News round-up (3), 2017

5551’s outer firebox doorplate. Photo by Kevin West.

5551 The Unknown Warrior
Regular readers of New Build Steam will recall the frustration expressed by the Patriot group about the speed and reliability of their supply chain, and recall also that the report on the handling of the overhaul of Flying Scotsman observed that the heritage railway supply chain is a ‘cottage industry’. A vivid illustration of this has been provided by the announcement that LNWR Heritage in Crewe has decided to end its subcontract work on the boiler for The Unknown Warrior. It appears that delays in the completion and delivery of component items from other suppliers have resulted in only slow progress being possible at Crewe, and the LNWR have felt unable to sustain this further, instead wishing to concentrate on their own fleet.

LNWR will be completing all work already started, including the riveting of the copper inner firebox and the welding of the outer throatplate, and alternative suppliers have already been approached; the group’s statement described these contacts as ‘encouraging’. However, the boiler will certainly be delayed, and there may now be a serious risk of missing the deadline of November 2018 for completing the national memorial locomotive.

However, elsewhere on the locomotive progress continues to be plentiful. A major focus has been the fitting of the brake gear, albeit delivery of the new 10.5-inch brake cylinder was delayed at the supplier’s end. The crank axle is now once again installed in the chassis, having had the inside eccentric fitted at the South Devon Railway. The lubrication pipework is being manufactured and installed. Another heritage component has been sourced, this time the regulator handle from 45552 Silver Jubilee – the next locomotive number on from the original Unknown Warrior, built as part of the initial batch of Jubilees originally ordered as Patriots. The group will investigate whether it will be possible to use it on the new Unknown Warrior.

Work has also continued on the tender, with two engineers working full time on it. The new main frame plates have been readied for the final chassis assembly, and the new rear beam plate is awaited from its supplier. The axlebox bearing brass castings have been delivered.

2999 Lady of Legend
The Saint is now clearly a likely candidate for next new build to steam, although plenty of work remains to be done. The most recent news update affirms that the work to convert the locomotive from a Hall to a Saint is more or less finished, and the outstanding tasks are those involved in the restoration of any engine from scrapyard condition. These include the manufacture and fitting of the cylinder and valve chest covers, plus the lagging and cladding for the boiler.

The boiler itself has passed its hydraulic test and insurance company internal exam. The hydraulic and steam tests will be carried out very late in the build process, just before the boiler is placed back in the frames, to maximise the useful life of the boiler certificate; the boiler from Barry 10 survivor 2861 is currently in the frames, and being used for the forming of pipe runs, which will then be transferred to 2999’s boiler. The fitting of many other parts to boiler and locomotive remains to be seen to, but they are largely available and to hand.

Lady of Legend will make its first public appearance in BR lined black livery, in a development announced in January but somehow missed by New Build Steam at the time (apologies). This will be purely for a photography charter, after which the engine will be taken straight back into the works and re-painted into GWR green. The original timing of April or May has evidently slipped, but clearly the team are confident of having 2999 turned out quite soon – perhaps even this year? However it is intended for use only on heritage lines in the short to medium term – GWS chairman Richard Croucher cites concerns over gauging issues on the national network as the reason for this.

6880 Betton Grange
Another GWR project to benefit from the availability of a spare boiler is Betton Grange, whose cladding sheets have now been made and fitted. That job done, the locomotive was then moved to Tyseley for display at the open weekend over June 24th-25th, creating the sight of a Grange lined up around a turntable with other GWR classes for the first time in decades. Other significant progress prior to the foray to Tyseley incuded the fitting of the slidebars, front cab window frames, sanding gear operating arms and firebox crinolines.

1014 County of Glamorgan
Unfortunately, County of Glamorgan is also suffering from supply chain problems at the moment – the group’s progress report for January to May notes that things have moved slowly overall because of delays with suppliers. However, there is still positive news: the firebox overhaul is 95% complete at Crewe, the boiler sections have been rolled, gauging issues have been resolved and further progress has been made on the tender. The largest source of delay appears to be the delivery of the spring links for the chassis, which are needed for the phase of work for which the wheels will be dropped.

LNWR Bloomer
Further details of plans for the Bloomer are given in the Vintage Trains Magazine for summer 2017, which confirms that work is being recommenced as a result of a generous donation specifically for the project. The fitting of the locomotive’s driving wheelset has been budgeted for 2017, and a fundraising campaign to see work through to completion is in the planning for launch later this year. Further details are expected to be given out at the L&NWR Society’s Annual Open Meeting on Saturday 29th July 2017 in the Kidderminster Railway Museum. Michael Whitehouse, Tyseley’s Chairman, is to give a talk entitled ‘What next for the Bloomer?’ – which, if nothing else, implies there is a firm answer to the question.

32424 Beachy Head
The latest update from the Brighton Atlantic details progress to May. The welding work on the boiler, including the new openings for mud hole doors, has passed its safety examination. Preparations for tubing the boiler are well underway; the tubes – all in stock – will be given two coatings of a preservative ‘paint’ to maximise their life. Meanwhile, the smokebox door and its surround are being fitted up – fortunately the hinges from the smokebox originally attached to the boiler can be re-used, and would be very complex and expensive to make new.

The safety valves are nearly finished, and will be tested, then re-assembled and approximately set for the blowing off pressure. Riveting the foundation ring is having to await the availability of boiler team members from the Bluebell, when they are available to be taken off work on maintaining locomotives needed for its ongoing operation.

35011 General Steam Navigation
The first working party of the year was busy at Sellindge in April. Many items are being taken off the locomotive ahead of further work, including the cab supports, running boards and sanding brackets. Work has also started on de-tubing the boiler, with the top row of super flue tubes now removed. There are further working weekends across June and July.

