Artist impression by Anthony Sims
Dark Railway Number 1202, known by railway enthusiasts as "Big Bob", was an experimental steam locomotive which once worked on the Dark Railway.
In 1933, Lord Theodore Dark began enquiring into the possibility of purchasing a heavy freight engine to work on the railway. Keen to impress, he approached Beyer Peacock of Manchester, whom after several meetings, agreed to build a steam engine tailored for use on the Dark Railway.
The locomotive produced was highly unusual, incorporating many unique features. It was a 4-8-2, a wheel arrangement unique for a British standard gauge locomotive (the only other locomotives in Britain of this wheel arrangement are the 15in gauge RH&DR "Mountains", No 5 "Hercules" and No 6 "Samson").
The locomotive was also built with a high pressure boiler, operating at 300psi, and was a four cylinder compound, somewhat inspired by the experimental Gresley locomotive, No 10000. The most striking thing about No 1202 as originally built was the unique (and very complicated) valve gear, designed by Mr Arthur Peniston. It was a very complicated arrangement, utilising two large rings as counterbalances on the outside valve gear, which drove rotary cams to the inside gear.
No DR1202, as it became known, arrived on the Dark Railway late in 1933, having been built quickly at Beyer Peacock. The engine was tested with a simulated 1,000 ton train, which ran from the Industrial Estate to Manston Fore, to determine the power of the engine. Surprisingly, the locomotive appeared to be too powerful, as the couplings broke between the locomotive and the train when the engine tried to start the train! However, once fixed, the engine managed to haul the long, heavy train up the 1in37 incline with no trouble, hence it was immediately accepted into the fleet.
Unfortunately, there were complications with the design. The Peniston Valve Gear proved too complex, and would often jam whilst the engine was in motion, causing damage it the entire valve gear assembly and to the crossheads of the rotary cams. It was worse whilst the locomotive coasted down the hills, for the spindle rings would rotate freely causing overstress to the rest of the gear. The engine also struggled to maintain it's high boiler pressure when climbing the longer banks between Walschurch and Manston Fore, often starving the cylinders of steam.
It was also discovered that the engine's great weight was causing damage to the bridge at Manston Fore, meaning that DR1202 was eventually banned (in it's original form) from crossing this bridge, precluding it from accessing Merecombe, and meaning the engine had to be serviced at Galen Junction, where the facilities were limited. The compounding was also found to be unnecessary, for the engine was ridiculously overpowered to begin with.
Though DR1202 put in sterling performances, Lord Dark decided that the locomoitve would need modifications, for it spent alot of time out of service being repaired, or awaiting spare parts from Beyer Peacock. Therefore, the locomotive was sent back to Beyer Peacock in 1934 for a rebuild, with the Peniston Valve Gear being removed and replaced with conventional Walchearts gear, a new boiler supplied working at 225psi, and the engine was converted to a three cylinder, simple expansion type.
In this form, DR1202 was a great success, and, with the reduction in weight, was authorised to work over the bridge at Manston Fore again. The engine retained its great power, and was much more versatile, even working passenger trains occasionally, due to it's smoother ride and surprising turn of speed. Though spares still took a long time to supply, the engine's reliability has risen to an acceptable level that maintenance was much reduced.
During World War II, DR1202 was used for the war effort, hauling heavy supply trains over the line, and even, sometimes, being allowed to continue off the Dark Railway and on to mainline metals, such was it's power and versatility. Unfortunately, the boiler came due for renewal in 1946 and, unable to afford the boiler work at the time, Mr Otthaniel Dark set the locomotive aside, intending to store it until funds became avaliable to repair, or replace, the boiler. Unfortunately, a member of the board of directors accidently authorised the engine to be removed from the railway and scrapped, much to Otthaniel Dark's surprise and anger. Therefore, one of the country's most unique and powerful locomotives was consigned to history.
When built, DR1202 was painted black with red and white lining, with the Dark Railway logo written on the tender in white. When the engine was rebuilt, it was first painted into Dark Railway unlined green, before being lined out several months later. during World War II, the locomotive was again repainted into plain black, with no identification markings. After the war, it remained in this black livery until scrapped.
DR1202 is not based on any particular prototype, but is inspired by the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway's own 15in gauge 4-8-2 locomotives, built by Davey Paxman in 1927.
The Dark Railway SeriesEdit
- As DR1202 is a fictitious prototype, no model of the locomotive has existed in Train Simulator 2019, hence why the locomotive has never appeared in The Dark Railway Series. However, in March 2019, Dark DJ officially commissioned a model of the locomotive from Kris Wilson of Caledonia Works, meaning that the loco may be able to make an appearance in some form in the future.
|Locomotives of The Dark Railway|
|Theo and Otto • 257 Squadron • Sir Eustace Missenden • Dave • Brian • Eddie • Leno • Abomination • Hannah • Ed • Sid • Caracus Smash • Barry • De la Trip • Colossus • Goose|
|Ryan • Raymond • Allan • Turbo • Mr. B • Warrior • Andy|
|Cheapside • Dark Railway No 1202 • James • Colin • Repulse • Five|
|Owen • Cammer|