Own Rail Workshops
Nearing completion is the 300 square metre two track rail workshops that enables me to offer the option of carrying out all manner of work off site.
With the ability to lift locomotives up to 60+tons, and overhead craneage for power units and transmission components, the workshops will facilitate all manner of repairs - reprofile or retyres, repowers, control system upgrades, (radio controls, train braking, etc., etc.).
Train brake fitments
Most industrial locos were built in an age when the modern roller bearing wagon was still a novelty, and vacuum braking was still in main line operation. Nowadays single pipe - or in some cases twin-pipe - air braking is the norm.
For industrial or heritage railway operation, I can install air or vacuum train brake operation, including desk control linkages, additional compressors and exhausters. The exact equipment specificxation will be dependent on the envisaged train weights and duties.
The life of prime movers in industrial and freight locomotives is normally much longer than in other plant to which the engines have been fitted, and as the population of particular engine marque falls, the availability of parts becomes more difficult. I specialise in re-powering locomotives, that is, replacing an obsolete engine with a current production design offering better fuel-efficiency, lower emissions and ready availability of parts and service. Repowering a loco is not just a case of 'one out, another in' - different mounting systems must be incorporated, and existing peripherals - cooler groups, air inlet and exhaust systems, etc., must all be evaluated and if neccessary uprated to suit the new manufacturer's requirements if reliable performance and especially their warranties are to be maintained.
At one time shunting locomotives operated with 3 man crews - a driver and one or two shunters. Yet when it comes to shunting-related injuries, it was always the shunter, the man on the ground, who was vulnerable. The 'rules' may say that the shunting oco does not move when the shunter is not in the driver's sight, but tragedies have occurred when the driver has assumed his colleague to be where he wasn't. Today, many larger industrial plants use radio control combined with one-man operation, putting the entire control of the train in the hands of the man on the ground, and such locos comply with BS EN50239. Converting the locomotive to run remotely - providing safe and relaible control functions that respond to the relay contacts provided by the radio equipment manufacturer - is a complex but worthwhile process and which I have carried out a number of times of the last twenty years, with locos using my control systems operated in steelworks, aggregates, rail depots and power stations. I did much of the conversion of an 08 for EWS in the 1990s and developed PLC-based control systems to comply with En50239, provide easy, helpful diagnostics and event recording.
A unique feature of many of my conversions has been to introduce 'spring-apply/pressure release' brake systems for emergency braking and parking purposes. These units are sized to be able to bring a train to rest in a reasonable distance from normal operating speeds, but in normal use provide full and secure braking without reliance on the operator remembering to wind on the hand brake. They thus form a second line of braking, operable by the locomotive's control system, independent of the loco's pneumatics or tread brakes.
One-man operation of the locomotive does introduce issues of loan working. Using the locos PLC system, I can interface with a 'cellular engine' (a text-only mobile phone) to issue SMS messages to a base station to cover for man-down situations, but with the PLC fully integrated ino the loco systems, it can be harnessed to forward any operating data you require, from engine hours, fault logs, through to 'I've just been started up' messages. The range of data you can collect is wide, yet with the minimum of new infrastructure.
Speed limiting, vigilance systems
Speed limiting, vigilance (deadmans) and other similar control system enhancements are best carried out as part of a new control system, but individual elements can be produced as stand-alone safety improvements.