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Restoration diary

Reports of restoration work on 50029 and 50030.

Electrical restoration: Class 50 control units

Electronic Control Units

One of the major talking points when RRRG first acquired 50029 and 50030 was the availability, or otherwise, of the various electrical control units. The Class 50 has a reputation for being electrically complex – some would say needlessly so.  Pre-refurbishment they were even worse as EE (with assistance from BR) had tried to produce a jack-of-all-trades locomotive.  Many of the features were either rarely used or prone to faults, and most were removed by BR during refurbishment.  The electronic control units are mostly unique to the 50 although some are common to other late-build English Electric locomotives.  Unsurprisingly, all the control units had been removed from 29 and 30 before we bought them and so we had to obtain replacements.  We also felt that it would be worth trying to update the electronics to modern specifications where possible, because the 1960s designs either use completely obsolete components for which no modern equivalents exist, or incorporate design faults, or both.

This is a list of the various control units in a Class 50 and how we have obtained them or can obtain them if we still need them.

CU1 – The main control unit CU1 is the central “brains” and obtains information from a number of different sources, namely from the cab controls, engine load condition (from the load limiting potentiometer) and from the traction currents.  This information is passed to the CU3 and in turn the engine governor.  We have one complete, tested unit, one complete and untested unit and the parts to make up another.


CU2 – the field divert unit, the electrical equivalent of the gearbox of the locomotive.  It controls the three stages of field weakening which occur at approximately 25, 40 and 60 mph depending on trailing load and ruling gradient.  We were missing this item from both our locomotives and the former owners of 50021 kindly loaned us an example which we took to an electronics specialist company who “cloned” it and built us two copies to modern standards.  Ironically, shortly after this, we were able to purchase an original Class 50 unit, though this has yet to be tested, however the original EE unit is known to be very reliable in service.




CU3 and CU6 – also known by its EE designation KV10. The CU3 sets the field current from the main generator as a summation of all the input signals and the CU6 similarly controls the ETH generator output. The main body of the unit is identical but is turned into a CU3 or CU6 by adding a CU3A or CU6A daughter card. Originally we had no KV10s but we adopted a policy of buying them whenever they came on the market in the intervening years and we built up quite a collection. However the KV10 is a classic case of obsolete and temperamental electronics and a respected locomotive electronics expert brought a rebuilt version to market some years ago with completely modernised components. We felt that ordering two each of the rebuilt CU3 and CU6 units for 50029 and 50030 was money well spent. The owner of 50008 Thunderer has also chosen to fit these modernised KV10s and is gaining operational experience with them which will prove invaluable to RRRG.  The new design incorporates the electronics of the CU3A or CU6A into the main unit and eliminates the need for a daughter card.

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CU4 – coolant control unit.  This unit is designed to monitor the temperature of the cooling water in the two coolant circuits and open/close valves to route the flow of water correctly.  It also sends signals to the CU5.  We have none but the Class 50 Alliance has developed a modernised unit which will be made available to us in due course.  It would have been possible to recreate the original CU4, which was built for EE by Hawker Siddeley, but the new design employs proven marine technology which would be acceptable to Network Rail (an important consideration for the C50A) and, together with a C50A-planned CU5 rebuild would eliminate "bugs" in the system which can cause the engine to be over-cooled in some circumstances.


CU5 – radiator fan control unit, it receives the signals from the temperature probes via the CU4 and controls the speed of the radiator fan accordingly.  We had none but again we were able to borrow one from another Class 50 owner.  Adrian Spencer of Cotswold Mainline Diesel Group, another noted locomotive electronics expert, was again able to copy this circuit and build a copy using modern electronic components.  We have also taken the opportunity to have a batch of the temperature probes remanufactured, in partnership with other Class 50 owners.

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CU6 – Regulates the output of the ETH generator. This is basically the same as the CU3, but adjusts the ETH generator field strength to suit varying load demands according the number of coaches requiring electrical heating.

CU7 – ETH field detector unit.  Basically it sees if there is a feed from the coaches which allows the ETH generator to electrically heat them.  It also detects if an ETH fault occurs in a coach, and if one does, in conjunction with Heating Over Volts Relay, it switches off the ETH feed to the coaches and returns the power unit to idling.  It also detects voltage from two 50s in multiple and prevents “doubling” of the ETH supply if this is the case.  This is a fairly simple circuit which I was able to rebuild and install in 50030.  I also obtained the parts to build one for 50029 in due course.  It was a CU7/HOVR fault which caused 50050 Fearless to shut down during the "Fifty Terminator" railtour of March 1994 as for some reason the engine was shut down instead of being returned to idle.

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The CU8 designation was never used, for reasons lost in the mists of time, so isn't relevant to our restoration project.

