27's in the Highlands

Richard Scott

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Unfortunately a class 33 is the best part of 12 tonnes heavier than a 27 which, with an additional 3 tonnes per axle, would put it fairly high into the RA6 bracket....plus they can only supply ETH at the standard Southern Region 750 volts, as opposed to the BR standard 1,000 volts, so the WHL trains would Have been pretty chilly in Winter. However, I believe there are plans for a 33 to work the return leg of a railtour from Oban this Autumn, so we shall see what happens if that comes off.
That wasn't an issue on Mk1 or Mk2a/b/c stock. Only became an issue with certain air con stock although have seen a 33 plugged into a Mk2f, not sure if it worked!
 
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hexagon789

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That wasn't an issue on Mk1 or Mk2a/b/c stock. Only became an issue with certain air con stock although have seen a 33 plugged into a Mk2f, not sure if it worked!
They have hauled air-con 442s in service and supplying ETS. Not sure what sort of ETS 442s had exactly though.
 

Richard Scott

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They have hauled air-con 442s in service and supplying ETS. Not sure what sort of ETS 442s had exactly though.
442s have 750V systems so not a problem. The Mk2fs used on Gatwick Express were also modified so would run off 750V.
 

47271

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I think it was in 1980 that the Aberdeen - Inverness service went regular interval throughout the day, and was diagrammed to be worked by single class 27s.
Scottish Region adopted its Basic Interval Timetable (the 'Tartan Taktfahrplan') throughout in the May 1982 change, and that was the point when the Aberdeen-Inverness service went over to a regular two hourly pattern.
As such they only lasted about a year before the whole lot was turned over to class 47 operation
Elderly side corridor mk1 with 27s started in March 1980, taking over from Class 120 dmus. The 27s didn't last long on the route, but it was a bit longer than a year. They were still the mainstay in late 1982, but by the end of 1983 everything was 47s and mk2s.
 
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MrEd

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No it's not. It's only approx 1 ton heavier
Depends I suppose, as the weight of 27s varies because of individual detail differences, though it’s not massive- I seem to remember that the weight of a 33 (dual braked and ETH fitted, as all were in the 70s) is about 77/78 tons.

The usual vacuum-only, boiler-fitted 27/0 which hauled the West Highland trains weighed in at about 73 tons. A dual-braked 27/0 (034, 038, 041, 042) or 27/1 with a boiler probably weighed about 75, and a dual-braked ETH-fitted 27/2 about 76. A vacuum-only non-boilered 27/0 in the 27024-27031 series probably weighed only about 71. I believe a 27/2 is at the high end of the RA5 bracket, with a 33, which is a couple of tons heavier, just edging into the RA6.

@CheshireScot I don’t know if this was anything more than idle gossip, but after the plan for 33s was shelved, there was some deliberation about 31s (presumably these would be boiler-fitted 31/1s, as 31/4s are RA6 so no good), which would presumably get sent north from the Eastern region instead of the 37s. I can’t help thinking that this suggestion was hopeless, as a 31 would hardly perform better than a 27 (despite being as heavy as a 37 and probably using as much fuel as a 37). I don’t think a 31 has any more tractive effort than a 27, if my memory for these things is correct, though they’re probably less prone to slipping. The ScR had no familiarity with the class in any case, and I just can’t see what advantage they would have brought. Perhaps they caught fire less often than 27s? Clearly the obvious solution was the more reliable and powerful, but still RA5 37 (with which ScR drivers and depots already had some familiarity) which dominated the line until 2000.
 

The Crab

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Depends I suppose, as the weight of 27s varies because of individual detail differences, though it’s not massive- I seem to remember that the weight of a 33 (dual braked and ETH fitted, as all were in the 70s) is about 77/78 tons.

The usual vacuum-only, boiler-fitted 27/0 which hauled the West Highland trains weighed in at about 73 tons. A dual-braked 27/0 (034, 038, 041, 042) or 27/1 with a boiler probably weighed about 75, and a dual-braked ETH-fitted 27/2 about 76. A vacuum-only non-boilered 27/0 in the 27024-27031 series probably weighed only about 71. I believe a 27/2 is at the high end of the RA5 bracket, with a 33, which is a couple of tons heavier, just edging into the RA6.

