What happened to all the 31's?

Grumpy Git

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In the late 80s, I worked in an office in Hazel Grove that backed on to the railway just west of the station. They completed the Hazel Grove chord at this time and the new services which passed after this opened were always a 31 with about 5 coaches. I guess it was a Newcastle - Liverpool via Manchester?
 
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Shaw S Hunter

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In the late 80s, I worked in an office in Hazel Grove that backed on to the railway just west of the station. They completed the Hazel Grove chord at this time and the new services which passed after this opened were always a 31 with about 5 coaches. I guess it was a Newcastle - Liverpool via Manchester?

Liverpool - Sheffield - Hull/Cleethorpes with a regular hourly service west of Doncaster. And 5 coaches was very much the usual load: anything more would have them staggering somewhat on the banks of the Hope Valley route.
 

Grannyjoans

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Assured by an ex-Bescot driver from the 1980’s, that given a choice between a class 25 or 31, drivers always took the 25. Hence the 25’s wore out first, leaving the 31’s to be overcome by the skin on a custard.

Drivers ever got a choice ?




We now have Type 5 Bo-Bo locomotives to prove the point!

In the case of a Class 68, well above the power required to be classified as a Type 5
 
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ac6000cw

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Hawk had thyristor controlled squirrel-cage motors - don't know when it rolled out ( early 60s sometime ), there is little easily available info on the project, more is the pity.
It was 1961/1962 - see https://glostransporthistory.visit-gloucestershire.co.uk/railwayraptors.htm and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Rail_10800

It is a little surprising how big a gap between experimental installation & production versions there is given the rate of development in electronics over the period.
There is a big difference between building a cosseted research tool (which Hawk was, I think) where cost, complexity and reliability are not major issues, and producing equipment that can take the rough-and-tumble of everyday use and is economically viable as an alternative to what you already have.

From what I know (primarily based on what I've read over many years), locomotive-rated variable frequency and voltage inverters didn't become economic until GTO thyristor devices of sufficient current & voltage ratings were available.

As an 'economics' example, the EMD/Siemens SD70MAC locomotives, while rather more expensive than a DC-drive loco of equivalent power, were attractive to the Burlington Northern (BN) railroad. It enabled them to replace a larger number of older, less fuel-efficient DC-drive locos they were using to haul coal trains out of the Powder River basin mines, and hence reduce the operating costs of those trains. Sufficiently attractive that BN, after testing the SD60MAC demonstrator units in the early 90s, ordered 350 of the more powerful SD70MAC production version straight off the drawing board (eventually buying 786 units in total).

Another example - until quite recently Canadian National, with relatively gentle gradients on its mainline route to the west coast bought only DC-drive locos as it got more locos for the money. Whereas Canadian Pacific, with a steeply-graded mainline west of Calgary through the mountains, converted that route to AC-drive traction years ago (just two types of GE locos haul everything).
 

EveningStar

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25s were a lot lighter (just 73 tons), so unsurprising that 31s were more sluggish with about 30 tons more weight to lug round.
Weight and ability to handle tight radius curves ... apparently very helpful for some lightly laid track in Black Country freight termini.

Drivers ever got a choice ?

I don't get a choice at all what type of Unit I take out
Bad phrasing on my part ... given the choice as in they were much happier to be rostered with a class 25.

Lots of thrash but not that much speed.
From my notes for Sunday 17 June 1990, taking the 1728 Liverpool Lime Street to Newcastle. Departed, behind 47475, 50 minutes late due to late incoming train ("signal vandalism at Earlstown"). Delay at Manchester Piccadilly for 28 minutes, which blocking one of the through platforms control must have loved, while broken window secured, then 47475 failed with a brake defeat. Replaced by 31142 for run to Leeds where replaced by 47477. Glad to be in the front coach with window open for climb up to Standedge, and even better that driver was determined to make up lost time by thrashing the class 31. Lots of thrash. Was impressed ... 33 minutes to Huddersfield and 80 minutes late into Newcastle.
 
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D5645

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Weight and ability to handle tight radius curves ... apparently very helpful for some lightly laid track in Black Country freight termini.


Bad phrasing on my part ... given the choice as in they were much happier to be rostered with a class 25.


