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New builds - how many will ever really work?

Discussion in 'Steam Traction' started by Maunsell man, Aug 23, 2011.

  1. Maunsell man

    Maunsell man Member

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    It seems every day there is a proposal to create another engine from a lost class. It seems every other thread on here at the moment is from someone starting another group. It seems that are some people who are serial group starters and set a group up and then set another group up and give themselves credence by saying they are a founder member of the first group. There is something missing from this 21st century railway mania.....

    The engines!

    If you look at actual new build results (i.e complete, standard gauge + and steaming) you have:

    2 x Broad gauge engines
    1 x A1
    1 x GWR Steam Railmotor
    Several early machine replicas such as Rocket & Steam Elephant etc

    Advanced projects likely to steam:
    1 x Brighton Atlantic
    1 x GWR Grange
    1 x Patriot
    1 x Saint
    NER tank (Commercial build by GN Steam)

    Other credible projects include:
    82045
    GWR County

    Then there is Hengiest. Despite lots of correspondence there hasn't been any substantial progress considering the time the group have been active.

    Err. Thats it A few smokebox doors and running plates been made. A now squashed cab for the first of a fleet of B17s and a raft of proposals from people in the age range of 13 to 85 to build their own favourite locos. Question is, how many of these 'serious' proposals are ever likely to progress beyond a fantasy?

    I'm sure I will be roundly condemned for speaking such heresy but only one large standard gauge engine project has come to fruition. All the other engines in the nearly there category have substantial amounts of old components available other than a commercial project which is funded privately. Only 82045 is the other completely new build project which I can see working as it is based on a major preserved line and appears to be well managed with clear aims and expectations.

    All the rest to me appears to be hot air and fantasy
     
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  2. ellenbee pioneer

    ellenbee pioneer New Member

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    Spot on! Without a clear, detailed plan, plan management and a guaranteed (as near as dammit) finance stream, it won't happen. Even with all that it's still problematic - look at the narrow-gauge L&B replica Lyd. Even with Festiniog backing it took twice as long to complete and cost approximately twice the sum first projected. And that was in an era of ready money and low inflation. There seem to be too few realistic assessments of eventual use either, more like modelling in 12" to 1' scale - with other people's money.
     
  3. nickt

    nickt New Member

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    It all comes down to money, and how fast it can be raised. Here's a "rule of thumb". Suppose C is the total capital cost, i.e the cost of all the parts and labour to assemble it. (That was around £3,000,000 for Tornado and is unlikely to be less than £1,000,000 for any standard gauge new-build. ) Then there is the annual overhead cost of running a project "B"; rental, insurance, accountants and legal costs, post, phone, etc. Then there is "M" the annual average amount that can be raised from all sources.

    C / (M - B) = Y , where Y is the number of years it will take to complete.

    For example: If the project's loco is going to cost £1,000,000, annual costs are £10,000, and income is £50,000 then it will take 25 years to complete. Any project with a projected timescale of more than 25 years is virtually certain to fail, because the supporters will lose interest or be pushing up daisies before it's finished. Also note that in this example if income falls to £40,000 per year the time goes up to 33 years, if it falls to £30,000 it's 50 years! Personally I support projects willing to explain the assumptions they are based on, and where the duration is no more than 15 years. Of course there will always be uncertainties, but unless there's a financial plan failure is the probable outcome.
     
  4. paulhitch

    paulhitch Part of the furniture

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    There is not a word in the three previous postings I would disagree with. However "we four" are likely to be heavily outnumbered by a small army of people with their fingers stuck in their ears chanting in unison "can't hear you, can't hear you"!

    What grieves me is that there is no guarantee for those without inside knowledge as to the abilities of those involved in each project but a considerable amount of money must be tied up in them collectively. Maunsell Man makes a convincing list of the projects with some chance of succeeding. However I would be still tougher by asserting that the two tank engine projects are the only ones which stand a chance of being financially self supporting when the machines are completed
     
  5. Rumpole

    Rumpole Member

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    Make that "we five"...
     
  6. Foxhunter

    Foxhunter Member

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    Mmm.... then there's the 'Lyn' project which looks professional enough to succeed, especially given the rate at which they are selling "shares". I think the A1SLT demonstrated that you have to achieve "critical mass" in order to gain momentum with these projects, it's all about belief and confidence.

    Foxy
     
  7. LMS2968

    LMS2968 Well-Known Member

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    Make that five, please! And I'm sure that there are others on this forum with the common sense to realise that many of the projects mooted, even if they are completed, will be lucky to be accepted by either the preserved lines or Railtrack. The shame is that, despite the enthusism of founder members, much time and effort will be wasted on projects which will never see completion.

