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Railcars in Warwickshire

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Railcar Experiments in Warwickshire

Since the beginning of the 20th century and until the 1950s, a number of experimental motorised railcars trials take place within the county. The primary driver in the development of the railcar was obviously economics, particularly with, but not limited to, services on rural and lightly loaded passenger services. As such developments were often supported by companies associated with the motor industry it is not surprising that businesses from Coventry were involved, initially with the Daimler Company and then later by Armstrong Siddeley. The Daimler Company had, just prior to the outbreak of the First World War, initiated its own design and from contemporary press releases would appear to have been planning a series of railcars for a major railway company which no name was given. Armstrong Siddeley's approach was to be different and perhaps could be considered more sensible in that they looked to partner with an existing supplier of railcars, namely Michelin of France in the 1930s.

In fact the Michelin company was at the centre of two initiatives, the Michelin Type 9 and Type 11 articulated railcars (see 'gwrwm421' for a photograph of a Type 9 in action at Widney Manor) and the Coventry Pneumatic Rail Car promoted by Armstrong Siddeley from their Coventry base (see 'lnwrlave1349' for a photograph of it standing at Leamington Avenue on a service to Nuneaton). As described by Darren Kitson below, the development of both of these railcars should be seen as evolutionary, with the Coventry Rail Car being a development, albeit radical, of the Type 9 and 11 railcars. A major difference between the French railcars and other railcars developed in the UK was the use of pneumatic tyres as a means of making the ride much more comfortable for passengers as well as reducing operating costs to both vehicle and track.

The other two significant trials were, the LMS' collaboration with Karrier Motors of Huddersfield to develop the Ro-Railer, a vehicle designed to operate on both rail and roads. A partnership which according to JR Jennings, the SMJR line's archivist, was a surprise to some as Karrier were running down their bus production having earned a poor reputation for reliability in the 1920s. The other significant railcar development, albeit initiated in London but quickly exploited with services from Snow Hill to Cardiff, was the GWR's collaboration with Hardy Railmotors Limited, a subsidiary of Associated Equipment Company Limited (AEC) with what was to become a very successful series of railcars. With a total of thirty-eight railcars being built between 1934 and 1942, this railcar was the most successful vehicle until British Railways developed a number of different types in the 1950s. An early prototype which was partially tested in the county involved yet again AEC and Park Royal with the development of the BTU designed lightweight railcars.

The advantage of railcars is principally their ability to be started whenever it is required, or a few minutes before it is to be moved, or stopped whenever its stationary for more than a few minutes. There was no necessity, as with the steam powered railcars or locomotives, to start raising steam a few hours beforehand, or to keep steam up all day nor was a need for a fire-man or a skilled type of driver, as with the steam powered coach, as the driving controls were relatively simple. Another factor with regard to the experimentation of railcar development is the difference between power to weight ratio of the two types and the savings that could be made.

As an example of savings being derived from the power to weight ratio of motorised railcars, the first Micheline rail-coach tried in the UK had an unladen weight of 5 tons; its seating capacity was twenty-four; which works out at about 4 cwt of deadweight per passenger carried. A branch line steam train capable of carrying 160 passengers weighs, when empty, about 135 tons, giving 17 cwt of deadweight per passenger, and that is if its at full capacity. If a train of this weight runs with only one third of its maximum complement, as is frequently the case, the deadweight rises significantly to 2½ tons per passenger, about 12½ times as much as for the Michelin Railcar. This means a saving in fuel costs. The petrol consumption for the twenty-four seats coach was twelve to fourteen miles a gallon, about one penny a mile for twenty-four passengers ; this represents from one-fifth to one-tenth of the lowest steam locomotive train costs per mile. Apart from this saving, the cost of a rail-coach of this type is considerably less than for the steam coach, the relative costs bearing a rough relation to the respective weights of the two.

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Daimler railcar

THE DAIMLER MOTOR COMPANY LTD

Ron Cadman. Model Rail News, 1968

The Daimler Motor Company, is recognised today (1968 - Ed) for its production of bus chassis and luxury motor cars. During its formative years, however, products other than these were produced. Various commercial chassis, aircraft, military vehicles, tractors, an. extraordinary vehicle called the 'Renard Road Train' and, the subject of this article, petrol railcars. It was in 1904 that the Company first undertook the design of a railcar. Two prototypes were supplied to the Great Northern Railway (GNR) for use on the Hatfield to Hertford branch line (see image 'misc_railcar335'). They were designed to seat 28 persons and were smartly finished in Teak with white upper panels. Propulsion was provided by twin 38 hp. 4-cylinder, Daimler, side valve engines, with direct drive via a gearbox, and bevel gearing on to each axle. Being of short wheelbase and having a very simple suspension, they were rather hard riding and this led to difficulties with the final drive.

Oliver Bulleid, who was apprentice with the GNR at this time, was made responsible for maintenance and operation of them, and despite his love of steam became convinced that petrol driven cars should have been developed as a substitute for steam on some branch lines. The experiment was eventually dropped after the cars had run for some months in actual service, and presumably scrapped, as no further record remains of their continued development. A photograph taken at the time shows a group of GNR and Daimler officials posed with one of the vehicles; it is possible that Oliver Bulleid is one of this group. Nothing further was done until 1910 when the Company produced the K.P.L. bus, the design of which was well ahead of its time. The initials stood for Knight (engine), Pieper (Belgian designed transmission) and Lanchester (worm drive and suspension). It was experience with this transmission that prompted them to reconsider the idea of producing a railcar.

Designs were prepared in 1911-12 for both 3 foot and 3 foot 6 inch gauge railcars, 48 feet long having a single engine with a divided drive to two four-wheeled bogies. It is not known if these designs were produced with any specific railway in mind, but in 1912 an enquiry was received from Rhodesia Railways for four petrol railcars. It was probably this enquiry and the knowledge that the 'Societe Nationale des Chemins de Fer Vicinaux Beiges' in Belgium were developing a railcar with the Pieper transmission that decided the Company to produce a prototype. This was designed for standard gauge, and the result was a very interesting and handsome vehicle.

The chassis was of simple braced channel construction carrying two 105 hp Daimler sleeve-valve engines, each, with its own dynamotor located on either side of the car. Transmission was through two universally jointed shafts and worm gearing on to the inside axles of the four-wheeled bogies. A magnetic clutch and transmission brake formed part of the power unit. In normal running the two engines drove while the dynamotors were charging the accumulators. When extra output was required the accumulators automatically came into action to drive the dynamotors which thus became motors in their own right and provided an increase in available power. In the event of an engine failure, the railcar could still be driven home.

