Construction Progress


As is reported in our member's newsletter:

The rolling chassis design definition and initial risk assessment log will be forwarded to Ricardo Rail during this month of July for approval.

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 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 Horn Blocks 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"