Diesel Dilemmas – top page

D5901 is pictured propelling the “Auto Wagon” into the “Transfer” frame erected on the Mickleover Test Track. The picture was taken in 1971. Derek Jackson collection

Arrived at the Railway Technical Centre (RTC), Derby in late Summer 1969 from Finsbury Park.  From sightings submitted it would appear it remained there until the following Autumn. 


Probably in late 1970, D5901 was transferred to the Electrical Engineering section, for use initially to carry out “Manual Speed Datum” trials, where the driver would select a vehicle speed rather than engine power and the control system would automatically accelerate to and maintain that speed. Braking to a lower speed would be assisted by regenerative braking. The Mickleover test track from Derby Friargate to Eggington Junction was used for the trials. 

In 1971 the control system design was modified for a project called “Auto Wagon” which was to enable “Self-Powered” freight containers vehicles to be automatically routed to and from private sidings and automatically load or offload containers using a hydraulically powered “Transfer” frame. A project 25 years ahead of it’s time which was successfully demonstrated to the British Rail Board at Mickleover and was featured on “Tomorrow’s World” by Raymond Baxter!

Since neither time nor finance was available to design and produce the self-powered vehicle, D5901 was used as the power which was connected to a container flat vehicle via a safety match wagon. A siding was constructed on the Mickleover test site where an automatic transfer frame was designed and erected to load or offload a container on to the flat vehicle. The simulated self-powered container vehicle collected a container, then automatically accelerated out of the siding towards Eggington junction under the control of track to train transducers. Here it stopped and returned towards the siding at 40kph slowing down to 16kph before turning into the siding.  Once on the siding it automatically slowed to 8kph under partial power and brake control then to 0.8kph for the final 25 metres, power removed at the response of the trackside transducer and the whole vehicle stopped directly under the transfer frame where the container was lifted off the flat automatically.

The lack of any Derby sightings between August 1970 and March 1972 suggests D5901 was based at Mickleover throughout that period in connection with these projects. 

Sightings suggest that from the Autumn of 1972 D5901 replaced  S15705 as the regular locomotive on the Tribometer Train, although it may have also been used for other test trains. The Tribometer train was formed of Auto-trailer coach RDB975076, van 999900 and Laboratory Coach 22 RDB975036 and was used for Mobile Addhesion Testing.  The Railway Magazine have given permission for their Mobile Adhesion Testing article from the June 1973 edition to be incuded in this dilemma.  D5901 continued to be primarily used on the Tribometer Train until it was taken out of use towards the end of 1975 and left Derby on 18th February 1976 destined for scrapping at Doncaster Works. Its role as regular motive power for the Tribometer Train being taken by Class 24 24061 (ex D5061) which was renumbered RDB968007.

Please submit any sightings you may have made of D5901 from the Summer of 1969 until the Spring of 1976 to Peter Hall. Those of it working the Tribometer or other test trains away from the Derby area will be of particular interest.

Our thanks to Derek Jackson for his information about the “Manual Speed Datum” and “Auto Wagon” Trials. 

