Construction Progress

Construction Update April 2022

On 7th April, the Trust took delivery of a 40ft container at CTL Seal for the storage of parts and equipment.

Container arriving 070422 Our new home 070422
The container arriving at CTL Seal

Offloaded and in position

The plan is to paint it a dark green.

The frames, pictured below on 7th April, were then removed for shotblasting and priming. They were returned back to CTL Seal's premises on 22nd April looking very smart, just in time for an Open Day. They are ready for the hornblocks to be machined and loose fitted to the frames. Underneath, the axlebox castings wait for the axle forgings to be delivered.

Before Cleaning and Priming
Frames front reduced 070422 Frames back reduced 070422

This view shows the front end of the frames, with the buffer beam. We have the buffers and these will be refurbished soon and then fitted to the bufferbeam.


Taken on 7th April, just before the frames were hoisted out of the works and transported across Sheffield to be cleaned up and primed.

This view shows the dragbox.

Several of the axlebox castings are underneath, waiting for machining.

After cleaning and priming on the 22nd April
Primed chassis wheel 220422 Primed chassis rear 2 220422

These pictures show the frames as placed back at CTL Seal after being cleaned and primed, and now ready for display for a CTL Seal Open Day the following day. Also shown is one of the Driving Wheels, cast by William Cook and loaned for the Open Day before being returned for final testing regime. The other castings on display included the Cannon Axleboxes, the Coupled Axleboxes and the Spring Hangers.

Pictures by John Pearson

Construction Update March 2022

More orders have been placed - this time for the Plain Axle forgings and the Roller Bearings.

The order for two Plain Axle forgings (for the Intermediate and Rear driving wheels) has been placed with the Railway Wheelset and Brake Ltd., whilst the Roller Bearings for both the six driving wheels and the four bogie wheels has been placed with The Timken Company, Northampton.

With the Driving Wheels and the Tyre orders already reported, this makes a significant number of parts on order for the Rolling Chassis, along with those parts already cast and in the process of being machined at CTL Seal Ltd.

Construction Update February 2022

An order was placed with South Devon Railway Engineering on 14th February, for the steel forging for the tyres on the rolling chassis - that is the six driving wheels (being cast at the moment - see January 2022 update) and the four on the front bogie.

Construction Update January 2022 - Driving Wheel casting has started

19th January, William Cook Cast Products prepared and cast the first wheel in a mould proving run.  The photo below is the final result.

Finished cast wheel 310122

The almost complete product. The first B17 wheel to be cast since 1937! Five more to go........

Photo courtesy of William Cook Cast products.

The photos below show the second wheel mould being checked and then the pouring of the molten steel into the (already) clamped first wheel mould.

Casting of the second wheel took place on 20th January. They will then need to cool down for 5 days before the cast wheels can be removed from the mould and checked. After cooling, the first wheel will be extracted from the mould and subjected to Normalising, Shot Blasting, Mechanical Testing, Dimensional Inspection, Visual Inspection, Magnetic Particle Inspection (MPI), Radiographic Examination, Ultrasound Testing, Stress Relief, Dimensional Inspection and Proof Machining. All wheels will be subjected to this non destructive testing regime.

The 2nd and 3rd pairs of Driving Wheels will be cast in subsequent weeks.

Wheel Mould 190122 After removal of both halves of the wooden wheel pattern, complete shapes of the front face and rear face are contained in compressed sand in the Left Hand Moulding Box (Top Half) and the Right Hand Moulding Box (Bottom Half).
Steel is poured from the furnace into the ladle lined with glass/ceramic material at a temperature of 1630°C. Steel Pouring Ladle 190122
Wheel Pouring 190122 Both halves of moulding box are secured together and steel at 1590°C is poured from the ladle to deliver approx 2 tons of material into the mould in approx. 35 seconds.

Looking almost like an alien spaceship, this is how the wheel appears straight after being knocked out of the mould. It is shown being moved into the shotblasting cabinet for the next process.

Wheel on way to shotblastingJPG
Wheel in shotblasting areaJPG

The wheel is inserted into the shotblasting container. Once the doors are shut the wheel is shotblasted to remove all the excess material.

All photos in this section by Tony Brzosko.

Update late December 2021 - Photos of Wheels patterns and Computer Simulations

Whilst on a visit last week (16th December) to William Cook's premises in Sheffield, our chairman took some photos of the wheel patterns, which were being prepared to create the casting moulds. He was also shown the computer simulations which showed the pouring, the cooling and estimates the shrinkage likely to occur, using a program called MagmaFlow. Casting is scheduled to commence in January.

Front of wheel pattern reduced Back of wheel pattern reduced Wooden bases 1 reduced
  Front and Back faces of the wheel pattern   Showing wooden bases for Blind Side Feeders which are fitted to the rim of the wheel pattern
 Start cooling reduced  Shrinkage indicator reduced  Model wheel in sand reduced
 Commence cooling 1560 degrees C Red/Yellow  Shrinkage Indicator on cooling.  Model wheel in sand (contained in Moulding Box profile)

Construction Update - December 2021

Manufacturing orders have been placed with William Cook Cast Products Ltd (WCCP) for the six 6'8" Driving Wheels. These castings will be using the same wheel pattern as used for Tornado's wheels, the patterns having been loaned to us by the A1 Steam Locomotive Trust, whose generous help is gratefully acknowledged. The wheel pattern is being prepared in the Pattern Shop at WCCP. Each wheel will be subject to additional Non Destructive Testing (NDT) using a combination of Radiographic (X-ray) and Ultrasound Tests, once cast, to provide greater assurance and integrity in the product. The order follows recent Coupled Axlebox castings and two Cannon Axlebox castings, also by William Cook Cast Products of Sheffield. 

