July 18th, 2017



Visiting Class 20 D8001 (20001) departs North Weald during the Spring Diesel Gala

Its strange how certain visiting locos stir up long forgotten memories from your younger days. In this case the Locomotive English Electric Class 20 ‘D8001’ or has they used to be known to their crews as ‘Thousands’.

As a cleaner at Stratford loco I cleaned these machines and later worked on them as a second man (Trainee Driver), including from my memory D8001. I have a very vivid memory as a trainee of Driving one of these very dependable machines ‘Storming’ up Canonbury bank on the North London line at 3am with a mixed goods train. The exhaust noise and the loco vibrations under heavy load were fantastic. The noise the loco was making must have woken half of North London.

Naming Locos to impress the ‘Ladies’

As a young second man I was, as they used to say, ‘Walking out’ with what I thought of at the time as a very good looking young lady who used to commute to work by train. To impress her I came up what I thought at the time to be a very cunning plan by ‘naming D8056’ in her honour. I chalked a very magnificent name plate on both the locomotives sole plate:


It looked good and my girlfriend spotted 8056 carrying her name when it was running to Liverpool Street station with a set of coaching stock. The down side of the story was, the name plate only lasted for around two weeks before it was cleaned off. On my next working from Stratford shed with 8056 (when I thought no one was looking) I carefully started to reinstate the name plate ‘Dolly’. The only problem was that I was spotted by the Foreman who in the then very non  politically correct times offered me help and advice where he would put his very large steel toe caped size twelve boots, if I did not clean off the name plate immediately.

The upside of this story was the good looking young lady must have been impressed having a loco named after her be it was briefly, as she later married me. As for the Loco 8056, she still exists and still earns a living on private hire with Harry Needle’s fleet.

DMU Railcars: 

Class 117 DMS 51384

I am pleased to report after eight years out of use that the DMS has returned to service in April. A number of setbacks were experienced prior to returning to service. Number two engine was changed completely due to defects and number one engine has been fitted a refurbished cylinder head. Number two final drive has been rebuilt with a number of parts salvaged from the DMBS car. After further minor adjustments booth the body work and rewiring/ electrical work (as required) have also now been completed.

DMU engine

Stripping the original number two 11.1 litre normally aspirated diesel engine giving a out put of only 150m H.P. but untold amount of torque

The DMS is running in multiple with a hired trailer car which in its self has been internally refurbished complete with new seating.


Class 117 DMS / 121 DTS

These two vehicles have been paired up to make an operational unit

Both vehicles have been polished externally and are looking very smart. The crews take it upon themselves to try out the various destinations on the blinds which have been replaced (financed by generous donation from a couple of members and the volunteer society) in each cab, which causes much laughter and chatter amongst passengers. The railcar with its clear view forward, is proving very popular with the passengers.

The trailer car has had one of the vacuum brake cylinders changed after the original cylinder developed a leak.

Class 117 DMS 51384

Class 117 DMS 51384 in Epping Forest


Class 117 DMBS 51342

Much of the corroded metalwork has been cut away and new patches welded in certain places. Work is being focused around the guard and luggage doors, where there was significant wastage to the frames.

The new internal frame work is now taking shape but…

The DMBS is to say the least a very sad story, the more work we do it seems the more corrosion we find the further from completion we get. Some days when we had found more steel internal framework which will have to be replaced completely, I went home wondering what we had got ourselves involved in and if we had the capability of replacing such large areas of corroded framework let alone the nonexistent outer skin. Our engineer is rather stoic about the corrosion issue and only concentrates on the current job in hand.

To illustrate some of the problems our engineer faces, many of the framework parts have had to be designed by ourselves, the original having rotted away to the point of being non existent. Our engineer is having to work out where to bend, where to drill what type of holes and where to place certain required cut outs. We are using metric size replacement steel which we have to adapt to mate with imperil top hat sections. We are having to make curved parts for roof structure out of straight top hat sections. Every section is a different length (depending on the degree of corrosion) and depending on the actual length of structure we make the curvature changes as the curve progresses. This means we cannot make a batch of sections up. The work on last roof section we have made up was so detailed that has taken three working days to complete.

Most of this work requires such a high level of skill which only our engineer possess. While I and my team mate Mick can claim our own skill set areas, much of this work is beyond us.

We have progressed to the stage where we started work on the first upright rib section, fabricated by outside suppliers. The rib which supports the guards van door. Straight away we hit a problem; where to weld the reinforced sections, which will take the door hinges. It has proved impossible to use the old structure as a guide as it had rotted away. The Engineer came up with the idea of using the old door to get the correct hinge placement. It was a great idea but in practice impossible as the hard wood frame had also rotted away.

