N669 (50454 / 50528)

Approaching Carrog

Above: Class 104 set N669, formed of 50454 and 50528, rolls into Carrog. (Martin Hewitt)

The class 104 units worked over much of the British Railways network during their life, being allocated to depots all across the country. Our two working vehicles started out life in different sets, 50454 being new in October 1957 and 50528 in February 1958. During the 1960s 50454 was noted at Stoke, with duties centring around there.

Buxton 104 Farewell

Above: 50528 (then numbered 53528) heads the 'Buxton 104 Farewell' on 6th May 1989. (Mac Winfield)

During the 1970s, 50528 (by then renumbered 53528) received suspension modifications, improving its ride quality. It was probably in use on the Manchester to Blackpool services at the time, in which case the plain blue livery was augmented with a white stripe. Later in life, it was paired with 50454 (by then numbered 53454). These two power cars, along with trailer 59187, worked the last official class 104 run on the 'Spa Line' on 6th May 1989, before replacement by the 'second generation' units. Sister vehicle 50447, also at Llangollen, worked the last actual class 104 working on 4th May 1990.

The set's history between 1990 and 1993 is not entirely clear. It was stored unserviceable at Newton Heath by mid-1990; after that its time was spent at Tyseley and at the Railway Technical Centre in Derby. DMBS 50454 was the subject of some experiemnts on automatic gear control, although this was removed before preservation. It is thought that the set number T104 was applied at this point. More details on the class 104's history can be found on the Railcar website.

An abortive attempt at preservation began in 1992, with some work to one vehicle's interior done. However this fell through, and a batch of 12 class 104 vehicles were purchased by two private individuals. Three of them were delivered to Llangollen in 1993, with 50454 and 50528 forming the line's class 104 unit. After arrival at Llangollen, an amount of rewiring had to be done in the two cabs, as persons unknown had removed various electrical items. The somewhat unusual engine starting system (wires poking out from the sides of the vehicles) reverted to the more normal system.

A large amount of restoration work was undertaken before the unit could run in passenger traffic, with the DMBS reupholstered and revarnished - the interior being panelled in wood, unusual in the 'first generation' railcars. A couple of appearances at diesel galas, firstly in blue and then blue with white stripe, encouraged those undertaking the restoration to persevere with what seemed like an endless project! Finally, a liberal application of bodyfiller and a repaint into lined green with yellow warning panels finished the job, with a return to service in 1995.

With four engines to power the two relatively light vehicles, it has a prodigious power to weight ratio of 9½hp/ton. Its unusually loud exhaust 'rasp' is popular amongst the diesel enthusiast fraternity.

General Info

Built

Birmingham Railway Carriage & Wagon, 1957-8

Lot no.

30293, 30294

Engines

Four Leyland 680/1 of 150hp

Transmission

Mechanical - Cardan shaft / freewheel driving Wilson R14 four-speed epicyclic gearbox, with further cardan shaft to RF28 final drive

Weight

31.5t + 31.5t

Max Speed

70mph

Train Brakes

Vacuum

Coupling Code

Blue Square

Depot Allocations

(as yet unfinished)

New

October 1957 (50454)

February 1958 (50528)

Newton Heath

NH

by 1983

Tyseley

TY

1990

Derby

DY

1991

Withdrawn

1989 or 1990

Sold

March 1992

Llangollen

1993

The unit is maintained by the Railcar Group.  

Transferred 11th Sept 2007 by J ohn Rutter email webmaster