Construction Update - November 2021

A resume: Work on 61673 started when the frames were cut in 2015 and we were based in Llangollen. In 2020, we moved to the premises of CTL Seal in Sheffield and are currently involved in the manufacture of the Rolling Chassis. Although nothing was left of the locomotives, we were fortunate to acquire 2 tenders – a GER pattern one and an LNER pattern one. These were originally stored at Dereham on the MNR but were moved to Sheffield in August 2020.

Whilst we were always intent on building our loco (Spirit of Sandringham) for mainline use, another Group also started on making a replica of another member of the B17 Class. This was the 61662 Manchester United Project and their ‘mock up’ was based at the Mizens Railway site near Woking. Earlier this year, this group decided to abandon the Project and dismantled the life size model they had created. Behind the model of the locomotive was a real LNER Pattern tender – one of the type pulled by B17s. The Group have generously donated this Tender to the Trust and it has just been transported to our engineering base in Sheffield on 30th November and 1st December – see the photos below.

Now in Sheffield, it is stored alongside our other 2 tenders. We are currently working on Grant Applications which will enable us to strip the existing tenders, identify what can be re-used and hopefully start on the build for a refurbished tender. This work will be carried out by apprentices under supervision and so will form an integral part of their Training Programme.

 Mizens tender good side 2 30th November 2021. The LNER Tender loaded up and ready to go north.
Working in the late afternoon, Stuart Smith worked to get the tender loaded onto his trailer. This photo shows him doing the final checks before leaving for the journey north to our base in Sheffield.  SASmith leaving Mizens
 Tender ready for unloading The next day, 1st December 2021, the load has arrived at our base at CTL Seal in Sheffield. 
The rails on the trailer were connected to the panel of track we had laid, we were ready to unload the tender.   Down it comes
 Third tender in place

Finally in place, the tender donated by the 61662 Manchester United project as part of the project being wound up, the lineup of the three tenders shows the scope we now have for creating a tender capable of running on the mainline.

The '61662' tender number is 4166, built at Vulcan Foundry and was paired with B1 61176.

The other LNER designed tender (middle) started life behind a J39 64961 tender no 7163, marked on axle boxes, Withdrawn at Lincoln in 1959 and recovered to Cambridge, it became an oil and sludge carrier at Cambridge before moving to the NNR.

Our original GER tender has 2802 stamped on the running gear; this was the first B17 in service.

All photos in this series by Tony Brzosko

Construction Update - August 2021

William Cook Cast products have completed the casting of the Coupled Axleboxes and the Cannonbox sections ordered, as reported, last month. It is interesting to compare the actual castings with the CAD images illustrated earlier.

The patterns shown below have been kindly loaned to B17 by the A1 Steam Locomotive Trust, whose generous help is gratefully acknowledged.

Coupled Axle boxes reduced 2 Cannon Box casting reduced
 Coupled Axlebox (Leading Axle)  Cannon Boxes (Intermediate/Driving and Trailing Axles)

Work will now commence on checking the wheel patterns before casting these.

Construction Update - July 2021

Orders for the Manufacture of Steel Castings for Timken Roller Bearings

Manufacturing orders have been placed for two Coupled Axlebox castings and two Cannon Box castings with William Cook Cast Products of Sheffield, for completion by early November of this year. Each casting set is made up of a top and bottom half. Patterns for each casting set have been successfully used for both A1 Tornado and the P2 Prince of Wales. The patterns shown below have been kindly loaned to B17 by the A1 Steam Locomotive Trust, whose generous help is gratefully acknowledged.

 Upper Coupled Axlebox CAD Upper Coupled Axlebox pattern Upper Cannon Axlebox CAD Upper Cannon Axlebox pattern
 Lower Coupled Axlebox CAD Lower Coupled Axlebox pattern  Lower Cannon Axlebox CAD Lower Cannon Axlebox pattern
 Coupled Axlebox (Leading Axle)  Cannon Box (Intermediate/Driving and Trailing Axles)


Roller bearings were first trialled by the Big Four during the 1930s when they were initially fitted to locomotive tenders. The LMS then made the first bold move to introduce roller bearings on their turbine locomotive No. 6202, to be followed soon afterwards by a further application on the trailing trucks of five “Princess Royal” class Pacifics. Next, the LNER converted two class A4 tenders to roller bearings, but any further developments were suspended when war intervened. All had proved successful and by 1947 the LMS equipped new build Class 5s with Timken roller bearings on all driving axles and carrying axles. The same locomotives were also fitted with different types of valve gear to provide a broad set of trials in the post war era. By 1948, the LNER introduced Timken roller bearings to a batch of five Peppercorn class A1s (BR Nos. 60153 -7) under construction at Doncaster. These proved successful and forms the basis of the design illustrated and will be used for Spirit of Sandringham. 

 Coupled Axlebox CAD Cannon Axlebox CAD
 Leading Axle showing both coupled axleboxes containing Timken Roller Bearings mounted on each stub axle. Cannon Box containing Timken Roller Bearings mounted on each end of the plain axle for the Intermediate (Driving) and Trailing Axle.

Construction Update - June 2021

A Tender behind – and then there were three!!

Readers will recall that we moved our original two tenders from the Mid Norfolk Railway in Dereham to CTL Seal’s premises in Sheffield as part of the 'Big Move' last year. Subsequently, the Manchester United Project to recreate a 'mock up' of the B17 Locomotive of the same name was terminated; this was located in the grounds of the Woking Miniature Railway in Surrey.

The Group responsible for this Project kindly donated the tender and various sundry items to the B17 SLT for which we are very grateful. When Brian Hall, our Chairman, first visited the site it was clear that the 'mock up' of the engine had to be dismantled before we could gain access to the tender and the section of track which we had been given. We asked to be advised when we might gain access for the removal of our items.

Thus it was that a second visit was made to the site on Friday 11th June, in order to see if we could gain access now that the ‘engine’ had been dismantled. We met Stuart Smith, our Haulage Contractor, on siteto discuss arrangements for the move. After inspection, it was decided that Stuart would send down one truck to remove the track and the sundry items (including another pair of buffers), taking them to Sheffield. He would then supply a second truck, approx. one week later, in order to move the tender. This would allow us to assemble the track in Sheffield before placing the tender on it.

