BRC Website Home
Quainton Virtual Stockbook
Quainton News Archive - Quainton News No. 18 - December 1973
The Building of A 5 Inch Gauge Great Central 4-4-0 Director Class Locomotive. Part 1 - F H Marshall
John G Robinson, Locomotive Engineer, in the early 1900's constructed a batch of Atlantics and some time later, in what has been called the period of the early superheater days, brought out his handsome and fast inside cylinder Director class 4-4-0's. At around the same time there occurred a strong revival of 4-4-0 building on other lines. The Directors were used on the through Marylebone - Manchester turns and in the early Grouping days for a time worked the London - Leeds Pullman. Fitted with a shorter boiler than the Atlantics they proved excellent steamers. Although short laps were used the piston valves were of large diameter and the front end layout was said to be very good. These machines could work hard and lift a heavy train. Speeds well in excess of 80 m.p.h. were frequently obtained through, for example, Stoke Mandeville and down the Staverton Road bank.
In the autumn of 1924 Nigel Gresley (later Sir), CME of the LNER had delivered to the North British section 24 Improved Directors (all of which carried names of characters in the Waverley novels) to meet the heavy duties required on the Edinburgh - Aberdeen and Edinburgh - Perth routes. This batch of 24 engines had larger piston valves with short travel and a reduced steam lap. The boiler pressure remained at 180 lbs. For some reason the Improved Directors splasher design was altered so it was at once possible for an observer to recognise the Gresley machine.
It may be of interest to draw attention to a structural characteristic peculiar to the Director when viewed head on. The buffers have large elliptical heads and the coupling hook rides in a slot that is approximately 18 inches long the face of which is reinforced by a radius plate. The tow bar is square in section and rests in the slot and is secured at the other end to a special fitting that allows the whole hook assembly to follow any angular movement set up by the locomotive having to ride tight curves. I believe this is the situation that existed in the Sheffield area and around Mexborough where the rail network is thick and must contain much sharp curvature. In conjunction with the above the necessity for elliptical buffer heads is readily understood.
My enthusiasm for the steam locomotive goes back many years and I still recall quite clearly seeing Churchward's Pacific locomotive The Great Bear passing through Westbourne Park with the evening Bristol express. However, many years went by before I was in a position to be able to consider building a live steam model and when the opportunity did arrive I settled for an engine that was typical of a period in locomotive history and the 4-4-0 Director was my choice.
At the time under review I had loaned to me some copies of the Model Engineer containing, as it happened, the start of a series with the aid of which, so the author seemed to convey, I or anyone would be able to build a 5" gauge 4-4-0 in, say, fifty easy weekly lessons. This loco building caper was the next easy thing to falling off a stool. How many times did I come across Beginners please note or This is a kiddies practise job. I felt that I qualified!
Text © Quainton Railway Society / Photographs © Quainton Railway Society or referenced photographer
Page Updated: 21 October 2017