Model Rail (UK)
Factfile: Class 28 ‘Co‑bo’
Built at Metropolitan Vickers’ Stockton on Tees works between 1958-59, the 1,200hp Type 2 locomotives featured Crossley two-stroke V8 diesel power units, which were to prove their Achilles heel. Twenty examples made up the fleet, numbered D5700-19, and they sported an unusual wheel arrangement of triple-axle bogie at one end and a twin-axle bogie at the other, leading to the nickname ‘Co-bo’.
The decidedly lop-sided appearance wasn’t helped by the slab ends, although the wraparound windscreens of the original design did offer a modicum of style. Alas, the windscreens had a habit of being shaken loose by the excessive vibrations emanating from the two-stroke engines.
In fact, the fleet was returned to Metropolitan Vickers in 1961 for remedial work on the power units, with modified locomotives emerging with new, flat-fronted windscreens.
From new, the entire fleet was allocated to BR’S London Midland Region, working a variety of freight and passenger services from London. Secondary services to Manchester Central via Derby were a popular turn initially, while the class was synonymous with BR’S flagship ‘Condor’ Anglo-scottish freight service.
These workings were short-lived, however, owing to chronic unreliability, and the fleet was banished to Northern England during the 1960s, based at Carnforth and Carlisle Upperby. They saw out their days on local passenger and freight work on Cumbrian and Furness routes, before withdrawal. All were removed by service in 1968, after the rejection of a proposed re-engineering programme.
While the rest of the fleet was scrapped, one example managed to survive. D5705 had received a modified crankcase, thus boasting greater reliability, so it was transferred to departmental service. Withdrawn once again in 1972, it still managed to evade the cutting torch by finding use as a train heating unit on the Western Region, before moving to Swindon Works in 1980 for scrapping.
Eventually saved for preservation in 1986, D5705 is now based at the East Lancashire Railway and has been undergoing a thorough restoration since the mid-2000s.