The 3 inch to the foot scale East African railway and harbours 31 class metre gauge 2-8-4 is the latest locomotive to enter service on the SMR fleet from member and locomotive builder Mr John Wilks.
Following completion in 1998 of the NYC Niagara, John turned his attention to his other project, the 31 which had been started and abandoned in the 60s and purchased as a bag of parts in 1977 by John. Apart from a start in 1977/78 at erecting the frame, the majority has been completed over the last 10 years and commissioning on the line commenced through September and October 2008 with the loco entering passenger service on the 12th October at a special invitation private ceremony with the new station also being opened by Dr Pete Waterman OBE.
The Tribal class 31 was one of the last orders for steam locos built at Vulcan’s Newton-Le-Willows works and in fact, a 31 class from that order was the last steam loco tested at the works in January 1956. A few survive in preservation
Note that the earlier class 29 and 30s were also given the Tribal class name.
The full size loco being metre gauge, means the loco is quite large when scaled to fit on 10 ¼” track compared to the other locos and is nearly as big as the Berkshire and certainly wider giving a very comfortable space in the drivers cab.
As per the prototype, the loco is also fired by oil, albeit a lighter grade (Kerosene) than its bigger brother but it has proved to burn very efficiently with no soot and little fumes (important with open stock in our tunnel)
The loco has also proved today, that it can handle fully loaded nine car sets from a standing start on the Haven bank unassisted as it was unveiled for the first time at the new station opening in front of invited guests including Dr Pete Waterman OBE, who also got a chance to sit in the cab!
Thanks to the Vulcan Foundry website.
See the following link for more detailed information on the Vulcan Foundry at Newton Le Willows, and their prolific steam and later (under English Electric) diesel locomotive output, visit the website resource dedicated to the men (and ladies) that made all these locos possible.
And if you have any archive material, that they can use, they would be very keen to hear from you. Be warned though, you could be on there for hours as there is so much information to browse!