The CU9 is the automatic voltage regulator, or AVR, and basically maintains the output from the auxiliary generator at 110v DC so the compressors, exhausters and motor blowers do not overspeed.  There are two types: electronic (CU9A) and carbon pile (CU9B), both types are compatible and there is one per locomotive.  The majority of Class 50s were fitted with the original ‘Carbon Pile’ unit, and ten 50s were fitted with an electronic version, but because the electronic types additionally controlled battery charging and also contained gas-sensing equipment, their complexity apparently made them unreliable and were replaced with carbon pile units, which are slower reacting but more reliable.  We have an overhauled CU9B for use in 50030 plus two untested CU9Bs.  We may decide to commission new build versions as this unit can also be improved upon with modern electronics, effectively producing an updated CU9A.  We are currently unaware of anyone who could test our CU9Bs and this is also something we need to consider.

The CU10 is the speed control unit.  It's also known as the ‘AEI’ unit after its manufacturer, the Birmingham company Associated Electrical Industries.  It is a complex device that receives signals from the axle driven transmitter unit, and sends signals to the cab speedometers.  It can be adjusted to take into account wheel-wear.  Six card slots but not all these are used on a 50.  One CU10 per locomotive.  We have two units plus some of the control cards, but as the Class 50 Alliance have designed a modern version, we will probably obtain one in due course.

CU11 was the slow speed control unit which was removed at refurbishment.

The CU12 is the lighting delay timer.  It turns off unnecessary lighting 15 minutes after engine shutdown, such as internal lighting and marker lights, should they be left on and the main battery isolation switch be left in the ‘ON’ position. One per locomotive.  It's questionable whether this unit is really necessary for preserved line use, as it was really designed for times when a 50 might finish its BR duties and then be disposed of on depot by a driver with other things on his mind, so that he might forget to turn the lights off and the batteries would be drained and the locomotive subsequently failed the next morning.  This unit is actually still present in 50029 so we could use this as a template to make one for 50030, if we feel we need to.

Things Still To Do

We still have to tackle the difficult, and probably expensive, issue of the severed traction and ETH cabling under the cubicle.  I have been advised not to through-crimp traction cabling, so it will need replacing with new cable at some point.  We may have to use the services of a specialist contractor for their replacement.

The brake frame needs rewiring once the exhauster underneath it has been changed for an overhauled one.  The Driver’s Safety Device (DSD) relay box needs new cabling laying in as the original cables have long gone, likewise for the DSD speed switch in the cupboard underneath the hotplate in No.2 cab.  The comprises several pieces of equipment, including relays plus hand and foot operated switches, which automatically shuts off power and initiates a full brake application after 5-7 seconds if the driver becomes incapacitated and removes his foot from the pedal in the cab.


All the cab desks need the cable crimps cleaning, the lampholders behind where the instrument panels go will need either cleaning or replacing, we still have to source or make the switch panels that go in the ceiling above the driver, and the master controllers need freeing off much more than they are now.  The traction motors will need removing for overhaul, and the traction cable connection boxes under the locomotive will need refurbishing.  The overhauled exhausters and compressors will need reconnecting once fitted.

The engine governor and the load limiting potentiometer, or vane motor, need overhauling.  The electrical rebuild of 50030 has been challenging yet very satisfying.  Anyone fancy helping with 50029?

We still have to tackle the difficult, and probably expensive, issue of the severed traction and ETH cabling under the cubicle. I have been advised not to through-crimp traction cabling, so it will need replacing with new cable at some point. We may have to use the services of a specialist contractor for their replacement.


The brake frame needs rewiring once the exhauster underneath it has been changed for an overhauled one. The Driver’s Safety Device (DSD) relay box needs new cabling laying in as the original cables have long gone, likewise for the DSD speed switch in the cupboard underneath the hotplate in No.2 cab.


[Pic 20]


All the cab desks need the cable crimps cleaning, the lampholders behind where the instrument panels go will need either cleaning or replacing, we still have to source or make the switch panels that go in the ceiling above the driver, and the master controllers need freeing off much more than they are now. The traction motors will need removing for overhaul, and the traction cable connection boxes under the loco will need refurbishing. The overhauled exhausters and compressors will need reconnecting once fitted.


The engine governor and the load limiting potentiometer, or vane motor, need overhauling.

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Electrical restoration of 50030: what we've done, how we've done it and what's still to do

Electrical restoration of 50030: what we've done, how we've done it and what's still to do

This article came about after a discussion between myself and Dom Jackson, and is intended to give an idea of the difficulties and problems faced during rebuilding of the electrical cubicle in 50030 Repulse.

When we acquired The Twins, I had already discussed with our original Chairman Paul Taylor where my skills and interests lay, and as such, at the first work party in November 2002, he asked me to go through both locos to see which had the most complete electrical system, which would give him an idea which locomotive would be the most viable to begin work on.  Having never been inside a 50 before, I didn't really have any idea what to expect, but I was shocked at how little remained of the electrical systems of both locomotives. After inspections by various people, the consensus was Repulse was in better overall condition, and so it was decided she was to be restored first.

