The B17 Steam Locomotive Trust (B17 SLT) was set up with the aim of creating a class B17 locomotive in compliance with Railway Group Standards for operation on the mainline network and heritage railways in this country. Improvements in performance, reliability and maintenance are planned by the careful introduction of design changes to the original technical baseline.
The engine will be capable of operating with either the GE tender or the larger LNER standard tender normally used by B17s, both of which are owned by the trust. Appropriate certification will be progressively obtained in conjunction with the Vehicle Acceptance Body and Railway Authorities.
The B17 SLT was formed as an organisation with charitable status in 2011. The Trust plans to provide benefit to the public and specialised institutions, training establishments and schools by the advancement of education, engineering science and heritage relating to design, development, construction and operation of the B17. This will be achieved.by using UK based manufacturing wherever possible to ensure retention and development of engineering skills through training and development opportunities.
A major milestone was reached in September 2015 when the frames and front buffer beam for the engine were completed at The Boro’ Foundry at Lye in the West Midlands. Following successful dimensional checks each frame and front buffer beam was transported to the Llangollen Railway where Spirit of Sandringham will be constructed.
The next stage is to finalise the design definition of the drag box and frame stays followed by procurement, to progressively build up the static mainframe assembly.
The frames of the locomotive were completed at Llangollen in June 2018 and the aim was then to have a rolling chassis and boiler by 2027.
In the middle of 2018 the aim of those building the locomotive was to raise £2.6m which would enable it to be in steam in 2028.
In February 2019 the directors of the project issued the following statement.
“No 61673 Spirit of Sandringham is a full-size locomotive and tender produced to a defined design in accordance with current Rail Authority Regulations to be certified for main line running.
Construction of the static mainframe is complete and the next phase is to complete the “rolling chassis”. All parts are made in Britain where possible, and planned completion is due to be in 2028 with the locomotive certified and running by 2029.
Funding for the project comes directly from members of the trust and the public donations, gifts and legacies. Appeals are launched for specific parts as well as membership of the 61673 Constructors Club”.
In April 2019 it was reported that the frames had been inspected and approved which allowed the wheeling of the frames. It was estimated that it would cost £250,000 to undertake this next phase.
In early 2020 it was reported that the driving wheels for the locomotive could be fitted to a rolling chassis during 2020.