In an article titled "The 5AT Project: The End of the Line" published in the April 2012 edition (No 399) of Steam Railway magazine (see separate news item), David Wardale announced that the 5AT project has been placed in abeyance for an indefinite period.The project's suspension has been brought about by the world’s financial problems and consequential difficulties in raising interest in such a technically difficult and financially challenging undertaking, particularly with regards the numerous hurdles that have to be crossed, and the expectation that its development costs would have to be written off before any return on capital would be forthcoming.
In any case, with the completion of the 5AT’s Fundamental Design Calculations (FDCs) and Feasibility Study, work on the project has advanced as far as it can practically go without the injection of substantial funding to establish a full-time engineering design team that is needed to take it further. As a consequence, activity on the 5AT Project reached a hiatus some time ago, since when members of the 5AT Group have been investigating alternative activities through which they can apply the knowledge and experience gained from their work on the 5AT.
The technology that underpins the 5AT design was developed by Chapelon beginning in the 1920s, and improved by Livio Dante Porta in the second half of the 20th century. It has been applied to several rebuilds, including two South African machines that were famously modified by David Wardale in the 1980s – Class 19D 2-8-4 No 2644 and Class 26 4-8-4 No 3450 “The Red Devil”. The step-by-step design process developed by Porta and used by Wardale in his South African work, has been systematically documented by him in the form of the FDCs for the 5AT which contain almost 7000 lines of calculation and 100 diagrams. The methodology that they present is specifically intended to be followed in the development of new designs, both for rebuild and new-build locomotives. This unique set of calculations is in the sole possession of the 5AT Group and it forms the foundation of the Group’s capabilities and its future plans.
One of the Group’s first intentions is to conduct a nation-wide survey of steam locomotive owners and operators in order to ascertain their views as to current and future locomotive needs for both main line and heritage line operations. The information thus gathered will enable the Group to develop its future strategies aimed at meeting the needs and expectations of the survey participants.
Further information on the survey and Group’s future plans will be announced on this website as it becomes available.
Note: A PDF version of Wardale's Steam Railway article can be downloaded by clicking here.