‘Patriot’ boiler trial-fitted
Dedication of The Unknown Warrior marks centenary of Armistice.
A‘complete’ parallel-boilered ‘Patriot’ has appeared for the first time since 1962 – at Crewe – in time for Remembrance Sunday.
New-build Fowler ‘5XP’ 4-6-0 No. 5551 The Unknown Warrior had its boiler trial-fitted into the frames for the first time on November 5 at Crewe Heritage Centre – where, on Saturday November 10, the new crest on its nameplate was unveiled by Falklands War veteran Simon Weston CBE, patron of the LMS-Patriot Project. Chaplain Mike Roberts of the Railway Mission then dedicated this ‘National Memorial Locomotive’ to those lost in conflict.
Among those present were Graham Wood, grandson of Victoria Cross winner and LNWR footplateman Wilfred Wood – after whom ‘Patriot’ No. 45536 was named – and relatives of LNWR platelayer Ernest Sykes, ‘5XP’ No. 45537’s namesake.
To make the locomotive appear even more complete – and give a foretaste of its first steaming, now anticipated in late 2019 – it wore an original chimney from No. 45539 E.C. Trench, and was paired with a Fowler 3,500-gallon tender for the first time, the latter borrowed from the East Lancashire Railway’s under-overhaul ‘Crab’ No. 13065. In return for the loan, the LMS-Patriot Project has agreed that No. 5551 will visit the ELR when finished.
The contract to complete the ‘Patriot’s’ own tender chassis has been awarded to Leaky Finders, the boiler repair and engineering firm set up by Dartmouth Steam Railway boilersmith Rory Edwards (SR480). Combining a new set of frames with the wheelsets and axleboxes from an ex-Barry Fowler tender, the chassis is expected to be complete in six months.
Currently still at the ‘Patriot’s’ previous construction base of the Llangollen Railway, the tender frames were due to move in late November to a site near Exeter for Leaky Finders to carry out the work, overseen by former West Somerset Railway Chief Mechanical Engineer Andy Forster.
The LMS-Patriot Project will shortly be seeking quotations for the construction of the tender tank, with a view to placing an order as soon as Chief Engineer Kevin West has completed its CAD drawings.
Another type of tender will be occupying the group’s minds in the coming weeks – tender documents are being sent out for the contract to complete the engine’s bottom half, following the decision by the Llangollen Railway to undertake no further work on it (SR485).
Tyseley Locomotive Works, the Princess Royal Class Locomotive Trust, Railway Forgings & Castings Ltd (run by Keith Bottomley, owner of ‘9F’ No. 92207) and Riley & Son (E) Ltd have all expressed interest.
However, it was revealed at the LMS-Patriot Project’s annual general meeting at Crewe on November 10 that the group is also considering the option of completing the job by itself.
With the boiler found to fit satisfactorily into the frames, Heritage Boiler Steam Services will now continue its construction and internal fitting-out, with the aim of completing it next spring.
It is expected that the superheater header will be cast soon – the last large component still outstanding for the locomotive, with the delivery of the reverser shaft.
Fitting of the latter will permit the assembly of the motion once a problem with the keyways on the return cranks has been resolved; and while the ‘Patriot’ may not be ready to go yet, it is able to stop, thanks to the fitting of its steam brake cylinder and brake rigging.
●● See also pages 38/39.
Falklands War veteran Simon Weston CBE unveils the new crest (inset) on November 10.
‘Patriot’ No. 5551 The Unknown Warrior with its boiler in the frames at Crewe on Remembrance Sunday.