The 61662 Project tender with Stuart Smith and Brian Hall discussing the options.

Photo by Larry Sampson

61662 Project tender

Hopefully we will end up with all 3 tenders side by side – is this the largest collection of possible B17 Tenders in one place? I am sure that they will all give up useful parts for the new Spirit of Sandringham tender.

Construction Update - May 2021

Following on from the delivery of the cast Hornblocks by William Cook’s to our engineering base at CTL Seal as previously reported for April, the Trust is pleased to report the next stage of the Rolling Chassis has commenced. With the easing of the Coronavirus lockdown rules, the patterns for the Cannon Axle boxes and the Coupled Axle boxes, along with the patterns for the 6’8” driving wheels, have been collected from their various storage areas in Darlington and delivered to the William Cook premises in Sheffield for casting.

Casting of these items will proceed whilst the Hornblocks are machined and fitted to the chassis at CTL Seal Ltd.

Our thanks go to the A1 Steam Locomotive Trust for the loan of these patterns.
Casting Progress - April 2021
Work Completed

As mentioned in the January Update, you will be aware that the Hornblocks have been cast at the premises of William Cook Cast Products in Sheffield. They have now been released and delivered to our construction site at CTL Seal in Sheffield, where they will be machined and fitted to the chassis. 

Hornblocks at CTL Seal H block castings at CTL Seal

In the meantime, the patterns for the Cannon Axle box and the Coupled Axles are being prepared for delivery to William Cook's, where these items will be cast.

It is possible some members will not be sure exactly where these castings go on the locomotive so hopefully the diagram below gives some clarification. The hornblocks are shown in yellow.

                                  Labelled Rolling Chassis

The Next Castings

With the kind permission and help of the A1 Steam Locomotive Trust and William Cook Cast Products, arrangements are being planned to prepare the existing patterns for the Coupled Axleboxes and Cannon Axle boxes to be transported from storage in Darlington “Loco Works” to Sheffield. However, the pattern for the coupled wheel used for Tornado remains on display in the “Head of Steam” Museum at North Road Station, Darlington. Public access to the museum is severely restricted meaning that our ability to remove the pattern is likely to be delayed until a relaxation in restrictions is introduced and access is granted by the Local Authority (Darlington Borough Council). Pattern recovery will involve members of the A1 SLT and B17 SLT, to be conducted when Covid infection rates are low and a safer working environment is more certain and appropriate permission received.


Inside Cylinder

The shape of the inside cylinder is similar to that of the outside cylinders but its location, fitted between the frames, is much further forward, situated above the front bogie axle shown on the illustration of the front end of the engine. The off-set of the steam chest towards the left hand side of the engine (when facing forward) is clearly visible on the front view. Detailed design work on all three cylinders will be combined to produce fabricated structures using appropriate welding techniques and materials providing greater strength compared with traditional castings. CAD technology will be used to define the complex set of fabricated shapes as discrete sub-assemblies and the order of integration to build up each cylinder structure, which in turn will define the sequential stages of assembly. This will deliver significant savings in pattern design and manufacturing costs that would otherwise be required for each of the three cylinders in turn. The fabricated design of the saddle will follow.

Middle Cylinder 

Front view showing cylinders


The revised design of the main leaf springs (arrowed) can be seen on the right hand side of the engine shown tilted in the top view and the section through the frame structure lower view. 

Side view showing springsDetail drawings are currently being reviewed by Owen Springs Ltd of Rotherham to provide their quotation. This company are experts in their field for the heritage sector, having acquired much of the manufacturing kit, test equipment and technical data including drawings and material specifications from the former BR Workshops at Eastleigh and Derby, upon their closure in the 1960s. Doubtless a real set of gems!

We are most grateful to Alan Parkin and David Elliott, who jointly provide the engineering design expertise in researching and producing the 3D illustrations and component drawings using the Solidworks system for the cylinders and springs.


Once we have the patterns from Darlington and the quotations from CTL Seal, the Trust can move forward with:

  • Machining and fitting the hornblocks (these will shortly be moved from William Cook’s premises to those of CTL Seal). Includes the manufacture of hornblock linings.
  • Set up of the frame structure to conduct straightness and measurement checks (using laser based equipment).

In the meantime the Trust will, as soon as the Coronavirus restrictions allow:

  • Move the cannonbox and the coupled axlebox patterns from their location at the A1 Steam Locomotive Trust’s premises in Darlington, to William Cook’s in Sheffield and cast.
  • Similarly, move the wheel pattern from storage at the Museum in Darlington, to William Cook’s premises and cast.

Once cast and released, the next tasks are:

  • Machining and fitting the cannonbox and coupled axlebox castings.
  • Manufacturing horn stays.

All of the above is achievable in 2021 but dependent on both the lifting of movement restrictions and funding. In the meantime, detailed design work will continue.

All of the above is achievable in 2021 but dependent on both the lifting of movement restrictions and funding. In the meantime, detailed design work will continue.

Late January Update 2021

While we wait for the hornblocks to be shipped to our engineering base at CTL Seal, design work has been moving on apace. Here are a series of updated CAD drawings (all courtesy of Alan Parkin), showing the most recently completed component, the middle cylinder and its location within the frames.
Engine front 1t This CAD drawing shows the location of the left hand and middle cylinders, together with the front bogie. 
Engine Front 2t Engine Front 3t Middle Cylinder 1
Front LHS showing left hand cylinder and the proposed location of the air pump.  Front view showing all   three cylinders.  Middle Cylinder
Engine Springs 1
Tilted view to show the location of the springs.
 January 2021
The first Rolling Chassis components
Despite the pandemic limiting travel, we have the perfect start to the year, with news that the first of many components needed for the rolling chassis have been cast. The photos show the Hornblocks after casting, heat treatment and initial fettling and cleaning, kindly supplied by William Cook Cast Products. Further work to remove surplus material required during the casting process will be removed followed by non destructive testing and dimensional inspection to verify the integrity of each component prior to release for final machining and fitting.
Hornblock Castings 1 Hornblock Castings 2 Hornblock Castings 3 Hornblock Castings 4

The hornblock castings.The reason there are eight and not six is that a spare duplicate pair of hornblocks has been cast courtesy of William Cook and these will be used for preliminary set up trials and returned to them at some point.

