D5401

Class 27 D5401

British Rail Career
D5401 was part of the last batch of Sulzer Type 2s to be produced by Birmingham Railway Carriage & Wagon at Smethwick in July, 1962 with the works number 244 and accepted by BR after initial running trials were completed on 14th July, 1962. It was allocated to Cricklewood Depot (14A) on the Midland Main Line (MML) a few miles north of London St Pancras station and was to be seen on local shuttle services and empty coaching stock movements and the occasional main line express services reaching as far as Sheffield/Leeds in its early days.

D5401 and other members of the class were transferred to Toton depot in July, 1968. During this time their duties continued on the Midland Main Line and various other routes around the Nottinghamshire area.

The British Railways Board (BRB) then took the decision to re-allocate the entire BRCW type 2 fleet to Scotland where suitable work was available for them. As a result the fleet moved to Glasgow Eastfield depot in June, 1969.

BRB had decided that an improved quality of service was required on the all important Glasgow to Edinburgh services. To this end a scheme was devised where a fixed formation of modern coaches would be operated at high speed with a Class 27 locomotive on each end to save the need to run round the train at each end of the run and thus save a considerable amount of time.

D5401 was chosen to be one of these locomotives and was duly sent to Glasgow works for upgrading in September, 1970. The modifications included rewinding of traction motors and main generator, dual braking (installation of air train braking in addition to vacuum braking), automatic fire detection systems for unmanned rear locomotives and a driver to guard communication system. D5401 was to retain its original steam heat generator, a Stones Vapor OK 4616 whereas some of the class had a separate diesel generator set fitted that could work with electrically heated coaches. The two types worked in pairs with a steam heat locomotive at one end of the formation and an electric heat machine at the other. D5401 left Glasgow Works painted into BR Blue with flush Yellow warning cab ends and with its nose end doors welded up to reduce the draft problems that crews had been complaining about for many years.

The new service started in May, 1971 but it soon became apparent that the constant 90mph running did not agree with the class of as they weren't designed for this constant high speed running day after day. Many failures were noted including traction motor flashovers and generator failures.

During 1974 BR introduced the TOPS system and 5401 was re-allocated the number 27112 in February, 1974 as part of the Class 27 sub-section numbering system due to the modifications.

Eventually the Push-Pull service was taken over by Class 47 locomotives and 27112 was displaced from this work and sent to Glasgow St Rollox works for major overhaul in 1982. The life extension work included a complete re-wire, considerable mechanical work, bodywork repairs which the most noticable external change was replacement of its cab side drop light windows with a small sliding window. When released back into traffic on 10th August 1982 it carried the number 27056.

A noted duty 27056 found itself on not long after its overhaul was on a top-link duty on the West Coast Line on the 15th June 1983 when overhead line problems led to the Class 27 taking the 07:27hrs Nottingham-Glasgow/Edinburgh north of Carlisle. 27056 made it over Beattock summit at just over 25mph with its 11 coach train.

But the finest moment of this locomotive's BR career when it was chosen to haul the Royal Train with Prince Charles on board aboard on 20th November, 1983 from Glasgow to Fort William, as with all locomotives chosen to haul the royal train the locomotive did receive an external spruce up, mechanical attention and a low level off white band painted on the side to denote its special duty, a feature that stayed with the locomotive until withdrawal from BR.

27056 was withdrawn on 10th February  1987 at Eastfield Depot with minor collision damage on the bufferbeam at  No.1 end. On the 3rd September 1987 27049/27066/27056 were seen being hauled by 31191 from Eastfield Depot to Basford Hall Yard and then onward on the 4th September  being hauled by 31284 from Basford Hall Yard to Leicester, Humberstone Rd Sidings.  As space became available the stored locomotives were tripped worked to Vic Berry's Scrap Yard in Leicester located in the old Great Central goods yard.

D5401/27112/27056 Preservation Career
27056 was eventually put on the tender list by BR for re-sale in October, 1987 after pleas from various people to put the Class 27 locomotives that had seen Heavy General Overhauls during the 1980s. It was purchased by one of its current owners due to its generally good condition. It was transferred by road to its new home at the Northampton Steam Railway on 12th March, 1988.

Once at its new home the locomotive was assessed and found to be in remarkably complete condition, only requiring a few minor electrical jobs to get it running. With these completed the engine was started up on 25th May 1988 and became the first ex-BR mainline locomotive operational on the short line at Chapel Brampton. The first movements being recorded on Saturday 28th May, 1988.

During the early 1990s 27056 received a rather protracted repaint into a livery close to the original BR green (Light Brunswick Green) with small yellow warning panels and white wheels, without a BR crest. In early 1994 the locomotive was again transferred by road for its first visit to the Great Central railway to take part in the diesel gala and was able to stretch its legs for the first time in seven years.

D5401/27112/27056 Preservation Career (Second Coming)
During the latter part of 2006 a request from the GCR to hire 27056 for the 2007 running season was accepted and after basic standard checks and servicing of various items the locomotive was transferred by road and arrived in the middle of March, 2007. The season went very well with only one or two items needing attention, the main one being a Traction Motor flashover in September, 2007.

By this time news of the locomotive's profile had reached the Llangollen railway and a request for it to attend their October diesel event was received. This happily fitted in with the transfer from the GCR back to the Northampton, so it was arranged for a flying visit for one weekend only.

But a looming task lay ahead, during the final weekend running at the GCR (September 2007) one of the radiator settling tanks developed a leak and the locomotive had to be topped up before every running day. So after an excellent visit to the Llangollen Railway, D5401 returned to the N&LR in early October, 2007. Repair of the tanks turned into complete replacement which took nearly all of the 2008 season to complete. The locomotive then returned to the Great Central in 2009 for an extended hire period.

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