Building BCDR Diesel No. 2

Denis Bates


No. 2 at Ballynahinch (Denis Bates Collection)
No. 2 at Ballynahinch (Denis Bates Collection)
No. 2 at Ballynahinch (Denis Bates Collection)
No. 2 at Ballynahinch (Denis Bates Collection)

When travelling from Dundrum to Belfast in the 1940s, a journey I often did, one of the sights on the journey was of the Ballynahinch branch train. Although sometimes the branch engine was 2-4-0 No.6, more often it was No.2, the Harland and Wolff diesel electric loco of 1933. Looking like a Co, it was in fact a 1B: the front axle was un-powered, and the other two axles motored. Harland and Wolff tried, with a little success, to break into the diesel market in the 1930’s, supplying engines to the LMS. A diesel shunter was supplied to the NCC, and a Bo-Bo, No.28, to the BCDR.  No.2 (originally numbered D1) was their first diesel electric locomotive, and was described in some detail in The Locomotive (June 15th 1933) and The Oil Engine (May 1933) from which the general arrangement drawing is taken.  The engine was rated at 270hp, and could haul 200 tons up a gradient of 1:100 at 16mph. On the BCDR it spent most of its life on the Ballynahinch branch. As it could not provide steam heating, a set of carriages was modified to provide electric heating. On the closure of BCDR’s main line in 1950, it was sent, together with brake carriage, to provide a short lived service between Newcastle and Castlewellan. It travelled south on Sunday 14th January 1950, illustrated in RM Arnold’s book at Crossgar. I recorded it at Dundrum – it must have travelled via Downpatrick station rather than the Loop Line, as it was cab first at Crossgar, and bonnet first at Dundrum.. Eventually it was returned to Harland and Wolff, and was used by them as a shunter in the shipyards.

No. 2 in what appears to be mint condition (Denis Bates Collection)
No. 2 in what appears to be mint condition (Denis Bates Collection)
No. 2 at Dundrum (Denis Bates Collection)

No. 2 at Dundrum (Denis Bates Collection)

The Model: Chassis
When buying Athearn diesel parts for building my Turfburner model (New Irish Lines…), I measured a number of Athearn diesels. I found that the bogie wheelbases of loco PA-1 were the same as those for No.2. This led me to buy an extra bogie. In addition, a set of gears made by the Ernst Manufacturing Co, of Oregon (listed in Walther’s catalogue) enabled the gear reduction to be increased.


At the time of writing, this loco is not listed in the current Athearn listings, so may be out of production. As with the Turfburner, wheelsets were made up using the Athearn axle muffs, turning stub axles and wheel centres, in conjunction with P4 wheel rims supplied by Alan Gibson. A small Mashima motor and a turned flywheel were mounted on top of the bogie, driving the original Athearn worm wheel and hence the drive train. Leads from the motor were soldered to the chassis side frames, and off the mechanism went. For P4 standards, the centre axle cut outs were filed slightly high to allow the axle more vertical play. The rest of the chassis is composed of the dummy outside frames, buffer beams and footplate. The most distinctive features are the Isothermos axle boxes. These were turned on the lathe, and added to the spring units: I think I trawled through catalogues to find tender springs/axle boxes which seemed closest in appearance. Sprung buffers were again turned.










I originally thought to make the body myself, but eventually asked Joe Magill, who has made some beautiful models of Irish prototypes in both 4 and 7mm scales, to make it for me – so the striking appearance is his. The distinctive louvres were etched to order by Bill Bedford, to artwork that I drew (they now appear in his pricelist). The paintwork is again by Joe Magill.

So No.2 is ready to enter service, when I get some track laid. Baseboards have already been made, and at the moment the thoughts are of the Ardglass branch – either the very simple Ballynoe station, or Ardglass itself, with its turntable and extension to the quay. Ballynoe station still has its full complement of buildings; Ardglass in 2004 had the goods shed, and a very derelict but complete station building.



The Model: Body





Filed under Modelling

9 responses to “Building BCDR Diesel No. 2

  1. Bill Gillespie

    Where can I see this model of No2 H & W Diesel?
    I remember it well on the Ballynahinch branch. I rode on it many times and was allowed to drive it a few times

    • Denis Bates

      I’ve only now spotted this. I live in Aberystwyth, and currently there’s no plans to exhibit the loco anywhere (it did have a few outings on Adavoyle Junction at exhibitions, but that is now in Dublin).

  2. Marc Miller

    We seem to be getting a lot of SPAM postings on here.
    After all, exactly what has the BCDR got to do with GUCCI?
    Maybe its time to change things, only posting from Facebook for example.
    Just a thought!

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