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BR Class 08 (BR/English Electric 0-6-0 DE)

These locomotives, the standard large shunter design for British Railways, were a descendent of locomotives produced for the LMS in the 1930s, and subsequent locomotives produced for the Southern Railway, the Great Western Railway and others, all featuring English Electric diesel engines, generators and traction motors. These were all 0-6-0 designs with a rear mounted cab and a wide bonnet (US: hood) the full height of the locomotive. Almost 1,200 of them were built, of which over 300 remain in service today. They became the standard shunter type of British Rail after the withdrawal of other classes in the 1968-1981 period, and there are, currently, no plans to replace them.

There have been numerous modifications to the class, but only one has led to a formal reclassification; five locomotives were reduced in height for the Bury Port & Gwendraeth Valley line in West Wales, which has a restricted loading gauge, and they are classified as 08/9 with numbers 08 991-995. Other modifications over the years have included braking (adding train air brakes, and in some cases removing the vacuum brake equipment), various additional couplers for coupling with multiple unit stock, including buckeye couplings and (on 08 948) Scharfenburg couplers, a design of fully automatic coupler including automatically coupling brake lines, for shunting Eurostar trains at North Pole International Depot. Other modifications include waterproofing on certain locomotives for use in carriage washing plants, one locomotive with a siren and flashing lights for use at Ipswich Docks, and several locomotives fitted with remote control equipment.

With the break-up and piecemeal privatisation of British Rail, Class 08 locomotives have passed into the ownership of numerous companies, as well as quite a few in service with industrial users and preserved railways.


    TOPS Numbering:  (08/0) 08 077 - 08 958
                     (08/9) 08 991 - 08 995
    1957 Numbering:  D3000 - D4192
          Built by:  BR Derby, Crewe, Darlington, Doncaster, Horwich
        Introduced:  1953-1959
 Wheel Arrangement:  0-6-0 (C)
            Length:  29ft 3in (8.91m)
            Weight:  48-49 tonnes (metric tons)
    Maximum  Speed:  20mph (32 km/h)
            Engine:  English Electric 6KT
     Engine Output:  400hp (298 kW)
      Transmission:  Electric
    Main Generator:  EE801-8E or E801-14E
   Traction Motors:  2 x EE506-6A or EE506-7C
        Brake Type:  Vacuum or dual Air and Vacuum or Air only
       Brake Force:  19 tons
      Heating Type:  None Fitted
Route Availability:  5
The Plym Valley Railway in Plymouth has one of these shunters, and it is indeed one of the oldest of the class in existence.It was built at the Derby yards in 1952, and given the number 13002, to later be renumbered D3002 in 1959.

As a volunteer on the said railway I have the unenviable task, (or to some people very enviable indeed) of helping out with maintenance of the engine and shunting, and so on and so forth, and so there are a few things that should be corrected about the stats given above.

The Maximum Speed given is certainly false. I have been on the footplate of the engine with a full working train, some five tonnes or so i would imagine, and we belted up the line at something like forty or so miles an hour as opposed to the given twenty.

An interesting side note on the railway is that at all times, there is no speed limit, which means we could do shunting at sixty if we wished, if it werent for the prohibitive cost of fuel. Unfortunately, the speed limit with passengers (IE, paying members of the public) is a mere twenty miles an hour.

There is a heater installed in the rear of the cab, along with a small stove mounted on the rear left wall. I have not seen it in action, but I am told it produces a truly wicked cuppa.

Today I was on top of the loco cleaning out the diesel exhausts and then washing the whole top of the engine with a bucket and sponge. There are several things I took note of.

1) It is a long way to the ground.

2) The handles along the side of the loco to aid crew when walking along the side of it provide next to no grip when an oily boot is placed up on it.

3) It is a real bugger trying to move along the top of the loco when the shed roof is only a mere sixteen inches above you. I mean, I couldn't even roll over without performing some posture worthy of a nubile romanian gymnast.

Along with the top of the loco, I had to climb inside the damn thing and scrape the crap out off the engine compartment floor, which is basically a semi-sodden mass of congealed engine oil, rust scrapings and whatever organic matter has managed to find its way in, like leaves. I managed to scrape a full litre ice cream carton of the stuff from just one side of the loco, and that was without going beneath the many pipes that lie on the bottom of the compartment.

Dont get me wrong, I quite like the engine. I'd just like to work on it without cracking my spine in two just to move around the damn thing.

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