The summer is proving a quiet period for many groups, as members who regularly work on the locomotives take their holidays. Nonetheless, there is plenty of activity to report.

2007 Prince of Wales

The A1 Trust has moved information about both its projects onto a single new website, albeit details about each locomotive resides under a clearly delineated tab at the top of the screen – where there is clearly space to accommodate tabs for future locomotives.

The construction of the P2 is benefiting from the availability of two sets of apprentices: one from Cleveland Bridge (as outlined in the update video above); and another from Virgin Trains. Cleveland Bridge have also agreed to build the tender tank on generous terms. Another recently announced item of corporate support is an agreement with Craftmaster Paints to supply the primers and undercoats for 2007 at preferential rates, and the top coats of LNER apple green and varnish for free – the same as the arrangement enjoyed by Tornado.

On the locomotive itself – well, nearly – a separate ‘skeleton’ has been created, on which the boiler cladding will be fabricated. Once complete, it will be dismantled and stored, for fitting to the boiler in 2020. This news update provides a list of cladding components available for sponsorship (as at July 17th, so some will now be spoken for).

5551 The Unknown Warrior
The Patriot’s latest update gives the situation with the boiler, and other aspects of the build, as of August 4th. In all, 14 possible contractors were invited to express interest in taking over the boiler work following the withdrawal of LNWR Heritage. Of these, six have supplied or were due to supply cost estimates for the build plan drawn up by the Patriot group. It is expected that detailed discussions will then be held with two or three before a final selection is made.

At Crewe, the throatplate is complete and the firebox has been moved into the workshop – well behind the scheduled completion date of the end of June for both items.

The loss of the subcontract work at Crewe has increased the workload of the engineering team at Llangollen. The fitting of the motion has been a major focus. Machining work has also experienced delay from several suppliers, in an indirect effect of Brexit: the fall in the value of sterling has created favourable conditions for exports, and some companies are having to prioritise new work secured as a result over their work for the Patriot, for which preferential prices had been agreed.

The cylinder covers have been delivered to Llangollen. The brake and lubrication systems are being progressed, despite some further supplier delay. Design work on the piston rods and valve rods continues. There is plenty of work going on in respect of other parts of the locomotive – the full update is recommended for a comprehensive run-down.

3MT 82045

Photo: Tony Massau

The front ring, wrapper, door and hand rails have all now been assembled to give a recognisably complete smokebox, which has had a trial fitting to the chassis, complete with chimney – hence the accompanying picture, in which 82045 has its ‘face’ for the first time.

On the boiler, the two sections of the barrel have now been riveted together, and the position of the dome marked out. The project is on course to have a complete (albeit untubed) boiler and firebox by next summer. Meanwhile, the lengthy task of machining the axleboxes is nearly complete, and two have already been trial fitted. This brings the prospect of the wheeling of the locomotive a decisive step closer.

3MT 77021
The inner skin of the smokebox door has been the major focus recently, with metal cut and drilled, and the outer flange being welded on.

2MT 84030
The latest edition of The Bluebell Standard (PDF) provides an update on the last few months’ progress on 84030. At the time of its writing, the hope was for the locomotive to be lifted and re-wheeled in July. Clearance has been secured to level the site next to Atlantic House, to accommodate the engine on a track panel and re-erect the poly-shed removed from Horsted Keynes. If all goes to plan, the loco will therefore be covered for the winter.

On the engine itself, the brake vacuum pipe work has been a major focus. The Bulleid Society’s pipe threading machine has proved to give superior results to the portable machine available on-site. The machining of the first of the cylinder drain cock bodies has revealed a flaw in the casting; fortunately a spare was procured at the same time, so the hindrance to the project has been minimal.

72010 Hengist
The completion of the rear dragbox has been the substantial item of progress reported on the Clan pacific since the last news round-up.

Bloomer 670
Tyseley’s Chairman, Michael Whitehouse, presented at the recent AGM of the LNWR Society on the subject of the Bloomer project. No official report of this has been published (that we can find), but some attendees have published their own accounts online. With the caveat that these are unofficial notes, the key points appear to be as follows.

Tyseley has developed a vision that extends beyond the completion of the locomotive, and ties in with railway developments in the Birmingham area – specifically, the completion of HS2 into its new Curzon Street terminus (on the site of the historic station). They anticipate a railway display or exhibition at Curzon Street, with a shuttle service to convey visitors to Moor Street and then on to Tyseley, operated by the Bloomer and possibly some LNWR-style carriages, albeit on modern frames. This will require the Bloomer to be certified for the main line.

The extra engineering requirements for certification, plus the carriages, will raise the total cost of completing the project from its current state to somewhere in the region of half a million pounds. This will include new tender wheels – currently salvaged originals – and new axles for the locomotive, as none of these items are currently to the required standard for the main line. On the locomotive itself, beyond these items, the motion is in store and ready to assemble. The axle boxes are either planned or underway.

61662 Manchester United
There have been some small items of progress on the Footballer: the smokebox door hinge retaining bar is now fitted, drawings for the front footplate curves have been prepared, and the steelwork is on order. Also of interest is the following comment from the group, in reply to a Facebook post, which outlines its fundraising strategy as being distinct from that of other new build groups:

We have deliberately avoided advertising the 61662 Appeal in the Railway Press so as to leave the field clear for the many new build locomotive projects that already exist. Our main focus has been to raise funds from Manchester United football supporters and their help has enabled us to make progress so far. All the new build projects need additional funding of course but we feel that our Appeal is unique in that we are not in competition with the other groups.

61673 Spirit of Sandringham
Visits to William Cook Cast Products Limited in Sheffield and North View Engineering Solutions Limited in Darlington were undertaken in June, to inspect progress on frame stay manufacture. At William Cook, all five sets of castings were found to have been cast, fettled and stress relieved, with machining about to commence. In Darlington, machining was already underway on the fabricated frame stay – brake. The frame stays will be fitted to the chassis on delivery to Llangollen, throughout the second half of 2017.

6880 Betton Grange
Having returned from Tyseley, Betton Grange is now being prepared for the fitting of valves, pistons and all the associated pipework – this will involve thoroughly stripping it down from its state as displayed, and lifting the borrowed boiler out in preparation for the fitting of the locomotive’s own refurbished boiler next spring.

35011 General Steam Navigation
Machining of the Klinger valve castings is underway. The planned working party for late July had to be cancelled due to the high volume of events planned for July, although the party in June made good progress despite the unusually high temperatures that weekend.

6004 Princess Louise
A website has come to our attention apparently outlining a project to construct a Claughton-class 4-6-0. Crewe produced 130 of these locomotives from 1913, and the last was withdrawn in 1949. It is a replica of this engine, 6004 Princess Louise, that the group states it intends to build. The project is described as being run by ‘two dedicated steam locomotive retirees’, one apparently the founder of both Steamport in Southport (also apparently where the project is based, according to a Google map on the site), and the publication Steam Railway News. They claim to have identified ‘the perfect space’ to begin the build, and that they have already spent time fabricating and machining components in home workshops.

The site also hosts a blog credited to a Julie Ashworth, with one post dated to September 1st 2016 (the only date readily apparent on the site); it contains no content relevant to the project.

As usual with new projects, New Build Steam will cover this endeavour if and when it is clear that it represents a genuine and meaningful effort to construct a locomotive. The site appeals for donations, but potential supporters may of course wish to wait for evidence of progress before committing their money.