fredag 30. juli 2010


When you got a little up the ranks or experience as a basher, you needed to get a little platform 5 publication called "1H8x" with a nice photo of a train carrying that head code with the coincidental year, from 10 years before. ( which seemed like ancient egypt to us).

Trains still carried a "head code" on paper and in the TOPS computer system. In order to use the printed reports from the latter, which sometimes got in the grubby hands of bashers, you needed the codes as TOPS works on an abbreviated system using these as UIDs if you like. Also it makes you sound more professional talking about 1S45 instead of " the 1010 from Kings Cross to Edinburgh".

So come the Orwellian year, the book was IH84 and IIRC the cover was a centre box 40 displaying the actual code.

Some trains which had been standard type 2 or class 40/45-o suddenly became open to booking of whatever loco was around. It is also alleged that some depots began hoarding itinerant class 47s and 37s as reliable metal to haul trains when ever required. I don't know if there is any truth in this or their motivation to reduce labour stress by taking more time to fix failed locos or to keep head counts up. Maybe it was because sheds like Immingham and Cardiff did not have the space for locos and were please to send them off on their holidays in the summer of 84.

In any case, bashers had a quandry: more trains than ever could drop, while booked 40 diagrams were basically vanished. Also you could be a ned and take those god awful 31.4s (aka ETHELS by non ped bashers now) to join moves together and remain loco hauled. By volume in fact, 31, 33 and 47 probably wee way out in the lead of passenger bookings in the list of 1H84 but also the least interesting locos for the bashing population profile: I never met a shreddie or ped' basher and 47 bashers were looked upon as vermin to be waterbombed and derived at any opportunity.

There was a happy band of peak bashers, but they kept themselves to themselves, being very class loyal and having every opportunity to do so still in 1984. Deltic men had moved to 40s, for want of 50s where they lived and deltic men were the "top men" in our considerations.

Anyway, the quandry was WHAT trains to cover: some top men considered TOPS print outs as cheating, but like the internet for students, everyone was at it in 1984 in order to get the most for their all liners, freedoms or ticked employee boxes.

Anything with a suitable RA could turn up on any train that was not coffin (Air Condition) rolling stock. This had a down side; the numerous 47/4s and the newer converted 6s could equally turn up out of crew or carlisle to thwart a well covered move. Or they cascaded out unwanted and unpopular boilered duffs. I mean people rant on the internet about boilered duffs and I was on one of the last Edinburgh to newcastle steamers with NO other bashers but us and we just did it out of boredom and the need for some "therms" on a chilly night on an October holidays "freedom".

The chaos insued and in the next blogs you can read about how I got to grips with it


1984 turned out to be a massive year for diesel bashers all over the UK, but in Scotland it marked the last year of any numbers of class 40 workings and very numerous NB class 37 workings.

The year so famously chosen by George Orwell, has been called the "last classic year of bashing diesels" on, but really that is a misnomer as perhaps the years in the early 70s before the demise of hydraulics and the advent of HSTs to replace them and Deltics were truly the last of the classics.

The year turned out to be so big mainly because of a certain Mr Arthur Scargill. Our "arfur" saw the inevitability of what Thatcher wanted to do: balance the books at the pits or close them all. When the miners went out in 83 and 84 it meant there were vastly fewer trains to run. The strike turned out to be the last English civil war, ironically enough actually starting in Scotland at Bilston Glen.

Also at a guess a couple of other factors came into play: decline in freight bookings due to improving roads and private investment in road transport. Also the final run down of regular bookings of "Non standard" classes and those considered to have numbered days; 40, 45, 25 and 27 amongst them. These factors released more frieght dedicated locos ( non boilered, or no train heating to be precise) to general pool of working. On the one hand you had "large" members of the 25 and 40 classes dropping onto anything because they still actually ran and had little to do, and on the other the spaces at depots were made up by shiny NB 37s or 56s/8s. Boilered forties also were released from some of their regular duties allowing them to drop on anything needing steam, fort william sleeper forward from Dumbarton included in 1983, and not being missed when depots like Haymarket and Motherwell "borrowed" them as reliable back up to type 2s and the awful scottish class 47s.

Frieght locos though were the most sought after by hardened class bashers and neds like us alike. We liked to irk some "top man" with a drop like 37172 on a scarborough or 37013 on a stanrær.

However, that being said, I doubt there were any 37s which had never actually worked a passenger service: all 37s were originally installed with boilers and vacuum brakes only, so it is likely that they all had worked something by 1984 in the years when the first generation DMUs were being fased out. However some class 47/3s had never been had by fanatical duff bashers and probably never had worked a passenger due to their allocation to non passenger rostering depots and the demand for them on freight trains meaning the depots would not let them out on trips to drag on the WCML, rescue trains or stand in for lack of locos at depots who needed metal to pull trains. 47-3s were built to do frieght only, period.

