Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Smart Grids

This is another photograph taken from an old copy of Rail Enthusiast dating from 1983.
The caption that accompanied this great picture was as follows:
Using their combined might of 6,500 bhp, the newly-named 56031 Merehead  and 56032 move a 3,300-tonne payload of stone out of Merehead Quarry during a one-off publicity run on Friday, September 16. The train is nearly half a mile long and, at 4,500 tonnes gross, will be the heaviest in Britain when it starts running regularly in the new year.
Photo: British Rail.
The first 30 examples of this class were built by Electroputere of Romania but, sadly, they proved to be unsuccessful due to poor construction standards and were soon withdrawn. 
The remaining 105 locomotives, of which 56031 and 56032 were the first two, were all built bebuilt by BREL at Doncaster (56031 to 56115) and Crewe (56116 to 56135).
They were nicknamed "Gridirons" or "Grids" due to the grid-like horn cover fitted to 56056 onwards.
These are Type 5 locomotives with a Ruston-Paxman 16RK3CT power unit developing 3,250 bhp.
The engine was a direct descendent of the English Electric CSVT with its closest relative being the 16CSVT as used in the Class 50
Technical advances incorporated into the engine included significantly uprated turbochargers, gear driven camshafts (in place of the timing chain as used on the Class 50s), and uprated cylinder heads, fuel pumps and injectors.
In service the Class 56 proved to be strong and capable, however, the class could not compete with the more modern Class 66s in terms of availability and maintenance costs. 
As imports of the Class 66 increased the EWS-operated Class 56s became obsolete and looked increasingly like locomotives from another era.
To me, though, these mighty machines will always look and sound like true freight locomotives.

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