Day 4: What’s in a Spares Box?

Day 4: Drawer 4: Pick-Ups & Springs


Pick ups shouldn’t really wear out on locomotives, but can get snagged, twisted or snapped and so keeping some spares is not a bad idea. Springs are slightly more delicate and once bent out of shape are very difficult to “reshape” and the best option is usually to use a new one. The springs have a dual function, being used both as a brush spring and also as a coupling spring. It is exactly the same spring and can be interchanged.

So, once again, starting at the top left and then moving right;

Small diesel pick ups – quite fiddly to install and consist of two different pick ups on each side of the gear tower. One for making contact with the back of the wheel and another to make contact with the chassis block.

Next we have large diesel pick ups for classes 37/47 etc. Not so tricky to fit and again brush the backs of the wheels for electrical pick up. The arms which brush the wheel backs need to be set correctly for optimal running. This will be discussed in a later article.

Some locomotive pick ups come next (also used in the Class 08). I very rarely have a need for these, since nearly all of the work I do in on diesels.

Fourth compartment along the top we have pick up arms and brush holders. The pick up arms are bolted onto the underneath of the chassis for larger diesels such as classes 37/47 and make contact with a plate on the pick ups. The brush holders are small brass cylinders into which the brush drops and is held in place by the brush spring.

Next you see some rather longer springs. You probably won’t have come across these unless your are the owner of a class 158/159. The design of these units was rather unconventional by Graham Farish standards and the spring you see here runs down each side of the gear tower, making contact with wheel pick ups at the bottom and the chassis at the top. Not commonly available but they are stocked by BR Lines.

Top right and we have a compartment split into two. It houses some old class 87/90 pick ups and also used springs. As said previously, it’s always a good idea to keep used parts, since they can often be re-used and possibly repaired. Even a bent spring, whilst perhaps no good for the brushes, might be okay as a coupling spring.

Middle row left we see class 31 pick ups. Slightly different in shape from the class 37/47 pick ups but essentially the same concept.

Next we see a compartment split into two. Here’s it’s class 87/90 and class 91 pick ups.

Just before the srpings compartment we see used pick up arms and brush holders, together with class 158/159 pick ups.

The springs compartment – what can I say? Easily damaged if not careful and so a good stock of these is essential. Very fiddly to separate when the get tangled up in storage too!

To the right of the springs compartment we see used large diesel (class 37/47 etc.) pick ups. No need to throw them away – they might come in handy one day and with a bit of tweaking they are perfectly reusable!

Lastly it’s a split compartment and the only thing you can see there are used small diesel pick ups. Again, perfectly usable.

At the bottom we see some chassis halves from class 87/90’s – most probably from a spares lot acquired. One day I shall get around to building a chassis using two of the halves! The piece of metal bottom left I believe is a weight which was found in a DMU.

So, as you can see, it’s worth keeping replaced parts as they may well come in handy in the future. Having a large stock of spares does give you the luxury of being able to swap old parts for new, keeping the old in reserve in case it is later needed.

Please check back tomorrow when we’ll be on Day 5 looking at Drawer No. 5: Bogie Frames.

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