Also some class 20s had most likely not been booked on a passenger more than a handful of times in their entire life, "producing" only on failed trains and when they were inadvertedly rotated to the manchester area where they may have been pinched to work the skeggies.

In scotland if you wanted rare 20s or 47s and the chance of a 40, then the Carstairs-Edinburgh portions and the Motorails north from there were the ones to cover. THe motorails became difficult for bashers even on all lines, and some who were BR employess donned Hi Vis Vests and walked up the track at Carstairs to nab 40 mileage to Perth. in 83 and 4, forties were once again a common site in Stirling and Perth due to the motorails, but it was out of our grasp as we saw several split box forties work the untouchable service from the shunt north of Carstairs.

The other factors making it such a great year overall, included not in the least the host of summer ADDEXs which were still being run at this time. In Glasgow, the populated centre of Scotland, there was still plenty of Glasgow Fair specials for workers doing their stint to Blackpool, and the more exoitc eastern riviera towns of Skegness and Scarborough.

I remember most people I saw in Glesga were poor by todays standards, and I was of course in a poor widowed family. The majority of the population in the west of scotland lived in local authority housing on a modest income. So the packages offered by BR were still much in demand, although the train fares revenue was probably boosted by bashers filling the first two coaches; at least indirectly from "all liners", "freedoms" and other regional go anywhere tickets.

There were summer timetable services, such as to stranrær, which used vac or just non coffin stock thus being amenable to frieght locos.

1984 had a lot of social turmoil due to the miners and the whole tory thing: the steel industry was also being tampered with to cut traditional routes to markets and value multiplication, like the gartcosh strip mill which added value to the raw materials from Ravenscraig. The dockers too, probably the worst example of abuse of union power, were facing privatisation in Liverpool in particular. Many of the "hard working, working classes" and the middle class were shocked at the unfolding scenes of violence at picket lines as the 1984 civil war took shape. Also the supposedly appaling waste of money these unionised industries represented. That Britain needed to import subsidised coal from Poland and New Zealand and the US went on to protect it's out dated steel industries for another 20 years, was lost on the tory voting populace. That income tax had gone down, while rates and VAT had gone up was a tricky balancing act which favoured well earning working class families as much as the rich, while penalising pensioners and those on low wages; and people worked pretty often for a pound an hour back then.

In 1984 I started out as pretty anti miner, but soon found I was supporting them because of the egalitarian contact of being a basher. Some bashers were either from mining families or railway workers running into the pits. The thing the tory accountants and Ian McGregor could not see was the utter devastation of these communities as little or no industry or services could be attracted to the areas after the closures. Instead of paying the coal industry subsidies, the tories ended up paying them to do nothing and subsidising private sharks to take on employees dirt cheap supported by "training " grants.

Also, for some reason, the summer was a scorcher all over the UK with record temperatures recorded. I remember it being 24'C or more from May to September. This meant no one would complain about no heat trains, as long as they weren't coffin stock.

Love or hate the miners and steel workers, their actions lead to a massive number of locos being available for the still large number of loco hauled trains. As loco histories of diagrams and bashers moves and blogs like mine appear, it reinforces that all over the UK, 1984 was a biggy for all of us in the "faith".

First Catch on the ETHEL run

14.12.1983 Area «A» Transcard

19:06:00 Ex Glas Oban to Ardlui 37026
19:59:00 Ardlui Helensburgh Upper 37148

148 was an ED largish non boilered 37, with I beleive roots in scotland back to the 1960s allocations to Grangemouth (and another defunct depot had 37s i hear)

Guess there were some issues with boilers and the generally poorly maintained Stratford fleet ED inherited. Later, 37 109 and 110 did tours of the WHL on loan while 90 and 92 produced that winter too.

This was my last recorded move of 1983.

All Passengers for ...Glen Douglas

..Please alight at the gaurds van.

Well it was probably someone we knew like Robert Jacobs or some kind gripper because we were allowed only this ONE time to bail at Glen Douglas for the down Oban due to the late running of the Up to oban.

26.11.1983 Area «A» Transcard
Ex Glasgow QS to Oban 0906 to GLEN DOUGLAS 37014
09:XX GLEN DOUGLAS Helensburgh Upper 37178
10:36:00 Helensburgh Upper Arrochar 37043
11:15:00 Arrochar Dumbarton Central 37037
12:17:00 Dumbarton Balloch 303
12:38:00 Balloch Dumbarton Central 303
12:56:00 Dumbarton Helensburgh Central 303
16:54:00 Helensbugh Central Dumbarton Central 303
17:33:00 Dumbarton Glasgow QS 37043
18:20:00 Glasgow QS (Oban) Arrochar 37014
19:45:00 Arrochar Glasgow QS 37026

Apart from 37178 and the dreadful bail, nothing to report.

