Mystery Rail Grinder

1 May 2009

We have recently received this photograph of this mystery rail grinder but aren't too sure about it's origins.

It was found in a boat yard in Glasgow. It appears to be standard gauge, carries the name "The Vital Spark" and was apparently once owned by "Rail Maintenence Ltd".

If anyone has any information about this machine, please leave a comment below.

Thanks!

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  • Midnight Cowboy

    Midnight Cowboy

    I'd hazard a guess that looking at it's profile, and the front door of the cab, that this machine was used inside tunnels. Also, no buffers or draw gear...Clockwork Orange maybe?

    What ever it was, it looks like the "Vital Spark" found it's way into the rear of the machine, as it appears to have some fire damage at that end.

  • Nick Tompkin avatar

    Nick Tompkin

    According to Companies House, Rail Maintenance Limited had a registered office at Kirkintilloch, Glasgow but was dissolved in 2005 so it may have been at this location for some years.

    It does correspond with the Glasgow Underground theory.

  • cdj

    cdj

    The Kirkintilloch address was previously the European HQ of Loram (its strange to think of Kirkintilloch as the epi centre of anyone's European operations having been until relatively recent times a "dry" town) then Schweerbau UKs HQ. Schweerbau certainly had "light rail" machines bearing at least a passing resemblance to this one. However the Glasgow subway (clockwork orange) connection may be a little tenuous given it's narrower than standard track gauge and severely restricted loading guage profile.

  • Míceál

    Míceál

    I have sent an enquiry to SPT Subway complete with a copy of the photograph in the hope that they can confirm or deny. I had several official visits to the subway in the 1990s and although they had a small and interesting fleet of OTP I don't remember a grinder. I know it is hard to tell from a photo but it "looks" small enough to fit on the Clockwork Orange (which is now longer Orange sadly). 4' 0" is not that much smaller than 4' 8" but as I say hard to tell. Does anyone think it is worth saving?

  • Dave Carson - Rail Audit Services Ltd avatar

    Dave Carson - Rail Audit Services Ltd

    Loram UK did have a rail grinder working on the Glasgow Subway, but it was loco-hauled by one of the lines own battery locos and bore no resemblance to the above vehicle. A photo of the rail grinder in action at Cowcaddens station appears on page 203 of 'Circles under the Clyde' by John Wright & Ian MacLean (Capital Transport, 1997).

  • Míceál

    Míceál

    Six days on from my enquiry to SPT in Glasgow I have had not response whatsoever regarding this machine. I will now pass on the photo to a former rail grinder operator who may know about it through his former employment.

  • Bob Darvill

    Bob Darvill

    The Traction & Rolling Stock Advertiser for April/May 2008 carried an advert from JML Consulting, Glasgow and this was offering quite a bit of equipment for sale from the Glasgow Underground following the completion of a contract.

    This included a 'Self Propelled Rail Grinder' with hydraulic transmission - weight 20 tons. Almost certainly this is the vehicle that has been photographed - I would guess it was acquired for its engine and other parts.

  • Midnight Cowboy

    Midnight Cowboy

    Obviously the cries for "More Shteeeeeeeam" were a little excessive!

  • filmstar76

    filmstar76

    Could it be a ex standard guage LUL machine?????? moved to Glasgow at some point to possibly work on the colckwork orange before Rail Maintainance went bust???

  • Dave Carson - Rail Audit Services Ltd avatar

    Dave Carson - Rail Audit Services Ltd

    To the best of my knowledge that is certainly not an ex LUL machine, it would never have been allowed to get into that state if it was in London and besides, not only the 8.5 inches gauge difference between Glasgow and London, there is also a considerable tunnel diameter difference. Glasgow is 11 feet diameter and the smallest London diameter is 11 feet 8.25 inches.

    Sorry filmstar76, your theory doesn't work out!

  • Barry Cooper

    Barry Cooper

    As rail grinders seem to have an affinity with Kirkintilloch and this has a bit of a light rail Schwerbauesque (I thought of that word all by myself) appearance, has anybody

    got any contacts at Schwerbau U.K.? Might be someone there who'll say "Ah, yes"

  • Dave Carson - Rail Audit Services Ltd avatar

    Dave Carson - Rail Audit Services Ltd

    Correction!!! It looks nothing like RGU2000 which appears on this site (type RGU2000 in the search box), nor does it look anything like its 3-4-wheeled vehicles predecessor where the loco was a centre-cab 4wh diesel, hauling two 40wh, low bodied wagons with the grinding gear and the dust supression equipment. I know, because I saw this train being off-loaded at Upminster Depot in 2002 when it came to work on the east end of the District Line.

    We all got Schweerbau baseball caps as a 'freebie' for our hospitality and help we gave Schweerbau during that time!

  • Lee Taylor

    Lee Taylor

    Has there been any mention of the Glasgow boatyard address where the grinder was pictured along with the date of the picture. Is the machine still there?

  • Ben Williams avatar

    Ben Williams Editor

    Apparently it is at Rothsay dock, Dock St, West Dunbartonshire G81 1, UK and was still there 2 weeks ago apparently

  • Ben Williams avatar

    Ben Williams Editor

    Yes - apologies I didn't read the key sentence properly!

  • Jon Horswell

    Jon Horswell

    Made from old scrap parts and never used. It looks like nothing but scrap now. Someone should put it out of its misery once and for all.

  • cdj

    cdj

    "According to a local photographer - Jonathan McGurk and SPT, they both have been examining this and a companion vehicle and has been identified as the Glasgow Underground Rail Grinder" Given the gentleman's assertion that the vehicle had a missing wheelset and that the adjacent vehicle (a small river tug) was a companion vehicle, I'm dubious, to say the least, as to this explaination: "abroad's" 11/909 answers seem a lot more likely. Can some one please check the track gauge which should settle any lingering doubt!

  • Midnight Cowboy

    Midnight Cowboy

    I mentioned else where that the "Navigation Lights" on the cabin roof of the accompanying vehicle were perhaps a give away that it was in actual fact "a boat", and not part of this "Grinder".

  • Ben Williams avatar

    Ben Williams Editor

    I've seen the photos and the vehicle in front is definitely not a rail vehicle!

    http://jonathanmcgurk.fotopic.net/c1771537_1.html

  • Ben Williams avatar

    Ben Williams Editor

    The yellow vehicle that has appeared in front of the grinder in the last few weeks (it wasn't there when we visited earlier this month) - named "The Witch" - is also a boat. You can see the T shaped metal brackets to attach ropes for mooring and the wooden fenders along the side and tyre at the back are also big clues!

    I should also mention that the comment from "Abroad" above comes from a Schweerbau employee...

  • Dave Shell - Northumbria Rail Ltd.

    Dave Shell - Northumbria Rail Ltd.

    The yellow thing in front that some people are trying to pass off as a loco is a ruddy tug boat - I think some people are just throwing stuff into the mix to cloud the issue. Shame Jonathan was too bothered about taking arty shots of spade terminals of wires rather than lay on the ground and take a photo of the axles to show the rail gauge.

  • Ben Williams avatar

    Ben Williams Editor

    We try to cover all aspects of OTP news, and this was an item we felt would create some interest (and it has certainly done that!) but is now getting out of hand as you say.

    Thanks to all who have contributed - issue closed!

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