The electrical cubicles of both locomotives were totally stripped, with the exception of nine of the 18 NR28 relays left in Renown, and I soon realised these had only survived because they were at the far end of the Thin Man's passage, in the most difficult compartment to get at. Both locomotives had various terminal bars missing, and there were cables hanging and lying everywhere.


Paul asked me to be his electrical officer, but I remember telling him that unless he could obtain detailed wiring manuals, there would be little chance of me being able to rewire the cubicle as I knew little about 50s at the time. He assured me he was getting copies of the manuals, so I gave him the benefit of the doubt and agreed to come to the next few work parties to start clearing the debris from in and around the cubicle.

One of the first tasks was to install fluorescent lighting in both locomotives so we could see what we were doing, and a few weeks later Paul made good on his promise and presented Mark Tinker and myself with copies of the wiring manuals, and I duly accepted the role of electrical officer. Mark Tinker was actually a qualified electrician, but decided the formal post of electrical officer wasn’t for him. One of the manuals showed the positions of the various electrical items in the cubicle, and the other gave details about what each piece of equipment was connected to, and with what cables.  There then followed several weeks of poring over these manuals, and I began to have an inkling of what went where, though at that time we had no electrical equipment, so I didn't know what most of the items looked like.  Mark and I began by trying to read and identify those cables that still had readable markers on them, adding our own labels written on masking tape. We were helped somewhat by many of the cables still being tied in bunches, so we were able to start placing them in approximately their correct positions.

We visited MoD Bicester to see the work Paul Spracklen was doing on 50026, and he agreed to sell us some of his spare electrical equipment. However, once I was able to examine it in more detail back at Rowsley, it quickly became apparent most of it was really only useful for spare parts. It was heavily corroded, with many missing or broken parts. We had also by then managed to obtain a quantity of NR28 control relays, so I decided to start cleaning and installing them. Shortly after this I found a supplier in Birmingham for the correct BR-spec cables. The actual manufacturer was still Brandrex, the distributor now is Anixter. Fortunately, all the cable sizes we needed are still used in the railway industry so, whilst expensive, they were readily available. To date I've installed just over 900 metres of control cabling into the electrical cubicle in 50030.  A short while after this, we managed to obtain much of the electrical equipment we needed when the owner of 50023 Howe decided to sell up. This time the equipment was in much better condition, and after stripping and cleaning, was ready to be installed. I attached all the control cables from each piece of equipment as it was fitted, and laid them in to their approximate destinations, carefully marking each cable with masking tape. In this way, by the time the last piece of equipment was fitted, all it's control cables were already there. On the occasions when Mark was not there, Neil Favell gave me much appreciated help.


Cable lengths vary from less than a metre, to six or seven metres depending on how far apart the items to be connected are, and the route you have to take through the cubicle. This means that on the days I had help, we were often able to install up to 20 cables, whereas on days when I was on my own, I'd be lucky to do half that.


A further visit to where 50026 was based after it left MoD Bicester revealed their spare electrical cubicle retained all the compressor, exhauster, earthing and neutral cabling, and many of the required insulators. A deal was struck and we purchased the cubicle frame, which I stripped of all the cables and insulators and fitted them into Repulse.


Part of the haul from Howe gave us the missing cubicle terminal bars which, after cleaning, were fitted into Repulse. This allowed many of the original control cables that we had identified to be reconnected, and all of them have now been done. Refitting and reconnecting these terminal bars however in the Thin Man's passage, takes a terrible toll on the knees, with the combination of very restricted space and the chequerplate flooring.


Wiring the NR28 relays with the new cabling also presented its difficulties at the far end of the Thin Man's, as the compartment is small, dark, at shoulder height, and the relays are quite close together. In contrast, the other nine NR28s behind the cubicle switch door are much easier to get at, as the floor level is higher and there is a much wider passage to work in.


The cubicle switch door we obtained from Paul Spracklen was missing all four of the rotary switches, and only retained the ammeter, fuel priming and local start push buttons. I enquired with several 50 owning groups, but they either had no spares or were unwilling to part with any spares they had, which was quite understandable. Fortunately, one elec manual showed the manufacturers of each electrical item, and I saw the rotary switches had been made by a company called Santon, who I was already familiar with from when I worked for an industrial electrical manufacturer, as they were the Midlands distributor for Santon. And yes, it's the same company that makes electric showers!


I contacted Santon and asked if there were modern equivalents for the four we needed, and to my surprise, when I gave them the part numbers, they told me all were still current stock items! Just goes to show that if you have a good robust design, why change it?


These four switches were not cheap by any standards, the largest one costing almost £200 itself, but we needed them so their purchase was agreed and they duly arrived. After fitting them I laid in all the cables from them, no less than 57 separate cables.


By the time it came to fit the compressor and radiator fan contactors, the larger cabling we had obtained from 50026 was already there and just needed connecting up. Obtaining the large curly ballast resistors on top of the cubicle took some time, and when we finally got them, it took both Mark and I with our heads up against the roof to fit them and connect the cables.


