Rails enters the Jet Age!
To celebrate the 70th anniversary of the unique gas turbine prototype, Rails of Sheffield and Heljan are proud to announce the development of a museum quality OO gauge model of this groundbreaking famous British Railways gas turbine prototype 18000, nicknamed ‘Kerosene Castle’.
Seventy years ago this month, in November 1949, Swiss companies Brown Boveri and SLM completed the construction of a ground- breaking gas turbine locomotive for British Railways Western Region. We are celebrating the anniversary of that significant event with a new OO gauge model of 18000, due for release in late-2020.
Design work was completed over the summer and tooling is now well underway on what should be a highly popular model of a famous experimental machine. Our model has been developed with the assistance of the National Railway Museum using original documentation from Brown Boveri and BR Western Region, including works drawings dating from the late-1940s.
Differences between the locomotive ‘as built’ and as modified during the 1950s have been incorporated into the tooling to ensure ultimate accuracy for each livery and period. Roof, cab front and grille details will vary between the BR black and BR green versions.
The design and CAD work is complete and tooling is well underway. First tooling samples are expected to be ready in early-2020, followed by decorated samples in mid-year and production towards the end of next year.
Three variants are to be produced:
• BR Gloss Black with Silver Trim (1949-56 Condition)
• BR lined green with orange/black waistband lining (1956-57
condition) and early BR crest
• BR lined green with orange waistband lining (1957-60
condition) and late BR crest
Pre-orders are now being taken at www.railsofsheffield.com. Priced at £199.99
They are available to pre-order now with a £30.00 deposit.
Click here for more details
This is a very low production run and pre-ordering is highly recommended
Factfile - 18000
Although diesel power was starting to prove itself as a viable alternative to steam traction before the outbreak of the Second World War, no single unit locomotive of the time could match the power of large main line locomotives. Rather than developing its own diesels, the Great Western Railway (GWR) looked to gas turbine power, ordering a 2,500hp prototype locomotive from Swiss company Brown Boveri in 1946.
Delays in construction and foreign currency shortages meant that the locomotive was not delivered until after Nationalisation, the project being inherited by British Railways Western Region. After tests on the Swiss Federal Railways network in late-1949, it was hauled across Europe and arrived in the UK via the Harwich train ferry in February 1950.
Running on six axle bogies with four traction motors arranged as an A1A- A1A, the locomotive had a maximum speed of 90mph and weighed 115 tons. For low-speed shunting and light engine moves, an auxiliary diesel engine was fitted. This proved particularly useful in and around London Paddington where the noise and fumes of the main engine prompted complaints from residents and passengers.
Like many experimental locomotives testing new equipment, No. 18000 experienced many problems and failures in service but on its day, the locomotive showed itself to be capable of meeting the WR’s expectations. As well as test runs, it was used on revenue earning trains between Paddington, Bristol and the West of England and gained the nickname ‘Kerosene Castle’.
However, a combination of heavy fuel consumption, poor reliability and a lack of suitable operations to achieve the necessary efficiency eventually led to No. 18000 being set aside after long periods out of traffic. It was officially withdrawn in December 1960 and stored at Swindon Works until 1964, when a strange turn of events led to a second life for this experimental locomotive. No. 18000 was acquired by the International Union of Railways (UIC) and modified for wheel/rail interface experiments in Switzerland and Austria. No longer gas turbine powered, it was used as a hauled vehicle, working with various types of electric locomotive.
By 1975 it was resident at the UIC’s famous Arsenal test centre in Vienna, displayed outside the Mechanical Engineering test building, where it remained until the early-1990s.
However, many British enthusiasts recognised the significance of the locomotive and in 1994 it returned to the UK, sponsored by BR’s Railfreight Distribution sector, and went to Sheffield’s Tinsley depot for external restoration.
Since then this tenacious survivor, now largely empty inside, has been resident at Crewe Heritage Centre, Barrow Hill and Didcot Railway Centre, where it is currently on display. It is now owned by the Pete Waterman Trust.