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Class 116 diesel multiple units


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I have started this thread to help with the understanding of these dmus, their history and operation.  All were built at Derby Works and had doors to each seating bay.  Corridor connections were not fitted at first but some sets were retro-fitted towards the end of the 1960s to enable conductor-guard operation.

 

Episode 1 - the three batches

 

Batch 1, delivered in the second half of 1957

 

This comprised 42 three car sets, as follows:

 

Driving Motor Brake Second W50050-91

Trailer Composite W59000-31, Trailer Second W59032-41

Driving Motor Second W50092-133

 

These may be distinguished from the other batches by having one marker light above the destination box, three below the windscreen and no two-character headcode box.

 

Initial allocations:

 

50050-78, 59000-28, 50092-50120 Tyseley

50079-81. 59029-31, 50121-3 Cardiff Cathays

50082-91, 59032-42, 50124-33 Cardif Canton, for use in the Eastern and Western Valleys north of Newport

 

Note the expression "initial allocations".  This is important because it was not long before the process of pick and mix began.  We shall return to this.

 

Batch 2, delivered between late 1957 and mid 1958

 

Driving Motor Brake Second W50818-70

Trailer Composite W59326-76

Driving Motor Second W50871-923

 

These and Batch 3 had two marker lights, one on either side of the two character headcode box below the windscreen.   Many of this batch entered service minus their speed whiskers, which in some cases were not applied until several months later.

 

All were initially allocated to Cardiff Cathays, although several sets were observed operating from Tyseley on loan.  Two fewer trailers were built than each type of power car.

 

Batch 3, delivered in the second half of 1958

 

Driving Motor Brake Second W51128-40

Trailer Composite W59438-48

Driving Motor Second W51141-53

 

All were initially allocated to Bristol.  Again, two fewer trailers were built than each type of power car. 

 

Episode 2 wil deal with set formations, a can of worms if ever there was one.

 

Chris

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There were of course 116s elsewhere or is your thread specific to WR ones, in which case you might want to change title to make it specific. We had them in Glasgow and they made it across to Edinburgh on the Shotts line . I don't think ours had corridors until very late on, if ever .

 

I remember being happy when Kernow announced they were going to produce them along with 117s. Sadly with the move to Bachmann there is no mention of the 116. A unit with much more widespread appeal than a 117 I would have thought.

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Legend, there is a lot to say!  Chronologically we are still in 1958 and at that time they were all WR sets.  They did not start roaming far and wide until the mid 60s when they had become surplus in their home territory.  I'll get to 1966 when the first ones went to Hamilton as quickly as I can.

 

Chris

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Interesting thread. Class 116's also appeared on the Barnstaple and Minehead 'Branches' in their final years. So far as Barnstaple is concerned this includes their use in the hybrid Class 120/116 formations put together in the mid 1960s. 

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Interesting thread, I recall the units from the 1970s onwards when the staple diet of the Cross City. It will be interesting when you get to the 1970s to see how many original Tyseley units remained in the Midlands then, although I suspect the research needed to follow these units which did seem to wander around and reform at will is going to be huge. Good luck!

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Funny you should mention Tyseley, Wombat.  Within weeks of the first sets arriving in 1957 very few were found to be formed as they had been delivered.  There are hardly any records of actual formations from those times, most of them referring to sets which had been sent on loan elsewhere.  Only when the London Midland Region decided to adopt a regional system of set numbers did anything like stability set in.  Do not be surprised if the full story is never told.

 

Chris

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Funny you should mention Tyseley, Wombat.  Within weeks of the first sets arriving in 1957 very few were found to be formed as they had been delivered.  There are hardly any records of actual formations from those times, most of them referring to sets which had been sent on loan elsewhere.  Only when the London Midland Region decided to adopt a regional system of set numbers did anything like stability set in.  Do not be surprised if the full story is never told.

 

Chris

At the risk of getting ahead of ourselves the last years of the 116 units in the West Midlands were notorious for pick and mix formations, especially when some were split in the early 90s to form four car maximum-seating "go slower" units with a Class 115 DMBS and a Class 116 DMS sandwiching a rag-bag assortment of Class 115,6 and 127 trailers, with the surplus Class 116 DMBS cars being paired with a lavatory trailer to create a unit with two guard's vans, very Lima, with the second guard's van quite useful as a standing area in place of the lost seating. It seemed to me, as a fairly regular user of the Cross City, that the unit number on the front didn't always correspond to the same formation as it was the last time it had turned up at Lichfield TV!

