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bikkuri bahn

Nodding donkeys- finally to be retired??

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bikkuri bahn

Moves are finally afoot to get rid of much-maligned trains built from the body of a bus. But how did Britain's railways come to rely on the Pacer?

There's the rattling, the shuddering, the bouncing and the occasional squealing. You don't have to be a trainspotter to know you're riding a Pacer.

Essentially, each one is an old Leyland Motors bus frame mounted on train wheels and, thanks to the vehicle's rudimentary suspension, regular travellers are all too familiar with the distinctive sounds and sensations.

 

http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-35725299

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miyakoji
It also limits the top speed to 75mph.

 

 

:laughing4:  This is in reference to the two single axles, as opposed to bogies.  One of these things at 75mph, yikes.

 

Too bad SEPTA didn't buy a few to preserve (and by preserve I mean run for 45 years :) ) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:HV_leyland_wyc.jpg

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Claude_Dreyfus

They were a practical, low cost approach to a pressing issue at the time. BR needed to replace some pretty ancient rolling stock in a short space of time, and these units were designed for maximum flexibility on shorter journeys and branch line. There is a lot of political pressure to withdraw them, but I can see them lasting a few more years yet. there are no new diesel units immediately on the horizon, mainly because emissions regulations keep being tightened up (for example the class 66 now falls foul of these rules, the last batch delivered had to have the engines imported to the UK before the rule change, and then returned to the US for fitting!).

 

There is some electrification going on, but it is small-scale and will not free up sufficient rolling stock (itself of similar vintage) to replace all of the Pacers.

 

They are very much 'off region' for me, but I do recall travelling on a class 144 between Carlisle and Skipton. Rudimentary to say the least!

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bikkuri bahn

I remember riding one somewhere in Wales back in late BR days, and purposely avoiding riding one when I was in York. Alas, they are still with us while the wonderfully smoky/screaming valenta HST's are gone (or almost gone?), as are the once-plentiful class 37's on freight (and a few pax trains), spotted from a platform end in Cardiff or Newport...salad days...

Edited by bikkuri bahn

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kvp

The pacers are a rather simple design like the ancient hungarian bcmot dmu-s from 1926, the japanese kiha 01-02 dmu-s from 1955 or the czechoslovakian bzmot-s from 1977 but thanks to the simple construction they could last very long, run cheaply and could be repaired by most car mechanics. The only reasons to get rid of them are the problems associated with any long 2 axle passenger cars (bumpy ride on bad track and wheel noise in too tight curves). These problems are actually line specific, but these trains are meant for branchlines and those tend to be badly maintained, where the 2 axle design fails harder than any bogie variant.

 

ps: They could be made wheelchair accessible very cheaply by adding manual fold out ramps to some of the doors (1 per side), that can be moved by the driver or the conductor. Wheelchair space can be created by converting a few seats into wall mounted fold up seats next to the ramps. This would allow the current units to be kept for a long time.

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railsquid

That would be the modified Class 144e. The real challenge is the disabled-accessible toilet which will be required, which eats up a few more seats.

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Claude_Dreyfus

Interesting about the disabled access toilet. Many suburban-type units (for example the 313 and 455) circumvent this requirement by not having any toilets at all. Now I know Pacers do not operate many routes where a lack of toilet is suitable...although perhaps some of the South Wales valley lines may fall under this category.

 

Ultimately there is a North vs South argument going on in Westminster with these units. Chances are they will go within the next 5 years around Manchester and Yorkshire, but the Western allocated examples will probably hang around for longer.

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Welshbloke

There are two or three of the oldest series production type (Class 141) preserved.

 

Hopefully at least one of each other type will be saved, as a warning to posterity!

 

They were tried in Cornwall when first unleashed on the unsuspecting public, but quickly withdrawn due to their habit of getting jammed on sharp curves or stuck at the bottom of hills due to a lack of adhesion. A motley selection of first generation DMUs was pulled together from various depots elsewhere in the country. Had said units been clean and in good condition this would have been a huge improvement, unfortunately they often weren't.

 

Interestingly the Class 155 (and the 153s converted from them) also used Leyland National bus side panel pressings, but on a proper eight wheeled chassis and with through gangways on the cab ends. These are likely to go the same way before long due to the toilet problem, and some of them apparently have a noticeable sag if you look along the bodyside due to their lightweight construction.