PLAN B: Rebuild the door and then get hinge placement from that.

We have just taken delivery of the hard wood to make up the new door frame and surround. We have made a start shaping the wood in to a curve. Michael F our engineer has started to teach me some of his high levels skill such as welding and,  I hope, the use of a router. Welding appears to be more an art form rather than a skill as is the fabrication skill level required. The trouble is when you have ‘the boy’ leaning the job, work which would take the engineer, may be fifteen minutes, it takes me an hour.

Diesel Locomotives

Class 03 170

The 03 Loco is normally found shunting around North Weald but is due to have work on worn axle boxes. Used for Driver for a fiver during the spring diesel gala.

03119 working a passenger train

03119 on a rare passenger working during the Spring Diesel Gala

Class 03 119

Operated two scheduled trips into Epping Forest during the Spring Diesel Gala following a return to service earlier in the year; she also ran one trip to Ongar when Class 20 D8001 temporarily failed. Usually found around North Weald yard.

BR Class 25 173

Her extensive bodywork overhaul continues at Shackerstone.

BR Class 31 438

Once our  hired in Locomotives prove reliable, the class 31 will  withdraw from service to allow preventative maintenance work to be undertaken, including attention to the diesel Engine,  brake rigging and batteries. As always, the 31 is proving she is a very reliable locomotive.

BR Class 37 029

The class 37 is stopped awaiting replacement brake cylinder seals.

This loco has recently suffered from a vacuum brake control side leak which caused issues when running with vacuum braked trains. Extensive work has been undertaken to remedy this issue. Our diesel engineer Michael D has turned out to a bit of dogged detective tracing the cause of the braking issues to a number of defects.

BR Class 47 635 “Jimmy Milne”

Stored in North Weald Shed No.2 Road, awaiting work to commence on the roof.

DEMU 205205

Awaiting the return of the now repaired cam shaft, after which the diesel engine will be rebuilt and tested. Once this and other minor issues are completed unit will be available for traffic. The next job will be to attend the numerous rust and corroded patches of the bodywork.


Class 20 001

This locomotive has arrived on a minimum 18-month loan as an extra relief loco, whilst our own large diesels are out of traffic for repairs to be carried out. The class 20 which has just completed a major overhaul after being out of traffic for four years, failed during the diesel gala. After investigation, it was found that the voltage regulator which should keep the auxiliary machine, control, and battery charge voltage to 110 volts was in fact putting out 125 volts. This was causing significant issues throughout the locomotive. The voltage regulator is of the original carbon pile design dating from 1955 which has been causing problems. There have been some other minor issues but our engineering team are on top of them. The loco  has missed one round trip of its rostered workings, due to a rather unusual fault causing brake drag. One of the anti-slip buttons had slightly stuck in causing a brake application. Luckily the fault was quickly spotted and a drop of ‘magic spray’ and a tweak with a screw driver freed the button.

Class 33 002

For the year of manufacture (1959) this loco which has just left the railway, was very sophisticated and once initial teething problems were overcome prove very reliable in main line service much liked by their southern crews.

Initially booked as a guest for the Diesel Gala, her stay was extended. Looking very smart in all-over BR Green, she comes from the South Devon Railway. This loco failed in traffic, refusing to restart after being shut down on a mid-turn lay over. This fault was traced to a lose wiring connection in the starting circuit. She has now left the railway on another hire.

Visiting Engines at Ongar

Visiting class 33, 33002 and class 20 8001 side by side at Ongar during the Spring Diesel Gala

Engineering Vehicles

Badger our ‘on-track’ machine

This machine is in the process of an extensive overhaul by a dedicated team.

The overheating issues have been resolved by replacing a blown core plug on the engine. With new hoses and repairs to its leaking matrix, the heater system now runs well and the driving cab can now be kept toasty and warm. The crane hydraulics were tested and, whilst sluggish initially, it must be remembered this hasn’t been used for a good number of years. The front right body panel has been re-affixed following some re-drilling (to cater for the new and larger rivets used) and copious amounts of sealant – hopefully there will be no more leaks. The front axle is back and the assembly for it has been rebuilt in preparation for it to be refitted under the chassis. A new spacer has been machine for the front left wheel, and the front right wheel drive plate has been turned to fit; the drive coupling has also been fitted. Before this axle can be put back underneath, new brake assembly is being sourced.

Various electrical work, including a new screen wash motor replacement, wiper repair and washer jets, has been undertaken to get these various components working again (although it is advised you don’t walk past when the jets are being tested…)

The next job the team are undertaking will be repairing the cab roof, which has suffered extensive corrosion damage.

Until Next time

Chris Travers

Diesel restoration group.