@CheshireScot I don’t know if this was anything more than idle gossip, but after the plan for 33s was shelved, there was some deliberation about 31s (presumably these would be boiler-fitted 31/1s, as 31/4s are RA6 so no good), which would presumably get sent north from the Eastern region instead of the 37s. I can’t help thinking that this suggestion was hopeless, as a 31 would hardly perform better than a 27 (despite being as heavy as a 37 and probably using as much fuel as a 37). I don’t think a 31 has any more tractive effort than a 27, if my memory for these things is correct, though they’re probably less prone to slipping. The ScR had no familiarity with the class in any case, and I just can’t see what advantage they would have brought. Perhaps they caught fire less often than 27s? Clearly the obvious solution was the more reliable and powerful, but still RA5 37 (with which ScR drivers and depots already had some familiarity) which dominated the line until 2000.
Without any evidence, I had always assumed that a boiler fitted diesel would be heavier than an equivalent ETH locomotive. Can anyone outline the weight of the relevant components for a 47 /31?
 

Richard Scott

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Without any evidence, I had always assumed that a boiler fitted diesel would be heavier than an equivalent ETH locomotive. Can anyone outline the weight of the relevant components for a 47 /31?
Boilers weren't always removed on conversion or a concrete block was put in place of boiler for weight distribution purposes. I know an ETH fitted 45/1 is 3 tons lighter than a boilered 45/0 but the space occupied by boiler was needed for some ETH equipment and small concrete blocks inserted but still left them 3 tons lighter.
 

MrEd

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Without any evidence, I had always assumed that a boiler fitted diesel would be heavier than an equivalent ETH locomotive. Can anyone outline the weight of the relevant components for a 47 /31?
I’m not an expert in these matters at all, but certainly ETH-fitted 31/4s (and 31/5s with their ETH simply isolated) are substantially heavier than a boiler-fitted 31. That could be because some earlier 31/4s (those converted before the 1980s life-extension programme) in fact had their boilers still in place and operable, so were effectively dual heat. Later 31/4s (31425-31468) came out of the life-extension programme at Doncaster with only ETH, but I think that they might have been ballasted (often concrete blocks were put where the boiler once stood) so as not to affect weight distribution. That was certainly the case with life-extended 37s and probably 31s too once the boilers were removed.

A 31/1 with dual brakes and a boiler weighs in at around 108 tons. A dual heat 31/4 in the 31401-424 series weighs around 113 tons (almost as heavy as a 50 which is staggering for a loco on the type 2/type 3 margin) while a later 31/4 (425-468) still weighs about 111. This would take an A1A-A1A locomotive well into the RA6 bracket. You can see where the myth that these could heat more coaches than they could pull comes from!

It must depend too how the ETS is provided- with some locos this is simply tapped off the generator (as on Deltics and the first 20 47s I believe), on other locos a separate alternator is installed (as on the 31/4s). On 27/2s an auxiliary engine was fitted. This would have made a 27/2 substantially heavier than its boiler-fitted counterpart.
 
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The Crab

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I’m not an expert in these matters at all, but certainly ETH-fitted 31/4s (and 31/5s with their ETH simply isolated) are substantially heavier than a boiler-fitted 31. That could be because some earlier 31/4s (those converted before the 1980s life-extension programme) in fact had their boilers still in place and operable, so were effectively dual heat. Later 31/4s (31425-31468) came out of the life-extension programme at Doncaster with only ETH, but I think that they might have been ballasted (often concrete blocks were put where the boiler once stood) so as not to affect weight distribution. That was certainly the case with life-extended 37s and probably 31s too once the boilers were removed.

A 31/1 with dual brakes and a boiler weighs in at around 108 tons. A dual heat 31/4 in the 31401-424 series weighs around 113 tons (almost as heavy as a 50 which is staggering for a loco on the type 2/type 3 margin) while a later 31/4 (425-468) still weighs about 111. This would take an A1A-A1A locomotive well into the RA6 bracket. You can see where the myth that these could heat more coaches than they could pull comes from!

It must depend too how the ETS is provided- with some locos this is simply tapped off the generator (as on Deltics and the first 20 47s I believe), on other locos a separate alternator is installed (as on the 31/4s). On 27/2s an auxiliary engine was fitted. This would have made a 27/2 substantially heavier than its boiler-fitted counterpart.
Thank you, most interesting.
 

Cowley

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I believe that a 31 was trialled in Scotland in the 1960s and made it to Oban and Fort Bill. I’ve definitely seen photos of it up there.
 

