By the start of 2008 the end of the project was within sight.  A huge number of small tasks still needed to be completed but with the boiler in the frames and the key ancillaries attached it would only be a matter of days before the certification process could begin.  In early January 2008 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 set up for the hydraulic test, with John Glaze, Boiler Inspector. Both gauges at 360 psi during the successful hydraulic test

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.

Vice President Malcolm Crawley shovels the first coal into Tornado's firebox President Dorothy Mather adds the lighted rags
Steam is raised Successful boiler test, and Tornado's 10-year boiler certificate is awarded

After that the loco was 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.

blast pipe and blower rings prepared for installation

The blast pipe assembly including blower rings was fitted in the smokebox for the steam test as were the chimney and liner. A large number of gaskets and quantities of packing material had been obtained for the steam test and beyond. The smoke box was partially sealed using mastic to enable the blower to function.  During March the chimney was properly attached to the liner and set up in the correct position over the blast pipes and bolted to the smokebox.  The order for main steam pipe components was placed with Induction Pipe Bending Ltd at Sunderland and the components delivered. MultiTech made the special flanged joints for the main steam pipes.

Cab front windscreen frame fitted April 2008 - shown opened
Cab front windscreen frame fitted April 2008 – shown opened

Spring 2008 saw William Lane in the process of casting the cab front window frames from patterns produced by Elsfield Patterns.  GN Steam continued with the modifications to the cab floor and under seat cubicles.  By March the cab front window frames and side screen frames had been machined by an engineering company owned by a covenantor at a very reasonable price.  By May the cab and floor plates had been grit blasted and the interior finish painted in apple green including the sides and the inside of the roof. Andrew Daniel, the contract joiner who works for the LNERCA has made up and fitted the cab floor woodwork.

The cab front windscreens and side screens were assembled (minus glass) to await fitting of catches which the Trust’s Anglia Support Group deliveried during the Spring Covenantors’ Meeting. Glazing was ordered from Romag. The pipe work and equipment had been stripped out in anticipation of painting. Further adjustment was made to the front flange of the cab to make a better fit with the boiler cladding.

The Trust took delivery of the tender tank from North View Engineering on 6th February during which time it was tried in place and found to fit. It was then lifted again and placed on wood blocks to facilitate completion of work on the plumbing and electrical installation on the frames.  

Lifting the tender tank from low-loader to the chassis Checking the fit of the tender tank onto the chassis
Tender tank raised on blocks on chassis The tank fitting crew

Work was also progressed on the frames, centering on the final fitting of the springs ans other parts such as the buffers. In March the bogie coil springs had delivered and Ian Howitt delivered all the bogie and side control details.The Cartazzi spring hangers are almost finished and delivery is expected shortly. The modified bogie crosshead has been delivered by MultiTech.  In May the bogie spring and side control gear was fitted.. The coupled wheel springs had been delivered and the coupled wheel spring links fitted to the axle/cannonboxes. The springs would not be fitted until the remaining pipe and motion work was complete as they hampered access. The set of buffers was completed at I D Howitt Ltd, Crofton Works.


Cylinders – the piston and valve rings were delivered in April, the valve rings fitted and the valve spindles inserted in the valve chests. Following a discussions, we omitted the ring stops on the pistons as current practice is not to fit them. Steve Andrews of The Thompson B1 Locomotive Trust produced the piston rod packings and Ian Howitt completed spherical machining of the details. Packing springs were delivered by The Tested Spring Company in Birmingham. The oil injection port in the middle of each cylinder was drilled through the liner to meet the existing feeds from the lubricators. Peter Neesam de-burred and cleaned out the steam and exhaust passages in the cylinders in anticipation of final assembly.

Valves and motion – the connevting rod small end bushes were complete and outside motion re-fitted with felt pads in the bearing and the inside valve gear re-erected with the eccentric rod adjusted to provide the correct travel in both forward and reverse. The inside connecting rod torque setting was completed and the rod was ready for final fitting at the appropriate time. Ian Howitt continued to assemble motion including fitting the last of the pins and delivered some of the stuffing box details. The reverser stand had been re-assembled in the cab and the reversing gear was now complete with the exception of the drive to, and indicator plate for, the cut off indicator which could only be completed after the valve setting which was expected to be done after the Spring Bank Holiday under the guidance of John Graham.