From my notes for Sunday 17 June 1990, taking the 1728 Liverpool Lime Street to Newcastle. Departed, behind 47475, 50 minutes late due to late incoming train ("signal vandalism at Earlstown"). Delay at Manchester Piccadilly for 28 minutes, which blocking one of the through platforms control must have loved, while broken window secured, then 47475 failed with a brake defeat. Replaced by 31142 for run to Leeds where replaced by 47477. Glad to be in the front coach with window open for climb up to Standedge, and even better that driver was determined to make up lost time by thrashing the class 31. Lots of thrash. Was impressed ... 33 minutes to Huddersfield and 80 minutes late into Newcastle.
Sounds good to me.

A Brush 2 with a big load and the right driver is just what I like.
 

DustyBin

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From my notes for Sunday 17 June 1990, taking the 1728 Liverpool Lime Street to Newcastle. Departed, behind 47475, 50 minutes late due to late incoming train ("signal vandalism at Earlstown"). Delay at Manchester Piccadilly for 28 minutes, which blocking one of the through platforms control must have loved, while broken window secured, then 47475 failed with a brake defeat. Replaced by 31142 for run to Leeds where replaced by 47477. Glad to be in the front coach with window open for climb up to Standedge, and even better that driver was determined to make up lost time by thrashing the class 31. Lots of thrash. Was impressed ... 33 minutes to Huddersfield and 80 minutes late into Newcastle.

It must have been great being an enthusiast in the late 80's/early 90s. I think I'd have spent every weekend 'bashing' or whatever the correct terminology is!
 

hexagon789

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Weight and ability to handle tight radius curves ... apparently very helpful for some lightly laid track in Black Country freight termini.
I think that was partly why they were designed light. Not ideal for slogging up Slochd as a pair with the morning joint Glasgow/Edinburgh-Inverness restaurant car express of 12 coaches and a postal van though...

They were still well regarded as I understand it, in spite of perhaps being less powered than ideal for some duties.
 

CW2

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Occasionally a 31/4 would arrive at Paddington vice 47/4 on a Cross Country service. With a keen driver the 31/4 wouldn't lose too much time. On the other hand I've had a pair of 31s fighting one another and losing loads of time.
Basically they were OK singly upto load 5, on relatively flat routes, but anything more than that would soon find them out. The idea of sending pairs of 31s to the West Country on summer Saturdays was a short lived fiasco
 

Hairy Bear

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Bad phrasing on my part ... given the choice as in they were much happier to be rostered with a class 25.


Disagree big time.. 31's were quieter, rode better ,warmer and around 7mph faster at given point with same load.
 

Strathclyder

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D5835. That really pushed the design to it’s limits!

It had rad grills at both ends, leading to comments it was the only one with two No 1 ends!
Indeed; it retained the extra grills after it's reengineering and right up to it's withdrawal in March 1999 (linked image from the John Woolley Flickr collection).


(the lower two sets of grills on the right-hand end of the loco are the extra ones).
 

D1001

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Not sure how comprehensive or correct the list is but there are certainly some withdrawal dates on the BRDatabase
BRDatabase is crap when it comes to diesel allocations and disposals. I can say that because it is my work! I am working on fixing and adding diesel data at the moment...
 

AM9

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Just noticed this thread where the 31s are being compared to newer loco types in terms of power. Although the class 25s gained from being much lighter, they were introduced some 4 years later. The '50s and early '60s were times of rapid improvement in diesel locos and the Sulzer engined Bo-Bos of the class 24,25,26,27 & 28 were all 15.5m long type 2's. The culmination of the style was the class 33s which at 1550bhp were well into class 3 territory and were at home with load 8 on ETH, in tyhe form of 2 x 4-TC sets. They were also around 3.5m shorter than class 37s (another 1960 release).
 

randyrippley

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Just noticed this thread where the 31s are being compared to newer loco types in terms of power. Although the class 25s gained from being much lighter, they were introduced some 4 years later. The '50s and early '60s were times of rapid improvement in diesel locos and the Sulzer engined Bo-Bos of the class 24,25,26,27 & 28 were all 15.5m long type 2's. The culmination of the style was the class 33s which at 1550bhp were well into class 3 territory and were at home with load 8 on ETH, in tyhe form of 2 x 4-TC sets. They were also around 3.5m shorter than class 37s (another 1960 release).
28? Sulzer???
 