For completeness, here was a short ned trip out a few days before:

08:35:00 Glasgow C Paisley 27038
09:06:00 Paisley Glasgow Central DMU
09:50:00 Glasgow QS Helensburgh Upper 37026

Bashing Day 6.8.1983 Lowland Master Transcard

Bashing Day 6.8.1983 Lowland Master Transcard and a saver return apparently!

0848 Oban to Arrochar 37 108
0926 Arrochar to QS 37 051
(morning move to Paisley)
1350: glasg C to stewarton 25 210
1438 return 47 531
1530: Glas qs- Edinburgh Waverley: 47 711

17oo ADDEX : Edin - QS 37 172 ex Scarborough Hol'Ex

1800 Glas QS to WWavverly 47 7xx

2008 Edin Wav to Glasg QS 37 264 ADDEX

2129 Home 303

First in my new book of bashing only, and on a "scratch it" Ned card. A very mundane pair of syphons for the WHL, but I'd give my right leg to be able to pop out and have them any saturday now up the Arrochar bank.

1300 Glasgow C to Paisley 303, DMU return for some reason. This could have been the day the "partick purple heroes" returned from the end of the Marching season in N,Ireland and Perth Man blessed the train as it rioted through Paisley Gilmour. DMU was probably a suspect move : blame it on rupert,

1350: glasghow to stewarton 25 210. Ned move to avoid the desperate bail under the tunnel at Kilmarnock which could be dodgey as it became negative 1 minute at least on timetable.

1438 return 47 531: yuch. Better off covering something at carstairs and paying the excess if it dropped. Roarer days were numbered by then as well.

1530: Glas qs- Edinburgh Waverley: 47 711. Useful for something duffs, the shuvvers would get you to edinbuirgh 30 years ago faster than the plastic does today.

17oo ADDEX Scarborough : Edin - QS 37 172. Fairly huge, the 37 did a good job on the load 8 : blistering warm that day. Think it ran from the "secret" platforms, 13 or so at wavverlee. Hell as it eat a 27 out of haymarket which was toodling out on a dundee. Roars at it as we get up to 80mph on 8 with a large NB. Nice

1800 shove duff back to WWavverly for the second syphon of the day, the errant 37 264 on the 2008 ADDEX from scarborough or skeggie or the like ( please drop a note) Newly allocated to ED I reckon at that point , not large but no doubt some thrash.

home 2129 303. Lovely, a 303 to chill out on the deep, warm bench seats before they went plastic inside.

9.8.83. Three days later and a family trip to mallaig drops what was actually pretty big for then 37 028 vo: vacuum only brakes limited it, but it was not uncommon on passengers. Lucky to get a decent mileage

0917 Home to Ft William 37 028 vo
1245 Ft Bill to Mallaig 37 190 xbh
1610 Mallaig to Home 37 190

the latter at that time was actually a Mallaig - Glasgow on TOPS iirc!

0917 to Ft bull, 97.25 miles 37 028 required for haulage! Family day out, absolutely baking warm. The Mallaig Kettle services were underway and some move for the tin-can had resulted in a track bed/sleeper fire near tulloch or somewhere, resulting in a stop at some desserted station north of corrour which I fail to rememebr but have photos of no doubt!

1245 Ft Bill to mallaig 37 190. 1610 Mallaig : home 138.25 miles.

Big run on 37 190 which was at that point hell fire, later to become a poorer performer in outright thrash but still a reliable sister to 188, 191 and 192.

There were various eccentrics on the train and quite a few people just doing the day to cover the line for tourist reasons: "ada and bert" as we used to say. One middle aged teenager on a scateboard with an eaton tie and accent to mathc, and a randy 35 year old lady with a tuscan sun tan and a rich hubby with baronial pile in Arisaig eyeing up my obbvious virginity with some interest.

22.8.83 missed a whole weekend to something else, but back for something I guess many later comers in the bashing world would buy a tardis for: the pilot trains which were a class 20 for the up sleeper on monday mornings: being too lazy to get up at 4.30 (yeah, right, life is somewhere in there) the 20 was usually lashed up with a syphon on the down afternoon bill.

The 20 was fitted with a through steam pipe set up. Two were modified I believe in order to work the Mrk I dual heat sleeper. They were used to help over come wheel slip, being trailling loco both ways usually, but I have seen pics of it leading the down.