CW2

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I think the relative scarcity of class 31s in Scotland tells you all you need to know regarding how well regarded they were, and how much the traction controllers fought to retain them (not).
They were fine pottering across the flatlands of Lincolnshire on load 4, but point them at a hill or tack a big load on and they were just a hideous liability.
By contrast the small Sulzers seemed to fare quite well. Having less of a weight penalty probably helped them. Visually too, a pair of small Sulzers looked OK, whereas a pair of 31s looked like the circus had come to town.
 

Gloster

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I believe that a 31 was trialled in Scotland in the 1960s and made it to Oban and Fort Bill. I’ve definitely seen photos of it up there.
D5511 in summer 1958. It may even have been allocated to Inverness for a few weeks.
 
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Cowley

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D5511 in summer 1958. It may even have been allocated to Inverness for a few weeks.

Thanks @Gloster. Would it have still been Mirrlees engined at that point then?
 

Cowley

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It was only about a month old: although the engines quickly proved themselves to be a disappointment, it wasn’t that quick.

Fascinating. Do you remember the actual trial?
 

Gloster

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Fascinating. Do you remember the actual trial?
My initial answer is, “Good grief, no! I wasn’t even born.”

More to the point, I think it was used on a number of workings out of Inverness, including (reportedly) reaching both Kyle and Wick. It also got as far as Fort and Oban; I have seen a photo of it at FW. It was also tried out at other locations around the region, but only spent eight or nine weeks (at most) north of the border.

EDIT: If you put ‘ D5511 class 31 inverness ‘ into google (quotation marks not needed), you can see some real rarities under Images.
 
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SteveM70

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This thread is both fascinating and evokes lovely memories of summer trips to Scotland in the early 1980s. Thank you everyone
 

Cheshire Scot

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@CheshireScot I don’t know if this was anything more than idle gossip, but after the plan for 33s was shelved, there was some deliberation about 31s (presumably these would be boiler-fitted 31/1s, as 31/4s are RA6 so no good), which would presumably get sent north from the Eastern region instead of the 37s. I can’t help thinking that this suggestion was hopeless, as a 31 would hardly perform better than a 27 (despite being as heavy as a 37 and probably using as much fuel as a 37). I don’t think a 31 has any more tractive effort than a 27, if my memory for these things is correct, though they’re probably less prone to slipping. The ScR had no familiarity with the class in any case, and I just can’t see what advantage they would have brought. Perhaps they caught fire less often than 27s? Clearly the obvious solution was the more reliable and powerful, but still RA5 37 (with which ScR drivers and depots already had some familiarity) which dominated the line until 2000.
I never picked up any thoughts or rumours about 31s in the run up to the (re) introduction of 37s although I had more recently already become aware of the trials mentioned by Gloster. I agree they would not have been much of an improvement if any against the 27s, and presumably these trials proved they would not be what was required anywhere in the Highlands.

It is also interesting to note how through time loco weights within classes varied so widely.
 

D6130

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My initial answer is, “Good grief, no! I wasn’t even born.”

More to the point, I think it was used on a number of workings out of Inverness, including (reportedly) reaching both Kyle and Wick. It also got as far as Fort and Oban; I have seen a photo of it at FW. It was also tried out at other locations around the region, but only spent eight or nine weeks (at most) north of the border.

EDIT: If you put ‘ D5511 class 31 inverness ‘ into google (quotation marks not needed), you can see some real rarities under Images.
D5511 also made it to Mallaig. There's a photo of it there on the 'Railscot' website.
 

Cheshire Scot

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There was mention earlier in the thread of the Deltic workings to Oban.

The amended diagram for 'York 2' for 23 August 1981 is attached, also note further down the page York 32 class 47 was booked to deputise for York 2 whilst it was on tour.
No computers back then, diagrams were typed (complete with typos) then run through a duplicator with copies circulated by internal mail to those who needed them.

Rep no 1Z19 out and back (unless that is another typo).
 

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High Dyke

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In the 1980's Channel 4 aired a programme called the Art of Landscape. It was basically a series of films with a soundtrack added. One notable one I remember is of Class 27 loco's working in the Highlands. Most of which seem to be the Mallaig route, as opposed to the Far North line.

