A tank engine for all seasons
Whereas 5820 and 90733 were built for long-distance freight working, the military needed the standard design of engines to work in yards and military installations. The Austerity saddle tank design was the answer, with many lasting wells beyond the end of the war.
A life of military service
Although built for the war effort, 118 was a home bird, working on the Longmoor Military Railway (LMR), the Royal Engineers military training railway in Hampshire, helping to train soldiers in the art of operating a railway and firing and driving steam engines.
When the LMR closed, 118 ‘Brussels’ was purchased for use on the KWVR.
Built: 1945 Leeds
Boiler Pressure: 170 psi
Tractive Effort: 23,870 lbf
Weight 48.25 tons
Valve Gear: Stephenson
Cylinders: 18”x26″ Inside
Numbers carried during working career: LMR 118
The engine was built by the Hudswell Clarke Company of Leeds in 1945 and spent all of its working life in military service, being based at Longmoor Military Railway, which was the Army’s training railway. Many military railway personnel were passed out for firing and driving on ‘Brussels’.
The locomotive was converted to be oil-fired by the Army while at Longmoor, together with both Air Brake and Vacuum Brake equipment.
In 1970 the Ministry of Defence announced its intention to discontinue railway operational training; thus, the Longmoor site was to close. Some enthusiasts established a group to save the depot and reopen its railway for public use, in the same vein as the Keighley and Worth Valley. With this in mind, a local supporter of the project purchased no 118 “Brussels” for use in the scheme. Once this scheme failed to materialise, ‘Brussels’ was offered to the KWVR. The Society purchased the locomotive, and finally arrived at Haworth in September 1971.
This was the first Oil Burner on the KWVR. And it was certainly not very good during its first steaming; this was caused by a crack found in the burner, probably from frost damage. The KWVR bought a new burner of the same make (Laidlaw Drew, a larger version of the one used by the Ffestiniog), and the engine steamed very well, together with alterations to the blast pipe and chimney. Also fitted is an extension on top of the original oil tank to increase the capacity.
Gas Oil from the beginning because it was easier to use than heavy fuel oil, and an external source of compressed air was used to atomise the oil in the burner when lighting up in place of steam.
The Laidlaw Drew burner was more suited to a Square firebox; a volunteer sourced a more normal Burner from Portugal, and fitting this needed a different firebox floor, so that was done; this Burner also worked very well. As the price of Gas Oil rose, volunteers experimented with using old sump oil, in fact, any old oil. Some people may remember the waft of fish & chips as 118 passed through Haworth station after a dose of old frying oil from the chip shop across the road. Eventually, a supplier of Reclaimed Oil was kept in a second rail tanker next to the gas oil.
However, when lighting up, this behaved more like heavy fuel oil, preferring pre-heated oil. We fitted a small tank on the running plate, just in front of the cab on the fireman’s side; you can still see this in the Exhibition Shed. This was filled with gas oil for lighting up, as before. This was changed over as soon as steam was raised. One last addition was a steam heater in the main fuel feed to the burner.
The locomotive is now on static exhibition at Oxenhope and there is no to return it to steam.