Backtalk 5/07/09

May 5, 2009
Steam locomotives are making a comeback with the introduction of the Tornado, a Peppercorn Class A1 engine.

All aboard!
Steam locomotives are making a comeback with the introduction of the Tornado, a Peppercorn Class A1 engine.

Originally commissioned by British Railways in 1948-1949 following the nationalization of railways, the locomotives were designed by Arthur Peppercorn and regarded as the most-reliable express passenger steam locomotives. Due to the rapid onset of diesel power, only 49 Class A1s were ever built. The last Peppercorn was scrapped in 1966.

The new Tornado, built by the A1 Steam Locomotive Trust in Darlington, U.K., with funds raised by railway enthusiasts, is fitted with the latest in railway safety electronics and has increased water capacity.

The Class A1 engine features classic Apple Green coach enamel supplied by Craftmaster Paints of Stourbridge, in association with Manchester surfacecoatings manufacturer HMG Paints. The £3 million locomotive was named by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall. It’s a showcase for the firms’ undercoat, primer, topcoat, and heat-resistant paints, with their ability to withstand high temperatures and an oil and steam-laden environment.

The project to build a new Peppercorn Class A1 from scratch began in 1990 and fundraising was completed in August 2008. In October, the engine was moved to York’s National Railway Museum to start mainline trials. During previous trial runs, the Tornado’s color scheme was photographic grey. At the museum’s paint shop, the locomotive received its fresh color scheme of Apple Green and Black, which dates back to passenger locomotives of the 1920s.

The boiler, cab, tender, and chassis are primarily green, with black detailing, while the smokebox, footplate and frames are painted black, and the front/rear buffer beams are finished in red.

Safety in rollovers
Research by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shows that vehicles with stronger roofs better protect occupants during rollover crashes. To receive a “Good” rating, vehicles must have roofs that are more than twice as strong as minimum federal safety standards.

Twelve small SUVs have been put to the test. Only four of the 12 earned a good rating. Among the 2008-09 models tested, the Volkswagen Tiguan has the strongest roof and the Kia Sportage has the weakest.

Good ratings went to the Tiguan, Subaru Forester, Honda Element, and Jeep Patriot. The Suzuki Grand Vitara, Chevrolet Equinox, Toyota RAV4, Nissan Rogue, and Mitsubishi Outlander received an acceptable rating. Roofs on the Honda CR-V and Ford Escape are marginal, and the Kia’s is poor.

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