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After completing the 2014 'heritage' trips, 86259's wheels were deemed life-expired. I recount elsewhere the trials and tribulations endured in trying to find a practical and not-horrendously-expensive way out of this problem. The eventual (and probably only) solution resulted in the acquisition of 86246's bogies from Europhoenix on terms that just its wheelsets would be swapped for those of 259. 86246 was destined to be a donor for spares for the Electric Traction fleet and, since the bogie frames and traction motors of 86259 were perfectly serviceable, a swap of the wheelsets would leave 246 capable of being mobile.

Eventually the cranes and skills were assembled ready for work to commence on Thursday 17th September. It proceeded apace and most of it was completed within a week or so. My thanks to members of staff at Willesden TMD for the use of photos taken at the time.

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Road 6 at Willesden TMD with 259 visible and 246 behind it. In the background is a GBRf Class 92 which, until recently, was hauling the Caledonian sleeper but due to ongoing technical faults with the '92s, Freightliner Class 90 locos are deputising at present. Also on Road 4 is a Chiltern DMU undergoing contract maintenance.

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Part of the heavy-lifting equipment hired-in to move traction motors, bogie frames (as here) and wheelsets whenever and wherever required.

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One of the bogies with traction motors and wheelsets removed.


Two of the hired-in skilled fitters beside one of the bogies.


The pivot or axis joint which allows the bogie to move independently of the loco's bodywork on curves.


86246 and 86259, both on jacks, 86246 exhibiting the rain hood over the sandbox door as used by Anglian. (Note the "DO NOT MOVE" notice on 259's cabside - fat chance with no wheels or bogies!!


The defunct number three traction motor from 86259.


13th October 2015
86259 on its second main line test at Northampton. (With thanks to the lineside photographer)


13th October 2015
86259 on its second main line test at Bletchley. (With thanks to the lineside photographer)

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Operating a ground frame to allow 86259 back into Willesden depot on return from the October 17th test run.

I am eternally grateful to the team of fitters who (invaluably) still have the skills to perform such major work on Class 86 locomotives and that worked so successfully on 86259's wheelset change in 2015. Here they are. From left to right: Ricky Crane, Andy Brown, Rob Kibiru, Joe Clarke, Mick McFarlane, Aleksander Kostov and Nick Kempson.

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