Sunday, 2 June 2013

A Day On A D-D-D-Diesel!!!...

Hi guys. Sometimes during a heritage railway career you may well have the dreaded experience of being out on a diesel locomotive for the day and not one of the beloved steamers: today was one of those days! Unfortunately, due to a mechanical failure, "Sir Gomer" was out of service for our turn today and so, with no spare steamer, services were quickly put in the hands of the heritage diesel fleet. 1958-built Class 31 A-1-A 31 101 was duly pressed into action with Adrian driving and second-manned by myself & Dave. I'm not a diesel person, in any way, but the Class 31 is a nice one to be out on if you have to be. The days service comprised the normal five return journeys, all hauled by 31 101. As a class, the 31 is one of the smaller diesel electrics, with only 1470bhp at the engine, as opposed to over 2500bhp on the Class 47. A Duchess Pacific steam loco is rated at approximately 3300hp at full bore which gives you some idea of the challenges faced with diesels as opposed to steam. The advantages with the diesel however are of course lower prep times, less maintenance, better crew comfort and of course the ability to sit on full power all day long without some poor bloke shovelling his back off mile after mile. Though they never had the charm of the steamers, the diesels brought with them a new age that 'had to come some day'. I was lucky enough to drive 31 101 on two trips today which, though very different to a steamer, was quite enjoyable dare I say it!...
With a diesel electric the diesel engine powers generators which create electricity for the motors. Therefore, when you open the power handle a notch, the ammeter immediately throws up amps. The amps on the gauge are how you measure how much power the motors are getting as you start away. In first notch the 31 only provides a few hundred amps where I believe the 47 chucks in over a thousand! As the amps climb the engine note will change as it revs more to build a larger quantity of electricity at once. Once up to 25mph, the 31 will cruise quite happily in first or 2nd notch and that's all you have to do to keep it doing 25mph on 5 coaches. It ticks along quite happily through the countryside with barely a murmur once its got the momentum up. Stopping it is on standard vacuum with the train behind, and air only when running light. Another unusual feature is that you of course have to change ends on a diesel like this, switching off the console before you go and operating the change end switch. Doing this on every run round is time consuming and a little tiresome! I tell you what though its a different life on a diesel...you sit there with your cuppa' in your leather seat riding through the countryside in a clean cab at 25mph with good control over the loco and not a care in the world. It doesn't beat a steamer though!! Below, I'm driving 31 101 out of Market Bosworth with my eye on the amps...Dave looks like he's just realised he's in a diesel cab and looks startled at the thought...
"Two New Recruits To The Dark Side" (Photo - A.Lock)
The day went off without hitch and 31 101 performed well, using about 60 gallons of diesel for the day. Earlier on Dave had managed to catch a pic of some railway enthusiastic sheep grazing on the embankment at Shackerstone having escaped from their field...
"Baa - Where Is Gomer? - Baa" (Photo - D.Hanks)
Below, Adrian takes 31 101 out of Shackerstone with myself in the Second-mans seat...
31 101 - Built 1958 (Photo - D.Hanks)
All in all a different day which turned out alright in the end. Though I won't be swapping my shovel for a comfy seat, the diesels do have something different to offer and are certainly railway heritage in their own right. Kind thanks to David, Adrian and 31 101 for good company during the day. Best regards. Sam...

2 comments:

Simon said...

Aww poor Sir Gomer,is it easy fixied?

Sam Brandist said...

It was running again the following Sunday :)