I actually tried very hard to love them. In the mid 1980s they had (unfortunately) displaced the venerable class 40 from all booked services on ScR and worked a mixed bunch of other services booked type 2. So at one point in my career of bashing, in order to get lines for loco hauled and have some variety away from the West Highland Line, I succumbed to bagging boilered 47/0s before they maybe got ETH'd or those services went over to the new breed of plastic crappy DMUs we were hearing about. And I came to the conclusion that Duffs made a lot of fuss about nothing really, mediocre acceleration, and were only any use above 40 mph when you had to stick your head in the window anyway. Give them their due, they can apply a lot of power above 40 mph and screech away leaving any type 3 or 40 for dead, and on big loads, but really there is no fun in that. They have a shit load more horsey than 37s or 40s, and they choose to use it at the gallop, while the EE variants like the canter when their elegance in applying power and making superior noises comes to the fore.
The Duffs had a tight grip on all timetabled express services and spilled over onto other stoppers like the Fife Circuit, Stranraers, Dumfries Route, Snechie- Aberdeen and the Glasgow Dundee. In other words they were so proliferate prior to plasticisation (sprinters etc) that they filled the boots of everything else away from the hallowed ground of RA5. Even on those routes they showed up, with a 47 dropping on a summer shopper service Tain-Inverness (schnechie) which we did from Dingwall, forceably due to the 'dreadful fester' which otherwise would have ensued waiting for the various return of decent traction from the Far North and Kyle runs. In days when we frowned upon regular tops reports, but were happy to take the occaisional swipe at a cad's ill gotten gains, you could turn up to see what 'produced' (to view, like houses, diagrams were 'viewed') and on ScR in 1983 to 86 it would be a duff anywhere RA6 would allow. Furthermore it would invariably be a rancid duff ie one you had been hauled by before.
As concellation, there was of course the fact that duffs in general, were not very reliable and failed fairly frequently on depot or in service. While they relegated class 40s, those now foot-loose 16 wheelers would often be found fetching knackered duffs around the east coast of Scotland. Eastfield retained a kind of nominal attachment if not allocation of 40s for some reason, probably because Longsight and other depots didnt care if their 40s went itinerant, especially not in 1984 when they were essentially surplus locos awaiting disposal. 40s were also quite frequent visitors to Motherwell at that time, working mail services which terminated at the mail depot (presumably Polmadie? 8 axles were all banned from G.Central) and other inter.regional freights and the odd sunday 'drag' on the WCML. Apparent 'booked' workings for type 4s which were often 40s were the Motorail via Mossend, which changed loco for some reason at Carstairs north, someone may like to inform me, we once missed a split boxer there on a through service having messed up the whole thing. They did also drop on the Carlisle-Stranraers and in particular Addexs there -to, but that was a kind of Nirvanna rare as hens teeth by 1983 at least.
47/7s were quite useful for getting about the place quickly though, accelerating the previous MacRat push pulls, and also being a bit quicker, if more cramped than the Aberdeen services so often worked by forties before. So you could get back to the west or east if something had allegedly dropped on the fife circuit, or Dumfries's, in no time at all. However my notebook reveals that in the long hot summer of 1984, class 37s on various loads were out in replacement force on the Glasgow Edinburgh route, with various 'big' locos producing on these services. It seemed they were down two of the six or so sets they had, and were keeping those they had for the Glasgow Aberdeen. Unfortunetly I never remember that anything else but 47/7s then did the Aberdeen route, which was required for any English Electric for me, by fate of being born a couple of years too late to do Deltics and Forties on the route, and a bit too early to have continued such a mis-spent youth into the what seem to me quite odd glory days of the 37s in the 1990s.
On that point , The 37s were synonymous for me with a little era where they worked the beautiful extremities of the Scottish highlands. It was part of the kudos. Ok average speeds were only about 35mph, but the locos had to grind, growl and whine away to ply their trade on these routes, and provided far superior passenger and frieght haulage than the MacRats. The tea-cups and tip-tops as we called the two surviving sulzer rattlers north of the border, had their charms and most 37 bashers I knew had a soft spot for 26s if only to either have some variety on the far north, and to piss off the class 27 mafia. When 37s were take,off ordinary services on these routes, and indeed when the 'combine harvesters' ie 37/4s started, I ran out of interest. Some of the thrill was gone I suppose, in the variety of loco types when the 40s were withdrawn, and the nostalgia of riding in mark 1 steam heat vacs along the far flung glens and loch sides, with tokens being handled by signalmen, passed into the history books. I feel suddenly very honoured to have been a nipper just old enough as a young teenager to experience those wonderful anachronisms.