Youtube Link: Here
 

WesternLancer

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In the 1980's Channel 4 aired a programme called the Art of Landscape. It was basically a series of films with a soundtrack added. One notable one I remember is of Class 27 loco's working in the Highlands. Most of which seem to be the Mallaig route, as opposed to the Far North line.

Youtube Link: Here
excellent film clip!
 

MrEd

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In the 1980's Channel 4 aired a programme called the Art of Landscape. It was basically a series of films with a soundtrack added. One notable one I remember is of Class 27 loco's working in the Highlands. Most of which seem to be the Mallaig route, as opposed to the Far North line.

Youtube Link: Here
You’d be right- 27s were largely Eastfield-based and worked on the West Highland Lines from Glasgow to Oban, Fort William and Mallaig. It was 26s which were Inverness-based and worked on the Kyle and Far North routes out of Inverness.

In the 1980's Channel 4 aired a programme called the Art of Landscape. It was basically a series of films with a soundtrack added. One notable one I remember is of Class 27 loco's working in the Highlands. Most of which seem to be the Mallaig route, as opposed to the Far North line.

Youtube Link: Here
I believe that is part of a documentary on the West Highland Line filmed in about 1976/1977 called ’A Line for all Seasons’. I have a VHS if that at home, it was a wonderful film narrated so beautifully and poetically by John Shedden (with his lovely Highland voice). Some fantastic film of 27s in the snow and the opening shot of 27032 entering Glenfinnan in the snow is a masterpiece.

If you want a 26 (and 24/1 feast) on the magical Kyle line, I have just the video.

 
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D6130

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You’d be right- 27s were largely Eastfield-based and worked on the West Highland Lines from Glasgow to Oban, Fort William and Mallaig. It was 26s which were Inverness-based and worked on the Kyle and Far North routes out of Inverness.


I believe that is part of a documentary on the West Highland Line filmed in about 1976/1977 called ’A Line for all Seasons’. I have a VHS if that at home, it was a wonderful film narrated so beautifully and poetically by John Shedden (with his lovely Highland voice). Some fantastic film of 27s in the snow and the opening shot of 27032 entering Glenfinnan in the snow is a masterpiece.

If you want a 26 (and 24/1 feast) on the magical Kyle line, I have just the video.

A wonderful and nostalgic film, which captures the essence of what the Kyle line was like in the first year in which I travelled on it. An edited version of "A Line for All Seasons" is also available on YouTube, but I'm not sure that I have the technical know-how to post it on here!
 

MrEd

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A wonderful and nostalgic film, which captures the essence of what the Kyle line was like in the first year in which I travelled on it. An edited version of "A Line for All Seasons" is also available on YouTube, but I'm not sure that I have the technical know-how to post it on here!
You’re so right. What amazes me is how busy those Kyle trains could be back then, and how busy the stations were, with 5-6 packed Mk1s behind the 24 or 26 (usually including a BG full of mail and parcels). Seems difficult to imagine now, when all the stations are unstaffed and even in high summer a 2-car 158 is never full. I travel the Kyle line very often in summer, and in recent years have always had a bay of four to myself, always on the best side of the train for the views.

I‘m sure winter loadings were as poor back then as today, but passenger numbers in summer seemed far greater back then. This is despite the fact that Scottish tourism was experiencing a significant boom in the latter part of the 2010s.
 

Cheshire Scot

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You’re so right. What amazes me is how busy those Kyle trains could be back then, and how busy the stations were, with 5-6 packed Mk1s behind the 24 or 26 (usually including a BG full of mail and parcels). Seems difficult to imagine now, when all the stations are unstaffed and even in high summer a 2-car 158 is never full. I travel the Kyle line very often in summer, and in recent years have always had a bay of four to myself, always on the best side of the train for the views.

I‘m sure winter loadings were as poor back then as today, but passenger numbers in summer seemed far greater back then. This is despite the fact that Scottish tourism was experiencing a significant boom in the latter part of the 2010s.

Typical West Highland loadings would often be around the 200 mark in summer and sometimes single figures in winter - and as mentioned previously often nil on the winter evening Mallaig to Fort William train.
Local hoteliers promoted the West Highland line and stations such as Crianlarich and Rannoch would each often sell 20 or 30 plus day returns to Fort William or Mallaig.
 

Inversnecky

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Here’s another great video from the Mallaig line:


You wonder if atoken exchanging ever resulted in someone pulled off the stand!
 

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