Compressed air brakes were fitted, and carriage heating provided by hot water radiators in circuit with the engine cooling system. The body, designed to seat 60, was built by Metropolitan Cammell and was of steel panel construction on an ash frame. The makers plate gives the date as 1912, but it was 1913 before this was delivered to the Daimler Works at Coventry. The tare weight of the finished vehicle was given as 77,000 lb. First tests took place in 1914, but the war brought all development to a halt as the factory was turned over to the production of munitions. It was March 1918 before extensive testing under service conditions recommenced. These were undertaken in conjunction with the LNWR. Mr Dingley, Chief Assistant to Bowen-Cooke, and Mr Morris, Chief Assistant to the electrical engineer were delegated by that Company, while Mr Balcombe and Mr Barriman represented Daimler. The LNWR stipulated certain minor alterations, inspection panels, removable driver's seats, engine indicators, interior layout and colour scheme, which was French grey lined out in white with a thin maroon line in the centre. No lettering or numbering was decided upon. The regular route selected for testing was from Daimler Halt, where the car was normally kept, Nuneaton, Rugby (on the main line), Northampton, via Market Harborough and returning via Rugby, Leamington, Kenilworth and Coventry. Tests went on throughout 1919 and a report dated March 3 shows that it was capable of 70 mph on the level, and at 50 mph petrol consumption was 4.5 gallons per hour. It was possible to maintain this speed with one engine on idle. Maximum engine output recorded at 70 mph was 125 bhp.

Despite successful trials, the LNWR had lost interest in the railcar by February 1920 and the testing was discontinued. Although other companies, notably the Dublin and South Eastern Railway, who offered to purchase the vehicle if Daimler would undertake to alter the gauge to 5 ft 3 in, showed interest, the car remained in the works siding until the middle of 1921 when the decision was taken to abandon the development altogether. Dr Frederick Lanchester writing to Percy Martin referred to the enterprise as 'a successful but commercially unpromising mechanical frolic.' One cannot help reflecting though that, had the Company's interests at that time been less diversified, and the railcar been given a more enthusiastic and extensive development, the result would have been commercially successful, and may well have changed the later development of the Company.

Daimler & BSA experimental railcar on the Nuneaton branch line as it passes Coventry No 3 Signal Cabin
Ref: lnwrcov3146
LNWR Society
The Daimler experimental railcar on the Nuneaton branch line as it passes Coventry No 3 Signal Cabin
The Daimler experimental Railcar posed for the camera at Kenilworth station shortly before the outbreak of the First World War
Ref: lnwrk3767
LNWR Society
The Daimler experimental railcar at Kenilworth station shortly before the outbreak of the First World War
The Daimler experimental Railcar is seen returning to Coventry between Gibbet Hill Signal Cabin and Kenilworth Junction
Ref: lnwrgh3766
LNWR Society
The Daimler experimental railcar returning to Coventry between Gibbet Hill Signal Cabin and Kenilworth Junction
A side elevation drawing of the 1911 experimental two 105 hp Daimler sleeve-valve engined Daimler Railcar
Ref: misc_railcar329
R Cadman
Side elevation drawing of the 1911 experimental two 105 hp Daimler sleeve-valve engined Daimler Railcar
A front elevation drawing of the 1911 experimental two 105 hp Daimler sleeve-valve engined Daimler Railcar
Ref: misc_railcar330
R Cadman
Front elevation drawing of the 1911 experimental two 105 hp Daimler sleeve-valve engined Daimler Railcar

Close up showing the final drive system of the 1911 experimental twin engined Daimler Railcar
Ref: misc_railcar331
R Cadman
Close up showing the final drive system of the 1911 experimental twin engined Daimler Railcar
The Daimler experimental railcar at Blisworth station shortly before the outbreak of the First World War
Ref: misc_railcar332
R Cadman
The Daimler experimental railcar at Blisworth station shortly before the outbreak of the First World War
A photograph of the front elevation of the 1911 experimental two 105 hp Daimler sleeve-valve engined Daimler Railcar
Ref: misc_railcar333
R Cadman
The front elevation of the 1911 experimental two 105 hp Daimler sleeve-valve engined Daimler Railcar
Near side view of the 1911 experimental twin engined Daimler Railcar at an unknown location
Ref: misc_railcar334
R Cadman
Near side view of the 1911 experimental twin engined Daimler Railcar at an unknown location
The experimental 1904 Daimler Railcar used on GNR Hatfield to Hertford branch
Ref: misc_railcar335
R Cadman
The experimental 1904 twin 38 hp engined Daimler Railcar used on GNR Hatfield to Hertford branch

A photograph of the newly painted 1911 Daimler Railcar complete with white painted tyres and filler cap by the side of the buffer beam
Ref: misc_railcar336
R Cadman
The newly painted 1911 Daimler Railcar complete with white painted tyres and filler cap next to the buffer beam

We would like to express our thanks to Roger Wyatt of the South Australian Protofour Group for his assistance in obtaining a copy of the Model Rail News article.

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Michelin railcars

Darren Kitson

La Micheline, in English The Michelin, was the name applied to a series of railcars running on Michelin pneumatic tyres. The name seems to have applied more specifically to earlier types which resembled road lorries in both rigid and articulated form. Apart from initial experiments, such as that described below, the railcars were not converted road vehicles. Nor were they diesel railcars as some sources claim, they were petrol railcars. The principle was pneumatic tyres mounted on wheels similar to those of road vehicles but bolted onto a steel disc which served as a flange. Thus the railcars offered smooth and near-silent operation with the added benefits of better acceleration and braking, due to the better grip offered by rubber, when compared to conventional steel railway wheels. The idea is credited to Monsieur Edouard Michelin who, it was said, had problems sleeping on overnight trains due to track noise. Standard railway vehicles are far too heavy for pneumatic tyres, however, so Michelin realised the way forward was with lightweight railcars. To this end, a standard Renault car was converted during 1929.

The Paris - Lyon - Mediterranee Railway (PLM) was approached regarding trials, after the converted Renault had operated successfully in the Michelin works sidings at Clermont - Ferrand. The PLM, having composed itself following a mixture of horror and hysterics, agreed to trials on an isolated branch line in the Savoy Alps with a breakdown train in attendance. The latter transpired to be unnecessary and the trials were a total success to, apparently, the surprise of all concerned. It has to be said that credit must be given to the Michelin company for by 1931 they had produced an 18-seat railcar which was demonstrated, successfully by all accounts, between Paris and Deauville during that year.

By 1932 Michelin's Type 9 railcar had appeared and in that same year one of these was sent to Britain for trials. We know from surviving records that the railcar was in Britain by February 1932. The Type 9 railcar is known to have also operated in the Leamington Spa area and between Oxford (Rewley Road) and Bletchley. The railcar was articulated with a six-wheel bogie at the front and, despite appearances, a four-wheel bogie at the rear (earlier examples had a single axle at the rear). Brakes were Lockheed hydraulic, acting upon all wheels.

The power unit was constructed by Renault and the engine was a Panhard - Levassor sleeve valve petrol unit of 27 h.p. This figure was the RAC rating; a peculiar system devised by the RAC on behalf of the British government for taxation purposes. The calculation took into account only the cylinder bore diameter, not the swept volume of the pistons. The actual brake horsepower of this railcar engine would have been in the region of 80 - 85 h.p. at 2,500 - 3,000 r.p.m. Petrol engines were used because no diesel engine available at that time had a suitable power-to-weight ratio; in other words the then-available diesel engines were too heavy. Sleeve valve engines are today museum pieces. The inlet and exhaust ports were controlled by cylindrical sleeves inside the cylinder bores and which moved up and down by means of cams. The best known names associated with sleeve-valve engines were Ricardo and Knight, the latter design being used by Daimler in its 'Silent Knight' engine. These engines, at the time, offered a number of advantages over other types but their oil consumption was necessarily heavy and vehicles so fitted were characterised by the haze of blue smoke which followed them everywhere they went.

