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8 Cars?........On a Sunday?

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So hollered the depot foreman one Sunday morning "Take another one and p*ss orf aht of it" So with these stentorian cockney tones echoing in our ears me and my mate left him to do as bid. We had given his fitters a lot of extra work and he was not a happy man. I will explain what happened.

Me and my driver had gone down the yard to get our train out for service. I was by this time a Guard/Motorman and my mate had said to me that he fancied a rest today so I could have the handle for the first half of the turn. When we got down to our train on 43 east he told me to go and make a can of tea while he did the prep. As I exited the shed after making the brew I heard 4 on the whistle which meant someone wanted the fitter for a train defect. The "someone" turned out to be my mate and he was whistling from the middle cab on the east end. It was the practice in those days that when 8 cars were uncoupled to 6 the odd 2 car unit was left at the very east end of the outside roads (38 to 49) until needed again. Often a 6 car train would be stabled on the same road but short of the 2 car unit by about 20 ft usually. Most of these 2 cars would be "R" stock but occasionally you had a "COP" or "Q" 2 car as well. Now when you did a prep in those days it was customary to give a "notch back" to make sure the reversers threw as they should. This my mate had done and was immediately rewarded with a jolt and brake cylinder pressure valves blowing off. He walked through the train to find the cause and found that he had mechanically coupled to the 2 car unit stabled behind the train. No problem you may think. But there was, as the 6 car train was an "R" stock and the 2 car unit a "COP" Now although they both had the same type of coupler the electrical circuits of the two types was totally different and if you did not put presspahns (insulating shields) over the dutch ovens (the little sets of studs on the coupler for electrical contacts between units) you got all sorts of mis-circuits. For instance as I say the EP brake would instantly apply on the "R" stock and could not be released. On the "COP" the lights would flash rapidly.

Well the shunters had been re-marshalling in the night and had left the two portions closer together than the normal distance. In fact so close that the "notch back" had coupled them mechanically. once coupled they were very hard to separate again as it was a hammer and crowbar job. Anyhow we were told to take another train two roads away. So we climbed on that one. This one was 6 car "COP" and we started the prep and again my mate "notched back" CLUMP...and rapid flashing of the lights. Yes you've guessed it. He'd done it again!! Only this time the 2 car was an "R" stock that had once more been left too close to the main train. After much bawling and swearing we were told to take a THIRD train on another road. When we got to it we found it was an 8 car "Q" stock. 8 car trains NEVER ran on Saturdays or Sundays and we voiced the opinion that before we took it it should be uncoupled. At this the depot foreman blew his top and told us in no uncertain terms to take it as is or he would cancel the train and tell the controller that it was "Crew misdemeanor" that had caused the cancellation. That would have been a trip to the carpet so we sheepishly had a brake test and set off west with 8 cars. We did a round trip and when we got back the 8 cars were changed over for a 6. We never heard any more about it but we did hear it took 'em best part of two days to get the mis-coupled units apart.
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RailUK Forums


Established Member
7 Jun 2005
Marwell Zoo
Been there, done that, with misbehaving 158's.
The electrical connection box on a unit dropped abit, so the pins were now going in all the wrong holes and reducing the driver to a breakdown.
In the end we sorted it by levering the offending connection box up with a crow bar while the units attached.
Still great fun to see a 158 throwing a full scale wobbly though 8-)
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