Engineering Update - December 2016

Locomotive Frame Assembly

As we work towards our target to be complete for 11th November 2018, the amount of work taking place at locations across the country is rising.

As an example of this, the total value of orders raised by our Chief Engineer for the supply of parts and services for the construction of the locomotive, since the beginning of September is £102,288.00. That does not include staff costs at Llangollen Railway Engineering or any work on the boiler at LNWR Heritage at Crewe which is additional to this. We receive many favorable comments on the amount of simultaneous and speedy progress reported in these reports. The only way we can do this is with your continued financial support. While included in these orders are a few items that are of reasonable high valve, the majority are for quite small numbers.

I can see little prospect for this level of orders to be reduced over the next 18 months if we are to meet our historically defined deadline. As I say in the talks and presentations I give about the project, we started as a bunch of idiots that wanted to build a steam engine, we are now building a War Memorial! As funding from any central or commercial organisations now appear to be less likely it is down to our supporters to step up again. We have a number of schemes running such as Tenner for the Tender and the Boiler Loan scheme. But the best way you can help is by signing up as a regular donor until the end of 2018. That is just 24 months, so 24 regular donations of whatever you can afford. £10 per month is a total of £240, not a vast amount. But if 10 people sign up it is £100 a month, if 100 do it’s £1,000 a month extra into our cashflow which allows us to pay for these parts and services.

To sign up as a regular donor, or sign up as a member, or make a one off donation please click here.

We need your support to be able to finish 'The Unknown Warrior' for the 100th Anniversary of the Armistice on 11th November 2018.

Thank you for your support.

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

'The Unknown Warrior' outside the shed at Llangollen waiting the removal of the Crank Axle. 14th Dec 2016. Photo – Kevin West

Following on from the last report work has continued on a number of fronts on the chassis at Llangollen Railway Engineering.

The sample new Driving Wheel Spring has been fitted and approved. The remaining 5 are now in production for delivery in the early new year.

The new design Driving Wheel Spring trial fitted to the locomotive chassis. Photo – Kevin West

Installation of the replacement Stretcher 4 has almost been completed. We are just waiting for the supply of a last Fitted Bolts to enable this task to be completed. As previously found an order can be placed with a supplier and we assume all is progressing as expected. When the parts delivery does not happen as expected and enquiries are made we get told, sorry, I can’t get the material spec you want, or the machines are busy on other work. Very frustrating. These Fitted Bolts are now to hand along with new studs for the Cylinder Covers. This releases Llangollen Railway Engineering to finish the fit of stretcher 4 and start on lining up and fitting the Slide Bars.

The Motion Girders are also ready for final fitting. Once again the special Bolts required have been ordered. The bolts required for the Front Buffer Beam have also been ordered. This has been done by a procedure that we have instigated following Dave Owen’s start as a volunteer on the locomotive. Rather than rely on using Llangollen Engineering stock of fastenings we are ordering in direct a stock of fastenings that we require. This will speed up assembly as we will not have to wait for parts when the stock is exhausted.

Permanently riveting the Platform sections in place has been started and is due to be completed before Christmas.

One job that we had not expected was the removal of the Crank Axle for some rectification work at the South Devon Railway. On a trial fitting of the Inside Motion Eccentric an issue was found with the keyway in the Axle.

The Axle was removed from the chassis on 15th December and transported to Buckfastleigh shortly after along with the wheel sets from LNER D49 Morayshire which is undergoing an overhaul at Llangollen. A repair method has been agreed and we expect a quick turn round and return to Llangollen for the Axle assembly.

A start has been made on fitting the mounting brackets for the Lubrication System Oil Boxes. Dave Owen has also signed up the services of the regular pipe fitter at Llangollen to install all the pipe runs on the locomotive.

Left Hand Trailing Axle Guide Oil Box Bracket trial fitted to the locomotive chassis. Photo – Kevin West

The Intermediate Reverser Shaft Bracket is being machined at Harco Engineering along with the associated Bearing Bronzes and Bearing Caps.

Intermediate Reverser Shaft Bracket undergoing machining at Harco Engineering. Photo – Kevin West

The parts for the cab Reverser have been put out for quotation. The first parts for the unit have been cast, the Pivot and the distinctive sculptured Reverser Wheel. These have been delivered for machining.

The Reverser Pivot casting. Photo – Kevin West

The pattern for the sculptured Reverser Wheel. Photo – Kevin West

The Inside Cylinder Exhaust Pipe has been machined and is ready for delivery to Llangollen.

The Inside Exhaust Pipe after machining. Photo – Kevin West

Brake System and Lubrication System

Work is continuing on the assembly and polishing of the Oil Boxes and acquiring the fittings required for the lubrication system. The first batch of pipework has been delivered to Llangollen and we anticipate that a start on fitting will be made in the new year.