Snow1964

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Brush Type 2’s were built like battleships by comparison with Sulzer Type 2’s. Very heavy construction.

They were very much mid 1950’s technology and diesel loco design was rapidly evolving at the time.

Production at Loughborough ran from 1957-1962 and by the time the last ones were built they were underpowered compared to the competition. Hence the Mirrlees power unit output was progressively pushed up from 1250hp to 1365hp to 1600hp during the production run to try and compete.

They were based on a batch of 25 locomotives for Sri Lanka (then Ceylon), known as M1 type which were built about 1952. The first 5 during testing had some cracking problems on the poor curving hilly track. Brush then built everything much stronger, including other 20 of batch (and fixed the initial 5)

The Ceylon ones run on 5’6” track, not standard gauge, but basically the locomotive bodies and bogies were an early 1950s design, fitted with updated power pack. Having been built so strongly probably helped with longevity. After new engines fitted had a type 2 that was borderline type 3
 

AM9

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To be fair BR probably wished they were Sulzer powered!
Yes I've read that the Crossley 'experiment' was a bit of a misfire.
It's strange, there seems to be a love-in here for EE diesel engines from some members and a much cooler response for Sulzers. Is it the throb vs the rasp sound that does that? :)
 

DustyBin

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Yes I've read that the Crossley 'experiment' was a bit of a misfire.
It's strange, there seems to be a love-in here for EE diesel engines from some members and a much cooler response for Sulzers. Is it the throb vs the rasp sound that does that? :)

I see what you did there....

I'm an EE man although I do like the little Sulzers (even though I don't remember them in service). I do find EE engines more pleasing to the ear as it happens but I can appreciate anything that makes a racket!
 

ac6000cw

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Yes I've read that the Crossley 'experiment' was a bit of a misfire.
It's strange, there seems to be a love-in here for EE diesel engines from some members and a much cooler response for Sulzers. Is it the throb vs the rasp sound that does that? :)
For me, I like the sound of the small Sulzers - 24/25/26/27 - and the 33s particularly. The big Sulzers - 44/45/46/47 - are boring, too much turbo noise and not enough deep, big diesel, noise. Also they are not V-form engines, so there is no characterful exhaust 'beat'.

It's a bit like a Honda/Suzuki/Yamaha inline-4 versus a Harley-Davidson/Ducati/Moto Guzzi V-twin - all good motorcycle engines, but the latter group will probably leave you with a bigger smile after the ride... :)

From the BR perspective, based on what I've read, BR engineering management liked Sulzers more than EE - I think better fuel consumption and supposedly longer life, but of course it's the EE powered locos that have outlived most of the Sulzer powered ones in practice...
 
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AM9

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For me, I like the sound of the small Sulzers - 24/25/26/27 - and the 33s particularly. The big Sulzers - 44/45/46/47 - are boring, too much turbo noise and not enough deep, big diesel, noise. Also they are not V-form engines, so there is no characterful exhaust 'beat'.
It's a bit like a Honda/Suzuki/Yamaha inline-4 versus a Harley-Davidson/Ducati/Moto Guzzi V-twin - all good motorcycle engines, but the latter group will probably leave you with a bigger smile after the ride... :) ...
... and if it's more than a couple of hundred miles, a reminder that a service is due!

From the BR perspective, based on what I've read, BR engineering management liked Sulzers more than EE - I think better fuel consumption and supposedly longer life, but of course it's the EE powered locos that have outlived most of the Sulzer powered ones in practice...
I think that is more to do with their roles. The most numerous big Sulzers were 47s, and most of their jobs disappeared when IC/regional trains became MUs instead of LHCS.
 

alangla

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There was a spell in the 2000s when almost every Serco/NR test train was operated by 31s, either with a DBSO or top & tail. Some of the 31s were festooned with all sorts of test kit. What was it that ended this? Was it the end of Fragonset Merlin or something else? They seemed to go from operating all over the country to just disappearing.
 

Cowley

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One of the main issues was a lack of mainline condition wheelsets.

Canon (cannon?) tubes seems to be something frequently mentioned with the remaining members.
 

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