To develop, build and operate an improved Gresley class P2 Mikado steam locomotive for mainline and preserved railway use

James May, TV presenter, media celebrity and steam enthusiast has made the appropriately named ‘slacking cock flange’ for No. 2007 Prince of Wales.  The TV presenter of Top Gear and The Grand Tour fame has already applied his engineering prowess in crafting the first component for No. 2007 when he last visited Darlington Locomotive Works in February 2013. Then he manufactured the smokebox door dart, the component at the front of the locomotive that secures the smokebox door shut (resembling the hands on a clock). Yesterday, using materials and tools at Darlington Locomotive Works, James created the more complex ‘slacking cock flange’ which connects the high-pressure hose (slacking pipe) to the boiler and controls the volume of water used to wash away coal dust on the footplate of a steam locomotive.

James May commented, “Not many man-made machines stir the soul, but a full-blown steam locomotive is right up there, and we invented it. However, over the decades we’ve lost so much of the talent, skill and knowledge needed to build them. That’s why it’s such a thrill to work alongside the team building No. 2007 Prince of Wales, determined to not only resurrect this monster from the past, but to improve it using modern wizardry to do so. It’s a real privilege to know that when Prince of Wales eventually roars past me at a station, I can proudly say along with many others that I helped build that… and it works!”

In the thirteenth series of BBC Top Gear in 2009, James May raced a Jaguar XK120 sports car against a Vincent Black Shadow motorcycle ridden by Richard Hammond and No. 60163 Tornado with Jeremy Clarkson on-board from London to Edinburgh in the ‘Great Race to the North’.

James is filmed by Tom Ingall for the BBC’s ‘Look North’ programme – Sophie Bunker-James

James checks his work on the slacking cock flange – Sophie Bunker-James

Flange for slacking cock flange being turned – Bob Hughes

Slacking cock flange body being bored ready for tapping 3/4″ BSP to take slacking cock – Bob Hughes

The part-finished slacking cock flange – David Elliott