|If you lived in Gloucestershire
between 1990 and 1992 you might remember a weekly
newspaper called The Gloucester Journal. In The
Gloucester Journal was a feature called Railspot, which I
wrote. Each week, Railspot would include a picture, 500
words describing it, and often some pub quiz type
questions about railways.
People have often asked me what happened to Railspot, and the good news is that it is - slowly - coming back. Even better news is that as I am no longer restrained by the limitations of a newspaper on the Internet, I can revisit some favourite topics, update them and add new pictures and web links. I can even do my own proof reading!
Here is a reload of some of my articles on the Warship Class diesel hydraulic locomotives of British Railways Western Region.
WARSHIP CLASS DIESEL HYDRAULIC LOCOMOTIVES
|At 1615 on 29 September 1960
"Warship" D604 "Cossack" started a 14
coach up express from Platform 8 of Swindon station.
Outshopped from the North British Locomotive Company (NBL) in 1959, "Cossack" was the last of a five strong class that was not only the Glasgow builder's first essay in mainline diesel construction for the home market but also the British Transport Commission's first production Type 4 design and Western Region's first diesel hydraulic.
The British Transport Commission's 1955 Modernisation Plan set out to abolish both steam and loose-coupled freight trains, although the Western - unlike the other four Regions - was not due to be electrified for the forseeable future. Given this and its historical lack of experience in electric traction, Western Region considered that the best approach to long term dieselisation was through hydraulic transmission types.
Just as Brunels Great Western Railway had championed the Broad Gauge and lower quadrant semaphore signals, so British Railways Western Region made its own unique approach to modernisation after 1948. Following experiments with gas turbine traction while Great Western pattern steam locomotives were still being outshopped from Swindon Works Western Region management bucked the trend of transition toward diesel electric locomotives.
Their argument was that by using hydraulic transmissions coupled to lightweight fast-running engines, their new locomotives could offer more power per given weight than the heavy duty diesel electric designs then favoured by the British Transport Commission (BTC) - but which would become obsolete in an age of continuously braked goods trains.
Using German technology, Deutsche Bundesbahn's V200 class diesel hydraulics could already offer 2 100 bhp for a weight of only 80 tons on a B-B wheel arrangement. These combined fast running Maybach engines ( descendents of those used in German tanks and Zeppelins ) with stressed skin construction to offer far better power-to-weight ratios than the contemporary "Peaks" built at Derby and introduced from 1959.
|Deutsche Bundesbahn's V200 018 is preserved in the Deutsche Technik Museum in Berlin. Designed for speeds up to 75 mph, this V200 class diesel hydraulic makes an interesting comparison to the British Railways Western Region Warship diesel hydraulics pictured below. To the right of V200 018 is a tank trap from the Berlin Wall made from tram rails torn from the streets around this Cold War flashpoint.|
|Also, NBL had acquired licences to
build Voith transmissions in 1951 and MAN engines in
1945. As a result, Western Region's Chief Mechanical
Engineer, Mr R.A. Smeddle, persuaded BTC to order a pilot
batch of 2 000 horsepower diesel hydraulics from NBL on
16 November 1955.
Unfortunately North British - like the rest of the home locomotive building community - knew nothing of the monocoque techniques that had allowed the light weight of the V 200s to be achieved. Consequently, despite the use of aluminium cabs, D600 "Active" left Glasgow late in 1957 with heavy fabricated steel underframes and weighing over 117 tons. However, given that its rival 2 000 horsepower diesel electric design from English Electric ( later Class 40 ) weighed 133 tons, the 65' long A1A-A1A with its distinctive spoked wheels looked promising. But Western Region were not happy that much of the hydraulic's theoretical advantages had been lost. As a result they began their own design and building programme at Swindon which resulted in the D800 series Warships described below.
Monday 17 February 1958 meanwhile saw "Active"s inaugural press run, just a month and a a day ahead of that of English Electric's 1Co-Co1 D200. With express headcode discs displayed on a front end designed by J.B. Mc Crum and Professor Misha Black, D600 left Paddington for Bristol. The outward journey went well but on returning one of the MAN/NBL L12 V18/21BS powerplants feeding a three stage Voith L306r torque converter failed, leaving the other engine, normally running at 1445 rpm, to save the day.
In June 1958 D601 "Ark Royal" became the first diesel to haul the Cornish Riviera Express, marking the start of a catalogue of fine running to the West of England at the decade's end. Despite some 100 mph performances on crack trains the nominally 90 mph D600s were outmoded by Swindon built diesel hydraulics in the 1960s and moved to block oil and other freight trains. D600-D604 were also limited by their Orange Square multiple unit wiring to work only with NBL's earliest Type 2 diesel-hydraulics : D6300-D6305.
