A few fairly major changes have taken place recently with the “frequent use” loco fleet at Apedale. Ruston No.29 “Vanguard” has been taken out of use and put into store for the time being – it has been ailing for a little while, and needs a dose of engine looking-at. This loco has been one of the stalwarts of the fleet, and arguably is the “loco which built the railway”, having done more than its fair share of hauling ballast trains, materials wagons and the like. It’s unusual for a Ruston inasmuch that it’s fitted with electric start. Hopefully, its absence will not be for long.
No.37 – Ruston 260719 of 1948 – has taken its place as the Frequent Use Ruston. This loco worked at ICI Shevington, near Wigan. Although a good runner, it had a problem with the drive sprockets and chains, which meant it had problems moving anything heavier than a single feather. Also, the brakes were a little interesting. Some fairly major work has seen the sprockets and chains replaced with less worn-out versions, and the brakes are now much less interesting and rather more effective. It’s a loco with a certain degree of character.
Finally in the Ruston line-up, Ruston 179870 has emerged from deep storage and will now be the next loco for the restoration team. This is a very early Ruston, and is fitted with a Lister engine – this is before Ruston started producing small engines for locos themselves. The loco worked at a sewage works near Birmingham before being re-houses on the playground at a children’s home near Birmingham. In 1979, it was extracted in an operation which saw it (and a Motor Rail) leap a hedge and moved to Cadeby. The late John Lucas restored the loco, using a transplanted engine recovered from a yard at Wolverton (the original was just too far gone). Unfortunately, years of outdoor storage at Cadeby were none-too-kind to the rather thin bodywork, and the next restoration will need to deal with this issue. Mechanically, the loco is reasonably sound – the engine has been run at Apedale.
This should provide an interesting and challenging project for the next few months. We are always on the look out for new members of the Trust – please get in touch, or visit www.mrt.org.uk if you’re interested in becoming part of the team.