Thomas Hill Vanguard 4wDH: Charlie
|Weight||30tons (in working order)|
|Power Unit||Rolls-Royce C6NFL, 12 litre 6 cyl, normally aspirated|
|Rating||210bhp at 2100rpm|
|Transmission||Twin Disc CF10000 series converter, frame mounted RF11 final drive gearbox & 2.5” pitch roller chains|
In the early years of production of Thomas Hill's "Vanguard" locomotive range, a series of "standard type" locomotives were developed, which included two chain drive locomotives - the types "1" and "3". The type 3 was a long wheelbase (typically 9ft) where the final drive gearbox was mounted in the frame mid way between the axles, with a chain one side to one axle and other side to the other. The biggest latterday customer was the Ministry of Defence, who bought 18 for shunting at Army depots. The Type 3 normally had a minimum weight of around 32 tons, going up to 42tonnes. The Type 1 however had a much shorter wheelbase of about 5ft, and the gearbox here was mounted at the rear of the loco, and drove the rear axle through a single chain with a second chain coupling the axles together. The early Type 1s were known as "Noddies" and usually the cab was sited to the rear of the loco, with a single cab door exiting onto the cross-walkway. The weight range was 25-32 tons.
In the mid 1970s, Thomas Hills metricated and restyled their designs, and in an attempt to standardise further, the Type 1 was re-arranged with a fuel tank at the rear and "standard" Hills cab with two doors, one either side of the tank. This however meant that the fuel tank was now over the final drive gearbox, causing access problems should any work be required in that area. Only 3 such Type 1s were ever built - 2 for the West African Portland Cement Co in Nigeria and one for Yorkshire Water Authority. (To complete the history, Thomas Hills decided that there was little need for short wheelbase locos and the lower weight requirement could be met with a lightened version of the Type 3.)
The YWA loco was particularly strange: won against competitive tender it was costed using "stock" parts which included the heavy duty version of the RF11 gearbox - usually only fitted to locos of 600+hp or 60 tons gross weight. Completed in 1976, it was delivered to the Blackburn Meadows sewage works, a large oval shaped circuit amongst the settling beds just by the M1 Tinsley Viaduct and equipped with special Hudson-built tipping wagons, one of which is now at NRM Shildon. Apparently it was not uncommon for a team working on one side of the site to phone across for something - like a bottle of milk - and the item concerned be placed on the loco running plate, the loco sent off without anyone aboard and stopped when it returned! There was also a tale that the Works Engineer, getting annoyed that the loco was always seen with its cab doors flapping around, issued an ultimatum and when it had no effect, had the doors removed
When the system at Blackburn Meadows ceased, the loco was sold for preservation, going to Dairycoates in Hull, and later to a former RAF depot in Lincolnshire. Around 1997/8 it was sold to Yorkshire Engine, being collected with cab doors seperate, who overhauled it and provided it on long term hire to the firm of Tioxide in Grimsby. In view of the duty at Tioxide YEC took the opportunity to change the final drive gear ratio. Tioxide had once had a not inconsiderable system with several Ruston locomotives, but by the time the Vanguard arrived they had removed so much track that even the loco shed was no longer rail connected. Tioxide ceased rail in late 2001/early 2002, by which time YEC had ceased trading and Andrew had bought the loco. After briefly serving with Ford at Dagenham, it ended up at Peak Rail where it has been principal works locomotive for several years. Ironically the change of gear ratio made it free-running and with a turn of speed that suits both journies up and down the line as well as shunting.
Largely an unsung hero, Charlie was the first loco into the new Matlock terminus, and has put up many miles of service in works traffic over the years at Peak Rail, though a power unit overhaul was on the horizon. Typical of the duties it performs (above) shown standing at Darley Dale with wagons of track panels lifted from the former Darley North Yard. It has not seen service with Peak Rail since a dispute arose in early 2015. After receiving urgent attention in late 2015 early 2016, it went out on a hire contracts under Peter's auspices, and then after a few months back at Darley Dale, left again (October) for Longcross Studios in Chertsey, where with 03 901 it was to assist in filiming Murder on the Orient Express for Fox.
Still with a smattering of artificial snow and the fabricated coupler assembly used by Fox, it returned to Derbyshire on the 8th March 2017, being returned to Darley Dale on the morning of the 9th.