October 2020


The Chassis moves from Llangollen to Sheffield

On 30th September, the B17 SLT had held a meeting with CTL Seal of Sheffield and the haulage contractors, when the tenders were delivered, to discuss the unloading of the static chassis at Sheffield. The planned date of the move for the static chassis from Llangollen to Sheffield was set for 19th–20th October, allowing for any preparatory work to be carried out at both Llangollen and CTL Seal. The great unknown at the time was the Covid 19 lockdown currently imposed in the Llangollen area, and any future restrictions that could be applied anywhere and anytime.

The move went as planned, with the low loader taking delivery of ‘Spirit of Sandringham’s chassis at Llangollen on the afternoon of the 19th and safely delivered to CTL Seal’s premises in Sheffield early on 20th. The chassis is now safely located in the building that will be its new home for the next build phase and for the foreseeable future.


 Frames loaded 201020 reduced

Chassis loaded on the S.A.Smith lorry

ready to leave Llangollen - 19th October 2020

Now at Sheffield, the Chassis being removed

from the low loader by overhead crane

 Frames being lifted from lorry reduced
 Frames being moved 201020 reduced

Once off the lorry, the Chassis was

relocated by crane onto the shop floor

Finally, on the ground mounted on steel trestles


All photos in this sequence by Tony Brzosko

 In position at CTL Seal 201020 reduced

Finally, manufacture of the wooden Hornblock patterns, the order being reported in August, has started. Casting of the Hornblocks is expected to be at the end of November. In the meantime, the design team is finalising the design of the main driving wheel springs.

September 2020

THE BIG MOVE - Tenders Move complete - 30th September 2020

Starting with the removal of the tenders from their storage on the Mid Norfolk Railway earlier on in September, they were delivered to CTL Seal's premises and placed on the track panels built previously on 30th September. 

The two tender chassis sitting on the expertly constructed track panels


Photo by John Pearson

Tenders final position reduced

August 2020

THE BIG MOVE – relocating 61673 ‘Spirit of Sandringham’ - 27th August 2020

We are delighted to announce that new-build 61673 ‘Spirit of Sandringham’ is to be relocated to the Sheffield based engineering company, CTL Seal Limited, where construction of 61673 will continue in their Works. CTL Seal is also the home the ‘Clan’ project (Hengist), sponsored by The Standard Steam Locomotive Company Ltd, who are also a registered charity.

Located in the heart of Sheffield, CTL Seal offers a highly skilled and experienced team, working with outstanding facilities, and provides the expert capability and flexible capacity for any project, from small batch production to large bespoke components.

There are clear benefits for both new-build project parties, involving the flexibility of skilled resources between each project corresponding with either available funding or work programme demands, capable of being supported from ‘A ONE STOP SHOP’ working environment that CTL Seal provides. 

CTL Seal Fabrication shed 2 reduced The fabrication shed at CTL Seal, which is where it is planned 'Spirit of Sandringham' will be built 

Arrangements for the move from Llangollen Engineering, the current location of the static chassis, are in hand, to be completed this year and will also include both tenders, currently stored on the Mid Norfolk Railway at Dereham. Actual move dates for the tenders and the mainframe structure will be published later.

Today, track components to make up 2 * 30' track panels were delivered to CTL Seal's site.

Once made up, the two tenders will be transported to site and stored on them.

Unloading B17 track 01

Hornblock Patterns - 27th August 2020

Patterns for each of the three pairs of hornblocks for the leading, intermediate and trailing positions have been ordered with William Cook Cast Products. Steel castings will be produced from these patterns in due course. This order is the first of many to turn our static chassis into a 'rolling' one.

July 2020

The Time Has Come - Spirit of Sandringham contemplates the next move......

The redundancies served upon Llangollen’s qualified engineering staff arising from the internal restructuring of their Engineering business are very unfortunate. As a consequence, dependent skills and competencies required on the B17 new build project no longer exist at that site.

In addition, both tenders will be removed at the request of the Mid Norfolk Railway by 21st September 2020, to return siding space for the storage of extra coaching stock acquired by the railway.

Vision for the Future.....

In the near term, purchase of steel castings is to commence for the rolling chassis consisting of hornblocks with horn stays, coupled wheels, cannonboxes and coupled axleboxes. Steel forgings for tyres, plain axles and the crank axle will follow as will sets of roller bearings corresponding with the growth of funds.

A New Home.....

Identify a secure and covered building of adequate overall size for craneage and with track fixed on each side of ‘pit’ to a solid floor to provide facilities for construction and test of Spirit of Sandringham through to completion. Space for a small machine shop capability will be of particular benefit. This may be a separate building with good road access, hard standing outside, sufficient space for storage and appropriate services. Alternatively, adequate covered working space and storage generally affording the facilities mentioned previously but within a shared site will be considered. In any event rail access will be vital. This also presents an opportunity for co-locating both tenders to the same site.

A working base in the vicinity of professional engineering and manufacturing suppliers including similar groups engaged in this sector of work is likely to offer cooperative benefits in terms of the provision of certain parts as well as shared experience and occasional help in both directions. Working relationships with organisations where a common theme in locomotive design and working practices exist is likely to further influence and enhance expertise in this field of locomotive engineering.

This change will be handled by the B17 Management Team including the selection of staffing for the new location commensurate with the required skills and competencies needed for setting up the mainframe assembly and the continuance of subsequent fitting activities associated with the rolling chassis. Currently B17 are in negotiation with a reputable heavy haulage contractor who can move the mainframe assembly and both tenders in due course.

