Class 117 DMU
When first introduced, these units were all based with the similar Class 121 single carriage (railcar) units, on British Railways’ Western Region for suburban work out of London Paddington and Cornwall. The units were largely based at Southall, and Plymouth Laira depots; they were all built by Pressed Steel between 1959 and 1961.
Originally a 3-car unit, our Class 117 has an important position in the history of the Epping Ongar Railway, being the first passenger-carrying train in the EOR’s Preservation History. It is formed of Driving Motor Standard (DMS) No.51384, pictured right, and Driving Motor Brake Standard (DMBS) No.51342, pictured below.
Between 2004 and 2008, the unit valiantly operated the Sunday services of the fledgling Epping Ongar Railway. It was then decided to give the unit some much needed love and attention. A start was made on the interior, including re-upholstering the seats and replacing the interior wall and ceiling panels.
The exterior also required serious attention, with numerous leaks being found, and supports needing replacement. Both driving cabs have been refurbished, and new linoleum flooring fitted. The DMS has had a new roof fitted, and been rubbed down in preparation for a repaint into BR Green with 'whiskers'.
With windows on the partition between the driving cabs and passenger compartments, these types of DMUs have proven themselves popular with passengers, particularly small children, as they can see both the line ahead and the driver at the controls.
Status: DMBS Undergoing extensive restoration; DMS operational.
Class 121 DTS
To boost capacity on some services, a fleet of ten driving trailers were built to work with the Class 121 bubble car units. They were almost identical in build, with the exception of being unpowered vehciles.
W56287 was built by Pressed Steel Ltd. in 1961 and spent most of its working life on the Paddington to Oxford route, as well as some of the surrounding branch lines. It was one of two of the fleet to be fitted with a corridor connection in 1988; the second vehcile, 56289 has also survived into preservation. Withdrawn June 1993, it spent time at other heritage lines in the east of England, before being hired in to create an operational DMU, currently being paired with our Class 117 DMS.
Class 205 'Thumper' DEMU
We have one 2-car DEMU on the railway, a 1957 "Hampshire" Class 205 unit, commonly known as a "Thumper".
These diesel-electric multiple units (DEMU) were once common on many commuter lines and nicknamed "Thumpers" due to the characteristic noise they produce.
205205 is the only unit with a corridor connection, having been experimentally converted and ‘modernised.’ Because of this, it was saved for preservation. Following 47 years of service, 205205 was withdrawn at Selhurst on 23 July 2004; on that day, the unit had worked the 07:26 Uckfield to London Bridge service, terminating at East Croydon. That November, it was hauled to Tonbridge West Yard for store, before continuing to St Leonards in December, for engine repairs. Following a return to Tonbridge in March 2005, it was then sold to the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, though was little used owing to a broken fan clutch. It was sold to the EOR, and arrived in 2009.
The unit successfully re-entered service during the 2013 Autumn diesel gala, and has been a regular performer on the line since, proving popular with families, enthusiasts and even the volunteer crews themselves.
Status: Undergoing repairs.