When it comes to Diesels whilst in a way they don't have the same charm or character as Steam Locos the heritage Diesels do have character to them in a way that you don't get with the modern traction, and lets be honest the classic traction is miles better than the modern stuff we see so much of today.
In the same way as in the last top 10 you will know my favourites or in this case at least one of them but even so you won't know or probably don't know why these specific locos are my favourites so that is why i have rounded them all up into this blog post to explain away to you all why i love them.
10. class 31s
One of the many classes commonly seen from my era until their withdrawal which has seen less and less of them on the mainline nowadays with the exception of DCR, the only operating company at this time who still keep them in service, Network Rail in the past have used them but these are now on the brink of being withdrawn which as of this point the fate of these engines is unknown, lets hope they don't go for the chop.
But what i love about the 31s is the front which gives them an expression, look at those headlights and the position of those handrails and then take a look at those black squares (not sure what they are for) on the front of the loco above the centre headlight, it gives it a sad looking expression and its things like this that you don't see with modern era locos as things like this give the locomotive character, and of course lets not forget the thumping burble and thrashing sounds made from the engine just like any heritage traction, how can you not love that?
and the class 31 has a very interesting body with the headcode panel box on the front of the roof above those windows, all those grills on the side of the loco and i like how the body has that dip in the middle where the fuel tank is.
9. class 60s
I've yet to come across anyone who doesn't love these, yes these were only introduced in the 90s so compared to the 47s, 37s etc they aren't as old but they are still considered as a classic form of traction. Probably one of the finest looking freight locomotives out there that ever graced the rails in terms of diesel locomotives.
and how can you not love the steady slow beating sound from the engine of this locomotive, its a sound described by some enthusiasts i have spoken to as a sound you cannot beat, and there is the power of these locomotives which these locos are very powerful possibly even more powerful than a 66 or a 68. Those of some of the modern examples of freight locos but even they don't seem as powerful as that of a 60, its no wonder why some companies have still kept them on even if some are still stored, maybe the other operating companies ought to take note and bring them back out into service again so that they can show what they do, and even to this day they are still proving there use.
8. class 52 Westerns
Whats not to love about the Western Hydraulics? okay yes they may have been successful but even these locos had their problems and they only had short working lives but that doesn't mean you can't love them.
The Westerns have always been my choice of the Western Hydraulics, nothing wrong with the others but with the Westerns it should be noted that D1068 achieved a speed of 110 mph whilst working a Reading to Paddington service, that is not something the other Hydraulics have achieved and also with the Westerns that look more graceful and elegant than the Warships, Teddy Bears and the Hymeks, they've always been popular with enthusiasts and it isn't really hard to see why.
and lets not forget that D1015 is still able to run on the mainline to this very day, that shows you doesn't it
7. class 40s
Another elegant looking machine is the class 40, that distinctive sound (though name a heritage loco that doesn't have this) and those characteristic noses at each end and the many nose ends that these had, particularly for me its the split headcode boxes as seen in the image above that i like.
Yes by the time the last examples came out they were already been replaced such as on West Coast Mainline until being replaced with electrics and then when cascaded to the Eastern Region were replaced with the more powerful Deltics and 47s and by the 70s the class 40s became freight locomotivesbut they clinged on in service til 1988 when the pioneer class 40 D200 (40122) was given to the NRM.
and there is quite a few in preservation with 40145 being able to run on the mainline, its been tough and come for them but they have come a long way
6. class 55 Deltics
But what i find interesting with these is that the engines which is where they get their nickname Deltics were originally designed to be used in Motor Torpedo Boats, the Royal Navy later used these on their Dark Fast class boats as well as PT boats and other vessels. Its an engine thats been used by rail and marine, how may Diesel Locos have engines that have been used to power marine forms of transportation or being given marine use full stop? Probably none other than the 55s so that makes these locos unique and significant.
5. class 50s
You cannot deny how popular the 50s have been and were with enthusiasts so much so that 18 of these are now in preservation with three being able to run on the mainline. The front ends of the 50 is also what gives the loco its expression with that bit of detail (not sure what it is for) under the front headlight, its like the 31s in the sense that the front end gives the loco a facial expression.
They have also undergone changes whilst in service as opposed to how they looked when they first came out such as the front headlight, one window blanked off etc. They still weren't without there problems but no locomotive is and they still proved reliable whilst they were in service with BR and Network SouthEast, nothing or anybody is perfect but it doesn't mean they cannot be reliable or successful.
and like with other classic locomotives you get the characteristic sound from the engine that in its own right gives the locomotive more character than the modern era traction and this is the sort of traction that you will hear it before you see it, very much like the 20s, 37s, 40s and 31s.
I'd be very surprised if someone who likes their Diesels out there doesn't like the class 50s as i haven't come across anyone who seems to dislike these. One other thing that probably makes these unique was the cooling fan mechanism making the suction sound which gave them the nickname Hoovers, it was replaced but that nickname still stuck with them afterwards
4. class 20s
What makes the 20s unique from most classes of Diesel Locomotive is the fact that they have only got one cab which in turn was the only issue found with these locomotives which when driven bonnet nose first the visibility was poor so this meant they would often run in pairs of two, sometimes three or even four, despite that though these locos were still a success and were regardless very reliable.
The fact they only have one cab is something you don't get with many Diesels and this design enabled Steam loco practice of sorts. Yes people will start bringing up the class 17, 14 and shunters at this point but the shunters were designed for shunting and aren't really mainline locos, the class 17s were considered failures as they weren't very successful and the class 14s once entered service had their duties taken away from them immediately and they only had 2-3 working lives in service before withdrawal.