1718 to Garelochhead. 37 191

1800 Gareloch to Dumbarton 37 027 + 20 045

1849 Dumbarton to Arrochar 37 108

1942 Arrochar to Home 37 264

The double EE 20 / 37 combitwenty combination sounded pretty good. There was probably some precedent for using a 20 to prevent wheel slip, but the conversion to a through steam pipe was a master stroke for ED depot!!

followed by 37 108 Dumbarton . Arrochar 1849 and 1942 37 264 out again for me at least down at 1942. The bails were due to a slightly poor timetable with passes at Glen Douglas and N glasgow respectively. Later time tables became more straight forward with the only issue being the afternoon festering on the WHL which took us to cover all and sundry to return for the famous 1650 Ft bill run.

25. 8. 83
1718 - Gareloch head 37 039
1800 37 190 return.

I believe this fairly ned like move was due to Spock being introduced to the art of bashing. This I am sure, was in fact the night he gained the nick name from Gordon Sellers due to the small pinches in his otherwise non vulcan foundry ears.

To show I was a but bored with the WHL by now, I did this day to cover all the moves for wayward NB class 37s or new metals for 12CSVT

0730 Glas- Stewarton 26 015
0819 Stewarton - Glas 26021 + 26031 ( hee hee rat bashers!)

1000 Johnstone to GHlasgow 27014 + 37109.

Why? well I guess the 27 was either floundering or the 37 was needed back up. 109 was an english boilered syphon and large enough for us on that route. Very rare pairing: can someone confirm they were blue starred up that day?

1135 Glas- Kilwinning 37 017

: Not even pm yet and we are doing some017 was vbh if IIRC. Not actually big for strannies but a nice drop. Good run to Lodge zero town, with a pile of bashers on board including Perth Man and Rupert and probably brian reid and dobie. Dreadful Ayr DMU back unfortunately for no real reason.

1350 Glas- Stewarton 27 029.'

POS , all the sad mac rat bashers were out IIRC, for this toddle down to the faceless station in the midst of darkest nowhereshire. Rancid. Only saved parially by

1438 Stew to Glas Cen 26 030. Required.

Syphon bashers had a soft spot for the little Cromptons, probably as much to wind up the 27 bashers as much as for their use on the beloved far north route.

1550 to Kilmarnock 27 108

for 1630 Kilmarnock to Ayr: 47 413.

Covering this rake of mark Is in the summer was worthwhile as it could drop 37s, 40s and allegedly 31s. Carlisle were probably playing funny boogers keeping duffs on shed at that point as some sheds would do when an itinerant and desirable loco needed an A exam or water or the like. Okay it was a gennie duff, but still a loco derated due to inadequacies in build and more expensive than DP2s would have been!

Back home that night on 303s.

10-9-83 Another ned day. Up early for no bloody reason.

0624 303 which was direct to central for some reason (?)
0730 to Stewarton 27 012 for 27 023.

Ooh I should have gotten a TOPS report, but that was cheating unless you found one!!

0935 to johnstone DMU ( 101 IIRC p.o.s.)
1010 Johnstne - Central 47 211
1135 Glas Cen to Kilwinning 47 109
1350 Stewarton 26 038 for , yep of course 27 012 on return.

1634 (oban?) To garelochhead 37012 for 37 188 back to dunbarton for 37051 to Helensburgh upper, Walk move to Hel' Central to cover th 2038 something or other as far as lenzie because it was a duff and we had nowhere else to go 47 578 , puke!

2051 back was a by then getting rare 27004 for a 303 home at 2129. Phew. 14 hour day.

24-9-83 I think this was done either on a special green day ticket or by some fudge with fares as I was so poor back then that a tenner was BIG money for a days bashing.

0640 Upper to Tyndrum Upper 37085 + 37 108 ( probably loco rota swap at the Ft Bill shed or a failure)
0846 Tydrum lower to Arrochar 37 022 not yet 9 am and three syphons in the book. 022 was relatively little used.

0923 Arrochar to Oban 37188
1225 Oban to Upper 37 188

This is when it became my beast as it was a nice runner with plenty of thrash on the handle. I guess this was a family day or a special ticket, but whatever there was little time at Oban. I have some dodgey 110 and BW pictures of a day trip to Oban with "dobey" but I think it was a split head code 37. Dunno. 188 became my beast and he stuck to 264.

ETHEL begins

Ethel was ushered in in the early autumn timetable of 1983.

Here is probably the first saturday of it's operations.

1020 Upper to QS 37027
1350 - Kilmarnock 47 524 puke , why oh why? and wait for it: a DMU is put on in return as happened sometimes when 27s or 25s went pete tong.