The two images of the railcar in what is thought to be a factory siding in Coventry ('lnwrcov3749' and 'lnwrcov3763') show a board at cantrail level with just the name 'Michelin' displayed. However, the image of the railcar at Widney Manor ('gwrdm421') has a longer board, again at cantrail level, with the legend 'Running on Michelin Pneumatic Tyres' displayed. The radiator grille was a dummy; aircraft type radiators being fitted one each side of the cab roof. This in turn meant topping up of the coolant had to be done via a filler cap located on the cab roof. A four-speed manual gearbox was fitted and, with the obvious omission of steering gear, the driving controls were the same as those of contemporary road vehicles. A separate reverse gearbox was fitted to allow all four speeds of the main gearbox to be used when running in either direction and this bi-directional ability was the reason for the use of aircraft type radiators. Drive, it is believed, was from the engine to the centre axle with a roller chain connecting to the front axle with remaining axles therefore being purely load-bearing.

Given that a separate reverse gearbox was fitted but that the cab and controls were otherwise similar to a road vehicle, quite how these railcars were driven in reverse is something of a mystery. A surviving French document suggests these railcars needed turning at the end of each trip, but some details of the rear end of the Type 9 are known.The body sides tapered inwards and the roof downwards to meet a door in the end of the body. In the upper part of the door was a two-piece window, the top section of which appears to have been hinged from the top. This top section had a windscreen wiper. On the left side of the body's rear end was a klaxon and on the right side a single headlamp. These items strongly suggest driving controls were fitted at the rear but bearing in mind the road vehicle type cab and controls at the other end, plus the articulation, quite what the precise arrangement was is difficult to comprehend. Also, driving controls immediately behind an opening door somehow seems rather unlikely.

The passenger section of the Type 9 was a rudimentary affair; it consisted of a welded steel frame covered in canvas - presumably doped (a form of varnish) as in aircraft practice. Seating was for just 24 passengers, while heating was achieved by the simple expedient of passing air over the engine exhaust pipe. The railcar weighed, in working order, a mere 5 tons and was capable of speeds in excess of 60mph. The lightweight construction was necessary due to the inability of the pneumatic tyres of the time to support the heavier loads usually associated with railway vehicles. Tyre-to-rail contact area was, of course, dictated by the width of the rail head, so to have wider tyres would have been pointless. It was for these reasons the railcars, once out of the early prototype stage, had 8, 10 and eventually 16 wheels. Tyre pressure is unclear, with accounts varying between 'low pressure' and 85psi. In the event of a puncture or loss of pressure, by 15 p.s.i., for other reasons, a warning horn would sound in the driving cab and pressure gauges were fitted to each wheel. If a puncture occurred the Type 9 had a wooden rim inside the tyre which prevented total collapse. Later railcars had steel rims inside the tyres while the Coventry railcars had solid rubber tyres within the pneumatic tyres. Changing a wheel was accomplished in exactly the same way as on a road vehicle with spare wheels, jacks and other tools being carried.

On plain track, tyre wear was said to be negligible but points and crossovers took their toll of the tyres. Michelin themselves stated their 'Super Low Pressure' tyre had a service life of over 18,500 miles while other sources state the tyres were good for an average of 20,000 miles. Such a mileage was good by the road vehicle standards of the time but the greater mileages railway passenger vehicles are expected to achieve meant tyre changing would have been necessary at frequent intervals. Even a passenger train, or railcar, operating only branch and local services would be expected to cover, on average, 2,000 miles per week, so tyre replacement would be required every nine or ten weeks. However, we must be careful not to judge too harshly the engineering standards and expectations of almost a century ago with those of today.

The view of the Michelin Type 9 railcar's rear end (see image lnwrcov3749), is said to have been taken in April 1932. As stated in the caption, visible are the klaxon horn, single headlamp and windscreen wiper on the end door. Despite these embellishments it remains difficult to see how these railcars could be driven from the rear. Was there really linkage to the road vehicle type controls at the other end? Was there really a driving position behind the opening end door? These are questions to which answers have proved evasive. The large disc on the near mudguard/splasher presumably deputises for a tail lamp. It is not known what the cranked bar apparently protruding from the rear of the vehicle is. This view gives an idea of the construction of the passenger section of these contraptions. Bearing in mind the body was of doped canvas on a lightweight tubular frame, the passenger section was little more than a tent on wheels. Crash Worthiness? Minus ten perhaps!

The Type 9 was returned to France at an unknown date towards the end of 1932 or in early 1933. At this point there is some confusion over what happened next. Two photographs exist of a Type 11 railcar; one taken at Leamington Spa* and the other at Harwich, with the latter taken just after the railcar had been unloaded from the Dunkirk ferry. The Type 9 entered Britain via Tilbury and a check on freight train ferries at that time shows the port had indeed changed from Tilbury to Harwich during 1933. Therefore we know the Type 11 railcar entered Britain no earlier than 1933, so it is quite likely the Type 11 was sent from France as a swap for the Type 9 which had arrived the previous year. Whilst similar to the Type 9, the Type 11 had a few differences; a more powerful engine was installed; the cab differed in detail and an all-over livery was applied (possibly a deep shade of red). There was also the addition of the tubular object on the cab roof; this was in fact a header tank for the engine cooling system and topping-up was achieved by removing a cap of which there was one at each end of the tank. Little is known of the Type 11s time in Britain, but it appears not to have been tested on the Southern Railway but instead pottered around the Leamington Spa area and the Oxford - Bletchley line much the same as the Type 9 had later done. There is some very scant evidence that it made one trial run to Cambridge. The Type 11 returned to France after a very short stay in Britain. Tyre size was 910mm x 125mm and this seems to have been consistent for all standard gauge Michelin railcars.

On 16th February 1932 the Commercial Motor magazine published an article on the Type 9 railcar. While such articles are now a valuable historical record, the Commercial Motor article, in typical journalistic fashion, is rather dubious in respect of accuracy. It was claimed the railcar whizzed along the Oxford - Bletchley line at 92mph fully loaded; whilst that figure is specific rather than given as, say, 'around 90mph' which would suggest guesswork, it is doubtful the Type 9 could attain such a speed; 55 - 60mph being the usually quoted figure. The article also states the railcar was suitable for 'oil or electric' propulsion. 'Oil engine' is a now somewhat archaic term for a diesel engine and as we have seen it was not possible at that time to equip these railcars with diesel engines. Nevertheless even today some people, who in many cases ought to know better, still describe these railcars as 'diesel'. Electric propulsion was also a somewhat ridiculous claim as rubber tyres would not provide the current return path necessary with overhead wire or conductor rail power supplies. Battery power would in theory have been possible but the ever-present problem of battery weight would have made it completely impractical for the Michelin railcars which through necessity had to be lightweight.

