Friday, 24 February 2017

Class 33 (BRCW Type 3)

The Class 33 was built for Southern Region to be the prime provider of diesel haulage. It was based on earlier BRCW locos the Classes 26 and 27 though benefited from the lack of a need for gangway connections so had a much neater cab design [1]. It was also more powerful than the earlier locomotives being a true Type 3 (over 1, 500hp). They were originally intended mostly for freight work but, with good foresight by Southern Region, were fitted with electric train heating - indeed the lack of a need to carry a boiler for steam heat allowed a more powerful diesel to be fitted in the same body shell as the earlier locomotives [2]. They were often to be found on passenger services on the Kent Coast and to Bournemouth and elsewhere.

Number built: 98
Built: 1960-62
Builder: Birmingham Railway Carriage & Wagon Company
Engine: Sulzer 8LDA28 diesel
Power: 1, 550 hp (1, 156 kW)
Wheel arrangement: Bo-Bo

Most Class 33s were in the standard 33/0 sub-class, however a number were also fitted for push-pull operations as 33/1 and operated with the 4-TC (Class 438) [3] though could also work with any SR Electro-Pneumatically controlled multiple units and locomotives. A batch of locomotives was also reduced in width by 178mm for operation on the Hastings Line with its restricted clearances as the 33/2. Sadly the expense and effort in modifying the design for what turned out to be a small batch of locomotives is said to have contributed to BRCW's bankruptcy in the mid-1960s.

Nowadays only a handful of the locomotives, known as Cromptons by enthusiasts after the Crompton Parkinson electrical equipment installed in them, remain in mainline use with the West Coast Railway Company however 29 have been preserved covering all 3 sub-types.
33 103 at Wirksworth

Cab of 33 103

33 204 at Stewarts Lane in 1988, photographer unknown

Class 33 undergoing maintenance at Stewarts Lane 1988, photographer unknown

33 035 at Kidderminster

[1] Brian Haresnape, Production Diesel-Electrics Types 1-3 (Ian Allan, 1983) p. 58
[2] David Brown, Southern Electric Vol 2 (Capital Transport, 2010) p. 215
[3] John Vaughan, Diesels on the Southern (Ian Allan, 1980) p. 33

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Derby Lightweight DMU

This first wave of British Railways DMU (which appeared even before the Modernisation Plan) were known as the "Derby Lightweights" because they were built at BR Derby and had low weight thanks to aluminium bodies and short under frames [1]. The first batch were eight 2-car sets for Leeds-Bradford services and were an instant hit with the public with passenger receipts on the services they were used on increasing 400% in 7 years. Similar improvements with revenue were seen across the board after the introduction of later DMUs. Both cars in this initial batch were powered with Leyland engines and had torque converter transmission. Mechanically these units were based on pre-war LMS designs and proved troublesome in service [2].

Number built: 217 (1, 2 and 4-car sets)
Built: 1954-55
Builder: BR Derby
Engine: Leyland or BUT (AEC) 6-cyl horizontal diesels
Power: (Leyland) 250hp (186kW) (BUT) 300 hp (224 kW)
Formation: (Preserved set) Driving Motor Brake Standard (DMBS)
+Driving Trailer Composite Lavatory (DTCL)

The second batch were built in a variety of configurations (the single railcars have been dealt with separately). They were fitted with BUT (AEC) diesels and had a different transmission and gearbox (fluid flywheel and preselector gearbox). This arrangement proved more reliable and popular with BR and indeed became the standard for the hundreds of DMUs in the "first generation" which followed.

Being non-standard the Derby Lightweight DMUs were withdrawn fairly early and all had gone from revenue service by 1969. However a 2-car set and a railcar survived into departmental use. The 2-car set became an ultrasonic test train and traversed the entire network returning data on track conditions [3]. Following withdrawal in the mid-1980s it has been preserved and in the process of being restored.
Preserved M79018 at Wirksworth (a Class 122 to the left)

Another view of M79018

[1] Brian Haresnape, Diesel Multiple Units: The First Generation (Ian Allan, 1985) p. 22
[2] Colin J Marsden, DMU and EMU Recognition Guide (Ian Allan, 2013) p. 26
[3] Colin J Marsden, Departmental Stock (Ian Allan, 1984) p. 28

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Class 58

Following the conventional Class 56 heavy freight locomotive British Rail went much more radical for the next design. The Class 58 dispensed with a lot of traditional British monocoque locomotive building practice with the aim of producing a highly exportable locomotive. It had a modular design with the main structural load bearer being the underframe with major components fitted to the frame[1]. The design made the Class 58 around 14% cheaper to build than the 56 [2].

Number built: 50
Built: 1983-87
Builder: BREL Doncaster
Engine: Ruston Paxman 12RK3ACT diesel
Power: 3, 300 hp (2, 460 kW)
Wheel arrangement: Co-Co

The Class 58 also followed common US style in that it dispensed with a walkway through the locomotive, the body being narrower than the cabs. This was done because of the space problems with the Class 56 trying to fit a larger engine into what was essentially a Class 47 shell. The bonnet design has access doors all along the side[3]. In the event no export orders were received and only 50 were built (as opposed to 135 Class 56s), the last Class 58 was also the last diesel locomotive to be built at BREL Doncaster.

The Class 58 was built for heavy coal trains though also could be seen on other freight types. Most Class 58s were withdrawn at the turn of the millennium, surplus to requirements as the Class 66 began to arrive in numbers. While a small number have been scrapped most of the class has seen further use in the 2000s on the continent especially in France working on TGV construction though some of these have now returned home or been put into storage both home and abroad [4].

