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Pilton gets the chop: 10th February

The big news at Woody Bay today was that it had eventually stopped raining!

The Engineering Department decided to make the most of it, carrying out an important task on ex-Australian Baguley-Drewry diesel loco PILTON.

The problem is that this big locomotive was never designed for the L&BR loading gauge: the cab being too tall to fit under the majority of bridges on the line. Some of the original bridges still do exist, such as Bridge 63 under Parracombe Lane, for example. The solution: cut-down the cab. Much of the preliminary work has already been carried out over the past months, including reducing the height of the radiator cowl at the front, enabling the bonnet to have a lower profile. Being dry, Wednesday 10th became the day to remove the cab.

1. The first photo shows John Uphill and Nick Slade cutting through most of the supporting cab-work outside the engine shed.

2.& 3. PILTON was then taken down to the Loading Dock, where Martyn Budd used the excavator to support the cab whilst the last few cuts were made.

4. The corners of the cab being cut through, to release it from the rest of the loco. The reduced radiator cowl can be seen, the top of which is now much lower than the original bonnet height, marked by the metal framing just below the cab front windows.

5. As the last piece of metal is cut through, the excavator is able to gently lift the cab away from the chassis.

6. The bottom section of the cab (below the cut) will be removed so that the cab can be relocated on the footplate at the lower level.

7.& 8. The excavator once swung-around, placed the cab on to the flat wagon, to be returned to the engine shed for further conversion work.

9. The “open-top” version of PILTON looks rather strange, but hopefully it will not be too long before the engineers begin putting it all back together again. With the Gardner engine rated at 180 HP, and the loco weighing about 17 tons, it will certainly be a powerful loco. In the event of a steam-hauled train failing down-the-line, PILTON will prove a useful rescue loco,

Photos and Text Dave Tooke

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