A Mikado in the sunshine!

No. 2007 was rolled out of Darlington Locomotive Works on 24th September – Mandy Grant was there to record the event.  The pictures speak for themselves!


State of the art measurement system for No. 2007


Project inspires young engineers from UTC South Durham

The project to build new Gresley class P2 steam locomotive No. 2007 Prince of Wales is delighted to announce that Shildon-based Bignall Group, in collaboration with Hexagon Metrology Limited of Telford, has sponsored the critical measurement of the locomotive using a state-of-the-art 3D laser tracker system. Young aspiring engineers from UTC South Durham witnessed this equipment being used. These measurements will allow the engineers from The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust working on No. 2007, to precisely align all four wheelsets within the engine’s frames. This sponsorship is a significant contribution to the project not only in its monetary value, but also giving the Trust confidence that the results are precise, meaning considerably less time will be needed than using traditional methods.

Measurements taking place at DLW – Daniela Filová

Further measurements at DLW – Daniela Filová

Bignall Group Ltd recently contacted The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust as John Bignall, owner and Director of Bignall Group Ltd, is very interested in the design and engineering aspects of the project to build No. 2007 Prince of Wales. Upon being shown around the locomotive following an introduction from local Darlington Councillor Chris McEwan, John was keen to help the project and liaised with his various contacts to allow the Trust to use state-of-the-art technology to measure the precise position of the horn block liners relative to one another. On Tuesday 11th September 2018, John Bignall, along with Hexagon Metrology Limited, brought a 3D measuring device to Darlington Locomotive Works. As John is also a co-sponsor of UTC South Durham, and the Trust is an educational charity, it was decided that this would be a great opportunity for young aspiring engineers to see the measurement system in action, as well as to demonstrate the portable measuring arm that the students also use at college.

John Bignall, Director of Bignall Group Ltd, commented:

“As designers and developers of engineered products, we are pleased, to be able to work with The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust on their exciting project to build No. 2007 Prince of Wales. We organised Hexagon Metrology Limited alongside UTC of South Durham to visit the works for what was a very educational hands-on experience of the equipment the students are using in their studies.

“We are delighted to support the project to build Britain’s most powerful steam locomotive as they share our engineering values”

David Elliott, Director of Engineering, The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust, added:

“We are pleased to be working with Bignall Group and Hexagon Metrology Limited using state-of-the-art 3D laser based measuring equipment to survey the frames of our new Gresley class P2, No. 2007 Prince of Wales.

“Their sponsorship will help the Trust maintain the progress necessary to complete the new locomotive in 2021.”

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

“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, over £2m has been spent on construction, over £2.4m donated and over £3.1m pledged.

“We are confident that we will have completed the rolling chassis for No. 2007 Prince of Wales in 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 a member of The Boiler Club or The Motion 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.”

We have a Mikado!


The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust today announced that we had fitted the pony truck wheelset to new Gresley class P2 No. 2007 Prince of Wales meaning that a main line ‘Mikado’ was in existence in Great Britain for the first time since 1945. The rear Cartazzi wheelset was fitted in early 2018 and the eight 6ft 2in driving wheels in July 2018.

The Whyte notation for classifying steam locomotives by wheel arrangement was devised by Frederick Methvan Whyte in the early twentieth century. In the notation a locomotive with one leading axle (two wheels) in front, then four driving axles (eight wheels) and then one trailing axle (two wheels) is classified as 2-8-2 and commonly referred to as a ‘Mikado’. The name ‘Mikado’ originated from a group of Japanese type 9700 2-8-2 locomotives that were built by Baldwin Locomotive Works for the 3ft 6in gauge Nippon Railway of Japan in 1897. In the 19th century, the Emperor of Japan was often referred to as “the Mikado” in English and the Gilbert and Sullivan opera The Mikado had premiered in 1885 and achieved great popularity in both Britain and the USA. Although the most numerous wheel arrangement globally, only eight standard gauge ‘Mikados’ operated in Great Britain, two Gresley class P1 freight locomotives (introduced in 1925 and both scrapped in 1945) and six Gresley class P2s (introduced in 1934 and all rebuild by 1944).