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kvp

The jamming was caused by the long wheelbase and BR's bad minimal radius classification for the units. Having self adjusting axles would have helped (also with the noise), but that complicates the transmission and were not used. Moving the wheels inwards was not possible either due to the tight british outer loading gauge in curves. (it would have been possible with tapered ends, solving the curve and noise problem, but making the bus sides unusable) I think the same design with a slightly better suspension, shorter wheelbase and slightly lower floor level would have made them more popular.

 

That coach looks ok to me, the only problems seem to be the straight sides resembling ancient southern region emu stock and the hinged doors opening outwards. (not used for flush side slam door stock on other parts of the world since the 19th century due to doors left open getting regularly torn off)

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Mr Frosty

They should bring back the Thumpers. :)

 

Edited by Mr Frosty

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Claude_Dreyfus

Hmmmm, I like a bit of thumping action!

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Jace

Too bad SEPTA didn't buy a few to preserve (and by preserve I mean run for 45 years)

They would have fit right in at SEPTA, bad track and all, but alas the only one that made it into service in the US was used first on the T and then Amtrak. Somehow it still exists, rusting away quietly in the woods at the Connecticut Trolley Museum (http://www.ct-trolley.org/collection/locomotives.php). It's quite the time machine.

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kvp

They should bring back the Thumpers.

I think the recent tube stock conversion project would result in something very similar. However the closest to modern stanards are the new Hitachi units. (both the high speed and commuter variants) One cheaper alternative would be to convert current mk2 and mk3 surplus rolling stock to multiple unit operation or just use push-pull sets with whatever locomotive is available.

 

ps: Imho some routes that are served by single cars could end up 'temporarly' switched to bus. Same operating costs and capacity with no track maintenance expenses. (assuming any such routes remain except the one with the bubble cars)

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Claude_Dreyfus

There are all sorts of rumours abounding on various short-term options for diesel trains in the UK. In short:

 

There is electrification going on. The Great Western line, which will see units displaced from the Thameslink route by the new class 700s. The displaced units (165 and 166) are heading further West to the Bristol area (and South Wales?). Other ex Thameslink trains (this time the 319) are heading to the Liverpool and Manchester areas. All of these moves should free up diesel units for elsewhere.

 

The majority of the HST fleet is about to be displaced by the new class 800/801 sets. Many are likely to find work elsewhere, Scotland for example.

 

Finally, and perhaps the most interesting, is the potential fate of the class 442. Soon to be replaced on Gatwick Express services, stories are still circulate about their future conversation to push pull stock; perhaps on trans-pennine services?

 

Regular loco hauled trains do crop up, class 68s on the Chiltern push-pull, 67s on the Arriva trains services in Wales (still?), class 37s in Cumbria.

 

In short, cascading is the name of the game. I am not certain what or when the next large-scale DMU design for the UK will be.

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kvp

I think one is in progress right now. The Hitachi hybrid demu stock is the perfect example of a new dmu design. They have the option for the diesel engines to be removed and used as pure emus.

 

ps: The mentioned class 442 plans are interesting considering they can work with class 33 and 73 locomotives. I would just add a 1200kW diesel generator into the old buffet/1st class area in the middle car and run them as dmus. But converting them back into 4tc like sets is also an option.

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westfalen

Got in a few rides on the nodding donkeys from Blackpool South to the Welsh Valleys when I was in the UK last November.  Coming from a place where branch line and local country passenger services were killed off rather than replacing old railcars I've never thought them too bad.

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Densha

I have been thinking all day long whether or not I rode one of these years ago, but I think I didn't after all. What I am sure of though is that I saw some Pacers at Leeds station years ago. I remember thinking they looked incredibly outdated compared to the then-brand new Class 333s I rode. I think the Pacers were in this livery at the time: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ermintrude73/16955215525

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Claude_Dreyfus

I have been thinking all day long whether or not I rode one of these years ago, but I think I didn't after all. What I am sure of though is that I saw some Pacers at Leeds station years ago. I remember thinking they looked incredibly outdated compared to the then-brand new Class 333s I rode. I think the Pacers were in this livery at the time: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ermintrude73/16955215525

Yes, that is the Tyne and Wear livery, so would have been seen in Yorkshire. The Pacers carried a wide range of liveries, but not yet available in N gauge. One is promised, and under development, but being Dapol, nobody really knows when it will be available!

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Claude_Dreyfus

I think one is in progress right now. The Hitachi hybrid demu stock is the perfect example of a new dmu design. They have the option for the diesel engines to be removed and used as pure emus.

