The funding gap needed to be bridged to complete Tornado has shrunk from £49,434 to £27,009 over the past month.

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Mark Allatt, chairman of The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust commented:  “The lighting of the first fire and the successful completion of the boiler’s steam test are tremendous news for Tornado and the future of main line steam in Britain. There was no more appropriate person than Dorothy Mather to carry out this ceremonial task as she is the widow of Arthur Peppercorn who designed the class A1s.”

The steam test was preceded by two days when Tornado’s boiler was slowly warmed, building up steam pressure. On Friday 11th January Tornado’s boiler reached its operating pressure of 250 lb/sq in overseen by representatives from the Trust’s Notified Body Delta Rail and boiler inspector John Glaze, before receiving its 10 year boiler certificate. The race is now on to complete the assembly of the locomotive as rapidly as possible.

With the success of the steam test and less than three months to go until Tornado first moves under her own steam you can feel the sense of anticipation in Darlington Locomotive Works. The Trust’s engineering team is working flat out to achieve this deadline with up to thirteen people working on the locomotive at any one time, excluding the multitude of contactors working on numerous components offsite.

We are delighted that our supporters’ continued generosity means that we are steadily reducing our funding gap, which is now under £30,000. With the steam test successfully concluded, it is now a matter of when, not if, Tornado will be completed. We are now looking to people throughout the country to help us complete Tornado through making a donation, sponsoring a component, taking part in our covenant scheme and/or our £500,000 bond issue. It’s time those who have not yet supported this ground breaking project to get on-board!

Although the funding gap to complete Tornado to the project plan now stands at £27,009, once this gap has been bridged the Trust will need to raise approximately £800,000 to service the loans taken out and bond issue taken up to ensure the locomotive’s completion.

PROJECT PLAN – The locomotive is now 96.5% complete and the tender 93.8% complete. Tornado is still on schedule to enter main line service in September 2008.

ENGINERING OVERVIEW – The main effort has been devoted to preparation for and conducting the boiler hydraulic and steam tests.

MOTION – The motion has taken a back seat whilst the locomotive has been prepared for the boiler steam test, however Ian Howitt has machined the connecting rod small end bearings and has sent them away for spark erosion of the pockets that contain the felt pads. On return the oilways will be machined.

PIPE WORK AND FITTINGS – All the pipework required for the boiler test has been hydraulic tested. The steam stand and its associated valves have passed their hydraulic test.

The hydraulic test of the lower water gauge fittings proved less satisfactory with a pin hole in the neck of each casting causing a small leak. Fortunately we were donated a set of gauge fittings from No. 60130 Kestrel (the first Darlington built A1 and donated by a supporter many years ago) which whilst very worn, provided us with two serviceable lower castings. These required extensive de-furring as a result of that locomotive having worked in a very hard water area in its last days. This was achieved courtesy of three hours of simmering in a stainless steel saucepan on David Elliott’s domestic cooker using kettle de-scaling chemicals.

GN Steam assisted in preparation for the boiler test by packing all the valve stuffing boxes and lapping in valves where required. John Haydon has piped up the turbogenerator – with steam pipework complete from the rear of the locomotive to the generator and from the generator exhaust to the fitting on the side of the smokebox. He also continues to make progress with the oil pipework. The oilbox castings have been received and are now at GN Steam where two boxes are almost complete.

South Coast Steam has returned the vacuum ejector control valve, and GN Steam is overhauling the vacuum ejector bought from John Bunch. GN Steam is also making pipe connectors to suit the ejector, and the design for its installation on the side of the smokebox behind the deflector is almost complete. Steve Wood has made adapters to enable the remaining boiler steam fittings to be hydraulic tested before the boiler hydraulic/steam test in January.

The Trust was also donated the whistle from No. 60130 Kestrel at the same time as the gauge fittings. A new whistle base is being cast by William Lane at Middlesbrough due to gauging issues, and the existing whistle base has been taken to GN Steam to assess whether the valve assembly can be re-used. On examination the conclusion is that it is somewhat worn, so new components will be made. Tornado will be fitted with a standard LNER whistle and a chime whistle as fitted to the Gresley class A4s.

BRAKE AND SAFETY EQUIPMENT – The ex-diesel and electric locomotive brake equipment is being removed from the locomotive following trial fitting to be sent to Railway Brake Services Ltd for overhaul. The small air receivers are being internally inspected and hydraulically tested.

Graeme Bunker has negotiated the purchase of a steam loco type AWS sunflower and cancelling lever unit which Mandy Sharpe will adapt for TPWS. Mandy is also ordering long lead TPWS equipment for us.

BOILER ANCILLARIES – The blast pipe assembly including blower rings were fitted in the smokebox for the steam test as were the chimney and liner. A large number of gaskets and quantities of packing material have been obtained for the steam test and beyond. The smoke box was partially sealed using mastic to enable the blower to function.

We are waiting for quotes from Atlas at Oldham and Anglering at Birmingham for the main steam pipes. David Elliott has also received a quote for individual bends from Induction Pipe Bending Ltd at Sunderland who can make individual bends for fabricating into finished steam pipes.

BOILER TESTS – The hydraulic and boiler tests were successfully completed on the planned days, after some late night working. The hydraulic test was successfully completed on Monday 7th January 2008 in the presence of John Glaze (Boiler Inspector) and Paul Molyneux-Berry from the Deltarail VAB.

