Trivia: Unusual diesel loco combinations in the BR era

Strathclyder

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Basically what it says on the tin: what were the most unusual/noteworthy diesel loco combinations that ran on the mainline in the BR era?

I'll kick things off with this Class 26/56 combo - both in Railfreight two-tone grey with Coal sector markings to boot - at Inveresk, just south of Musselburgh with a southbound MGR in June 1991; the 26 would come off the train at Grantshouse. From scot-rail.co.uk (uploaded by KeithSanders). Not sure if this was a regular occurrence or not, certainly a head-turner at any rate (to say nothing of what a McRat/Grid combo would've sounded like)!


I'll turn the floor over to the rest of you now. This should be a interesting one. ;)
 
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alistairlees

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A few:
- 45/0 + 47/4 (or/0?) booked on the 06.35 Bristol TM to Plymouth on Tuesday and Fridays in 1985 / 6 (I think) (the 45/0 was booked to come off at Exeter SD). I've had various mixtures of 45/0, 45/1, 47/0, 47/4 and 50 on this service
- a 31/4 + a 33/0 (both working) on a Cardiff - Portsmouth H, sometime in 1986
- 45/1 + 45/1 on the SuO 12.15 Derby - St Pancras (I've also had a 31/4 + 47/0 - both working - combination on this)

I'm sure there will be plenty more!
 

D6130

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A class 40 plus two 26s Northwards from Mossend (or possibly Carlisle?) on one of the Euston-Inverness overnights on Good Friday/Easter Saturday 1973.

A 73 hauling failed 47 492 from Preston Park to Redhill on a Brighton-Manchester in the Spring of 1985. After running round and dumping the Duff, the 73 took the seven coach train on 600 bhp diesel power diverted over the hilly Redhill-Reading line. The train had been propelled by a 12 CIG-BIG-CIG EMU formation from just outside Brighton station into the loop platform at Preston Park....with much popping and banging! (According to the driver, 47 492 had suffered a load regulator melt-down a couple of hundred yards after departing from Brighton and the power controller handle had come off in his hand!).

A 37 at one end and a 25 at the other end of a Glasgow-Edinburgh 'high speed' push-pull service in the Summer of 1971. In the early days of this service it was fairly common to see either a 25 or 37 at one end and a 27 at the other, but this was the only occasion that I can recall seeing such a train with no 27 involved at all.

A class 29 double-heading a 37 on an oil train out of Grangemouth in 1971. This would have involved two drivers, as the two classes were not compatible for multiple working, having different control systems.
 

Cheshire Scot

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A class 40 plus two 26s Northwards from Mossend (or possibly Carlisle?) on one of the Euston-Inverness overnights on Good Friday/Easter Saturday 1973.


A 37 at one end and a 25 at the other end of a Glasgow-Edinburgh 'high speed' push-pull service in the Summer of 1971. In the early days of this service it was fairly common to see either a 25 or 37 at one end and a 27 at the other, but this was the only occasion that I can recall seeing such a train with no 27 involved at all.

A class 29 double-heading a 37 on an oil train out of Grangemouth in 1971. This would have involved two drivers, as the two classes were not compatible for multiple working, having different control systems.
I once saw a 40 piloting 2 x 24/26 into Aviemore - the 40 was to rescue the train I was on (a railtour) on which another 40 had failed. I think we ended up around two hours late.

On one occasion I had a 37 on either end on the E&G, and as you say in the early days 25s or 37s substituting for 27s was common, but 37 and 25, very unusual.

In various eras in the diesel age a 27 + 20 or 37 + 20 was not un-common on the 06.00 Queen St to Fort William but still an unusual combination for a passenger train. That said I never quite understood how the regular 27 +20 combination on the summer Saturday 17.25 Fort William to Edinburgh via Queen St Low Level came about as both the 03.45 (Summer Sats with strengthened Kings Cross portion) from Edinburgh and the shortened 06.00 from Queen St would have been single cl 27 jobs.
 

Harvester

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In early 1989 the Poole-Newcastle train was booked for a pair of Class 47s northwards from Birmingham on Saturdays. They couldn’t work in multiple, but IIRC the leading 47 came off at Sheffield to work a parcels train.
 

Strathclyder

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A class 40 plus two 26s Northwards from Mossend (or possibly Carlisle?) on one of the Euston-Inverness overnights on Good Friday/Easter Saturday 1973.