1650 Glas- Helensburh Upper 37085,

for the walk move again due to the stoophid timetable fora 314 to get the 1851 Dunbarton 37 037 to ardlui. Nice number, decent loco recently released from Stratfor I believe at that time.

Ardlui home 1959 37 191 and ETHEL 2

12.10. 1906 to Ardlui 27 108 of all the cheek! for 37 043 with ETHEL one 1959 Ardlui back. Think I remember all the MacRat neds were out.

22.10.1983 0906 To arrochar 37 043

0945 Arrochar to Hel U. 37 190 leading a failed 175 ( dead as marked in brackets in my book)

175 was not in all that good a nick on Scr, with dreadful clag with flames, an over eager engine and some electrical issues including wrong field divert in engagement.

1150 Hel U to QS 37 027- The new move was needed to cover the down ft bill in case you needed it ( a ned fester beleive me) We made up for it in the evening timetable with crosses at decent places so you could cover the down oban before then taking the ETHEL at Ardlui.

1350 TO kilmarnock 47 595. New timetable made it possible again as it had been before. The old timetable had allegedly been tampered with either to foil MacRat bashers or to make it possible for Carlisle "men" to get some mileage up to Kilmarnock for a bail to return. Rancid 47, but at elast it would have been warm.

1428 Kilm - Central 27 056. this was a reasonable class 27. Nuff said. At one point you could bail at nitshill due to a dodgey signalling. Bad place to bail !

The Kilmarnock 1350 was an institution and filled tha afternoon gap if you weren't mileaging to Oban or Bill. Also it was more useful for Gen because you met "big" english bashers. Deltic Men amongst them. And they had gen and TOPS and some could influence which loco dropped on a chain reaction to potentially produce on an ADDEX or a Carlisle Stranie etc.

1650 t Dumbarton 37 027
1820 QS to Home 37 043

Guess I was bored that day and knew the result on the later workings down from Oban and Bill.

AYR Open day. 29.10.83

As far as I remember this was my last day with the purpose of actually spotting. There were a few hulks and regular 20s required for sight as it was difficult to see from the line or the gate and a real no go area for entoosiasts without it being flung open.

On the open day we got to go inside 37 017 and an NB with a "band stand" as well as a 27 but I think the 40 was locked.

0835 Central to Newton on Ayr 27040 ( special stop for the open day I dare say)
1450 Ayr to Central 27040
1650 to Dumbarton 37085
1733 Dumbart to QS 37112
1820 Glas - Ardlui 37 108
1959 Ardlui- Glasgow QS 37012 ETHEL 2
2159 303 home

A fairly thankless evening given the usual suspects out, but I was already on the ED boilered mileage way, hence the longer run into Glesga past my bed time. I was 15 in 1983.


0906 to Arrochar 37026
0945 Arrochar to Garelochhd 37112
10:49:00 Garelochhead Arrochar 37033 + 37 178
11:15:00 Arrochar Glasgow QS 37014

13:50:00 Glasgow Central (Carlisle) Barrhead 86101/47540

Very, very bizarre: either some bizzare mess on the diagramming and delivery of motive power, or more probably a diverted WCML train which took the diagram and status of the usual 1350 Central Carilse via Dumfries. We probably did a dodgey leap at barrhead on a signal, but it could have been a scheduled stop at some point for the Carlisle diesel run.

18:20:00 Glasgow QS (Oban) Arrochar
14:58:00 Barrhead Glasgow Central DMU
16:50:00 Glasgow QS (Ft William) Crianlarich 37112
19:09:00 Crianlarich Arrochar 37188
19:41:00 Arrochar Ardlui 37026
19:59:00 Ardlui Helensburgh Upper 37037

Well and truly back onto mundanity of being a 37 basher after one of the weirdest trains I ever did. More soon on the moves out over 1983.

torsdag 29. juli 2010

Class 37 EE type Three 1750hp weirdness

1) 108: class 40 turbo
2) 133: bendy bogies- I have a note from  the cl37lg committee that 37175 bore these, but also I see that 37133 was in doncaster works in 1984 alongside some 50s undergoing HGR and I wonder if this was when it had these. Gordon Sellers said it was 133 which had bendy fitted (articulated bogies, persumably like US locomotives have)

3) far north mixed freight-passenger

4) class 20 pilot WHL

5) end to end, Greenock to Aviemore: other end to end workings pre 1990?

6) 37/0s which became /1s upon repair

7) 37 296 reallocation before "fouring"

8) the proposed small diesel ETH generator in the wiki pdf on the D6700s

9) the pairs used to propell the APT on the non wired ECML

10) working the Flying Scotsman ( 1S45) in 1960 blip

11) tripples to Llanwern

12) doubles for swaps and run ins: more common than I rememeber on the WHL, the of course the georgemas junction loco and the 37/4 run ins.

