Sunday, 30 December 2007

ALRC Locomotive No 4: The General

The General was constructed by Norman Duffield and his brother-in-law Reg Ives in 1992 for use on the Little Melton Light Railway (LMLR). It was built as petrol electric locomotive using a Briggs and Stratton 3hp engine and alternator to charge two 70 amp-hour batteries. These powered a 24 volt 747watt (One HP) permanent magnet motor. The rear bogie mounted motor uses a chain to drive a lay-shaft; this in turn chain drives the two axles. The other bogie is free running and fitted with a parking brake that operates on all four wheels.

After a very successful period on the LMLR, The General was transferred to the Ashmanhaugh Light Railway in the spring of 2003, retaining its original number. There it performed extremely well on a level line, running all day at the ALR opening day without the engine being needed to maintain the battery charge. Because of low current draw it was considered that a full charge should be sufficient to run the loco for a full day before the batteries needed re-charging. Consequently the loco was modified to being solely electrically powered, although its battery capacity was doubled to 140 amp-hours. It was also decided to carry out a complete overhaul and rebuild so that the larger members of the Club could get into the cab! In order to achieve this, the bogies were reversed, the power bogie now being at the front.

The project commenced on 17 Jan 04 with the locomotive being totally dismantled. All appropriate components were painted using Hammerite smooth of various colours. The re-assembled chassis was completed on 7 February and pushed out of the shed for a photographic session. On 16 March it emerged from the workshop complete apart from painting. This was completed in time for the first anniversary of the Ashmanhaugh Light Railways’ opening and The General was at last on parade and working hard. Since then the loco has been the mainstay of the ALR having run more hours than the rest of the fleet put together.