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Quainton News Archive - Quainton News No. 16 - June 1973

Ruston & Hornsby 4wDM No. 277273

The Ruston - John Hutchings

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J M Hutchings - The Ruston at Quainton, 22 April 1973

When I purchased my narrow gauge steam loco Holy War from the Dinorwic Slate Quarries in April 1968, I thought at the time that it would be a good idea to have a narrow gauge diesel as well. This would be very useful on permanent way work as well as helping out the steam loco, Holy War on the projected narrow gauge line at Quainton.

At the time narrow gauge diesels were not scarce and as funds were rather low after buying Holy War the idea was put into cold storage. In April 1970, the 0-4-0ST, arrived at Quainton and was unloaded onto the temporary track. By extreme good fortune Holy War's vital statistics enabled her to fit within the confines of an ex-British Railways BD type container and one of these had previously been obtained and had track laid into it. Thus she was the first loco at Quainton to have covered accommodation!

The only drawback was, being such a tight fit, she had to be pulled out into the open to enable any work to be done. I use the term ”pulled out" literally. The method employed was to attach a rope to the front buffer beam and then go around the site badgering members to come and pull!! It says much for the team spirit at Quainton when I say that no one ever refused to help me; the only point to be considered was whether it was after opening time!

The track outside the "shed" was arranged on a rising gradient so that providing I could get enough members to help me pull her out the falling gradient allowed me to put her away with the minimum of effort. This system of "Member Power" though far from ideal, worked well enough until one Sunday in March this year. I had had Holy War out for the first time in some weeks in preparation for the Easter Steam Weekend. When it came to putting her away in the evening she flatly refused to go. On this occasion only Robin Waywell and myself were present. It usually needed only two of us do the job, one to give her a shove and the other to apply the handbrake as she rumbled into the "shed". Anyway, Robin pushed but nothing happened. I jumped off the footplate to help and our combined efforts managed to get her moving. I then jumped back onto the footplate and grabbed the handbrake. For some reason I misjudged the distance into the "shed" and was not quite quick enough with the brake. With a CRUNCH she came to a halt, her rear buffers embedded in the assortment of old oil cans kept at the back of the "shed". That did it; after making sure nothing was damaged and using a few well-chosen words applicable to the occasion I locked up and went home with the thoughts of purchasing a narrow gauge diesel reborn. With such a loco it would be possible to pull "Holy War" out and put her away single handed and, more important, control her within fine limits whilst doing so!!

Next evening I wrote out a list of all the remaining 2ft gauge diesels in England and Wales (Scotland was too far away!) and was amazed to discover how few were left. Since 1968 their numbers had been much reduced and it was obvious I had to get one soon before they became too scarce and prices rocketed. During the next few days I wrote to or telephoned all the likely locations and eventually turned up a Ruston & Hornsby diesel in working order located near Oxford. This belonged to an enthusiast, Alan Keef, who also deals in narrow gauge railway equipment and after going over to see the engine and driving it up and down a few times I decided to buy it there and then. For the statistically minded she is Ruston & Hornsby 277273 of 1949, a 30DL type weighing about 4 tons. Her last commercial job was on the Farningham Sewer Contract in the Darent valley in Kent in August 1972 she carries the No. 18. Earlier in life she had worked at the Woodside Brick Co. Ltd., Croydon.

She arrived at Quainton on 18th April at 19.00 hours, was unloaded and was chugging up and down by 19.30, which must be an all-time speed record for quick unloading! On 22nd April Holy War was pulled out by the Ruston for the first time. Although in working order the diesel needs plenty of work doing on her to bring her up to " preserved" condition. When, it is hoped, the new, much longer narrow gauge line is laid in the Up Yard the Ruston will be of great help, and work on the new arrival and on Holy War should keep me busy for some time to come.

It only remains to thank all those members who have helped me pull Holy War out by hand over the past three years. and emergencies excepted, I should never have to badger you again!

The text in this Quainton Railway Society publication was written in 1973 and so does not reflect events in the 40+ years since publication. The text and photographs are repeated verbatim from the original publication, with only a few minor grammar changes but some clarifying notes are added if deemed necessary. The photos from the original publication are provided as scans in this internet version of this long out of print publication.

The Ruston - John Hutchings - Quainton News No. 16 - June 1973

Text © Quainton Railway Society / Photographs © Quainton Railway Society or referenced photographer
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