Plus the class 17s and the class 14s cab is located in the middle of the loco it isn't located on just the one end like on the 20s. The fact is with the shunters, class 17s and 14s the cab being in the middle meant they didn't need to work in pairs often, with the 20s they did work in pairs so they could be driven both ways without poor visibility for the drivers.
They are different from any other Diesel loco so thats why they are in my top 10 list for Diesel Locomotives
3. class 37s
Whats not to love about the Tractors? that distinctive sound that makes them heard before they are seen and those noses at each end of the loco along with those light configurations very much like the 47s on each end.
But the 37s are one of the few locos that are still going strong on the mainline today, they are in use with Colas Rail, West Coast Railways, Europhoenix own a couple, one preserved example is mainline registered, Network Rail have a few that have been classified the 97s, Rail Operations Group own two of these fine machines and to add to that DRS own several of these.
Yes with DRS one is preserved and many others have been given the chop but they still own plenty of these which many are now in BR Blue Large Logo livery and are working on the Cambrian Coast Line, i must get down there at some point to see them, also many in preservation were sold to Colas to work on the mainline, this just goes to show you that even after being withdrawn (some of them) and that they are now ancient it shows they can still do their job well and with new traction coming over to the UK but with still a shortage of locos maybe its finally time to get the stored classic traction out of storage and put them to use because they are far from life expired and why buy new Diesel Locos when older ones which are much better and just as reliable if not more reliable can still be put to use.
To all operating companies take note of this, its the perfect solution to the problem of lack of Diesel Locomotives, just bring out the older stuff from storage and you'll be amazed and what they can do. They are still continuing to turn heads even on heritage railways.
2. class 56s
In second place on the top 10 it has to be the class 56 Grids. They are one of the more finer examples of a Freight Locomotive in my books, i love the grid styled horn cover on the front ends, the body, those big grills on both sides of the loco and those characteristic screams you get from the engine is not something you get with many locomotives.
I love the Grids on the whole whether its the looks or the screams of their engines whilst working hard pulling long trains, and they are still being put to use today with DCR, Colas Rail and UKRL as well as a few knocking about in preservation and a few recently were sent abroad, and they are showing what these machines can do and what they do best, not many Locos have been sent abroad in recent times well nothing that isn't Modern traction anyway.
It just shows you that it doesn't matter how old something is, it can still work and still do the job it is supposed to do. and i will tell you what the Grids can give the modern traction we see today a run for its money
1. class 47s
You all knew this one was coming from a mile away, anybody who knows me well will know that the 47s are my all time favourite Diesel Loco, a big giveaway is that my channel is named after the 47s.
So why are they my favourite? Well firstly they like many locos in my era where a common sight, they could be seen anywhere and they are still going strong today being used with West Coast Railways, Rail Operations Group and FreightLiner and Tyseley each have one registered for mainline use. DRS up to recently still had them in service but they have know been stored with two being preserved although from time to time the stored locos have been dragged back out for use. Plus the 57s they use are technically 47s but with just different engines and altered bodyshell. A couple of others are still knocking about in service to in various places.
But thats not exclusively what makes them my favourite, i love the looks and the sounds of these locos, plus the big reason why they are my fave is because my great great Granddad worked on the railways both with Steam and Diesel, and the very Diesel he drove, yep you guessed it, it was a 47, i as a matter of fact have a photo of him on my bedroom wall standing next to a 47 that he would have drove and on that particular day he had retired from working on the railways which is when that photo of him was taken and it was even put in the newspaper.
and that is why i love the 47s which is what makes them my all time favourite
Other Favourites/Honorable Mentions
Another fine looking Freight loco is the class 58, its bodyshell is something to admire how the body itself is thinner than the cabs giving it that bone shaped look which is where the nickname Bone came from.
Its a Diesel of days gone, seen regularly during my childhood though sadly no longer in service especially since they were withdrawn when they weren't even life expired, so this remains a mystery to why they were withdrawn because they still had lots of years of life left in them, then they were sent abroad with some staying in the UK or eventually brought back over and again stored out of use. Even the ones abroad now have been stored out of use, or at least the last time i heard of them they were and there has been persistent rumors of them repatriating them for engineering work for the HS1 or HS2 route, something like that.
Three are preserved with one going to be used for parts for a replica of LMS 10000, I can never understood why they were taken out of use because the 60s were still in service and when stored they where then took back into service and are still proving reliable so why not have done the same with these? Yes they suffered from wheel slip and weren't terribly successful but they still proved to reliable regardless.
class 28 Co-Bos
If you were to ask me what the most unique class of Diesel Locomotive is i would chose the Metrovick class 28 Co-Bos, there wheel arrangement is what makes them unique. Yes they were withdrawn within ten years after they entered service because the Crossley 2 stroke engines were unreliable and they also had the cab windows falling out though that was later fixed as well as the engines prone to unacceptable levels of exhaust fumes which were smoky.
How despite this the Co-Bos still proved otherwise reliable despite the unreliability of their engines. One by historical accident even survives today as D5705
Known to you and me as the Peaks they have those distinctive noses which you can have different varieties and the nice engine sounds and like with the 40s have that 1- Co-Co -1 wheel arrangement.
But when it comes to the Peaks there is something about them that makes me like them, can't quite put my finger on it, maybe its just the different nose ends they had, or just the overhaul looks of them, i don't know
Now the Rats have just got to have a mention on here, whats not to like? The sounds, the looks and the sights of this loco are all to admire. None are mainline registered but there are several of them in preservation even though only a few at the time of publishing this blog are in service perhaps its now time to get the others back up and running.
and i suppose i should mention that back in the 70s they could be seen at Bescot, i really do wish someone would invent a time machine
So that brings me onto my top 10 list of my favourite Diesel Locomotives
Until next time, have a good weekend