D5185 – Castell Dinas Bran

Class 25 D5185 "Castell Dinas Bran"

The British Railways Years
D5185 was built at Darlington Works in 1963 as a member of the Derby type 2 class of locomotives and intended as a general purpose mixed traffic machine and released to traffic on 24th May of that year. It has a Sulzer 6 cylinder diesel engine with turbo-charger and intercooler producing 1250 hp.

It was initially delivered to Toton along with 34 other members of the class. However, it only stayed there a few months, moving to Leicester (Midland) in January, 1964. This state of affairs did not last long and indicated the shape of things to come. In May it went toNottingham and then on to Cricklewood in September.

In June, 1966 D5185 worked the final Peterborough East to Leicester via Rugby.

1972 saw the locomotive transferred again – this time to Leeds Holbeck for three years before being moved again, this time to Haymarket.

During 1978 the now 25035 was taken into Glasgow works for overhaul and conversion to dual braking.

On 12th May, 1979 25034 & 25035 took over an SRPS charter to Fraserburgh from Aberdeen. This was probably the last passenger train over the line north of Dyce Junction as the line was to close that weekend.

In November 1980 25035 made its last depot move, this time to Crewe. However, a collision at Crewe fuelling point on 6th October, 1982 nearly put an end to the locomotive. Quite surprisingly a repair was authorised and the No.2 cab from recently withdrawn 25036 was substituted. Released back to traffic in February, 1983 the locomotive provided a strange appearance in that the body side numbers showed 25035 but the No.2 end cab still showed 25036.

The repair was obviously worthwhile as 1984 would see 25035 knock up more than 3,000 miles in passenger service alone.

The writing was on the wall for the class by the mid 1980s with withdrawals quickly reducing numbers. The end came in March, 1987. On 14th March 25035 took over the 1V05 07:09 Holyhead to Cardiff service at Chester when 47424 failed. 25035 took the failed locomotive and train forward to Crewe and in due course becoming the last member of the class to work a scheduled passenger train (excluding “TamworthCastle” which was a reinstatement). The following day the locomotive was withdrawn from service and thus ended a distinguished career for a workaday mixed traffic locomotive.

25035 remained at Crewe until 14th July, 1987 when it travelled in convoy as the 9L37  Basford Hall to Leicester Humberstone Road along with 25265, 25057 and 25109. It is interesting to note that of the four locomotives in the convoy only 25109 failed to escape the cutter’s torch.

25035 sat at Humberstone Road until 9th September when it was moved to Vic Berry’s yard as part of the 08.00 9T16.

Detailed information above with thanks to www.derbysulzers.com

The Preservation Years
The fledgling Northampton Steam Railway was becoming established and in need of some suitable motive power for the future. 27056 had already been purchased and was expected to arrive on site shortly. The stack of redundant locomotives at Vic Berry’s was growing rapidly and it was realised that there was no time like the present. Therefore a bid was made for a class 25. The locomotive in question was 25035. It was felt to be the best one available as it had been the last of the class in active service.  Following asbestos examination it finally arrived at the NSR on 14th July, 1988.

The team at Pitsford & Brampton were by this time busy with 27056 and then the subsequent arrival of 45118 pushed the 25 to the back of the queue for attention. In fact it was not until the later part of 1992 that any significant work took place.

Upon inspection it became evident that 5 years of storage had taken their toll. The first discovery was that the turbo-charger was seized and inspection showed that it had become very badly corroded. As a result it was replaced by a spare unit that had been purchased with the expectation that it would be required.

The triple-pump, or to give it the correct title the combined pump set was also seized. This was man-handled out of the locomotive for refurbishment, not an easy job in the confined space available. A new water pump impellor was fitted and the pump returned to position. The cooling circuit was filled only to find that the water pump seal was leaking. The pump was stripped again only this time in situ and a new seal fitted. The cooling system was then filled with water, the batteries charged and the oil was changed prior to any attempt to start the power unit. The engine finally burst into life on Thursday 27th May, 1993.

The engine was not running smoothly at this point and investigations soon pointed to No.6 cylinder not firing properly. The problem was cured by a cylinder head change. Itself not a ten minute job as the inlet air box and the exhaust system have to be removed before the head can be lifted.

With the engine running smoothly and the braking system working properly the locomotive finally made its first move in preservation on Wednesday 30th June, 1993.

During its time at Northampton 25035 ran in corporate Rail Blue with small yellow ends, Red-stripe Railfreight, Infrastructure Dutch yellow and grey as 25735 and Western Region Maroon with small yellow ends. The name “Castell Dinas Bran” had been painted on the locomotive sides sometime during the early 1980s. We have never found out where this was done but it was honoured by having a set of Aluminium plates cast and bolted on to complete the job. So that is how a nomadic locomotive came to bear the name of a ruined Welsh castle that overlooks Llangollen!

By the end of the 1990s the condition of the cab floor at No.1 end had rotted to the point where something needed to be done. The original plan had been to remove the cab and rebuild the floor structure by up-ending the cab in the yard to provide easy access. To this end all of the electrical cabling between the cab and the locomotive was removed. Unfortunately work stalled at this point and it remained untouched for some time. Luckily the cab was not actually removed.

In 2002 a contract was let for the bodywork repairs to be carried out on the Great Central Railway and the locomotive moved to Rothley for the work to be completed inside the carriage works. The locomotive was turned out in all over green without yellow warning panels as D5185.

Once the bodywork was completed in the spring of 2004 the long job of restoring the electrical systems commenced. There were many problems with identification labels that had fallen off and number collets that were completely unreadable that the job of reinstatement was made very difficult.

By the autumn of 2004 the locomotive was able to move around under its own power but this was only after the battery had been charged for a couple of hours and then you only got one go at starting. Such was the state of the cells after so long out of use.

The vacuum system was also in poor condition with only one of the exhausters able to create a vacuum at all – and this only amounted to 15 inches. The problem was finally cured by a strip down of the A exhauster to find that it was full of rusty water and the paddles were jammed in the drum. The non-return valve was also sticking hence the 15 inches from the other. It was not until September, 2005 that a proper test run was made with E6003 along as insurance.

D5185 returned to passenger operation on the Great Central Railway on 6th May, 2006 piloting D8098 on a passenger train. It then settled down to regular passenger operation although lacking the punch that it used to have. The problem was finally resolved when the inter-cooler was removed for inspection. To say that the core was blocked was an under statement. Where there should have been airways there was a solid oily black mess that took two long and dirty weekends to clean out.

Since moving to Loughborough D5185 has become a very popular locomotive. It has even been recorded by South West Digital for a model locomotive sound unit and very good it sounds too.

The locomotive has also attended diesel galas at the Nene Valley Railway and Keighley & Worth Valley Railway before failing with poor insulation to the traction motor cables and control wiring. Repairs are currently underway but it is not expected that the locomotive will be back in service until 2013.

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