BR Class 23 "Baby Deltic" (English Electric Type 2)

An order of ten of these locomotives was placed as part of the Pilot Scheme of the British Railways Modernisation Plan from the firm of English Electric. It could be said that these Type 2 locomotives were the only truly disappointing locomotives EE built for British Railways. They were quickly nicknamed "Baby Deltics" since they utilised a Napier Deltic diesel powerplant - like the larger Deltic locomotives of Type 5, but a nine-cylinder unit instead of two eighteen-cylinder units - but unlike their larger siblings they proved rather unsuccessful, power unit problems being only one of their difficulties.

The first disappointment was their weight, for they proved heavier than specified, making for a higher than desired axle loading and thus making them unsuitable for the service for which they were designed. Instead, they were utilised in the London area on the Eastern Region, hauling suburban services from Kings Cross. They were plagued with problems, and by the start of 1963 most were stored unserviceable. It was decided to rebuild them rather than abandon the experiment, and they were sent back to Vulcan Foundry for rebuilding. Many internal changes were made, but the obvious external change was at the front; the headcode discs were replaced with a central, four character headcode box for displaying the train number. They were also repainted in a two-tone green livery, dark green with a light green strip at the bottom of the bodywork, with small yellow ends; the original livery had grey instead of the light green.

The rebuilding was largely successful, and the locomotives proved trustworthy for longer runs, still on the Eastern Region and still mostly operating out of Kings Cross.

They were designated Class 23 when that classification scheme was adopted, though they never carried TOPS numbers. Towards the end of the 1960s, however, an overwhelmed BR decided that it had to rationalize its motive power and rid itself of non-standard, experimental classes of locomotive. The Class 23, only ten strong, was clearly doomed. The first was withdrawn from service in September 1968, with the last being eliminated in 1971, though one survived for several years after that at the Research Division in Derby. Those surviving past 1969 wore Rail Blue for a brief period.

Aesthetically, they did rather well, with styling obviously based on other English Electric designs; the resemblance to the Class 40 was strong, and to the later Class 37 also. The noses were shorter, but the profile was the same, the cab design being practically identical.


Specifications:

    TOPS Numbering:  Never carried
    1957 Numbering:  D5900-D5909
          Built by:  English Electric (Vulcan Foundry)
        Introduced:  1959
 Wheel Arrangement:  Bo-Bo
            Weight:  74 tonnes (81.57 short tons)
            Length:  52½' (16.00m)
    Minimum Radius:  4½ chains (297', 90.5 m)
    Maximum  Speed:  75mph (120.7 km/h)
            Engine:  Napier T9-29 "Deltic"
     Engine Output:  1100hp (820 kW)
     Power at Rail:  768hp (573 kW)
        Brake Type:  Vacuum
       Brake Force:  36 tonnes (39.8 short tons)
Route Availability:  5
      Heating Type:  Steam

Thanks to: therailwaycenter.com; the English Electric pages at http://www.dean187.freeserve.co.uk/; various books in my collection.

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