In front of the large field divert resistors on top of the cubicle are the 18 smaller green resistors which are mostly to operate the various cab warning lights. These lights are always on dimly, and glow bright if a fault occurs. This also ensures that if a fault light is not lit at all, the lamp has blown and needs changing. After we obtained these green resistors I then had to attach all 76 cables to them which, as with the rotary switches, took several work parties


When we went to fit the first of the three main field divert contactors, it wouldn't fit through the front of the cubicle frame however we tried to manoeuvre it. In the end I had to take off the small metal block where the air pipes are connected and re-attach it after fitting the contactor. I then had to repeat this for the other two.


Attaching the auxiliary control wiring to the front of these contactors was relatively easy. However, when it came time to install the 12 large cables on the rear of these boards, it was a different matter. We had purchased these cables from Paul Spracklen and they had lain in storage for some time. As we were fitting them in the middle of winter, not only were they stiff from the cold, they had become accustomed to their prone positions and were very difficult to get into place. In the end it took both Ian Kemp and Chris Thorn to help me get them installed, and again took multiple work parties.


Fitting the traction motor contactors was equally difficult as they are large and heavy. In one case, I had to drill out the mounting holes in the cubicle frame to a larger size, as they didn't line up with the mounting holes on the contactor itself! These six contactors have large 'Faraday-cage' type arc chutes, of which we initially had none. We did subsequently manage to obtain several, and a large box of parts from which Steve Tripp and I were able to make several more. Putting them together was somewhat difficult, as you need multiple hands, and one slip and it all falls apart and you have to start all over again. Wiring the auxiliaries on these contactors requires you to lie down in front of them as they are located very low down in the cubicle frame, almost at floor level, as trying to do it by kneeling and reaching down almost cripples you.


On the board that houses the fuses and circuit breakers, the rotary Motor Control Switch was missing. This enables pairs of traction motors to be switched out in the event of a motor failure. We obtained one as part of the haul from Howe, but some of the contacts at the rear were found to be broken, so it was wrapped up and laid aside. A couple years later during a discussion with Steve Tripp, he decided to see if there was any way the broken contacts could be repaired. As we had just been fitting motor contactors, he realised what I hadn't; that the contact blocks were the same kind as the motor contactors used. We were therefore able to take parts from a spare contact block and repair the switch, which was subsequently fitted and wired. On the fuseboard itself, all the fuses were missing, but all the MCB's were present. We have since obtained all the fuses that we need for Repulse, and have a few spares. Re-connecting the cables on the back of the fuseboard was not particularly difficult, as that is one of the few areas where there is plenty of space.

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The two large main starting contactors were obtained as part of the Howe equipment, and they were relatively easy to fit and wire. However, we have no spares or any for future use in Renown. These differ from the other contactors in the cubicle in that they have much bigger coils than any of the others and have connections for the large power cables from the batteries.


Of the boards that go in the Thin Man's passage, one is very heavy, having seven contactors on it, and it took both Mark and I to fit it. Once fitted, the contactors are very close to each other, and wiring them was very fiddly as access is very limited. The other four were relatively easy to fit and wire. The board that fits behind the fuseboard was somewhat difficult to connect up, as it's difficult to connect the cables when the board is actually bolted in place. Mark had to hold the board at an angle in front of its position, while I reached over to connect the cables, then it could be mounted on the bolts and fixed in place.  On the board that houses the field divert relay, there is a long green resistor mounted above it. We didn't have one, but the 50021 Loco Association kindly gave me one of their spares. However, this turned out to be open circuit, and I was not able to source one from anywhere else. We did have various other similar resistors we had got from 37s at Booths, so my father suggested I make what is known as a 'ladder network' of smaller ones that come to the same total value. I did this and mounted it on a board in the redundant space next to the start contactors.

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A couple of years ago we were fortunate in obtaining a spare electrical cubicle from the 50021 group, which had some equipment and much of the larger exhauster and compressor cabling still in it. It has all been removed and stored for possible future use in Renown.  We also obtained a genuine 50 reverser from the owner of Howe, but by that time we had temporarily fitted an ex-37 example, so I could get the six large cables from the divert contactors, three from motor contactors 1, 2 and 3, one from the field divert relay and one from one of the start contactors, into their proper positions. While the main cam mechanism is identical, the auxiliary contacts are completely different on a 37, and were incompatible. Chris Thorn offered to make a second set of auxiliary contacts, copied from the original, for future use in Renown, so we left the 37 reverser in Repulse until he had done this. As a result, the 'proper' one was only fitted into Repulse and connected up in 2014. However, these reversers are large and very heavy, and it took four of us to remove the 37 one and fit the proper one. We have two spare reversers in total, one of which now has the duplicate set of correct aux contacts Chris made.

I am at present re-installing the plastic control air pipes between various equipment in the cubicle. As soon as I started it became very clear I should have done it before much of the wiring was installed, as I'm now having to work in very restricted spaces around and in-between bunches of cables, and trying to get spanners in is extremely difficult.  I have also set about identifying the remaining severed cables under the floor around the electrical cubicle and generator room of 50030.  The second part of this article will describe our work in sourcing the electronic control units used in a Class 50, as well as the remaining work required to complete 50030 in electrical terms.

