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BO-BO No.102 "FALCON"
Builder: BREL, Doncaster, 1970, works number 7198.
Withdrawn: NIR, 2002.
Companies: NIR, RPSI, UF&TM.
Preservation Career: 2002 to present.
Current Status: On display, Irish Railway Gallery, Cultra.
102 in the yard at Whitehead in 2005. (B.Pickup)
The 101 ("Hunslet") Class of Northern Ireland Railways were three mainline diesel-electric locomotives designed for use in hauling the Enterprise passenger services between Belfast and Dublin. They were built, under contract from Hunslet Engine Company, by British Rail Engineering Limited (BREL) at Doncaster in 1970. They were of Bo-Bo wheel arrangement and fitted with 1.350 hp engines. All three were named, using names previously carried by the Great Northern Railway (Ireland) Class V locomotives, as follows:
They were displaced from the principal passenger workings by the arrival of the 111
Class locomotives and were then used on freight duties. All three locomotives were subsequently withdrawn from service,
the first having been stored in 1989 (103) and the last in 1998 (102).
It was expected that 102 would be reinstated in 2002, but after only one outing it was stopped once more.
103 was scrapped in 1997 at Ballymena, but 101 and 102 stayed around for a few years!
In fact, after a request by NIR, they were moved to the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland site at Whitehead for storage.
102 shunting fertiliser wagons at Adelaide Freight yard. (L.Smyth)
When Translink offered the locomotives for sale a few years later the Society
bid for them because they were both at Whitehead anyway and,
being realistic, no matter what other body might have obtained them they would have stayed there for some time (and might still be there now).
So two of the three locomotives came into the Society's ownership in July 2005.
102 on passenger duties enters Lisburn. (L.Smyth)
In mid 2008 it was suggested that 102 could be made to work without too much effort,
with the goal of transferring it to the Downpatrick and County Down Railway. However, practical considerations made this impossible.
Around this time both locomotives were offered for disposal as there really was not much space to store them at Whitehead - but
there were no takers. Reluctantly, the decision was taken to scrap 101 and, following removal of all useful parts, the
locomotive was cut up in January 2010.
102 shunting cement wagons at Adelaide Freight yard. (L.Smyth)
The first hurdle was to get a full set of starting batteries in order.
A number of cells were obtained second-hand, while some of the cells that had been in 102 were coaxed
back into life by gentle charging. Once all the cells were back in good condition, they were loaded into 102's battery boxes.
The battery isolating switch was missing, after it burnt out during previous attempts to start the locomotive.
This left a tangle of unlabelled wires which luckily had escaped damage in the electrical fire.
Electrical circuit diagrams were obtained, scanned and the unclear parts reconstructed, to allow a spare switch to be wired in correctly.
101's isolating switch was then wired in as a substitute. The batteries were connected and the locomotive's lights were tested.
In January 2009, 102 was reconnected to a set of traction batteries and her lights and auxilaries were run for the first time in several years. This is the view inside her engine room. On the left is the box which contains fuel priming and local start push-buttons, and the low oil pressure relay. In the centre the 127 litre V8 diesel engine may be seen, with fuel pump covers off. It was built by English Electric and is their model 8CSVT. The green box is the governor, which controls engine speed, and the circular object on the right is the Napier turbocharger.
Inside the locomotive the air filters were changed using the filters from 101,
which were much cleaner. The fuel filter was replaced, while the fuel suction strainer was found to be almost completely blocked.
It was cleaned out and reassembled.
This rather blurry image inside No.2 cab shows the "engine stopped" and "emergency pipe" warning lights burning brightly, with the "fire warning" light dim. The "Engine stopped" light went out only once, in June 2009.
It was suggested that fuel must be bled from the injector pumps through
the high pressure injector pipes to the injectors themselves. Much struggling proved that if this was possible at all it was going
to be very difficult. Later our contacts in the engine shop at York Road told us that they usually bleed fuel only as high as the fuel rails.
102's engine running (but only just) in June 2009.
102 again faced an uncertain future, with a list of defects as long as your arm, and the people who worked on it with a list
of "things to do" even longer - and none of them were Hunslet related! However, the group were keen to get the engine running
one more time, perhaps with a more secure suction pipe arrangement, to see if maybe more cylinders would start to fire as it
warmed through. But only if they could find the time ...