Chimney and blast pipe alignment

Boiler and smokebox – the main steam pipe components from Induction Pipe Bending Ltd in Sunderland were delivered.  MultiTech of Featherstone then completed the main steam pipe flanges. Taylors of Leeds was contracted to fabricate and weld the steam pipe assembles from the kit of parts. Having been welded at Leeds, the welds non-destructive tested and complete pipes hydraulic tested, the steam pipes were returned to Darlington and finally fitted in the smokebox. A large number of gaskets had to be procured for steam fittings and pipe joints. Peter Neesam completed insulating the boiler and re-fitting the cladding, including manufacture of the trailing coupled wheel splashers. The drawing for the new banjo dome casing was finished and was sent to the North Norfolk Railway for manufacture. The fire arch was cast in situ which enabled the fire hole door mask to be fitted which in turn permitted completion of the backhead cladding. GN Steam manufactured the fire hole leg guards and these were now fitted to the backhead. The chimney had been properly attached to the liner and set up in the correct position over the blastpipes and bolted to the smokebox – it was susequently removed to facilitate access to the smokebox. The smokebox was fitted out including the anti-vacuum valve and top cover and the blastpipe fitted for the last time. The regulator cross shaft and other back head fittings were finally fitted. The boiler hand rails had been made and fitted. The cladding was thus effectively complete as ceramic fibre insulation and aluminium foil were fitted to the boiler, followed by the cladding sheets themselves.

A red letter day! On 3rd July 2008, Tornado rests on her springs for the first time, exactly 70 years to within an hour since fellow LNER designed locomotive Mallard reached the world steam speed record of 126MPH.  The rest of the month was occupied with final fitting miles of electrical cable and wiring up the components in the cubicles, finishing the cab fittings, completing the air braking systems and preparing and painting the loco and tender in works grey – the latter task undertaken by Ian Matthews to a very high standard.  Rob Morland fitted and commisioned much of the extremely complex electrical gear including the frame and injector overflow lights, the safety equipment in the cab cubicles, cab lighting, headlights and the roof mounted switch gear. You can see an interview with Rob here.


One of the two switch panels on the cab roof

Finally, on the first weekend in August, 2008, Tornado moved in steam for the first time, the culmination of eighteen years hard work lived and breathed in front of the assembled press, dignitaries and covenantors.  Waved away by the Mayor of Darlington and with Dorothy Mather on the footplate, Tornado eased up and down the short length of track laid for the event.


Tornado in works grey at Darlington

After a successful debut at her birthplace, little time was wasted in moving the locomotive to the Great Central Railway at Loughborough for testing and running in.  While at the GCR Tornado underwent extensive analysis by the vehicle acceptance bodies to ensure she would be fit to haul passenger trains on preserved lines and Network Rail.


Tornado in action at the GCR

While at the Great Central Railway No. 60163 hauled her first passenger trains, initially for covenantors and then for the general public, and was the star guest at the railway’s gala.  It might have been expected that some teething troubles would need fixing but the loco worked perfectly “straight out of the box” and delighted the team that had built it.  Test loads were gradually built up and culminated in the loco hauling eleven coaches and a “dead” diesel and developing an estimated 2,000hp in doing so.  The opportunity was also taken to run at 60mph and conduct track force tests for Delta Rail.  By the beginning of November Tornado had been transferred to the National Railway Museum which would act as her base for the three planned mainline test runs.  These were a stepped series of trips with increasing loads and speeds finishing with a 75mph dash to Newcastle and back on the 17th of November.  The test runs were generally a success but the failure of the white metal of the inside and one of the outside crossheads led to an improvement in lubrication to the inner one and re-metalling of both.  Delta Rail were once again on board for the Newcastle run and the loco and support coach were festooned with cables to facilitate this – after an astonishingly quick start from York the loco showed it had an incredible appetite for hard work and high speed running, recroding an amazing average of 71.2mph before the scheduled emergency stop just beyond Chester-le-Street (which also showed how well the brakes worked!).

With the loco returned to York for a visit to the paint shop at the NRM, the final pieces were added to the certification data and paperwork, allowing Delta Rail to report that Tornado had met the requirements for acceptance onto Network Rail, the Office of Rail Regulation issuing their own authorisation on the 27th of January 2009.  Meanwhile, Ian Matthews and his team worked their magic in the facilities kindly offered by the NRM, rubbing down the works grey and applying a pristine coat of LNER apple green with “BRITISH RAILWAYS” in full on the tender.  On December the 13th the final result was unveiled before hundreds of covenantors and supporters of the Trust in the Great Hall at the National Railway Museum.  The rest, as they say, will be history…….