Heavy motion blooms are awaiting forging

The project to build Britain’s most powerful express passenger steam locomotive today announced that The Motion Club, which was established to fund the manufacture of the motion for new Gresley class P2 No. 2007 Prince of Wales, had reached 135 members of its 175-members target, raising £170,000 of its required £210,000.  The Motion Club was launched in April 2018 and aims to raise £210,000, through 175 supporters each donating £1,000 (plus Gift Aid) in up to eight payments of £125, to manufacture the motion for the giant new locomotive. Reaching over 135 members of The Motion Club coincides with forging of the heavy motion blooms commencing.

The Gresley class P2 2-8-2 ‘Mikados’ were the most powerful express passenger locomotives to operate in the UK. They were designed by Sir Nigel Gresley in the 1930s to haul 600 ton trains on the arduous Edinburgh to Aberdeen route. Sadly, the design was never fully developed and they were rebuilt by his successor Edward Thompson into ungainly class A2/2 4-6-2 ‘Pacifics’ in 1943/4, and scrapped by 1961. The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust (A1SLT – registered charity and builders of famous new 100mph steam locomotive No. 60163 Tornado) is building the seventh member of this class at its Darlington Locomotive Works (DLW) over seven years, at an estimated cost of £5m through its P2 Steam Locomotive Company subsidiary. 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.

Following the success of The Founders Club (to get the project to the point of cutting the frames), The Boiler Club (to fund the construction of the boiler), The Mikado Club (to wheel the locomotive) and The Cylinder Club (to make the cylinder block), the Trust decided to establish The Motion Club to raise an estimated £210,000 required to manufacture No. 2007’s motion.

In return for supporting this appeal, special benefits for members of The Motion Club 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
  • Opportunity to buy exclusive Motion Club badge
  • Opportunity to join one of the teams building No. 2007
  • First choice of other components to sponsor
  • Special Motion Club day with Tornado
  • Special limited-edition version (signed/numbered) of Stuart Black’s drawing of No. 2007 Prince of Wales

The work involved in designing and manufacturing the motion includes:

·         Redesign of coupling and connecting rods to use modern material (pre-war nickel chrome steel alloy proved prone to fracture)

·         Incorporation of late-pattern BR-type continuous white metal lined crank pin bearing bushes

·         Use of the late-A1 design of inside connecting rod which overcame the tendency for the original design of inside connecting rods on LNER ‘Pacifics’ to big-end failure

·         Open die forging of six coupling rods, two outside connecting rods and the inside connecting rod and strap

·         CNC machining of all rods

·         Manufacture of oil box lids, coupling rod knuckle pins, nuts and washers and bearing bush keys

·         Casting of leaded gunmetal and phosphor bronze castings of crank pin bearing bushes

·         Machining and white metalling of bearing bushes

·         Fitting oil box tops

·         Assembly of bearing bushes to rods

·         Polishing rods.

Thanks to the generosity of the project’s supporters and the quick uptake of The Motion Club, The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust was confident enough to place the £181,000 order with Stephenson Engineering Ltd of Atherton, Manchester for the heavy motion last year. The order included the forging, machining and heat treatment of the nine heavy motion rods – intermediate coupling rod LH/RH, trailing coupling rod LH/RH, leading coupling rod LH/RH, outside connecting rod LH/RH and the inside connecting rod assembly (including strap, gluts and strap nuts and washers) – and the combined piston and rod. The motion is expected to be delivered in batches throughout 2019, with the first items, the intermediate coupling rods, expected to be delivered in the second quarter of 2019. Orders to follow for the motion include rod bushes, oil box covers and other miscellaneous components.

The original P2 cast steel motion bracket design has been converted to a welded fabrication to suit modern manufacturing methods. The motion bracket’s primary role is supporting the slide bars. In addition, it also carries gearboxes and components associated with the valve gear and reversing mechanism. The design conversion involved the detailing of full penetration welds and creating the manufacturing and plate profiling drawings. Some components require machining before the assembly is welded together. Once the assemblies are fully welded and subjected to non-destructive testing (NDT) they will be stress relieved, grit blasted and primed prior to machining. Quotations are being sought for these components.

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 engine wheelsets complete; materials for tender wheelsets including tyres, axles and wheel centres delivered
  • Preliminary discussions held with boiler manufacturers and forged foundation ring corners manufactured and machined; boiler design study commissioned; start made on boiler fittings with castings for combined injector steam and delivery valves; regulator castings delivered; superheater header cast and machined
  • 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 and spectacle 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 fitted to jig; jig trial fitted to the frames
  • Tender frame construction under way, axlebox and other tender castings ordered from William Cook Cast Products
  • Nameplates and chime whistle delivered
  • Significant progress on design and manufacture of pipework
  • Over £2m spent, £2.5m raised and £3.2m pledged of the required £5m.

Mark Allatt, Trustee and P2 Project Director, 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. Thanks to our supporters’ continued generosity, well over £3m has now been donated or pledged with half of the required £5m already received. 

“We now want to turn our attention to the motion which is our next major manufacturing challenge. Given the level of support The Motion Club has received, we are confident we can raise the additional £40,000 needed to pay for the heavy motion from 40 supporters and remain on-track for completion of new Gresley class P2 locomotive – No. 2007 Prince of Wales – by the end of 2021.

“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 member of The Motion Club or a monthly ‘P2 for the price of a pint of beer a week’ Covenantor. It’s time to get on board! Next year will see further major announcements as the construction of new Gresley class P2 No. 2007 Prince of Wales gathers pace.”

To become a member of The Motion Club, email, call 01325 460163 or visit for more information.

No 2007 Progress. (David Elliott)