CRITICAL CRANK AXLE FOR BRITAIN’S MOST POWERFUL STEAM LOCOMOTIVE COMPLETED

Record month raises almost £90,000 for No. 2007 Prince of Wales

The P2 Locomotive Trust Image.

The project to build new Gresley class P2 steam locomotive No. 2007 Prince of Wales is delighted to announce the achievement of significant milestones both in construction and fundraising. The crank axle has now been assembled at South Devon Railway Engineering Ltd in Buckfastleigh, Devon and the P2 Project received almost £90,000 in donations and new pledges in May.

The class P2 2-8-2 ‘Mikado’ locomotives were the most powerful passenger steam locomotives to operate in the UK, designed by Sir Nigel Gresley to haul 600 ton trains on the arduous Edinburgh to Aberdeen route.  Sadly, the design was never fully developed and they were rebuilt in 1943/44 and scrapped by 1961.  The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust (registered charity, builders and operators of famous new 100mph steam locomotive No. 60163 Tornado) is building the seventh member of this class over seven years at an estimated cost of £5m. The project will demonstrate how the design can be fully realised through use of modern computer design techniques, enabling the new locomotive to deliver its full potential hauling passenger trains at high speed across today’s national network.

The assembly of the crank axle is a critical milestone for the project 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. The assembly of the axle will be followed by final machining prior to fitting of wheels and tyres which will complete the wheelset. It is hoped the have the engine wheeled by before the end of 2017.

Other recent progress includes:

  • Wheelsets: assembly of the crank axle has been completed by South Devon Railway Engineering (SDRE) and is in the process of finish machining by Unilathe of Stoke on Trent; the Cartazzi axle, wheels and tyres are with SDRE  for assembly
  • Smokebox: the smoke lifting screen beading is now fully fitted
  • Sandboxes: the original class P2 locomotives were fitted with gravity sanders for the leading coupled wheels and steam operated forward sanders for the driving coupled wheels. No backward sanders were fitted. No. 2007 is likely to do significant work in reverse, mostly on heritage railways, but from time to time hauling substantial loads over significant gradients on the main line running tender first. The leading and forward driving sanders have been altered for air operation (as per Tornado) and new backward sandboxes and fillers have been designed. All six sandboxes and fillers have been assembled and fitted to the frames
  • Fittings: the superheater header has arrived at Darlington Locomotive Works
  • Brake & spring gear: orders have been placed with I D Howitt Ltd at Crofton for brake hangers and spring gear details
  • Boiler Cladding: the boiler cladding has been modified from the original design to reflect minor changes in the specification of No. 2007, including reducing the overall height of the locomotive by one inch to comply with the “go anywhere” national network loading gauge. A skeleton frame is being manufactured to enable the cladding to be made prior to delivery of the boiler. This enables the Trust to put off ordering the boiler by six months and still maintain the anticipated completion date.

May has seen a record total given to the project by supporters, with almost £90,000 donated and pledged over the past month. In addition to the expected monthly income of almost £12,000, last month saw 24 new monthly covenantors coming on-board as well as one new member of The Boiler Club, 29 new members of The Mikado Club and over £5,000 donated in Dedicated Donations and general donations.

Well over 830 people have now signed up to the ‘P2 for the price of a pint of beer per week’ (£10 per month or more) covenant scheme since its launch.  In addition to this core scheme, funds have been raised through The Founders Club (over 360 people have donated £1,000 each – target 100 people, now closed), The Boiler Club (over 120 people have pledged £2,000 each – target of 300 people), The Mikado Club (over 160 people have pledged £1,000 each – target now raised from160 to 200 people and £200,000 to £250,000), Dedicated Donations (over £200,000 from existing supporters sponsoring a variety of components) and the sponsorship of the locomotive’s distinctive front-end by The Gresley Society Trust. This means that the project has already received pledges of over 45% (including Gift Aid) of the £5m needed to complete the new locomotive by 2021.

Mark Allatt, P2 Project Director, The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust, added:

“The completion of the crank axle for No. 2007 Prince of Wales and our record breaking £90,000 donated and pledged in a single month mark two significant milestones in the project to build our new Gresley class P2 ‘Mikado’. We are delighted with the level of support that the project to build Britain’s most powerful steam locomotive has received since construction started only three years ago. Thanks to our supporters’ continued generosity, well over £1m has been spent on construction, over £1.4m donated and over £2.4m pledged.

“We are confident that we will have completed the rolling chassis for No. 2007 Prince of Wales in 2017 and remain on-track for completion of the new locomotive in 2021. However, to maintain this rate of progress we need to raise more than £700,000 per year, which given the nature of the regular donation scheme becomes more challenging as each year passes. We would encourage all steam enthusiasts who haven’t yet contributed to this exciting project to help us to meet these deadlines by becoming a monthly covenantor or supporting one of our other fundraising initiatives. It’s time to get on board! This year will see further major announcements as the construction of new Gresley class P2 No. 2007 Prince of Wales continues to gather pace.”

P2 Roadshows

We continue to promote the P2 Project as widely as possible and have already held five P2 Roadshows in London, Peterborough, Doncaster, York and Darlington. All were very well attended and resulted in substantial donations and sign-ups on the day, with more coming in over the following weeks. The presentations run from 11:00hrs to 13:00hrs on each of the days listed below, no booking is required, admission is free and open to existing supporters and interested members of the public:

  • Saturday 17th June 2017 – Newcastle Mining Institute, Newcastle
  • Saturday 1st July 2017 – Edinburgh Jury’s Inn, Edinburgh
  • Saturday 14th October 2017 – Dundee Heritage Trust Discovery Point, Dundee
  • Saturday 25th November 2017 – Aberdeen Jury’s Inn, Aberdeen.

These presentations are open to anyone wanting to know more about the project and we are encouraging our existing supporters to bring along interested family and friends.