For the second news round-up in a row, the lead item can only possibly be Tornado. The A1 has become the first steam locomotive to run at 100mph in the UK since the end of steam on British Rail. The run was undertaken in the early hours of Wednesday April 12th, as part of the A1 Steam Locomotive Trust’s programme of work, with DB Cargo and Network Rail, to get 60163 certified to run at 90mph in service. The process requires running at 10% above the target speed, to demonstrate a margin of safety. The A1SLT hopes to have certification completed by the end of this year, with 90mph running on service trains to follow in 2018, allowing for faster paths to be booked on the ever-busier main line rail network.
The last recorded run at 100mph prior to Tornado’s was on BR’s Southern Region by rebuilt Merchant Navy Pacific 35003 Royal Mail, in the summer of 1967. A4 Pacific 4464 Bittern reached 93mph in December 2013, a preservation-era record at the time; fortunately the commemorative plaques it now carries, styled after those on 4468 Mallard, merely mention that it ran at 90mph, and do not make claim to any record – so they don’t need to be removed or modified.
The 3MT group in Bridgnorth have reported their customary raft of progress in March. The smokebox door is now virtually complete, and attention now turns to fitting the front ring to the wrapper and drilling holes for the bolts to hold the whole thing together. The axleboxes are also a major focus, with machining underway and the welding on of the manganese liners on the first of the axles now also commenced. At The Boro’ Foundry, the rear steam chest covers and pivot slide and top frame for the front pony truck are under manufacture.
In October, the 82045 Future Fund will be officially launched. This will be a vehicle for raising funds after the locomotive’s completion, to pay for maintenance and overhauls, and avoid prolonged periods out of service. The group are happy to be contacted by prospective donors to the fund before the formal launch in the autumn.
The tender-variant 3MT also has a smokebox door nearing completion, albeit the smokebox itself is not yet in existence – progress is intended to move backwards along the loco towards it, with the inner skin, protection plate and crossbar for the door next on the list.
On the Clan, progress towards frame assembly continues: components are being machined, and a bolting diagram has been agreed with the certification body and passed to Ian Riley & Son (Bury) Ltd. CAD drawings of the cylinders have also been produced to assist pattern maker Tony Dance, who will be making them from timber in the traditional manner, in preference to the poly patterns used on some other new builds. Work on the patters will begin in the next few months, and an appeal to fund the casting of the cylinders will also be launched later in 2017.
This is another project moving towards frame assembly (and has also recently launched an attractive new website). The motion stretcher and mid-frame stretcher have now been machined and the frames are in manufacture; once machined, they will be bent to the correct profile and then delivered to Ruddington.
The project is also still developing detailed drawings of many components. Of the original drawings for what became LNER class D7, only a general arrangement drawing remains, and this gives minimal information about many specific components. The class’s similarities with some of Robert Stephenson and Hawthorns’ industrial locomotives helps compensate for this, but does not remove the need for new drawings of many components.
Also in this trio of projects progressing avowedly towards frame assembly is 789, for which the necessary CAD work is now complete. However, completing the task at Tyseley will be subject to a new location for them being found within the works, where space is scarce. The Trust has therefore opened discussions with the North Norfolk Railway about the possibility of erecting the frames at Weybourne, where the engineering facility has recently been expanded with the NNR’s purchase of Chatham Steam Services.
61673 Spirit of Sandringham
Delivery to Llangollen of a full set of stays for the Sandringham is expected by mid-year. The cast frame stays are due to be cast and ready for fettling, stress relieving and machining on that timescale, while the fabricated frame stay relating to the air brakes is due for completion in May and acceptance in June. Buffer Beam gussets are expected to be manufactured even earlier, by the end of April.
61662 Manchester United
Work on the Footballer’s smokebox has continued: rivets have been fitted around its circumference, the last of the necessary steelwork has been ordered and a patch weld has been completed on the door – a repair to the fault that probably caused it to be discarded from its original use on a B1.
2007 Prince of Wales
While its stablemate Tornado has grabbed the headlines, Prince of Wales is enjoying continued progress. The final batch of 61 steel castings for the P2 have been ordered from William Cook Group. On the frames, the design of the leading sandboxes have been completed and assembly started, and the Cartazzi spring hangers machined.
A report in Heritage Railway magazine states that work is to recommence on Tyseley’s LNWR Bloomer 2-2-2, with a view to steaming it in 2019. Much of the work to construct the engine was completed in the late 1980s, pre-dating even the start of work on Tornado, but the project has been largely dormant more recently as Tyseley has concentrated on other business. According to the report, the stimulus for the recommencement of the project has been a substantial gift of money towards it, and the locomotive may even run on the main line once complete. In an apparently unrelated development, the non-working Bloomer replica constructed in 1991 has now been returned to display, after being taken back into Wolverton works in 2006.
5551 The Unknown Warrior
There’s been no major update from the Patriot group since the last round-up, but progress is clearly still well underway. This tweet shows the return of the driving axle from South Devon after some minor work.
35011 General Steam Navigation
The launch of the ‘Cranking up the pressure appeal’, to convert 35011’s flawed middle axle into a crank axle, has met with a positive response, and the wheelset is being prepared for a move to the South Devon Railway. Earlier this month the group held its first working week of the year, to clean up the locomotive, catalogue the components removed over the years, and ultimately prepare it for a move. Numerous photos were posted on Twitter, including this one of the team.
6880 Betton Grange
Work on the Grange’s boiler has started at Tyseley, with both a new firebox backplate and a new front tube plate having been manufactured so far. At Llangollen, working parties have been preparing for the cylinder pressure test.
The Night Owl’s all-new fourth wheelset is now nearly complete at the South Devon Railway, with only tyres and turning still to be completed. Back at Llangollen, delivery was due in March of an assortment of motion parts obtained from the Paignton & Dartmouth Railway.
Finally, New Build Steam is considering launching a publication, perhaps taking the form of an annual magazine-style review of the year (though this would not affect the website, which will continue as normal). This short survey asks for your thoughts on this – would you be interested in reading it? We’ll only go ahead if there’s interest, so please let us know what you think. You can complete the survey below, or click through to it on a separate page. Thank you!