    For example, it is true that the LNER is under-represented in preservation, but hardly in the area of express passenger power, yet there is a plan to build a P2. Cock o' the North was a beautiful looking machine, but its in-built problems and liability to cause track damage will endear to no presnt day PWay department, and this is one of the better ones. As for Big Bertha, Garratts, etc., they would take up a lot of space in a museum, but unlikely to turn a wheel in anger. Something smaller and more versatile would be better: a V1/V3 or even an L1 (good, powerful engine provided it didn't shake itself apart). Likewise LNWR: that being pursued is a George V, because it was an express passenger type. Again, the North Western is under-represented, but a Prince of Wales would better suit the needs of preserved lines.

    This last requirement tends to be ignored in favour of the express, but an engine which regularly works a preserved line will see far more action than one which is occassionally let loose on Network Rail.
     
  8. Maunsell man

    Maunsell man Member

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    My goodness - other people actually think the same! Thought I would be tied to a flaming tree by now...

    Paul, may disagree with you a little though (note - not dissention in the ranks!) but the Atlantic project is well established and will become part of the Bluebell collection as is the Maunsell society etc. That is a loco that will forever by a preserved line machine and will have the back-up of Sheffield Park and its facilities. As such it is not a commercial proposition any more than any of the other locos in the collection. The Grange, Patriot & Saint are also affiliated to larger collections / railways with established engineering teams and facilities. My beef is with the fantasists who rock up on here and pronounce their latest project and appeal for funds without any kind of engineering expertise, funding or location. There is going to be a few container loads of smokebox doors, flat-packed cabs and buffer beams left abandoned in the corner of yards in years to come.

    Thinking again, there probably won't be any critics on this thread as they don't have any answers, therefore they will start another thread for their latest dream - a Gresely-like 4-10-4 compound 'head in the sand'
     
  9. pete2hogs

    pete2hogs Member

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    I'm not surprised that people favour express passenger locos, its been like that since railway enthusiasm started!

    Much as I'd like to see P2's, B17's, Hengist etc etc I doubt even 1 in 5 of these projects that start with nothing will achieve a working loco. How many are there now? There's a project for a GC 4-4-0 and wasn't there something with a LSWR 0-4-4 and a GER 2-4-2? At least those last two might be a useful size?

    There is obviously a much greater chance of success if the project starts with major components. Perhaps scouring the country for old boilers etc mightbe a good move before any more projects are mooted? And there are quite a number of successful narrow gauge projects (Talesin, Lyd, The Corris engine) and also the early replicas which in some cases are of a similar size to the narrow gaugers, so that's clearly an issue to take into consideration when judging the chances of a given project.

    I'd like to back the Claud Hamilton project, I'm not being wholly negative, but I just feel that all these projects starting up is really beyond what the enthusiast pool could possibly support even if all the projects were well managed and viable.

    Maybe there also needs to be an on-going list of these projects like the one a while back for turntables!
     
  10. Richard66

    Richard66 New Member

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    Not forgetting that you will only get some "M" if donators trust the people they are giving the money too and believe that they are responsible. If you have an organisation of people who have no experience of engineering, business, (perhaps don't even have experience of maintaining an existing loco), etc then "M" = £0
     
  11. Richard66

    Richard66 New Member

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    Have you seen http://newbuildsteam.com/ ?
     
  12. Spamcan81

    Spamcan81 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Why exclude the host of n.g. new builds now running?
     
  13. Spamcan81

    Spamcan81 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Maybe some proposed new build projects are truly "pie in the sky" but I can recall the days when the same question was being asked of Barry projects and when the DoG guys started off they were considered by many to be certifiably insane. Never say never in this preservation lark.
     
  14. DJH

    DJH New Member

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    The Bloomer can be added to the list.
     
  15. Maunsell man

    Maunsell man Member

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    I haven't excluded NG new builds as such as there is a distinction between the the two fields. NG lines have always managed to produce new builds with a greater deal of success. Maybe this is because the machinery needed to produce a 15" gauge crank axle is minute compared to what you would need to produce one for a Standard gauge pacific. Hence the costs are massively lower both in material and labour - and manufacture. I own and run a 4" scale traction engine and I have a workshop with a lathe, welding facilities, compressed air and all manner of clobber, tools and equipment I have collected over the years. Whilst this will happily cater for my 4" Ruston it will not let me build a full sized Burrell Showmans!

    I was interested in the standard gauge engines as it seems it is now a free for all with a new scheme every day with little thought of how to actually do it. I seem to remember the J39 project has a 14 year old Engineering Director. As a person not old enough to even start an apprenticeship how on earth can engineering and QC decisions be made with any competence?

    The NG boys seem to cook up a scheme and then JFDI! I seem to remember Lyd was started originally by a model engineer at home and it progressed from there.
     
  16. Maunsell man

    Maunsell man Member

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    Can add Bloomer to the likely to go list. Once again full facilities, established competent team, fundraising process in place and expertise. Low profile but for sure its time will come.
     