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Episode 2 – set formations

 

It is important to remember that some set formations were more constant than others.  It appears that the only constant at Tyseley was the state of flux.  In the early days it was reported that nominally spare sets were broken up to provide additional power.  More probably it was to provide extra capacity in the peaks.  The arrival of single power cars and driving trailers in 1958 gave more scope for pick and mix [my term, not an official one] and a four car formation comprising a single power, driving trailer and two cars from a three car set was not uncommon.  Sets sent to Tyseley on loan from elsewhere on the Western Region tended not to be reformed.  The home shed’s sets were numbered in the TYS3xx series, the number being shown by a green enamel plate on the sole bar of each power car.  Such was the state of flux at Tyseley that the plates were soon replaced by chalked numbers and later by printed cards displayed in the driving cab.  Tyseley depot and its allocation passed to the London Midland Region following the 1963 boundary changes.  By the end of the 1960s the LMR had adopted a region-wide system for set numbering.  Details of set formations were published but old habits died hard and thee were still changes.  We shall return to Tyseley in a future episode.

 

Much more attention was paid to maintaining the orderly formations of the South Wales sets.   Those at Cathays were numbered CAT3xx and the Newport sets based at Canton CDF4xx.  Even so, there were changes in formations.  When the final power cars of Batch 2 were delivered to Cathays in July 1958 they were used as dedicated power twins on two Barry based diagrams which had replaced auto trains in January 1958.  For the record, 50869+50922 became CAT354 and 50870+50923 CAT355.  Before they were delivered the requirement for power twins was met by taking out the trailer from a three car set.  This was a perfect recipe for a set ending up with the “wrong” trailer.  A proven example is set CAT300, delivered as 50079+59029+50121, photographed at Llantwit Major as a power twin and reported formed with trailer 59351 when sent to Reading on loan in November 1959.

 

Less explicable is the reformation which had occurred by September 1959 but probably earlier.  Trailers 59032, 59033 and 59034 were removed from their Newport sets and marshalled with newer power cars 50859/60/61 and 50912/3/4, which were given CDF4xx set numbers.  This explains why some of the Newport sets had two character headcode panels and only two marker lights beneath the driving cab windows.  Power cars 50082/3/4 and 50124/5/6 were marshalled with trailers 59340, 59343 and 59373 respectively and became CAT344, 343 and 347 respectively.  It is important to remember that at this time official records were not published, possibly not even kept, and what little and patchy information we have is entirely down to the vigilance of members of the Railway Correspondence and Travel Society and the editorial team of the Railway Observer.  Sadly we know the formation of CAT343 because it was involved in a head-on collision at Pontrhydyfen in November 1960 which wrecked the motor second and killed the driver.

 

The next part of episode 2 will deal with the Bristol sets [batch 3] and we have not yet heard the last of those second-class trailers.

 

Chris 

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A big thanks from me for doing this, a great help on a complicated topic. 

 

Would you be able to comment on the type of green with which the units entered service?

 

John.

 

Yes.  From mid 1956 to mid 1959 the livery applied to dmus was the lighter green which I call "almost-but-not-quite-malachite" so all the 116s should have come out in it.  Needless to say nothing is quite so simple.  I caution against relying too much on colour photographs because of the characteristics of whichever slide film was used and what the printing process can do to perfectly exposed images.  That said, one colour album in my collection has a photo of a 3 car 116 with the trailer a distinctly different shade of green from the power cars.  Chris Leigh reckons that Dapol have got the shade as near as dammit right.  When he made a 116 from a Lima 117 over 30 years ago he used Gloy enamel which looked spot on to me and which I bet is no longer made.

