Translator Vehicles

In days gone by coupling of vehicles was a relatively straightforward job, first the three-link, then the screw-link were the order of the day and they happily matched other vehicles with similar equipment. The buckeye was introduced for coaching stock, but these are attached to a three-link hook and can simply be folded down should a non-buckeye vehicle (e.g. the train locomotive) need to couple up to the coach concerned. The buffers are of reduced size for buckeye use but are simply pulled out to extend them to the length required for a screw or three-link attachment. A saddle sits on the shank of the buffer to stop it moving back in again.
However, with today's railway things are nowhere near as simple with different types of coupling in use which are frequently incompatible with other stock. Obviously it is not much of a problem as, for example, one "tightlock" fitted Networker is only going to be coupled to another. However, there are times when there is a need to couple stock with incompatible fittings, e.g. when dragging a failed unit for repair, and to do this special Translator Vehicles are used. The idea is so simple, one that has been used on model railways for many, many years, consisting of a vehicle with different couplings at each end!
975864 Translator vehicle ADB975864 being used to couple a class 47 loco to a new networker unit at Clapham Junction c.1992.

photograph by John Lewis.

A similar emu translator vehicle ADB975867 being used to couple a class 47 loco to unit 313020 which was being taken to either Selhurst or Chart Leacon. The train is coming off the West London line at Clapham Junction.

photograph by John Lewis.


photograph by John Lewis.

View of part of Clapham Junction sidings in the blue & grey era. A class 455 has just been delivered in a train with air piped goods brake van 954697 and a translator coach ADB 975971. This last was originally an RUO E1054. The goods brake van was one of those given air brake pipes in 1966/67 at Ashford. The yellow markings were to indicate that it was air piped. Curiously the end marking is slightly wider than standard and the side marking rather narrower - normally this covered three planks on either side of the lookout. A close inspection of the photo indicates that they may have been wider when first painted.

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see also the Eurostar Barrier Wagons

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This page was last updated 3 December 2002

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