Darren Kitson

* A copy of this photograph would be very much appreciated

View of the experimental Michelin Rail Car being trialled on the GWR as it passes through Widney Manor station
Ref: gwrwm421
P Hopkins
View of the experimental Michelin railcar being trialled on the GWR as it passes through Widney Manor station
A rare view of the Michelin Type 9 railcar's rear end, said to have been taken at Coventry in April 1932
Ref: lnwrcov3749
M Morant
A rare view of the Michelin Type 9 railcar's rear end, said to have been taken at Coventry in April 1932
A three-quarters frontal view of the Michelin Type 9 Rail Car between tests standing in in Coventry
Ref: lnwrcov3763
M Morant
A three-quarters frontal view of the Michelin Type 9 railcar between tests standing in in Coventry
A three-quarters frontal view of the Michelin Type 9 Rail Car between tests standing in in Coventry
Ref: lnwrcov3764
NRM
A close up of the Michelin Type 22 Railcar seen arriving at platform 3 of Cambridge station in 1935
An interior view of what is thought to be the passenger cabin in a Michelin Type 22 Railcar
Ref: lnwrcov3765
Michelin
An interior view of what is thought to be the passenger cabin in a Michelin Type 22 Railcar

Film of the Experimental Michelin Rail Cars in action

French streamlined rail car

On the LMS rail track between Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire and Euston, London. Originally part of the film 'New in a Nutshell'.

Michelin auto-trein (1932)

The Michelin Rail Car performing on Dutch Tracks. Its similar to that trialled in the UK.

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The Coventry Pneumatic Rail Cars

Darren Kitson

The Coventry Pneumatic Rail-cars (see image 'lnwrlave1349') were a development of the Michelin Types 9, first seen in the UK in 1932, and the Michelin Type 11 first seen in 1933. Promoted by Armstrong Siddeley, they bore more than a passing resemblance to the Michelin Type 22 which was also sent over from France in 1934 and was still evident in Cambridge in 1935. This shuttling of railcars back and forth suggests Michelin was keen to ensure Britain's railways were kept up to date with their developments. The Type 22 railcar was in outline very different to the Michelin Type 9 and 11 articulated railcars, but as stated above, very similar at first glance to the Coventry Rail Cars. There were however a number of differences between them and the Coventry railcars, as we will see in due course. The French Type 22 was a 56-seat railcar carried on two 8-wheel bogies and powered by a Hispano-Suiza 240 hp petrol engine. Two spare wheels and what is assumed to be a toolbox can be seen underneath the end of the body. Passenger access was via a single-leaf air-operated sliding door on each side of the body in the centre. A toilet compartment was provided and at the powered (No 1) end was a luggage compartment accessed by roller-shutter doors. Braking was air-assisted hydraulic, acting on all wheels.

Hispano-Suiza was a Barcelona based company with tentacles in France and better known for their large, upmarket cars and their involvement in the aircraft industry. The company still exists but is, at the time of writing, known as Safran following a series of takeovers and mergers. For use in the Michelin railcars, Hispano-Suiza developed a lightweight and rather neat engine known as the Type 86. It was a 12 cylinder horizontally-opposed unit using much aluminium alloy in its construction and designed to sit transversely in the bogie frame, drive to the wheels being via fluid coupling and self-changing gearbox to one axle and thence via roller-chain to an adjacent axle.

Perhaps the most striking feature of both the Type 22 and Coventry railcars was the 'conning tower' and its driving position. This meant only one driving position, and thus one set of controls, was necessary. The drawback with this arrangement was the driver needing to turn one way or the other according to direction of travel. To access his position, the driver had to first climb onto a raised platform and then onto his seat which was cantilevered from safety railings around the edge of the platform. The precise method of control with railcars using the Type 86 engine which, being bogie mounted, moved relative to the body, is not clear, but other railcars used a more conventional Hispano-Suizar V12 engine (a bored-out Hispano-Suiza J12 automotive engine) mounted in the body underframe and in these cases control was via levers projecting up into the conning tower. The official term for the conning tower seems to have been 'Driver's platform'.

The image of the Cambridge railcar shows the conning tower, as we will call it, is more or less located along the body centre line. Railcars using the underframe-mounted V12 engine had, by necessity, the conning tower located to one side of the body and this was the case with the Coventry railcars. All the railcars had a radiator mounted in a conventional position, as per road vehicles, above the frames at the No 1 end. For running with No 2 end leading the radiator had shutters which closed and instead air was drawn in via roof-mounted scoops. These scoops can be seen either side of the conning tower in the Cambridge image. The Coventry railcars used a similar arrangement but which differed in detail. The Coventry cars had 'Coventry Railcar' monograms on their body sides. The 'Cambridge' Type 22 railcar also had monograms which appear to have stated 'Pneumatic Railcar' but surviving photographs are too unclear to be certain.

At around the time the Coventry cars were introduced in 1935, the Type 22 railcar simply disappeared. Probably, the Coventry cars rendered it redundant and it returned to France. The Coventry Pneumatic Railcar Company was a joint undertaking between the LMS, Michelin and Armstrong-Siddeley of Coventry. Like Hispano-Suizar AS was also a producer of upmarket cars as well as being involved in the aircraft industry. After the Second World War AS became part of the Bristol-Siddeley-Maybach concern, producing Maybach engines under licence for some of British Rail's diesel-hydraulic locomotives.

For the Coventry railcars, Armstrong-Siddeley had developed their own V12 petrol engine; a 13 litre unit giving 275 hp at 3,000 rpm. It weighed a mere 1,000 lb and the complete railcars weighed, in working order, a very commendable 6½ tons. However, a drawing exists clearly intended to show a Coventry railcar (it is titled as such) and this states the weight in working order as being a fraction over 8 tons. An Ogden's cigarette card depicting a Coventry railcar gave the tare weight as 9 tons or 14 tons fully laden. The drawing also shows the conning tower located just off the centre line of the car, as per the 'Cambridge' Type 22, and with the roof-mounted air scoops also as per the Type 22. As pictures of the Coventry railcars show, the design as-built was rather different and the reasons for the changes are not known although we can guess they may have been connected with the decision to use the V12 engine instead of the Hispano-Suiza horizontally opposed unit.

Mentioned earlier was the fitting of solid rubber tyres within the pneumatic tyres of the Coventry railcars. This allowed the railcars to continue in service with a punctured tyre until a convenient time to change the offending wheel arose, although this would presumably have required reduced speed, inner tubes were also fitted, as was the norm at the time, and this applied to all the pneumatic railcars. The inner tubes differed to those used on road vehicles because of the need to accommodate the anti-collapse rims or, in the case of the Coventry railcars, the inner solid tyres. As far as can be ascertained regarding the Coventry railcars, the inner tube was of a 'U' cross section and was fixed and sealed to the wheel rim and with the inner solid tyre inside the tube and the pneumatic tyre outside. Thus when a puncture occurred, the inner tube deflated and the railcar ran on the inner solid tyre. This means air would have provided nothing more than a cushioning layer between inner and outer tyres - very different indeed to the much simpler system of tubeless tyres were are familiar with today on road vehicles.

