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.”

First new components ordered for the new V4

FIRST NEW COMPONENTS ORDERED FOR NEW GRESLEY CLASS V4 BY THE A1SLT

We are delighted to announce that we have now ordered the first new components for our third new steam locomotive, Gresley class V4 No. 3403. The Trust has placed a £4,320 order with Unilathe of Stoke-on-Trent for 12 Tender Spring Hooks from a closed die forging in BS970 070M20 material to original LNER drawing No. 159010. This order is part of a much larger order placed by Network Rail for replacement components for its LNER 4,200 gallon tender-based snowploughs which has been piggybacked on by A1SLT for its new Gresley class V4 and the project building a new Gresley class B17, therefore considerably reducing the unit costs.

In January 2018, the Trust revealed that it had acquired and taken delivery of a complete set of fully-certified tyres for the new Gresley class V4’s pony, Cartazzi and 5ft 8in driving wheels. They were purchased from David Buck, owner of Thompson class B1 4-6-0 No. 61306 Mayflower, along with a chimney, two BR class 08 shunter speedometer drive generators and two two-stage single spindle air pumps of Finnish origin, including lubricator pumps and check valves for use on No. 2007. The tyres were originally manufactured in South Africa in the late 1990s for Malcolm Barlow, a Doncaster scrap dealer who launched the Gresley V4 Society in 1994 to build a new example of the class. David Buck acquired the parts six months earlier in a job lot of items that Malcolm Barlow had salvaged from Doncaster Works on its closure – including a number of class B1 components. The Trust also acquired over 500 original class V4 drawings from the same source.

In September, the Trust announced that it had formed a new subsidiary, The V4 Steam Locomotive Company Limited and set up the charitable bank accounts, to carry out the building of the yet-to-be-named No. 3403 as part of its preparations for the formal launch of the project.

 Mark Allatt, Trustee, The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust, commented, “We are now in the pre-launch phase of the project to build our third new main line steam locomotive, the yet-to-be-named Gresley class V4 No. 3403. The opportunity to order the Tender Spring Hooks at such an advantageous price was too good to refuse even if it is at least a year sooner than planned.

 “We want to be ready to start assembling our new Gresley class V4 as soon as our new class P2 is completed. If we’re in our new and much larger base at Whessoe Road by then – and there’s a good chance we will be – we could even start work on No. 3403 before No. 2007 Prince of Wales steams in 2021. 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 the 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.

 “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 Founders Club to fund the early stages of the project. More announcements will be made during 2018 as the project builds up steam.”

No. 3401 Bantam Cock

Although intended for construction in 1939, the first V4, No. 3401 Bantam Cock, didn’t emerge from Doncaster until February 1941, being out-shopped in fully lined apple green.   After initial testing on the main line between Doncaster and Leeds it was sent to the Great Eastern section to be trialed the majority of those lines, including the Southend route; it proved singularly successful on the Norwich expresses and showed the design to be very frugal in terms of coal consumption.

No. 3401, fresh out of the paint shop in 1941

In 1942 No. 3401 joined its sister in Scotland, initially allocated to Edinburgh, Haymarket shed, to work trains in the Perth and Fife areas before both were moved to Glasgow, Eastfield in 1943 to work the west Highland line.  Despite their superior ride quality and better crew comfort, the V4s couldn’t match the K4s for hill-climbing ability, possibly due to their wheel arrangement, and were limited to 250 tons over this road as opposed to the 300 tons the K4s were permitted.  At about the same time as their transfer to Eastfield both locomotives were repainted in wartime unlined black with ‘N E’ initials on the tender.  In 1946 No. 3401 was re-numbered 1700 under the Thompson scheme and regained LNER apple green in 1947/8, albeit with the simplified, un-shaded numbers and letters.

