Recognition and Equipment information
CLASS 47 - Page 1





By the late 1950s the British Transport Commission was seeking designs for second generation main-line diesel loco of the Type 4 range. Several prototypes were put forward by different builders but the design adopted came from Brush, and thus the Brush Type 4, became BR's standard Type 4 diesel.
In February 1961 the BTC placed a contract with Brush to build 20 Type 4s. The power unit was a Sulzer 12LDA28C of 2,750hp; electrical equipment was also supplied by Brush. Construction of the first loco commenced at Brush's Loughborough works in January 1962, emerging in late September, carrying the number D1500. It then commenced test running on the London Midland and Western Regions. Prior to delivery of the first loco, Brush awarded an order for a further 30 machine's and over the ensuing years several repeat orders were placed, the majority being built by Brush, but when workshop space was full at Loughborough, the BR works at Crewe also built locos, all technical components being supplied by Brush with only the body and assembly work being undertaken by BR. Construction of the fleet continued uninterrupted until early 1967, when a total of 512 locomotives had been built, thus forming the largest single class of main line diesel locomotives in the country.
During the course of the build a number of minor alterations were incorporated. This included the first 20 being fitted from new with dual-heat steam/electric equipment, a batch of 81 given no provision for train heating, and five (Nos D1702-6) built with experimental Sulzer 12LVA24 engines which were later replaced with standard power units (Class 48).
After several years of satisfactory operation it was decided to derate the Sulzer engines from 2,750hp to 2,580hp, thus improving reliability and extending maintenance schedules, whilst not significantly altering the locomotives' performance.
As will be seen from the illustrations, a number of different front end styles have been carried on this fleet. When introduced 4-character alpha/numeric headcode panels were installed; this later gave way to a black panel with white cut-outs, which in turn was superseded by fixed beam marker lights of varying styles.
Under numerical classification this fleet became Class 47 (the 12LVA24 engined examples being Class 48 until re engined). Various sub-classes have been formed: 47/0 for standard locomotives, 47/2 for green spot multiple control machines, 47/3 for locomotives without provision for train heating and 47/4 for electric or dual heat fitted locomotives. The 47/7 classification was devised in 1979 when a batch of electric heat locomotives was converted for push-pull operation on the Edinburgh-Glasgow route; this sub-class further increased in the 1990s with conversion of RCH fitted locomotives for Rail Express Systems. The sole official Class 47/6 was a standard locomotive rebuilt in the early 1970s a testbed for projected Class 56 equipment and renumbered 47601, and later rebuilt with Class 58 equipment and reclassified Class 47/9 and renumbered 47901. The Class 476xx and 478xx series are also used but these are technically 47/4s with modifications.
Today, in much depleted form, the Class 47 fleet still operates throughout the country at the head of both passenger and freight services, but their once superb reliability has declined with age. During the early 1980s most locomotives passed through BREL Crewe Works for heavy general overhaul. Withdrawals of life-expired or collision-damaged locomotives commenced in the mid-1980s, and by the end of 2001s only about one third survive.
Following privatisation of the UK rail industry, Class 47s passed to both major players in the freight business—EWS and Freightliner—as well as the passenger lease companies. In terms of passenger traffic, First Great Western and Virgin Trains are the users.
A number of Class 47s have passed into preservation and private ownership, and several are now authorised for operation on Railtrack metals.
When built some of the Western Region allocated locos were given cast GWR style nameplates. Naming was resumed in the late 1970s with some 40% of the fleet eventually given names. After being introduced in two-tone green livery with small yellow panels and subsequently emerging in corporate blue from the late 1960s, a vast number of new liveries have been carried by this class, ranging from 'mock' GWR green to the gaudy Network SouthEast blue, red white and gray. Following BR's sectorisation and eventual privatisation the Class 47 fleet has seen a further diversity of liveries, with over 100 different schemes applied.


No. D1524, shows how the Brush Type 4, later Class 47 fleet were painted when first built. This loco is a Class 47/0 and still owned by EWS being used for special display purposes. Additional to its original style, the loco sports a national radio network aerial, headlight and air brake equipment. CJM.


Class 47 front end layout, applicable to Class 47/7. A-horn grille, B-national radio network radio aerial, C-sealed beam marker light, D-LED tail light, E-RCH jumper cable, F-headlight, G-ETS jumper socket, H-ETS jumper cable, I-main reservoir pipe, J-brake pipe, K-coupling. Apart from the RCH jumpers, this layout also applies to Class 47/4. This loco also sports oval buffers, applied to a number of locos from the 1990s to reduce the risk of buffer locking. Also, the vacuum system has been removed, identified by the omission of the vacuum pipe. CJM. Class 47 front end layout, applicable to Class 47/0, showing the fitting of three piece miniature snowploughs. A-national radio network aerial, B-electric tail lights, C-headlight, D-coupling, E-brake pipe, F-main reservoir pipe, G-steam heat pipe, H-vacuum pipe, I-snowplough blades. CJM.

Class 47 side elevation. A-No. 1 cab, B-No. 2 cab, C-cooler group (radiator), D-Power unit position, E-generator position, F-opening roof section to provide access to top of engine and compartment, G-battery box, H-fuel tank, I-position of former boiler water tank. No. 47843 is illustrated painted in Virgin Trains livery and carrying a Great Western style nameplate 'Vulcan'. CJM.

The basic steam heat fitted Class 47s were classified 47/0 and under TOPS numbering carried numbers in the series 470xx, 471xx and 472xx. No. 47082 is illustrated at Acton showing standard post 1967 BR rail blue. The loco shows the early white marker dot layout applied just after headcode units were removed and prior to the fitting of headlights. CJM



A recent addition to the Class 47 classification is Class 47/2, introduced in the 1990s to cover locos fitted with green dot multiple control equipment. This was installed on a handful of freight sector locos. In addition to the headcode panel mounted jumper socket, engine control air pipes, painted white were added on the buffer beam. No. 47297, painted in Railfreight Distribution triple gray livery complete with Channel Tunnel roundel markings on the cab side is seen at Wakefield. CJM.