Date Built: 2009- Present
Engine: Peugeot XUD 1900cc Diesel
Alternator: 50RVA Meccalte
Manufacturer: Built on-site at LSR
The diesel railcar "The Gherkin" was built when the railway was presented with two of the ex-London Post Office tube railway vehicles by Adrian Shooter. These provided a pair of wheelsets with axle-hung 400 volt DC traction motors. These were incorporated into a new arch bar bogie. The rig was tested on the Ffestiniog Railway during their Quirks and Curiosities event in 2010, powered by a Lombardini diesel generator. So encouraging were the trials that a diesel electric railcar began construction.
Power is derived from a Peugeot XUD 1900cc diesel engine direct coupled to a 50RVA Meccalte alternator producing up to 440 volts, 3 phase AC. The output is rectified and fed to the two traction motors of about 20 H.P. Control is achieved by varying the field excitation of the alternator. Braking is achieved through means of air brakes. The driveshaft was altered in June 2012 to overcome the effects of torsional oscillation. The following year, the cooling system and a key system was installed so that only one driving control could be used at one time.
The nickname of the railcar, 'The Gherkin', comes from a "Don't try this at home" experiment conducted by Jeremy Clarkson involving the insertion of mains voltage into a pickled gherkin; the episode was bought to a friend's mind during the electrical trials and so stuck the nickname of 'The Gherkin'.
Framework and Decorative Details
A number of seats were purchased for the railcar in April 2010 from the Blackpool Tramway; these are the 'reversible' type so passengers can choose their desired orientation of travel.
In August 2011, work started on building the steel chassis for the railcar. At 36 feet (approximately 11m) long. The framework consists of a number of steel box-section crossmembers that connect to the side members. Box section trusses sit on these side members to allow for the engine and alternator to mount in a cradle under the floor for easy access.
The window frames have all been made on-site, featuring a decorative bezel to each. The top windows are hinged to allow airflow. The exterior paintwork will closely replicate that of the existing carriages used on the railway.