Finally, B17 wish to record their grateful thanks to Llangollen Engineering for their good work and results we have shared together on Spirit of Sandringham during previous years.

Stop Press - Discussions are already underway with potential sites for both loco and tenders.


Rolling Chassis - ordering to commence

In the very near term, the purchase of steel castings is to commence for the rolling chassis consisting initially of hornblocks with horn stays, coupled wheels, cannonboxes and coupled axleboxes.

Later, steel forgings for tyres, plain axles and the crank axle will follow, as will sets of roller bearings, corresponding with the growth of funds. However, with the need to ultimately find a new home for the complete static chassis, following the news that Llangollen have released the qualified engineering staff from the engineering side of their business, some of these funds may be needed first to help relocate and set up elsewhere. The B17 management team is looking at a range of possibilities, ranging from sharing a similar facility to that provided by Llangollen Engineering, to setting up our own facility complete with a machine shop capability.


Enhanced B17 Design Capability announced

While we wait for the country’s manufacturing sector to restart and then commence ordering the planned Rolling Chassis components, the B17 SLT is pleased to announce that it has contracted a second consultant design engineer to work on the CAD/CAM design tasks. Initially this will be for the main suspension system, cylinders, saddle and motion. This strengthening of the design team means a significant investment and acceleration in the Trust’s design capability.

This additional expertise is provided by Alan Parkin who has experience with other LNER locomotive designs and is also a member of the P2 (2007) team working with David Elliott. Alan’s expertise will be of major benefit to the B17 project given the commonality with certain parts of the A1 and P2 designs.



Good News – a rare commodity at the moment.

At a time of a National Health Emergency, good news does seem to be thin on the ground! However, for members of the B17 Steam Locomotive Trust there is some welcome news. Following completion of the static mainframe last year, we have been involved in a protracted period of redesign based on the needs of the Rolling Chassis. This redesign has been required for a number of reasons, not least the need to fit roller bearings to the locomotive. The final design will give the locomotive greater longevity, reliability and make it easier to service.

The good news is that this period of redesign is now virtually over and we have agreed the design and specification of most of the parts for the Rolling Chassis. In turn, this means that we have been able to send out Requests for Quotations (RfQs) to a number of suppliers for the parts we need. When these quotes are returned, they will be scrutinised and, if acceptable, orders for parts will follow in due course.

In order to give members an idea of the extent of the progress made, we can confirm that RfQs have been requested for the following parts :-


Horn Block and Horn Stay Castings         William Cook Cast Products Ltd. Sheffield

Cannon Box Castings                               William Cook Cast Products Ltd. Sheffield

Wheel Insert Castings                               William Cook Cast Products Ltd. Sheffield                         

Axle Box Castings                                     William Cook Cast Products Ltd. Sheffield

Plain Axle Forgings and Machining           Railway Wheelset and Brake Ltd. Sheffield

Roller Bearings                                          Timken UK Ltd. Northampton

Tyres                                                                                 South Devon Railway Engineering Ltd. Buckfastleigh

Crank Sweep Webb                                   Somers Forge. Halesowen                        

Crank Stub Axles and Crank Pin                Lucchini RS. Italy

This last line item is being pursued in collaboration with the A1 Steam Locomotive Trust as they are looking for a Crank Axle for their proposed V4 Locomotive which is a similar design to the B17.

Work continues in order to raise quotes for the assembly of the various components, but we believe that this is a significant step forward at a very difficult time. We hope that members will appreciate that this is being done in the current climate and we look forward to seeing real progress in 2020.                                                                         


Horn Block Hornblock
Intermediate and Trailing Cannon Axlebox Intermediate and Training Cannon Axleblock
Intermediate and Coupled Wheelset Intermediate and Trailing Coupled Wheelset showing Cannon Axlebox
Crank Axle Assembly showing Roller bearings in Axleboxes Crank Axle Assembly






The B17 SLT engineering team have commenced discussions with potential partners for the various items of the rolling chassis prior to placing orders, while we await Ricardo Rail Ltd. of Derby's approval of the design definition for this next phase and other required documentation.

Primarily these are the Horn Blocks, the Cannon Axle boxes, Axles, Tapered Roller Bearings, Driving Wheels and Tyres.

Examples of the CAD drawings are shown here.








With the completion and approval of the static mainframe, the engineering effort is now concentrating on the rolling chassis. The rolling chassis combines the static mainframe and all parts associated with each axle set for each pair of coupled wheels. 

The introduction of a brand new LNER class B17 steam locomotive, to the modern mainline network, is considered as a significant change by the Rail Authority. The B17 SLT must therefore comply with the statutory requirement for undertaking a full and sufficient risk assessment, to identify potential problem areas and corresponding mitigations, subject to independent assessment to ensure that safe working methods and results have been obtained.

The design is complete and formally issued into B17 Build Standard. The full design and manufacturing proposal is to be submitted to Ricardo Rail for approval. Suppliers have been identified and RFQ's will be issued after approval, followed by purchase orders issued against agreed quotations. The design definition has already been shared with Llangollen in discussions on the construction.

The B17 design definition for the rolling chassis describes each axle set in terms of material specifications and dimensions/tolerances for machining and assembly requirements. When the design submission is approved the full kit of parts must be obtained, first to enable each axle set to then be assembled in its own right. The only exception to this relates to the horn blocks and horn stays which can be fitted directly to the frames. 

Stress analysis of the crank axle assembly has been identified in the initial risk assessment record log to define loads and stresses covering the full operating envelope of the engine. Much of the design has been derived from Tornado and the P2 (2007) where the help of the A1 Steam Locomotive Trust and David Elliott is acknowledged with our grateful thanks.


