and on the fitting of the handrail knobs to the outside of the boiler, which has rivet holes in positions appropriate for LNER design.

GCR 567
The motion stretcher for 567 is seen being machined in this Twitter update. The group has also done work to track down the approprite buffers for the locomotive, which are the same as those use on GWR Saints.

5AT / Advanced Steam Traction Trust / K3/6
The Advanced Steam Traction Trust, the organisation that was spun off the 5AT project at its closure, held a conference in Haworth on October 9th. The talks given were:

  • Mike Horne & Jamie Keyte: “Electronic Locomotive Indicating trials by ASTS Ltd”;
  • Ian Gaylor: “The Design of ‘Lyn’“;
  • David Elliott: “LNER P2 2007 Prince of Wales: Traditional Technology; Modern Methods”;
  • Terry McMenamin: “Joy’s Motion for New-build LNWR ‘George V’“;
  • Owen Jordan: “A Future for the steam locomotive?”.

The final of those items was originally billed as an outline of the proposed ‘K3’ project (now reportedly renamed ‘K6’ to avoid confusion), which states its intention to set a new speed record for steam traction. Although the project has stated that it intends to pursue a crowd-funding route after a phase of technical consultation with interested parties, it has not yet updated its website with any progress.

The Trust has also published an update showing that a 1:30 model of the 5AT, constructed in 2007 by William Powell as a final year university project, is on display in the warehouse section of the NRM in York. The model and copies of the 5AT Fundamental Design Calculations and Feasibility Study were donated to the NRM earlier this year.

E2 110
Our attention has been drawn to a website for a project to create a London, Brighton and South Coast Railway class E2 tank engine. So far there is no clear indication that the project is progressing beyond a website, so as ever with such ventures New Build Steam will keep an eye on it and add it to the roster of projects regularly covered if and when it shows signs of advancing.

Fantasy New Build Steam
And finally, a reminder that New Build Steam is interested in suggestions for a Fantasy New Build Steam feature. This will be a poll of what class of locomotive readers would most like to see built, that doesn’t currently exist and isn’t planned for construction.

Obviously this would just be a bit of fun – anyone who’s really keen to see a particular class revived should follow the example set by others and get cracking on it! But as a bit of amusement, a poll will be run on New Build Steam around the turn of the year.

So if you’ve got a particular favourite that you’d like to see revived – even if it’s unlikely or impractical – name it in the comments below, or via social media, and the best suggestions will go into the poll for everyone to vote on.