Finally fitted with clumsy looking four digit split-box headcode indicators, the five strong class - completed with D602 "Bulldog", D603 "Conquest" and D604 "Cossack" - finished their lives hauling clay traffic in Cornwall and then mineral traffic in South Wales to cover for a Class 37 shortage at Swansea Landore depot. Then condemned as non-standard by the 1967 National Traction Plan, they were withdrawn from their traditional home at Laira depot in December 1967. D604 was cut up at Cashmores of Newport in October 1968 and none of the class was preserved, although a fine model of D600 survives in the Glasgow Museum of Transport.
|A large scale model of D600 "Active" in a glass case along with some contemporary publicity material at the Glasgow Museum of Transport. Note the diamond shaped North British worksplate just below the number.|
|W.G. Drewett took this August 1962 shot of D856 "Trojan" at Swindon, about to leave for London Paddington. The diamond shaped North British Locomotive worksplate is visible below the BR emblem and nameplate and just to the right of the 20 mph sign. The dot under the number D856 also indicates that D800 series Warships were limited to the former "Red" routes of the Great Western Railway. Only outshopped from Glasgow in November 1961 with works number 27985, D856 was originally allocated to Plymouth Laira depot. It was to be withdrawn from Newton Abbot in May 1971 and cut up at Swindon works the following January.|
|As the narrow British loading
gauge - even on the former Broad Gauge lines of Western
Region - precluded the direct evaluation of German built
V200s, Swindon Works had to redesign the original
Krauss-Maffei V200 concept with licence built components
at the same time as learning monocoque construction
Unlike the D600 Warships which relied on a heavy fabricated steel underframe for strength, the D800 series would use thin metal plate strategically stiffened to bear loads. The side walls and roof of the locomotive would carry deadweight, buffing and drawing loads as well as the floor above the bogies.
This meant that drawing office staff at the Wiltshire facility had to translate imported plans from German to English and metric to imperial as well as creating a new 2 200 bhp locomotive and the first unit was hand built from a pair of cross-membered steel tubes on the floor of the Erecting Shop. Given these challenges it is to the credit of all concerned that D800 "Sir Brian Robertson" was outshopped from Swindon in June 1958 and ready for traffic that August when the first blueprints only arrived in the spring of 1956.
"Sir Brian Robertson" was the only non-Naval name in the D800-D870 range, honouring the British Transport Commission chairman of the time who lived at Far Oakridge near Stroud in Gloucestershire.
As might be expected, WR's new bulbous fronted diesel had a strong family likeness to its Teutonic forbears and was powered by two Maybach MD650 engines ( of 1 056 bhp at 1 400 rpm and licence built by Bristol Siddeley ) allied to four speed Mekydro K10411 transmissions.
This specification continued on the other two pilot scheme locomotives - D801 "Vanguard" and D802 "Formidable" ( which continued Western Region's warship naming policy ) but was uprated on the 30 production machines ordered in February 1957. Built from 1959 - 1961, D803-829 and D831-D832 featured Bristol Siddeley Maybach prime movers of 1 135 bhp at 1 530 rpm ( ten of which were assembled in Britain by Bristol Siddeley at their Ansty Works ) and from D813 "Diadem" onwards four digit route indicators replaced the original discs and number board frames. These four digit route indicators were later retro-fitted to D800 - D812. D800 Warships were also to be seen with three varieties of wheel design: plain, two-holed and four-holed.
Although D803-D812 could at first only work in multiple unit with each other, D803 -D870 were eventually fitted with White Diamond multiple unit wiring - common also to the North British D6306-D6357 series B-Bs although D800 - D802 were not multiple unit fitted. The initial specification of Spanner train heating boilers was also later changed to Stone-Vapor
Thus 2 200 bhp of quick running engine was installed inside the stressed skin of a D800 series "Warship" locomotives which only weighed 79 tons. In contrast a Peak of what would become Class 45 produced 2 500 bhp from its single medium speed Sulzer 12LDA 28B engine but tipped the scales at 138 tons.
A final five examples - D866-D871 ( with D870 "Zulu" having cab top air horns ) - were outshopped from Swindon in 1961 but the last of the Warships chronologically left North British Locomotive's Springburn Works in 1962.
Like their D600 diesels, North British Locomotive built D833 - D865 with German designed MAN engines and Voith transmissions, in this case pairs of L12V18/12BS allied to LT306rs. These 33 locomotives had been ordered in July 1959 but construction only began in 1960 when NBL staff had been trained in stressed skin monocoque construction and sets of plans had been despatched from Swindon. However, these locomotives - identifiable by square rather than circular rooftop exhaust ports - were often seen as less reliable than the Swindon built D800 series by the operating departments of Western Region and were usually to be found on freight rather than passenger duties as a result. Toward the end of their careers, the NBL built Warships could also sometimes be distinguished by two small round holes cut under the route indicator panels to ventilate the cab and reduce fumes from the Voith transmissions.
