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By Robert Gwynne on

The HST prototype project: strides forward

Associate Curator Bob Gwynne provides an update on the restoration of the original HST prototype power car.
125 Group volunteers work in the engine space of 41001

40 years ago the High Speed Train was delivered from concept to testing in only 22 months. 40 years later, the 125 Group’s Project Miller – the restoration to working order of the surviving original HST prototype power car, number 41001 – is currently going at a similar pace.

Hard work by the group and help from East Midlands Trains (who have given the power car house room at their Neville Hill depot) meant that 41001 was able to make a triumphant return to the museum in June, fully braked, for Railfest 2012. There it shared the Railfest site with the largest gathering of railway record breakers ever seen.

It then returned to Neville Hill for a heart transplant…

Working in a shed has its advantages, even in June (!)
Nearby visitor to Neville Hill

When 41001 was preserved, thirty years ago, the intention was that it would be displayed in the Science Museum in London with all the covers off, so that the public could see what made BR’s new ‘cutting edge’ train go. It was to be the diesel equivalent of Bulleid Pacific Ellerman Lines, and to this end the Paxman ‘Valenta’ engine in it was sectioned.

The display never happened – but it did leave the current restoration with a major headache. How to replace the prime mover of such a significant machine?

Fortunately, the museum gets good support from all sides of the rail industry, and when the current HST fleet was re-equipped with new engines, a ‘pre-loved’ Valenta, new in 2000 and with only light usage to 2008, was secured for 41001. At the end of June this engine (S508: a “flat top/wide flanged” Valenta last used in HST 43143) was fitted into 41001. The sectioned engine will now go to the Anson Engine Museum in Cheshire.

Sectioned Valenta seen in daylight for the first time
Carefully does it! Picture by Mike Sawyer
Fitting the alternator to S508

So now all that is required to get 41001 powered up and on the load bank at Neville Hill is a replacement carriage connection and 4 km or so of new wiring. If the architects of the HST, Walter Jowett and Terry Miller, were still around, they would surely be well pleased.

Loco restoration – there’s always something needs painting
A small matter of new wiring required (!)

5 comments on “The HST prototype project: strides forward

  1. I believe it can couple to conventional locohauled stock without a barrier van, so will run top & tail. Sadly its partner was cut up in the 1990’s.

  2. Looking great and I was thrilled to get in the cab at Railfest. What’s the plan when it’s finished? Will there be tours or is this all so it can sit and collect dust with a working engine?

  3. Why was the other prototype powercar cut up in the 90s? I doubt if it’ll feel complete without the other powercar unless it had a production powercar (which isn’t possible due to none being available)

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