Engineers from The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust have now completed the removal of over 150 stays (out of a total of more than 2,000) from the side and back of Tornado's firebox above the foundation ring in the rear corners. This has been undertaken as a precautionary measure.
Whilst no broken stays were discovered, five stays have been found to have minute cracks which caused minor leakage through the tell-tale safety holes in the centre of each stay. Metalurgical analysis has shown that this has been caused by fatigue, commensurate with the amount of work the boiler has done so far. The tell-tales are a modern safety feature unique in the UK to Tornado’s boiler and have ensured the safety of personnel and equipment – meaning that there has been no further damage caused to the boiler. This has been confirmed by Non Destructive Testing (NDT) assessment of all boiler plates and welds.
To further ensure ongoing reliability in traffic additional stays beyond those identified have been removed. A number were discovered to be showing the first signs of fatigue following NDT. This precautionary measure is assisting the Trust in understanding how the boiler is behaving over time. It is also providing information which in time will assist the Trust in maintaining the boiler and consequently Tornado's reliability.
Staff from DB Meiningen will start work at Hither Green depot alongside Trust engineers on Monday 26th July replacing the removed stays, a process which is expected to take around two to three days. Following completion of repairs, hydraulic and steam tests will be undertaken.
It is still anticipated that Tornado will return to active service on Saturday 14th August with 'The Cathedrals Express' from London King's Cross to York for Steam Dreams.
Mark Allatt, chairman, The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust, commented:
"Although the problems with Tornado’s boiler are part of learning about the locomotive in today’s operational environment, they are a source of great disappointment to all of Tornado's supporters and customers and our customers' passengers. We are working as hard as we can to bring Tornado back to full health as soon as possible and back onto the main line where she belongs."
The Trust would like to place on record its thanks for all the assistance from our partners in effecting swift repairs and most particularly to Balfour Beatty Rail for making facilities available at Hither Green depot to the Trust at very short notice.
Further information on Tornado’s repairs will be posted on www.a1steam.com as soon as it becomes available.