Hunslet    Works No 3890     NCB 66 0-6-0ST

Hunslet 3890.jpg

This locomotive was built in 1964 for the National Coal Board by the Hunslet Engine Company to the design used to supply to the Ministry of Defence and is thus regarded as an Austerity type locomotive. It was the last standard steam locomotive built in this country for the home market until new build projects such as Tornado began.

See LNER class J94 for details.

The locomotive became No 66 in the South Yorkshire NCB fleet and was sent to Cadeby Main Colliery, Conisborough in March 1964.

The locomotive was originally fitted with a mechanical stoker to assist in one-man operation, and a gas producer to reduce smoke emissions. The gas producer system and mechanical stoker fell into disuse, and conventional methods of firing were adopted, an ordinary grate being fitted. This meant that when the Conisborough area was designated a smokeless zone in 1970, the locomotive had to be replaced by an ex-BR diesel shunter.

A number of years later put up for sale and was purchased by a member of the Qainton Railway Society (QRS).

The locomotive was complete and there were spares, including eight sets of brake shoes, firebars, springs and tools included in the sale. It was delivered to Quainton in November 1975.

A number of years later the locomotive became the property of the QRS.

Whilst the locomotive was complete and generally in good order when it arrived at Quainton, there was one significant problem that stopped its use for many years – the condition of its tyres. When it had worked at Cadeby Colliery its duties included 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 the tyres and the 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 grove of rail width into each tyre.

After many years awaiting a heavy overhaul, including a requirement for major tyre renewal works, the locomotive entered the restoration queue. The chassis was partially overhauled at South Coast Steam and were back at Quainton in 2009 for some outstanding work to be completed.

The boiler was sent to Locomotive Maintenance Services at Loughborough for contract repair and overhaul. The tested boiler returned to Quainton in June 2014, and was immediately craned into the frames of the rolling chassis. The boiler was steamed in frames and then a new smokebox was fitted, followed by the cab roof, chimney and tanks. NCB No. 66 was successfully returned to public service during the May 2015.

The locomotive remains at the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre which is the home of the Quainton Railway Society.

Hunslet 3890.jpg 3890 on the Middleton Railway – July 2015

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