PLEDGES TOWARD BUILDING BRITAIN’S MOST POWERFUL STEAM LOCOMOTIVE PASS £3M! (The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust)

The Mikado Club to fund the wheeling reaches 200 members target.

The project to build new Gresley class P2 No. 2007 Prince of Wales is delighted to announced that pledges to the project have now passed £3m – over 60% of the £5m needed to complete the locomotive. This coincides with the 200th member signing up for The Mikado Club which was launched in March 2016 to raise £200,000 from 160 members to wheel the engine and was extended in May 2017 to 200 members and £250,000 to also wheel the tender.

P2 Project Image(Mandy Grant)

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 and builders of famous new 100mph steam locomotive No. 60163Tornado) is building the seventh member of this class over seven to ten 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 remains high and over 860 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 March 2014. In addition to this core scheme, funds have been raised through The Founders Club (over 360 members donated £1,000 each plus Gift Aid – target 100 people), now closed and raised over £450,000; The Mikado Club (launched in March 2016 with an initial target of 160 members to wheel the engine and extended in May 2017 to 200 members to also wheel the tender) now fully subscribed with 200 supporters pledging £1,000 each plus Gift Aid and therefore potentially raising £250,000; The Cylinder Club (only launched at our last Convention in October 2017) is now also fully subscribed with 100 people having already pledged £1,000 each plus Gift Aid and therefore potentially raising £125,000; The Boiler Club (156 people have pledged £2,000 each to fund the boiler – target of 300 people – meaning well over half of the £600,000 target now pledged); and Dedicated Donations (over £225,000 from existing supporters sponsoring a variety of components). The Gresley Society Trust has also sponsored the locomotive’s distinctive front-end for which we are most grateful.

Last month the Trust launched The Motion Club, established to fund the manufacture of the heavy motion for No. 2007, setting the challenge of raising £210,000 from 175 supporters each donating £1,000 plus Gift Aid. In just three weeks the Trust had already signed up 36 members of The Motion Club, potentially worth £45,000 including Gift Aid – a remarkable achievement thanks to the generosity of our supporters.

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.

We are confident that we will have completed the rolling chassis for No. 2007 Prince of Wales in summer 2018 and have recently ordered all the coupling and connect rods.

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 order, tyres delivered and first wheelset complete. All components for assembling engine wheelsets now at South Devon Railway Engineering Limited
  • 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 jig 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.

This means over £1.7m (over 34% of the total required) converted into metal, more than £2.1m (over 42%) already donated and over £3m (60%) pledged.

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

“We are delighted with the level of support that the project to build Britain’s most powerful steam locomotive has received since its launch with over £1.7m spent so far on construction and over £2.1m donated and more than £3m by our supporters.

“We are now 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. Last financial year we more than achieved our budget of £500,000 and this new financial year we have set a fundraising budget of £700,000.

“We would encourage all our supporters who haven’t yet contributed to this exciting project to help us to meet these deadlines by becoming a monthly ‘P2 for the price of a pint of beer a week’ covenantor, joining The Boiler Club, becoming a member of The Motion Club or taking out a Dedicated Donation. It’s time to get on-board!”