Railway Support Services were called in recently by Locomotive Services Limited, based in Crewe, to help recover LMS Black 5 No. 45231 The Sherwood Forester, and its support coach, from Llandeilo to Port Talbot.
The locomotive and tender were then taken back to Crewe on the 17th April 2021.
The driver of the steam locomotive, which was working a private charter to Camarthen, was forced to make an emergency brake application.
As a result of this, the tender wheels locked in place, and the leading pair of wheels sustained ‘significant flats’ thanks to them sliding on the rail before coming to a halt and meant the locomotive could not continue its journey.
The locomotive was stored in a spur at Llandeilo until rescue was arranged.
Andrew Goodman, CEO of RSS was asked by Locomotive Services Limited to recover the locomotive, in which an RSS WheelSkate was used.
He explains: “This device comprises two pairs of frames, each carried by small wheels, that support a disabled axle with the running wheels lifted a few millimetres above the rail. This enables the vehicle to be recovered to a suitable location for repair.
“RSS has developed the WheelSkate from a basic concept created many years ago by British Railways at Derby. We are usually called on to recover diesel and electric multiple-units that have suffered a transmission failure or other seizure of the axle.
“This is the first time the WheelSkate has been used to recover a steam locomotive.”
The recovery involved two Class 37 locomotives to haul 45231, which was in light steam for cylinder lubrication purposes only, at a maximum of 20mph, or just 5mph over crossings and points.
The 35 mile long route involved freight-only lines, including the Swansea avoiding line.
“From there, we loaded the locomotive and tender on to road transporters to return them to Crewe, where the tender will be repaired,” explains Andrew Goodman. “Because of narrow roads and weight restriction, quite apart from lack of space, the locomotive could not be loaded onto road transport where it failed.”
Shortly after the steam incident, Rail Support Services were called in to move a failed multiple unit from Bournemouth to Southampton, the kind of use that the WheelSkate was designed for.
Here are a couple more photos of the rescue:
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