The Coventry railcars were 55 ft long overall, 9ft wide and 12 ft high from rail to top of conning tower. The conning tower had, of course, to fit within the British loading gauge and, like the Type 22, the Coventry railcars had to suit the height of British station platforms. It was for those reasons the railcar bodies were rather squat, giving the illusion they were wider than they actually were. For their time and to British eyes, they were ultra-modern in appearance and their livery, said to have been crimson lake and a light shade of cream, while not exactly new (the LNWR had used a similar coaching stock livery) must have been quite eye catching. Coventry No 1 made its debut on 20th June 1935, with No 2 following soon afterwards. One, at least, of the Coventry cars is known to have undertaken trial runs between Rugby and Market Harborough (part of the now-closed Rugby - Seaton - Stamford Peterborough route) and also between Oxford and Cambridge. Details of the latter are, however, vague and it is unclear if either Coventry car actually ran as far east as Cambridge. Most photographs of the Coventry cars depict them in service in the Coventry, Kenilworth / Leamington Spa area.

No 1 is known to have then made a press run from Rugby to Wansford (near Peterborough) and return, following which both railcars operated services in the Coventry - Leamington Spa - Rugby - Nuneaton area. The services were advertised by handbill and slotted-in between regular timetabled services operated by proper trains. They were based at Rugby a three road part of the shed being reserved for them. Possibly this was done partly to keep them away from steam locomotive grime but mainly to keep the fuel supply petrol, away from the risk of fire. In time, the Armstrong Siddeley engines became problematic and at least one railcar was given a Hispano-Suiza engine instead. This was presumably a J12 as fitted to the later Michelin railcars.

Image 'lnwrlave3766' shows Coventry Pneumatic Rail Car from the rear, in this case the driver's end, but with the vehicle be propelled forward. The side position of the conning tower can be seen, this being necessary because of the underframe-mounted VI2 engine. The exhaust silencers can be seen, as they can in the previous image; there was one for each bank of cylinders and located conspicuously but neatly under each side of No 1 end. Another difference to the Michelin Type 22 was the two-leaf sliding passenger doors mounted externally of the body. The oil tail lamp was a mandatory requirement despite these railcars being fitted with electric lighting clusters. Mentioned earlier was the air scoop arrangement which differed to that of the Type 22. The scoop was raised and the radiator shutters were closed when the railcars ran with No 2 end leading. With No 1 end leading the radiator shutters opened and the scoop closed. When closed, the scoop was flush with the roof. There has been some suggestion that in the Coventry' cars the driver was able to sit actually facing the direction of travel and this does appear to be the case from photographs of the cars in service. If so, the arrangement of the driving seat and controls has to be questioned but details are not known.

The railcars were popular with the travelling public and: providing it wasn't a hot day, with the crews too. The railway authorities, however, quickly lost interest and the scheme was abandoned in 1937. Later that year the Coventry' railcars were taken to the Michelin premises at Stoke-on-Trent and there they lingered until 1945 when they were scrapped. All that remains of them is one wheel, in the National Railway Museum having been presented by Michelin. All the lightweight pneumatic railcars had their drawbacks. The necessary light weight prevented the use of proper buffing and drawgear; their near-silent operation was seen as a hazard to track workers used to the sound of steam locomotives and the rubber tyres could not operate track circuits (track circuiting is a system whereby a small electric current is passed through the rails and when this is short-circuited by conventional steel wheels the instruments in signal boxes are actuated). The Coventry railcars were fitted with skates to eliminate this problem but apparently they proved unreliable). One perpetual problem with any lightweight railway vehicle is the relatively high cost of construction and of repairs following accident damage; British Railways was mindful of this problem many years later with their Wickham-built diesel multiple units and railbuses.

It is said that the Coventry railcars were prohibited from running during the hours of darkness and during fog due to safety concerns. The hours of darkness were, of course, known in advance and as the railcars were not guaranteed to run this would not have caused any problems. Fog, however, is less predictable so must have caused some cancellations at short notice. It is not known if these restrictions applied only to the Coventry railcars or all those which operated in Britain but it is likely it was all of them. Another aspect for which the answer is not known is whether the safety- concerns were genuine or part of an attempt by a disinterested LMS to kill off the project, but given that the railcars were quiet running and very dodgy where track circuits were concerned we can probably safely assume the concerns were genuine.

Despite the drawbacks the railway authorities in Britain were quick to point out, the main reason for their demise in Britain was probably the Second World War. As war clouds gathered, industry, including Armstrong Siddeley, was gearing up to rearmament and other war production and, as happened with the LMS articulated diesel multiple unit, experimental projects were very' much pushed into the background. The success of the Great Western's AEC diesel railcars may also have influenced the decision to abandon the concept.

Drawbacks or no drawbacks, war or no war, the French, as might be expected, took a totally different approach and over one hundred Michelin railcars gave many years of good service in France and her colonies. Others eventually found their way to other parts of the world and in the USA the Budd company produced them under licence. Today several examples can be seen in museums while at least one, in Madagascar, is still operational as of 2015. On a brighter note, several Metro systems operate rubber-tyred trains. Paris, Mexico City and Santiago have some lines operated in this manner while the Montreal Metro is currently operated entirely by rubber-tyred trains. The rubber-tyre principle offers distinct advantages in urban areas, especially where lines are underground, where reduced noise and vibration are most desirable. Metro systems are also usually self contained and operate, engineering trains excepted, only passenger trains of lightweight fixed formation stock, therefore the problems of operating rubber-tyred trains on main lines where they have to integrate with conventional rolling stock are eliminated. However, while the rubber tyre principle remains on these modern metro systems, the precise technology is a long way from the Michelin railcars of yesteryear.

Darren Kitson

Operational Trials

View of a fairly full Coventry Pneumatic Rail-car leaving Nuneaton station on a Coventry service on a wet day on 12th May 1937
Ref: lnwrns1732
HR Robinson
View of a fairly full Coventry Pneumatic Rail-car leaving Nuneaton station on a Coventry service
Coventry Railcar No 2 stands at the Coventry end of the bay platform ready to return on a Leamington to Nuneaton service
Ref: lnwrlave1349
G Coltas
Coventry Railcar No 2 stands at the Coventry end of the bay platform on a Leamington to Nuneaton service
Close up showing the raised cockpit of Railcar No 2 and the louvered door for the driver and luggage
Ref: lnwrlave1349a
G Coltas
Close up showing the raised cockpit of Railcar No 2 and the louvered door for the driver and luggage
Coventry Pneumatic Railcar No 2 is seen passing through Kenilworth station on its way to Nuneaton via Coventry
Ref: lnwrk161
G Coltas
Coventry Pneumatic Railcar No 2 is seen passing through Kenilworth station on its way to Nuneaton via Coventry
The Coventry Railcar from the non-driving end seen as it stands under the footbridge at platform 2 waiting to depart
Ref: lnwrlave1362
G Coltas
The Coventry railcar from the non-driving end seen as it stands under the footbridge at platform 2 waiting to depart