Whilst we wait for the design approval and can start ordering the first components for the rolling chassis (the Hornblocks and Horn Stays) we have started to investigate supplies for components such as the Cab and the Smoke Box. Following our philosophy of using, where possible, local suppliers, we have had preliminary discussions to get indicative cost and to appraise material availability/sizes/form + sections against the LNER drawings, bearing in mind differences between preferred sizes imperial and metric and obsolescence.


Rolling Chassis Final Design

The B17 Steam Locomotive Trust (B17 SLT) is pleased to be able to report significant progress on the final rolling chassis design. These are in the process of being finalised with meetings next week and will lead to submission of the rolling chassis design to the Rail Regulator for evaluation.

Static Chassis Complete and Approved

The B17 Steam Locomotive Trust (B17 SLT) is delighted to announce that its static chassis has been approved.

A successful inspection was completed of the mainframe structure at Llangollen on Thursday 21st February by Eddie Draper of Ricardo Rail Ltd, when torque tightening of fasteners was demonstrated to ensure that frame stays were fully secured between the frames. Dimensions between the frames were checked and verified. Ricardo Rail Ltd indicated their acceptance of the structure presented jointly by the Llangollen Team and the B17SLT. Thanks are expressed to Eddie Draper of Ricardo Rail Ltd and the Llangollen Team for their work in achieving this conclusion by the B17 project.

mframe front 210202019 reduced Completed Chassis mounted on stands for final inspection and sign off
Llangollen team in action - Torque tightening Luke torque tightening fasteners reduced
E Draper BH 210202019 The Inspector, Eddie Draper, and our Chairman, Brian Hall, discussing a technical point


Static Chassis Manufacture

The B17 Steam Locomotive Trust (B17 SLT) is pleased to be able to report further significant progress on the static chassis. All the components of the static chassis are now on site at Llangollen Railway Engineers Services and the assembly is virtually complete.

On Thursday 29th November, the B17 SLT hosted Ricardo Rail at Llangollen (see the earlier report of the B17 SLT appointing Ricardo Rail, the accredited Independent Assessment Authority) and their Principal Consultant– Eddie Draper B.Tech, C.Eng, MiMechE, MIDGTE and Senior Consultant Alistair Leach M.Eng, C.Eng, MiMechE, for a review of the progress so far.

The meeting reviewed our processes covering engineering design and control, procurement, manufacturing control and non-conformance management. Each were backed up with examples of the documentary record held for all parts that make up the Static Mainframe. The work package for steel castings was selected by Eddie Draper for particular scrutiny from start to finish and was fully representative of our model.Each of the steel castings and fabrications were checked to relate back to the documentation audit earlier. This brought into focus our use of 'Sheet Technicals', which is a design document fulfilling the need to specify information not present on LNER drawings from the 1930s, and also our own particular requirements as the job evolved - so that was clearly understood. The Inspection concluded that all was well up to the point reached and would reconvene when the chassis is virtually complete to witness the torque tightening of fasteners including torque setting/measuring equipment and supporting calibration records – a matter of only weeks.


The photo shows Eddie Draper inspecting and pointing at the Combined Brakeshaft Carrier and Spring Hanger Bracket and Cross Stay (a steel casting) made by William Cook Cast Products Ltd of Sheffield, weighing approx. 18cwt. It fits across the bottom of the frames in front of the leading wheels. The B17 Steam Locomotive Trust acknowledges the advice given by Eddie and Alistair to the project on behalf of the Independent Assurance service provided by Ricardo Rail Ltd.




Static Chassis Manufacture

The B17 Steam Locomotive Trust (B17 SLT) is pleased to be able to report significant progress on the assembly of the static frame at Llangollen Railway Engineering Services. All the cast and fabricated frame stays have been delivered to Llangollen and started to be assembled as shown by the photographs below taken at the workshops in early June.

Independent Assessment

The Trust has also contracted with a new rail industry approved independent assessor, Ricardo Rail of Derby. Ricardo Rail has carried out an initial audit at Llangollen Railway Engineering Services of both the B17 SLT engineering management and design processes, along with the Llangollen Railway Engineering Services manufacturing processes and competencies. The audit was agreed as being successful giving the Trust confidence in the way that we conduct our design and manufacturing activities and to continue in the same way for the rest of the project.

Rolling Chassis

Design work is well underway on the sub-assemblies and components that are required to progress the static chassis to a rolling chassis. Currently the detail design is being created for the manufacture of the wheels, roller bearings and axles including the necessary 21st century improvements for reliability and maintainability over the working life and duty cycles that will be required. Owing to the peculiarities of a B17 rolling chassis layout, each axle requires a different design for the pair of hornblocks. There is a level of commonality with other LNER new builds that provides the confidence in these necessary design improvements.

Rolling Chassis and Boiler Assembly (C.A.D.image courtesy Mr. David Elliott)

Boiler Design

A Defining Specification for the boiler has been created and discussions are being held with potential manufacturers to create a detail design and to obtain indicative costs.

East Anglian Manufacturing

The Trust has been successful to date in meeting its objective of placing contract with UK manufacturing companies and facilities wherever possible. However, to achieve meant that it is dependent on their being companies in the UK having the necessary new build steam experience or the physical capacity to create heavy engineered parts. Going forward many of the components to complete the rolling chassis and design and manufacture the boiler and firebox will also fall into this category of specialist capability and/or heavy engineering capacity.

To more align the B17 SLT project with its East Anglian heartland, the B17 SLT management team are now exploring the possibility of using manufacturers based in the B17 East Anglia area for more general engineering design and manufacture requirements.

If any reader knows of any East Anglian based engineering establishments that may have the necessary experience and capability for casting, forging, machining and fabrication/welding techniques for detail parts or restoration of existing large fabricated rail vehicles please contact the Trust. Typical examples of suitable components could be the chimney casting and the machining of the whistle. 




Static Chassis

With the completion of the frame stays and delivery to Llangollen the next major activity is to complete the building of the static chassis which will be starting shortly.


Rolling Chassis

Work continues creating the design definition for the parts and sub-assemblies to transform the static chassis into the rolling chassis. Key items include horn blocks,  axles, roller bearings, cannon axleboxes, wheels and tyres inclusive of part assembly into axle sets to be fitted under the frames.

