FIRST WHEELSET ASSEMBLED FOR BRITAIN’S MOST POWERFUL STEAM LOCOMOTIVE.(P2 Project)

Work started on boiler cladding for Gresley class P2 No. 2007 Prince of Wales

The project building Gresley class P2 No. 2007 Prince of Wales is delighted to announce that the first wheelset for the new steam locomotive has been assembled by South Devon Railway Engineering at Buckfastleigh, Devon. The Cartazzi wheelset has had its wheels pressed onto its axle and its tyres are due to be shrunk onto the wheels within the next fortnight. This is a significant milestone in the £250,000 wheeling of the new locomotive.

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.

Public interest in seeing a new Gresley class P2 become a reality sooner rather than later is high and well over 830 people have already 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 125 people have pledged £2,000 each – target of 300 people), The Mikado Club (165 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 over £1.3m (more than a quarter of the total required) has been converted into metal, around £1.7m (over one-third) already donated and over £2.5m (more than 50%) donated or pledged.

Numerous suppliers from across the UK continue to work on different parts of the wheeling project, including:

  • The newly-assembled crank axle is at Unilathe at Stoke-on-Trent for finish machining before delivery to Darlington Locomotive Works (DLW) for the fitting of its bearings and axle boxes
  • The three-replacement plain coupled axles have arrived from Swasap of South Africa and have just been delivered to Unilathe for finish machining before also being delivered to DLW for the fitting of their bearings and cannon boxes
  • The finished pony truck axle is now at DLW awaiting arrival of cannon box from Timsons of Kettering it is being finish machined to enable the fitting of its bearings and cannonbox
  • The eight 6ft 8in coupled wheels have been weighed at DLW and measured to determine centre of mass for balancing calculations
  • All four tender axles have been ordered from Unilathe to be made from forgings produced by Firth Rixson Forgings of Rotherham with delivery expected in October 2017
  • Tender tyres have been ordered Railway Wheelset and Brake Ltd for delivery in November 2017.

 

The Mikado Club was launched at the end of March 2016 to raise £200,000 from 160 members to wheel the engine. The work involved wheeling the engine to create the first standard gauge ‘Mikado’ since 1945 includes:

  • Machining axle and cannon box castings, manufacturing roller bearing details
  • Boring eight coupled wheel bosses to finished size
  • Assembling bearings and cannon box onto pony truck axle
  • Assembling bearings, cannon and axle boxes onto plain coupled axles
  • Trial fitting coupled axles to frame
  • Pressing Cartazzi wheels onto axle, fitting & machining tyres and fitting bearings & axleboxes
  • Pressing plain coupled wheels onto axles, fitting and machining tyres
  • Assembling crank axle, fitting bearings & axleboxes, pressing wheels onto crank axle, fitting and machining tyres
  • Finish machining crank bosses & boring crank pin holes and machining & fitting all crank pins
  • Trial fitting wheelsets to frames at DLW.

In May 2017, The Mikado Club reached its 160 members (£200,000) initial target and it was extended to 200 members (£250,000) in order to find the wheeling of the tender. The Trust is still seeking 35 members of The Mikado Club to complete the funding of the wheeling.

Mark Allatt, Trustee and P2 Project Director, The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust, commented:

“The assembly of the first wheelset is a major milestone in the £250,000 wheeling of new Gresley class P2 No. 2007 Prince of Wales. We are hopeful that we will have completed the rolling chassis for the engine during next winter and we remain on-track for completion of the new locomotive in 2021. However, to maintain this rate of progress we need to continue to raise in excess of £700,000 per year, which given the nature of the regular donation scheme becomes more challenging as each year passes.

“I 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 joining The Mikado Club to fund the wheeling. It’s time to get on board! This year will see further major announcements as the construction of new Gresley class P2 No. 2007Prince of Wales gathers pace.”

Other recent progress includes:

  • In Darlington Locomotive Works, Ian Matthews continues to fit crinoline rings and battens to the dinosaur skeleton-like cladding jig (unofficially named ‘Craig the Cretaceous’) to support the cladding sheets
  • Fourteen1.5m x 4m sheets of 2mm thick steel sheet have been pre-rolled to facilitate fitting to crinoline rings by Ian Matthews and apprentices from Cleveland Bridge of Darlington who are assisting with the project
  • The spring bracket frame stay manufacture is making good progress at North View Engineering Solutions of Darlington
  • Design work on the cladding, spring hangers, cylinders and valve gear is progressing.

 

Overall, construction progress to-date includes:

  • Frame plates for engine and tender rolled, profiled and machined; engine’s frames erected at Darlington Locomotive Works; all major engine frame stays, brackets, hornblocks, axleboxes and buffers cast (44 in total); over 1,000 fitted and driven bolts ordered and delivered, approximately 800 now fitted to the frames
  • All 20 wheels for engine and tender cast and proof machined; roller bearings for all engine and tender wheelsets delivered; engine axles (including crank axle), tyres and crank pins delivered; tender axles and tyres ordered
  • Preliminary discussions held with boiler manufacturers and forged foundation ring corners manufactured and machined; start made on boiler fittings with castings for combined injector water and delivery valves
  • Study into ride and suspension using rail industry standard Vampire® software completed; Finite Element Analysis of improved crank axle design completed to demonstrate compliance with modern standards; assessment and Notified Body appointed to oversee certification –  first site visit made
  • Cab erected and cab side window frames fitted; engine footplating and splasher kits delivered and permanently fitted to frames
  • Smokebox door pressed details made and door completed, door frame manufactured, smokebox delivered and erected; chimney cast and fitted
  • Crosshead castings ordered
  • Boiler cladding assembly jig built, cladding crinolines and hoops rolled and fitted to jig, cladding sheets procured and rolled
  • Tender frame construction under way, axlebox and other tender castings ordered from William Cook Cast Products
  • Nameplates and chime whistle delivered.

Cartazzi Wheelset awaiting tyres, and pressing on a Cartazzi wheel.(R le Chevalier)