2013 Review - 'The Unknown Warrior' on tour as a rolling chassis

2013 was a momentous year for The LMS-Patriot Project, culminating in the first public appearance of ‘The Unknown Warrior’ away from its Llangollen construction base at The National Memorial Arboretum and then two days later appearing as the centrepiece loco display at the busy two-day Warley National Model Railway Exhibition on 23rd/24th November.

These visits came about after a tremendous amount of hard work by a number of people and various engineering companies, and with many challenges over the previous 11 months. The following account tells the trials and tribulations of assembling ‘The Unknown Warrior’ during 2013.

On receiving the invitation (about 18 months ago) to display ‘The Unknown Warrior’ at the Warley National Model Railway Exhibition this year, The LMS-Patriot Project set a target to display the loco as a rolling chassis complete with the smokebox, running plate and cab. At the time it was also hoped that the front bogie would be complete and installed under the engine to create the 4-6-0 rolling chassis.

The driving wheelsets were delivered from South Devon Railway to Tyseley on July 3rd for tyre turning and fitting of the axleboxes. Work had been progressing on the axleboxes at Tyseley but problems were experienced with the bearing castings and underkeeps. The first set of castings were found to be made to an incorrect material spec and several replacements have had contamination resulting in the need to produce further castings which added further delay.

On the chassis all five frame stretchers are now fitted despite some additional machining work being required on a couple of stretchers during the assembly. All horn guides are permanently fitted and cross ties in place. During the fitting of the horn guides a failure of one of the fitted bolts was experienced. Investigation revealed the whole batch was faulty and theses had to be replaced, which again added time to the build schedule.

The inside cylinder was not in our original build schedule for 2013 but the cylinder block was cast at Coupe Foundry in Preston from a new polystyrene pattern that had been made by Premier Patterns. This came about after the discovery of the polystyrene pattern method which resulted in a tremendous cost saving, allowing the inside cylinder to be cast sooner than was first thought. However, the first cylinder block that was cast and machined is being replaced as there were several engineering issues with this. The block could have been repaired but the cost was more than making a replacement which was accomplished at minimum cost to the project. The first cylinder block was temporarily installed in the frames as a strengthening piece during the movements from Llangollen to the West Midlands. A second inside cylinder block was later successfully cast at the Coupe Foundry during November.

The running platework and smokebox were delivered to Llangollen in June and were fitted to the frames and painted in time for the Steam Railway cover photo sheet at the end of July. ‘The Unknown Warrior’ duly appeared on the front cover of Steam Railway magazine (issue 418) which was published on 16th August and gave tremendous publicity to the Project and further boosted the fundraising.

All the remaining parts needed for the front bogie were ordered during 2013, but it soon became apparent that the bogie assembly could not be undertaken in time for Warley as the acquisition of the required second wheelset from an 8F had not yet taken place, and the amount of time needed to assemble the bogie meant it would not be ready in time for November. However, the front bogie is currently a kit of parts in various engineering works around the West Midlands and the 8F wheelset and axleboxes to match the parts already acquired from 48518 are due in the Spring of 2014. Assembly of the bogie is now planned for 2014 and until these parts are to hand the mating parts cannot be worked on.

In late October it also became clear that the delays caused by having to replace all the horn guide fitted bolts and the bearing casting problems, left insufficient time to complete the fitting of the axleboxes to the frames. We could have displayed the chassis without the driving wheels, but the decision was made to create temporary axleboxes to enable the ‘The Unknown Warrior’ to be exhibited on its wheels.

The cab was manufactured and assembled by R. D. Moore of Coalville at cost and was delivered to Llangollen in mid-November. This was fitted to the frames on the 16th November.

On Wednesday 20th November the frames complete with cab and smokebox werewheeled out of the workshop at Llangollen on a couple of workshop trollies and positioned in the yard with a rail crane at the smoke box end. A road crane was positioned at the cab end. Following arrival of the Allelys road trailer, the Driving wheels were craned onto the trailer and positioned at the correct spacing. The locomotive was then lifted off the trolleys and the trailer moved underneath and the frames lowered down onto the wheelsets and wooden axleboxes. The front end of the loco was very heavy necessitating a large wooden packing under the bogie mounting casting. The whole operation took about 4 hours in a combination of heavy rain, hail stones, wind and occasional sunshine! ‘The Unknown Warrior’ left Llangollen at 4.30pm for the journey to the West Midlands. The support from the Llangollen Railway Works team was outstanding during these hectic few weeks.

On Thursday 21st November ‘The Unknown Warrior’ made its public debut at the National Memorial Arboretum. At around 11.20am, the partially completed ‘Patriot’ arrived at the NMA having spent the night in Allelys yard, at Studley in the West Midlands, after leaving Llangollen. Invited guests including local dignitaries, members of the Warley Model Railway Club, and the LMS-Patriot Project were present for a dedication ceremony conducted by railway chaplain Nigel Tansley. BBC Central News sent a cameraman/reporter to cover the event and a news feature was broadcast that evening about the Arboretum visit, which gave excellent publicity for the Warley organisers in the Midlands, 2 days before the start of the largest model railway exhibition in the UK.