A 73 hauling failed 47 492 from Preston Park to Redhill on a Brighton-Manchester in the Spring of 1985. After running round and dumping the Duff, the 73 took the seven coach train on 600 bhp diesel power diverted over the hilly Redhill-Reading line. The train had been propelled by a 12 CIG-BIG-CIG EMU formation from just outside Brighton station into the loop platform at Preston Park....with much popping and banging! (According to the driver, 47 492 had suffered a load regulator melt-down a couple of hundred yards after departing from Brighton and the power controller handle had come off in his hand!).

A 37 at one end and a 25 at the other end of a Glasgow-Edinburgh 'high speed' push-pull service in the Summer of 1971. In the early days of this service it was fairly common to see either a 25 or 37 at one end and a 27 at the other, but this was the only occasion that I can recall seeing such a train with no 27 involved at all.

A class 29 double-heading a 37 on an oil train out of Grangemouth in 1971. This would have involved two drivers, as the two classes were not compatible for multiple working, having different control systems.
Some very interesting ones there sir, the 73+47 one being rather entertaining in regards to how it came about.

My fave is (unsurprisingly) the 29+37 combo. One can only imagine what that sounded like when fully wound up!
 

delt1c

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24/0 +27 on 08.35 Queen St to 0ban in 74. The 24 was running in after works attention and was taken of at Crianlarich.
 

CW2

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I had a 37 + 27 in multiple on an Edinburgh - Dundee once. The 27. was being driven from the 37, and the noises on acceleration were spectacular.
 

xotGD

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40 + 47 paired up on the southbound Scottish internal overnight between Perth and Stirling. Was usually a pair of 47s (one for the Edinburgh portion, one for Glasgow). 27th July 1983.

25 + 40 from Pwllheli to Shrewsbury. After working to Pwllheli there on a Nedex they returned on the service train. 7th June 1986.

20 + 47 from Ayr to Stranraer on the overnight. 20 acting as pilot engine over the hills. Then paired up with another Duff to get it back to Ayr on a Glasgow service. 1th July 1985.
 

Cheshire Scot

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20 + 47 from Ayr to Stranraer on the overnight. 20 acting as pilot engine over the hills.
Class 20 required I believe because it had sanding gear rather than for the actual weight of the train which would be well within 47 capability with good railhead conditions but with no sanders 47s could get into difficulty if it got a bit greasy.
 

CW2

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Class 20 required I believe because it had sanding gear rather than for the actual weight of the train which would be well within 47 capability with good railhead conditions but with no sanders 47s could get into difficulty if it got a bit greasy.
The story goes that the 2100 Euston - Stranraer slithered to a halt between Girvan and Maybole in the wee small hours one morning, and it was several hours before the alarm was raised and an assisting loco procured. On the train was one of the more vociferous Ulster MPs, travelling back to his constituency from Westminster (at taxpayers' expense) so he used his power and influence to demand that BR did something about it. With immediate effect the train in question was diagrammed for a class 20 to pilot the 47 from Newton on Ayr each morning. On arrival at Stranraer the crew on the 20 were supposed to take a break, then come back to Ayr depot light engine. On occasion they would forego the break and pilot back the 0730 Stranraer - Glasgow Central to get back home a bit earlier. I did have a 20 + 27 combo on that train once. (I suspect the fact there was a 27 on the train as a result of boiler failure on the booked 37 was the reason why the 20 was asked to pilot back as far as Ayr).
 

Cheshire Scot

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The story goes that the 2100 Euston - Stranraer slithered to a halt between Girvan and Maybole in the wee small hours one morning, and it was several hours before the alarm was raised and an assisting loco procured. On the train was one of the more vociferous Ulster MPs, travelling back to his constituency from Westminster (at taxpayers' expense) so he used his power and influence to demand that BR did something about it. With immediate effect the train in question was diagrammed for a class 20 to pilot the 47 from Newton on Ayr each morning. On arrival at Stranraer the crew on the 20 were supposed to take a break, then come back to Ayr depot light engine. On occasion they would forego the break and pilot back the 0730 Stranraer - Glasgow Central to get back home a bit earlier. I did have a 20 + 27 combo on that train once. (I suspect the fact there was a 27 on the train as a result of boiler failure on the booked 37 was the reason why the 20 was asked to pilot back as far as Ayr).
That is interesting, and particularly as I would have thought the climb out of Girvan towards Barrhill would be the most likely place to encounter trouble, and particularly from a standing start in Girvan. Off hand I wouldn't have thought the gradients around Maybole would be particularly severe but on checking the gradient profile note that whilst varying, and none as severe as out of Girvan, some would be quite testing.
 

