Silent Power

With our new storage shed now full of locomotives, we’re spoiled for choice over which one to use for shunting duties. One of our members suggested that we should use electric locomotives where possible, thus avoiding the noise and in particular the smoke that the usual diesels emit. The last thing we want to do is pollute our new building. Hence we started looking at our Pikrose battery-electric. This is the most modern loco in our fleet, having been produced by Pikrose, the successors to Wingrove and Rogers, in 1993. It is a WR20 model, number B0366V, weighing in at 3.5 tons. This locomotive was delivered new to the Kettering plant depot of Sir Robert McAlpine & Son Ltd, the well-known civil engineering contractor.

The locomotive is powered by 36 traction batteries, providing 72 volts in all. In use the engines are charged overnight from the mains and then a single battery pack should last for a day’s shift. When in continuous use, a spare battery pack can be charging and swapped over when the first is exhausted. When acquired, our loco did not come with a charger and it was only recently that we obtained one of the correct voltage. With the batteries having lain out of use for some time, it has taken a little while to coax them back into life. Meanwhile, we have repaired the control system and freed-off the braking system.

Once charged, it was time to plug in the batteries and try for a test run. After a few false starts, the loco literally sparked into life again (this particular loco uses manual contactors to vary its speed). Its performance is quite impressive and although a little fettling remains to be done, this engine should prove a useful environmentally-friendly shunter. You’ll struggle to hear it, but come down and see it in action on our open days later this year.