13) unusual workings pre 37/4x/5 etc upgrades: glasgow QS low level, the sleeper through to Central etc. 1S81 and the whole thing

14) the 37/3s at ML * see below # 24

15) doubles in the West Country on high seped trains in the 60s/ 70s : failure? Better than d1000s?

16) lickey bankers, QS tunnel bankers...:other bankers??

17) THe early scottish allocation to Grangemouth

18) the glasgow edinburgh push pull trial of 37s

19) the use of 37s to replace 47/7s in july 1984- what happened?

20 ) routes which hardly ever saw thirty sevens in the 70s and early 80s

21) the converse;: routes the 37/4s etc came to run on frequently post 1986 which had never seen 37s before.

22) 37292s uprating to 2000hp

23) why the locos were chosen to become 37/4s and /9s.

24) Oddity: scotland chooses the reverse of welsh steel trains: ML depot trialled both class 56s and later 58s on the hunterston iron ore trains and coal fuel trains for Ravenscraig, and decided resolutely that a pair of thirty sevens out performed single 56s or 58s. Pt Talbot - LLanwern trains used pairs of 56s, and were of course faster than even the triple 37s. But maybe due to the diagrams, there was no advantage seen in going over to single type 5s. This could have been a little biased by MLs management having gathered good operating 37s over time and wanting to retain both head count in fitters and not burden them with a whole new set of training, failures and spare parts.

Syphonage: Class 37 bashing in the 1980s

Why did we do it?

Well 37s were big and noisy machines : so were most other diesel locos on the go, but syphons as we called them ( the established slang word, along side the derogatory "tractor" due to the sound, and only neds called them growlers) were fast off the mark and had as the "reverend" described it, an agricultural field diversion with a sudden shut down of the power unit to switch fields followed often by an equally abrupt return to full power, aka Notch 8.

When I began it was in fact the 37s which were the new boys on our local patch: glasgow and the WHL. They looked upon with suspicion by some and even hatred by the 27 bashers, to whom we came to outnumber probably many times over.

The first allocation of 37s to Scotland (there had been some allocation to grangemouth at an earlier time, date and source required!) came to Eastfield and wer largely stratford based locos previously. Indeed some locos like 37 014 had probably spent their entire lives out of that depot on the long flat sections of Cambridgeshire. Stratford were displacing them with class 47s, with a decline in freight work and electrifications to be extended out of Liverpool lime street. However the depot seemed to have extracted every last minute of engine hours out of them because many were in a bit of a state when they got north. Reliability was a bit of an issue, but 27s were hardly a shining example of class reliability, miles-to-casualty or indeed disatourous engine room fires. Frankly the 27s were knackered, especially the 2s and some 1s which had been flogged on the edin-glas route. The class was decimated by fires, major PU failures ( thrown pistons usually) and other issues but some examples were pretty well repaired and returned to service after overhauls at St. Rollox (Glasgow "works") like 27 056.

Actually, on a side note, 27s were in fact better suited to particular routes: stranraer at that time, kilmarnock carlisle, the fife circuit and the Inverness Aberdeen line due to the running speeds often being 40 to 50 miles per hour: this is a 37 weak point because they bang in and out of weak field and are over eager once through it, thus making the diagrams hard to master. Slower or quicker routes are where the 37s shows a clean pair of heels to the type two vermin. 27s handled even load 8 trains on the faster Stranraer route pretty respectably, while on 300 tonnes on the WHL or a faster route they would struggle. In an ideal world, and one envisaged by some sulzer fans amongst management at Eastfield, the class 33 would have come to roost under ED badging.

37s were reputadely not very popular at said "ED" depot because they were more complex than the simple 6LDA and even 12LDA PU based locos, the former of which the Springburn power house had seen allocations in all the guises 24 through 27. The main issues with the long houred examples from Stratford were the rev'governors and fuel control system, the timing chains and valve gear which were numerous and needed attention more than the prescribed engine overhaul hours would suggest. Some examples went back to crewe or doncaster for "D" exams and came out very much better, like the afore mentioned 37o14, coming out a beast in 1982. Other locos struggled on, with 37 025, 017 and 108 being considered lame ducks.

37108 was popular in it's own little way because it had a pronounced whistle. Gordon Sellers recounted that this was due to a turbo blow out, the unit being "temporarily" replaced with a unit from 40 170 (the dead one near the road entrance to ED). How they plumbed the different turbo into the intercooling system I shudder to think, but the overall pressure would be a lot less given it feeds 6 cylinders. It was an interesting lame duck, eventually coming out of an exam down south as a bit of a beast. ( confirmation to gen on it being a 40 turbo needed please! But it did WHISTLE!)