Ken H

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Were there steam/diesel combinations before the end of BR steam? Timetabled and emergency ones. Sorry, not old enough to know!
 

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hexagon789

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Have we had a 47+46 combo?

9th March 1981 47026 and 46052 worked the 0815 Plymouth-Leeds on 09/03/81 in tandem.

Edit: another suggestion - fifty wagon MGR hauled by twin 37s in multi and a 31 plus 56 in tandem!
 
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randyrippley

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22 & 25 at Dawlish ~1971 on a short goods train. 25 leading

35 & 33 at Yeovil Jct heading to Waterloo on first Sunday of 33 haulage. Both powered, Hymek leading
 

CW2

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That is interesting, and particularly as I would have thought the climb out of Girvan towards Barrhill would be the most likely place to encounter trouble, and particularly from a standing start in Girvan. Off hand I wouldn't have thought the gradients around Maybole would be particularly severe but on checking the gradient profile note that whilst varying, and none as severe as out of Girvan, some would be quite testing.
Yes, Girvan is pretty bad from a standing start, but higher in the hills you've also got some quite severe curvature to contend with, not just gradients, so you are just as likely to grind to a halt up there as you are on the climb out of Girvan. At least at Girvan if you stall, you can reverse down the hill and have another go, whereas, if you stick up in the hills there is little or no chance of restarting - and nobody for miles around to help raise the alarm.

EDIT:
I'm getting my geography in a twist - I didn't mean Maybole, I meant Pinmore. Sorry for the confusion! Blame it on me getting old ...

Of course, when it came to assessing the financial viability of continuing the sleeper services to Stranraer, the cost of providing the pilot loco from Newton on Ayr every morning got factored into the equation, and helped sway the result towards withdrawal. I guess the Ulster MPs fly to and from Westminster now.

Back on the subject of other odd pairs, I think the first Hereford - Paddington was a 37 piloting 50 on a few occasions (but never when I was in a position to do it).

I've also had 97408 (40118) piloting a semi-failed 85 from Kidsgrove to Stoke. They Whistled and Roared (intermittently) in tandem quite nicely. Shame it was so short a distance.
 
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Harvester

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Were there steam/diesel combinations before the end of BR steam? Timetabled and emergency ones. Sorry, not old enough to know!
During the last summer of steam workings in 1966, the morning
SO Newcastle-Stranraer train was booked for a Type 2 diesel + Black Five pilot.
 
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E6019/D8130 coupled en route Vulcan wks to Doncaster 3/1966 passing Patricroft

BR Class 5 73125(tender first) assisting Peak D170 09.00 Lpool-Newcastle 16/3/65 passing Barton Moss jnc
 

Harvester

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BR Class 5 73125(tender first) assisting Peak D170 09.00 Lpool-Newcastle 16/3/65 passing Barton Moss jnc
As was A3 60077 (tender first) on the Waverley route, assisting Peak D27 which had failed on the 10:15 Edinburgh-St Pancras, on 13/6/64. Photograph in Modern Railways (August 1964 issue).
 

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Back in the 1980s the Llanharan to Didcot mgr was booked 37 piloting 56. Not sure if the 37 went all the way.
 

D6130

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Back in the late 'sixties, I believe that the Heysham-Haverton Hill ammonia tanks were frequently worked by a class 25 diesel/class 8F steam combo....at least as far as Skipton.
 

Bevan Price

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The GWR & Western Region had a tradition of sometimes putting the train loco in front of the assisting loco,. A bit silly, as it complicated shunting when the assistant loco was removed, but circa 1960, over the Devon banks, there were often combinations with a Warship (Class 42 or 43) piloting a 4-6-0 (typically a Hall or Grange).

Elsewhere, if a diesel failed, any available steam loco might be used to shift it, sometimes only for short distances.
Once, after 2 hours with a failed 46 (D193) in the middle of Standedge Tunnel, a tender first Black 5 arrived and towed us as far as Manchester Victoria, where both were replaced.

In the 1980s, the Inverness - Bristol service ran into Glasgow Queen Street, reversed to Cowlairs West, then reversed again to head south to Motherwell and WCML. It was booked to be top & tail worked between Queen Street & Cowlairs West. The main loco was a 47/4. The assistant loco was anything available at Eastfield, and could be a Class 20 or 27 (including non-boilered versions. )

I was once at Birmingham New St when a failed Peak arrived from the Bristol direction, propelled in the rear by a 25+37 combination.
And I also had 37043 towing a dead HST in Scotland.
 

