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The motive power depot MPD or railway depot is the place where locomotives are usually housed, repaired and maintained when not being used. They were originally known as "running sheds", "engine sheds" or, for short, just sheds. Facilities are provided for refuelling and replenishing water, lubricating oil and grease and, for steam engines , disposal of the ash.

There are often workshops for day to day repairs and maintenance, although locomotive building and major overhauls are usually carried out in the locomotive works. Note: In American English , the term depot is used to refer to passenger stations or goods freight facilities and not to vehicle maintenance facilities.

The equivalent of such depots in German-speaking countries is the Bahnbetriebswerk or Bw which has similar functions, with major repairs and overhauls being carried out at Ausbesserungswerke. The number of these reduced drastically on the changeover from steam to diesel and electric traction and most modern Bw in Germany are specialised depots, often responsible for a single rail class. Engine sheds could be found in many towns and cities, as well as in rural locations.

They were built by the railway companies to provide accommodation for their locomotives that provided their local train services. Each engine shed would have an allocation of locomotives that would reflect the duties carried out by that depot. Most depots had a mixture of passenger, freight and shunting locomotives but some, such as Mexborough , had predominantly freight locomotives reflecting the industrial nature of that area in South Yorkshire.

Others, such as Kings Cross engine shed in London, predominantly provided locomotives for passenger workings. Nearly all depots at this time had a number of shunting locomotives. Normally T or T tank engines, these would be allocated to shunt turns and could be found in goods yards, carriage sidings, goods depots and docks.

Many large rail connected industrial sites also had engine sheds, primarily using shunting locomotives. Each railway company had its own architectural design of engine shed, but there were three basic designs of shed:.

The turntables for straight and dead end sheds were generally outside. When a steam engine arrived on shed, it would drop its fire and the ash that had built up would be removed.

Disposal of the ash was a filthy job and carried out at quiet times, although some bigger depots had facilities for disposing of ash more efficiently. Study of photographs from the steam era show it was not uncommon for piles of ash to be scattered around the depot site. After completing their last duty and arriving on shed, locomotives would have a regular boiler washout to remove scale, improve efficiency and protect safety.

Locomotives generally ran on coal. Initially this job was done by hand and many depots had significant coal stacks on site. These would be neatly constructed with the outer walls constructed of dry blocks much in the style of a dry stone wall with smaller pieces behind these.

The sheds were not clean places to work. Another key requirement of the steam engine is a supply of water which is carried in the tenders or tanks of the engines.

In Australia, water was also carried in water gins a water tank mounted on a wagon due to longer distances covered and scarcer water resources. At Norwich engine shed in the UK, the sludge was discharged into a tank and emptied every three years or so with the sludge being dumped into the sea at Lowestoft. Tender locomotives required turning so they were facing the right way before their next duty. In the early days, these were typically around 45 feet long.

As the technology improved and engines got bigger, then the turntables got longer. In order to turn a locomotive the engine had to be balanced quite precisely on the turntable and it could then be literally pushed around. Some turntables could be powered by fixing the vacuum brake of the engine to the turntable and using that to turn the engine.

Later turntables were electrically operated. Many diesel locomotives in the UK have a cab at each end removing the need for the turntables. However, in Australia and America, there are a number of single ended locomotives 7 X 5 Plastic Storage Shed Engine and turntables are still in use. Details of the vacuum operating system. The clutch lever can be seen in the foreground. Engine sheds would carry out basic maintenance and the bigger sheds would carry out more complex repairs. Withdrawn locomotives could often be found at some depots before their final trips to the scrapyard.

In the UK, the general practice is that one shed would have a number of smaller sub-sheds where there were fewer facilities. When engines allocated to sub-sheds required repairs, they were often exchanged for a similar engine or perhaps just visiting the main depot on a Sunday when traffic levels were considerably lower. In terms of locomotive allocation, it seems to have been the practice that for some railways locomotives were all allocated to the main shed but in others each shed had its specific allocation of locomotives.

A list of the British sub-sheds can be found here. The drivers and fireman were the visible face of the engine shed and, as such, certain sheds had reputations for clean locomotives thanks to the dedication of those men. Many companies allocated a specific main line locomotive to a crew and they 3ft X 8ft Shed Engine would usually take a personal interest in the cleanliness of their engine; some companies offered a prize to the crew of the best kept engine.

Many drivers would spend their own time on improving their knowledge and sharing best practice with younger drivers. The footplate staff as drivers and fireman were known were unionised from the 19th century and in the UK were generally in the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants later ASLEF whilst other shed staff tended to be in the National Union of Railwaymen. Many engine shed workers put up with very poor conditions for many years.

In the s and s, the rise of manufacturing industry saw many staff leaving the railway for better working conditions and pay and many railways started to modernise as a result. The maintenance of the new diesel locomotives in filthy steam sheds soon proved difficult and, although some old sheds survived, many new diesel depots were built on new sites or on the sites of the old steam sheds.

The major problem was the disposal of oil, which initially was left lying around causing pollution and safety issues. The new depots were equipped to deal with diesel fuel and the ability to access the underside, as well as upper body work, was improved.

The tasks were not that much different in that diesel locomotives were fuelled rather than coaled, although they did require water as early diesels were equipped with steam generators for train heating purposes.

Since privatisation in the UK, some depots are now operated by the train builders who maintain the trains under contract with train operators. These are generally not regarded as engine sheds. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Redirected from Engine shed. For other uses, see train depot disambiguation. Main article: Bahnbetriebswerk.

See also: Bahnbetriebswerk steam locomotives. Inlandsbanan Water crane - similar cranes were found at engine sheds as well as stations. Great Eastern Railway Engine sheds Part 1. Wild Swan publications. ISBN 0 ISBN 0 48 7. Railway infrastructure. Categories : Railway depots Locomotives.

Hidden categories: Commons category link is on Wikidata. Namespaces Article Talk. Views Read Edit View history. Help Learn to edit Community portal Recent changes Upload file. Download as PDF Printable version. Wikimedia Commons. Wikimedia Commons has media related to Locomotive depots.




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