The P2 Steam Locomotive Company has announced that the first heavy motion, two intermediate coupling rods, have been delivered to Darlington Locomotive Works, just seven years after the project launched.
The fundraising campaign to raise £210,000 to pay for the heavy motion is making good progress, with £170,000 already raised.
The Gresley P2 ‘Mikados’ were the most powerful express locomotive to operate in the UK. Designed by Sir Nigel Gresley in the 1930s, the locomotives hauled 600-ton trains on the Edinburgh to Aberdeen route. Unfortunately, the design was never fully developed and was rebuilt by Edward Thompson into A2 Pacifics.
Now, The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust is building the seventh member of the class with an estimated cost of £5 million through the P2 Steam Locomotive Company.
Despite the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, progress on the P2’s construction has moved forward rapidly. The locomotive has now reached the ‘recognisable’ stage of the assembly. Additionally, the tender tank and wheelsets are now complete and are now at Darlington Locomotive Works.
Assembly work has continued on all fronts, including progress on the boiler, wheelsets, tender frame, heavy motion and electricals. Design work for the improved cylinder block is now complete, with the focus now turning to adapt the Lentz rotary cam poppet valve gear.
Fundraising has progressed well too! The ‘P2 for the price of a pint of beer a week’ scheme has brought in more than 930 Covenantors. The Dedicated Donation scheme has raised over £400,000; The Boiler Club has already welcomed over two-thirds its 300 members target; The Mikado Club and The Cylinder Club are now closed having reached the targets and have raised more than £375,000, and The Founders Club originally had a target of 100 members, but now has 360 members.
The Tender Club has 80 members already, just 18 months after its launch, and The Pony (Truck) Club, launched in Mid-April, has passed its 20 members initial target.
This now means that more than £2.5m has been spent on the project, and £3m has been raised of the £5m needed to complete 2007 Prince of Wales in the next three years.
However, if the project is to succeed, they need to raise £700,000 every year, something they have yet to achieve.
In May 2018, The P2 Steam Locomotive Company placed an order worth more than £181,000 with Stephenson (Engineering) Ltd for the heavy motion. This included the forging, machining and heat treatment of nine heavy motion rods – intermediate coupling rods, trailing coupling rods, leading coupling rods, outside connecting rods and the inside connecting rod assembly.
In April 2018, an appeal was launched to raise the funds to manufacture the motion for 2007 Prince of Wales. The Motion Club aims to raise £210,000 from 175 supporters, who should each donate £1,000 in up to eight payments of £125.
The appeal started well, and in just 3 months, 140 members were recruited, with £170,000 pledged.
If you choose to support this appeal, benefits for donators include:
- Opportunity to buy a ticket (seat already reserved) on one of the first trains hauled by No. 2007 Prince of Wales
- Reasonable access to No. 2007 at all times
- Opportunity to buy exclusive Motion Club badge
- Opportunity to join one of the teams building No. 2007
- The first choice of other components to sponsor
- Special supporters’ day with Tornado
- Special limited-edition version (signed/numbered) of Stuart Black’s drawing of No. 2007 Prince of Wales.
Mark Allatt, Trustee, The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust, commented: “We are delighted with the support the project to build Britain’s most powerful steam locomotive has received since its launch seven years ago. With over £2.5m spent and more than £3.0m donated to-date, we remain on-track for completion within three years. However, to maintain this progress we need to raise £700,000 per year, and we are still seeking to recruit members of The Motion Club in order to complete the funding for the heavy motion and ‘price of a pint of beer a week’ covenantors to support on-going construction at Darlington Locomotive Works.
“Unfortunately, a lack of resources at our supplier has been compounded by the social distancing requirements of working during the COVID-19 pandemic. This has prevented the forging of further heavy motion beyond the four coupling rods, which have since been heat treated. However, delivery of the first two coupling rods is a major milestone, and we anticipate Stephenson (Engineering) delivering the heavy motion over the next year as each rod takes around 100 hours to machine.
“We are following Government guidelines with regards to COVID-19 and, whilst our office-based staff are now working from home, our workshop staff are continuing to work at Darlington Locomotive Works where they are taking all necessary precautions. However, as many of our supporters and volunteers are from vulnerable groups, the Works is currently closed to non-essential staff.”
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