‘The Unknown Warrior’ departed the National Memorial Arboretum just after 3pm, and made the short journey to the NEC, where it stayed overnight in the car park, before being moved inside Hall 5 at around 6am on the Friday morning of the Warley set-up day. After being seen by thousands of people at Warley (17,300 people visited over the 2 days) ‘The Unknown Warrior’ left the NEC at 8.30pm on the Sunday evening for overnight storage at Tyseley and was unloaded at Tyseley Loco Works at around 10.30am on Monday 25th November. During the two days of the exhibition we signed up around 130 new members taking the total to 1065 including the well known railway artist Barry Freeman. We also received a very generous quote from Coventry Castings to cast the new chimney for £455.51 – significantly below the market rate. We have now had this item sponsored along with several other items from the engine. Though as you can imagine there are many items still available to be sponsored so please do feel free to help further if you are able. Please visit the Sponsorship page.

At Tyseley a workshop trolley was fitted under the front buffer beam and the rolling chassis was run off the trailer, the first time ‘The Unknown Warrior’ had moved on its own wheels!

What next for ‘The Unknown Warrior’

‘The Unknown Warrior’ is currently at Tyseley Loco Works where the hornguides will be ground and the axleboxes fitted. The decision to take the rolling chassis to Tyseley from the NEC will allow the fitting of the axleboxes to be completed without the need for Tyseley staff to visit Llangollen. The second inside cylinder casting will be machined during January and then delivered to Llangollen Works where it will be fitted during February. The rolling chassis will then return to Llangollen around the end of January.

The outside motion brackets and boiler support brackets will be machined and fitted during the first quarter of 2014. The patterns for the motion girders have already been made and will be machined and fitted during the year. The orders for the patterns and casting of the outside cylinders will be issued in early Januaryand will befitted during 2014. The bogie assembly will also take place at Tyseley Locomotive Works. All the parts for this have been sourced, apart from the second bogie wheelset, which should be delivered in 2014 from an 8F.

The Boiler Loan Scheme was launched in September and by the end of 2013 we had around £100,000 committed to the boiler build. If we could persuade each one of our 1000+ members to invest in £100 of boiler loans each we would raise a further £100,000 which would allow us to order the two most expensive remaining boiler components – the Throatplate (£32,500) and the Doorplate (£22,000) and have money left over for the barrel. Delivery of the copper for the construction of the copper firebox by LNWR Heritage Ltd. at Crewe will take place in early January and construction will begin in January with completion by expected by August 2014.

We also expect to make progress with the last of the motion required and the cylinder and valve end covers (for which we have the patterns) and piping up the lubrication system. Other areas will be the brake gear, including overhaul of the brake cylinder from 48518 and a start on repairing the tender frames. The coupling rods will be fully polished by our volunteer team in the early part of the year and will be trial fitted by Llangollen Works.

Thanks to all the staff at Llangollen Railway Works, Tyseley Loco Works, Allelys Heavy Haulage and Squires Tools who helped make the NMA and NEC visits possible during November, and to our suppliers South Devon Railway Engineering, LNWR Heritage, Boro Foundry, KB West Design Services, Bromborough Paints, R.D. Moore, The Coupe Foundry, Harco Engineering, FHT, Procast, Newton Replicas, Micron Alloy Castings, Fastlok Engineering, Premier Patterns, Owen Springs, B + C Foundry, Morris Lubricants, Jones Springs, Heritage Painting and to Andrew Kennedy (Oakwood Visuals) for tirelessly filming the progress. Finally a huge thank you to all of our members and donors, for your contributions to The LMS-Patriot Project without whom none of this would have been possible.

We would also like to pay tribute to our engineering team who have produced first class results, saving us thousands of pounds, to our sales team who have yet again beaten their budget and attended a huge number of venues, to our marketing and publicity team who have kept us in the public eye to an eye watering extent, to our painting volunteers who delivered under enormous pressure and to our backroom team who have kept us on the financial straight and narrow and last but by no means least to our supporters who have enabled this to happen with their generous support. Finally can we appeal to all those who are LMS enthusiasts but not yet supporters of the project to take the step and give us your support. With this and the goodwill generated at Warley we are convinced that we will meet our target of having 'The Unknown Warrior' in steam by September 2017. May we wish you all a Happy Christmas and all the very best for the New Year. 2014 promises to be a year of steady less dramatic progress which should see much of the rolling chassis completed.

18 original brass 'Patriot' nameplates were on display at the cab end of 'The Unknown Warrior' on the Saturday of the Warley exhibition (23rd November), including both the VC plates, Private E. Sykes, V.C. and Private W. Wood, V.C. (not pictured).

Temporary mailing address: The LMS-Patriot Company Limited c/o 19 Highfield Road Hixon Stafford ST18 0LY
Temporary phone number: 07801 945689

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