2014 review - HELP US FINISH THE JOB
We have now reached a major turning point in the construction of 'The Unknown Warrior's' chassis, with a change in emphasis from manufacture to assembly. Much still needs to be done but with the last of the major castings now complete we are turning our attentions to the myriad of smaller parts which will be required.
A number of members have commented on the progress of the P2 which is undoubtedly impressive, however what we have achieved is equally impressive and has been done at record speed. We are continuing to accelerate towards 2017 and with each new piece of the jigsaw being produced, confidence that we will meet our targets continues to grow. We are now adopting the slogan 'HELP US FINISH THE JOB'. We are long past the point where the question was ‘if' and I thought it might be useful to recap on progress in 2014 to set the scene for 2015 which will be a key year for The-LMS Patriot Project
This year we fitted the wheels to the frames at Tyseley Loco Works following the machining of the axleboxes. The inside cylinder block has been machined and awaits fitting, whilst the outside cylinders, motion girders, motion brackets, boiler support brackets, rear cylinder covers have now all been cast and machined. The slidebars will be completed shortly. These will all be fitted to the frames over the next few months after which the springs will be installed and the coupling rods attached. The brake cylinder will be overhauled FOC by Harco Engineering and drawings will be prepared for the brake gear and sanding gear which we expect to begin making later in 2015. We also plan to order the remaining cylinder and valve covers, the remaining crosshead and the outstanding motion for delivery later in 2015 and early 2016. We are hoping to get volunteer input into the fitting of the pipework (for both steam circuits and lubrication.)
The two new bogie wheels will be machined during January followed by the axle, once we have finalised details of the tyres these will be ordered - delivery 14 weeks. The axle (which has already been sponsored) will be machined early next year and delivered to the South Devon Railway where the wheelset will be assembled and the tyres fitted. The contract for the bogie will be allocated early next year with a target completion of August 2015.
Work has started at Rowlescourt Engineering with a view to completion in July 2016. Wheels and other running gear will be fitted at Llangollen once the frames have been completed. Rowlescourt will cover all but the costs of the materials used. We estimated that these would not exceed £10,000 which has now been raised through the ‘Tenner for the Tender' appeal.
The estimate for the boiler construction is around £477,000. This includes the cost of the smokebox and front tubeplate which were completed during 2013 and paid for at a cost of £30,000. Copper for the firebox has already been obtained with the assistance of a loan from sponsors Bromborough Paints. The remaining £10,000 of the £48,000 pricetag has come from existing funds. The doorplate has been completed and the firebox crown and sides have been shaped. The tubeplate and throatplate have been pressed to size - the tubeplate is 1" thick and the remainder has been thinned down to 5/8" prior to the plate being shaped. The foundation ring will be manufactured later in the year and assembly of the copper firebox will commence in the Spring with assembly of the finished article in late Autumn 2015. To achieve this the outer steel firebox plates will be made in 2015 (the doorplate and throatplate at Tyseley Loco Works and the other plates at LNWR Heritage at Crewe). We plan to have the boiler barrels rolled next year at a cost of around £10,000 and have launched a separate appeal to pay for these along the lines of the successful ‘Tenner for the Tender' appeal.
We have agreed modifications to the firebox which will reduce costs without compromising performance. In fact the boiler will be constructed with the capability of operating at 225 psi pressure rather than the original 200 psi. We will be replacing around 950 small copper stays with steel at a cost saving of approximately £18,000.
We will also be exploring the possibility of improving the draughting without compromising 'The Unknown Warrior's' appearance. Final assembly of the boiler will commence in 2016.
All of the above will put huge pressure on our resources during 2015 as we will be running the chassis build and boiler construction side by side. To do this we will need to substantially increase our income to allow these work streams to continue uninterrupted. We are therefore asking all our supporters to review their contributions in 2015, either by increasing their donations, starting regular donations or participating in the Boiler Loan Scheme. We currently have around 1300 members and need to increase this substantially so can you approach your fellow LMS (and other) enthusiasts and persuade them to join us? We do appreciate that some of our Members are on limited or fixed incomes - if you are unable to increase your support financially please see if you can 'rope in' your friends to become donors. Despite the initial success of the P2, 'The Unknown Warrior' is clearly one the fastest ever new build projects and is the first to be assembled entirely in Britain. It is also the only LMS new build which should give us a huge advantage over other groups who have to compete with other projects from the same lineage. Please continue to support us as we move towards a successful steaming in 2017.
My thanks to you all and my best wishes for Christmas and the New Year.