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Swindon 123

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  1. I was doing my MP12 course when SSF first appeared, in late 1983, on locos. At first no one, including our instructors, had any idea what it meant, but as it was first noted on some of the most recent ETH fitted locos, then being allocated to Stratford depot, it was interpreted as meaning "Super Stratford" (SSF). Our instructors soon found out it meant "Speed Sensor Fitted", which meant that the loco detected when the speed was above 3MPH, and any movement of the reverser into Engine Only abover that speed would cause a full brake application. At that time there was no vigilance fitted to locos in general, only a couple of experimental versions, one of which I seem to remember was fitted to one of the Deltics. Paul J.
  2. I thought that when I first saw the photo, but the original was taken many years ago and some of the stuff on the far platform in the photo I found looked recent, as in last 20 years. Paul J. Edited due to chubby fingers on small keyboard.
  3. I was right. It was familiar, annoyingly so. My submission for location is Chester, precisely the Crewe end bay platforms (not the ones on the island platform). The nearest photo I have found that seems to match the original is thus. Paul J.
  4. Thaks for that explination Titan. That answers a lot of questions for my memories of driving them. My diary doesn't correspond with that date. According to my diary the last trip I had on 55004 on 1D08 was on 25th September 1981, so it must have been that trip. Also the diary suggests it was a 19.40 departure from KX by then. Yes, very sophisticated locos for their time the Class 50's. By the time I trained on them they had been refurbished, so most of it had been removed to some degree, but the thing that stuck in my mind was that the field diverts occured 10MPH later when the ETH was switched on. Never did actually try switching the ETH off and on at speed to see what if anything happened when you did. Paul J.
  5. If you look carefully there is at least one more track between the two platform roads, so it can't be Shrewsbury (Salop). It does look annoyingly familiar though. Paul J.
  6. I know from personal experience that both engines on a Deltic didn't always take power at the same time. I was working the 19.35 for Hull out of King Cross one night in late1981, (with 55004 I think?). Started away from KX and made our way into Gasworks tunnel, with the engine farthest from the driving cab taking power. As we got to the point in Gasworks tunnel to start accelerating, I gradually opened the controller up towards full, As we got towards the end of Gasworks tunnel, the second engine took power, and frightened the life out of the driver and myself, as it shook the whole loco and tried to join us in the cab. Offending engine then shuts down, general fault light, no traction power until the engine stop light on the offending engine came up. As this was before SSF, the driver said try a restert, and the engine restarted. By now we were just about to enter Copenhagen tunnel and just about moving, so it was try for power again and slowly move the power controller towards full. Yet again, as we were getting towards the end of Copenhagen tunnel, the second engine started to take power and rev up, at which point it tried to join us in the cab again, with the resulting loss of power and the engine shut down. At this point the driver said forget it, just don't shut off anywhere, and I didn't, the power controller stayed at full from the top of Holloway Bank to between Biggleswade and Sandy, where we were booked onto the slow line. Sorry to take us off track slightly, but I worked on both 31's and 37's and both had their faults, but in general both did the jobs asked of them. The refurbished heavyweight 37's had excellent haulage charicteristics, and the booked load on the steel trains between South Wales and Dee Marsh/Crewe was 1420 tons, which they would shift, although slowly, taking an hour to cover the 12 mile climb between Shrewsbury and Church Stretton. One thing that helped them shift such heavy loads was the fact that the sanders on the refurbished locos were replaced, the new ones being far far better that the unrefurbished one, and in my experience better than the 56's. The only locos with equivalent sanders were the 60's. The only thing the refurbished 37's lacked was a high top end speed. They generally struggled one they got over 50MPH due to the regearing and resulting alteration to field diverts. Paul J.
  7. OPne thing I forgot about regarding timber unloading at Hereford, was that before the wagons returned to Scotland (all the timber unloaded from Hereford came from Scotland), the wagons had to be swept clean of all bark and wood chippings, so that any infestations of beetles didn't get back to Scotland. Paul J.
  8. The train the BSW's arrived at Hereford on was always a Class 6, which is why the BSW's especially, came down as and when they could fit them into the formation, as of course they were air piped. I believe that was why OBA's and later the odd OTA's were preferred for the traffic, although not always available, and also why the BSW's especially used to clog up Warrington yard every now and then, as they couldn't get them to Hereford, hence the odd trip with a light engine to go get them. Paul J.
