Present your case

If there’s a lo­co­mo­tive that you think needs to be of­fered ready-to-run, here’s the place to voice your opin­ion…

Model Rail (UK) - - Contents -

The place to voice your opin­ion on po­ten­tial new mod­els.

What is it?

All of the ‘Big Four’ looked to move away from steam for main line ser­vices af­ter the Sec­ond World War. The LNER had made some progress with 1,500V DC elec­tri­fi­ca­tion, and the LMS and the South­ern, in co-op­er­a­tion with English Elec­tric, were both test­ing the water with diesel-electrics. The GWR, how­ever, had no ex­pe­ri­ence with ei­ther, so fol­low­ing a factfind­ing mis­sion to Europe, F.W. Hawksworth looked to the pos­si­bil­ity of the gas tur­bine (the ‘jet’ en­gine) as a means of gen­er­at­ing power for elec­tric trac­tion mo­tors.

The GWR placed an or­der with lead­ing spe­cial­ists Brown-boveri in Win­terthur, Switzer­land, for a main line gas tur­bine lo­co­mo­tive. The re­sult, not de­liv­ered un­til af­ter na­tion­al­i­sa­tion in 1949, was No. 18000, a gleam­ing black and sil­ver lo­co­mo­tive of 2,500hp. In the­ory the sin­gle lo­co­mo­tive was as pow­er­ful as a ‘King’ and more pow­er­ful than the LMS and SR’S diesel-electrics. In prac­tice it was ca­pa­ble of ex­cep­tional per­for­mance, but all too often it had to be run at less than full power, re­sult­ing in a build-up of ash which dam­aged the tur­bines. Also, the en­gine lacked a heat-re­sis­tant lin­ing that would al­low high tem­per­a­tures to be sus­tained in the heat ex­changer for long pe­ri­ods.

No. 18000 per­formed on ex­presses to Bris­tol and to the West of Eng­land be­fore its with­drawal and sale for use in Aus­tria.

What would make it vi­able

No. 18000 may have been a one-off and ul­ti­mately un­suc­cess­ful but it has an ap­peal which goes way be­yond its ac­tual achieve­ment. It was much-fea­tured in BR pub­lic­ity at the time and was part of the GWR mod­erni­sa­tion that was dubbed ‘the last look for­ward.’ Work­ing among the ‘Kings’ and ‘Cas­tles’ in the hey­day of WR named ex­presses, it was un­of­fi­cially named ‘Kerosene Cas­tle’ and the fact that it is ac­corded a home in that tem­ple of GWR steam, the Great Western So­ci­ety at Did­cot, shows how well re­garded it is. Along­side ‘OO’ mod­els of the Wath electrics (Hel­jan) the SR diesel-electrics (Kernow MRC) and the LMS ‘twins’ (Bachmann) No. 18000 would fill the gap for post-war mod­ern mo­tive power among WR mod­ellers. And just imag­ine how good a DCC sound-equipped ver­sion would be!

Can I see the real one?

Repa­tri­ated in the 1990s, No. 18000 ini­tially went to Tins­ley De­pot for cos­metic restora­tion be­fore mov­ing to Crewe for dis­play. Though it is now only a shell and has re­ceived much mod­i­fi­ca­tion, it is now on dis­play at Did­cot Rail­way Cen­tre.

Have your say Do you agree with Chris’ ar­gu­ment? Go to www.face­­el­rail or www. twit­­el­railuk and post your ver­dict.

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