Given the stratford heaps we inherited in Glesga', the accountants at ScR would maybe have thought twice about the costs of running a CSVT beast of 20 years age, but the HGR of the fleet was already in the planning, probably from the late 70s, with 37 292 being the living evidence that the class was going to be modernised.

However, the main impetus for the 37 fleet being a success at ED and IS (Inverness) was the arrival of what were called the Welsh Dragons: the 37'1's from 37 172 to 37 264. Also ED had various others , 124 IIRC and the somewhat large 37 133 and I think 148 was allocated. I believe these were from maybe Immingham and if I bothered to look it up I could confirm. Some spotter or tractor-fanatic has probably blogged all the life histories of the class.

Anyway, the welshies were fantastic: nearly all the Power Units were in good condition and seemed to be tuned to give maximum delivery. So much so that 37175 once hit it's 1000rpm shut down governor up the tunnel at GSQst. 37 264 was probably 5 years younger than 37 014 yet in fact, after works treatment the performance of these two examples was equally impressive. 37 188 was my, and many others favourite, being a very clean and newly painted example on arrival, crisp and fast off the blocks and seemingly super reliable. The legendary ED driver Peter Walker reputedly had this as a favourite loco.

Due to the lack of draughty gangway doors ( out of use, but still draughty on many early locos like 012, 14, 17 and 28) and arm rests on all the seats, the fromer welsh 37/1s were more popular amongst drivers.
Most drivers I talked to loved 37s: "Ivor" from Oban much prefered them to the 27s. Many 27 neds said the living legend PW hated them but his abuse of the powerhandle was probably out of a boy like sense for fun. On a cab ride I was on with him at the handle, he seemed completely at one with the loco and enjoying the drive. Some drivers even gained a new sense of pride in their work being in command of a nosed EE type 3 which could get them to a tea break with 15 minutes down! One I cab rided on a works train patted the power handle and said 37s were their baby deltics.

27s and their brethrin seemed tame in comparison to the thrash and accelerations of the newcomers, and had the GEC-Sulzer "tip tops" continued on the WHL I think my bashing career would have run maybe a year and not half a decade as it did.

27s did turn out though when there was some wheeze that something on 37s should be checked through the fleet. A serious boiler failure grounded all the "xb" syphons on several occaisions leading to both 27s on just about everything and an NB on the ETHEL ( 37 148 possibly as a result)

To this day though, there is nothing compares to bailing at Helensburgh Upper and hearing the twin exhuasts thrash southwards three feet from your ears. What was that you said?

We did not really know that the 37-4 project had been committed to, but we did know that the venerable mrk I dual heat sleeper was bound for the scrappers to be replaced by mrk IIIs. This posed significant issues for cornering and resultant diagramming for the new stock. (were self oilers initiated on corners like Rhu, Faslane and the many curved viaducts implemented at this point?)) Given the go ahead, the temporary solution turned out to be absolutely hell fire: the ETHEL units.

These not only made the trains up to a minimum 300 tonnes but also added a mysterious dubbing note like a 50 when married to the v12 of the 37.

ETHEL was all a bit of a waste of time, or rather they were born too late for their era: they were a stop gap to the 37/4s rather than a system which could have been useful through out the 1970s with a type two being able to be switched over to generate only and dragged by superior power!

WHen they appeared on the scene we jumped up and down for joy of being able to score large NBs at any day on the WHL sleeper: not so, the loco was sensibly further rostered to run the day time Mallaig services further on from Ft Bill, so a boilered was required which kind of killed a little of the fun. The only NBs I recall having were 148 (not required unfortunately) 133 (big when it worked) and maybe 124 or 172, or a rancid 37/0 NB. Presumably the Mallaig, which sometimes even steamed in the scottish summer, went cold or run on the occiasionaly spare loco from Ft Bill. Come to think of it, the sleeper should have produced more often, but I seem to remember 37012 and 37 025 being stuck to it like glue. Rancid by anyones mileage book!