CAD work has been undertaken to design a replacement for the entire dragbox, which has long been known to be in poor condition. Initial inspection of the flawed wheelset at the South Devon Railway has shown that the wheel pans, at least, are in good condition; the wheels are however in a lengthy queue for work to start on them.

3MT 82045
A trial fitting of the centre coupled wheel axleboxes has taken place on 82045, marking the start of the process to get all the axleboxes fitted ahead of wheeling the chassis. Further up on the locomotive, both cab doors are now attached and both water tanks are well advanced. The holes for the cylinder bolts have now all been reamed and once all the necessary bolts are available the final fitting of the cylinders will take place.

At the AGM in April, the Works Manager at Bridgnorth, Neil Taylor, gave a rough timeline for work on 82045’s boiler, showing where it fits in among other work on the railway’s locomotives. At the time of the talk it was due to enter the works for riveting within a few weeks, with work on the boiler and firebox overall starting in November for an anticipated finish in June 2018. Tubing of the boiler will follow only when the project has more clarity on the timing of completion of the rest of the locomotive, but 2019 is the target year for its first steaming.

2007 Prince of Wales
The P2 project has issued a statement affirming that it is on course to have a rolling chassis by the end of this year. Two major areas of progress have been reported. Firstly, the crank axle has been assembled by South Devon Railway Engineering. As the group states, this is of particular significance for being, “the culmination of a long and expensive process including Finite Element Analysis (FEA) carried out by the railway engineering consultants, Mott MacDonald at Derby to eliminate a weakness in the original design that resulted in fracturing of the crank axle.” Final machining and the fitting of wheels and tyres will follow, to complete the wheelset.

Secondly, Prince of Wales has had its sandboxes fitted, which has involved a further revision to the original P2 design. The original engines had gravity sanders for the leading coupled wheels, steam operated forward sanders for the driving coupled wheels, and no backward sanders at all. In anticipation of 2007 working in reverse more frequently than its predecessors, mostly on preserved lines but sometimes on the main line as was seen in Tornado’s ‘Plandampf’ operation in February, new backward sanders have been designed and fitted. Additionally, the sanders for the leading and forward driving wheels have been fitted for air operation, as with Tornado.

GER 789
Plans to erect the frames of the F5 have been modified, to take the current heavy workload at Tyseley into account. Previously the plan had been for Tyseley to source all the peripheral components, with any outstanding castings to be provided by the F5 Trust. Instead, the Trust will now be procuring all components, with a quick period of assembly lasting 1-2 weeks. Accordingly the Trust is setting to work on obtaining 184 rivets, 113 bolts, 129 nuts, 12 brackets, an extra machined casting, plus machined frames and buffer beams, ready for assembly.

Meanwhile, quotes are being obtained for the wheelsets following the completion of CAD models, and work has been completed to identify the correct design of motion bracket, model it in CAD and manufacture a poly pattern.  Further CAD work to finalise the detail of the valve motion, in the absence of the original drawings, has also been completed and is showcased in a series of short videos, the longest of them below.

This coming Sunday, July 2nd, the Trust will be presented with its plaque for winning the Broadcast and Social Media category of the Heritage Railway Association publication and media awards, in a ceremony at North Weald station on the Epping Ongar Railway.

Worsdell G5
In May, the G5 Locomotive Company announced that it has placed an order to forge the locomotive’s crank axle – the last major, expensive component required for the project. This will bring work to two-thirds completion. The original design from 1896 has needed only minor modifications to meet modern safety standards.

GCR 567
Material for the manufacture of numerous new components has arrived at Ruddington over the spring. The slide bars, footplate valances and steps for the cab and at mid-frame are among the items now due to be made. A wood pattern for the valve spindle support casting has been completed as well.

61662 Manchester United
Updates from the ‘Footballer’ for April, May and June show continued work on the smokebox, which has now been painted. Thoughts are now turning to future work on the front footplating, chimney, and main frames – in that order.

61673 Spirit of Sandringham
Components are being amassed for 61673, with the frame stays, buffer beam gussets and spring hanger brackets all now available and either complete or on the way to completion. The drag box underwent a trial fitting to the main frames at Llangollen in March.

60163 Tornado
Fundraising to complete the purchase of Tornado’s tender from William Cook Cast Products continues, with a further push to complete the purchase for the locomotive’s tenth birthday next year. The ‘163 Pacifics Club’ has been expanded in scope, to offer additional locomotives outside the original 163 Pacifics for supporters to ‘sponsor’. Any excess funds raised will be ring-fenced for the tender’s next overhaul.

Off-topic: V499
Further to the feature article on international new build steam, the V499 project in Australia have sent through these two photos of their new cab under construction.

New Build Steam survey
Many thanks to the more than 100 New Build Steam readers who took the time to answer the survey in the last news round-up. The responses were incredibly helpful, and showed that while there is some appetite for a publication of some form from New Build Steam, in order for it to be really valued it would have to go beyond the scope of what we could currently produce. Even so, the findings are extremely useful, as it gives a clear guide for us to keep the focus online, within which we are currently planning one or two new initiatives – so keep an eye out for those.

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4 comments

  1. The amateur practices of the Heritage (cottage) industry – and other external suppliers really does require serious attention. The cost caused by these haphazard working practices will eventually become unsustainable to those raising funds. What can be done is the question. My view is that the industry requires both professional managers and management, and that those giving out the contracts progress chasers. To do nothing is no longer an option. Those who donate large sums of cash, are entitled to see some return for their generosity.

  2. Although not strictly within this group’s remit, one project very close to completion (first steaming due to be 8th July) is LYN – the 2ft Gauge Baldwin 2-4-2 new build for the Lynton & Barnstaple Railway in North Devon, based on the 1898 original imported from the USA. Latest details can be seen on the project web site: http://www.762club.com/

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