2 of the Oil Boxes following polishing. Photo – Kevin West

The Atomiser has been completed and delivered to Llangollen.

The finished Atomiser. Photo – Kevin West

Fittings acquired over the last couple of months include the non-return valves for the Driving Axleboxes.

A selection of the Lubrication fittings recently acquired. Photo – Kevin West

Another selection of fittings including for the Driving Axlebox Non Return Valves, bottom left. Photo – Kevin West

Manufacture of the locomotive Brake Gear components is complete and the parts are due to be delivered to Llangollen in the week before Christmas. This will allow David Hughes and the painting team to prepare the paint finish before a trial fit of the gear is made in the New Year.

The Brake Cross Shaft under the Cab was originally a forging and discussions are underway with our approvals body to see if we can use a casting or fabrication. A decision is a-waited on this before final design work is completed and quotations to supply can be sent out.

Following discussions with our approvals body we have decided to fit a brand new 10 ½” Brake Cylinder instead of refurbishing the 12” Cylinder from 8F No 48518. The 8F class were the only class of LMS locomotive fitted with the 12” cylinder. To use this on The Unknown Warrior would have involved either sleeving the cylinder down to 10 ½” and making a new Piston, Cover and Sleeve. Or making adjustments to the Brake Gear layout to reduce the brake force applied to the wheels. The news that a new cylinder was available at a very advantageous cost made the decision very easy.

We expect the new Cylinder to be delivered to Llangollen in the first few weeks of the New Year for trial fitting, the mounting assembly for the Cross Shaft is out for quotation and we expect to place the order 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.

All parts for the Inside Connecting Rod Assembly are completed at CMS Cepcor. These will move to Llangollen Railway Engineering for white metaling of the bearings and final boring at Llangollen to complete this assembly.

 The two Outside Eccentric Rods have been machined by CMS Cepcor and are ready for delivery to Llangollen.


A selection of parts recently completed at CMS, including the 2 Outside Eccentric Rods and Brake Gear Pull Rods. Photo – Kevin West

An order has also been placed with Robert Stephenson & Sons of Manchester for the manufacture and supply of the Return Cranks.

Orders have been places for the Main and Intermediate Reverser Shaft castings. Quotations for machining these are out with our preferred suppliers.

The Inside Crosshead casting has been moved to CMS Cepcor for initial machining. The final machining will be undertaken at Tyseley in conjunction with fitting the Piston Rod.

The new Inside Combination Lever plus associated bushes and Oil Caps has been ordered for delivery in February.

The new Union Links we require, 1 Inside and 1 Outside, along with their associated Pins, Collars and fittings are out for quote.

Castings for the 3 Valve Crossheads have been ordered and final design work is underway on the Valve Crosshead Guides. We need to wait until the Outside Valve Guide Brackets have been fitted to the Motion Brackets. We will then be able to get exact measurement of the distance between the bracket mounting face and the centre of the Valve Rod to enable the valve guides to be finally machined.

The Valve Guide Brackets being prepared for painting at Llangollen. Photo – Kevin West

The 2 Outside Crossheads are due to move from Llangollen to Tyseley for refurbishment prior to fitting to the Piston Rods.

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.

One of the Coupling Rod Bearings under manufacture at Llangollen Railway Works. Photo – Kevin West

Drain Cock Gear, Cylinder Relief Valves & Sanding Gear

Castings for all the Cranks and Levers required have been delivered and quotes are being obtained for these to be machined, along with all the Operating Rods, Pins, collars and associated parts.

The Cranks, Levers and Bracket castings for the Drain Cock Gear. Photo – Kevin West

On the Cylinder Relief Valves, the Valve castings have been obtained and sent to the machinist along with the Valve Cage castings. Quotations for the Valve Springs have being obtained and will be ordered shortly.

The 3 Drain Cocks we require, we already have 6 originals, have been ordered and should be available for fitting in the late spring 2017.

On the Sanding Gear the four front Sandboxes have now been mounted onto the locomotive chassis and are ready for the Sandbox Necks to be installed.

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

The Rear Sandboxes that are mounted on the Platforms alongside the Firebox, have been ordered from R D Moore Ltd along with the parts for the gear nozzle mounting brackets and plates.

CAD image of Rear Sandboxes in position on Chassis. Photo – Kevin West

The Sand Traps and Nozzles are about to start being refurbished by our volunteers.

A Sand Trap and Nozzle prior to refurbishment. Photo – Kevin West


The castings for the Injectors being manufactured for us by Tyseley Locomotive Works were spotted at CMS Cepcor for machining on a recent visit

Injector body casting alongside an original injector. Photo – Kevin West


The Outer Firebox Doorplate has been drilled at LNWR Heritage, Crewe and the internal stiffening plate has been fitted. All the pads for the fittings on the Backplate has been made and are ready for riveting and welding in place.