Coventry Pneumatic Railcar No 2 stands at platform 2 waiting to depart on a Leamington to Nuneaton service in 1936
Ref: lnwrlave3766
J Alsop
Coventry Pneumatic Railcar No 2 stands at platform 2 waiting to depart on a service to Nuneaton in 1936

Pre production views and design specifications

A right hand three-quarters view of No 1 Rail Car before the transfer 'Coventry Railcar' has been applied
Ref: lnwrcov3761
The Engineer
A right hand three-quarters view of No 1 Rail Car before the transfer 'Coventry railcar' has been applied
The drivers compartment of the Daimler Coventry Pneumatic Rail-car as seen from inside the main cabin
Ref: lnwrcov3750
Anon
The drivers compartment of the Daimler Coventry Pneumatic Rail Car as seen from inside the main cabin
View of one the Coventry Railcar's chassis frame being erected at one of Armstrong Siddeley's workshops
Ref: lnwrcov3755
The Engineer
View of one the Coventry Rail Car's chassis frame being erected at one of Armstrong Siddeley's workshops
View of one the Coventry Railcar bodies being erected at one of Armstrong Siddeley's workshops
Ref: lnwrcov3762
The Engineer
View of one the Coventry Rail Car bodies being erected at one of Armstrong Siddeley's workshops
View of the power bogie and transmission fitted by Michelin to the Coventry Pneumatic Rail Cars
Ref: lnwrcov3759
The Engineer
Elevated view of the power bogie and transmission fitted by Michelin to the Coventry Pneumatic Rail Cars

A 12 cylinder Armstrong Siddeley engine and gear-box of the type fitted to the Coventry Pneumatic Rail Car
Ref: lnwrcov3756
The Engineer
A 12 cylinder Armstrong Siddeley engine and gear-box of the type fitted to the Coventry Pneumatic Rail Cars
An interior view of what is thought to be the passenger cabin in a Michelin Type 22 Railcar
Ref: lnwrcov3765
Anon
An interior view of what is thought to be the passenger cabin in a Michelin Type 22 railcar
The eight wheeled bogie unit of the 1934 'Micheline' 56-seater rail-car which had a slightly different suspension system
Ref: lnwrcov3751
Anon
The 8-wheeled bogie of the 1934 'Micheline' 56-seater railcar which had a slightly different suspension system
An exterior view of a Michelin 56-seater Rail-car passing itself off as a Coventry Rail Car
Ref: lnwrcov3753
Anon
An exterior view of a Michelin 56-seater Rail-car, in France, passing itself off as a Coventry Rail Car
A close up of the Michelin Type 22 Railcar seen arriving at platform 3 of Cambridge station in 1935
Ref: lnwrcov3764
Anon
A close up of the Michelin Type 22 Railcar seen arriving at platform 3 of Cambridge station in 1935

A schematic drawing of the 56 seater Coventry Pneumatic Rail-car and its relationship with the LMS loading gauge
Ref: lnwrcov3752
Anon
A schematic drawing of the Coventry Pneumatic Rail Car and its relationship with the LMS loading gauge
Schematic diagram of the Track Circuiting System employed on the Coventry Pneumatic Rail Car
Ref: lnwrcov3757
The Engineer
A schematic diagram of the Track Circuiting System employed by Michelin on the Coventry Pneumatic Rail Car
Plan, elevation and cross section of the trailing bogie fitted by Michelin to the Coventry Pneumatic Rail Cars
Ref: lnwrcov3760
The Engineer
Plan, elevation and cross section of the trailing bogie fitted by Michelin to the Coventry Pneumatic Rail Cars
Plan and elevation of the power bogie fitted by Michelin to the Coventry Pneumatic Rail Cars
Ref: lnwrcov3758
The Engineer
Plan and elevation of the power bogie fitted by Michelin to both of the Coventry Pneumatic Rail Cars
A cross sectional view of one of the Armstrong Siddeley Rail Car's Pneumatic Tyred Wheel
Ref: lnwrcov3754
The Engineer
A cross sectional view of one of the Michelin designed 'Armstrong Siddeley' Rail Car's Pneumatic Tyred Wheel

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The LMS Ro-Railer

JR Jennings (SMJR line archivist)

I have been researching and lecturing on the Stratford upon Avon and Midland Junction Railway for over forty years. It is incredible how many times I am asked about the “Ro-Railer”. This vehicle only served in revenue service for a few weeks. It has taken on almost mythical status and although it deserves a place in history its main contribution to Stratford is that it put the station at Old Town and the LMS railway as an alternative route clearly in front of a much wider public than it had ever previously enjoyed. Not since the days of the “Harvard” special trains in the pre-Great War era did so many people crowd onto the 'other' Stratford station as on the morning of 23rd April 1932. I estimate that more photos were taken of the Ro-Railer (and certainly more survive) than of any other ex-SMJR line subject. If only the unique Fairlie engine had enjoyed similar status! This short volume has been edited over the years as new data has come to light. It draws together information that appears in many sources elsewhere.

The Stratford upon Avon and Midland Junction Railway and the LMS Railway that took it over in 1923 made various attempts over the years to offer a through connection between Stratford and London. The rival GWR route with a change at Leamington Spa was longer than either the Stratford - Marylebone or Stratford - Euston possibilities that existed using the SMJ route. In the early 1900s a through service was provided by a coach that was worked over the SMJ line before being attached to a Great Central Railway London service at Woodford. This involved the coach being 'trip worked' from Byfield to Woodford and back. Its progress over the SMJ line to Stratford was slow because it was attached to a normal all stations stopping train. The Railway 'grouping' of 1923 put the Great Central Railway in the LNER camp with the SMJ becoming part of the LMSR. This really ended any future cooperation on through coaches via Woodford. The 'gateway' from the SMJ line to London had always been via Woodford because when the GCR London extension was built the need to generate traffic was paramount and the layout at Woodford took account of interchange traffic with the SMJR. The LMS could direct traffic to its West Coast Main Line at either Blisworth or Roade. The connection at Roade had never been fully utilized even for freight but the interchange at Blisworth was one of the better used parts of the ex SMJ system and although passengers would need to walk through to the main platforms a reasonable connection to the capital could be achieved. The authors of the various books on the SMJ have never effectively explored why the Roade connection was not developed for passenger through traffic. In mileage terms it was very attractive but the most plausible explanation is that the LMS (and LNWR before it) did not want to stop express trains at a relatively unimportant station to attach/detach through coaches of dubious commercial benefit to them. Some authors have suggested that the track layout at Roade dating from the 1840s and the lack of a shunting engine at all times were also considerations.