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Working party report 17th May 2015

Mark Burrows and myself were on site today.  A slight mix-up over keys to the container resulted in a delay getting started and curtailed the working day somewhat.  Mark scraped off the worst of the crap from both the 037 cab and no. 2 cab of 30, then painted grey undercoat on the cab front of 037 to 'smarten it up a bit'.  The paintwork on all of our assets is looking faded and dirty after several years of no attention.  I pulled out the cables from under the floor in front of the aux gen that go to the load limiting potentiometer to bell them out. I identified and marked all but one, which will require further investigation. I did the same for several smaller severed cables from the cubicle to the main gen. This took all day as I was doing it on my own, so I had to make repeated trips into the Thin Man's passage to move the belling lead.  Although the work I've described here doesn't sound like much, it did take up a whole day but was very satisfying as it pinned down more of the cabling inside 50030.


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Open Day 21st June 2015

Open Day 21st June 2015

Renown Repulse Restoration Group is holding an Open Day on Sunday 21st June 2015 from 2 PM onwards at our Rowsley South, Peak Rail base.  We hope to attract new volunteers and investment into our project.  All are welcome, whether experienced preservationists or complete beginners!  RRRG members will be on site to show you around 50029 and 50030, as well as discuss our facilities, restoration plans and how you can help as a future volunteer for RRRG.  We look forward to seeing you then and there.  Peak Rail are also hosting a classic bus event on the same day, providing an additional attraction for visitors to the railway.

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Working party report 19th April 2015

Working party report 19th April 2015

During the work party of 19th April Andy Rowlands connected up the reverser air piston coils and tidied up the cables in the electrical cubicle in 50030, then started investigating the severed cables under the main cubicle walkway. They appear to be from the DSD relay box but further investigation will be required to trace them exactly.

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Peter Carter and Ian Kemp together with Dave Rolfe continued fitting oil and water pipes to the ex-50008 power unit (see previous report, Power unit progress) in continued preparation for its use inside the overhauled 50030.

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Sales and merchandise updates

Sales and merchandise updates

RRRG was at the Nene Valley Railway diesel gala at Wansford over the weekend of 11-12 April with our sales stand.  We always enjoy trading at Wansford and it was evident the NVR had gone to great lengths to put on a good show with a large number of visiting locomotives.  Pleasingly the gala was very well attended and we enjoyed a good sales performance.  Many thanks to all the people who dropped by to say hello and to those who bought something from us; we hope you enjoy your purchases and thanks for supporting us!  Thanks also to the NVR for the invitation to attend.

If you missed us at the gala, we are pleased to advise that our web shop has recently been restocked.  We have a fresh selection of brand new Hornby models as well as branded t-shirts, polo shirts, fleeces and mugs.  Restoring 50029 and 50030 is neither easy nor cheap.  If the enthusiast community wants them to run again, we shall need to draw further on your support to achieve that goal!


Article image: 50008 Thunderer double heading with 50015 Valiant at Peterborough Nene Valley station, during the Nene Valley diesel gala on 11th April 2015, courtesy Andy Rowlands.

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Power unit progress

Power unit progress

The restoration of the power unit ex-50008 Thunderer which was purchased by RRRG for use in 50030 is now almost complete.  This has involved removing all sixteen cylinder heads and either overhauling them or replacing them with overhauled heads, then removing all sixteen pistons and con rods before replacing both big and small end bearings, piston rings and if necessary pistons to effectively return the power unit to "zero hours" status.  Even with highly dedicated volunteer labour this has been a lengthy process but is now well into the "home straight".

Dave Rolfe has concentrated on an external overhaul of the unit, cleaning and painting especially auxiliary items such as water rails (blue) and oil feed pipes (pink).  This will enable us to identify potential problems such as oil leaks when the unit is in service inside 50030.  Ian Kemp, RRRG's mechanical team leader, and his fellow dedicated volunteer Peter Carter have been refitting the auxiliary pipework to the unit.  This has now reached the stage of refitting the lower cooling water rails.

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In common with other Class 50 owners we have decided to manufacture our own gaskets as this is much cheaper than buying ready-made items.  Ian and Pete were busy today cutting out and fitting the water rail gaskets to one side of the power unit before refitting and attaching one of the water rails.  This is not an easy task because the casting of the engine block makes accessing the fastening nuts very difficult!  The corresponding water rail on the other side will be refitted in due course.

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The tasks remaining to complete the overhaul of the diesel engine part of the power unit are to complete the refitting of oil and cooling water feed pipes and to test and overhaul the Woodward engine governor if necessary.  We also need to source a set of braided hoses which feed cooling water to the turbos - these were either missing or rotten when we bought the power unit.  The main generator attached to the engine is in good condition and will be detached and overhauled separately nearer the time the unit is ready to be installed inside 50030.

