Thursday 20th April 2023 was a historic day for our locomotive.  For the first time in 108 years two new George the Fifth main frame plates were set up.  These had been delivered drilled and machined by Boro Foundry the previous Monday.  A quick survey revealed that the front edge of the plates would foul the running plate, and we had to trim off a very thin slice.  Consideration of the bare metal of the machined edges and holes suggested a quick trip to buy some spray primer.  Two cans turned out to be different colours, but never mind, we just needed protection.   By about 4pm we were ready to move the plates to our erecting shop (the open air in Keyte Smith’s yard!) and the fork lift gently lifted each plate to vertical and placed it in position behind our front end plinth.  Laying down the frames is traditionally the creation of a locomotive. With the plates lined up we put some temporary bolts in the joints, and admired our creation.  It certainly looked big, obviously not as big as some new builds, but magnificent just the same.  After taking a few photographs, we covered the assembly with sheets.  A bottle of something for the Keyte Smith team was well earned!

Keyte Smith are now welding up steelwork for the axle beams for our fork truck wheels.  One axle will be a steering one with turntable  and Vee towbar.  A temporary structure will support the frame on the rear axle, again manufactured by Keyte Smith.

We have ordered the two splasher support brackets that bolt to the outside of the frame plates and support the front corners of the cab as well as the splasher.  Two outriggers are needed to support the cab rear corners, and these are with the trade for prices.

Over the next couple of months we will be building up our exhibit comprising the smokebox and front end including the buffer beam on its existing plinth, the main frame plates and running plates, the existing lined left splasher and the cab.  The left side of the cab is fully lined out, and with our number and nameplates should make an impressive display.

With our wheeled structure loading on to a low-loader and final location at an exhibition site will be relatively easy and avoid the need for heavy lifting equipment.

We now have a number of work packages that can be progressed from late this year onwards as funds permit: dragbox, frame stretcher, motion plate, and four hornblocks.  Our front frame plates can then be completed, and finally the permanent assembly of the frames can begin.

Our promised open day for donors to view the cab has been delayed; the cab will not be assembled until the supporting corner brackets arrive, which may be in June.  We will do our best to organise a viewing before the locomotive leaves for its summer exhibition.  We apologise for the delay, but when the open day comes there will be much more than just the cab to be seen, so it should be worth the wait.

Behind the scenes we have been busy: we now have a much better understanding of the Acceptance process, and must pay tribute to the Main Line Steam Builders’ Group.  It is a great forum for sharing experience and expertise, and particular thanks to Graham Nicholas of the P2 Team, formerly of RSSB,  who has shared template documents to help with the approvals process.

We are now seeing great progress, and as ever we are ready to welcome new team members to build the team and accelerate the progress.


Terry McMenamin