During the 1920s competition from road transport was becoming a big problem for all of the railway companies and they explored ways of cutting costs and developing new traffic on loss making lines. The LMS were aware that Stratford upon Avon was an increasingly important destination with the attractions of the 'new' theatre and their own investment in the Welcombe Hotel. Ways of providing a passenger service of reasonable journey time were considered and it was decided to trial a new concept of vehicle that could run on both rail and road. If successful this would have great potential to win traffic for lightly used lines. In the case of the Stratford service it would be possible to convey passengers and their luggage directly to and from the Welcombe Hotel via the SMJ line as far as Blisworth where with just one change of train they would be conveyed directly to Euston. The journey time would be enhanced by the vehicle running non-stop from Blisworth to Stratford although the constraints of a difficult single track line often meant waits at Towcester and Kineton.

The LMS Ro-Railer UR7924 was ordered by the LMS carriage division at Wolverton in Feb 1931. The supplier Karrier Motors of Huddersfield was a surprise to some as they were running down their bus production having earned a poor reputation for reliability in the 1920s. The chassis was a standard Karrier Chaser powered by a 6 cylinder engine with a maximum rating of 120hp. The Chaser was the last serious bus design by Karrier. The body was built by Cravens to their B26C design and featured 14 front facing seats in the forward vestibule and 12 longitudinal seats in the rear smoking saloon. Luggage space was provided on the roof or by folding up some of the seats in the rear vestibule. It weighed 7 tons 2 cwt and was fitted with railway sanding gear, lamp irons and emergency drawgear for locomotive haulage. Loco haulage was limited to 20 mph although apart from the presumed rescue on its demise there is no record of loco haulage taking place. The pneumatic road wheels and traditional flanged rail wheels were mounted on a manually set eccentric arrangement and could be switched from road to rail in under five minutes by one man whilst the vehicle stood over a sleepered crossing. The technical arrangements are dealt with fairly comprehensively in most of the books that have been published about the ex-SMJR line.

After delivery and acceptance at Wolverton it was put on trial on the Hemel Hemstead – Harpenden branch where it was photographed in late 1931 by H C Casserley. In an attempt to gain publicity the LMS decided to allocate this first experimental vehicle to the ex SMJ section and the service was launched at Stratford upon Avon on 23rd April 1932. This is an important day for the town as it is the birthday of William Shakespeare and there would be many influential people and pressmen around on the day. As previously mentioned the LMS had converted a mansion at Welcombe into a Hotel and the Ro-Railer was charged with conveying passengers directly to it without the need to transfer themselves or their luggage at the railway station. There was a minor skirmish with an omnibus company who held the local carriage license and objected to the LMS in effect providing a service on their territory although they did not offer a route from Stratford LMS to the Welcombe hotel! This was resolved by the LMS agreeing to charge a flat rate fare of sixpence (6d) for any intermediate fare stage if passengers were picked up in the town. There were few takers.

The Ro-Railer suffered from the same problems as many early road bus conversions to rail in that it was too light for efficient rail adhesion particularly on a line like the ex SMJ which had the gradient profile of a switchback. It struggled to maintain progress uphill and was then driven hard on the downhill to compensate. (The author experienced a very similar vehicle still in use in Chile in 1993 and the ride qualities were not for the faint hearted!) The lack of effective suspension and springing meant that the hammer blow from rail joints and crossings was transmitted to both machinery and occupants. Early failure of some vital part was inevitable and after a few weeks of operation the Ro-Railer broke a front axle component whilst in service near Byfield. It was removed to Wolverton and never used again as a rail vehicle although the fact that its road registration was renewed for a number of years after suggests disposal for use as a road vehicle. The LMS did have plans to order more including goods/passenger convertible versions for branch line use. These plans were abandoned by virtue of a short minute at an LMS board meeting in late 1932.

In view of its novelty and the launch on 23rd April there is a wealth of photographic material of the vehicle. In addition to the railway coverage the odd shot of it on the streets of Stratford keeps coming to light as residents come forward with a photograph taken by a relative of this 'unusual vehicle' as the local paper had described it. Apart from Casserley's efforts not too many photos of it exist outside of the Stratford area or in any other SMJ l ine station. The launch of the service drew a large gathering of contemporary railway enthusiasts many of who can be seen in the photographs that have been well published over the years. Some cine films of the vehicle have survived and at least one copy is held in the archive collection administered by Rob Foxon of Leicester.

One Ro-Railer story that has recently surfaced was that it was alleged to have been sent out to substitute for an unavailable loco and coach on the Stratford - Broom Junction scheduled service one day. The turntable at Broom was unavailable (the East to West connection forming a triangle was 10 years in the future) so the Ro-Railer returned backwards!

The above article was originally published in Stratford upon Avon Transport Notes -Volume 02/04 by J R Jennings SMJR line archivist.

A view of the Ro-Railer at Stratford on Avon's up platform during one of the tests held during April 1932
Ref: smjsa30
The Shakespeare Trust
A view of the Ro-Railer at Stratford on Avon's up platform during one of the tests held during April 1932
View of the Ro-Railer passing through Stratford on Avon and the old Shakespeare Theatre on its way to the station
Ref: smjsa121
AT Locke/KRM
View of the Ro-Railer passing through Stratford on Avon and the old Shakespeare Theatre on its way to the station
Changing the wheels configuration of the Ro-Railer from travelling on the road to travelling on the rails
Ref: smjsa122
AT Locke/KRM
Changing the wheels configuration of the Ro-Railer from travelling on the road to travelling on the rails
The Ro- Railer is seen travelling 'wrong' road after leaving the single section from Fenny Compton
Ref: smjsa123
AT Locke/KRM
The Ro- Railer is seen travelling 'wrong' road after leaving the single section from Fenny Compton
The Ro-Railer reverses off the railway on to road using the special ramp which lay adjacent to the cattle dock
Ref: smjsa47
Anon
The Ro-Railer reverses off the railway on to road using the special ramp which lay adjacent to the cattle dock

The Ro-Railer is standing at the up platform whilst ex-MR 4-4-0 No 556 stands on the middle road
Ref: smjsa104
Lens of Sutton
The Ro-Railer is standing at the up platform whilst ex-MR 4-4-0 No 556 stands on the middle road
The Ro-Railer is seen reversing on to the ramp where it can lower its road wheels to proceed by road
Ref: smjsa66
Lens of Sutton
The Ro-Railer is seen reversing on to the ramp where it can lower its road wheels to proceed by road

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British Railways & BTU Experimental Lightweight Railcars

Stuart Mackay

The first three-car unit, comprising cars 1, 2 & 3 was built as a demonstrator set in 1952 and ran trials on many lines throughout the UK. It comprised a motor car, a motor brake car and a trailer. It was painted two-tone grey with red lining but was later purchased by British Railways and given green livery. Five similar cars were built for BR in 1955 and three more in 1957, and all eleven spent most of their later lives on the Watford-St Albans line. They were all withdrawn by 1962. The first three cars in BR livery can be distinguished by their half-drop windows and lower skirt panels. The eight later cars had sliding windows and no skirts.