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The power unit currently in 50030 is also practically complete and serviceable.  We did start an overhaul of this power unit before the Thunderer power unit came on the market and it is turn intended for use in 50029, to replace the power unit in that locomotive which suffered a serious seizure that was the cause of 50029's BR withdrawal in 1992.  An exchange of main generators is possible, to mate the good generator on 50029's damaged block with the good block attached to the main generator with flashover damage that is currently in 50030 - however this is a decision some time in the future.

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RRRG members' newsletter issue 29 now available!

The latest issue of the RRRG members' newsletter is now available to view on the website!  However you have to be a current, paid up member of RRRG in order to view it.  If you would like to join and catch up on all the latest news regarding the project, please read about our range of membership benefits and options.  All users of our website are welcome to view the previous issue of the newsletter and all back issues.

We've also been doing a bit of website housekeeping.  Once you are a registered user of the site and logged in, you will now find a special Subs Renewals menu under the User Area menu.  With this you can easily join RRRG for the first time or renew your membership if it has expired.  As 50030 approaches the completion of its restoration, we appreciate your membership and support of RRRG.

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An Official Statement From Renown Repulse Restoration Group

It has come to our attention that a popular railway enthusiast periodical has recently published a rumour that 50029 is to be sold for parts to a main line operator of the type.  We wish to categorically state that this rumour is not true.  Whilst most of our restoration efforts are concentrated on 50030, we are not neglecting 50029 and it is still our intention to restore both locomotives in the fullness of time.  We have not been approached and we have not approached any other parties regarding the sale of either of our main assets. 

Many times we are asked "When will 50030 be ready?" to which our answer is "We aim to have Repulse ready for 2017 and if enough people want the locomotive to run by that date, it will happen, but if not it will take a little bit longer."  We are not short of money and we also have (or know how to obtain) practically all the parts that are required to complete both 50029 and 50030.  However we would welcome additional volunteers to work on the locomotives at Peak Rail as this will undoubtedly aid us in achieving our 2017 target.  We intend to hold an "open day" later in 2015 to allow interested parties to meet our team and inspect progress.  We hope that this will encourage more people to volunteer with us, regardless of your skillset.  Working parties are currently being held most weekends and the latest news and progress will be posted on our website.  Further details of the open day will be announced nearer the time.

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Cab restoration and electricals update

Cab restoration and electricals update

Recent work in the cabs of 50030 has been concentrating on freeing off the power controllers.  Ian Kemp and Dave Rolfe have sprayed them liberally with WD40 and worked them backwards and forwards.  As a result they move for the first time since 1992, albeit rather stiffly in the case of no 2 end controller at the moment.  Andy Rowlands fitted, tightened up and reconnected the cables on the replacement set of contacts Dave had removed from one of our spare power controllers, to replace the set found to be broken during our freeing-off of the controllers. To achieve this you need to unbolt the plate that holds the sets of contacts so it swings away from the cams, and refitting the bolts that hold the plate is difficult as the contact springs keep pushing the plate away from the cams, which makes it not the easiest job when hunched up under the driver's desk and you need three hands!

The controller in no 2 cab is still quite stiff despite repeated applications of various lubricants, but the one in no 1 cab is much easier to move. If we cannot make them easier to rotate, we may have to look at removing the entire controller pedestals and dis-assembling them totally to see if the nylon bearings need replacing.




Ian and Peter Carter oiled the main big end bearings and barred the engine round.  Andy Rowlands has also been working to refit the reverser air piston in the electrical cubicle of 50030.


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New CU5 radiator fan control unit completed

New CU5 radiator fan control unit completed

Adrian Spencer of the Cotswold Mainline Diesel Group, a good friend and contact of RRRG, volunteered to construct a modernised version of the CU5 control unit for use in 50029 and 50030, as RRRG has none and these items are rarely made available for sale by other groups.  The work to build one unit has now been effectively completed barring minor cosmetic details such as securing the wires to the circuit boards with cable ties.  The replacement unit has been deliberately designed to physically resemble the old unit as much as possible such that it will be easy to mount into the existing space in the electrical cubicles.  However the insides employ a modern microprocessor to replicate the functions of the original unit - this is necessary because the original Norlog integrated circuits are no longer made and no modern equivalent apparently exists.  The original unit contains many auxiliary components which aren't necessary in the new build because the microprocessor duplicates their respective functions.  Three printed circuit boards on the old unit are reduced to one in the new unit.  A number of diagnostic LEDs are included to indicate which contacts are closed at any given time - this will enable the correct functioning of the new unit to be monitored.  The new unit also employs optical connections to isolate it from interference from other cubicle equipment.




The CU5 radiator fan unit basically decides when to increase the speed of the radiator fan, and depends on the temperature of the power unit cooling water. The fan initially runs at a low speed, and the CU5 switches in three faster speeds as the water temperature increases, via banks of resistors in the roof of the passageways past the radiators, placed there to keep them cool. The programming of the microprocessor in the new unit can be altered if it turns out not to perform as the original did.