Taunton

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At the National Rail Museum, York, the house shunter (is it an 03 or more exotic?) moving a Deltic around. Did look rather David & Goliath.

The GWR & Western Region had a tradition of sometimes putting the train loco in front of the assisting loco,. A bit silly, as it complicated shunting when the assistant loco was removed, but circa 1960, over the Devon banks, there were often combinations with a Warship (Class 42 or 43) piloting a 4-6-0 (typically a Hall or Grange).
It was a reasonable approach, allowing the main train engine in front to continue to handle the brake, rather than a suddenly obtained assisting engine which might often just have a passed fireman in charge.

During the transition from diesel to steam, there was another consideration, that was the experience when a steam loco was ahead of a diesel of lumps of coal dislodged from the tender coming back and smashing the windscreen of a diesel immediately behind. I think the Western Region was the only one to thus ban this marshalling combination and say the diesel must always be in front, even if it was the pilot. In the early days of the changeover a D63xx Type 2 was assigned as the Newton Abbot pilot, and could be seen in front of even a King on a train over its weight limit for the South Devon banks.
 
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D6968

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At the National Rail Museum, York, the house shunter (is it an 03 or more exotic?) moving a Deltic around. Did look rather David & Goliath.


It was a reasonable approach, allowing the main train engine in front to continue to handle the brake, rather than a suddenly obtained assisting engine which might often just have a passed fireman in charge.

During the transition from diesel to steam, there was another consideration, that was the experience when a steam loco was ahead of a diesel of lumps of coal dislodged from the tender coming back and smashing the windscreen of a diesel immediately behind. I think the Western Region was the only one to thus ban this marshalling combination and say the diesel must always be in front, even if it was the pilot. In the early days of the changeover a D63xx Type 2 was assigned as the Newton Abbot pilot, and could be seen in front of even a King on a train over its weight limit for the South Devon banks.
At York I believe it’s an 02 that’s pilot, I’ve managed to red pen it in the past, regarding the coal from the tender thing that rings a bell, although it didn’t affect my last steam and diesel double header on the SVR (60009 came to rescue us after 1013 failed way back in 2005!)
 

Strathclyder

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This is a rather good one of a 25 and 31 hauling an HST from this thread:

I was gonna mention this one in my OP, as 31s and 25s working together at all was rare, let alone them hauling a dead HST. The 26/56 combo took precedence however as both classes had different multiple working systems (Blue Star for the 26, Red Diamond for the 56), thus more than one driver was required. Plus, both were in Railfreight Coal, so bonus points in that respect. ;)

Another odd combo I've found during my interent trawls:

58017 & 50032 New Street.JPG 50032 and 58017 BNS.JPG
(58017 piloting failed 50032 at Birmingham New St - c.1980s - copyright of railrevisited.blogspot.com)

Given that diesel+steam combos during the transition period have become something of a theme, I may as well throw this one in:

RM-Feb-p28.jpg
(Peak D49 (complimented with two brake tenders) piloting WD 2-8-0 No. 90491 at Chinley North - Summer of 1965 - copyright of W.J. Naunton)
 
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Bevan Price

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I forgot to mention the Euston - Holyhead morning service in the 1970s or early 1980s. This was used for running-in of ex-works locos from Crewe to (usually) Bangor, but sometimes to Holyhead. The train engine was normally a Class 47/4, the pilot might be a Class 37, 47, or even a brand new Class 56. The pilot usually returned light engine to Crewe.
 

Strathclyder

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I forgot to mention the Euston - Holyhead morning service in the 1970s or early 1980s. This was used for running-in of ex-works locos from Crewe to (usually) Bangor, but sometimes to Holyhead. The train engine was normally a Class 47/4, the pilot might be a Class 37, 47, or even a brand new Class 56. The pilot usually returned light engine to Crewe.
Martin Loader (hondawander) comes to the rescue once more, as he has a pic of a 56+47 combo on a Euston - Holyhead working at Beeston Castle in March 1987; the 56 in question being 040 Oystermouth post-overhaul as opposed to being fresh out the box.


Yet another odd combo that involved a 56 is linked below (from the New Gold Dreamer YT channel), with 56035 piloting a 31/4 (31413) during the Network NorthEast Day (20th October 1990):
 

alistairlees

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There were a few instances of snowplough-fitted 37s and 25s piloting 45s and 46s on the S&C in the early 1980s.
 

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