No. 1700 at Ardlui – Ben Brooksbank

With the nationalisation in 1948 Bantam Cock was re-numbered again, this time as No. 61700 although it continued to carry its green livery until 1950 when both engines received BR mixed traffic, lined black livery.  In 1954 the locomotives were transferred again, this time to Aberdeen to work fish trains.  They proved to be useful on the East Coast, being able to operate almost everywhere over the Great North of Scotland routes which were subject to a limited axle loading and on which Thompson’s B1s could not operate.

No. 61700 in early BR livery – Colour Rail

With their boilers due for renewal and there being no appetite at BR to produce two, unique replacement boilers, both V4s were withdrawn in 1957, No. 61700 on 4th March 1957.

No. 61700 awaits its fate at Cowlairs in April, 1957 – Bill Reed

First components acquired for new Gresley class V4

We are pleased to announce that the first components have been acquired for the Trust’s third new steam locomotive – Gresley class V4 No. 3403.

The Trust has since acquired and taken delivery of a complete set of fully-certified tyres for the new Gresley class V4’s pony, Cartazzi and 5ft 8in driving wheels. They have been purchased from David Buck, owner of Thompson class B1 4-6-0 No. 61306 Mayflower, along with a chimney, two BR class 08 shunter speedometer drive generators and two two-stage single spindle air pumps of Finnish origin including lubricator pumps and check valves for use on No. 2007.

The tyres were originally manufactured in South Africa in the late 1990s for Malcolm Barlow, a Doncaster scrap dealer who launched the Gresley V4 Society in 1994 to build a new example of the class. David Buck acquired the parts six months ago in a job lot of items that Malcolm Barlow had salvaged from Doncaster Works on its closure – including a number of class B1 components.

The V4 tyres acquired from Malcolm Barlow via David Buck – David Elliott

One of the air pumps – David Elliott

Mark Allatt, Trustee, The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust, commented, “We want to be ready to start building our new Gresley class V4 as soon as our new class P2 is completed. If we’re in our new and much larger base at Whessoe Road by then – and there’s a good chance we will be – we could even start work on No. 3403 before No. 2007 Prince of Wales steams in 2021. We anticipate the project costing around £2.5m 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 the 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. Although there is no specific appeal open for No. 3403 yet, any donations made towards it will be ring-fenced for the project.”

No. 3402

Although intended for construction in 1939, the first V4, No. 3402 didn’t emerge from Doncaster until March 1941, being out-shopped in fully lined apple green, differing from No. 3401 in being fitted with a steel firebox having a Nicholson thermic syphon.   It was sent straight to Scotland, initially to Edinburgh Haymarket shed to work trains in the Perth and Fife areas before both were moved to Glasgow, Eastfield in 1943 to work the west Highland line.  At the same time as their transfer to Eastfield both locomotives were repainted in wartime unlined black with ‘N E’ initials on the tender.  Stays on No. 3402’s copper firebox kept breaking, so it was quickly decided to replace the entire firebox including the thermic syphon. Hence from 1945, No. 3402 had a boiler and firebox to the same design as No. 3401.  In 1946 No. 3402 was re-numbered 1701 under the Thompson scheme and regained LNER apple green in 1947/8, albeit with the simplified, un-shaded numbers and letters.

The V4s proved to be faster on the easier sections of which failed to flatter the tendency of the K4s to ride more roughly.  Although the Edinburgh crews had few problems firing the V4s, the Glasgow men sometimes struggled to manage the wide grate, being used to the deep grates of the ‘Glens’ and K2s.  With the nationalisation in 1948 the locomotive was re-numbered again, this time as No. 61701 although it continued to carry its green livery until 1950 when both engines received BR mixed traffic, lined black livery.  In 1954 the locomotives were transferred again, this time to Aberdeen to work fish trains; the GNoS section had retained a stud of Gresley-boilered B12/1s because of their low axle load and the V4s were an ideal replacement.

No. 61701, probably at Eastfield, in early BR condition – Real Photographs

With their boilers due for renewal and there being no appetite at BR to produce two, unique replacement boilers, both V4s were withdrawn in 1957, No. 61701 on 26th November 1957.