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Work party report 5th October 2014

Work party report 5th October 2014

Ian, Pete and Dave spent the day unfastening the bolts to allow the main generator fan to be removed.  The fan is between the generator and power unit (but bolted to the main generator itself) and is normally hidden by the surrounding cowling. It sucks in cold air from under the body to help cool the gen and the cowling keeps the air circulating round the gen rather than blowing it all round the engine compartment. It has to come out to give access to the next layer of bolts that actually connect the engine to the generator. This proved to be a very fiddly task in the limited space between the fan and engine block.  Ian is seen proudly displaying his dirty hands after the day's work!

I continued cutting and fitting the cubicle air circuit, with the same difficulties as before, today was the turn of the field divert contactors. The pipe itself is easy to bend and the olives go on fine, it's getting my hands and a spanner to the connections round all the cables that's the problem. I should have done these pipes first before cabling, but as ever, wise after the event.
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Work party report 21st September 2014

Work party report 21st September 2014
Dave, Pete and Ian disconnected and removed the four sections of airshaft round the power unit flywheel and bolted up the second intercooler, which Dave then painted. I continued cutting and fitting cubicle air pipes, removed the Z23 resistor and a now-redundant cable from it to the CU6, in preparation for fitting an electronic device in its place as part of the CU6 upgrade.
As we were packing up we were greeted by the sound of eight Rolls Royce Merlins as both the preserved airworthy Lancasters flew over Rowsley.
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Work party report 7th September 2014

Work party report 7th September 2014

Mark brought two of the refurbished KV10s, paperwork, test sheets and circuit diagrams up to site. After a test fitting they were removed once again! Dave, Pete, Ian and I hoisted one of the intercoolers up onto the ex-50008 power unit and bolted it in place. The other is ready to be refitted but needs painting first. Dave started making a hoist arm to be fitted on a corner of the container over the workbench. I started fitting the cubicle air circuit pipes, which was somewhat difficult with all the cabling in place, so if I ever do that again, the lesson is fit the airpipes before the cabling, then the cables wouldn't be in the way!

The new airpipes are just visible in the photo below, between M4, M5 and M6.

I discovered the air connections on the reverser air cylinder are a different thread to all the others, so I brought it home with me to take to the supplier I got the other fittings from to see if they can provide the correct-thread fittings for it.



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Work party report 24th August

Work party report 24th August

A good day on site today. Former regular working member Wes Needle joined us for today's workparty.  Since getting married and starting a family, Wes hasn't had much time to indulge his chosen hobby, but because they had taken a break in a holiday cottage not far from Rowsley, he was able to take a day to join us while his wife Keren and the nippers went on the train.

Dave Rolfe continued cleaning and painting power unit pipework, then he, Wes, Peter Carter and Ian Kemp finished overhauling one of the intercoolers and reassembled it. They also started unfastening one of the compressors on 50030 ready for it to be removed as there is an overhauled one ready to take its place.




I located the fittings and tubing I had purchased some time ago to replace the air circuit in Repulse. There are different threads that have been used on these fittings at various times, so it was a bit of a gamble whether we had chosen the right thread, but fortunately when I tried the fittings in the motor and divert contactors, they screwed in fine. I had made a diagram some time ago of the routing and connections of the air circuit in 50021, so I am now able to copy it in Repulse. I also finished off connecting up the newly-fitted reverser in the electrical cubicle of 50030 with all its wiring and connections.  Even the weather was kind to us!




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Work party reports 29th June and 14th July

Work party reports 29th June and 14th July

On 29th June a long-running sub-project within the electrical restoration of 50030 took a substantial step forward. I got the proper reverser (Class 50 specification) fitted into Repulse, with help from Dave Rolfe, Peter Carter and Ian Kemp as it's so damned heavy. We had to jiggle it about to get it to fit properly, but did it in the end. I attached the divert cables at the rear, but didn't have time to do the auxilaries at the front as I showed two visitors round Repulse. We are always happy to show enthusiasts around our project so if you want to take a look inside our locomotives then get in touch with us either via the website or our Facebook pages and we will do our best to accommodate you.



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Also on this date Dave, Ian and Pete also continued sorting fuel and water pipework recovered from 50030's power unit to replace damaged sections on the ex-50008 unit.  This unit is destined for use in 50030 when complete - the existing power unit in Repulse was in acceptable condition when we acquired the loco, but has high engine hours and as part of our policy of overhauling our 50s to a very high standard in order to give them a long and trouble-free career in preservation we decided to overhaul one power unit totally.  The existing unit in Repulse will be re-used inside 50029 because the engine in Renown has serious problems following the seizure which ended the loco's BR career.  We don't know for sure but are aware of the possibility that the unit in 50029 may only be usable as a source of spares.  Power unit work can be one of the most gruelling of the practical restoration projects as the same task often has to be done at least sixteen times, sometimes even 32 or 64 times!


