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Quainton News Archive - Quainton News No. 28 - Summer 1976

Hunslet Austerity 0-6-0ST No. 3890 (NCB66)

Spartacus or a Pair of Sixes

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M Hanscomb - A Distinctive Chimney on 66

One of the additional attractions at Easter was the opportunity given to visitors to climb aboard the footplate of Brian Clifford's Hunslet tank, 66, to inspect the cab with its polished fittings and to receive an explanation of what all those levers, valves and gauges are for, (Brian knows you know!).

However, before a fire can be kindled in the grate there is some restoration work to do although not too many major tasks should be necessary. In fact, No. 66 is in far better condition than those fortunate repatriates from Barry scrapyard because it wasn't even built until many BR engines had arrived at Barry! To be precise, our subject was almost certainly the last standard gauge steam locomotive built in Great Britain for the home market and its official date of construction is 19th February 1964, maker's number 3890.

The story of Brian's acquisition of 66 is interesting. He was on the lookout for one of the Hunslet 16in. cylinder six coupled tank engines, the Popular 16 and had been unsuccessful in an attempt made for an NCB engine at Barnsley. Then he heard through the good offices of the Chacewater Light Railway of 66 being available. He had one week left to inspect the engine at Cadeby Main colliery and to submit his tender. At Cadeby he found her outside the shed, the last steam locomotive in that area of the NCB disused since 1970 when a smokeless zone order had led to steam being displaced by ex-BR diesels. After two weeks of anxious waiting, Brian learnt that his tender had been accepted. He had been competing with twenty other potential buyers - including the NRM at York! The locomotive was complete and there were spares including eight sets of brake shoes, firebars, springs and tools. Delivery to Quainton Road was by Leicester Heavy Haulage on 4th November.

No. 66 is an 18in locomotive derived from the Ministry of Supply standard 0-6-0ST designed by the Hunslet Engine Co. in World War II and it is very similar to the Ivatt Trust's Juno, but there are differences. Externally, the most noticeable feature is the squat tapered chimney which is associated with a special multiple nozzle blast pipe. When the locomotive is in action the sound of its blast will be quite sharp and distinctive. The modified smokebox arrangements are only a part of the interesting mechanical details of 66. The engine is fitted with the Hunslet patent producer gas system designed to eliminate smoke and it is also equipped with their underfeed mechanical stoker although this will not be fully operational until the special grate is refitted. We hope to describe these special features which were developed by Hunslets in 1961 in a future issue of Quainton News, but it is worth recording that the stoker unit is intact under 66's bunker and cab floor. Brian's intention, when buying 66, was to obtain a locomotive in sound running order for the down side at Quainton but there are some repairs required before the new arrival is in service. One job which is to be dealt with immediately is reprofiling the tyres. They certainly are worn! When 66 worked at Cadeby Colliery her duties involved hauling trains of coal wagons over the two mile straight track to Mexborough. Gradients were quite severe but the worst part was a length of about ¼ mile near the washing plant where the rails disappeared under six inches of slurry. The effect of this abrasive on tyres and brake blocks can be imagined and the copious use of sand, up to ¼ ton a day per loco, was a good way to machine a groove of rail width into each tyre!

All being well, the boiler should be good for further service without retubing because this was done in 1968, eighteen months before withdrawal. The firebox on No. 66 is steel and will pose less of a problem should repairs eventually be needed. The underfeed stoker is to be completely overhauled but the existing conventional grate will continue to be used for the present. This grate was fitted by the NCB because the very small coal available for locomotive use at Cadeby was quite unsuitable for the mechanical stoker. This change from graded to slack coal also rendered the producer gas equipment ineffective and the locomotive did make smoke. Hence the withdrawal of steam power from Cadeby when the smokeless zone order was imposed in that district in 1970.

Although Brian has in mind the name Spartacus for his new locomotive, he might have been tempted to have called her Freda, for this reason. Inside the cab one unusual feature on the bunker plate is a two way radio, which was used by the NCB for traffic control at Cadeby. The radio call codes are listed: - the locomotives Frank, Ken, Charlie, Dick, 64 and 66 have corresponding call codes Amber, Blue, Cat, Dick, Eagle and Freda. We believe our S & T Department are not encouraging Brian to refit the radio to 66- they prefer good mechanical signalling.

Leading dimensions of 66 are:- Cylinders 18in x 26in; Wheels 4ft 3in; Boiler Pressure 1701bs; Wheelbase 11ft; Heating Surface 960 sqft; Grate Area 16.8sqft; Water 1200 gals; Coal 2 tons; Weight in working order 48½ tons. The livery will be NCB apple green.

We are looking forward to our first trip behind Spartacus who incidentally was a gladiator of ancient Rome defeated by Crassus in AD 71. Not a word to those Farran folk!

The text in this Quainton Railway Society publication was written in 1976 and so does not reflect events in the 39+ 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.

Spartacus or a Pair of Sixes - Quainton News No. 28 - Summer 1976

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