One of my beasts had it's finest hour on ETHEL. 37 014 gave a totally awesome and somewhat hair raising run under the baton of the afore mentioned "PW" with Chris GIbb, later Director of Virgin Rail, sitting in the Buffet soon after his own reallocation as a manager under the great Chris Green of ScR. The sleeper was well late and you probably could have bailed at Tyndrum lower from the up Oban ( actually "down" Oban in diagram terms) . I seem to remember either a fester at Ardlui or a leap at Crianlarich which was probably dubious with the grippers as it was orff limits for transcard teenies like us: ardlui being as far north as SPTE cared to go. I presume Crianlarich was in the old Central region. I diverse as is my nature, but the train was at least 50 minutes late at Ardlui. PW was on the handle and making it move. We took a fairly assertive run to Arrochar followed by some fireworks up the bank to douglas. I seem to remember it feeling like about 70mph between Douglas and Garelochead with a terrific speed taken up once we later rounded Faslane corner on that straight over towards Shandon. At Rhu I became worried as we came into the first S bend at break neck speed, only for the breaks to be plugged on really hard to bring us to the easy sling needed for Rhu station. This was the secret PW knew - air brakes were far more effective than the usualy vacuum brakes of all other WHL trains ( bar maybe one day time ft bill mix of mark iis and is) However, the real surprise came in through Cardross and right into the tunnels before Dalreaoch where the train felt very like it was doing 90 mph.

We left 37014 and her charge at Dumbarton for EMUs home, but by the time it was there it was ahead of time! And what does PW do then? Notch 8 and overload, just to wind us up or to get home early!

The irony of it all I only learnt this year: the original EE to BRB marketing flyer for the EE type three specifically mentions removal of the boiler for replacement with an ETH generator in that area, a la 47 400s.

What ever the possibilities, in 1985 we got the best possible locos for the far north and west highland line, the gleaming 37-4s. I doubt any rail enthusiast would have specced up such a carefully thought out series of modifications to suit the tasks of the class. It took real experts and they came up trumps: namely

1) keep the engine rated at 1750hp: 2000 was too much for reliability.
2) acheive the equivalent of 2000 hp anyway with the use of the more efficient alternator as prime convertor.
3) fitting the necessary starter motor which, a la 50, runs the ETH in dynamo mode.
4) CRopping the wheel slip control to a short cut of the fuel lines rather than the full overload shut and creep up system before. It sounded violent, but the engine revs were kept relatively high and thus thermal cycling was reduced and traction maintained by pure momentum and reduced torque at rail.
5) the master stroke, which may have disappointed us to begin with: down gearing to a lower gear ratio for final mechanical driver TM to axel.

The latter was indeed the master stroke; on the 400 to 550 tonne Aluminiums and the last of the Corpach paper materials trains then, the 4s could handle the whole train alone where a pair of original syphons were needed. Also it made them even more entertaining off the mark, although it seemed to be Inverness drivers who took this to heart. Ironically, ED seemed to behave themselves, perhaps on pain of being put on suburban services, who knows. Oban and Bill drivers gave it plenty welly to make up for them.

Contrary to popular belief of those neds who took up bashing duffs and so on in the 90s, the original 37s could pretty easily get up to ninety mph, and sometimes 100. The absolute top speed discussed in 80s bashing circles was 114mph on a down gradient of the Great Eastern route on a diversion from the ECML, all be it with a pair of syphons. One rare run all the way to Carlisle behind a syphon the Mrk I's felt equally drawn by the horses of hell as they did behind a roarer on that stretch so I guess we were over 90mph if not up at the ton in a cool airstream.

This was another urban platform myth never confirmed: in cool night air, the amp needle on a 37 would indicate a higher output allegedly. The chat was that they actually produced 2000bhp given the right temperature of air and humidity.

37 292, which will get another short mention as my moves in 1984 get blogged, did get uprated to 2000bhp PLUS an alternator. However as in the class 50, the uprating prove to limit the service interval and reliability of the PU. The key issues were sticking or coked valves and valve seats, and sticky valve springs. Also the timing chain needed more attention working at the higher torque. Perhaps an uprating by rpm to 950 may have been one idea, but certainly a move to gear or belt driven cams and more modern valve and head systems would have allowed this over engineered PU to get to 2000hp and beyond as a retro fit. Sceptical? well the 6 RK engine became the 12SVT at 1470hp and then the 1850/1750(2050 unit in the type 3s of the 1960s. The engine went on in RK 270 form to 3300 hp and in rail application ( the mixed rep as the 58) and way beyond in non rail applications in the 1990s.

What BRB should have engaged suppliers, and I mean probably just ruston paxman given their engines were cheaper than Sulzer, was to offer technology upgrades and swapping out of PUs under a lease-buy set up where by the redundant engines could be sold on or cascaded to lower powered classes of locos. Technologies like gear driven cams, common rail injection, both sided intercooling, oil scavenging and better piston head profile designs all could have been incorporated into the CSVT range with the prime engine block and many components being retained.

Okay, so this was the first blog. The blogs will be less rambling and stick to the moves: my bashing book 1982-1987 and no doubt some general rants on sociology, on my personal psychology and the beauty of the places I went to, often hauled by 37s of course.