Work started on assembling crank axle

The Mikado Club funding the wheeling extended following early achievement of £200,000 target.

We are delighted to announce the achievement of significant milestones both in construction and fundraising. Work has started on assembling the crank axle at South Devon Railway Engineering Ltd in Buckfastleigh, Devon and The Mikado Club fundraising initiative to pay for the wheeling of the engine has reached its initial target of £200,000 pledged almost three months earlier than anticipated.

The starting of work on the crank axle is a critical milestone for the project being the culmination of a long and expensive process including Finite Element Analysis (FEA) carried out by the railway engineering consultants, Mott MacDonald at Derby to eliminate a weakness in the original design that resulted in fracturing of the crank axle. It is anticipated that the assembly of the axle will be completed in early June which will permit final machining prior to fitting of wheels and tyres which will complete the wheelset. It is hoped the have the engine wheeled by before the end of 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:

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.

Following a fundraising drive by the Trust, the last three weeks has seen over £33,000 donated to The Mikado Club and the achievement of its initial £200,000 pledged target almost three months ahead of plan. With a £142,500 order recently placed with I D Howitt Ltd of Crofton, West Yorkshire, for the assembly of the locomotive’s tender frames and another for £33,000 with William Cook Group (the Trust’s principal sponsor) of Sheffield for the remaining 67 castings for the locomotive (all apart from the three engine crossheads are for the tender), the Trust has decided to extend The Mikado Club’s membership to 200 to raise sufficient funds to also wheel the tender.

The crank web is heated up at the SDR – David Elliott

While still hot, the axle stub is inserted – David Elliott

Job done!  At least in part, the crank axle comes together – David Elliott

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 (around 120 people have pledged £2,000 each – target of 300 people), The Mikado Club (over 160 people have pledged £1,000 each – target now raised from 160 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 the project has already received pledges of over 45% (including Gift Aid) of the £5m needed to complete the new locomotive by 2021.

Other recent progress includes:

Frames: the hardened tender rubbing plate has been permanently fitted to the drag box and the inside of drag box and surrounding frame area has been finish painted along with the underside of the footplating under the cab. An order has been placed with North View Engineering Solutions in Darlington

Wheelsets: assembly of the crank axle is under way at South Devon Railway Engineering (SDRE); the fully machined Cartazzi and pony truck axles and all the crank pins have been received at Darlington Locomotive Works from Unilathe of Stoke on Trent. The Cartazzi axle and wheels are shortly to be sent to South Devon Railway Engineering for assembly.

Smokebox: the smoke lifting screen beading is now fully fitted; one of our volunteers has made a nice job of polishing out the remaining machining and smithing marks on the door hinges and centre boss.

Sandboxes: the original class P2 locomotives were fitted with gravity sanders for the leading coupled wheels and steam sanders for the driving (second) coupled axle – no back sanders were fitted; with No. 2007 likely to do significant work in reverse, mostly on heritage railways, haulage of substantial loads over significant gradients running tender first is likely to happen; all will now be air operated as per Tornado; Ian Matthews has assembled and fitted all six sandboxes and fitted them to the frames, and is assembling and fitting the sand box fillers.

Fittings: the superheater header has arrived at Darlington Locomotive Works

Brake & spring gear: orders have been placed with I D Howitt Ltd at Crofton for brake hangers and spring gear details.

Design: in addition to producing drawings for detailed manufacture of sandboxes, spring hangers and boiler cladding, details are being refined to finalise the design of the pony truck frame.

P2 Roadshows

We continue to promote the P2 Project as widely as possible and have already held five P2 Roadshows in London, Peterborough, Doncaster, York and Darlington. All were very well attended and resulted in substantial donations and sign-ups on the day, with more coming in over the following weeks. The presentations run from 11:00hrs to 13:00hrs on each of the days listed below, no booking is required, admission is free and open to existing supporters and interested members of the public:

Saturday 17th June 2017 – Newcastle Mining Institute, Newcastle
Saturday 1st July 2017 – Edinburgh Jury’s Inn, Edinburgh
Saturday 14th October 2017 – Dundee Heritage Trust Discovery Point, Dundee
Saturday 25th November 2017 – Aberdeen Jury’s Inn, Aberdeen.

These presentations are open to anyone wanting to know more about the project and we are encouraging our existing supporters to bring along interested family and friends.

Mark Allatt, P2 Project Director, The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust, commented, “The starting of the assembly of the crank axle for No. 2007 Prince of Wales and the early hitting of the £200,000 pledged target for 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 three years ago. Thanks to our supporters’ continued generosity, well over £1m has been spent on construction, over £1.4m donated and over £2.4m pledged.

“We are confident that we will have completed the rolling chassis for No. 2007 Prince of Wales in 2017 having already reached 100% of our initial fundraising target for The Mikado Club 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.”