FIRST NEW COMPONENTS DELIVERED FOR GRESLEY CLASS V4.(A1SLT)

The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust (A1SLT), the registered charity behind famous new 100mph steam locomotive No. 60163 Tornado and Britain’s most powerful steam locomotive No. 2007 Prince of Wales, today announced that it had taken delivery of the first new components for its 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 to an original LNER drawing. 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.

(A1SLT Image)

The London & North Eastern Railway (LNER) class V4 was a 2-6-2 steam locomotive designed by Sir Nigel Gresley – who also designed famous No. 4472 Flying Scotsman and world speed record holder No. 4468 Mallard – for mixed-traffic use over the whole of the LNER network. The class V4s had similarities in their appearance and mechanical layout to the class V2s of which pioneer No. 4771 Green Arrow is preserved. Two class V4s were built at the LNER’s Doncaster Works in 1941 – No. 3401 Bantam Cock and No. 3402 which was un-named but known unofficially as Bantam Hen. It was anticipated that many more would be produced, but after the sudden death of Gresley in April 1941 no more were built of his last design. The two class V4s were renumbered Nos. 1700/1 in 1946 and later became British Railways Nos. 61700/1. Both locomotives were scrapped in 1957 when their boilers became due for renewal.

V4 Spring Hangers (A1SLT Image)

In addition to the Tender Spring Hooks, progress has been made in other areas in advance of the V4 Project’s formal launch in spring 2020.

The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust continues to work with The Gresley Society Trust – which funded the smokebox for No. 2007 Prince of Wales as part of the fulfilment of legacy request – 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. Alan Parkin, on behalf of A1SLT, is expected to visit No. 1744 in August to compare the wheel drawing for the class V4 with the wheels on the class N2.

Colin Vickridge, a long-standing supporter and volunteer with The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust, is organising to have a third set of cab side window frames made for use on Gresley class V4 No. 3403, as he did for both No. 60163 Tornado and No. 2007 Prince of Wales.

The next steps with be to scan the 366 acquired class V4 drawings into the Trust’s CAD system and this is expected to take place in Darlington Locomotive Works over the next couple of months.

Other progress to date now includes:

  • Trustee agreement to fundraising strategy and proposed project timeline: it closely follows that used to fund the building of No. 60163 Tornado and No. 2007 Prince of Wales, which will hopefully leave the latter debt free on completion
  • Sign-off of 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
  • Acquisition of 366 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 Graham Nicholas has made significant progress reviewing and cataloguing these drawings in advance of their scanning into the Trust’s CAD system.
  • Purchase of a complete set of fully-certified tyres for the new Gresley class V4’s pony, Cartazzi and 5ft 8in driving wheels 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. David Buck acquired the parts in 2017 in a job lot of items that Malcolm Barlow had salvaged from Doncaster Works on its closure.
  • The creation of a new subsidiary, The V4 Steam Locomotive Company Limited, of The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust to carry out the building of new Gresley class V4 No. 3403 as part of the preparations for the formal launch of the project

Although there is no specific fundraising appeal open for No. 3403 yet, any donations made towards it will be ring-fenced for the project. It is currently anticipated that the formal launch of the V4 Project will be in Spring 2020 when The Founder’s Club will be established to raise the first £350,000. This will be used to acquire all of the components needed to assemble the engine’s frames so that when No. 2007 Prince of Wales leaves Darlington Locomotive Works in around three years’ time, everything will be in place to rapidly assemble the frames. This will then be followed by the launch of the ‘V4 for the price of a pint of beer a week’ covenant scheme and other specific clubs familiar to those who have supported the building of No. 60163 Tornado and No. 2007 Prince of Wales. In this way, the V4 Project can capitalise on the momentum built up to complete the new class P2 with sufficient funding to keep staff and contractors busy. It is hoped that the new locomotive will take 5-7 years to build depending on the rate at which the funds are raised.

Mark Allatt, Trustee, The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust, commented:

“We are 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 manufacture the Tender Spring Hooks at such an advantageous price was too good to refuse even if it 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. 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.

“Although there is currently no specific appeal open for No. 3403, any donations made towards it will be ring-fenced for the project. Our next step will be to launch 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.”

For more information on how to help the V4 project, visit www.v4steam.com, email enquiries@v4steam.com or call 01325 460163