 

Chris

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Episode 2 – set formations

 

It is important to remember that some set formations were more constant than others.  It appears that the only constant at Tyseley was the state of flux.  In the early days it was reported that nominally spare sets were broken up to provide additional power.  More probably it was to provide extra capacity in the peaks.  The arrival of single power cars and driving trailers in 1958 gave more scope for pick and mix [my term, not an official one] and a four car formation comprising a single power, driving trailer and two cars from a three car set was not uncommon.  Sets sent to Tyseley on loan from elsewhere on the Western Region tended not to be reformed.  The home shed’s sets were numbered in the TYS3xx series, the number being shown by a green enamel plate on the sole bar of each power car.  Such was the state of flux at Tyseley that the plates were soon replaced by chalked numbers and later by printed cards displayed in the driving cab.  Tyseley depot and its allocation passed to the London Midland Region following the 1963 boundary changes.  By the end of the 1960s the LMR had adopted a region-wide system for set numbering.  Details of set formations were published but old habits died hard and thee were still changes.  We shall return to Tyseley in a future episode.

 

Much more attention was paid to maintaining the orderly formations of the South Wales sets.   Those at Cathays were numbered CAT3xx and the Newport sets based at Canton CDF4xx.  Even so, there were changes in formations.  When the final power cars of Batch 2 were delivered to Cathays in July 1958 they were used as dedicated power twins on two Barry based diagrams which had replaced auto trains in January 1958.  For the record, 50869+50922 became CAT354 and 50870+50923 CAT355.  Before they were delivered the requirement for power twins was met by taking out the trailer from a three car set.  This was a perfect recipe for a set ending up with the “wrong” trailer.  A proven example is set CAT300, delivered as 50079+59029+50121, photographed at Llantwit Major as a power twin and reported formed with trailer 59351 when sent to Reading on loan in November 1959.

 

Less explicable is the reformation which had occurred by September 1959 but probably earlier.  Trailers 59032, 59033 and 59034 were removed from their Newport sets and marshalled with newer power cars 50859/60/61 and 50912/3/4, which were given CDF4xx set numbers.  This explains why some of the Newport sets had two character headcode panels and only two marker lights beneath the driving cab windows.  Power cars 50082/3/4 and 50124/5/6 were marshalled with trailers 59340, 59343 and 59373 respectively and became CAT344, 343 and 347 respectively.  It is important to remember that at this time official records were not published, possibly not even kept, and what little and patchy information we have is entirely down to the vigilance of members of the Railway Correspondence and Travel Society and the editorial team of the Railway Observer.  Sadly we know the formation of CAT343 because it was involved in a head-on collision at Pontrhydyfen in November 1960 which wrecked the motor second and killed the driver.

 

The next part of episode 2 will deal with the Bristol sets [batch 3] and we have not yet heard the last of those second-class trailers.

 

Chris 

 

Aaah 50079! Sorry to jump ahead in your chronology Chris but forever a favourite for me....

 

By April 1970 this vehicle was at Tyesley and was leading a 3 car formation on a BNS to Great Malvern working. I had been to Crewe for the day and boarded at New Street on the way back to Worcester. The leading saloon behind the cab was empty ....great, a clear view ahead. Then the driver got in .....and pulled the blinds down! Look of utter disgust from me - at which point he opens the door from the cab in to the saloon and says "Now then Sonny, if you want to see where we are going you had better come in here with me!" No second bidding needed....all the way to Foregate Street, what a gentleman.

 

Happy days!

 

Now when is that 116 arriving from Bachmann? Will have to be renumbered!

 

Phil

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It is indeed a complex subject and the truth will never be fully known, to protect the guilty...

 

The early liveries were a mess as well, a variety of 'not quite malachite', then a lighter green which had lining (yellow line, thick at waist and thinner at cantrail, continued around cabs but not coach ends, then the dark dmu 'bottle green' with lining.  Speed whiskers were not present on all sets at first, and in my memory (cut me some slack, I was only 6 in 1958 but remember the Cardiff Valleys dieselisation pretty well) appeared on sets they were retro-painted on to at the same time as white cab roofs.  

 

Small yellow panels started to appear around 1962, but speed whiskers on some sets lasted a good bit longer.  The next livery change was all over blue with syp in 1966, retaining the white cab roofs.

 

The Cardiff Valleys sets got retrofitted gangway connections and new compartment dividers with doors in them in 1964 in connection with a major de-staffing of stations and introduction of conductor guards.  I regard this as the end of the 'early period' but it happened almost overnight; perhaps the work was done locally?.  By then AFAIK all the Cardiff 116s were in lined bottle green with syp, but sets elsewhere and 117s could still be seen in lighter green and with whiskers, but fitted with gangways.

