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  DIESEL LOCOMOTIVE DRIVING

 
 

24 081

 
 

24 081 running round its train of maroon carriages at the northern end of Toddington station

 
  On Saturday 11 March 2000 I travelled to Toddington on the Gloucestershire & Warwickshire Railway for a day course in driving 24 081, seen above running round its train of maroon carriages at the northern end of Toddington station  
 

24 081 cabside data panel and worksplate

 
  Outshopped from Crewe in 1960 as D5081, 24 081 was one of the first production locomotives built by any British Railways workshop under the 1955 Modernisation Plan. Unlike its Bo-Bo contemporaries in the Type 2 power band – the Class 26s built by Birmingham RCW – the Class 24s had a cluttered external appearance which was greatly improved in the following Class 25 development  
 

Looking along the "Mixed Grilles" from No. 1 end

 
  Apart from looking along the "Mixed Grilles" from No. 1 end (above) a side view nearer to the No.2 cab (below) reveals some more antiquated features: a filler cap for the steam heating boiler (operable on 24 081 with controls in the secondman’s position but not in use for this course) and an integral ladder next to the battery box flap. Both items were overtaken by electric train heat and electrification respectively.  
 

A filler cap for the steam heating boiler (operable on 24 081 with controls in the secondman’s position but not in use for this course) and an integral ladder next to the battery box flap

 
 

Four students – two rookies ( me included! ) and two more experienced – had paid 110.00 each to share the driving under the supervision of two instructors. For the most part two students and the instructors shared the lead cab while the other two students rode in the rear. Working the line with another Derby product, a Class 108 DMU (below) added to the challenge....

 
 

Working the line with another Derby product, a Class 108 DMU (below) added to the challenge....

 
  but this is what the driving position looked like….  
 

On the left of the driver were the brake handles, main dial display in the centre below the left hand cab windscreen and finally the engine controls on a free standing pedestal

 
  This comprised three main areas. On the left of the driver were the brake handles, main dial display in the centre below the left hand cab windscreen and finally the engine controls on a free standing pedestal - copied from 1950s American practice and known as the "jukebox". However, other manufacturers arranged instumentation differently aboard their own designs.  
 

Both brake handles pulled back to the released position

 
  Looking more closely at the cab scene, the driver has both brake handles pulled back to the released position, thereby allowing the locomotive to move. In fact at this point 24 081 was running "light engine" around its train so the driver is just holding the straight loco air brake and not touching the combined train (vacuum) and air (locomotive) brake handle at all. The brake handles are shown in fully applied position above.  
 

The round dials represent (top row) Vacuum Pipe and Reservoir, Straight Air Brake on Both Bogies, Speed ( bottom row) Air Brake Reservoir and Ammeter.

 
  Having selected the Forward position on the downward turned handle on the jukebox, the driver is also now gently moving the power lever from fully forward (off) back to the first of four notch settings. In front of him ( above ), the round dials represent (top row) Vacuum Pipe and Reservoir, Straight Air Brake on Both Bogies, Speed ( bottom row) Air Brake Reservoir and Ammeter.  
 

The jukebox is seen with the selection lever in EO (engine only) position and the power lever in the off position.

 
 

When driving - specially with a train attached to the locomotive - an overall speed limit of 30 mph and some even lower more localised limits had to be observed. It was also important to watch the Ammeter as shutting down the engine at over 500 Amps traction current could create a flashover which could damage the motors. The jukebox is seen above with the selection lever in EO (engine only) position and the power lever in the off position. The three controls on the top right are Engine Start, Engine Stop and a dimmer switch while the fault lights on the left are Blue (minor fault) Amber (wheelslip) and Red (major fault)

 
 

Instrumentation for the steam heating boiler

 
 

Right of the jukebox, on the secondman's side of the cab was the big black wheel of the parking brake, duplicate horn control and the instrumentation for the steam heating boiler (above) .

 
 

Even the instructors struggled sometimes

 
 

One of the most rewarding parts of the course was getting down to rail level and coupling and uncoupling the diesel. I finally got my orange vest dirty! Although the screw coupling (below centre) was heavy, the thick vacuum pipe on the locomotive (left of screw coupling, below) had to be twisted together at the bottom around two interlocking metal "thumbs" with the corresponding vacuum pipe on the adjacent carriage and then secured with flaps held together with split pins. These pipes had to be uncoupled from the carriage first during uncoupling and applied first during coupling for safety reasons

Even the instructors struggled sometimes (above right) but there was great satisfaction when it worked. Outside of the screw coupling and vacuum pipe were the steam heating pipe (right) and the Blue Star multiple unit connection, allowing 24 081 to work with other class members and also Classes 37 and 47.

In contrast there were no physically hard parts to the actual driving but concentration was required to co-ordinate everything such as notching up the power for gradients, as pointed out by the instructors . On a preserved line with a 30 mph speed limit there was no chance for field divert to kick in, boosting the power to the wheels, and the 6 cylinder 1160 bhp Sulzer engine just roared like a lion gargling with treacle but produced little discernable prod when given the full 750 rpm. In fact the brakes – acting more like those on a boat than a bus – were far trickier to control.

 
   

The bufferbeam of 24 081

 
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