The Outer Firebox Doorplate undergoing drilling at LNWR, Crewe. Photo – Kevin West

The Stiffening Plate mounted inside the Doorplate. Photo – Kevin West

Forming the Outer Throatplate at Tyseley Locomotive Works is progressing with the top section complete. Forming this top section is a two stage process using first a female former to form the flange that will fit to the barrel. Once this has been completed the plate is turned over and bolted to a second former that will creat the flange for the Wrapper.

The Barrel flange former with the wedge shaped used to support the bottom section placed on top. Photo – Kevin West

The plate bolted to the second stage former. Photo – Kevin West

Heating another section of plate before hammering can begin. Photo – Kevin West

Alistair Mealney works on another section of the flange. Photo – Kevin West

The finished top section of the Throatplate. The only section of plate that is in the same plane as the original sheet are the 2 sections in the corners where the 2 fixing holes have been welded. Photo – Kevin West

The lower section has been started with the flange that fits to the barrel formed. When the plate was moved onto the former that will be used to form the side flanges it became apparent that the former had distorted during casting, so some additional work was required on the former to allow the plate to sit correctly. This was disappointing, but work is now almost complete and the side flanges are due to be formed in the first week of January.

The Foundation Ring has been welded and tested and is now ready for fitting to the Boiler Assembly.

The Angle Ring which is the joint between the barrel and the Front Tubeplate has been delivered to LNWR Heritage at Crewe.

The Inner Firebox Assembly is also progressing with work underway on preparations for riveting.

The Inner Firebox Assembly at LNWR, Crewe. Photo – Kevin West

The Dome and the Dome Cover castings have been delivered and quotations for machining are being obtained.

The Dome casting at Premier Patterns Works. Photo – Kevin West

The Dome Cover casting and Reverser Wheel casting at Premier Patterns Works. Photo – Kevin West

Final design for the mounting of the 8F regulator is underway. The regulator unit itself is presently on the Chief Engineer’s patio for measurement and will be returned to Crewe for refurbishment soon. The new J Pipe which connects the bottom of the Regulator to the Main Steam Pipe has been cast and will be going for machining soon.

CAD image of the 8F Regulator and J Pipe in the Boiler. Photo – Kevin West


The Main Steam Pipe Castings have been delivered, quotes for machining will be obtained in the next few weeks.

The casting for the Right Hand Main Steam Pipe at Premier Patterns. The square flange seen is the mounting for the Snifting Valve.  Photo – Kevin West

The Superheater Header pattern is in manufacture with casting due in the first couple of weeks of 2017.

The final selection of base plates for the Smokebox have been made by R D Moore Ltd.

David Hughes painting some of the Smokebox Floor Plate at Llangollen Works. Photo – Kevin West

The Exhaust Seals have been cast and are away for machining.

The Exhaust Seals during machining at Harco Engineering. Photo – Kevin West

Investigations are continuing about the manufacture of the complicated Main Steam Pipes. We are discussing this with several other locomotive groups and railways who also require pipes for their locomotives.

A start has been made on the design of the Snifting Valves. These valves are fitted to the steam feed into each cylinder. When the regulator is open the steam pressure keeps the valves shut, but when the regulator is closed and the locomotive is coasting, the valves open and allow air to flow through the cylinders and stops a vacuum forming in the steam pipes and cylinders.

One of the Snifting Valves from Jubilee 45596 Bahamas at Tyseley Locomotive Works. Photo – Kevin West

The valves for the Outside Cylinders are mounted on the Main Steam Pipes above the Outside Cylinders and the one for the Inside Cylinder is mounted on the right side of the cylinder itself under the platform.

CAD image of the Snifting Valves (in green) in position on the right side of the locomotive. Photo – Kevin West

The original Chimney from 5539 E C Trench that the project acquired several years ago has been repaired and re-painted ready to be returned into the workshop as a donation collecting stand for the project.

CAD image of the Snifting Valves in position on the right side of the locomotive. Photo – Kevin West


Work on the refurbishment on the Tender Frames continues as work on the locomotive allows. The replacement Outer Frames are being prepared for attachment to the refurbished Inner Frame Assembly. This work will be undertaken as fall back work from the Locomotive Chassis is required over the coming months.

The order for the Tender Axlebox brasses has been placed. Once delivered they will be machined ready for wheeling the chassis.

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

As Christmas approached our Chief Engineer was coming under increasing pressure to move a number of locomotive parts that had found storage under the Dining Room table. The splasher and nameplate had been on display at the AGM and was waiting to be taken back to Llangollen. All parts were eventually moved to where required and domestic bliss restored!

The Chief Engineer’s Dining Room with a selection of parts from The Unknown Warrior in storage under the table! Photo – Kevin West

 Future work on the locomotive at Llangollen is expected to include permanent fitting of the growing number of finished parts.


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