 

ps: The mentioned class 442 plans are interesting considering they can work with class 33 and 73 locomotives. I would just add a 1200kW diesel generator into the old buffet/1st class area in the middle car and run them as dmus. But converting them back into 4tc like sets is also an option.

Yes, the Hitachi stock will be hybrid, but not a direct replacement for older diesel units on the more local services. As I said, at least in the medium term it will be a case of cascading stock displaced by these, and electric stock.

 

Extra factor the throw in. Passenger journeys are increasing significantly in the UK. At least some of this displaced stock is required for strengthening existing services. Hence the sight of former Scotrail diesel units in South London, to augment the at-capacity Oxted line trains for Southern.

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railsquid

Yes, that is the Tyne and Wear livery, so would have been seen in Yorkshire. The Pacers carried a wide range of liveries, but not yet available in N gauge. One is promised, and under development, but being Dapol, nobody really knows when it will be available!

 

Probably in time for their eventual demise in 2040, but fitted with the wrong pantograph  ;)

 

I don't think I ever saw too many of these, now trying to remember if I've ever been on them.

Edited by railsquid

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Azumanga Davo

Memories of Hornby's 142s spring to mind.  "Attractive" as they are, I now need a lie down, the stress of the remembrance of poor running and breaking down is driving me to tears again.

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Welshbloke

I have one of the original Hornby 142s in "Provincial" blue.

 

I'll probably get around to fitting a Kadee to the other end and buying a decent chassis for it one day, I know there's at least one kit out there to improve matters.

 

The early models had both cars powered but no electrical connection between the two, the most recent ones have the two connected together but only one powered. The only way to get them to run in anything resembling an acceptable fashion (without repowering) is to fit the couplers with electrical contacts to a dual-motored example.

 

It's much like Hornby's attempt at the Class 466 Networker - an attractive model let down by a poor chassis. I also have one of those which needs new bogie frames (as the originals have crumbled due to poor quality plastic), if I ever find some I'll also fit a second power bogie so it has two axles driving instead of just one. It might even be able to run on level track without slipping then! Also have most of the bits for a second set which is likely to get a decent motor bogie installed underneath, with that diecast chassis it would be a sweet runner if Hornby had only fitted a better drivetrain. I'd rather have had the old Ringfield sticking up in the back of the cabin than their gutless attempt at a low-profile drive!

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Azumanga Davo

I have one of the original Hornby 142s in "Provincial" blue.

 

I'll probably get around to fitting a Kadee to the other end and buying a decent chassis for it one day, I know there's at least one kit out there to improve matters.

 

The early models had both cars powered but no electrical connection between the two, the most recent ones have the two connected together but only one powered. The only way to get them to run in anything resembling an acceptable fashion (without repowering) is to fit the couplers with electrical contacts to a dual-motored example.

 

It's much like Hornby's attempt at the Class 466 Networker - an attractive model let down by a poor chassis. I also have one of those which needs new bogie frames (as the originals have crumbled due to poor quality plastic), if I ever find some I'll also fit a second power bogie so it has two axles driving instead of just one. It might even be able to run on level track without slipping then! Also have most of the bits for a second set which is likely to get a decent motor bogie installed underneath, with that diecast chassis it would be a sweet runner if Hornby had only fitted a better drivetrain. I'd rather have had the old Ringfield sticking up in the back of the cabin than their gutless attempt at a low-profile drive!

Oh yes, spot on.  I had a Northern Spirit (newest one coach motored) and a Regional Railways (two coach powered).  Both ran like pigs, so my infinite wisdom decided to Hornby couple the two sets together to make for a perfect running pair of units.

 

This proved that theory might not work in real world practice... *flips table*

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kvp

I've searched for some examples as i don't have any british h0. There seems to be several types: two motors, one motor, one motor and power coupler.

 

The main problem with the drive unit is pickups and suspension. If you take a newer one, add pickups to the trailer and route the power to the motor unit, then weight down the powered axle then it would be better. One more trick would be to make the non powered axle swivel along the main axis of the train. That would allow most of the weight to be on the powered axle and keep both wheels on the track. Having matching power units in both cars, connected electrically, with a less verically stiff coupler and swivel axles on the inner ends would make a better runner. (maybe even add caps for an electric flywheel)

 

PS: this model is only marginally worse runner off the shelf than the Kato pocket trams...

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