  17. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    In fact it is even worse than that, as the capital cost (C) will go up with inflation. At 4% p.a., it takes only 18 years for the cost to double. So the need for fundraising is even more acute, but your general point is well made: the quicker you can raise money, the more likely the project is to succeed.

    I'm tempted to say for any new build project, "don't tell me what you plan to build, tell me how you plan to fund it..."

    Tom
     
  18. Gav106

    Gav106 Well-Known Member

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    Well i cant quote for other groups but i do know how the Patriot is run and organised. We have 1 chairman and 4 directors. (marketing,publicity,and events) (governance and Archive) (Engineering and Quality management) (membership,donations,gift aid,lottery grants) now each director can choose willing volunteers for sub jobs. For instance my role in the project is Events Manager and i have to contact railways to find if were able to attend galas and the likes and then organise cover for said events. there is then 2 others (a married couple) who do all the sales items and stock counts for the sales stand. and we have about 15 willing volunteers to cover events. there is then our treasurer/admin who answers to Richard. For our loco assembly we use Llangollen railway(Dave owen) and the tender restoration is being done at barry by John Buxton. There are absolutely loads and loads of other jobs that i havent mentioned here but you get the idea. The patriot Has a huge no of people working on it and as such we are well organised and i believe we are very much in with a chance of achieveing our target date of 2018. Yes we need more members and more volunteers on the sales team to do this but if you see how much we have achieved in ONLY 3 years it is very likely that if this rapid rate continues we will hit the target. Today i was supposed to be going to Boro foundry today where i would be taking pictures of our newly cast frame stretchers and our driving wheels, but my fiance went and got overtime at work so im looking after our son instead. But as soon as i get the pictures (from the other guys there) ill show you how much more work we have in the pipeline for the loco. Our springs have also been ordered in the last week. And were soon to have our wheelsets in the frames (april next year is only 7 months away now)

    Yes your right that some groups wont get off the ground, others will half build then run out of enthusiasm, others will take double the time to achieve but there are the odd few that will happen, in my opinion the ones that will be done before 2020 will be us, Atlantic, grange, county, saint, and G5. maybe 82045 but i dont know to much about it.

    One thing i do know is it takes HUGE effort from those incharge to run these projects. And if you look at hengist it shows that one person cant do all the work as its just too much.
    I will always say good luck to any of these new groups but also tell them how much work will be required.

    Gavin
     
  19. I completely agree with the first few posters. The trouble is that there is a certain element of railway enthusiasts who are so blindly obsessed with the subject that all they can see is "railway+anything new=brilliant". They just don't see (or don't want to see) that 'financial and practical reality' are also integral parts of that equation which have to be factored in.

    I have been tarred, feathered and cast on burning pyres (metaphorically speaking) on several railway forums for daring to suggest that the money which is proposed to be spent on some reopening or extension schemes would be far more wisely spent on other - dare I say it, in some cases non-railway - things.*

    But the hardcore obsessives always pile in with their one-dimensional view that if it's soemthing new and railway related, by definition it has to be brilliant. I always feel that such comments say so much more about those making them than me... :sleep:

    Specifically on the subject of new-builds, of course there is only one thing of any importance anyway. What colour it'll be painted.

    (* A ridiculously expensive and almost completely unnecessary glorified siding from Millerhill to Tweedbank being a primary case in point. But the SNP has said it will happen and losing face is not an option with our friends in Holyrood, whatever the financial cost (continues under the heading 'New Forth road bridge toll booths'...'))
     
  20. JMJR1000

    JMJR1000 Member

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    I do agree that if new build projects are to succeed, then they need to have a good business plan, and most crucially, be certain that there is a large number of people who will fund the project.

    Although, saying that, most new builds that I've seen so far are fairly sensible, the people building the GCR 4-4-0have placed a reasonable time scale (about 10 years, which is standard for a new build), and they've already gained many supporters. Of course most importantly, what their building is not exactly a huge, complex machine.

    The new builds I'm not so sure about though is the B17 and Hengiest, their progress has not really been striking.

    J39, not really sure, again probably too soon to judge.

    The Claud Hamilton project, I think it's too soon to judge, but I would say that for some time theres been a big desire to build one.

    In fact this may seem odd but, in my opinion, the 4-4-0 new builds are more likely to succeed, compared to say, B17, J39 or Hengiest. Think about it, their small yet powerful, their simple mechanically yet are usually the most elegant of machines. And finally their size and power, while not much good for main line running, would be ideal for most heritage railways. Their elegant, but practical.

    In the future, when 82045 is built and if one of the new 4-4-0s are around, answer me this, which one do you think will get the most attention...? I won't deny that 82045 will still be probably more practical, but lets remember, attention, equals money...

    And then theres the P2... I'd love to see it happen, but I'm not oblivious to the many problems, nor though, Do I doubt the A1ST's abilities, if anyone can build a P2... It's them...
     

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