Thomas Hill Vanguard 4wDH: Cheedale
|Date of manufacture||1979|
|Wheel arrangement||4wDH (chain drive)|
|Power Unit||Rolls-Royce C8NFL, rated 272bhp at 2000rpm|
|Transmission||Twin Disc CF11500 torque converter, RF11 frame mounted final drive gearbox|
|Train braking||Twin Pipe air and vacuum|
|Weight in working order||40tons|
Before Andrew was born, when his father went to work for Thomas Hill (Rotherham) Ltd, an order for a long wheelbase chain drive four-wheeler was in hand from the Tunstead quarries of what was then known as "ICI Buxton", and an enquiry for a second was in the sales office. Completed early in 1979, and rejoicing under the identity RS233, the loco was probably one of the first frames laid in the new workshops opened in June 1978, and also has the odd distinction of having left the works as a brand new loco twice. Departing the first time on a low loader belonging to Sunter Bros, snowy conditions prevented the vehicle getting through and it returned to Kilnhurst, to be re-despatched a few days later. A sister loco, 289V, named "Harry Townley", followed some months later.
The Thomas Hill design is a "Type 3" (Charlie is a "Type 1") and as envisaged, had a Rolls-Royce C6TFL power unit and a front walkway. If however, your customer wanted additional compressors or an exhauster, or wanted the longer C8NFL engine instead of the C6, the front walkway disappeared under an extended casing. ICI's engineer, of course, had to be the one to order both a dual-fit loco (so extra compressor and exhauster) AND the C8NFL resulting in a running plate that slightly overhangs the front buffer beam (itself thicker than standard to make it up to the required 40ton gross). The frame was laid out upside down on the assembly area for welding (i.e running plates first then side frame and headstocks on top) and after initial welding was put on turnover stands to achieve the best angle for welds in all directions. In an un-characteristic oversight the front end extended running plate fouled the turnover stands, so was cut off and re-welded back in later!
Wind forward to 2012 and traffic at what is now the Tarmac-Lafarge plant requires locos in the 60-70ton class, and although a proposal to tandemise 284V and 289V was made in 2011, 289V was subsequently scrapped and 284V (now "Cheedale") only used when absolutely neccessary as the converter was leaking. As part of other negotiations it was aquired by HNRC. In view of its past associations with his father, and the fact that as a dual-fit loco it could be extremely useful on heritage lines (with a few "tweaks"), Andrew struck a deal with HNRC for its aquisition, and the loco left Tunstead at 08.00 on the 28th February 2013, and was unloaded Rowsley within 2 hours.
For technical reasons "Cheedale" remained outside Pak Rail's buffer stops until first thing on Friday 1st March, by which time the Dean Forest's Austerity 0-6-0ST "Wilbert" was waiting to unload behind. "Cheedale", having been made operational the previous afternoon, hauled the Austerity on to site and proceded to act as shunter for the rest of the day! At Rowsley it makes an interesting comparison with "Charlie", taking on the air of the latter's big brother!
On the 12th June it was called out to deputise for a failed D8, on a passenger run to Matlock.
Short term plans, having removed the redundant LHS enclosure from the casings, is to restore the original handrails and casing doors, and reposition the air cleaner back to its original location. In the longer term the loco is to receive an up-rated power unit, together with altering the final drive ratio to increase the locomotive's overall speed. With this in mind, an RF11 with 8.47:1 ratio has been acquired to provide a suitable replacement geartrain. A compressor, in the location of the original Sherry train brake compressor, has been fitted to improve the convenience of the loco. Belts for the exhauster are also in position, but we plan to do a thorough check of the exhauster (Drum Engineering rotary type) before re-commissioning.
In early 2016 the locomotive was given some urgent attention and a repaint and temporarily left Peak Rail.