 

This is intended to be a general overview based on my memory, and I am sure ChrisF and probably Dibber will correct my where I am wrong!  As always, work from photos if you can.

 

My own converted Lima was done many years ago and represents an early '4 marker lights' Cathays set as running early 60s, unlined with whiskers and white cab roof and green livery in a shade of acrylic that looks ok to me from memory; rail matched ranges were not available in the early 80s when I did the conversion.  It is up for a future repaint into very early as introduced condition with 'not quite malachite', which I remember as having a slightly blueish hint to it in some lights.

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Legend, there is a lot to say!  Chronologically we are still in 1958 and at that time they were all WR sets.  They did not start roaming far and wide until the mid 60s when they had become surplus in their home territory.  I'll get to 1966 when the first ones went to Hamilton as quickly as I can.

 

Chris

Cheers Chris. I didn't realise that . I thought we had them new!

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Aaah 50079! Sorry to jump ahead in your chronology Chris but forever a favourite for me....

 

By April 1970 this vehicle was at Tyesley and was leading a 3 car formation on a BNS to Great Malvern working. I had been to Crewe for the day and boarded at New Street on the way back to Worcester. The leading saloon behind the cab was empty ....great, a clear view ahead. Then the driver got in .....and pulled the blinds down! Look of utter disgust from me - at which point he opens the door from the cab in to the saloon and says "Now then Sonny, if you want to see where we are going you had better come in here with me!" No second bidding needed....all the way to Foregate Street, what a gentleman.

 

Happy days!

 

Now when is that 116 arriving from Bachmann? Will have to be renumbered!

 

Phil

I wonder if they will model a young Lord Bullock of Abbotswood riding shotgun :dontknow: :dontknow:

 

Edit, I hope Chris doesn't mind a light hearted comment on this very interesting thread.

Edited by Clive Mortimore
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It is indeed a complex subject and the truth will never be fully known, to protect the guilty...

 

The early liveries were a mess as well, a variety of 'not quite malachite', then a lighter green which had lining (yellow line, thick at waist and thinner at cantrail, continued around cabs but not coach ends, then the dark dmu 'bottle green' with lining.  Speed whiskers were not present on all sets at first, and in my memory (cut me some slack, I was only 6 in 1958 but remember the Cardiff Valleys dieselisation pretty well) appeared on sets they were retro-painted on to at the same time as white cab roofs.  

 

 

And contrary to what people think about the Dapol 122, there is photographic evidence of them and the 116 with the same thickness lines top and bottom. Snow Hill could throw up almost any combination in the early 1960s including sets with lined and unlined cars together.

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Aaah 50079! Sorry to jump ahead in your chronology Chris but forever a favourite for me....

 

By April 1970 this vehicle was at Tyesley and was leading a 3 car formation on a BNS to Great Malvern working. I had been to Crewe for the day and boarded at New Street on the way back to Worcester. The leading saloon behind the cab was empty ....great, a clear view ahead. Then the driver got in .....and pulled the blinds down! Look of utter disgust from me - at which point he opens the door from the cab in to the saloon and says "Now then Sonny, if you want to see where we are going you had better come in here with me!" No second bidding needed....all the way to Foregate Street, what a gentleman.

 

Happy days!

 

Now when is that 116 arriving from Bachmann? Will have to be renumbered!

 

Phil

 

 

 

Sorry, no 116 for Abbotswood yet, Phil, not RTR anyway.  Baccy's website shows a 117 (again) with an ETA of July 2019, in lined green whiskers or blue/grey livery.  These certainly worked in the Worcester area in your period, but a 116 is a slightly different beast, of which AFAIK no RTR model has ever been available nor is any in the pipeline.

 

I was disappointed when Lima opted for the 117, which in original condition is really only suitable for outer London suburban services though the sets were distributed more evenly around the WR later, over the 116 which has a much greater geographical spread than the 117, which seemed to have been a purely WR thing all it's life.  And Baccy are about to repeat this crime against nature!  This may or may not (by which I mean definitely and absolutely unquestionably) have something to do with my South Walian interests...

