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Nuclear Experiment with Class 46

Discussion in 'Diesel & Electric Traction' started by conireland, Jan 11, 2010.

  1. conireland

    conireland Member

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    In science there was a program shown about an experiment using a Peak Class 46 locomotive and, I believe, a nuclear source, this was to prove the safety of the container that the nuclear source was contained in. Is there any information about the Class 46 used. According to the program, it was running at almost 100mph at impact, suffice to say that it was destroyed and written off after the experiment. I'm also fairly sure that the program said the experiment was in the 80's, perhaps 1987.

    Thanks in advance
     
  2. Vilma

    Vilma New Member

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    I remember seeing this on TV. The loco had the Dead Mans Handle (treadle) overridden and granstands were set up for spectators to watch the crash!

    The idea was to test the strength of the nuclear flasks used to transport waste to Sellafield/Winscale and the point of impact on the flask was calculated to be the weakest point.

    Naturally, since the experiment was to be shown live and recorded the results showed the results the authorities wanted and the flask survived unscathed. The loco and I think four coaches were destroyed. It was pretty spectacular!

    Can't recall the number of the loco though, but someone will know...
     
  3. thegrimeater

    thegrimeater Member

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    [video=youtube;lHtRZ_k0s7M]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lHtRZ_k0s7M[/video]

    BBC news report of it
     
  4. buseng

    buseng Part of the furniture

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    Bit about it here, scroll down a bit.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Rail_Class_46
     
  5. Bean-counter

    Bean-counter Part of the furniture

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    I think the loco was 46 009. The coaches were Maek 1s - 3 - 2 SKs and a TSO.

    Clip here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zJflu7z4QyI

    Interestingly, the Mark 1s didn't override and the SKs remained almost undamaged (considering what they had just been through). The seats and tables of the TSO all ended up at one end, which could have caused consdierable injury in a real crash but would have absorbed plenty of energy by prolonging the actual impact and motion from it.

    None of this was referred to when Mark 1s were made illegal due to safety concerns.

    Steven
     
  6. Martin Perry

    Martin Perry Nat Pres stalwart Staff Member Moderator

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    I don't think that there were any grandstands or spectators.
    The lack of override damage to the MkI stock was possibly due to a number of factors; the 133 ton battering ram in front of them, the fact that the flask/wagon was relatively light and the fact that there were only three vehicles (i.e there was not a large trailing load)
     
  7. 60017

    60017 Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    Stands were constructed for invited guests. It was a good day out :)
     
  8. conireland

    conireland Member

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    At 1:25, what is that in the cab, fairly central to the cab? What controlled the speed of the loco (throttle, reverser etc), I'm presuming that there was no driver in the cab due to the impending dangers.
     
  9. Tynwald

    Tynwald New Member

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  10. 50002

    50002 Member

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    At the time, what I found rather amusing about this staged crash was the reaction of the NIMBY brigade. For years they had been calling for such a test to be done. Now it had been done they complained it was not done in a realistic way - the 46 was not being driven by a real driver.
     
  11. 60017

    60017 Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    They also suggested that the coaches were 'made lighter' and the locomotive had its structural strength reduced to ensure it would not exert too much force on the flask!
     
