Steam test at Darlington Locomotive Works

An engine was in steam at Darlington Locomotive Works again this week but this was a road locomotive, not a railway one!  In order to test the new axle driven alternator (ADA) which will be fitted to all our locomotives and support coaches we had a requirement for a source of power that would not generate electrical interference.  You can view the action here:

Providence in action at DLW, hooked up to the ADA – Steve Davies

Here are some background notes:

  • We are testing our newly designed and built axle driven alternator. Rob Morland (our head of electricals) and his team designed and built the new system
  • It uses a 180A 28v truck/bus alternator fitted into a very solid steel casing to replace the Stones Altonum alternators we presently use which come of early British Railways mark 2 coaches (early 1960s). The latter are becoming very hard to come by and usually require complete (and very expensive) overhaul. Also their regulators use 1960s transistors which are equally hard to find. We have fitted a 2.5:1 toothed belt drive system within the casing to get the alternator running at the required speeds from the axle pulleys on coaches or in our case the tenders on Peppercorn class A1 No. 60163 Tornado and Gresley class P2 No. 2007 Prince of Wales.
  • We have built at test ring to check output, temperatures and endurance running, however we also need to conduct EMC (Electro Magnetic Compatibility) tests. As the test ring comprises a squirrel cage induction motor with an electronic speed controller, it is likely to produce a significant amount of electrical noise in its own right.
  • With this in mind it occurred to us that a suitable drive system for when EMC testing would be a medium sized traction engine – no electrical interference and it can test from the lowest to the highest speeds – using a large flat belt of the sort used for operating saw tables etc.
  • We are using 1920 Leeds built 7NHP Fowler steam road engine Providence owned by Howard & Barry Stafford of Houghton-le-Spring – the engine comes complete with belt and is a two-cylinder compound with a governor which makes it ideal for the task. They kindly donated their time and we supplied the coal.
  • Our contractor Eurofins of York conducted the EMC tests on the morning of Thursday 21st October.
  • Our new design of alternator will eventually be fitted on No. 60163 Tornado, No. 2007 Prince of Wales, our proposed Gresley class V4 and their support coaches.

All very Titfield Thunderbolt – or is it Iron Maiden?

This is another step on the way to the completion of No. 2007 Prince of Wales and another way in which the Trust is constantly finding new ways to ensure we can continue to operate steam on the modern main line railway by fitting all of the necessary electronic systems to our locomotives and provide the increasing amount of electrical power for them.