The boiler was lit up for the first time by Dorothy Mather on Wednesday 9th January and allowed to warm slowly. Pressure was raised initially to 100 PSI on the following day and the live steam injector tested. This was fed from the DRPS loco water tank in the NELPG end of the building with the aid of several fire hoses kindly lent by NELPG. With the water tank delivery pump running, sufficient water was delivered to the injector to enable it to start first time.

Pressure was subsequently raised to 175 PSI to further test the injector which continued to function correctly.

On Friday 11th January, the formal steam test was carried out under the direction of John Glaze and Paul Molyneux-Berry and was successful. Towards the end of the steam test we had low water pressure in the area and the local fire brigade helped us to replenish the supply.

Since then the loco has been taken back inside the works, the boiler drained once cool, the smokebox, tubes, firebox and grate pressure washed and various fittings removed to enable construction to be resumed.

BEARING SPRING GEAR – Cartazzi and tender springs have been delivered, the bogie coil springs are expected this week. Ian Howitt is making steady progress with the locomotive spring gear.

CAB – William Lane is in the process of casting the cab front window frames from patterns produced by Elsfield Patterns.  GN Steam continues with the modifications to the cab floor and under seat cubicles

ELECTRICAL SYSTEM (ROB MORLAND) – Paul Depledge has been making good progress with the electrical installation on the tender and is now beginning to prepare for the TPWS installation by accumulating the various junction boxes required to terminate the antenna connections. The bulk of the LS0H wire has been delivered to Darlington. This will allow the pulling-through of the main wiring into the conduit runs as these are completed on locomotive and tender.

David Elliott and Rob Morland have been working through the design of the in-cab system, which has taken some time as there is very restricted space available under the two crew seats for all the electrical equipment that is required. After looking at a variety of standard enclosures we have finally concluded that the best solution will be to construct our own to fit precisely in the spaces. These will be fabricated from 3mm steel plate and we will have them laser cut with all the holes needed for switches, connectors etc. Rob Morland will build and test the complete I/O Panels before delivering them to Darlington for fitting.

David Elliott has completed the AutoCAD drawing for the Essential Services I/O Panel (under the driver’s seat) and Rob is currently preparing a sketch of the cut-outs required in the front and rear panels. Once completed DE will put these onto AutoCAD and they can then be loaded directly into the laser cutter to complete the panels. The metalwork will be painted for protection. DE is currently working on the drawing for the Auxiliary Services I/O Panel (under the fireman’s seat).

For the Control Panels (which are located on the inside cab roof) we have been able to use standard diecast aluminium boxes, which are at Darlington for fitting. In this case the electrical installation will be attached to the front panel of each box – once again Rob will complete this work at home and the panels will be delivered to Darlington for fitting.

One pair of the 65AH batteries is now in Darlington to assist in the design of the interiors of the battery boxes. As with the under-seat cubicles, space is at a premium here too, so getting the shelves in the right place is going to be important if everything is to fit and remain accessible.

The first of the DC-DC converters has been delivered to C. P. Power in the UK and we will receive this shortly. This will enable work to proceed on the next stage of electrical circuit design, build and test. Most of the MIL-C-5015 connectors and all the specialist tooling have now been delivered to Rob and are awaiting completion of the under-seat cabinets to allow the wiring to commence.

Roger Burgess has completed an excellent initial AutoCAD drawing of the main circuit schematic. This looks very good and we now await completion of the remainder of the design, at which point we will be able to provide Roger with a full information pack to allow completion of the drawings.

Rob Morland has modified the Stones cast bronze marker lamps to incorporate red and white LEDs. However, the Trust needs two more (of eight in total) for Tornado. In addition to the A1s, they were fitted to some early diesel shunter classes including 03 and 04 plus various 0-4-0 designs by North British, Hunslet and Barclay. Please contact the Trust if you can help.

TENDER (SPONSORED BY WILLIAM COOK CAST PRODUCTS LTD) – The tender wheelsets have been subject to ultrasonic and magnetic particle NDT to comply with the group standard requirements and Timken has pressed on the bearings. On the 6th of December the tender frame was delivered to DLW and united with the wheelsets. The air receivers have been re-fitted and Tom Snowball and Paul Depledge have completed the bulk of the plumbing and electrical conduit respectively.  The tender springs were delivered on Tuesday 15th January. Most of the spring gear details are now at DLW. Ian Howitt is expected to deliver the spring hooks in mid February.

Ian Howitt has made further progress with the brake gear, the bulk of it is now at DLW; he is currently working on the remaining items – mainly the cross stay which is currently in manufacture, some pins and various details of the hand brake mechanism.

North View Engineering carried out a hydraulic test of the tank on 1st December which showed a number of small leaks. These have been ground out and re-welded and it was re-tested on 9th January. As soon as the roadway outside the works has been made sound for large road vehicles, the frames and tank will be united.

Ian Howitt is also working on the loco/tender draw bar and safety links plus all four buffers.

Ian Matthews has continued to paint components and the frames. The axlebox covers were fitted prior to the locomotive steam test as the tender frame had to be run outside to allow the loco out. The tender alternator has been fitted and the belt tensioning apparatus is in course of fitting.

Overall the tender is progressing in parallel with the rest of the locomotive.