One Class 58 (58 022) will be used to help create a replica of the pioneer LMS diesel locomtive 10000.
58 007 at Bescot 1985, photographer unknown

58 022 at Rowsley South

58 022 will be used to build a replica LMS 10000 class diesel locomotive

[1] Colin J Marsden, Motive Power Recognition: Locomotives (3rd Edition) (Ian Allan, 1988) p. 92
[2] Brian Harsenape, Production Diesel Electrics Types 4 and 5 (Ian Allan, 1984) p. 80
[3] Barry Edwards, Class 58s: Their Development and Introduction (Link Rail, 1984) p. 6
[4] Colin J Marsden, Traction Recognition (Ian Allan, 2011) p. 58

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Plasser and Theurer 08 Series Tamper

A good number of tampers are used by Network Rail and various contracted companies to "tamp down" or pack the ballast under the tracks to maintain a stable bed, and of course help keep the rails where they are supposed to be[1]. Plasser & Theurer make many of the tampers in service today. The 08 series being the successor to the 07 series which were used in large numbers across the UK.

Information for 08-16/4x4 C100 RT
Number built: 14
Builder: Plasser & Theurer
Power: 496 hp (390 kW)

The 08-16/4x4 C100 RT is a familiar type on British rails, the 16 in the name stands for 16 tamping tools which are arranged in 4 units of 4 tools each[2]. The C100 stands for its top speed in km/h and that it is a compact machine without a trailer. A number of other tampers are also used for switches and crossings such as the 08-4x4/4S.
Colas DR 73922 (08-16/4x4C80 RT) at Crewe

Colas DR 73908 (08-4x4/4S RT) at Derby

[1] "How is tamping performed?" <>
[2] "08-16 4x4 C100-RT" <>

Friday, 3 February 2017

Class 43 (HST) [Updated]

The High Speed Train, powered by 2 Class 43 powercars at either end of the train, is the most successful diesel powered high speed train in the world. It bought 125mp/h speeds to InterCity expresses in the late 1970s, helping to revitalise long-distance rail travel when it was at a low ebb. Indeed it is not an exaggeration to say the HST changed the face of rail travel in the UK once and for all. The futuristic streamlined shape of the power cars (surely a British design classic) quickly became the face of BR publicity [1]. They were an instant hit with the public with passenger numbers on the HST services rising by 15% within the first 2 months of operation. The HST still holds the official speed record for a diesel hauled passenger train of 148 mp/h.

The Intercity 125 High Speed Train was introduced in October 1976 [2] following trials earlier in the decade with the prototype HST Class 41/252. Originally the HST was designated a diesel electric multiple unit with units allocated to Western Region numbered Class 253 and those on Eastern Region Class 254.

However in the 1980s the power cars were allocated the TOPS number Class 43 (the original Class 43 was the "Warship" diesel-hydraulic locomotive), they are after all proper locomotives capable of independent operation, the Mark 3 coaches they haul/propel do differ from loco-hauled Mark 3s with different electric systems and a lack of buffers and can only work properly with Class 43s. The Class 43 only has a driving cab at the streamlined end, the prototype Class 41 also has auxiliary cab controls for shunting at the other end.

Number built: 197
Built: 1976-82
Builder: BREL Crewe
Refurbished by Brush Traction (2006-9)
Engine: (Original) Paxman Valenta 12RP200L diesel
(Refurbished) Paxman 12VP185 or MTU 16V4000 R41R diesels
Power: (Valenta) 2, 250 hp (1, 678 kW)
(12VP185) 2, 100 hp (1, 565 kW)
(MTU) 2, 250 hp (1, 676 kW)
Wheel arrangement: Bo-Bo

Ironically the HST only came about because of a lack of funds for electrification of more main line routes after the completion of the WCML [3]. The HST was devised as a stop-gap... that has so far lasted 40 years! Although they have been slowly replaced from some of their original routes they have been cascaded to others and many should continue to serve well into the 2020s. In the mid to late 2000s the fleet was heavily refurbished with the original Paxman engines replaced mostly by MTU units [4] though some have also been fitted with Paxman VP185 diesels since the early 1990s. Despite 40 years and millions of miles of travel only a handful of Class 43s have been withdrawn, and those due to collision damage.

The Class 43 has also been exported to Australia where power cars heavily based on the Class 43s powered the XPT which is still in service [5]. In the late 1980s a small number of Class 43s were taken out of service, fitted with buffers, and formed driving van trailers for the new Class 91 which replaced the HST on the newly electrified East Coast Main Line. Once purpose built DVTs had been built the modified Class 43s were returned to service [6].

The Class 43 currently serves with GWR, Cross Country, East Midland Trains, Virgin East Coast and Grand Central and has served with a number of other TOCs too in the privatised era. Some cars are also in service with Network Rail in the New Measurement Train. Replacements in the form of the new 8xx series IEPs are on the horizon but the Class 43 should remain a feature on British rails for a good few years yet.
In original livery, GWR W43 002 at Paddington

43 384 heads this XC HST at Derby

GWR 43 091 at Paddington

43 207 heads through Erdington at speed

The New Measurement Train at Derby
[1] Chris Heaps, BR Diary 1968-1977 (Ian Allan, 1988) p. 99
[2] Brian Haresnape, High Speed Trains (Ian Allan, 1983) p. 51
[3] Colin J. Marsden (ed.), "The Production HSTs", Modern Locomotives Illustrated No. 208 August-September 2014 (The HST Part 1: The BR Days) p. 28 
[4] Colin J. Marsden, Traction Recognition (Second Edition) (Ian Allan, 2009) p. 34
[5] Marsden, MLI 208 p. 71
[6] Marsden, Traction p. 36