  12. yec2521

    yec2521 New Member

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    strangely i was watching this on youtube only yesterday. The test was in summer 1984 and was a test by the central electricity generating board (cegb) rather than by BR. the test was to see how a nuclear flask would stand up to a worst case scenario impact. several tests had been done before by dropping a flask from a crane onto a corner where the lid fitted which would be a weak point and which showed that the flask did actually momentarily leak but not to a dangerous level. The test comprised running an average type of loco in more or less everyday service so a class 46 loco which was a class being withdrawn was used the fact it was also the heaviest type of loco then running on BR helped. Only 3 mk 1 coaches were used as the scientists said that there would have been no more scientific knowledge gained by using more and that 3 were an ample amount to recreate the conditions of a crash. On the day of the test the loco was started from about 9 miles away from the actual crash site on the old dalby test site.The loco was fitted with a brake lever/cock on the outside of the loco just under the drivers side cab. the loco was run up against the brakes at i'm presuming full speed the driver then climbed down and released the brake via the lever/cock on the cabside. the train then started its final journey towards the flask which it hit some minutes later at nearer 90 mph than 100mph. after the crash the flask was pressure tested and had found to have lost about .02 bar a negligable amount. BR also apparently used the crash to test some new equipment in the coaches some tables and chairs i believe. after the test the wreckage of the loco and coaches was sold to vic berry's scrap merchants of leicester who cut it up on site. a short while later greenpeace claimed the test was rigged by placing the flask with the weakest point away from the point of impact, by loosening the power unit so it would make the loco lighter on impact and the power unit would detatch and not hit the flask, that the coaches had been weighed down so upon impact they wouldnt fly up in the air and land back on the flask and that the loco used in the test was one that was specially chosen because would disintergrate upon impact rather that do damage to the flask, all of which the cegb denied. as railway enthusiasts know the accusations of rigging dont really hold water. especially the one about loosening the power unit.
     
  13. dace83

    dace83 Well-Known Member

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    Are any flasks taken by road any more?

    I know the local rail one to me is traffic from Sizewell A to Sellafield which I would love to see one day.
    Thank goodness the test was a success or we would have no DRS!
     
  14. yec2521

    yec2521 New Member

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    there is on one of the video's a clip taken from the cab just asd its about to hit the flask so it could well be a camera that we see. the camera would be in a reinforced case so its maybe that that looks so big in the middle of the cab
     
  15. simon

    simon Resident of Nat Pres

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    we would, the flasks would have just have been redesigned.
     
  16. MarkinDurham

    MarkinDurham Well-Known Member

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    How typical of the likes of Greenpeace to attempt to belittle the science (in this case a very practical and realistic test) just because they didn't like the result... I still watch that video sequence with amazement - it's like that one where the Smart car hits the big concrete block at great speed - the car doors can still open, although the science says that any occupants would die simply because of the forces of deceleration.
     
  17. Woodster21

    Woodster21 Member

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    Slightly off topic i was present when the HSE were testing cup and cone attachments to Mk 1 stock at Rowsley (Peak Rail) during the early (mid?)1990's. This involved Penyghent propelling 2 carriages from Church Lane Crossing and releasing them at approximately 40mph into 2 stationary Mk1's at Rowsley South. Never really found out what the result was.
     
  18. streuth

    streuth New Member

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    I'm not a Greenpeace activist, but I'm not sure it was a "worst case" test.
    There's no doubt in my mind that the test was as stringent as it needed to be. I would have thought that some of the drop tests could easily be more aggressive than that of the rail test in 1984.

    My point is simple, the flask wasn't apparently trapped between the locomotive, and anything substantial. Seems to me that it's like kicking a football. Loads of smoke and dust, plenty of bent metal, but the forces on the container are relatively small. To get the energy of the train into the flask you have to have a couple of hundred tons of concrete directly behind the flask.

    There's no doubt in my mind that the test was publicity stunt, to prove to the masses that the flasks were safe, even though they were already known to be as safe as they could practically be. Unfortunately there's just no drama in a drop test.

    The reality is that there are very few places where a piece of track stops dead at a 200 ton concrete wall........

    .......Except perhaps a siding that leads up to the face of a narrow bridge.

    I just hope the handling constraints cover these scenarios.
     
  19. Mr Davo

    Mr Davo New Member

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    One of the buffers from the 46 is in a case at the NRM's warehouse, it was with a photo highlighting it flying through the air, although last time I saw it it had bacome quite anonymous - just a mangled buffer in a glass cabinet.

    I remember at the time them saying that the pressure in the flask had hardly dropped - my legal training made me think 'Ah!, so it leaked then!'
     
  20. Vulcan

    Vulcan New Member

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