LAST CALL FOR THE MIKADO CLUB TO WHEEL BRITAIN’S MOST POWERFUL STEAM LOCOMOTIVE .(A1SLT)

(A1 Steam Locomotive Trust)

Significant progress with the wheeling of No. 2007 Prince of Wales

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 engine’s axles (with their bearings already fitted), axleboxes and wheels have been delivered from Darlington Locomotive Works (DLW) to South Devon Railway Engineering Ltd at Buckfastleigh, Devon to start the wheelset assembly and only 12 places remain to be filled in The Mikado Club fundraising initiative to pay for the wheeling of the engine and tender.

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 wheeling of No. 2007 Prince of Wales was delayed due to the mis-machining of the keyways on the three plain coupled wheel axles which rendered them as scrap. The South Africa-based supplier agreed to replace the plain axles at their cost due to their error but the five-month lead time and consequential loss of booked slots with other suppliers involved in the wheeling process has significantly delayed this part of the project although it will not impact the overall completion date.

The Mikado Club was launched two years ago to raise £200,000 from 160 members to wheel the engine and was extended in June 2017 to 200 members and £250,000 to also wheel the tender. The work involved wheeling the engine to create the first standard gauge ‘Mikado’ since 1945 includes:

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

The past two years have seen 188 supporters joining The Mikado Club and pledging £1,000 each towards the wheeling of the new Gresley class P2 – leaving only 12 places to be filled to reach its revised target of 200 people (up from 160) to raise up to £250,000 including Gift Aid. The benefits of membership include:

  • Opportunity to buy ticket (seat already reserved) on one of the first trains hauled by No. 2007 Prince of Wales
  • Reasonable access to No. 2007 at all times
  • Exclusive Mikado Club badge
  • Opportunity to join one of the teams building No. 2007
  • First choice of other components to sponsor
  • Special limited-edition version (signed/numbered) of Stephen Bainbridge’s new painting of No. 2007 Prince of Wales at Darlington station
  • Special Mikado Club day with Tornado.

Public interest in seeing a new Gresley class P2 become a reality sooner rather than later is high and 850 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 (148 people have pledged £2,000 each – target of 300 people), The Cylinder Club (100 people have pledged £1,000 each – target achieved and now closed),

Dedicated Donations (over £225,000 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 58% (including Gift Aid) of the £5m needed to complete the new locomotive by 2021.

Progress building Britain’s most powerful steam locomotive continues at Darlington Locomotive Works and includes:

  • Frame plates for engine and tender rolled and profiled; engine’s frames erected at Darlington Locomotive Works; all major engine frame stays, brackets, horn blocks, axle boxes 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 and engine axles (including crank axle), tyres and crank pins delivered, tender axles, tyres ordered and first wheelset complete
  • Preliminary discussions held with boiler manufacturers and forged foundation ring corners manufactured and machined; start made on boiler fittings with castings for combined injector steam and delivery valves
  • Study into ride and suspension completed using rail industry standard Vampire® software; finite Element Analysis completed on re-designed crank axle to ensure locomotive complies 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 received
  • Boiler cladding assembly jog built, cladding crinolines and hoops rolled and fitted to jig, cladding sheets procured, rolled and being fitting to the jig
  • Tender frame construction under way, axlebox and other tender castings ordered from William Cook Cast Products
  • Nameplates and chime whistle delivered
  • Over £1.6m spent, £1.9m raised and £2.9m pledged of the required £5m.

P2 Roadshows – next stop Darlington

The Trust continues to promote its P2 Project as widely as possible and has already held three P2 Roadshows this year in London, Peterborough and York. All were very well attended, despite the bad weather, and resulted in substantial donations and sign-ups on the day, with more coming in over the following weeks.

The next Roadshow is being held Darlington Locomotive Works, Hopetown Lane, Darlington DL3 6RQ – the birthplace of No. 60163 Tornado and where No. 2007 Prince of Wales is being constructed. Each presentation will feature key Trust personnel including Mark Allatt (P2 Project Director) and David Elliott (Director of Engineering) and will cover the background to the project, progress to-date, future plans and details of how to get involved. The presentation will start promptly at 11:00hrs and run until 13:00hrs on each of the days listed below, admission is free and they are open to existing supporters and interested members of the public:

  • Saturday 7th April 2018 – Darlington Locomotive Works, Darlington
  • Saturday 19th May 2018 – Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield
  • Saturday 9th June 2018 – Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow
  • Saturday 1st September 2018 – Bristol (new date, venue tbc)
  • Saturday 8th September 2018 – Derby Conference Centre, Derby
  • Saturday 3rd November 2018 – Manchester Conference Centre, Manchester
  • Saturday 8th December 2018 – Hilton Leeds City Hotel, Leeds.

These presentations are open to anyone wanting to know more about the project and the Trust is encouraging existing supporters to bring along interested family and friends. As the Darlington Roadshow is being held in Darlington Locomotive Works, attendees will have the opportunity to view progress on No. 2007 Prince of Wales for themselves.

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

“The delivery of the wheels, plain axles and bearings to South Devon Railway Engineering and only having 12 places remaining in The Mikado Club 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 four years ago. Thanks to our supporters’ continued generosity, £1.6m has been spent on construction, £1.9m donated and over £2.9m pledged.

“We are confident that we will have completed the rolling chassis for No. 2007 Prince of Wales in summer 2018 and we 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 joining The Mikado Club. 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.”