Engineering Update - January 2017

Locomotive Frame Assembly

Work continues on the construction of The Unknown Warrior at number of locations.

Unfortunately, I have to start this report with some very un-welcome news. Chris Collins, one of the 2 Llangollen Railway Engineering engineers that is working on The Unknown Warrior has suffered a heart attack and has subsequently spent some time in hospital. I am sure everyone will join us in wishing Chris a speedy recovery and look forward to seeing him back at Llangollen as soon as possible.

The Unknown Warrior inside the shed at Llangollen waiting for the return of the Crank Axle. Jan 2017.. Photo – Kevin West

Work has continued on a number of fronts at Llangollen in the last month.

Following dispatch of the Crank Axle to the South Devon Railway in late December, a meeting was held at Buckfastleigh in early January and the rectification work was agreed. The axle is due to return to Llangollen this week to be re-fitted in the frames.

The space released in the Frame Assy while the Crank Axle was removed has been used to advantage to allow work on fitting the Inside Rear Cylinder Cover and Slide Bars.

The Inside Slide Bars in process of being fitted. Photo – Kevin West

The Outside Cylinders have had the same work completed with Rear Cylinder Covers and Slide Bars now fitted.

The RH Outside Cylinder with Rear Cover in place and Slide Bars fitted. Photo – Kevin West

The Outside Valve Crosshead Brackets have been fitted to the front of the Motion Brackets. This has allowed the distances to be measured and confirmed from the mounting faces to the center’s of the Valve Rods to allow the Valve Crosshead Slides drawings to be finished and the parts ordered.

Outside Crosshead Bracket in position. Photo – Kevin West

Installation of the replacement Stretcher 4 and the Motion Girders has been completed following delivery of the required fitted bolts. The bolts ordered for the Front Buffer Beam are also to hand, although it is not expected to be fitted in the near future as access to the area around the inside cylinder is much easier with it removed.

Riveting of the Footplate Platforms is almost complete with just a few rivets near the front needing to be completed.

Brake System and Lubrication System

The Oil Boxes have all been machined and polished where they will be visible and are ready for mounting onto the locomotive. The majority of pipe fittings required are to hand and the actual fitting of the first pipe runs is expected to start in the next couple of weeks.

The locomotive Brake Gear components, Cross Beams and Pull Rods have been delivered to Llangollen and the painting volunteers are working on them. The new 10 1/2” Brake Cylinder is due to arrive at Llangollen in early March followed by the Cross Shaft and its associated support structure. All the pins and bushed required have been completed by Llangollen Engineering. This will allow the whole brake gear system to be assembled to the locomotive and checked. Only the Brake blocks themselves are required to finish the whole system.

The Locomotive Brake Gear laid out on the floor at Llangollen Works. The third Cross Beam should be in the Pull Rod clevis in the foreground. Photo – Kevin West

The detailed view of the Cross Beam, Bridle and Pull Rods. Photo – Kevin West

The Brake parts in undercoat. The 2 polished rods are the Outside Combination Levers formally fitted to Jubilee class Achilies.. Photo – Kevin West

Our approvals body have agreed that the Brake Cross Shaft under the Cab can be fabricated instead of the original forging. A forging for this part would be very expensive and time consuming, so getting approval for a fabrication is a saving in both time and cost. The drawings have been sent out for quotation and an order will be placed in the next couple of weeks.

Refurbishment of the original 9” Tender Brake Cylinder from 8F 48518 continues at Harco Engineering.

Pistons, Valves and Motion

Work is progressing on the procurement and manufacture of the remaining Inside Valve Gear parts.

The two Outside Eccentric Rods and the Inside Eccentric Rod have been delivered to Llangollen along with their associated bushes. A Start has been made on painting the Inside Rod.


The Outside Eccentric Rods following delivery to Llangollen. Photo – Kevin West

Rods Ends showing Oil Cap. Photo – Kevin West

Picture – Inside Rod

Last month I reported that all parts for the Inside Connecting Rod Assembly were completed at CMS Cepcor, ready to move to Llangollen. Unfortunately, I was misinformed and some final reaming of the taper pin holes was required. This should now have been completed and the parts readied for delivery to Llangollen. Once at Llangollen the bearings can be white metaled and final machined ready for fitting to the Crank Axle Pin.  


Work continues on the manufacture of the remaining Motion parts we have on order, including Inside Combination Lever, Union Links, Crosshead, Main and Intermediate Reverser Shafts, Return Cranks, Valve Crossheads and the Cab Reverser Assembly.



Work continues on the final design of the Piston Rods and Valve Rods.


Apart from the Inside Radius Rod, which is undergoing final detail design, once these parts are to hand all the Valve Gear Parts will be to hand.


At Llangollen, work is progressing on the manufacture and fitting of the new Bearings and Brasses to the Coupling Rods and Connecting Rods. Once complete we can expect an early trial fitting of the Coupling Rods to the chassis.

Drain Cock Gear, Cylinder Relief Valves & Sanding Gear

All the parts of the Drain Cock Operating system including machining of cast Cranks and Levers and manufacture of Rods and Pins and fittings is progressing for delivery to Llangollen at the end of March. The Brackets and associated mountings for the Sanding Gear has been delivered to Llangollen and will be painted before being fitted to the Locomotive chassis.

The four front Sandboxes have now been permanently mounted onto the locomotive chassis the Sandbox Necks are being installed. The Sand Traps have been refurbished and the front four have been fitted to the Sandboxes.

The Leading Sandboxes in position in the locomotive chassis. Photo – Kevin West

The Rear Sandboxes are expected to be finished in the next couple of weeks.


The final forming of the Outer Firebox Throatplate has been completed at Tyseley Locomotive Works and the parts delivered to LNWR Heritage at Crewe.

A view of a section of the Throatplate during heating before being hammered over the former. Each heating cycle takes 7 to 8 minutes to get the sheet hot enough for 30-40 seconds of forming. Tyseley Locomotives Works. Photo – Kevin West

The bottom section of the Throatplate following forming at Tyseley Locomotives Works. Photo – Kevin West

A side view of the Throatplate showing the 11 1/16” step below the Barrel flange. Tyseley Locomotives Works – Jan 2017. Photo – Kevin West

The two sections of the Throatplate at Tyseley Locomotives Works. In the foreground the Top section and behind the Bottom section standing upside down. Photo – Kevin West

Work is progressing at Crewe on the Inner Firebox Assembly and the Barrel assembly. Now all the Outer Firebox parts are on site is expected that assembly of the Outer Firebox will start in the next few weeks. A meeting to map out construction to completion is to be held in the coming days.


Work on the refurbishment on the Tender Frames continues as work on the locomotive allows.

Design work for the tender tank us in hand. We need to get the proposed changes approved by our approvals body before detailed drawings are prepared and quotations obtained for the profiling and delivery of the plate work.

Future Work Planning

Areas of existing design work include, Cylinder Cladding Sheets, Cab Footplate structure and tender tank.


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