Boiler and Firebox

Work continues preparing a requirement specification and costing for an all steel fabricated round topped boiler and firebox based upon the LNER diagram 100A. Discussions have been started with potential manufacturers on the technical details and costing.



Frame Stay Programme & Rolling Chassis Plan

The frame stays consist of five types of steel castings and two types of fabrications. The steel castings are being manufactured by William Cook Cast Products Ltd. of Sheffield. Fabrication work is being produced at North View Engineering Solutions Limited of Darlington for the frame stay – brake (modified for air brakes) and the four sets of buffer beam gussets.

All five castings produced by William Cook Cast are complete and have been sent to North View Engineering in August for machining with delivery planned to Llangollen by the year end.

Combined frame stay and 2 to 1 motion lever bracket casting

North View Engineering has completed the two fabricated frame stays and they are awaiting delivery to the Llangollen works.

Frame stay – brake large fabrication (modified for air brakes with primary brake shaft brackets)

Rolling Chassis Plan

General Arrangement (GA) Computer Aided Design (CAD) design definition for the development of the static mainframe to a rolling chassis has been completed. Design is currently underway on the peculiar B17 requirements for the horn blocks and the front crank axle.

Boiler Specification

In keeping with the Engineering Plan for the project the Design Requirement is now being sent out to specialist potential suppliers. The requirement is for a Diagram 100A boiler as fitted to the B1s and retro-fitted to the B17s. The Trust is looking for a proposal for detailed design, development, manufacturing, testing and certification.

Manufacturing Funding

Fund raising continues for the manufacture of components to convert the static mainframe into a full rolling chassis. Further details of these parts can be found on the web site, with an invitation for your help by way of sponsorship - please. Alternatively, please call the project on 07527 670436 for further details. 


July 2017

Progress visits to the Sheffield Plant of William Cook Cast Products Limited and North View Engineering Solutions Limited of Darlington took place during June. As a result of the visit by Brian Hall it can be reported that Frame Stay manufacture for Spirit of Sandringham continues to programme.

The visit to the Sheffield plant of William Cook Cast Products Limited during June revealed that all five sets castings had been cast, fettled and stress relieved and full machining was about to begin. Delivery to Llangollen for fitting into the frames is planned from mid -year.

The progress visit in June to North View Engineering Solutions Limited of Darlington showed the fabricated frame stay – brake (modified for air brakes.) with all fabrication, welding and stress relieving complete and full machining started. After product acceptance the complete item will be delivered to Llangollen. Similarly fabrication of the four sets of buffer beam gussets is complete and machining started.

The required funding to complete the cast and fabricated frame stays, buffer beam gussets, along with the full assembly of the static mainframe at Llangollen Engineering, is in place.

Fabrication of Frame stay - brake with primary brakeshaft brackets modified for air brakes. The original LNER 1935 design was also fabrication.

Fabricated buffer beam gussets to fasten front buffer beam to frames.

 Cast combined spring hanger bracket and brake shaft carrier with cross stay.

Cast combined frame stay and 2 to 1 motion lever bracket.


Llangollen Progress

The photograph below was taken by member Mick Scott and shows the drag box undergoing a trial fit to the mainframes at Llangollen during the steam railway gala in March. Cast and fabricated frame stays will be fitted when delivered from the two suppliers throughout 2017.


January 2017     Construction and Design Objectives for 2017


The Trust now has Vehicle Acceptance Body (VAB) Approval for the static Chassis Design.

The key objective in 2017 is to procure and assemble frame stays and spring hangars to complete the static chassis structure. The frames and buffer beam are already in position at Llangollen and delivery of the dragbox was achieved in 2016.

Static chassis assembly has already been appraised by Graham Elwood (Head of Engineering) on behalf of the Llangollen Railway. The two largest components namely the dragbox and frame stay – brake will be fitted first to align the frame plates after which the remainder of the frame stays will follow progressively.

The B17 Steam Locomotive Trust is delighted to confirm an agreement with William Cook Limited (Cast Products) of Sheffield for the manufacture of cast steel frame stays and spring hangars. CAD/CAM data has been created from the original LNER drawings and this design data will interface with the manufacturer’s moulding design tools to simulate the moulding process in real time. Wooden patterns will be used for each frame stay because of advantages compared with patterns made of polystyrene or polyurethane foam, which being flexible, are susceptible to bending when packing out the mould with moulding sand. The order has been placed with William Cook Limited for mid-year delivery to Llangollen.

Manufacture of the frame stay – brake is a fabrication planned to be manufactured and delivered during the same timescale by North View Engineering Solutions Limited of Darlington, after previously producing the drag box. Manufacturing drawings are available where both the basic structure conforms to the original LNER design and where separate operating arrangements for both air brakes and reversing gear in this area have been subjected to redesign. Dual air brake cylinders have successfully been added in place of the original vacuum type maintaining all the key interfaces and the necessary access for service and maintenance. Remaining fabricated items consisting of Gusset Stays and the Plate Frame Stay will also be produced from the same Darlington supplier. 


Rolling Chassis

The key design objective for 2017 is to define the running gear with supporting cost plan and suppliers. The rolling chassis design will be submitted to the rail authority for approval.

Boiler and Firebox

For the boiler and firebox the objective for 2017 is to define the requirement specification for an all steel fabricated round topped boiler and firebox based upon the LNER diagram 100A version for which indicative design and manufacturing costs will be obtained. 


The Trust now has Vehicle Acceptance Body (VAB) Approval for the static Chassis Design.

June 2016  Drag Box

Brian Hall & Tony Brzosko visited North View Engineering Solutions Ltd on the 20th June 2016 to view the drag box manufacture in the fabrication and welding shop.

Initial fabrication of base with 4 sides and inner component profiles including drawbar pin bearing and safety link pin bearing components in position to be followed by full penetration welding prior to adding top plate. NDT and stress relieving to follow prior to machining.


