Header Image

The end of the season of 2014 'heritage' trips came for 86259 on 24th October 2014 when The Railway Touring Company ("RTC") paid tribute to the 50th anniversary of the demise in normal service over the East Coast Main Line ("ECML") of the A4 class ‘Pacific' steam locomotives. RTC replicated that trip by travelling the same route and with the same locomotive, No. 60009 “Union of South Africa”. The story of that trip and 86259's role in it is recounted in the Jubilee Requiem page of this site.

On 259's return to Willesden it was determined that its wheels were life-expired. No surprise there as, when the loco came into my possession nearly 10 years ago(!), I had acknowledged that its tyres were 'on the thin side'.

Unfortunately, after consultations with those that know about these things, it was decided that the tyres were already beyond turning and, furthermore, the flange rollover on one or two of the wheels was also now 'dodgy'. But 'NO WORRIES' because I had acquired a complete set of spare bogies from a scrapped 'sister' 86/2 some years ago which I had also had stored at Willesden. However, close examination of these spares revealed the next problem!

No problem with the wheels themselves - nice thick tyres - but it was discovered that the bearings on one of the wheelset axles were damaged (probably when being transported years before).

Next question - where can we get the bearings repaired? Answer - after tireless (no pun intended) enquiries to those that might be able to help, including Springburn, Kilmarnock, Crewe and the South Devon Railway (South Devon have built up quite an extensive facility that we thought might have been able to help) it was concluded that the specific requirements of 86/2 wheelsets and bearings were no longer able to be dealt with in this country. Lack of specific machine tools, competence, etc. That's what comes of owning a 'one-off' loco! West Coast Railway Company and Willesden Depot offered me all the help they could, but no-one can cope with the impossible.

All of this had consumed a couple of months so I lost all the Winter Cumbrian Mountain Express work. Of course, I really missed the revenue but equally important to me was the simple fact that 86259 was not 'out there' doing what it was made to do and what it had indeed done so successfully for the last few years. Perhaps too much good luck, which is always going to have its interruptions, I suppose.

The only other answer was to acquire some more 'new' bogies so I purchased the bogies off 86246 from Europhoenix.

Img pb68-2

86246 being dragged, with other vehicles, from Long Marston to Willesden.

Img berty

18th June 2015. UK Rail Leasing 56081, DCR 31601 'Devon Diesel Society' and ex-Anglia 86246 trundle through Kings Norton.

Quite a mixed bag of stock here! 56081 tows DCR 31601 'Devon Diesel Society', ex-Anglia 86246 and a Murco DEA tanker through Kings Norton as the 15:31 6Z31 Long Marston to Willesden TMD. 86246 is destined for use as a spare parts donor, for locos in the Electric Traction fleet at Willesden. Photo: qwertyberty45 on Flickr.

Img img0605s

86246 arrived at Willesden. Not quite a fair young maiden but, at 50 years old, what can you realistically expect?

I have asked Willesden if we can aim at getting 86259 running for mid-October, when there is one more RTC Cumbrian Mountain Express booking. Also, I am keen to mark 86259's 50th birthday, which is at the end of this year, and I am hoping to re-name one side of the locomotive to 'Peter Pan' - I already have the nameplate on order. Hopefully the ceremony will take place at Tyseley Locomotive Works Open Weekend 24th/25th October, so I have to get 86259 there one way or another.

The 86 has, alas, lost its chance to take part in the Prudential RideLondon 2015, which is a big disappointment, both because I really have enjoyed 259's involvement with it these last two years and because the revenue would have come in extremely handy. 2015 is turning into an extremely costly year!

Lastly, the usual question - Why am I putting myself through all this? Any answers?

For some more information on wheels and bogies:- Wheelsets & Bogies and for a review of surviving class 86's as at August 2015:- Surviving '86s

The cranes, tools and skills were assembled ready for work to commence on Thursday 17th September. This is covered on another page here.