The overhaul of the National Railway Museum’s iconic LNER locomotive Flying Scotsman has been followed with more than usual interest following the discovery of cracks as the engine was about to return to service.
The Head of the National Railway Museum (NRM) Steve Davies, invited journalists to Ian Riley’s locomotive works at Bury for an informal update on the return to steam of the iconic LNER ‘A3’ steam locomotive, No. 4472 Flying Scotsman.
Mr Davies said that the overhaul’s cost had increased by around £600,000 as a direct result of discovery of cracks in the frame. He had made a personal request to the Trustees of the National Museum of Science and Industry, of which the NRM is part of which had been agreed. The total cost of the overhaul was now put at £2.6m.
The last few months had seen Ian Riley’s workforce strengthened with NRM engineers in an effort to meet looming deadlines. The driving wheels had received attention at the Buckfastleigh workshops of the South Devon Railway thus quashing rumours that they had been, or were about to be, scrapped.
The locomotive was now at its maximum kit of parts Mr Davies said, and that now the metal fabrication work had been completed, the engine’s re-assembly was due to commence. The wheels would be re-united with the frames by February and the boiler refitted the following month.
The ten year ‘boiler ticket’ would recommence when the engine is steamed again which means that the year’s delay after the discovery of cracks, will not be counted as part of the ten years allowed between overhauls.
Air brakes have now been fitted with new cross-stays (stretcher bars) about to be fitted inside the frames with only one original remaining. Once complete,
its first appearance will be at the Barrow Hill LNER event in April but there was no guarantee that the engine would be in steam the NRM Head said. Following steaming at Bury, where it will be run in, the engine will then go to Carnforth for its main line test run on the Hellifield test circuit.
Although no dates for the initial steamings were offered, Mr. Davies said that the engine would be in steam for the Railfest event at York in June, and then again carrying the Olympic Torch the following month.
Steve Davies has written to all the 200 or so Flying Scotsman Covenanters outlining the new plans and progress. He said that the response was fantastic and many had sent in more donations resulting in another £100,000 being donated towards the extra cost.
Main line bookings are being requested on a regular basis said Mr Davies, but “we will not hammer the engine as the boiler will last 10 years” he emphasised. He described the livery debate as somewhat minor in the order of things and referred to paint as just an anti-corrosive layer!
The engine will first appear in wartime black, then revert to Apple Green and maybe as a single chimney BR Brunswick green in five years or so. Flying Scotsman could be converted to a single chimney version in due course but only if its performance is perfect demonstrating it has enough, or spare power for 75mph main line operation.
Mr Davies raised eyebrows when he suggested out loud “What chance of a single chimney A3 in BR blue to refresh the appearance again later on in its boiler ticket?” And he confirmed he would be driving the engine at the earliest opportunity!