Nicknamed the "flying bricks", a 3-car set was built as a demonstration train, formed of two power cars and a centre trailer, although it could also be operated as a one or two car train, The bodies were built by Park Royal, and the underframe and mechanics by AEC. Initially they were numbered Cars 1-3, but later given the BR numbers M79740-2. They were trialed in many places around the country, leading to them being bought by the LMR in January 1955 and a further set and spare power/trailer car delivered in 1955 and another 3-car in 1957. The later eight cars (M79743-50) didn't have the bodysides skirts, and had sliding lights rather than droplights on the sides. They were normally associated with the St Albans - Watford line, and to a lesser degree the Harrow - Belmont route. Despite the order for more vehicles they were not successful, and on paper at least some were transferred to the Civil Engineers Dept. in 1959. Eight vehicles were placed in store at Derby Friargate mid-1960, the other three still seeing occasional use for a further year before also going to Derby. They were all cut up by Derby C&W by the end of 1963.

First Three Vehicles

The bodies were designed by BUT but manufactured for them by Park Royal, and the underframe and mechanics by AEC. Both were ACV companies. As a 3-car set the length was 120ft 9ins over buffers, weighing 39tons 4cwt. The DMT and DMBT each weighed approximately 15 tons, the TT weighed 10tons 10cwt. Maximum speed was 45mph. They showed an average fuel consumption of 11½ to 12mpg per car, or 5¾ to 6mpg for a 2/3 car set.

Operations

They ran their first trials between Didcot and Newbury (DN&S) during w/c 28 Apr 1952. As a demonstration train it was naturally trialed around many parts of the country. The first demonstration was to Gerrards Cross, on the 23rd May, and then based on Neasden shed it worked a series of trials out of Marylebone on outer London suburban routes. Initially this was on the High Wycombe / Princes Risborough line, working 2 trains each way daily. Twelve days of demonstration runs in the Birmingham area were extended an extra fortnight until 12th September 1953. At this time it was thought that the the BTC would purchase the unit, and after fitting it with heaters for use during the winter months it would go into regular service either on the Southminster Branch (ER) or the Watford – St Albans line (LMR). In late 1953 they were on trial for a short while on the Southern Region Allhallows-on-Sea branch in Kent, after which they moved back to the London Midland Region. The Wellingborough to Higham Ferrers branch was another route the unit was tested on.

Prototype Lightweight railcars in action

The experimental Associated Equipment Company Railcar 'arrives' at platform 4 for Snow Hill circa 1950
Ref: gwrs2707
M Morant
The experimental Associated Equipment Company railcar 'arrives' at platform 4 for Snow Hill circa 1950
The experimental AEC Railcar stands at platform 3 having arrived on a local service from Snow Hill circa 1950
Ref: gwrs2708
M Morant
The experimental AEC railcar stands at platform 3 having arrived on a local service from Snow Hill circa 1950
View of a three-car, four wheel ACV Lightweight Diesel Unit standing at Moor Street's Platform 1 with a local service
Ref: gwrms2755
V Michel
View of a three-car, four wheel ACV Lightweight Diesel Unit standing at Moor Street's Platform 1 with a local service
The three-car prototype ACV lightweight diesel railcar set stands at Moor Street on a local commuter service
Ref: gwrms3223
EA Wood
The three-car prototype ACV lightweight diesel railcar set stands at Moor Street on a local commuter service
A three-car, four wheel ACV Lightweight Diesel Unit standing at Snow Hill station's Platform 5 with a local service
Ref: gwrbsh3222
G Hill
A three-car, four wheel ACV Lightweight Diesel Unit standing at Snow Hill station's Platform 5 with a local service

Prototype Leightweight railcars being built

View of the right hand side of No 79741, the Prototype Trailer Third Railcar, with skirt hiding the wheels
Ref: misc_railcar327
G Hill
View of the right hand side of No 79741, the Prototype Trailer Third railcar, with skirt hiding the wheels
View of the left hand side of No 79741, the Prototype Trailer Third Railcar, with skirt hiding the wheels
Ref: misc_railcar326
G Hill
View of the left hand side of No 79741, the Prototype Trailer Third railcar, with skirt hiding the wheels
A view of the side elevation of the Motor Brake Third Railcar's chassis outside of the works
Ref: misc_railcar320
G Hill
A view of the side elevation of the Motor Brake Third railcar's chassis outside of the works
A three-quarters elevated view of the BTU Motor Brake Third Railcar's chassis outside of the works
Ref: misc_railcar321
G Hill
A three-quarters elevated view of the BTU Motor Brake Third railcar's chassis outside of the works
View of the completed Railcar No 3, the Trailer Third (later 79741) standing inside Park Royal Vehicles' factory
Ref: misc_railcar328
G Hill
View of the completed railcar No 3, the Trailer Third (later 79741) standing inside Park Royal Vehicles' factory

An internal view of Railcar No 1, the Motor Brake Third (later 79742), with a seating capacity of thirty-two people
Ref: misc_railcar322
G Hill
An internal view of railcar No 1, the Motor Brake Third (later 79742), with a seating capacity of thirty-two people
Opposite internal view of Railcar No 1, the Motor Brake Third (later 79742), with a seating capacity of thirty-two people
Ref: misc_railcar323
G Hill
Opposite internal view of railcar No 1, the Motor Brake Third (later 79742), with a seating capacity of thirty-two people
Internal view of the driver's cab in Railcar No 1, the Motor Brake Third (later 79742), with luggage space to the side
Ref: misc_railcar324
G Hill
Internal view of the driver's cab in railcar No 1, the Motor Brake Third, with luggage space to the side
Internal view of the driver's cab in Railcar No 2, the Motor Third (later 79740), with passenger seating to one side
Ref: misc_railcar325
G Hill
Internal view of the driver's cab in railcar No 2, the Motor Third (later 79740), with passenger seating to one side

Schematic drawings of the Prototype Leightweight railcars

Schematic diagram showing Railcar No 1, the Motor Brake Third, with a seating capacity of thirty-two people
Ref: misc_railcar314
G Hill
Schematic diagram showing railcar No 1, the Motor Brake Third, with a seating capacity of thirty-two people
Schematic drawing showing Railcar No 2, the Motor Third, with seating capacity for forty-five people
Ref: misc_railcar315
G Hill
Schematic drawing showing railcar No 2, the Motor Third, with seating capacity for forty-five people
Schematic drawing showing Railcar No No 3, the Trailer Third, with seating capacity for fifty-two passengers
Ref: misc_railcar316
G Hill
Schematic drawing showing railcar No 3, the Trailer Third, with seating capacity for fifty-two passengers
Schematic drawing of the Railcar's end elevation showing the cab was the same at both ends of the Railcar
Ref: misc_railcar317
G Hill
Schematic drawing of the railcar's end elevation showing the cab was the same at both ends of the Railcar
Schematic drawing showing the side elevation and plan view of the three car experimental diesel train
Ref: misc_railcar318
G Hill
Schematic drawing showing the side elevation and plan view of the three car experimental diesel train

Schematic drawing showing the side elevation and plan view of one the three car production diesel trains
Ref: misc_railcar319
G Hill
Schematic drawing showing the side elevation and plan view of one the three car production diesel trains

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