Tornado on the Ribblehead Viaduct. Adapted from image by arg_flickr, under Creative Commons licence CC BY 2.0,

60163 Tornado
The only possible lead item for this news round-up is the return of steam haulage to Britain’s railway timetable, with a new build locomotive in charge. For three days, commencing February 14th, Tornado operated services between Skipton and Appleby in an operation modelled on German ‘Plandampf’ schemes. The idiosyncratic train consisted of eight Mk II coaches, still in their long-defunct Anglia Railways colours, and diesel 67029 in its silver DB Cargo Company Train livery (for electric train heating), plus Tornado’s own Mk I support coach in BR ‘blood and custard’. In the absence of turning facilities, Tornado ran tender-first on half the journeys – a rarity for mainline operations (with the notable exception of the Jacobite service).

Meanwhile, the A1 Steam Locomotive Trust has announced some personnel changes. Mark Allatt is stepping down as chairman after 16 years, but will continue as project director on 2007 Prince of Wales and in oversight of the Trust’s PR, marketing and fundraising. The other key operational personnel on 2007 remain the same. Graeme Bunker’s role as chairman of the Tornado Steam Traction Executive (which manages the locomotive’s operation) will be expanded, and he will be assisted by Lt Col Huw Parker as deputy operationd director and David Wright as running engineer. Paul Bruce has been appointed to advise on the Trust’s plans for a new Darlington facility.

Front page image adapted from a photo by James Johnstone on Flickr, under Creative Commons licence CC BY 2.0. Original Ribblehead photo also available on Flickr.

1014 County of Glamorgan
The wheeling of the County last summer went on to yield a snag, as the snap head rivets holding the rear frame spreaders are rubbing on the rims of the wheels, which have an inch and a half’s extra diameter compared to the wheels of the Modified Hall design that the frames were originally constructed for. New links to couple the springs and the axleboxes are also required, after a supporter on Facebook noticed that the County had a mismatched set of two different GWR types. The snags will be addressed by dropping each wheel in turn to effect the repairs; with that done, the brake gear can be assembled.

On the boiler, the rebuilding of the firebox at Crewe was due for completion at the end of 2016, and the two coned sections of the barrel have been ordered from Barnshaws in Dudley. Final arrangements to lower the overall height of the locomotive, and to address the draughting consequences for the boiler, are still to be confirmed.

2999 Lady of Legend
Progress on the Saint continues on multiple fronts, including brake piping, the cab front spectacle windows and reconditioning of the smokebox. A previously missing component from ‘donor’ locomotive 4942, the right side bottom cylinder slidebar, has been located and will be fitted in preference to the spare previously put on the engine.

A look back on 2016 has been published on the 4709 website, giving the latest status of the build. The focus has been on completing the work on the wheelsets on the South Devon Railway, with funds dictating only limited work on other parts of the locomotive. The aim is for all the wheelsets to be complete and back at Llangollen by Easter. The team also hopes to be able to commission the refurbishment of the axle boxes at Llangollen by the same date, and to get the horns fitted and ground (using a new horn grinding machine, with profits from its future hiring split between 4709 and Llangollen) too – this would ready the engine for wheeling.

The update also notes that the project lacks dedicated personnel for publicity and fundraising, and that projects that are well resourced in these areas seem to advance more quickly. Accordingly, it appeals for volunteers, and notes that there will be a programme of events in support of the project during 2017. Personnel are more plentiful on the engineering side however, with recently retired CME at Llangollen Dave Own joining 4709 as resident engineer, and his successor Graham Elwood also well familiar with the locomotive.

6880 Betton Grange
Betton Grange is now safely back at Llangollen after its excursion to the Warley Show, now facing forward in the shed for the first time since the project started. Final fitting of the running boards and the front windows of the cab are among the recent tasks undertaken.

5551 The Unknown Warrior
The latest state of play on the Patriot is outlined in this video.

This engineering update also provides a detailed overview. Among the highlights are that the crank axle is due to be returned to Llangollen from Buckfastleigh following rectification work – and indeed, may already have been re-fitted by the time of writing. The new brake cylinder is due to be delivered in early March, with the cross shaft and associated parts to follow soon after and assembly on the locomotive to proceed once they have arrived. Numerous parts for the motion are still on order and being manufactured.

In respect of the boiler, the outer firebox throatplate has been completed at Tyseley and delivered to LNWR Heritage at Crewe, where work continues on the barrel assembly and inner firebox assembly. With the parts all now available, assembly of the outer firebox is due to start soon, and a meeting to plan the construction process through to completion is scheduled.

You can still read the recent Q+A with the 5551 team, giving more details on the project.