September 2015



This was the headline news announced to members, supporters and invited guests at the fourth annual general meeting of The B17 Steam Locomotive Trust held recently in Stevenage.

Chairman Brian Hall explained how full machining of the frames and front buffer beam which commenced manufacture in mid- August at The Boro’ Foundry’s works in Lye in the West Midlands had been completed.  Tim Godfrey, grandson of Sir Nigel Gresley (the original designer of the B17) was present to kindly perform the start-up process.  The frames were machined as a pair whilst the front buffer beam was similarly in work on a separate machine. 

 Process start with Tim Godfrey & Brian Hall  
 Machining  Both Frames  

Upon completion and following successful dimensional checks each frame and front buffer beam was transported to the Llangollen Railway where Spirit of Sandringham ready for construction.

Arriving on Wednesday 9th September and with the Llangollen team already prepared unloading was expertly achieved using the Carillion 12 Ton travelling crane with shunting assistance provided by the Pilkington 0-4-0 diesel shunter. Each frame plate was correctly orientated whilst suspended by the crane in the yard before slowly entering the works shed where they were carefully guided into position and located into support frames.

 Located in support stands at Llangollen  

Next, the Llangollen team seized the opportunity to ensure that Spirit of Sandringham was presentable for the forthcoming Branch Line Steam Gala. Temporary bracing components and fixings were used to make the frames and front buffer beam structurally sound.  After the event, more substantial components will be used to ensure that correct alignment of the frames is achieved in conjunction with adjustable support stands to effectively comply with defined dimensions and tolerances for the mainframe assembly. This will be a temporary arrangement until correct frame stays become available.



Temporary assembly from September 11th

ready for display during the Llangollen Branch Line Steam Gala

 From these successes, the B17 SLT now has its sights set on finalising the design definition of the drag box and frame stays followed by procurement, to progressively build up the static mainframe assembly.

The assistance and services provided by the Boro’ Foundry Ltd and The Llangollen Railway PLC are gratefully acknowledged by B17SLT.

Further information about the Spirit of Sandringham project and The B17 Steam Locomotive Trust may be obtained from the website at www.b17steamloco.com  or telephone 07527 670436.


April 2015

Giant of steam reborn 

Frames cut for a brand new class B17 steam locomotive

bringing a legend of the rails back to life.

This is the moment our brand new B17 locomotive was born. Work was conducted at the profiling facility of Tata Steel in Wednesfield under the watchful eye of Tim Godfrey, grandson of the original locomotive designer Sir Nigel Gresley, who also performed the start- up ceremony on Wednesday 15th April. (see below).

Tim Godfrey presses the button to start the profiling process.

The steel plate was rolled to the required thickness and passed stringent tests at Tata’s rolling mills in Scunthorpe at the beginning of April. It was then released to the West Midlands plant to be profiled on a special purpose Viper Hypertherm profiling machine using gas burners. With a cutting speed of 1300mm per minute the cutting operation was remarkably fast.

Once cooled each frame plate was subject to dimensional checks to ensure that sufficient machining allowance was evident in conformance with the design specification. A successful result was achieved.

The two finished frames with Brian Hall and Ian Challis of TATA Steel in attendance.

Nameplate and number plate over the centre horn gap.


Next Steps

The frames will be delivered to The Boro’ Foundry also in the West Midlands where they will be fully machined and drilled. After successful machining, the frames will be delivered to The Llangollen Railway where construction is planned and where progress on the locomotive may be seen.

After the main frames and the buffer beam have been assembled in the correct orientation and position at the manufacturing centre then the next phase to manufacture the frame stays can begin and these are currently being CAD modelled in preparation. The first two items are the Drag Box (13193D) and the Frame stay and vacuum brake support (16227D) shown in red on the CAD prints above.


January 2015 


Since the last update there has been significant progress towards the purchasing of the locomotive mainframes. Several parallel processes are being worked to ensure design integrity of the frames before committing to manufacture.

Computer Aided Design (CAD) techniques are being used to create the design definition for the mainframes from a combination of the 1935 drawings available from the National Railway Museum (NRM) and the necessary improvements to ensure the locomotive is compliant with extant legislation.

Based on these CAD models we are now in possession of acceptable quotations for the rolling of the raw material and the subsequent profiling activity before delivery to another supplier for the detail machining operation. Funding is available to commit to these activities. However, before purchase orders can be raised on the chosen suppliers two other activities have to be completed and in place.

The first is that the completed machined mainframes have to be stored in the as built orientation to ensure they are not damaged or deteriorate over time of construction. (See manufacturing progress below.)

Secondly, an approved Vehicle Acceptance Body (VAB) has to conduct design scrutiny as part of the qualification for the Engineering Acceptance certificate to ensure that the design is compliant with the extant rail regulations. This activity is critical at all stages of the design, development and manufacturing of the locomotive without which approval to run the locomotive will not be granted. Wayne Jones and Partners Company Ltd. (WJP) has been chosen to be the VAB for the B17. WJP already provides VAB services to three other new build projects at Llangollen.

29 January 2015

Discussion of the design with WJP on the mainframes and buffer beam has been completed and approval to proceed has been given. Purchase orders are now being raised for the rolling and profiling of the mainframes with TATA Steel and the subsequent machining with The Boro' Foundry.


Before committing to the ordering of the mainframes a manufacturing/construction centre had to be decided upon. Preserved railways were reviewed to identify which of them had the necessary capability and this created a shortlist for further investigation. The outcome of this was the selection of the Llangollen railway to be our centre of manufacture due to their technical capability, capacity and willingness to take on board our project.

An initial meeting has taken place along with subsequent discussions resulting in a formal document agreeing the necessary terms and conditions being created. In the meantime the space for our mainframes is being cleared and the necessary supporting structure being made available.

 For more detail on these two items and the other frame stays please see "Sponsorship of Components"