  9. Hello Alex. At that time we worked under the "Flexible Rostering" system, which meant that you could be rostered a turn between 7 to 9 hours long, with a maximum of 39 hours worked in a week in theory, although in practice you worked around an 8 week roster with a total number of hours for that cycle being no more than 312 hours. For example the week I went to Warrington my turns were 7 hours long on the Monday and Tuesday, I was 8 hour spare turns on the Wednesday and Thursday (the day I went to Warrington) and another 7 hour turn on the Friday, a total of 37 hours. The week before I had 5 turns of 8h 06m, making a total of 40hours 30 mins for the week, and so it went on over an 8 week cycle, with the total number of hours worked being 312 hours. If you worked over the rostered hours for a week, you got paid overtime for those hours. It was a very complicated system, and whole topic could be taken up trying to explain the complexities of how it worked. With regards to how long the trip took. A light engine move from Hereford to Crewe depot could be done in around 1 hour 15 mins with a straight run, but the line to Crewe was worked by Signal Boxes under Absolute Block Regulations, and with some long distances between boxes, so depending on how many other trains were trying to get to Crewe as well, it might be up to 2 hours. Crewe to Warrington was 45 mins tops, but yet again how many other trains were about could extend this. On the day in question, with a call at Crewe depot for fuel, i would have expected the run to Warrington to have taken 3h 30mins. I would have had a 30 minute break at Warrington, once the loco was hooked up to the train and I knew no one could pinch it, then it would be a relatively easy run back to Hereford in around 3-4 hours, probably following the 4V63 freightliner from Crewe as a class 6 train, 60MPH max speed, although the number of piped BSW's in the train might have affected that, but I don't think it did, although my memory might be lacking as it was 32 years ago. Hope that helps set the scene a bit Alex. Paul J.
  10. Stratford depot had a reputation for getting more out of their 31's in terms of power output than any other depot, although Finsbury Parks fleet were also kept in good condition, and gave some impressive performances on occasions. The 31's had a bit of a mix and match set up when it came to engine control, with the English Electric engine governor having to match up with original electrical and load regulation equipment. They had a few idiosyncrasy's, such a starting back up again if you took the BIS out to quickly after shutting them down. I also had one that the load regulator and engine governor went out of synch so that when you opened the controller for power, the amps started to rise but the engine revs didn't rise as well, in fact the engine revs got slower and slower until the engine stalled as the load regulator couldn't or wouldn't increase the fuel to the engine. This happened at Bounds Green, so not on the main line, but to get it out of the way, I was at the cab controls, whilst my driver went into the engine room and tried to manually hold open the fuel racks as much as he could. The loco literally kangaroo hopped down the track until we could put it in a siding out of the way. It was the only loco I had that shut the engine down due to excessive wheelslip, although I did have a class 33 once on a Cardiff -Crewe that engine oversped when the 3rd field divert operated. Happy days! Paul J.
  11. Yes BR37414, LE Hereford to Warrington, via Crewe Depot for fuel, and pick up a conductor as I didn't sign north of Crewe to Warrington at that time, and was instructed in no uncertain terms, I was not to leave the loco for any reason. Looking through my diaries it would appear that the date was 26th November 1987. Paul J.
  12. The flow to Hereford came down from various locations in Scotland in almost anything that was capable of carrying logs, but mostly BSW,s, OBA'a and very occasionally the odd OAA, OCA or OTA, See photos below. Traffic used to come down overnight from Warrington and get put off in Hereford station, in a siding known as "Under the wall" by the island platform. It came down in dribs and drabs, as and when, and on occasions it would accumulate in Warrington to such an extent that we would send one of the locos off the evening Padd-Herefords up to Warrington to clear the yard. I did it at least once, unfortunately with a 47, not a 50, with strict instrunction, "on no account was I to leave the loco, and bring it back to Hereford at all cost". Interesting times for freight at Hereford, now sadly all gone. A lone OCA carrying timber in the yard at Hereford. The Hereford- STJcn pickup including OBA, BSW and a lone OTA wagon. Paul J.
  13. To true The Johnster. By the time I was working at Hereford from the mid 80's, that could be said about any DMU maintained by Canton. I had quite a few failures with Canton based DMU's of all types. Mind you Bristol based ones weren't much better, the B9xx sets being considered right dogs by Hereford drivers. Paul J.
  14. I worked on both 31's, out of Kings Cross, and 37's, both out of Liverpool Street and later on at Hereford, including the heavyweights and 37/9's. Both were good locos, and in the main didn't give much trouble if looked after properly. Both Finsbury Park and Stratford knew how to maintain class 31's, and I never had trouble with 31's maintained by those depots, and some gave some outstanding performances. I had a couple of failures with 31's from other depots and ER men used to dread getting a WR class 3, which had a very bad reputation. In terms of shifting heavy trains though the Class 37 had the edge, not only in the extra HP, but in the fact that they had two extra driven axles. In later years the ones I worked on where generally Canton based and could be relied upon to get you there, but in general I can't say from experiance either loco was bad. In the end it was down to how well they were maintained. Paul J.
  15. HST's were not very reliable in the ECML in the mid 80's. Bounds Green had a lot of trouble with them due to them boiling away their coolant and resorted to putting a 45 gallon drum of coolant in the guards van part of the power car that could top up the coolant. Even that wasn't enough and to keep a service running only the Scottish trains were guaranteed two working power cars, to give them a chance of getting there. Shorter length services, such as to Leeds, had to make do with one working power car, as a colleague and myself found out when travelling down to Peterborough for our MP12 Part C exam in May 1984, The one working power car on the Leeds service we were travelling on,decided to pack up at Connington, leaving the train stranded there until a rescue loco arrived from Peterborough. Paul J.
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