2013 Prince George
The Boiler Barrel Club was launched in November to kick-start funding for Prince George’s boiler, aiming to recruit ten or so people who will contribute £1,000 each. Meanwhile, a generous donation has been received to fund the coupling rods and CAD work is underway so that the job can be put out to tender – the rods are expected to be cut within two months.

Meanwhile, a pattern for the bogie wheels has been fabricated. There are no grandfather rights for this design, so for modern compliance purposes this is having to be treated as a new design – as the Trust’s newsletter puts it, the task really does require the reinventing of the wheel. A similar process had to be undertaken for the casting of a new bogie wheel for 45699 Galatea during its restoration, and West Coast Railways have been giving the Trust the benefit of their experience.

Finally, CAD work is underway for the full-height chimney for use on preserved lines (implying that a reduced-height one will be required for any mainline running), and that is next on the list of components to be acquired.

2007 Prince of Wales
There has been no shortage of publicity for the P2 on regional television, with ITV Tyne Tees and BBC Look North both calling in on Darlington Locomotive Works recently. The latter report, embedded below, focuses on a visit by James May to manufacture the slacking cock flange – other groups with amusingly named components should note their publicity potential!

Meanwhile, this pictorial update shows progress on numerous items on the locomotive, and at the end of January it was announced that all frame stays are now in place.

The roadshows continue, along the ECML, having now reached Peterborough.

61662 Manchester United
On the Footballer, work has focused on drilling rivet holes in the smokebox. A wood former has been fitted to its front as a temporary measure until the smokebox ring can be constructed. Meanwhile, the group continues to search for an original B17 chimney, to allow for a new one to be made without having to create an expensive new pattern – considering the large amount of components from scrapped locomotives that seem to be sitting around, it is perhaps surprising that no B17 chimney has so far been found.

61673 Spirit of Sandringham
The two B17 groups evince very different approaches to their task: while the Footballer group is pressing ahead with acquiring components one step at a time, the Sandringham group is mapping out a long-term strategy, and outline their goals for 2017 in this update.

The key objective for the year is to complete the static chassis at Llangollen, including all frame stays and spring hangers. An agreement has been struck with William Cook Cast Products of Sheffield to manufacture these, using wooden patterns rather than poly-patterns, as these are prone to bending when the mould is packed out with sand.

On the design front, objectives for 2017 are to finalise and cost both the running gear and the specification for an all steel, fabricated round-topped boiler based on LNER diagram 100A type.

32424 Beachy Head
The Brighton Atlantic group have published an update on progress over the turn of the year, of which a major focus has been the ongoing work on the boiler. The corroded areas around the old mud hole doors are now largely replaced, and attention will then be given to the foundation ring rivets – a common task in a regular ten-year boiler overhaul. The update also provides photographs of the cab roof and its hundreds of snap rivets.

35011 General Steam Navigation

A simple but effective promotional video has been developed for the Bulleid pacific, embedded above. [EDIT: this was in fact produced by a supporter, not officially by the group.]

More substantially, an appeal has been launched to fund a new crank axle: 35011 lost its own after withdrawal, to keep 35026 Lamport & Holt Line in service a little longer, so the need for a new one has long been known. The plan is to convert an old trailing axle, acquired fron 34046 Braunton by 35011’s previous owner, into a new crank axle, and South Devon Railway Engineering are preparing a quote for the work.

2MT 84030
The latest edition of the Bluebell Standard newsletter contains plenty of news on 84030. The complex installation of the brake vacuum pipe-work is a major current focus. Away from this, all the machined axleboxes have been fitted to the coupled wheel sets, although the final painting of the wheels prior to wheeling is having to await drier weather.

Plans are well underway for putting up the poly-shed, into which the locomotive will be placed face-first, allowing it to be withdrawn far enough for the bunker, cab and tanks to be lifted on when they come to be fitted. The intention is to get drawings for the bunker finished, and a ‘flat-pack’ of parts made soon.

3MT 77021
The pattern previously produced for the window catch handles has now been used to produce castings, shown in this Facebook update with the new smokebox door handles and machined centre boss.

3MT 82045
The January update for 82045 outlines further progress towards wheeling the locomotive: the spring hangers and associated pins have been undergoing machining, as have the horn faces of the axleboxes ahead of the welding on of the manganese liners. The chimney, petticoat and ejector exhaust ring have been sent for machining together, to ensure a proper final fit, and two new Wakefield mechanical lubricators have been manufactured and machined.

72010 Hengist
The most recent updates on Hengist outline the stock of frame components already held and the continued progress on getting them all machined for assembly. The complexity of the castings for the combined frame stretchers with spring hangers has made the search for a contractor capable of machining them difficult – CTL Seal have now been appointed.