Friday, July 8, 2011

Four Runner

D2212 in original 'as delivered' condition
J Rush
D2298 at the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre
D2279 shunting at Chappel and Wakes, Colne
Ashley Dace
D2202 in green livery at Barrow Hill
Rich Mackin
The Class 04 diesel shunter was, actually, the forerunner to the Class 03, despite its later numbering. They were supplied by the Drewry Car Co who, having no manufacturing capability themselves, contracted out the construction work to both the Vulcan Foundry and to Robert Stephenson and Hawthorns.
The Class 04 was, mechanically, identical to the Class 03 with the same Gardner engine, 5-speed gearbox and a similar overall design. The cab layout was, also, virtually symmetrical so that the driver could work from either side.
The class itself was derived from a demonstrator loco built in 1947 (DS1173, later D2341) and the fleet was built due to the BTC's desire to rid shunting yards of steam traction in an attempt to clean up city areas.
They were delivered in black livery but this was later changed to BR green with only a few being painted in BR rail blue. They were also originally fitted with side and nose end guards for use over tramway lines, as shown in the first photograph, but these were later removed.
The Class 04 could once be found throughout the BR system, however, the decline in the type of work for which these locos were built meant that there was soon a surplus of shunters on the network. Because of this it was decided by BR to make the Class 03 the standard, light, diesel-mechanical shunter while Classes 08 and 09 became the standard larger diesel electric shunter.
The Class 04's were withdrawn from traffic between 1968 and 1971, which was earlier than the Class 03's, and it was because of this that, as already mentioned, very few of the class received the BR blue livery. As far as I am aware, none of the class ever received a TOPS number either.
Because of their early demise, quite a few of these shunters found there way into private ownership and, as such, many of them subsequently passed into preservation. Sadly, none of them are operational in mainstream traffic today.
So far as I know, Bachmann is the only manufacturer to produce a model version of the Class 04 - in N, OO, O and Gauge 1.
The full Class 04 specification is shown below:

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