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D5512 is a Pilot Scheme engine , one of the original 20 of cl 31/0 which had Red Circle multiple coupling code equipment (and thus incompatible with the emerging Blue Star standard , which all subsequent Brush 2s had)

As such they were kept in a small area and spent their entire career at Stratford shed (30A later SF) in E. London , and were very much associated with the southern end of the GE. They were known to their crews and spotters as "toffee apples" because of the shape of the drivers control . Part way through the subsequent build (D5561 onward) 4 digit headcode boxes were added to the cab roof and D5530-60 were subsequently retrofitted. The early locos without headcode boxes became known as "skinheads" to spotters. In the end there were 263 in the class. 31 018 , pictured at the NRM York, was originally D5500 , the class leader , delivered to Stratford in 10/57; D5512 was delivered to Stratford in June 1958, and withdrawn from there in Nov 1976. She became 31 012 in Apr 1974 , so TOPS numbers were only carried briefly...[Source: Marsden BR D+E Loco Directory]

Although TOPS class 30 was allocated to unreengined locos, the re-engining programme was completed before TOPS numbers were applied

A Pilot Scheme Brush 2 makes a good companion for a Pilot Scheme 20 since the first batch of 20s went to Devons Road , Bow also in E. London , but on the LT&S - when that shed closed in 1964, some of the 20s there went to the Eastern Region and Stratford depot. We'll have Doug modelling the Great Eastern yet!

Hornby are offering a range of Brush 2s . I have 31 270, an unrefurbished 31/1 with headcode box in BR Blue; they have also done a refurbished 31 in engineer's "dutch" livery. Refurbishment involved visually loss of the body bands, and removal of the buffer beam cowling, and took place from the mid 80s onward.

Visually there was no difference between 31/1s and 31/4s of the original conversion batch . The first batch of 31/4 conversions (to 31 425) took place in 1974-5, the second batch from 1983 onward . This was at the time when 31/4s replaced the old 123 DMUs on Transpennine South services from Cleethorpes/Hull to Manchester via Sheffield. I remember photographing 31 435 at Grimsby, gleaming, obviously ex works , and very visibly refurbished by the smooth bodyside. In the 80s when I know them , the 31/4s were particularly associated with the Birmingham -Norwich route (MR had most of the first batch) and with Transpennine South and the Cleethorpes/Newark trains (IM locos)

Although they were not percieved as powerful by spotters (the nickname "Ped" allegedly stood for "pedestrian") they weren't quite as mediocre as suggested. I've timed a 31 at 90mph down Stoke Bank with 8 on a Skegness -Cambridge SO service (a battered looking 31 242 of IM) - riding in the aging Mk1 was a touch lively at that speed, and speeds of 80mph or better could be reached in favourable locations on the Transpennine route , admittedly with a featherweight 4 or 5 coaches. They were less comfortable on gradients . The Hope Valley line is heavily graded and the near continuous 1 in 100 from Sheffield would pull them down to about 50mph near the summit beyond Edale , and the climb from Hazel Grove to Chinley at slightly less severe grades meant the loco under full power at about 60mph all the way

Until 1967 they were very much confined to the original ER , south of Doncaster , but thereafter spread their wings. Some went to the WR to replace hydraulics and cross country services took them well into the LMR

They are still with us , just - the current 2007 Platform 5 combined volume still lists 11 31/1s and 14 31/4s, plus 2 31/6s. One of the latter 31 601 must be the only British loco on the national network ever to be named after a model railway group (the Gauge O Guild). Network Rail have 7 , painted overall yellow, for test trains. They are the only locos capable of working down the Widened Lines on LT in London , so a small pool of 31s has to be retained for engineers trains whenever Thameslink 2000 finally happens

The Hornby model has all wheel pickup and therefore runs very smoothly and surely - when you turn the controller it moves and it doesn't stall on pointwork. I helped operate a small terminus layout at a show a few months back - mostly the locos were Hornby 31s but there was also a former Lima 27 - beautifully detailed by a well known modeller and given what mechanical assistance he could , but not half as good a runner as the Hornby 31s

The couplers have the swallow tail mounts , which I believe is NEM363? - not the NEM362 plug in boxes - something Hornby rectified on the subsequent cl 60.

To my taste the lights are far too intense,. Loco lights in the 70s and 80s were dim yellow things , only really visible at night. High intensity lights came in in the 90s

Not cheap new, but a tremendous bargain if you got one second-hand for £30!!

(And yes I do have a soft spot for 31s)
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