The work involved wheeling the engine to create the first standard gauge ‘Mikado’ since 1945 include:

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 have a Mikado! – David Elliott

The wheeling of No. 2007 Prince of Wales was funded by 200 members of The Mikado Club of The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust who each donated £1,000 plus gift aid towards the project. The total cost of the wheeling, including all components, is estimated at around £400,000. A selection of wheeling-related parts – including a 6ft 2in driving wheel at £12,000 – are still available for sponsorship under the Trust’s Dedicated Donations scheme.

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. Thanks to our supporters’ continued generosity, over £3m has now been donated or pledged.

“The fitting of all of the wheels to the engine and therefore creating the first standard gauge ‘Mikado’ in Great Britain since 1945 marks a significant milestone in the construction of No. 2007 Prince of Wales. Thanks to the dedication and generosity of our supporters, we remain confident that we are on-track for completion of new Gresley class P2 locomotive No. 2007 Prince of Wales in 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 monthly ‘P2 for the price of a pint of beer a week’ Covenantor. 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 gathers pace.”

To become a monthly Covenantor, email enquiries@p2steam.com, call 01325 460163 or visit www.p2steam.com for more information.

A birthday party surprise!

Unfortunately Tornado was unable to attend her 10th birthday party in Darlington but it looks like Prince of Wales had a surprise waiting for the guests!  Again, many thanks to all those who signed up to The Mikado Club to get No. 2007 on her wheels.

All photos by Mandy Grant.

A ‘tyring’ day!

Excellent progress continues to be made with the process of wheeling and tyring at South Devon Railway (Engineering).  These photos show the steps involved in preparing the wheel centres (now all fitted to their axles) for the tyres to be shrunk on.  Assembling Tornado’s wheels used numerous contractors and multiple road miles so, for the Trust, having a ‘one stop shop’ that could do all the work has saved a lot of haulage and time.  All photos by David Elliott.

Boring a tyre on the vertical borer.

A fully machined tyre ready for fitting.

Machining back faces on the other wheel lathe and boring crank pin holes on the quartering machine.

Profiling a flange on the wheel lathe.

Wheels tyred, crankpins fitted

Work continues at a great pace at South Devon Railway (Engineering).  The tyre fitting is being done using the ex Swindon works tyre heating equipment.  The quartering machine is a special form of horizontal borer which can bore crank pin holes or turn crank pins (if already fitted) from both sides of the wheelset at the same setting; provided the setting is not altered whilst swapping wheelsets, this ensures that the distance between the crank pins and the axle centres and the angle between the crank pins is consistent for all four wheelsets which is vital for smooth running of the finished locomotive.

All photos by Rob le Chevalier

The crank axle in the wheel lathe for turning the back of the rims

Another view of this operation

The leading coupled wheelset in the quartering machine

Tyres fitted to the trailing coupled wheelset

Activity at Darlington

Although the headline-grabbing wheelsets are away at South Devon Railway Engineering, work has continued at a fair pace at Darlington Locomotive Works, including the delivery of the spectacle windows and frames;  the frames have been CNC machined from leaded gunmetal (bronze) castings by Durham Precision Engineering, the glazing retaining strips have been laser profiled from 6mm brass sheet by Holme Dodsworth of Newcastle.  20.5mm thick multiple laminated glazings with an anti-spall coating on the inside have been made to comply with current railway group standards by Romag at Consett.  These components have been sponsored as part of our Dedicated Donation scheme – have you sponsored a component yet?  If not, find out how to do so here.

Meanwhile Ian Matthews has been producing the fiendishly complicated compound curvature for the junction of the firebox cladding and that of the boiler barrel.

All photos by David Elliott

Wheelset and tender progress

Although things may have been quiet at Darlington Locomotive Works recently, plenty of activity has been taking place at our supporting engineering firms and sub-contractors.  Down in the West Country, South Devon Railway Engineering is making good progress assembling the wheelsets – remember, to support the wheeling of Prince of Wales you can join The Mikado Club but hurry, there are only a handful of places left!  You can find full membership and benefit details here.  All photos of wheels by Rob LeChevalier.

Meanwhile at Ian Howitt’s works, dozens of parts have been machined and assembly has started on the tender’s frames.  All photos of tender parts by Ian Howitt.

Tender brake hanger bearings

Tender brake cross-shaft brackets

Tender brake hangers

Tender bufferbeam brackets (gussets)

Tender handbrake shaft bracket

Tender spring box washers