Although retaining their original numbers to the end of their lives ( but losing the D prefix after 1968 ), the Swindon built D800 -D832 and D866-D871 became Class 42 under British Rail's Total Operations Processing System (TOPS) and the North British built D833-D865 likewise became Class 43: both Classes being transferred to streamlined single-cab prototype and production High Speed Train locomotives during the latter part of the 1970s.
|Preserved D832 "Onslaught" prepares to run round its train at Rawtenstall, the northern terminus of the East Lancashire Railway. It wears the final official Warship interpretation of BR blue livery with white diamond multiple unit wiring symbols on its black buffer beam, number above a data panel but without its D prefix ( made redundant with the end of steam in late 1968 ) and full yellow ends. One of the earliest Warships to sport any kind of warning panel was D845 "Sprightly" in September 1961, although this just covered the route indicator box doors and was combined with a Deltic-style white cab roof section just above the windscreens.|
|The joker in the warship pack was
D830 "Majestic" - Swindon built with Mekydro
transmission allied to a pair of all-British Davey Paxman
12YJXL Ventura powerplants as an alternative to Maybachs.
During the introduction of British Rail monastral blue livery from the mid 1960s onward, D830 "Majestic" and D830 "Monarch" were distinguished by wearing this with the small yellow warning panels that had characterised the earlier green and maroon markings. As originally outshopped from Swindon, the D800 Warships had no warning panels but red buffer beams, grey roofs and black bogies. The nameplate originally had red backgrounds but these were changed to black with the introduction of blue livery.
From their introduction on the 100 minute scheduled Bristolian in June 1959 until the withdrawal of D832 "Onslaught" in December 1972 the D800 Warships served their railway well in spite of teething troubles with their paintwork, multiple unit wiring and inside-framed spring-and-link suspended Krauss-Maffei bogies. The latter needed a complete redesign for the somewhat top heavy D800s which ran at considerably faster speeds than their V200 ancestors. Data obtained from tests with D813 "Diadem" during 1960 was then applied to all other class members and also to the later D1000 Westerns.
The D800 Warships were supplanted by D1000 series Westerns on top link duties as the 1960s progressed. Double headed runs to Cornwall and services from Waterloo to Exeter were among their final duties although D821 "Greyhound" and D832 "Onslaught" have been preserved.
Indeed, both the D800 Warships - and later C-C bogied D1000 Westerns - were later to prove that the compact lightweight construction offered by stressed skin techniques could be a double edged sword. Unlike the Peaks - with all loads carried by a long, heavy chassis and enough wheels on each bogie to successfully brake long trains of unfitted goods wagons - the Swindon built diesel hydraulics anticipated an era when all trains would have continuous brakes.
However, the D800 Warships were not fitted with air ( as opposed to vacuum ) braking or electric train heat (ETH) and as such were not compatible with the latest Mark II coaching stock. More to the point, the Bristol Siddeley Maybach prime movers were already near the limit of their output. Warships pictured hard at work nearly always have their rectangular roof vents firmly open to let out the surplus heat!
Despite this, a scheme was drawn up to apply charge air cooling ( later successfully used on the English Electric Class 50s ) to the Maybach engines so that they could be uprated to drive an electric train heat generator and D870 "Zulu" was to have carried this as an experiment. Some parts were ordered, including the jumper cables, but the engine went into traffic without the generator.
The Westerns were fitted with air brakes and survived into the late 1970s but they were unable to supply electric rather than steam heat for train carriages. Their Bristol Siddelely Maybach engines were similarly at full stretch with traction demands and there was no room inside the body shell to fit a separate diesel motor to generate the necessary current.
The lack of electric train supply - for heating or cooling - may also have prejudiced any chance of any D1000 series Westerns being exported to Greece, a refuge for ex Deutsche Bundesbahn V200s long after they had been rendered obsolete in Germany.
Despite the 1967 National Traction Plan seeing no future for non-standard hydraulic transmission motive power however, Voith torque converters returned in the second generation diesel multiple units of the 1980s.
|Above its oval Swindon worksplate, the nameplate of D832 "Onslaught" is in the traditional Swindon "Egyptian slab-serif" lettering requested by Western Region management.|
OTHER RELOADED RAILSPOTS
|British Standard Steam|
|English Electric Type 3 Co-Cos|
|Industrial Narrow Gauge Railways|
|The Midland & South Western Junction Railway|
|Southern Railway Class N15 "King Arthur" 4-6-0s|