Sightings for D5901

LocoLocationDateSeen by
D5901Derby RTC28/09/1969RO Nov 1969 page 368 
D5901Derby RTC05/10/1969Bob Stone 
D5901Derby RTC11/04/1970Bob Stone 
D5901Derby RTC13/06/1970Robert Mullins 
D5901Toton02/08/1970p.584 10/70 RM 
D5901Derby RTC08/08/1970Robert Mullins 
D5901Derby29/08/1970Brian Cuttell 
D5901Derby RTC00/03/1972Mike Martin 
D5901Derby RTC12/04/1972Paul Green 
D5901Derby RTC17/04/1972Paul Green 
D5901Derby RTC30/05/1972Paul Green 
D5901Derby RTC01/07/1972Robert Mullins 
D5901Derby RTC09/07/1972Paul Green 
D5901Derby RTC16/07/1972Paul Green 
D5901Derby RTC09/08/1972Paul Green 
D5901Leicester05/10/1972R Mag Dec 1972 pp 665 
D5901Wolverhampton (Tribometer Train)06/10/1972Geoffrey F. Bannister 
D5901Wolverhampton (Tribometer Train)16/10/1972p.51 1/73 RM 
D5901Wolverhampton (Tribometer Train)18/10/1972p.51 1/73 RM 
D5901Wolverhampton (Tribometer Train)20/10/1972p.51 1/73 RM 
D5901Mill Hill Broadway23/10/1972p.51 1/73 RM 
D5901Leicester TMD27/10/1972Phil Bell 
D5901Derby RTC16/12/1972Phil Bell 
D5901Harpenden02/01/1973p.159 3/73 RM 
D5901Mill Hill13/02/1973p.261 5/73 RM 
D5901Derby RTC18/02/1973Phil Bell 
D5901Derby RTC24/02/1973Phil Bell 
D5901Derby RTC18/03/1973Tom Bartlett 
D5901Derby RTC08/04/1973Stewart Hookins 
D5901Derby RTC20/05/1973Stewart Hookins 
D5901Derby RTC20/05/1973Paul Green 
D5901Leicester (Tribometer Train)03/06/1973Gerry Desmond 
D5901Derby RTC23/06/1973Paul Green 
D5901Dore (Tribometer Train)31/07/1973Peter Hall 
D5901Derby RTC05/08/1973Stewart Hookins 
D5901Derby RTC11/08/1973Tom Bartlett 
D5901Derby RTC11/08/1973Tom Bartlett 
D5901Derby RTC13/08/1973Paul Green 
D5901Derby RTC16/08/1973Paul Green 
D5901Derby RTC25/08/1973Paul Green 
D5901Derby RTC28/08/1973Tom Bartlett 
D5901Chesterfield30/08/1973Tom Bartlett 
D5901Derby31/08/1973Tom Bartlett 
D5901Chesterfield (Tribometer Train)04/09/1973Peter Crawley 
D5901Clay Cross (1Z22)13/09/1973Brian Cuttell 
D5901Derby RTC29/09/1973Gerry Desmond 
D5901Dronfield (Tribometer Train)04/10/1973Peter Hall 
D5901Stafford (Tribometer Train)12/11/1973Neil Phillips 
D5901Derby RTC08/12/1973Paul Green 
D5901Crewe engine sidings07/01/1974p.204 4/74 RM 
D5901Derby Etches Park18/05/1974A Ledwick 
D5901Derby RTC22/06/1974Paul Green 
D5901Derby RTC30/06/1974Guy Tritton 
D5901Derby RTC04/08/1974Peter Hall 
D5901Derby28/08/1974Brian Cuttell 
D5901Derby30/08/1974Brian Cuttell 
D5901Derby RTC31/08/1974Stewart Hookins 
D5901Derby RTC31/08/1974Gerry Desmond 
D5901Derby RTC31/08/1974Paul Green 
D5901Derby RTC21/09/1974Paul Green 
D5901Derby22/09/1974Tom Bartlett 
D5901Derby RTC28/09/1974Paul Green 
D5901Derby RTC07/10/1974Paul Green 
D5901Derby08/10/1974Brian Cuttell 
D5901Derby RTC (stabled)31/12/1974Keith Riley 
D5901Derby RTC25/01/1975Paul Green 
D5901Derby RTC22/03/1975Ian Prince 
D5901Derby RTC29/03/1975Rob Stpne 
D5901Derby RTC27/04/1975Ian Prince
D5901Lincoln St. Marks (Tribometer Train)18/06/1975Paul Cooke 
D5901Lincoln St. Marks (Tribometer Train)19/06/1975p.259 8/75 RO 
D5901Boultham Crossing (Tribometer Train)19/06/1975Steve Webster 
D5901Lincoln St. Marks (Tribometer Train)20/06/1975p.259 8/75 RO 
D5901Derby RTC16/08/1975Peter Hall 
D5901Derby30/08/1975Tom Bartlett 
D5901Derby RTC30/08/1975Paul Green 
D5901Derby07/09/1975Tom Bartlett 
D5901Doncaster Works06/04/1976Kevin Watson 
D5901Doncaster Works13/06/1976Ian Prince 
D5901Doncaster Works15/08/1976Tom Bartlett 
D5901Doncaster Works12/09/1976Tom Bartlett 
D5901Doncaster Works31/10/1976Ian Prince 
D5901Doncaster Works28/11/1976Ian Prince 
D5901Doncaster Works20/01/1977Paul Carpenter 
D5901Doncaster Works23/01/1977P.14 Traction 02/07 
D5901Doncaster Works27/01/1977Paul Green 

This page is maintained by Peter Hall.