Main Plates Update

We have just heard from Tata Steel Profiles that our main frames (each over 23 foot long) have been cut and have passed their ultrasound test. They now await profiling and painting before we take delivery which will probably be in about a fortnight’s time.

Main Frame Plates Ordered

We are delighted to bring our supporters the news that the main frame plates for ‘Prince George’ have been ordered from Tata Steel Profiles.  As soon as this week material will be at the Wednesbury plant to await its slot in the production schedule. This marks the start of a programme of work on the foundation of the locomotive, manufacturing the major components  such as hornblocks, stretchers etc as shown in the CAD image.  Note that the colours are purely to highlight the different major components.

MAJOR COMPONENTS OF MAIN FRAMES

FRONT FRAMES (ALREADY EXISTING) ATTACH TO FRONT END OF MAIN FRAMES

ITEM COMPONENT REMARKS
1 Main Frame Plate Profiles ordered
2 Motion Plate Supports slide bars
3 Driving Axle Hornblock Guides axle bearings
4 Frame Stretcher Maintains frame spacing
5 Splasher & Boiler Slide Bracket Supports splashers and rear end of boiler
6 Trailing Axle Hornblock Guides axle bearings
7 Dragbox Maintains frame spacing and braces against racking loads: houses drawgear to tender
8 Step & Cab Support Bracket Supports cab and steps

The front and rear frame plates of the George were overlapped between the cylinders and the motion plate. This was because of the limited size of machine tools available at Crewe .  We already have the front frame plates; however we will be concentrating on the main frames as the main structure of the locomotive.

LNWR express locomotives gained a reputation for cracked frames during the LMS era.  Possible causes include removal of the centre frame supporting the crank axle centre bearing, as ordered by Hughes, but very likely they were simply too lightly built.  Our locomotive’s frame plates are 30mm thick as against the original 1” (25.4mm) and they are deeper between the driving axles.

Unfortunately not all parts can be manufactured identical with the original.  For example, the dragbox supports the brake cylinder and a bell crank lever.  The first 20 locomotives had the rather unusual LNWR vertical steam brake cylinder.  This worked a linkage to operate both locomotive and tender brakes.  Later locomotives had separate cylinders on engine and tender, much more sensible except for that it was vacuum brake with huge 21” diameter cylinders.  Most steam locomotives had steam brake cylinders on locomotive and tender. The LMS and BR used the same 10” cylinder to the end of steam construction in 1960, so that is probably what we will use.

Hornblocks will be designed around roller bearing axleboxes and manganese liners to improve reliability and reduce overhaul costs.  In order to be confident in our frame plate dimensions, it was necessary to select the bearings and model the axleboxes in some detail, which will pay dividends when we move on to them.  Before committing to machining the frame plates we need to ensure that we define all the holes required for mounting the multitude of smaller details, such as brake hanger brackets, valve motion, attachments for cylinder cock and damper operating links, sand boxes and pipes.

We are now setting about detail design of the major components shown and getting costs for them, and their assembly into the locomotive frame.  After that we will work up a fund-raising appeal so we can assemble the frames.

I am really excited about the prospect of getting the main frames assembled thereafter assembling our existing parts on the frames and giving shape to number 2013 ‘Prince George’, and I hope our supporters will be equally enthused.

Behind The Scenes

There will be further news on the locomotive shortly but a great deal is going on now behind the scenes so that progress to be made.

One area everybody is very conscious of is how rapidly the world is ‘going digital’. This includes communicating our message and fundraising and this is especially so at a time when Covid19 constraints severely impair opportunities for face to face events.

We are therefore delighted to report that via the Digital Lab scheme of the Arts Marketing Association (ultimately funded by Heritage Lottery) we have secured the services of Oliver Edwards for the next year to improve our digital presence. Ollie runs his own digital marketing company (Oliver Edwards Marketing) and combines being a genuine railway enthusiast with a client list in the ‘railway preservation industry’ and a relevant and credible academic background.

Our first virtual meeting took place last Friday (October 9) and highlights our need for two specific volunteers – firstly somebody who would like to produce short (200 word) items with an archive photo related not just to the locos but to the world of the London & North Western Railway and the early LMS more generally and secondly somebody who would like to take responsibility for posting these items on our facebook page. The first role is armchair based and the second requires a few moments of regular time for somebody who is digitally comfortable. If you are either of these people or someone in your family or an acquaintance is please let us know.

We have also formed a link with the digital department of University of Derby which is close to our manufacturing base and are taking part in a project for their students this term.

On the personnel front we are losing for the time being  Chali Chaligha of Leicester de Montford University who has spent the gap year of his mechanical engineering degree with us learning about computers, the characteristics of railway wheels and the paperwork engineers have to produce ‘in the real world’ to seek regulatory approvals for operation on ‘the big railway’.

JWe are also delighted to announce that Bruce Nixon, for many years a lone advocate of the need to recreate LNWR steam and a Trustee of our Trust ab initio until earlier this year has been made President, undoubtedly a well-deserved honour.

Lastly we would like to mention ‘anonymus; who has given us a lump sum donation of £5000 plus gift aid, undoubtedly a firm vote of confidence in us. We do believe that depth of understanding generates depth of feeling for our project and aspire that similar depth of feeling will inspire others to feel the emotion, follow this example and bring the future closer!

George Featured in Railway Magazine

“Railway Magazine August issue includes a 6-page article in Practice and Performance covering the exploits of the George the Fifth class, mostly from their early days.  It is well recommended reading for our supporters 

“The Trust gets only a passing mention, so we have submitted a letter giving more details of our achievements to date and our immediate plans, together with a picture of our front end.  Hopefully this will be published in the next issue.”

Roof Collection

Roof has been collected! We hope to get it shot blasted and  painted today.

Happy Birthday George

We wish His Royal Highness Prince George a happy seventh birthday today.  One day we hope that we can offer him a chance to drive our new locomotive recreating the pre-World War I glory of the LNWR.