Diesel Group Appeal
Here at the Strathspey Railway we run a regular steam service and it proves to be very popular. Our resident steam locomotives are supported by a small fleet of diesel locomotives which also see regular use. Some of the diesels are not much younger than our Ivatt 2-6-0 46512 (built 1952), only a few years separate them - Class 08 built 1958, North British built 1960, Class 26 built 1958.
Every day the steam service runs, our Class 08 shunter No D3605 (08490) hauls the stock down to the platform ready for the steam service. Any shunting of our yards in Aviemore or Boat of Garten is managed almost daily by this loco and our North British diesel hydraulic No D2774. There is also an industrial shunter, an 0-4-0 diesel hydraulic Vanguard undergoing extensive engine repairs for return to service.
Through the summer months we have a distinguished visitor in the form of the Royal Scotsman luxury touring train. This needs regular haulage on our line and is quite a heavy load. Our two mainline locos used for this are the Class 31 D5862 (31327) and Class 27 D5394 (27050).
Both these locos can very often be in use for our own infrastructure trains assisting our permanent way team. They are also used to deputise for the steam locos in event of a steam ban due to dry weather or loco failure. The fact that they need to be on standby all the time we run services means they need as much care and maintenance as the steam locos.
We also have two Class 26 locos in long term dry storage, D5302 (26002) and D5325 (26025). It is our intention to return one of these in the short term to running order with the second following further on in the future. Both have quite severe bodywork corrosion issues and D5302 has a partially dismantled engine. D5325 did have a running engine a few years ago but maintenance of our existing fleet became more important so work and progress on that had to be deferred.
There is also an extensive collection of components and spares to back up our fleet which all needs maintained, repaired and serviced. This can be a full time job in itself. Regular servicing of all these locos and spares is performed by a very small group of individuals all of whom are volunteers. Keeping the fleet working is hard and heavy work, it is also very expensive. An oil change for the largest loco uses 120 gallons (545 litres) of oil. In fact to oil change the three main use locos uses 260 gallons (1200 litres). Then there are the filters needed, oil and air. Brake block changes are another regular task, the Class 31 uses 24 brake blocks each time, fortunately this is not so frequent.
Any assistance to support what we try to achieve with our diesels, be it small or large will help to unsure they are kept available and ready at the drop of a hat to run our trains when required. They may not be as glamorous as the steam and can seem quite boring to some visitors, but they are essential to our continued operation.