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Many thanks for a most interesting topic chrisf, I look forward to updates and agree that a Class 116 would be a most useful model, given how far they spread in later life (which I am sure you will cover in subsequent updates !). Regarding set CAT343, presumably the accident caused W50083 to become spare and thus end up as part of a Reading set with 2 Class 117 cars.

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Chris - congratulations on your bravery in tackling this fiendish subject, I think we should ask for it to be 'pinned' in order to avoid it being lost in a welter of questions on all sorts of fascinating, or not so fascinating, byways.

 

Now as far as official lists are concerned I am aware that they did exist - mainly because I happened to see them from time to to time between 1966 and 1972 BUT they were done an a Divisional or depot basis and in some cases might well have been poorly maintained as changes took place although they were no doubt (probably??) 'correct at time of publication'.   Canton at one stage had hand written lists, the London Division had typed lists and I don't know about Bristol while Birmingham had been 'stolen' by the LMR before my time on the Region.   No I haven't got any, sorry but they might be worth keeping an eye out for and old depot Foreman's log books do surface from time to time at auction.

 

I shall duly 'report' this post wit arequest for the thread to be pinned and can we all please try to keep in line with Chhris' developing timeline to avoid confusion for both ourselves and those who might follow us?

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Sorry, no 116 for Abbotswood yet, Phil, not RTR anyway.  Baccy's website shows a 117 (again) with an ETA of July 2019, in lined green whiskers or blue/grey livery.  These certainly worked in the Worcester area in your period, but a 116 is a slightly different beast, of which AFAIK no RTR model has ever been available nor is any in the pipeline.

 

I was disappointed when Lima opted for the 117, which in original condition is really only suitable for outer London suburban services though the sets were distributed more evenly around the WR later, over the 116 which has a much greater geographical spread than the 117, which seemed to have been a purely WR thing all it's life.  And Baccy are about to repeat this crime against nature!  This may or may not (by which I mean definitely and absolutely unquestionably) have something to do with my South Walian interests...

 

The 117s (and nearly identical 118s) were exclusive to WR until the mid 1980s but then spread their wings to the LM Region (Tyseley) from where they appeared over a wide area of the Midlands and eventually they even operated in Scotland. In London, they ventured to Barking also to St Albans and Bedford branches off the WCML.

The 117s had the same liveries as the 116s, but additionally Network SE, Regional Railways and GW 150. The almost identical 118 had BT livery as well.

As I recall, South Wales had some 117s (with 116 centre cars) and from the mid 1980s also a few displaced 118s. Admittedly not the more prolific 116s.

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Thanks for the sympathetic voices gentlemen!

 

IIRC the Tyesley units we saw in the late 60s were largely 101s and 116s - and one worked the morning school train from Evesham in to Worcester.

 

WR units worked the very few DMU turns south from Worcester and were more likely to be 119/120s and  although by then some of these units were LMR stock too....

 

117/118s were rare in our neck of the woods at this time but not unknown and by 1974 3 of these (Subsitute your own expletive!) sets were turned out as stock for an Adex from Worcester to Blackpool ....AAAARGH! Good job better comforts were waiting there.....

 

We could invest in a Limby 101 but it wouldn't really cut the mustard....someone will have to do a decent model of a 116 - and 119 or 120 - eventually although Jimbo is talking about doing a DC kits 120 - that'll be guaranteed to bring on an RTR one!

 

Phil

Edited by Phil Bullock
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I remember doing Great Malvern to New Street on 116s in the 1970s and 1980s. One occasion we were via Bromsgrove, one engine died at Shrub Hill and wouldn't restart. There was no other set available and the driver decided he wanted to get home. Fortunately we got a greens at Stoke Works so he took a run at Lickey. The last quarter mile to the summit seemed to take an age and we passed Blackwell with the speedo just about registering.

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Evening all!  I have been out all day and return heartened to see the level of interest in what may yet turn out to be a very foolhardy project.

 

The next bit from me will be the rest of Episode 2, dealing with Bristol.  I will then start on Migration, which will be in lots of short instalments.  I ought to find a way of publishing what I know about set formations, which is surely the biggest gap in common knowledge, but it is in grave danger of becoming incoherent.  Any suggestions will be read most carefully!

 

Chris

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