V4 project steams ahead

The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust and The Gresley Society Trust to jointly procure new 5ft 8in driving wheel pattern

The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust (A1SLT) has announced that it had made some significant decisions concerning the yet-to-be-named new Gresley class V4 No. 3403 as part of its preparations for the formal launch of the project.

The fundraising strategy for the V4 Project has been agreed by the A1SLT’s Trustees. The strategy closely follows the successful approach used to fund the building of No. 60163 Tornado, which has evolved into that now being implemented for No. 2007 Prince of Wales which will hopefully leave the locomotive debt free on completion. The most significant change to the fundraising for the V4 will be that The Founders Club will be used for component acquisition whilst the Trust completes and tests No. 2007 in advance of the start of its construction in 2022. It is now anticipated that the formal launch of the V4 Project will be in Spring 2020 subject to final board approval.

The Trustees have also agreed the high-level specification for the yet-to-be-named No. 3403. Although just two in number, the Gresley class V4s were very successful in traffic with no known design and development problems. The locomotive will have:

  • A P2-style electrical system which is in itself developed from that successfully implemented on the A1
  • Air plus vacuum brakes as on both A1 and P2 but with only one air pump due to the limited space available
  • An all steel, all welded boiler with no thermic syphon – the one originally fitted to No. 3402 provided no discernible benefit and was removed in 1945
  • A tender based on the LNER 4,200-gallon – as opposed to 3,500-gallon – tender with as much water capacity as possible – modifications made to the A1 and P2 tenders added around 1,200 gallons
  • Roller bearings throughout as with A1 and P2
  • The new P2 design of crank axle and pony truck
  • Its monobloc cylinder block casting redesigned as a fabrication as with the P2
  • As much detailed commonality as possible with A1/P2

In another development, The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust is delighted to announce a further partnership with The Gresley Society Trust which funded the smokebox for No. 2007 Prince of Wales as part of the fulfilment of legacy request. The two organisations will work together to manufacture the shared 5ft8in driving wheel pattern for the new Gresley class V4 No. 3403 and the Gresley Society’s Great Northern Railway Gresley class N2 No. 1744. The class N2, which is 100 years old in 2021, is currently under overhaul and requires two replacement driving wheels. The production of the pattern will be project managed by A1SLT and funded by the Gresley Society, with its first use being for No. 1744.

As previously announced, in January 2018 along with tyres, chimney and speedometer drive generators, A1SLT acquired over 500 original Gresley class V4 drawings from Malcolm Barlow, a Doncaster scrap dealer who launched the now defunct Gresley V4 Society in 1994 to build a new example of the class. Since then – although recently predominantly preoccupied helping to get Tornado back into main line service – Graham Nicholas has made significant progress reviewing and cataloguing these drawings in advance of their scanning into the Trust’s CAD system.

Mark Allatt commented, “We are in the pre-launch phase of the project to build our third new main line steam locomotive, with the detailed review and cataloguing of over 500 acquired drawings, the production of the fundraising strategy and the decision on the high-level specification of No. 3403.

“We want to be ready to start assembling our new Gresley class V4 as soon as our new class P2 is completed. We anticipate the project costing around £3m and taking around five years subject to the pace of fundraising. Our new Gresley class V4 is an ideal locomotive for regional main line tours, repeat main line itineraries and the longer, main line connected heritage railways.

“Unlike with our class P2, where we have had to do a considerable amount of development work to complete the job that Sir Nigel Gresley started in 1934, there will be very little redesign work needed as there were no known problems with the Gresley class V4s. In addition, we are delighted to be working with The Gresley Society Trust to produce the 5ft8in driving wheel pattern shared by the class V4s and N2s.

“Although there is no specific appeal open for No. 3403 yet, any donations made towards it will be ring-fenced for the project. The next steps will be to launch a website for the project and The Founder’s Club to fund the early stages of the project. More announcements will be made during 2019 as the project builds up steam.”

Philip Benham, chairman, The Gresley Society Trust, added, “We have worked with The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust before on their new build projects, and are delighted to be doing so once again to produce a new 5ft 8in driving wheel pattern for the Gresley V4 and our Gresley class N2. Currently under overhaul, No. 1744 celebrates her 100th birthday in 2021 and we anticipate she will require two replacement driving wheels either as part of the overhaul or within the foreseeable future. It’s very appropriate that the overhaul of the oldest surviving locomotive designed by Sir Nigel Gresley should also benefit the building of a further example of his final design.”