Anyway Duffs, yes we loved to hate them and loved it when they broke down. The push pull 47/7s had a heavy maintenance schedule, and they kept the night shift at ED going I guess in brake pads and leaky power units. They did provide by in large a wonderful service which was 42-44 minutes very often, surpassing the 45 the latest leccie things do. Of course they only had to stop at Falkirk high until the evil of plastic was due to emerge, when for some reason they threw in eithe Linlithgow or Polo-mint to slow the timetable down or something like that we who were into conspiracy theories said. As I sai above, they whizzed you east west. I was actually most disappointed when in 1993 I was going to an interview in the Granite City and the service had gone both plastic 158, and also slower!
Of course just to piss the duff bashers off, we took the Kings Cross sunday morning 'tram' (HST IC 125) from Glasgow Queen street, and its 4500 horse power of English Electric ancestory pissed all over a duff timetable, going through Cadder Yard at at least 110 mph ! The jewel in the crown for the Basil Brush fans, the shove duff, only ran with 6 coaches so their 100mph 'crown' was outdone by EE with the Deltics and the d400s/ class 50s which hauled 10 + at a steady 100mph.
We loved to hate duffs because unlike other classes in Scotland, there were masses of them, they all looked the same - slab sided, bald headed and a bit too modern - and they made a kind of nasty whiny noise which made too much fuss about getting places not all that quickly when the speed limit was low as in the Fife Circuit or via Huntly route. Duffs turned up on everything and made some quite long journeys feel like a waste of time when their flat ended boringness appeared at a station around the ScR, or dropping onto an Addex or Mystex. 86 down for a 47/4 forward is recorded at least twice in 1983-84 for me on mystexes, when dual heat stock would have allowed for a roarer followed by a forty, as they had often been a couple of years before. They turned up too on those nice little producers at Carstairs or on the via Dumfries line, sometimes leaving you with one of those 'dreadful festers' for a train back to Glasgow central, having 'refused' a duff on a 'portion' or Stranraer service for example.
It was kind of like part of the game though really. Quite a few 'moves' sans TOPS report were a gamble, and there was nothing better than a bunch of EE fans being 'withered' by a 'spoon' turning up (aka Duff) on a service which was bound to 'produce' something good once in a while, just not today. How we would moan and roar in disappointment in a collective exasperation, all with a tongue in cheek because of course we were daft enough to go up to Dingwall, early doors to Ayr, or down to Kilmarnock on the off chance a decent loco to our liking would produce.
Die hard thirty seven bashers got their revenge on Duffs on the ScR of course, because they took over from the boilered duffs on various services when all stock went ETH in the late 80s and early 90s. I guess as the days of the thrash along the loch sides and over Rannoch moor were glorious to me, for many bashers, flat out up the Highland Line or tootling along Huntly route were halcyon days. Indeed there were a lot of big summer time 'productions' and temporary allocations of NB syphons to SCr. A little bit of my heart would love to have done all the routes 37s previously had been very rare visitors on, such as the fife circuit and mega rare Perth via Newburgh, but like i say I kind of belonged to another epoch, and BOOKED thrity sevens on those routes was kind of a cheat in a way. These routes were kind of like gold nuggets which in the days of steam heat, produced 37s rarely when the far north ones had been serviced in Glasgow or England, and you kind of had to be in the know, and it kind of never ever happened in the school holidays. I remember seeing 37/4s on the Highland and and Huntly routes and thinking, nah, not my cuppa tea, the best is behind them. It was a teenage flirt, a last passage of childish things perhaps. I had moved on then, bevvying and going up mountains, alhtough not in that order, and enjoying driving cars instead of taking sprinters. Now though if it were today that this last chance to do everything for a couple of years was available today, I would give up all for a two week Freedom of Scotland and hope for tractors and not spoons on all routes!