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On 14th July I attached the reverser auxiliary contact wiring after showing another visitor round Repulse. Meanwhile, Ian, Pete and Dave fitted the fuel feed and return pipes to the ex-50008 power unit that they had previously salvaged from the power unit inside Repulse.


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Work party report 15th Jun

Work party report 15th Jun

As it rained almost all day yesterday, even though the forecast was for dry weather, I decided not to cart the reverser outside as I've cleaned it, so I test fitted the newly-made CU2 field divert and CU7 ETH detector units into 50030's elec cubicle. While the CU7 can go in its original position, the original position for the CU2 had the cable connections very close to the cubicle frame, so I drilled a couple more holes to put it in a better position.
Inbetween the heavier bursts of rain, Ian and Pete removed the fuel feed pipes from 008's power unit as they'd been bent during the lift at Crewe when we bought and moved the PU about 8 years ago. Dave was painting pipes taken from the PU inside Repulse to replace them.
I also took the opportunity to get some more pictures of Mark's work last weekend on the generator conduits.

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Work party report 7th June

Work party report 7th June

Dave Rolfe and I had a very wet Saturday at Rowsley last weekend (I'd gone on the Saturday as Sunday was my Wedding Anniversary), the weather finally cleared around 5 o'clock!

Given the weather we both found things indoors to occupy ourselves, Dave spent part of the day unbolting and freeing off sections of the radiator louvre operating mechanism. His remaining time was spent sorting out the various fittings, clamps, etc, that are needed to refit the fuel rails to the power unit, and checking their condition, cleaning and painting the metal sections of the clamps. I spent most of the day in 50030's generator room sorting out the best sections of conduit, from our collection of bits ex-50023, 50030 and 50040, to make up the remaining set of conduits. By the end of the day, I had cut sufficient sections to lay out the last of the conduit runs, all that remains to do now with this job is to strip the years of paint and dirt off them, thread the ends of the cut sections and fit the relevant couplers and locking nuts. Hopefully another day's work should see the conduit conundrum resolved. In the process I also identified ¾ of a set for one side of 50029.

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Work party reports 25th May and 1st June

Work party reports 25th May and 1st June

If you've been following RRRG for some time, you might know that we have in our spares stock a genuine Class 50 reverser and a Class 37 example, which is similar but not identical to the Class 50 part.  We had removed the genuine 50 reverser in order to use it as a template to modify the 37 item to Class 50 spec, and in the meantime the ex-37 reverser was installed in 50030's electrical cubicle so that I could judge how long to make the wiring whilst rebuilding the cubicle.


On Sunday May 25th I disconnected the main cables from the back of the ex-37 reverser, and with Dave Rolfe's help, got it out of 30 and into the container. I cleaned the main power contacts on the the proper 50 reverser and labelled each contact bar while Dave was finishing drilling out sheared bolts around the removable grille that gives access into the No.1 end clean air compartment. Whilst cleaning I happened to notice the auxiliary contact blocks appeared to be facing the wrong way, so I went to Washwood Heath during the week to check 50008 Thunderer, and found they had indeed been refitted the wrong way round after we had taken them apart to make a replica second set to modify the 37 reverser for use in 29.


Whilst working around the cubicle area in 50030, I was impressed by work that Mark Burrows has been doing to restore the cable conduits for the traction cabling to the main generator.  This has been a laborious task using the best parts of conduits salvaged from 50023 and 50040 before those locomotives were scrapped a few years ago.


On 1st June Ian, Pete and Dave refitted the decompressor plugs into the power unit, then spent the rest of the day cleaning parts of the power unit ready for painting.


On the same day, I removed the auxiliary contact blocks from the Class 50-spec reverser and fitted them the right way round, in the process realising that the internal cams had been rotated out of their correct positions, so they wouldn't open and close in the correct sequence. The afternoon was spent getting them back into the correct alignment.  Now that the reverser has been properly adjusted, my next task will to fit it back into the electrical cubicle in 50030.


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Radiator mounting nuts

Radiator mounting nuts

No, we haven't packed up and ceased to exist.  Yes, we have been a bit quiet.  Sorry about that - normal service to be resumed but a number of us have had things other than RRRG to deal with and our day lives have got in the way.


Ian Kemp and Dave Rolfe decided today to tackle a job we started some time ago but ended up leaving to another day.  This was to remove the remaining radiator securing nuts, so that we can lift the radiators out of 50030 and have them sent away for overhaul.  Given that the radiators were most likely last removed at refurbishment in the mid-1980s it goes without saying that the fastening nuts were stuck on very firmly indeed.  We had previously managed to remove three of them, leaving five left to do.  A potent combination of elbow grease, tools (and broken tools), purple language and in the case of one particularly stubborn nut, chiseling has now freed all eight nuts and the radiators can now be lifted out.  It's the seemingly little tasks like this that end up taking so much time.  Photos courtesy Ian Kemp.


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