The DHR attempt at oil-firing!

Oil firing locomotive are engines that burn oil to heat water to produce the steam. Here we look at the oil-firing trials of the DHR ‘B’ Class locomotives 787, 2001 and 2002.

Oil fired 787 in 2006 (2006-07) by DHRS ArchiveDarjeeling Himalayan Railway Society

To evaluate an oil-firing system for the Darjeeling ‘B’ Class locomotive, No. 787 was sent to Golden Rock works for installation of the first experiment in May 2002. It returning to the DHR six months later with a forced draft system which was highly unusual for a steam locomotive. It did complete it's trial, but took over four hours to complete just 10km! Two more systems were tried in 2004 and 2006. All were totally unsuccessful and the project was abandoned.

Oil fired 787 in 2002 (2002-01) by DHRS ArchiveDarjeeling Himalayan Railway Society

The short-lived first system from November 2002.

The left side of the 787 shows the centrifugal combustion air fan driven by a small Greaves diesel engine.

Oil fired 787 in 2002 (2002-01) by DHRS ArchiveDarjeeling Himalayan Railway Society

The right side of the 787 shows the tangle of ancillary pipework connected with the air compressor.

Oil fired 787 in 2004 (2004-02) by DHRS ArchiveDarjeeling Himalayan Railway Society

B787 seen at Siliguri Junction shed in 2004, shows the second system.

The louvered panels were an attempt to reduce the highly unacceptable noise.

Siliguri Junction station and its painted platform.

The main locomotive shed is at Siliguri Junction, having moved here in 2003 from New Jalpaigur.

It is worth noting that prior to 1950 there was NO railway here at all. The station at New Jalpaiguri, Siliguri Junction and the broad-gauge line from Siliguri Town did not exist. What you see today is a direct result of the Assam Rail Link built in great haste after relations with East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) turned sour and closed the only railway line from Calcutta.

Today, we have word that the OLD route from Calcutta (now Kolkata) via Haldibari is to reopen in 2019. A time for special tours we think!

787 on the scrap line in 2015 by DHRS ArchiveDarjeeling Himalayan Railway Society

March 2015: Locomotive 787, the original oil-fired loco, looking in a very sad state as it slowly looses its parts.

However, there are plans to restore it as a coal-fired locomotive and in early 2018 work appeared to have been started.

There is always "hope" with the DHR!

Oil fired 1002 in 2006 by David ChurchillDarjeeling Himalayan Railway Society

2006: The newly-built B-1002 "Himanand" seen here at Siliguri shed. It was fitted with a gravity-fed oil burner designed by Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL).

It arrived at Siliguri in March 2005. Trails were deemed a failure without the locomotive even leaving the confines of the loco depot. B2002 remained untouched until returning to Golden Rock in March 2006.

Image missing

B1001 at Siliguri Shed in February 2007 after being fitted with the "Stage 4" Ffestinig system. Following further unsuccessful trials and in view of an improved coal supply situation, a decision was taken, in Autumn 2007, to terminate the oil firing work on the DHR.

Oil fired 787 in 2006 (2006-02) by David Wilding DHRS ArchiveDarjeeling Himalayan Railway Society

787 underwent further modifications and is shown here on February 5, 2006 undergoing further trials. These again proved to be unsuccessful.

Credits: Story

Compiled by David Charlesworth GRA. Editor of The Darjeeling Mail and a Director and founder Member of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Society. Technical help was from David Churchill, the Society's Technical Officer.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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