Andrew Briddon Locos

Andrew Briddon Locos

preserved railway vehicles

North British 0-6-0DH: 27932

Works Number 27932
Built 1959
Weight 50ton (in working order)
Power Unit TBD
Transmission Voith
Present Location Peak Rail, Rowsley
Photos Gallery

The sheer size of the North British locomotive company in Glasgow meant that in order to be profitable, they had to manufacture as much as possible of the locomotive in-house. In steam production days, this was perfectly practical, but the development of diesel and electric propulsion after 1945 resulted in locomotive manufacturers buying-in much of the locomotive as finished components (i.e engine, transmission components, cooler groups, etc). NB addressed the problem by visualising building such components themselves under licence, and entered into manufacturing agreements with MAN for engines and Voith for transmissions. Their first such loco - "Coronation" (1953) - used a Paxman engine and German-made Voith, and is part of Andrew's collection.

nbl 27932 barry island 3 editSadly, the conventional view is that applying "steam loco" manufacturing standards and practices did not suit the more finely-engineered engines and transmissions, while NB's locos for BR under the 1955 Modernisation Programme spectacularly failed to impress. With Britain having lost many of its traditional locomotive markets thanks to wartime priorities, the volume of locomotive work at NB dropped and the company struggled to survive.

When the North British company finally collapsed, its goodwill was aquired by Barclays but the “population” of NB diesel locos reduced as many parts became unobtainable. There were tales in the locomotive industry of engines running with pistons removed or "You want a valve spring? We'll send you a selection, pick the right one and send the rest back..." indicating that NB's policy of making main components themselves left a legacy of problems for operators that resulted in otherwise rugged locomotives being scrapped before their time.

This 50ton 0-6-0DH, originally 107 at the East Moors steelworks in Cardiff, had a MAN engine and Voith transmission, both units built by NB under licence. Passing into preservation in the late 1970s, it was initially at the Bute Town group in Cardiff, but when plans for re-developing the docklands area forced relocation, it went to the Vale of Glamorgan line at Barry, where depicted (above, right).

Incomplete and judged by some as not worth retaining, it moved to the Avon Valley Railway where the engine was stripped and the crankshaft sold, and the remains came north to Long Marston where after a period of storage, it was likely to be scrapped. Only one other NB 0-6-0DH is known to survive (although several 0-4-0DHs do, such as "Coronation") and Andrew decided to save it.

Showing signs of heavy abuse, it will require considerable work including a new fabricated cab, but more worryingly when being shunted the wheels were liable to lock-up and slide, suggesting that the final drive stage (the forward/reverse jackshaft at the back of the Voith) may have a problem - e.g. broken gear teeth. Since the condition of the Voith unit itself is an unknown, and seriously limits the possible engines that can be fitted to match with it, Andrew is planning instead to use the more familiar Twin Disc converter/RF11 final drive route when the locomotive reaches its turn in the restoration queue. For the present, the side rods have been removed to keep it mobile and prevent flats. (The MoD, who had a class of 0-4-0DH North British locos, adopted a similar approach and had two rebuilt with 6RPH Paxmans driving a special version of the CF11500 converter and Hunslet gearbox, but unfortunately the conversion was judged too expensive to continue through the remainder.) Nonetheless the external outline and chassis of the NB loco will be retained.

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